The following is a list of video tributes to John from his friends and colleagues:
Video Tribute from the late Richard Levins
Video Tribute from Chapingo University
The following is a list of short written tributes to John from his friends and colleagues:
The following is a list of E–tributes and salutes from before and after the festschrift
I have always valued you as a mentor and friend for your honesty, integrity, and willingness to be direct and open. Your ability to “tell it like it is” while finding the humor in life is an aspect of your personality I respect and appreciate. But most of all, I like eating with you. I like that you will over-order with me when there are more things on the menu that look good than can actually fit in our stomachs. And I like the fun conversations that go with all that food. I wish I could have been in Michigan to celebrate your festschrift, but I will definitely see you soon for another meal.
Maria Antonia Mallona (January 21, 2016)
After reading the abstracts I felt compelled to write something…so this is not an abstract, this is for you and Johnsito. This is not an abstract.
Passionate, discipline, and opinionated (argumentative)
Three words that describe John’s personality and legacy through his students and mentees. Reading all the abstracts seems obvious that everyone has John’s touch on your research and jobs. He has profoundly inspired all of us, and he even transferred his passion for Latin America ecological-political issues to US scientists with no previous connection with LA. As an Educator in Nicaragua, working with rural primary school teachers, students, and community members I’m searching to understand what motivates an individual to have a positive environmental behavior: economic, health, and/or personal satisfaction. What age and how to teach values and practice positive environmental behavior? Any recent research done in Latin America is welcome!
Maria Antonia Mallona N
Nicaraguan student at UM (Ivette’s students)
The first one was Dr Jaime Incer Barquero,
Second: Dr. Pedro Jose Alvarez
Un grandísimo abrazo para vos y para John,
Ronald Nigh (April 30, 2016)
Me encantaría estar para celebrar a John. Por favor transmítele un gran abrazo de me parte. Como a muchos me ha sido una gran inspiración.
Ernesto Mendez (April 30, 2016)
All Ron’s words reflect exactly my thoughts and feelings about John and also Ivette. First, I would have loved to attend the ‘pachanga’. But most important is the desire to share and celebrate with everyone the great inspiration, to my agroecological journey, that John Vandemeer has been, since my Discovery of the field in the early 90’s and to the present.
Abrazos, Brindis y Gratitud, desde Vermont, en este muy merecido homenaje !!!
Hola Ivette y John,
as we told you we will be in Japan unable to join you’re fest….but we will be there in spirit honoring the inspiring work of John…..that as he knows I usually understand the first 2 pages of his papers due to my quantitative handicaps …nevertheless great work…you have influenced so many people to become rigorous scientists but also truly committed political activists.
Ha sido un honor conocerte John.
Saludos y felicidades.
I am really bummed to miss this amazing event to celebrate John.
His and your influence on who I am and how I view an interact with the world was formative for me and something for which I am deeply grateful.
Thank you for all you have done for so many students before and after me.
You all have truly created something special.
Linda Marin (May 5, 2016)
Hubiese sido maravilloso estar con ustedes para celebrar a John. Desafortunadamente no puedo estar allí en cuerpo, pero lo estoy con el corazón. Por favor dale un gran abrazo a John de mi parte y disfruten mucho de esta memorable celebración.
Postdoc CONACYT investigando visitantes florales en huertos urbanos
Dear John and Ivette,
I won’t be able to come, but retain fond memories of your meeting on food sovereignty following Dick’s celebration. Thank you for making me feel welcome at UM.
Warm wishes and congratulations for the well-deserved festivities about to wash over you both. A rare partnership that inspires and coheres.
I once asked Dick about his legacy, and your names popped up instantly. He sometimes doubted the teaching side in treacherous proximity to Harvard’s Slough of Despond, but he brightened up when talking of you both.
By contrast, Dick and Rosario loved my mushroom quiche.
My place in the universe thus assured, I was comfortable nodding when he said that John and Ivette were amazing contributors to knowledge and the virtuous, bracing path but even more so as celebrators of the young minds you shaped around new definitions of inquiry and meaning.
Well dudes, have a ball this week.
