Dave Smith, a pentecostal preacher’s kid, born in California and raised in Miami, Florida, has resided mostly in North California since 1963. He is Editor/Publisher of The Mendocino Freethinker, The Contrary Farmer, and Mendocino Talking blogs… and author of To Be Of Use – The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work; was founder of Smith & Hawken whose original mission was providing sturdy hand tools to organic farmers.
After dropping out of a fundamentalist christian college in Florida (Southeastern Bible College, now re-named Southeastern University) and then working in Silicon Valley as a computer systems analyst, he involved himself in Vietnam War protests with the Friends Meeting (Quakers) and the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence (Joan Baez) in Palo Alto. He registered as a Conscientious Objector with the National Guard (Band), ceased attending, and was honorably discharged. He then volunteered as an organizer for the Farm Workers Union which eventually led to his becoming an Executive Assistant to César Chávez for 6 years (see video below).
Dave co-founded and co-managed Briarpatch Natural Foods Co-op, and ran the Briarpatch Network branch in Menlo Park, California, and has held senior executive positions in Real Goods, SelfCare Catalog, Seeds of Change, Diamond Organics, and co-founded Organic Bouquet. He has served on the boards of directors of Ecology Action, Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op, and Mendocino Environmental Center in Mendocino County, California; and is cofounder of Mendocino Organic Network, an alliance of farmers and citizens promoting local, organic, and sustainable farming through its Mendocino Renegade organic certification program.
He was the proprietor of Mulligan Books & Seeds in downtown Ukiah until retirement in Mendocino County, is a musician, a card-carrying Freethinker (American Atheists), Democratic Socialist (Socialist Alternative), and member of the International Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Fundamentalist Christianism Survivors (Assemblies of God branch… also the home churches of backsliders Elvis Presley, Tupelo, Mississippi, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Ferriday, Louisiana).
Dave’s Time With Cesar Chavez and The Farmworkers Union 1968 – 1973
Cesar Chavez with Dave’s son Josh and other staff kids living at the United Farm Workers Headquarters, La Paz (now a National Monument), Keene, California, in the Tehachapi hills above Bakersfield, 1973.
Annual Cesar Chavez Day is March 31st.
See also: When Your Guru Goes Gaga
My only anxiety is what I can do… could I not be of use and good for something?… And in a picture I wish to say something that would console as music does. ~Van Gogh
See also The Religion of Usefulness
Josh Smith is one of the founders in the sport of Wakeboarding…
Video at Wakeboarding Hall Of Fame
To be of use
by Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.