Network for Transdisciplinary Research
12.8.2012: General Information
Remembering Ruedi Häberli
By Julie Thompson Klein
One of the bonuses of networking with organizations across the globe on shared interests is the collegial relationships that form. Sometimes they even blossom into friendships, and that was a beautiful outcome of working with Ruedi Häberli and Walter Grossenbacher-Mansuy for many years on the 2000 Zurich conference on Transdisciplinarity that culminated the Swiss Priority Programme Environment. After that meeting the three of us continued to collaborate on the post-conference book. These experiences filled my mind with memories of countless meetings and conversations in Zurich, at their office in Berne, on train trips between the two cities, and Ruedis own visit to my home in the USA as we did final editing of the book. Memories of our friendship are no less powerful. Ruedi and his wife Martha graciously hosted me on a day trip into the Bernese Alps, capped for Ruedi and me by an evening of experimental jazz in Berne. I was also fortunate to meet other members of his family over the years and, each time I returned to Switzerland for work with the Network for Transdisciplinary Research (td-net), to enjoy reunions in Berne and in Thun with Ruedi and Walter and his family. My last memory of Ruedi is especially rich. He picked me up at the University of Berne after the last td-net conference to visit his horse farm in the Jura. We had a wonderful day: visiting his original family home and seeing where his children now live, learning about the history of the Fraiche Montagnes, spending time with his four horses, stopping at a local fair, buying his favorite cheese on the way back to Berne, and talking politics as we drove past election signs throughout the countryside. The day was capped by a lovely dinner Martha prepared in their home and time with her. When Ruedis daughter Katharina and Martha wrote to me with the sad news of his passing, I was heartbroken. But, the moment was poetic in a way that I imagine would have put a sly grin on Ruedis face. He died doing what he loved so much, being with his horses. As Katharina and Martha put it so well, he enjoyed the last 10 years of his life thoroughly. I cherish the beautiful photo of a pathway in the Jura that the family included in their memorial to him, a pathway we walked while eating the cheese sandwiches Ruedi prepared early that morning for our journey. Rarely is the end of a life marked by a sense of completion, but Ruedi Häberlis was. He was a major architect of a ground-breaking international conference and widely respected for his commitment to sustainability. Then he moved seamlessly into a life centered on his passion, his horses. Upon learning of his passing I sent the news to others on the conference planning team, to Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn, Céline Loibl, and Kirsten Hollaendar. They shared my sense that our lives were blessed by knowing Ruedi. Trude wrote, I appreciated him so much as a person and what he was able to start in science policy. Céline echoed those thoughts: I appreciated Ruedi so much, his warm humor and his caring way of organizing the projects and meetings we had together. We could not be together but decided to drink a toast across the Atlantic the night of July 30th, to remember our dear colleague and friend. We shall not see the likes of him again.
Julie Thompson Klein, Wayne State University (USA).
Nachruf (dt) von Walter Grossenbacher-Mansuy, Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter und stv. Programmleiter 1994-2001, SPP Umwelt
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