lahermite: (Default)
August 23, 2009

Dearest Wildroots friends and supporters,

With a heavy heart, friend, students, teachers, lovers and admirers of
visionary teacher Frank Cook mourned his loss and celebrated his life this
weekend, here in Asheville, NC. Frank died suddenly but peacefully on
August 19th, of "brain lesions" from what is believed to be a parasitic
infection contracted on one of his international journeys. His final weeks
were spent here in one of his "spirit homes", the Southern Appalachians,
teaching, circling, walking, visioning, and giving freely of his knowledge
and enthusiasm.

For those of us who have walked with Frank or learned from him at other
gatherings and in other communities, this may feel like a tragedy. But
through our empowering and healing community grieving process, which
included a 4 day vigil around a sacred fire, drumming, singing and sharing
stories, it is really the blessings of Frank's life and work that have
come to the forefront. We will always remember this amazing walker of the
Green Path with love and gratitude.

So far, Frank's website is being maintained by a
close friend who is posting relevant information and will provide a space
for Frank's communities to express themselves. His written works are
available there as well. Future plans to honor Frank's work include
commencing an annual gathering at this time of his passing, and carrying
on his vision through the Green Path network (essentially Frank's
brainchild). With an annual Green Path spring gathering here in the
Southeast, and continuing on with our Green Path camp at future National
Rainbow gatherings, these endeavors are envisioned as a way for us all to
continue walking "the Green Path" together, and allowing Frank to continue
on as part of our circles. Join the Green Path mailing list (not a
discussion forum at this time) by sending a blank email to:

Below is a sort of eulogy written by one of Frank's closest friends.
Facebook is another place to find photos, videos, writings and discussion
about Frank's life and work. Search his name on FB and you will find his

Thank you Frank for your vision and dedication to the green growing world.
We will miss you, but you live on in us!


Frank Cook 1963-2009 by Tim Toben
Today at 9:35am

Pearson Garden, Asheville NC, August 19, 2009. Just hours after his
passing, Frank’s brother Ken spoke from the circle of nearly 200 friends
holding hands around the garden. “I think he saw us all as plant beings
and he certainly was one himself.” Muffled laughter mixed with tears.
Frank Cook was the Banyan Tree.

If the name is not familiar, you’ll remember the man. Frank stood 6’3”
tall with piercing blue eyes and waist length dreadlocks. He wore simple
clothes and sandals and carried a satchel over his shoulder. In Chapel
Hill, his home was a loft bed at the residence of Beth Williams and Alan
Dehmer. He walked everywhere, once across the entire state of North
Carolina, foraging for food along the way. Most of us in these modern
times would die attempting such a trek. Frank feasted – both physically
and spiritually.

Someone once said that we are born with two beings – one that dies and one
that lives forever. That is certainly true for Frank Cook. Frank will
always be known around the world for his plant knowledge and his journey
to “meet” the 5000+ genera of plants. At 47 years old, he was 70% of the
way to his goal. He’d chucked a promising career in computer science 20
years earlier to follow his heartsong, traveling to Namibia to meet
Omumborombonga, the ancestral tree of life, and to India to meet
Buckuchurbu, used to treat stomach upset.

Those of us lucky enough to cross His path were reacquainted with the
native plants we loved as children. Frank could hang with the best Linnean
taxonomist, but he “understood” plants more deeply – their medicinal
qualities, their nutritional values, and their unique role in the
interdependent ecology of nature. And he clearly loved them.

Frank would lean down and shade his small subjects with large hands and
begin telling their story. The breath from his deep baritone voice seemed
to lift the plantain or pipsissewa from its roots, as he brushed the
leaves from around their base. “Choose me, choose me,” you could imagine
them saying. In those moments, we were children again, finding a long lost
love. And he was an “indigenous” teacher.

The meals between walks were just as vibrant. Reminding us that most
Americans eat just 25 species of plants a year, he’d make fresh bread and
soup with at least 25 species gathered during his walk. The flavors and
energy in his food were life giving. He’d make teas by day and meads at
night, always sharing a batch from last year in a pass- around bottle.
Frank’s blueberry and sumac meads were my favorite. His gatherings built
benevolent communities -- families with native knowledge and skills.

His “business model” baffled most. He worked for donations. You paid what
you could, and that was enough to fund Frank’s travels to meet plants
across the globe. He’d recently completed a Masters Degree at the
Schumacher Institute in the UK and written a book titled “Emerging
Planetary Medicines.” His subject matter had expanded to include
“transition cultures” – those preparing for not a low-, but a no-carbon

Frank had just returned from teaching engagements in the Southwest US, and
before that in South America. What he thought was travel weariness was
apparently a spreading parasitic infection, which spread rapidly this week
and this morning claimed his sinewy body. Thousands around the world, and
several hundred in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Asheville weep quietly at
the loss of their friend and teacher. We are ever so grateful for his many
gifts, for the many seeds he planted.

If he’d ever stayed in one place for more than a few months, I’m convinced
that Frank’s cascading dreadlocks would have taken root, like the Banyan
Tree, and grown other Frank Cooks. And if so, what a better world this
would be. Then again, as I looked around Pearsons Garden this damp August
night and reflected on past gatherings at LEAF and Pickards Mountain, I
thought…that’s precisely what has happened.



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