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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Shorter Remembrances of Frank

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September 30, 2012
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Many friends and fans of GEO have written shorter remembrances of Frank Lindenfeld. Some were written just after his death in 2008. Others were provided on the occasion of this Memorial Issue.


“I presented at the first Thursday session that year. I walked in with my jacket and tie, shaking in my shoes a bit…. Frank Lindenfeld was one of the other presenters. I presented something on humanizing economics, and was surprised by Frank's interest in my work, and how well it fit with his work on organizing cooperatives. I took a stack of his GEO (Grassroots Economic Organizing) newsletters, and knew I had found a fellow spirit who was working to implement what I had only read about and contemplated. At the time, I was also puzzling over what I would do for my dissertation, and was thinking about studying school alternatives such as homeschooling. Frank talked to me quite a bit about the free school movement in the early 1970s and the school he had founded and operated with others. I ended up going a different direction with my research, but I realized there were a lot of AHSers who had pursued interesting lives and work that went beyond the high-pressure life of research and publication some of my Rutgers professors were pushing heavily.”

Jim Pennell, University of Indianapolis, in his report as President-elect of the Association for Humanist Sociology for 2009, on his first presentation at an AHS Conference in 1993. [Note: GEO wrote Jim for permission to use the above quote in our Memorial issue, which he gladly gave – along with this additional remembrance.]

 “Frank basically recruited Greta (Jim’s wife) and me into leadership roles. I could never say no to anything Frank asked of me. He inspired me to be an activist academic, not just an academic who studied activism. I miss having his calming wisdom at the AHS board meetings that he always attended, even well after he had stepped down from official leadership roles. Thanks [to GEO] for keeping his memory a part of our lives.”


 “Not only has Frank’s research itself broken important ground, but his activist work and founding of GEO [Grassroots Economic Organizing] has been an early model for how humanist sociologists might embed their scholarship within social justice movements.... Judging Frank’s work from any particular theoretical perspective always seemed inadequate — his strength lay in his constant praxis: always bringing theory to the earthiness of practical efforts to change the ravages of an unjust economic world and, only then, developing new theoretical analyses based on these hands-on experiences.”

Corey Dolgon, Professor of Sociology and Director of Community Based Learning, and Past President, AHS. [Note: A longer piece by Corey remembering Frank will appear this Fall in the AHS Newsletter, and he and GEO are discussing a collaborative publication of Frank’s writings.]


“Your letter evoked many fond memories of Frank. We’re thinking of how much of the history of co-ops in the U. S. (and Jamaica) Frank lived through, knew of deeply, and embodied.  To be around him was to drink in his wonderful spirit and wisdom.”

Bill Caspary and Rima Greenberg, former members of the GEO family.


One of the very first books I read about worker ownership was: When Workers Decide: Workplace Democracy Takes Root in North America, 1992, New Society Publishers, Philadelphia, PA; edited by Len Krimerman and Frank Lindenfield. This book is a series of essays about the emerging worker ownership movement in North America. I haven't re-read the book in years, but I remember the unbridled optimism of the authors. This book was instrumental in my early explorations of worker democracy. Frank Lindenfield, a hero I never met, will surely be missed.

William Cerf, Brooklyn, NY; long-time CW and GEO subscriber .


Frank Lindenfeld was probably the single most important person in my early life….He was my mentor in every sense – it began at Summerhill West in the late ‘60s and continues to this day. [Editors note: 9/11/2008].

It was so much more than a friendship that I had with Frank; he was a father to me, a brother, and a guide who led me through good times and bad. He never hesitated to give me straightforward advice when he thought I needed it; he could read me better than I could myself. Krowing him as well as I did was one of the two or three great experiences of my life….I have started writing a longer piece on our friendship…which I hope will be read and appreciated by those who did love him, and those who will.

Gary Feldman, student at Summerhill West


Memories of Frank from 2008:

Even though I met Frank only 3 or 4 times, I remember him very vividly and fondly as he was such a gentle and humane person. My thoughts are with you and his family. Please pass my condolences to them.
May you and Frank's family live longer.

Iraj Rashi, International Institute for Self-Management)

Yes, Frank was an inspiration and a fabulous colleague. That wonderful smile. His patience. All his quiet hard work - mostly in the background, keeping everything together and afloat … He will surely be missed. And we should dedicate more than our next issue to him. Probably now we should really put together that reader we have been talking about and dedicate that to him as well.
His memory will live on in all of us.

Jessica Gordon Nembhard

This is deeply grievous news and I write to you in the initial shockwave. How can his laugh, his irrepressible optimism and good will, indeed love, be snapped out of our lives like this?

The one who encouraged this — Frank. When my thoughts turned to Frank, I always felt a lift to my step because I knew he wanted good things for me; confirmed when I would see him or talk with him on the phone. I write this because I am sure all of us have had this experience. I will always have this memory, but now we do not have him.

What a dear man he was.

Grieving with you my friends,

Ken (Estey)

I'm very saddened to hear of Frank's death. I have very fond memories of him from IIS and other meetings, untiring in his work for a better world, and always kind and gentle in his manner. I don't think I met his wife Kathryn, but please convey my condolences, which I want to express to you and Marian also.

In sympathy,

Mike Howard, IIS)

Whoa. This is so sudden. I'm reeling.

The thing that is most in my mind right now is how he was always so consistently positive, inclusive, and optimistic.

It was Frank that brought me into GEO, asked me to help with the website, and invited me to the GEO meeting at 2005 ECWD where I met you all. I miss him already.

Jim Johnson

It is very sad to hear that one friend has gone from this life.
My sympathies for all friends of Frank.

Baleren Bakaikoa (IIS, Spain)

I'm so sorry to hear your sad news. I didn't know Frank too well but it sounds as though you and he shared many happy times which will always be a comfort to you. There is a lot of illness in my family at the moment and I'm still suffering the grief of losing my daughter 20 months ago. Maureen is doing okay. She's frustrated by not being as able but does well for her age which I think is 85 or 86.

We've just set up a new organisation called Co-operatives North East with strong links to Co-operatives UK so we're keeping busy.

Take care of yourself and Marian and please pass on condolences to Frank's family.

Best Wishes

Pat Cook (IIS, UK)

I am ever so sorry that you lost such a good friend and the IIS, another member of the core and almost co-founder. I remember Frank well as an important initiator and dedicated cooperator

I am sorry as well that you heard so little from me, but it is news of the very kind that you were sending (and it is not only Mladen that died during the last months - but one of my brothers (age 52) 3 very close friends (all around 60 years of age) and co-operators, several not that close but still important ones (for example in Tuzla, the main initiator of the school-coops) that make me find it difficult to happily chat along on the e-mails.


Gabi (Herbert, founder of the International Institute for Self-Management)

Frank's death is a big loss especially for grassroots economic activists.

He was a great role model for me – he was a soft spoken, no ego, and visionary scholar. He embraced creativity and encouraged young people, and immigrants like myself to get engaged. It was an honor for me to work with him on GEO Newsletter in the early 90's, and we co-founded Ecological Democracy Institute of North America/EDINA. I was the only paid staff, and there was more, I had no bosses. We were all comrades.

Life is a journey, and how we live our lives matters. Frank's life matters to me. He added so much insight. He was anti corporate capitalism but he was pro businesses where workers have a full control. If they were well organized they could own it, and if they were well trained they could run it. He was practical man. I share those values with him deeply. It was a pleasure to have him as a mentor and as a comrade. He will be missed.

Germai Medhanie, Co-director of Guramylay: Growing the Green Economy, Cambridge MA

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