Best as always,
James Lerma Montoya
En verdad que estoy bastante conmovido por el homenaje a John. Aunque no fui alumno directo suyo, he recibido su influjo a través de sus mensajes y artículos. Es el holotipo del científico nato, que junta conocimiento con rebelión y los manifiesta ante los hechos y circunstancias que encierran injusticia e inequidad. Bravo por él. Les deseo el mayor de los éxitos durante la celebración. Por favor pasa a él mi humilde pero sincero reconocimiento.
James (UniValle, Colombia)
I do not have many personal heroes, but John Vandermeer is on the short list of individuals about whom I can use that word. He is one of the most brilliant ecologists and one of the most principled individuals of his generation. I’m not much of a mathematician, but I know that if you multiply the probability of an individual being each of these things, you get a very tiny fraction. His talent and energy could easily have taken him to the very top of the scientific establishment, but he chose instead to dedicate his career to science and to social justice without compromise. To put it in more colloquial terms, he has achieved great things in science and for social justice without kissing anybody’s ass. He is truly an inspiration to us all.
May 2016, Copenhagen
Although I shall be unable to attend, I extend my heartiest congratulations to my dear friend/colleague John on the occasion of this grand celebration of his truly remarkable career! Accolades from his many admirers are all well deserved!
Hugs and Cheers,
Douglas E. Gill, Ph.D., Professor emeritus
Department of Biology
University of Maryland
I had let Ivette know that Jerry and I are off to Chicago tomorrow for our granddaughter’s graduation for master’s in public health. She is the child we have raised since she is two and so of course we need to be with her. But as I have kept up with the plans for the week-end for our wonderful event, I am really bummer, both missing being there because of my love and admiration for you and because of a great desire to be part of the gathering community who stand for all the right things in the world.
I hope a lot will be video taped, and please know that I will be there is spirit.
With love, me
University of Michigan
Greetings from China. Just a note to say how sorry I am to miss John’s thing. He is a wonderful friend and colleague, and I hope he continues to enjoy an active career in science guided by his fabulous moral compass.
Congratulations and best wishes for the upcoming Vandy Fest! I wish I could be there to see you and Ivette again (after many years now), meet up with your former students and friends, many who I have not seen for some time, and share in the fun that everyone will have.
I remember well the biannual dust-ups between the Cornell and UM chapters of NWAG over farmers or farmworkers, as if there was a correct answer. Also the trip to Nicaragua to set up the collaboration between NWAG and the new Sandinista government during early 1981. Peter Rosset and I escaped the OTS course to join you and the others, which was an adventure in itself. But most, I remember the feelings of hope throughout the country, despite the clear limitations. I also remember our many interactions over the ensuing years, always animated by your enthusiasm, whether it be about Atlantic lowland tropical forest recovery after a devastating hurricane, the advantages of polycultures and shade-grown coffee, or the arcane topic of chaos in predator-prey dynamics.
Many of my colleagues advised me to focus my professional activities on one major topic, and by doing this, I could have a successful academic career. But by your example, I could see that there were other paths that could be followed, and I am thankful for your generosity and friendship.
University of Minnesota
Ivette, as I wrote you several months ago, I won’t be able to make the trip over from France. I know this is going to be a great occasion, and I wish I could have been there. John has been a source of inspiration since my very first foray into tropical biology in an OTS course, then later at Ann Arbor, then during your sabbatical time here in Montpellier. Have fun, and I look forward to reading the results!
best to all,
CEFE, Montpellier, France
Galio Gurdian Kaufman
He estado siguiendo por esta vía todos los esfuerzos y preparativos para la celebración del gran John Vandermeer. Al igual que Linda, que hubiese gustado muchísimo estar con Uds., físicamente. Lo estaré de corazón. John y vos son y han sido parte de mis grandes mentores a quienes mucho admiro y aprecio. Esa combinación de John, de ser científico y ser comprometido con este mundo que nos ha tocado vivir, es una combinación excepcional.
John, y su casa, Darrow House ?? gracias a las recomendaciones de Bill y Kathy Durham, Vicky Sork quienes vivieron conmigo en sus años de estudiantes de doctorado en El Salvador, previo a la guerra, fue mi hogar en los primeros días que estuve aprendiendo Inglés en Ann Arbor, Michigan. Los años de la revolución en Nicaragua, con Science for the People, fueron extraordinarios por la solidaridad de Uds.
