Leader of the High Desert Center for Sustainable Studies
Jack Perrin has a hard time assigning himself a title. Formally, he is the co-founder of the High Desert Center for Sustainable Studies in Paonia, Colorado, but informally he answers to the names of “green camp counselor,” “home builder,” or “that permaculture guy.” But despite the wide array of potential titles, Jack, with an operation centered on top of an arid ridge just outside Paonia, spends his time embodying one verb: help. “Help” as it applies to both people and lands, together, be that building a barn for the neighbor or holding donation-only camps for children about how to be green. The unique thing about Jack is that he doesn’t fit into any of the set models that so frequently plague environmental thinking. His job is getting up everyday and asking himself how he can nourish the living things around him. His work is not quantifiable; when you ask him what his goal for the center is, he says, “I just love the idea of finding people who are stressed out and helping them.” We found him refreshing, because instead of fighting against the ills of the world, he is teaching us how to better work together with the land for cooperation, not confrontation.
By Cathryn Klusmeier