It was October 16, 1970, and 10,000 beautiful freaks and squares sprawled around Pacific Coliseum, listening to Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, Phil Ochs and Chilliwack. The organizers of the famed Amchitka concert, Irving (Rhode Island lawyer turned activist) and Dorothy Stowe (the breadwinner: a social worker), had plans for the funds raised. The dough would help a nascent environmental movement they co-founded with Marie and Jim Bohlen, and initially named the Don’t Make a Wave Committee, to send the Phyllis Cormack to Alaska to “bear witness” (a Quaker term-the Stowes had adopted their last name in honour of noted Quaker Harriet Beecher Stowe) to U.S. nuclear testing.
Greenpeace has long outgrown its Vancouver home, but the spirit of playful, disruptive intervention on behalf of Mother Nature takes a little of this city to every contested spot on the globe. History hasn’t forgotten the Stowes. Irving died in 1974, but Dorothy lived long enough to attend another concert: in 2005 at GM Place, U2 devoted to the mother of Greenpeace a song from the band’s then-new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.