John y vos, son maestros de generaciones que hemos tratado de seguir el ejemplo de Uds. Un gran abrazo desde esta Nicaragua, tan dulce y tan dolorosa.
con el cariño y admiración de siempre,
Just wanted to send you very big warm wishes on the occasion of your Festschrift. I’m so sorry to miss it 🙁
Unlike lucky Margaret, I’m stuck at a really awful 2-day “global food summit” at UC Irvine put on by the UC system. (I gave a talk on agroecology last night, which is why I’m here instead of in Ann Arbor – where I’d much rather be!)
With much appreciation for all the inspiration and brilliance you bring to the movement,
Dear John & Ivette:
Belatedly I want to send congratulations to John and Ivette for the masterful and continuing efforts
to bring agroecological and social justice orientations into modern agriculture from the U.S. to Central and Caribbean agriculture and societies. Thereby serving as model builders for agriculture elsewhere in the five continents.
I haven’t been as close to NWAEG as I might have wished but it has always been encouraging in my own
word to know that there are sturdy comrades, and countless students and colleagues carrying on valuable activities.
You have served as models for me and many others who have worked for similar goals here in California.
Best wishes and hopes for a continuing struggle.
David Kaimowitz (May 5, 2016)
I am extremely sorry that I will not be able to join you, John, and all of the other friends for this wonderful event. I truly would have loved to be there.
At the very least though I wanted to publicly express my huge admiration for the many years of fabulous work of both John and you yourself. The two of you have been and are amazing examples of a quite unusual combination of science at the service of progressive values and presented and taught in a way that connects with students’ minds and hearts. That fact that you have sustained the work over decades and across continents, and nurtured a whole generation of disciples makes it that much more impressive.
My hat it off to John – and to you – and I will certainly be present in spirit.
Director / Natural Resources and Climate Change
320 West 43 rd Street
New York, NY 10017
Dianne Rocheleau (May 6, 2016)
I wish I could be there with you and John to celebrate his decades of politically informed and relevant ecological science and leadership in agroecology. I have also long admired the unique collaboration that both of you have created and sustained, reaching from Ann Arbor into distant lands from Puerto Rico, Nicaragua and Cuba to Mexico and across the planet through your teaching, mentoring, research and tireless networking across scientific, environmentalist, political activist and policy domains. I am inspired by and grateful for his and your contributions to Science for the People, NWAEG and valuable networks of politically engaged scientists who have expanded the vision of various scientific communities, kept them more honest, and produced exemplary high quality ecological analysis to inform and support agriculture and resource management that feeds the people and the web of life. Un gran saludo a los dos.
Un Abrazo Dianne
Maywa Montenegro (May 7, 2016)
Dear Ivette and John,
Like others who have expressed their gratitude and well-wishes on this listserv, I salute you both from afar. As a relative newcomer to the field, I can see in close hindsight several critical junctures that led me to where I am now. Many of these crossroads are stippled with signs bearing your imprints: Nature’s Matrix, agroecology alternatives to land sparing/intensification, ‘complex traditions’ of indigenous and Western knowledge, NWAEG.
Few ecologists frame their papers in terms of food sovereignty and social justice, or illuminate science as a political and cultural activity. I have marveled at your Forest Transitions models seen through Hecht’s peasant perspectives, metapopulation theory legitimating campesino practice, and partnerships with historians to tell agricultural science as a path-dependent, contingent process. In real time, I’ve cherished the now-and-again conversations we’ve shared over scientific reduction(ism), Lewontin and Berlan’s hybrid seeds, and the funny thought experiments on ideal GMOs: bred at the Che Guevara participatory-open-source-biotech-experiment station!
And then, of course, your teaching and mentorship have percolated through progeny Perfectomeerkats, several of whom have touched my trajectory in ways big and small. From Shalene Jha who first welcomed me to Berkeley (and to this thing called NSF) to David Gonthier who just recently taught me a little about Azteca ants (and a little more about patient pedagogy). From Peter Rosset who opened my eyes to the world of La Via Campesina to Jahi Chappell who tuned my ears to the cynical logics of ‘feed the world’ discourse. Such ‘extension training’ reaches learners in expanding circles beyond even your recognized kin.
Happy Birthday to you John, and Happy Mother’s Day to you, Ivette.
