Adrienne accomplished as much as many of us achieve in several lifetimes and she also gave people hope, she believed in love, she led by example and she was who she said she was. When our time comes we would love to be thought of as people thought of her, not that she was any different from us who have our good days and our bad days but that she aimed high and held her focus, she walked the talk in every area of her life. It was not just ideas and idle wishes but a life where her heart and her mind were congruent and in that was a great friend to the earth. All she touched, people and places were moved because of her willingness to be that great friend. At the celebration of her life there were hundreds who came together in community to celebrate a passionate and creative friend to the earth and to all who live by her grace. Adrienne thanks so much for being you and thanks so much for the friendship; may we all have the courage to follow your example.
Scientist, writer, mother, pioneer, ecologist, activist
Adrienne Campbell was someone I rather admired. She would regularly lobby me on a range of issues, mostly environmental, but always from a progressive, liberal starting point. Over the years this included subjects as diverse as the planning regime for solar panels, the threat to the wild bee population, the waiting lists for allotments, the promotion of energy efficiency, and the threat from unconventional fossil fuels. I would nearly always find myself agreeing with the points she made. But she was not just a letter-writer, but a doer as well. Her combination of imagination, commitment to localism, and progressive out-look was perhaps epitomised by the major role she played in establishing the quirky Lewes New School. It is a pity more people are not like Adrienne. I will miss her.
Adrienne speaks about the future she would like to live in. Recorded by Tom Daniell for his degree thesis in 2011. Photo by Katie Vandyck
Adrienne in her 20s. Left to right: in the Bahamas; at Emil Thompson's wedding; at her own wedding
EULOGY FOR ADRIENNE CAMPBELL SPOKEN AT HER FUNERAL, NOVEMBER 8TH 2012
by David Anderson
Adrienne was born Katy Bridges in Paris in 1960 – that was the year the temperature dropped a little further on the cold war and 100k people joined ban the bomb rally in London – Joan Baez, folk singer and activist, released her debut album. It began the decade of the swinging 60’s, counter culture, and social revolution - she was too young to know but must have got it by osmosis.
Then to England and aged three her Mum Margaret died and looking back, this may have been the unhealable wound that became mirrored in her passion to heal and restore Gaia - Mother Earth.
Her first schools in London - Connaught House and then Lady Eden school for girls – where the petite Adrienne wore white gloves and a boater hat and was required to curtsy to the head mistress – very hard to imagine our woodland warrior bowing to authority.
When Adrienne was 13 the family moved to the south of France - and lived what sounded like a movie set life on the French Riviera in a house at the edge of the sea and managed to have water skiing lessons before school. Its easy to imagine the dusty heat, smell of lavender and the pleasure of Provence getting under her skin.
As the oldest child she was the organiser, siblings did as they were told when Katie was in charge… but there was a sense of mischief particularly putting her siblings up to no good - in Lulu’s case one time getting her to eat a giant ant by feigning her own ant consumption or making ‘dares’ to jump off the highest rock in the bay or seeing who could wait the longest on the railway track listening to the sound of the approaching train.
This mischievousness remained to the end of her life when after 3 months of not eating she started to eat again - and her friend Lex was visiting and they were lying on the bed together back to back eating ice cream of all things - Lex turned and saw Adrienne motionless, head lolled back and tongue hanging out –and after an agonising moment for Lex, Adrienne open her eyes and said ‘fooled you’! She came up with some extraordinary phrases and ideas in those final stages.
The family returned to London and Adrienne’s rebellious streak became even more pronounced. So much so that at 15 she had moved out of the family home and into her own flat. These were no doubt trying times for all but to her peers, having your own pad, was pretty cool! By 18 she was on her way to America to one of its most prestigious universities, MIT in Boston, to study microbiology - where her father had also studied. The family had moved to Washington DC. And Tory had followed on to study English at Harvard and remembered her own friends being in awe of Adrienne, the scientist, , this flamboyant, colourful dresser, already with her own allotment and part of a food co-op and on the side was an avant-garde photographer experimenting with printing techniques.
After MIT – then travelling to Australia and back to England and doing a masters in History and Philosophy of Science at Kings College. And then work for cancer research, ironically working on a drug that some 25 years later she would be taking herself for breast cancer. She knew the science of her illness.
Then to a job with the Economist, and various jobs in publishing as writer, sub-editor and editor. This was a time of parties and dinner parties – a world of debate, discussion, and argument – the birth of the ‘women's dinner club’ with Adrienne and her close group of girl friends as Charlotte Du Cann put it in her excellent blog and tribute …. 'we came together as intelligent female beings, rather than ninnies to share world views – there was one rule - no talking about boyfriends or holidays.' You can read the full blog here:
Later the three sisters started a regular lunchtime rendezvous that was to last many years at ‘Fresh and Wild’ in Clapham where they also chewed over shared and unshared history and de-constructed family life.
Later still in the Lewes years she was also to become part of another women’s group nicknamed ‘The Yodellers’ – which had started in the mountains of Innsbruck at a Subud* congress – and for 7 years of monthly meetings explored the spiritual and psychological depths.
