In his posthumous book, Our Common Wealth: The Hidden Economy That Makes Everything Else Work, Jonathan Rowe writes:
To get to San Francisco from where I live, I usually drive through the hamlet of Nicasio. It’s just a scattering of wooden structures around a community baseball field. The hills beyond are mainly ranches, not much changed from a century ago.
Recently, a sign appeared by the road there. “SOON TO BE BUILT ON THIS SITE,” it said, and my insides went code red. I thought of bulldozers, asphalt, a mange of houses with glandular disorders.
Then I saw the [sign’s] smaller print: “Thanks to your help, absolutely nothing.”
That story makes me smile, because it is so Jon Rowe. A close friend and idea co-conspirator, Jon tirelessly challenged the American anthem, “more, faster, bigger, louder.” For years, in one article and column after another, he asked that we pause our relentlessly self-centered, materialistic spree long enough to consider where it might be leading us.
If one thing most defined Jon’s work, which appeared in The Atlantic, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Monthly and other publications, it was his ability to help us better see ourselves, our lives, and our culture—with clear, simple, oddly beautiful prose.