To borrow from a dear friend, onward into your next decades of ‘producing knowledge that helps advance human dignity’!
Abrazos a los dos,
Inge Armbrecht (May 8, 2016)
Quiero unirme a estas voces de admiración y aprecio por John, a quien tanto queremos! Lamento no haber podido estar en persona para este sentido y merecido homenaje a nuestro John, pero el sentimiento es igual de fuerte a traves de la distancia!
Un gran abrazo para John y a ti!
Tatiana Schreiber (May 8, 2016)
Hello Ivette, John and all:
In the midst of grading at the end of the
semester I could unfortunately not attend, but I too send you best wishes
for a fabulous celebration which you are now completing… what a
wonderful way to support John and Ivette’s work and all the many people
there (and all those who couldn’t go but are there in spirit!) who have
learned so much from it and from your mentorship along the way. I read
Reconstructing Biology and it helped frame everything I have done since…
I still prescribe Breakfast of Biodiversity to many students and Nature’s
Matrix to many more… Thank you thank you thank you! I look forward to
hearing some of the ideas and synergies that I’m sure will have emerged
from this gathering of so many folks doing the work that seems to become
ever more critical each day.
Felicidades! Tatiana Schreiber, Vermont.
Stuart Ketcham (May 8, 2016)
Congratulations, John! And Salutations, Ivette and all NWAEGgies
I too wish i could be there, but am swamped with grading and other end-of-semester activities.
Thank you for being amazing models of socially conscious scholarship and activism!
And for being such generous friends!
Stuart Ketcham, PhD
Professor of Science, College of Science and Mathematics
University of the Virgin Islands
RR1 Queen Mary Highway
Kingshill, VI 00850
US Virgin Islands
Ann Thrupp (May 8, 2016)
Hello Ivette and John,
I’m also sending warm congratulations and sincere gratitude! So sorry that I was not able to be there. It’s wonderful that you are having this important celebration. It’s also inspiring to read and know about the outpouring of appreciation among the NWAEGies and beyond. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do!
Ann (Lori Ann)
Eric Holt-Gimenez (May 9, 2016)
Dear John and Ivette,
I watched these preparations from afar. My warmest wishes to you. I hope the celebration was everything you hoped for and more.
Doug Gurian-Sherman (May 10, 2016)
As always, you are entirely correct in your observations! Seriously, except that I think that you underestimate your importance in the process. I have so often seen colleagues fall short on all of the things you discuss and kind of minimize from the perspective of being obvious or easy (mentoring, encouraging, opening doors, substantive dialogue, listening….). Essentially, you have helped foster, building on Levins, Lewontin and others, a community that values justice and equity as integral to physical science. All of that is no small thing.
And on top of that, your own research work is so impressive in advancing all of this.
Don’t worry, I am not falling into the “great man” hypothesis of history (I don’t dignify it as a theory…even in the conventional usage!). As you note, it is the community that makes all of this work. But you (and the Perfectomeer duo) are an incredibly important part of that community, and I have no doubt that it would have been greatly diminished without you. As someone who has been in some ways on the periphery of that community, it was an honor to participate in your festschrift.
Peter Rosset (May 10, 2016)
The more I think about the it, the more I realize how decisive you were for me. You didn’t make me political, or even a marxist, as I had already been both, as a teenager. But I had been wandering lost for 6 years in an apolitical wilderness. Who knows if I would have found myself within you and your team.
You, and your recruitment agents (Mike Hansen and Katerine Yih) discovered and nurtured my talent as a Leftist. You in particular became like my second father, and best friend-conscience-mentor-professor-older brother-comrade in struggle- and academic colleague. It is hard to believe you played so many roles for me. And for SO MANY other people. I actually felt a bit jealous seeing that I was not the only one! Hahahahaha
I wanted to cry when I hugged you goodbye, but I controlled myself in a very manly fashion.
John, thank you so much in so many uncountable ways.
Signed: Peter [the one who “used to think he was your ‘favorite’ student’ (like many others, I am sure. hahahaah)]
What a HUMNAN talent you are , John!!!!!