While travelling in Turkey in 1980 she had an epiphany - in her own words “For a few brief minutes I experienced oneness. The wind in the trees, the birdsong, and everything in between, it was all one, all was blissful unity. Tears poured from my eyes as my heart melted.” Back in England she looked for a community with which she could share this experience.
In 1981 she found and joined Subud [Susila Budhi Dharma], a fledgling spiritual organization, and took the family and friends a little by surprise as, with the usual vigour, she fully embraced the new path with its Indonesian trappings – and at first it appeared to take a little of the sharpness off the radical edge – doing some odd things, fasting, wearing long skirts and changing her name. But, as Dirk put it, it was not that she became ‘soft’ through the process but rather that it seemed to allow her to reveal her vulnerability and she felt accepted.
Not long after joining Subud Adrienne travelled to Australia – she must have loved that powerful land of flat top mountain and red earth. While there she did good work helping to transform the national Subud publication as well as doing a little work for the Sydney Morning Herald.
As well as Subud there were to be other approaches to personal development and striving for greater consciousness. Dirk and Adrienne drew a lot of strength from their work with POV [Psychology of Vision] and continued with the work right to the end.
Back to history. She became chair of central London Subud group in the late 80’s and was one of the prime drivers to Subud acquiring the Amadeus Centre in Maida Vale – which has become one of the most successful Subud venues. Adrienne met Dirk through the Subud community in central London and they eventually married in 1989 – Sophia and Anna were born in London and then by 1991 they moved to Bassets Oast near Tunbridge Wells. It was here that the Orchard Open School started in the living room. It was a great idea but the extra sticky red tape and a few pedagogical differences made for an interesting time [so interesting that I imagine Dirk had to retire occasionally to play a bagpipe or two]. ‘Opportunities’, as the Americans say, reappeared when a few of us naively but enthusiastically decided to set up the Lewes New School which was eventually born in 2000. Adrienne in time became the school manager and inspired many families to attend.
In between there had been Stoneywood Cottage; Dirk and Adrienne became the cool versions of Richard Briars & Felicity Kendal and it was a ‘Good Life’ with wonderful home cooking, hot tubs and aerial runways and the fairy drenched bluebell wood – she got deeper into all things country – this is where the love of bees started and she found they loved her back and were the sticky stuff of the universe. By now we also have Adam and Rose in the family.
In 2001 the family moved to Lewes. Her deep passion for nature was beginning to cause her pain as she realised what was happening to the planet and after encountering Mark Lynas and Rob Hopkins she began campaigning to get Lewes as the second ‘transition town’ in the country and it was duly launched in 2007.
The activism side got going too: storming the Houses of Parliament, getting arrested outside Boots on the tax evasion demo or occupying St Paul's. Some times all this activity came at a price - sometimes off on trips, sometimes busy on computer, researching and writing. When she was away, for Dirk it felt, as it does now, that the heart had gone out of the family.
It has been extraordinary reading the through the web site ‘What Matters Now’, and realising although I felt I knew Adrienne and I knew the headings – Transition, Permaculture, bees, activism, the woods, the school, Subud – the depth of engagement, passion and the connection with different circles of people and her impact on them was a revelation. The comments there are as much her eulogy.
For me, like many, Adrienne became my conscience when it came to ecology – a reference point like other beacons I have adopted for inspiration or moral compass - and a quick mental calculation – ‘What would Adrienne do?’ and of course I couldn’t always live up to it. In order to become that sort of beacon you need to be extreme, uncompromising and that can come at a price and like Lewes’s own revolutionary, Tom Paine, sometimes leaving a few noses askew or some risen hackles. But that’s what you get when you stand up to be counted.
She was also clear there was to be no sainthood, no myths spun – sometimes life was hard and relationships not always easy. Although there were joyful episodes towards the end of the dying process the final stages of death were hard, or for us on the outside, it certainly appeared to be. Death like nature can appear cruel and ugly and we should not shy away from that. Adrienne was not afraid to name things – she fully embraced the truth, warts and all and would want her life seen in the same way but in that real and stark reality is true beauty.
I met with Adrienne just after the op for a tumour on the brain and we sat in St Johns Church yard on a warm May day when there was still hope and miracles and I said I was so glad the procedure went well as I was not ready for an Adrienne shaped hole in my life and the weeks and months went by and now for all of us there is a hole.
Adrienne trusted that that her children would each find their own way, and I know when the sadness has diminished Sophia, Anna, Rose and Adam will go out into their lives braver, more conscious, wiser human beings having learnt about life and death from their courageous mum.
To Dirk, and her siblings - Lulu, Tory, Bill, Mark, and Jamie and her mother Jessica we honour your wife, sister and daughter and give thanks for and celebrate her life.
