Hazel Henderson, wonder woman of green, science-based investing, the love economy, and the golden rule society, went virtual (her term for died) on May 22, 2022, at home, and very much at peace.
She was/is my dear friend, inspiration, goad, mentor and cheerleader.
Two weeks before she died, Ralph Nader convinced her to one more time sing every song in her intellectual repertoire – about money, finance, the non-sense of even “green” mutual funds, an economy run on the sun and every other idea she developed over her 60+ year career. Here it is, and I highly recommend you listen to clear out any cobwebs about what we are up against and fighting for.
Here is the official notice of her death.
If you want to write a tribute, we’ve set up this site which we imagine will be populated by thousands of people who loved her, who basked in her love.
And here’s the story I wrote two weeks ago after she called me to say goodbye:
Hazel called yesterday to say good-bye. The long forever good-bye. It was raining in Marysville and I was sitting in my car in the dealership lot after it had an EV battery transplant. I was eager to get to the ferry, as the lines these days are long, especially after 3 PM. My phone rings. It’s Hazel.
“Got a minute?”
“Literally a minute,” and I told her where I was.
“I’m calling to say good-bye. You know, I never wanted to live until I was 90. I have wonderful people here with me. You know, Ms. X came, and she is running her business from here and it’s actually better for her because her main clients are in Europe so she is staying and will stay after I am gone, isn’t that marvelous, she’s launching her product now in Europe so I’m fine dear. Hospice will be here soon and they’ll give me morphine and I’ll drift away.”
So Hazel, framing every horror in the world as progress towards a civilization based on love, with evidence everywhere that we are on the brink. Her beat for sixty years has been the economy. As she and I said in one webinar: it’s the golden calf or the golden rule. She’s never been one to fuss with any evidence that all is not well, but she is no light headed fool. She is just unwavering from the truth of an abundant world if we heed the golden rule, and has books, articles, interviews to substantiate, with her British accent and contralto voice, her claims. She is a self-taught economist who has keynoted an infinite number of conferences of highly placed economists, financial advisors, government officials, activists.
“I just did an hour and a half webinar with Ralph Nader, my dear. It was wonderful. He just let me bang on. I just blasted everyone with the truth of the golden rule. Gave a keynote to a group of portfolio managers. Told them their sustainability EFTs were rubbish, a marketing ploy, as bad as the rest and with more fees. I’m having so much fun. Just blasting the truth. That’s the thing, my dear. Just tell the truth and enjoy yourself.”
By now I’m sobbing.
“I’m sorry Hazel, I can’t help it. I can’t believe I will never hear your voice again.”
“Of course you will, my dear, oh I love you so much! I just did an interview with Ralph Nader, you can listen to that. Listen, it’s all arranged. I never meant to last until I’m 90. I’ve always planned to go virtual. I’m going to join my dear sister Barbara out there.”
“I mean your voice. Talking.” I think she was crying a bit even though she meant to stay firm in her celebration that all was well, she’d left everything tidy, in good hands, all her books, her articles, her lectures and webinars. Barbara is Barbara Marx Hubbard, a prolific visionary who spoke of our transformation into a new self, a new humanity. Hazel said they’d joke that Barbara was focused on the cosmos and Hazel was the Earth Mother.
The movie of Hazel in my life was now running.
“You have given me so much. You have been such an inspiration.”
My mind presents me with the image the first time I met Hazel, a tall, vibrant blonde in a brilliantly colored sheath, who rose when called to the stage, grabbed an overhead slide, slapped it on the projector and then unpacked the visual of the layer cake economy. She used this overhead every time she spoke. For years. And years. Never tiring of explaining it because it was both the truth of the matter and an incantation from a good witch, a spell to wake us from the trance of scarcity.
Fifty percent of the economy rests on the unpaid work of women and families and communities, she would say referring to the lower two layers of the cake. This is the unrecognized wealth, unacknowledged, and devalued, but the world would not work without this 50% which isn’t even calculated in the economy. The financial system is like the icing, but we think it’s all there is.
