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Inspired by Daniel Quinn's Work

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In addition to the profoundly influential and widely recognized examples of Ray Anderson, Pearl Jam, Doug Yule, and the film Instinct – discussed in greater detail in the main body of the narrative – countless others have been directly inspired to work towards positive change by Ishmael and Daniel Quinn's other work. Quinn's influence has motivated creative innovation and constructive action in a wide spectrum of areas related to environmental and economic sustainability, innovative education, the arts, population issues, health care and even low-cost housing. A sample of stories, representative of the the breadth and diversity of Quinn's influence, follows:
  • Los Angeles physician Gary Kodel had previously been socially active, working with organizations such as Doctors Ought to Care (DOC), which involves children in creating counter-advertising to the tobacco industry. However, Ishmael and Daniel Quinn's other work inspired Kodel to make changes on a more personal level. At work, he began to create a more egalitarian and sustainable environment for himself and his employees. Meanwhile, at home, he and his family have begun to reduce paper, plastic, and electricity consumption, instituting renewable energy sources, as well as supporting a community garden.

  • California trauma surgeon Jerry Vlasak was inspired by Ishmael to review his priorities, leading him to allocate more time away from the operating room in order to do crucial volunteer work. He now spends a significant amount of time working with a group called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which advocates healthy lifestyles to prevent disease, as well as more compassionate forms of medical research.

  • Former businesswoman Valerie Sarver was inspired by Daniel Quinn's work to make a fundamental career and life change. She says of Ishmael, “I feel it is not only an answer to all my questions about why our planet is in its current predicament, but it also helped me come to realize that I am committed to becoming a teacher. I am no longer attached to making a big paycheck, now I am attached to our future. I have renewed hope for my ability to influence the direction of our generation, and future generations' relationships with our planet." In order to actualize that influence, Sarver left her business career and began work at the Biosphere 2 Center in Arizona, imparting a curriculum in environmental science to visiting K-12 children.

  • Mechanical engineer Brian Wilgenbusch was inspired by Quinn to pursue a masters degree in Design For Environment at Georgia Institute of Technology, where he learned to design products that have a less damaging impact on the environment. In the course of his studies, he also interned at Ray Anderson's Interface, Inc. Wilgenbusch currently works with General Motors to increase the amount of recycled materials used in their automobiles, thus diverting waste destined for landfills back into products and reducing dependence on virgin plastic.

  • Mark Meritt was inspired by Ishmael to return to school to earn a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He customized his program to focus on the issues of ecology and society, leading to a masters thesis that concentrates on Quinn's explanations and proposed solutions for modern unsustainability. His thesis won the Liberal Studies Annual Thesis Prize for best departmental thesis. Mark was also invited to attend a seminar with author Daniel Quinn in 1999, and in 2000 he delivered a paper related to his thesis at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Meritt has since begun work on expanding his thesis into a book, as well as founding an online magazine – Mosaic – that examines a wide spectrum of issues through the lens of the Systems Thinking paradigm.

  • Environmentalist author Linda Lazar Curatolo, already active in raising awareness of environmental dilemmas, achieved a new level of understanding and effectiveness. "I realized that even though the advice I was giving people on how to change their lifestyle was good, I hadn't gone far enough," she explained after reading Quinn's work. Her book Are You Green Yet? is currently being marketed to 50,000 junior highs, high schools, university cooperative extension offices, and other service organizations throughout the United States.

  • Reading Quinn's work in a college class was instrumental in one young woman's decision to pursue a career in sustainable development and green architecture. In addition to working in this field, where she directs her energy towards the creation of environmentally-friendly buildings and housing, she was inspired to create a new website at Her website is devoted to education on the issue of practically integrating sustainability into our lives.

  • Several new businesses have been inspired by Daniel Quinn's work, particularly by his book Beyond Civilization, to help form the leading edge of a new business paradigm that values sustainability and empowerment of all members of the business. One such business is the Bay Area technical services firm, Artisan. Artisan's stated philosophy explains:
    “We focus on providing high quality services to our clients. We do that with constant awareness of Sustainability issues and always are seeking the most fair and efficient business practices. Care must be taken as well to manage our growth with concern for all applicable environmental and community factors. The neighborhoods we inhabit and work in should benefit from our success, and not suffer from it (or our failure). Far more than just recycling cans and bottles, we're changing every step in our methods to reduce waste. And along the way, we're finding increased profits are the most immediate and obvious result.”
  • Another business joining the growing movement as a result of Quinn's work is Tribal Dawn, a digital publications firm that provides web application, design, and development services for use in everything from educational software to video games to e-books. Tribal Dawn embodies a non-hierarchical business model in which “There are no superiors or subordinates among us, no employers or employees.” As a result, “We find ourselves better able to adapt to changing circumstances; our decisions are reached by consensus and debate, allowing all of us to feel more in control of our own lives and destinies. No one is pigeon-holed into any one role; we are all free to explore our talents in any area we like.”

  • While a student, earning his degree in public and community service studies at the Feinstein Institute for Public Service at Providence College, Chris Drury was exposed to Daniel Quinn's work in core courses such as Organizational Behavior and Theory, Senior Capstone Seminars, and classes in Simple Living. His contact with Quinn's ideas helped motivate him to organize retreats and discussion groups involving members of the community and to facilitate workshops on community building and social change. Drury was later appointed by Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Almond to serve on the Rhode Island Commission for National Service Board of Directors.

  • Designer Andrew Durham was inspired by Daniel Quinn's work to research and publish information about sustainable, low-cost housing development. He provides specific information on how to build living quarters in a more affordable manner that additionally help to facilitate social relations among inhabitants.

  • After reading Ishmael as a student at College of William and Mary, Colin Doyle felt it was the most important book he had ever read. He was first inspired to become more involved by engaging in international volunteering in the area of HIV/AIDS. He then traveled to Venezuela, where he currently studies the sustainable practices of its indigenous cultures.

  • After meeting for discussion each Monday night for a number of years, one group in Massachusetts was exposed to Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. After the group members read it, they were struck with the realization that discussion alone was not enough – action was necessary. They were inspired to set up a nonprofit (Sacred Lands) dedicated to public education on sustainability as well as to move towards the creation of their own sustainable community (Dragonvale Community) and business that would serve as examples to the nearby community.

  • Dameon Launert was moved by Quinn's ideas on both sustainability and education. As a result he has become more involved in both areas. He and his wife have focused on making personal changes, including decreasing waste, recycling, and purchasing higher fuel-efficiency vehicles. Launert also volunteers his time and money at a local charter school, the Sacramento Valley School.

  • Socially critical comedian Arlo Stone had, for many years, used his act as a forum to bring attention to pressing societal problems. Motivated and educated by Daniel Quinn's work, he added to his act important information about solutions to these problems. In addition, in order to help promote these solutions more widely, he decided to provide copies of Quinn's books to his audiences.

  • College filmmaker Nathan Carey was inspired to create an educational video, drawing attention to the problem of overpopulation and its effects on humanity and the environment. Carey claims “Daniel Quinn's books and ideas have inspired me to become active in my world. I intend to continue making films based on Quinn's work."

  • A young New York band was inspired by Quinn's work to write an album concentrating on the theme of student-centered education as an antidote to the increasing commercialization of schools.

  • Quinn's work inspired a group to create a new online magazine dedicated to those who "accept the challenge of creating a world that operates within the laws of the community of life."
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