SOME WORDS ABOUT ADRIENNE AT HER MEMORIAL CELEBRATION, NOVEMBER 11TH 2012
Thank you everyone for coming today. It's quite amazing to see so many people [there were about 500]. Adrienne would have loved it. She loved a celebration, a good party. I don't think you are here because of what she did or because you have heard of her. I think you are here because of the effect she had on you. So I would like to say a few words about the Adrienne I knew, and the effect she had on me.
There was a strange ethereality about her, an otherness... you felt that she had some access to a deep mysterious secret but was unaware she had it. You felt that she knew what she was doing, that she had inner authority, but you could also see how vulnerable she was, how unsure of herself. She seemed to combine opposites like a hall of mirrors. She was beautiful yet awkward, elegant yet gauche, confident yet shy, strong yet delicate, robust yet refined. She balanced both female and male. Her smile radiated love and generosity. She was irresistible.
I knew from the beginning that I was not the important one in our partnership; she had singled me out for some reason unknown to me; but the fact that she had chosen me made me important, and I spent our twenty-four years together trying to live up to that obligation. She was like a queen to me, which must mean I had to be a king – an impossible task. She could have easily passed for royalty in any company, whereas I never could. She was privileged by her schooling and family contacts yet had seen from a young age that such privileges count for nothing; true nobility is not about who you are related to, or who you know, or how much you have, but about making what you create more important than what you get out of it. In personal relationships as in anything else.
She was extremely determined. She was doggedly persistent. So much so that she could have been a successful politician if she had wanted to be; many of her friends were from political families, and she could be persuasive and influential. She lobbied our own MP Norman Baker so effectively that he wrote her hand-written letters! However she did not choose the path of the possible (i.e. politics) but the path of the necessary. In ancient Greek myth the primary deity, who precedes even Khronos, is Annanki – 'Necessity'. Annanki was perceived as female, and in my imagination she has Adrienne's face.
Though she was ten years younger than me, she had the wisdom of someone much older. She taught me many things: how to commit, how to trust, how to learn, how to live without fear, how to die. Who she was I will never really know, not with this mind and this understanding. I do know that she was the best thing that ever happened to me, and if nothing good ever happened to me again, I wouldn't feel too deprived. She wasn't perfect; she had weaknesses, she made errors of judgment (sometimes!), she could be infuriatingly arrogant. But none of that mattered. There was an unfathomable enigma about her which those of us who shared her life will never be able to forget.
I'm not sure where the enigma resided. It's certainly connected in my mind to the fact that the veil between the physical world and the spiritual or non-material world was for her often gauze-like and thin, particularly at times like giving birth or during her spiritual practice; she was highly attuned to it and could see through to and even enter it. This was increasingly so in the last months of her physical life and in her final weeks here she was constantly pouring forth love in such measure that it seemed infinite. I have no doubt now that in what we call death is the approach to a great happiness of which we can only have glimpses during physical life. Thank you Adrienne for showing us this wonder so fully and clearly.
I can't say for certain that Adrienne died because she had lost hope. But I know that she felt very powerfully the serious plight of our living world and the refusal of people to change their behaviour in the face of it – flying everywhere as if there were no tomorrow and even justifying themselves when the facts are staring them in the face. This traumatised her severely. In fact it was a re-traumatisation, because her mother had died in childbirth when she was three years old, she had never understood why and it was never talked about in her family, so that she felt unconsciously responsible and guilty. Her failure to save the natural world – our mother – caused this deep trauma to resurface in the form of what was to prove a fatal illness.
The final phase of cancer was diagnosed in May 2012 with the discovery of a brain tumour which was successfully removed, but the cancer (type HER2) had spread to her lymphatic system and that was a sentence of death. She refused chemotherapy which had so distressed her three years previously. Though she was resigned to the idea that she would soon die we tried every possible alternative means of curing her. She ate nothing for three whole months while she experienced constant nausea and vomiting. Her mind and presence remained clear and strong while her body weakened. In September sedative drugs allowed her to regain her appetite for a while but there was to be no turning point, no physical miracle.
If there was a miracle it was that she lived so long after the cancer took hold. This time allowed us all to adjust to her impending death and to accompany her towards the gate of departure from among us. She had time to teach us what her dying process was teaching her. Something that she had not quite learned in all her lifelong search for meaning up till then: that the only thing that's important finally is love. Nothing else matters. Because if we have not love then none of our efforts to help, to heal, to save, will come to anything. The paradox is that she herself was always so full of love for everyone and everything around her, but didn't see it. And when she tried to get us to understand what she understood and to act, we couldn't always see it. But that doesn't seem so important now. What's more important is that she has returned to love, which is ultimately all that matters, and has helped to show us the way. I am so proud of her.
November 16 2012
Top: at Bassetts Oast in the early 1990s, (left) on a happy walk with assorted children, (right) arguing at a party. Below: at Adrienne's 52nd birthday party on July 3oth in St John's churchyard, Lewes. This beautiful spot has been made into a biodiversity area with a memorial bench for her.
Adrienne died on October 25th 2012, nearly three months after this picture was taken.
On August 3rd she gave an interview about her conclusions on life and death, which you can see here.