Love you very much,
Luis Garcia Barrios (May 10, 2016)
Thank you for sharing with all of us this personal message to John. In a message like this is where the frontier between the individual and the community dissolves for the good of all 🙂
Bruce Ferguson (May 11, 2016)
mine was among the less emotive talks, but I hope you know that I am eternally grateful for all that you and Ivette did for us as students – and continue to do for us as colleagues – through your teaching, guidance, criticism, friendship, and example.
I also consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to form a part of this international academic family, some of whom are old friends and others I met for the first time last weekend. Thank you to the organizing committee for bringing us together.
Brian Schultz (May 11, 2016)
John (et al.)-
Of course all that you added below is also a big part of your charm and why we also like you so much (except for the actually very rare times when you are both A&A). I appreciated and remember well how you and your lab, way back when, welcomed me and also made me feel quickly fully involved when I came over from the dark side (sociobiology) to join the polycult.
So you may have fallen into a Monty-Python-Life-of-Brian sort of infinite loop — “only the true Messiah denies his Divinity”…
But if you like and don’t mind, I can help you move the spotlight by suggesting a bit of NWAEG triage recruiting here?
Many people there were NWAEG of course, some may not really want/ought to be and just know you in some other way like pure modelling perhaps, but some there probably are not NWAEG and should be. Anyone on the bulk e-mail lists in that category could/should e-mail Ivette or John to get on the NWAEG list, since A2 maintains it.
Your note here did not include email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org> in these bulk mailings, but perhaps you/we should send an invite to NWAEG for any appropriate suspects if you haven’t already?
Thanks yet again for all.
PS- Here is the full python ref quote, FYI&E…
I’m not the Messiah! Will you please listen? I am not the Messiah, do you understand? Honestly!
Girl: Only the true Messiah denies His divinity.
Brian: What? Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!
Followers: He is! He is the Messiah!
Brian: Now, fuck off!
Arthur: How shall we fuck off, O Lord?
Other comments after Festschrift (some dates were lost)
Susan Wright (May 10)
Thanks to John, the inspiration for a wonderful celebration and meeting of minds! It was like no other meeting on academic ground that I’ve ever witnessed but of course it wouldn’t be since NWAEG is so much more than academic…Special thanks to the OG for all you did to produce order out of the chaos of the unruly! (Maybe John has a theory to explain that.) And to all NWAEGies for an unforgettable meeting that ran on Commitment, Fun, and Love,
Susan Wright, Ph.D.
Research Scientist Emerita, University of Michigan
Professional Researcher, History of Science and International Relations
Department of Politics
University of California, Santa Cruz
John Soluri (May 10)
John and Ivette,
In the spirit of crossing borders, I am sharing with you a recently published article by young historian, Casey Marina Lurtz, who is working on coffee economies in 19C Soconusco. I will be on a panel with her at LASA later this month. I am sure that she would be thrilled if you share this among your graduate students – it’s mostly about labor recruitment; hopefully her book project will have more on production processes.
Great to see you both and your families! Looking forward to giving John a critique of his lecture.
Awesome grad students – their energy is (academic)life-sustaining!!
Mercedes Pascual (May 10)
Mil gracias Ivette!
fue increible todo el fin de semana; me alegro de haber podido venir.
Me dejo pensando en tantas cosas…
Gustavo Lopez Bautista (May 11)
Jon e Ivette.
Muchas gracias por todo lo que hacen por los demás y especialmente por mi. Nunca dejó de sorprendeeme de lo que hacen. En todos estos años de conocerlos he aprendido a ver la vida desde otro angulo. Otro concepto diferente y a saber que un mundo diferente es posible. Ver todo esa gama de conocimientos reunidos en un sitio y por el mismo motivo. Me obliga a mejorar mi compromiso con el proyecto . con los demás y conmigo mismo. Gracias. Y gracias a todos.
Gerald Urquhart (May 11)
I never got a chance to say thank you for all your work at VandyFest. I don’t know who the other organizers were, but your leadership of the day of talks was flawless (and usually it is a true trainwreck when you have all those speakers). Everything about Saturday was an event beyond what I could have imagined and so professionally done but so personal seeming.
Unfortunately, I was not able to be there for Sunday but would have loved to have seen John’s speech. I will look for it online.
Liz Watson (May 11)
I’ll add my voice to the mix and say that the weekend was inspiring, moving, and expertly organized. I wonder if you could also pass along information about ordering block prints of Gordon’s carving–I’d love to put one on my wall, support John’s fellowship, and maybe get a few prints for friends.
Linda y Eric Perfecto (May 11)
Thanks, Ivette and John!
We are still talking about what a wonderful weekend it was. So nice to catch up with all of the family, as well as Jerry and Catherine. We really enjoyed the symposium – quite a glimpse into the fascinating work that you both do and the many lives that you’ve touched.
Thanks also for putting us up at the Palmer House – it was a real treat to stay once again in that unique setting.
Linda and Eric
Helda Morales (May 11)
Thank you so much for organizing a wonderful event! It was a fun, moving, inspiring learning experience.
Many thanks for each of you,
Jack Spence (May 11)
Dear John and Ivette,
For this outlier (neither Michigan alum, nor ecologist) the weekend events were informative, impactful and politically inspiring. And there was nothing about wallowing in high minded importance. Humor, some of it puncturing balloons abounded throughout.
Some things were familiar. Is Doug Boucher capable of making an uninteresting observation? Peter is as pointed in his political astute commentary as he was when I first met him in the early 1980s.
We began the weekend with luck – a half hour conversation with Angus on the bus from the airport. And ended it at lunch with an old junior high school friend of Katherine’s – lunch at The Lunch Box that is with a chance to observe the anti-capitalist’s business, to converse with her about her organizing times in and about Nicaragua.
Thanks so much John for your amazing career and thanks Ivette (and Katherine Yih, and Theresa Ong and all the others who did so much – just being themselves really – to create such a wonderful weekend.
Luis Garcia Barrios (May 11)
Muchas Gracias Ivette !
Fantástico e inolvidable fin de semana.
Against all odds, as John said in his email: “We are doing the revolution”, and its been rewarding in so many ways !
Eduardo Somarriba (May 11)
It was indeed an unforgettable weekend. The opportunity to meet John and many friends all at once is something memorable. Thanks to you Ivette and to the supporting team that made all this possible. As John use to say “Hasta la Victoria”. Saludos y abrazo a todos. Eduardo.
Lisa Bradshaw (May 13)
Beyond energized, the weekend was so inspiring. I continue to be blown away by the depth and breadth of John’s (and your) impact across people of so many disciplines and different paths. And it was great to see all those familiar faces from years gone by. I’m really excited to be back in the area and have the opportunity to be challenged, encouraged. and probably much else, close up and in person.
Thank you for all the work in organizing the event and establishing the fellowship -awesome idea. I look forward to seeing the website.
Saludos, (closest emoticon I could find to a raised fist)
Thomas Odonnell (May 24):
Unfortunately I could not be at your Feschrift. I would have loved to be there and hear all the talks. The weekly meetings at NWAEG and all the pizza and beer over several years back in AA while exchanging opinions and engaging in anti-war and other social struggles with you are a special sort of memory. You created a great community – scholarly, social and otherwise. I hope you keep it up for many many years more!
Meanwhile, here’s something in recognition of a socially conscious, fellow life-long meat eater:,
Aley Joseph (on Facebook and twiter)
Standing ovation for John Vandermeer from over 100 past/ present students and collaborators, who traveled across the country and world for this occasion. Muchas gracias, Juancito, for all the encouraging, inspiring, berating. And most of all, for your unflinching belief in your students’ potential. You have touched our lives in so many ways that you don’t know. Certainly mine. #vandyfest — con Ivette Perfecto, Linda Marin, Katherine Ennis y 13 personas más en Ann Arbor.
Bill Durham (June 1)
Here’s my little tribute to John from Saturday night. Thank you all for organizing and taking part in the Vandy Fest: I enjoyed it so very much, and loved seeing old friends and meeting new ones. It was a great feeling all in all: take some and pass it on.
Esteli Jimenez (June 1)
muchas gracias por compartir este articulo. No tuve la oportunidad de ir a LASA este año (tal vez el proximo en Peru!), asi que me viene perfecto leer esto. Tambien muchas gracias por la excelente reunion organizada en Ann Arbor, realmente estuvo fenomenal y Ann Arbor es hermoso, ojala vuelva pronto.
Ivette, te voy a mandar un cheque hoy para pagarte la alimentacion en la finca de este año y parte del año pasado. Puedes mandarme tu direccion por favor?
Un gran abrazo,