Boom. With that she’d bust the illusion of a clockwork economy that is a cornucopia of goods for those who play by its rules. In other words, the story fed to every one of us, the mother’s milk of our society taught in schools, universities, media, books, so universal that we can’t recognize the simple truth that we would bang on in Your Money or Your Life. You are primary. Your life energy. Money is secondary, something you choose to trade your life energy for. Wake up. Wake up.
I saw that layer cake and the picture clicked in. I’d never studied economics, I was just passionate about not destroying the earth, and consumerism was the windmill I tilted and Hazel in that moment showed me the wool the financial system pulls over our eyes.
I loved her immediately and revered her for her certainty, her beauty, her fearless slapping an old transparency on an overhead projector and stepping to the podium to speak with no script, no outline, no funny story at the beginning and 3 main points and a call to action, just the truth, spoken with such good humor, to a workshop at a conference I attended, and over the years to vast halls of experts.
And there I was, with my speech all prepared, but aspiring to be such a truth teller.
The movie of Hazel in my life kept running as I sobbed and she comforted me that really her voice was everywhere, and she would be with her friend Barbara and would never really leave us.
Years ago I convened a group of the simpler living authors and activists I most admired to form something like a “trade association” – to work together as a team to lift up the humble lifeways of simplicity in the face of the tsunami of consumerism. And there was Hazel in opening circle of 20 or so and when her turn came, she said, “Vicki invited me and I always say yes to Vicki.” How can it be that you are your heroine’s heroine?
Many years passed. I’d gone on to other issues, including personal issues having nothing to do with changing anything other than my prospects for being alive. Hazel stayed true to her defrocking the financial system’s lie. Eventually I circled back to the money theme, having updated my book and discovered an entire nerdy cult of early retirement devotees for whom my book was one of the bibles. A conference invitation put me close to where Hazel lives in Florida so I invited myself to visit her. She was over the moon delighted as if I were her daughter or best friend or long-lost cousin. We spent days together, walking the beach, lounging by her pool, sharing stories – mostly Hazel sharing hers. The big fish she was spearing were cultured gems to disable the gem mining industry, and salt water agriculture to disable the grip of industrial agriculture on feeding the world. She always had a spear out, to catch one industry after another in their weak flank, always protecting the life of this earth.
I remember sitting in her Florida sun room where she’d hosted gathering after gathering of world changers and realizing I’d forgotten entirely that I was one of those. I decided that no matter what I was doing, it was, somehow, going to be about addressing climate change, whether the people listening to me liked it or not. I wanted to get at least half way back to how Hazel saw me.
In the four years since, she’s included me in the inner circles of her life, invited me to do webinars with her, and always saw us as sisters in the big work of making the golden rule, not the golden calf, the OS for society. We’ve talked monthly in a small sisterhood. I do my local work not thinking of it as world changing at all, just doing what I can where I am, and Hazel always whooped with enthusiasm and found value in every scrap.
Truth is, I never felt as amazing as Hazel believed I was but drank in her belief and perhaps it was like an elevator elevating my work to the level she saw it.
These movies ran as she matter-of-factly said her goodbyes on the phone in my car in the rain in a car dealership in an industrial section of Marysville.
“It’s going to be a shit show for the next 5 years. Tell the truth and enjoy your life.”
“I love you so much, Hazel. You have been my teacher, mentor, friend. I would have done none of it without your inspiration.”
“I love you my dear. I’ve always loved you. You have always been the real deal, the Golden Rule.”
And we hung up because she was repeating herself and I needed to let loose and those really were the best final words. I cried big heaving gulps of grief and gave myself space to do so until I was ready to drive on.
It seems now, a day later, that this is her final gift, to step graciously towards death as it comes for her, thrilled about her life, knowing we didn’t stop the harm we sought to stop and a shit show was coming but no regrets and all encouragement to speak truth and enjoy my life.
“Don’t worry dear. I’ll have hospice. They’ll give me morphine and off I’ll go to my sister Barbara. I’m very happy. I love you.”
And thus, she taught me what to do and how to live and how to exit and that if there is another there, we’ll be there together.
Finally, here’s Hazel’s mantra, taped to her fridge and other places in her sprawling St Augustine home: