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A Hero Of Resilience Needs Our Help

Permaculure pioneer Toby Hemenway fights for his life
Tuesday, December 20, 2016, 3:44 PM

Update: Our good friend Toby Hemenway has passed away. Our hearts are with his wife Kiel.

I'm very saddened to share that our good friend Toby Hemenway, one of the world's leading pioneers in permaculture, is fighting for his life.

Last year when I invited Toby to join the event I produced with Joel Salatin and the folks from Singing Frogs Farm, he privately shared with me that he was battling pancreatic cancer. At the time, he felt well enough to participate in the event, and was even feeling a little optimistic -- his oncologist had recently praised his progress, calling him her "star pupil".

But sadly, he learned over the summer that the cancer had spread to his liver. After more aggressive treatment this fall, he and his wife have made the difficult decision for him to begin home hospice care.

Toby is hands-down one of the nicest people I know; extremely friendly and giving of his time, which is rare for someone of his level of celebrity in his given field. I'm heartbroken for him and for Kiel (his wife), who is preparing for a possible future without him. They have thrown all of their resources into this fight, and I know how difficult it has been for Toby to put his pride aside and ask for help.

Yesterday, a grassroots fundraising link was circulated, asking those who have been touched and/or inspired by Toby's work to donate to a fund for his hospice care. When I received the link, less than 10% of the funds requested had been raised. Now, less than 24 hours later, the fund is several thousand dollars above goal.

The swift and emphatic response is wonderful to see, and a testament to the deep respect this man of goodwill has earned. But it's clear that additional donations will still make a tremendous difference for Toby and Kiel. They live a very simple, modest life (they rent a small house not far from me, so I speak from first-hand knowledge).

If you have the means and the willingness, please add a contribution to the hospice fund by clicking the button below:

Chris and I think there's something overly coincidental with our recent podcast on death and dying with Stephen Jenkinson, given Toby's situation. Perhaps the universe is sending us all a message to focus a bit more on living in the now and simply appreciating where we are, wherever that may be.

In honor of Toby's teachings, here are the previous podcasts we've recorded with him on the site. His wisdom speaks for itself much more eloquently than I can:

Thanks in advance for any support you may be able to offer Toby at this time. Well-wishes can also be left for him by clicking the button below. I know he is reading them and the good thoughts and prayers he's receiving mean the world to him. Even if contributing money is not in your budget right now, a kind word will go a long way:

~ Adam Taggart

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6 Comments

dcm's picture
dcm
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 14 2009
Posts: 184
Toby

I followed Toby for years, His book is indeed one of the best on the subject - well written and profound.Painfully ironic that the healthy visionaries to our very survival should be the ones getting ill.   

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 2800
Heavy Heart

Not less than 20 minutes after my posting the above, Toby's wife Kiel released an announcement that he passed away today:

It’s with the deepest grief that I tell you that Toby passed away early this morning, Tuesday, Dec. 20. We were both so very moved by the outpouring of love and support from all of you. Before we settled down for the night, Toby was looking at your messages and the notifications of donations. He was touched beyond belief. Those were the last moments that I saw him alive—bathed in your love and appreciation. I couldn’t have wanted a better end for him.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I will never forget your love.

I will use your donations to pay for his hospice care this past week, as well as cremation and service (details are yet to be worked out) and to help me with living expenses while I start a new life. We will close this site soon. If you feel moved to make further donations for my support during this transition, it would be deeply appreciated. But please know that your love and support have blessed Toby’s and my life forever. We are so grateful.

May Toby’s legacy be carried forward by all you good people.

Blessings and gratitude,

Kiel Hemenway

I do know that Toby's main focus in this last year has been his wife's welfare should he succumb to the cancer. Any continued donations will be a huge help for her, entering this time of heartbreak.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5441
I was touched

Toby immediately felt like family to me, he was so warm and giving and gracious.  

You could easily sit with him for 30 minutes and never find out from him that he was the author of several important books in an emerging field because he'd be too busy digging into your life and work.

I am truly saddened to hear of his passing here.

Yes, life is short.  Make the most of it.  It's not a dress rehearsal.

Thank you Toby for inspiring me, and we'll continue your work by other means as best we can.

Aho, brother.

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 28 2013
Posts: 319
A visionary communicator

I had the privilege of getting to hear Toby speak live at The Mother Earth News Fair in washington state a couple of years ago.  He was and is one of my personal heroes.  His writings and videos changed the direction of my life as much as any author has.  His book Gaias Garden was my first introduction to permaculture.  His videos on Liberation Permaculture helped me to understand that anarchy is a viable alternative to the top-down-power-systems of today.  I'm currently reading Permaculture City and I'm inspired to make changes in the way I interact with my community as a result.

The world is a better place that he lived.

You will be sorely missed but not forgotten Toby.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 2800
Another inspiring recent cancer victim

Six-time champion Cindy Stowell competed on Jeopardy! with a singular goal in mind: to donate her prize money to cancer-related organizations. When she taped her episodes in August and September of this year, she had Stage 4 cancer, and she lost her battle with the disease on December 5, eight days before her first episode aired. Cindy won her first game, unseating reigning seven-game champ Tim Aten and claiming $22,801, then went on to win the remaining three games that day. She returned to Austin for a short break before the next tape session on September 13, when she won two more games and brought her final total to $103,801.

(Source)

She kept her sickness a secret while competing. Only Alex Trebek and few Jeopardy! producers were in the know.

Three weeks after her in-person audition, Stowell recorded her episodes in August and September. According to her longtime boyfriend Jason Hess, Cindy was in a great deal of pain during the tapings. None of her fellow competitors knew of her illness. 

In an interview with local news station KXAN Hess shared, "Something in her rallied to the cause, and she was strong enough for that day. There's no, no replacing somebody like that. Just have to move on and try to honor her memory."

(Source)

Bytesmiths's picture
Bytesmiths
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 28 2008
Posts: 199
Farewell to a great teacher

I had the privilege of teaching Permaculture with Toby in 2008 or so. His "patterns" unit blew my mind — so well researched, so eloquently presented.

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