leif brecke memorial page

founder of the cascadian resilience network

1978 – 2016

live wild: remembering leif brecke

It has been a year since the passing of my dear friend Leif Brecke.
I wanted to write something on this anniversary of his death because I believe that he was a figure whose importance has not yet been recognized sufficiently and whose relevance will only grow with time.
Upon Leif’s passing, there were memorial services held in cities all over Oregon with many attendees present.
His passing was also noted in newspaper articles in the Coos Bay World and Eugene Weekly .

Leif was somebody who many people had heard of before they ever met him in person. He was just that big. But for those of us who had the good fortune to know him well Leif wasn't just a major opinion leader in the northwest, he was a mentor and comrade. Leif was intelligent beyond belief, but he could also get down in the dirt and swing a tool with the best of them, as evidenced by the five seasons he spent as a wildland firefighter. More than any other person Leif showed me how an ordinary person can become virtually superhuman through the power of knowledge. He showed me how we can reprogram our minds and train our bodies to accomplish things we never thought were were capable of.

Leif grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon a coastal city were rural rednecks mixed with hippie counterculture. After graduating from high school, Leif went to Eugene, Oregon for the ‘Resist and Exist festival’ an anarcho-punk rock musical gathering that drew hundreds, if not thousands of ‘punkers’ (as the news media hilariously called them) to the city. He would also spend a summer living with squatter kids in the San Francisco bay area, before settling around Eugene, OR with his girlfriend.

Eugene in the mid to late nineties was a wild place, it was the epicenter of the radical environmental movement and hordes of black-clad anarchists freely roamed the streets. It was in this context that Leif became a self-proclaimed ‘weekend warrior’ at the Fall Creek tree-sit and a member of the Red Cloud Thunder warrior society, a network of radical environmental activists who modeled their organization off the native warrior societies in British Columbia and elsewhere. This group of activists were behind many of the more memorable actions that were happening around Eugene at the time, including the hilarious ‘EAT Torrey’ campaign where these eco-anarchists hilariously dogged the Mayoral campaign of reactionary politician Jim Torrey. Activities included hanging out at Torrey’s campaign table eating his carrot sticks and chips and singing their bawdy rendition of ‘Anarchy in the UK’ . Most famously, Leif was a member of the anarchist ‘black bloc’ that played a pivotal role in shutting down the meeting of the World Trade Organization in 1999. This event would go on to be dubbed the ‘Battle of Seattle’. It was the first major victory of the anti-globalization movement since the Zapatista rising in 1994 and marked the end of neo-liberalism’s legitimacy as an economic system the eyes of many. Sadly, this vast momentum, which at the time seemed unstoppable would be brought to a shuddering halt with the events of September 11th. All of a sudden calling yourself a “poetic terrorist” was no longer a cool way to psych yourself up for protest. It became something you might go to prison for. As the community fractured under stress of both external and internal pressures, Leif sought refuge in a small house in the hills above Eugene, where he lived with his wife. It was in this time that he began to develop some of his most penetrating insights into the nature of social movements and where he began to formulate a strategy forward.

Community Mourns Loss of Activist Leif Brecke

Leif Brecke Obituary

Grange remembers Leif Brecke

Cascadian Organizer and Bioregionalist Leif Brecke Passes Away