Cool People

www.bretdougherty.com

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On a grad school application, I was presented with the question - "If you had to have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would you choose to have dinner with you?" Well, I came up with my answer, and I chose 3 out of these 4 people (See if you can guess which ones).

I respect them for the following reasons listed below. I hope you have fun pondering this question sometime yourself...It's a tough one. Email me with your three people.

 

 

Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted- The most important figure of the "New Urban Landscape" in the United States. "The Placemaker" was the chief architect of New York City's Central Park. He believed in enchancing the psychological aspects of people, which would "elevate their consciousness", and he believed that nature could be brought to cities through public parks. Olmstead is the reason that the benefits of parks are extended throughout all parts of cities, and that parks could be a "mixing engine" to bring people together.

After years of wandering, writing, travelling, and falied career paths, Olmsted started his career late. His career boomed after he landed the position of Superintendent of New York City's Parks, and was handed the responsiblity of constructing Central Park.

Some of his masterpieces include Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY, The Biltmore Estate in NC, and the Boston Park System. Olmsted is recognized as the Father of Landscape Architecture, and his impact upon the urban cities in the U.S. is paramount.

 

 

Bill Bowerman

Bill Bowerman- Arguably one of the greatest coaches in NCAA history during his tenure of twenty-four years at the University of Oregon, he was a demanding coach who constantly looked at improving the running techniques of his pupils, who won 31 Olympic Medals and four NCAA team championships. He is looked upon as the man "who brought jogging to America" after observing local jogging clubs in New Zealand on a coaching trip in 1962. His pamphlet released in 1971, "Jogging" is considered the introduction of the jogging craze to America.

A constant drive to improve running innovations and techniques brought him to an idea of pouring liquefied rubber into waffle irons in his home, which would create Waffle Soles. These innovative treads were glued to the bottom of running flats to gain lighter weight and performance.

Along with a former Oregon student/athlete named Phil Knight, who was interested in mass production techniques in Southeast Asia, he formed a small company called Blue Ribbon Sports. This small Portland, Oregon company grew to become Nike, which would grow to become a major force in the way that we live our lives today.

The man who refused to be called "Coach" only "Bill", or "Mr. Bowerman", challenged the limits that came across his life. The purple heart veteran also created the first urethane track, and he adamantly pushed for innovations in running shoes. He was often known to tell marketing gurus at Nike that it was "about the shoes, dammit", and his legacy lives on through the Bowerman Track Rennovation Program, which revitalizes tracks across the country today using the regrinded soles of running shoes as their track surface.

 

 

Lawerence Ferlinghetti

Lawerence Ferlinghetti- One of the major influences of the Beat Movement. With his poetry and inner-strength, this former UNC-Chapel Hill alum, who chose Chapel Hill because of his admiration of Thomas Wolfe, formed the City Lights Publishing Co. in San Francisco, CA. He administered his small independent publishing company from a North Beach small independent bookstore called City Lights on Columbus and Broadway, which released many works such as Allen Ginsburg's "Howl" and Ferlinghetti's own "Coney Island On My Mind". .

His City Lights Bookstore is the first "softback" bookstore in the world, and is one of our U.S. treasures for independent local businesses in our urban cities today. City Lights bookstore became a safe-haven for beat poets such as Jack Kerouac, Lenny Bruce, and Allen Ginsburg at a time when political dissenters and writers were cultural outcasts.

Without Ferlinghetti and his local independent store, we would not be living in a country that has the freedoms of speech and thought that we enjoy today.

Note: I saw Lawerence in North Beach during 2002 several times, and I can't say enough about what a good guy he is. One time I presented an article that had appeared in the Carolina Alumni Review. He asked if he could hold on to it, and then folded into his jacket with a thank you. He then asked me what I was doing in life. At the time, I told him that I was thinking of returning to Chapel Hill for school, and he told me that was a good move. I hope that Chapel Hill can get him back for a Carolina Alumni Achievement Ceremony. This man could not only give an outstanding reading to our English literature students and to Triangle area poets, but also could give Kenan-Flagler MBA students several helpful hints on how to sustain an entrepreneurial effort in an changing urban world.

I consider my time and money spent in his bookstore as tuition payments for a degree in mind expansion at the University of City Lights Bookstore.

 

 

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh- A VietNamese monk, who is one of the greatest individuals on this planet today.

His philosophies for peace have resulted in over 40 written works, and during the Viet Nam War he galvanized the Peace movement by persuading Dr. Martin Luther King to denouce the War publicly. Hanh was later honored by King during King's accepatance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, when he recommended that Hanh be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.

Hanh also represented the Buddhist delegation at the Paris Peace Talks, and he has established a retreat, called Plum Village, in the South of France that preaches non-violence, peace, and cultural diversity.

His teachings appeal to people across many religions, political beliefs, and educational backgrounds. He utilizes a practice of "mindfulness" that preaches to resist and transform the speed and violence of our world today.

He now lives at Plum Village in France, where he practices with over 30 monks "mindfulness" breathing practices, which have been a tremendous influence on my thoughts and practices each day. He is truly a beautiful human being. I highly suggest reading one of his works, The Path to Emancipation.

 
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