|The GIL LOPEZ Community Website|
This site celebrates the life and carries on the legacy of
My son called me this morning and asked me if I had made my peace with God. I told him I didn't know She and I had had a fight!Gil Lopez was an African-American activist and radical peacemaker, the center of a lively multi-cultural community, and a man who believed in "the creative forces of fun." This website celebrates Gil's life and legacy in a book and pictures, writings by Gil and others, information about the three documentary films in which Gil appears, and--perhaps most appropriately for Gil--a song.
In his life Gil transformed himself from a black militant defending his people into an activist peacemaker among all peoples. As a teacher of peace-making, Gil joined those who are taking on one of the central challenges of our time: how to resolve differences and correct injustices in a creative, non-violent way. He taught us how to facilitate change so that it became not just a power shift with somebody new on top, but a true transformation that empowered everyone. And he showed us that peace-making was a juicy process of engagement and intimacy, as active and joyful as home-making or love-making.
I see disputing parties as wonderful people whose experience and conditioning has brought about disharmony, and I help them communicate in such a clear and heartfelt way that they see each other's value. This process is more than mere problem-solving; it is literally transformative, and I call my work Transformative Intervention.
Gil died before he could complete the establishment of his mentorship program and training institute, but as he requested, an annual scholarship, the Gil Lopez Award, is given to "an individual person of color and/ or multi-cultural team for creative interventions to conflict and violence." You can read more of Gil's writing about his experiences and ideas-- and send your own articles to be included-- in "Writing by Gil and Others."
"I have never felt more alive in my life," Gil told his buddy community during the last months of his life. The story of his healing and dying with his community of friends is told in the book, The Gil Lopez Buddy Network: A Love Story of Living Big and Dying Great. Always a pioneer, he intended for this story of vibrant dying-- in a buddy network of support groups, healing groups, ceremonial gatherings, football parties, and carry-it-on legacy groups-- to be an inspiration for others. Gil Lopez was one of the Big Souls who show the way, a man who lived big and died big. And, as I hope my book will demonstrate, all our souls got bigger as we made the last journey with our Big-Soul Buddy. The introduction and first chapter of the book are included in this website. [Click on BOOK link at top or bottom of any page.] For further information about the complete book, see the September 2008 Update at the end of the Home page.
Gil had star quality. In his youth he and his sister Margo Silvia wrote and recorded the hit song, "Happy, Happy, Birthday Baby." In his later years Gil was a charismatic figure in three documentaries: the award-winning Despair, a multi-layered look at depression; we don't live under NORMAL CONDITIONS, a film about the connections between depression and oppression; and a work-in-progress, Voices of Healing, featuring Gil and members of his support community filmed ten days before his passing. These films are a fulfillment of one of Gil's legacy goals: to promote art ("aht" in Gil's broad Boston accent) which is political and spiritual.
Gil Lopez was a man whose Community was Planet Earth, and he believed that in community folks could accomplish anything. I hope that this website will provide on-going creative inspiration for community ideas, projects, and all forms of dream-making and earth-shaking in the Lopezian tradition.
I am creating a model for a new hero, a powerful and vulnerable person in a strong, supportive community. My buddies and I transform the world by living our visions now.
September 2008 Update
The Gil Lopez Buddy Network: A Love Story of Living Big and Dying Great, by Rebecca Rees, may now be ordered from Xlibris publishers at 1-888-795-4274 x 7876 for $19.99 plus shipping. After August, it can also be ordered through Amazon.com or your local bookstore.
“This is a book about a transformational journey taken by remarkable people who enjoyed that special kind of community where shared passions rather than shared boundaries make up the neighborhood. The journey into Gil’s death, the shared grief, and the continued journey back into life make for a thoughtful and inspirational read.” --Rosemary Sheppard, author of Trickster Tales“I want to give this book to all my friends who are supporting a loved one through the process of dying. This story of transformation is deeply inspiring and will bring comfort to anyone who doubts that in death there is healing.” --Cynthia Park, environmental educator “Some of us have already been and many will be caretakers as they die for those we love. This book recounts how individually and together each of us can make this time meaningful, memorable, and even life-changing.” -- Penn Garvin, mediator, community activist living and working in Nicaragua “With honesty, humor—and especially with compassion—Rees shines a new light on the healing power of community.” --Beverly Lauderdale, author of Notes When Summer Ends “A heartfelt loving story. Her conversational writing style keeps your interest throughout the book, from the depths of despair to the light.” —Alex Hatch and Emily Charles “This book was such an inspiration to me. To know that passing over can be done with such beauty and grace as was done by Gil makes me less apprehensive about my own inevitable journey.” -–Dawn Alvarado, community mental health specialist “AWESOME! When I first started reading, I had my highlighter, just highlighting away. At some point early on I got so enthralled reading I couldn’t highlight fast enough. I smiled, laughed, teared up, prayed, reflected, and thanked God for friends and family.” —Carol Lopez, family advocate, Gil’s daughter
Also included on the BOOK page of this website is Chapter 9, “A Group Like That for Folks Like Us,” with practical ideas about forming a healing support group. This chapter may be downloaded and shared for inspirational/educational purposes. The chapter also deals with difficult issues that may arise particularly for companion-caregivers.
Thank you for helping me keep the faith in love and community.
Gil Lopez was my dearest friend,
and it is a great joy for me to carry on his spirit
in my book and on this website.
You can contact me at