Obituary: Peter Berg Oct. 1, 1937 — July 28, 2011

Aug 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Story

Peter Stephen Berg — October 1, 1937 — July 28, 2011

On the morning of Thursday, July 28, Planet Drum Foundation’s founder, Peter Berg, breathed his last. His life-partner, Judy, and daughter, Ocean, were with him. In many ways his death was too soon and unexpected.  Now he has joined the electric pulse of the planet; he exists in the earth and sky, water and wind, and in our hearts and memories. Look for him in the glittering sparkles of sunlight, in the stars at night, and in all the beauty of Pachamama which he so loved.

Peter was a clear-seeing, passionate, visionary activist, analyzing all aspects of human species interactions and following through his ideas with action. Prior to his bioregional work, he participated in early civil rights action and theater; wrote, directed, produced, and acted in plays for the SF Mime Troupe; and formulated theory and actions with the Diggers in San Francisco, writing ecstatic prose/poetry manifestos.

Peter founded Planet Drum Foundation in 1973, and continued as its director for 38 years. The originator of the term “bioregion” and concept of “reinhabitation,” Peter was a noted ecologist, author and speaker. According to Gary Snyder, Peter’s work and Planet Drum’s newsletter Raise the Stakes were “of immeasurable importance in defining and disseminating the ideas and possibilities of bioregionalism.” Works include extraordinarily innovative revegetation and green city projects both locally and abroad, which directly manifest his vision of ecological and cultural sustainability. “Throughout his long career he stayed with living right in San Francisco and in word and deed was a proponent of a non-dualistic urban/hinterland view of bioregionalism. Peter was a unique and cranky figure.” — Gary Snyder.

Peter’s books include: Envisioning Sustainability, Discovering Your Life-Place:  A First Bioregional Workbook, A Green City Program for the San Francisco Bay Area and Beyond, Figures of Regulation: Guides for Re-Balancing Society with the Biosphere, and Reinhabiting a Separate Country: A Bioregional Anthology of Northern California. Articles and interviews with him have been published internationally, and he has done presentations and workshops at events, conferences, schools/universities, etc. worldwide.

No one will be able to replace his presence, but Planet Drum Foundation will continue. In his last months, Peter laid the groundwork to ensure that the Foundation would carry the bioregional legacy into the future. As part of this effort, Peter and his brother established the Eliot and Peter Berg Endowment Fund.

“We didn’t play it for the Big Time. We didn’t play it for the Small Time. We played it for the Real Time”– Peter Berg 7/24/11

Planet Drum Foundation  415-285-6563
P.O. Box 31251                                          
San Francisco, CA 94131                            

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5 Comments to “Obituary: Peter Berg Oct. 1, 1937 — July 28, 2011”

  1. Roy Caviglia says:

    Visiting San Francisco for the first time since 1967. A faded memory brought to mind the name of Peter Berg. A friend and I arrived one night on a one way ticket from NY. Walking along Haight Street Peter found us and with no place to go, invited us to stay at his apartment. The next morning he brought us to the “free store” and introduced us to the folks there. I remember him being described as spokesman for the ” diggers” ? a group that offered a meal once a day in panhandle park. As the summer went along the police began to crack down and a block or two away R Nureyev was arrested and the next day on Clayton St. , my friend and I were arrested too. Peter had left word for me to call him, but after getting released we headed back east. It was all a long time ago.

  2. […] in the 1970s, the ever-iconoclastic Peter Berg, with Raymond Dasmann, described a phenomenon they called ‘reinhabitation’ and defined it as a […]

  3. […] or Finally, here is a sweet write up about Peter: Last week Richard Purcell, the Franciscan priest/friar whom I had been helping take care for […]

  4. Sharon says:

    So sad to learn of Peter Berg’s passing.

    Peter’s work on bioregionalism was influential for me and many others working in sustainability with Urban Ecology Australia.

    Now, I don’t only live in Adelaide, South Australia. I know I live in the Tandanya Bioregion:;

    Condolences to Peter’s family and friends. Rest in Peace Peter, and know that your legacy lives on through the work of Planet Drum.

  5. […] Peter Berg Oct. 1, 1937 – CT Environmental Headlines Share […]

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