Donella “Dana” Meadows
Cobb Hill was the vision and work of Donella (Dana) Meadows. Dana was born in 1941 in Elgin, Illinois. She was educated in science, earning a B.A. in chemistry from Carleton College in 1963, and a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 1968. She then became a research fellow at MIT, a protégé of Jay Forrester, the inventor of system dynamics as well as the principle of magnetic data storage for computers. She taught at Dartmouth College for 29 years, beginning in 1972.
Dana was honored both as a Pew Scholar in Conservation and Environment and as a MacArthur Fellow. She received the Walter C. Paine Science Education Award in 1990. She also posthumously received the John H. Chafee Excellence in Environmental Affairs Award for 2001 presented by the Conservation Law Foundation.
Dana wrote a weekly column called "The Global Citizen," nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1991, commenting on world events from a systems point of view. Her work is widely recognized as a formative influence on hundreds of other academic studies, government policy initiatives, and international agreements.
In 1972 she was on the MIT team that produced the global computer model "World3" for the Club of Rome and provided the basis for the book Limits to Growth, which began a debate about the limits of Earth's capacity to support human economic expansion, a debate that continues to this day.
In 1981, she founded the International Network of Resource Information Centers (INRIC), a global process of information sharing and collaboration among hundreds of leading academics, researchers, and activists in the broader sustainable development movement (an international effort to reverse damaging trends in the environment, economy, and social systems). Meadows was the founder of the Sustainability Institute (now the Donella Meadows Institute), combining research in global systems with practical demonstrations of sustainable living, including the development of a cohousing or ecovillage and organic farm at Cobb Hill in Hartland, Vermont.
Though I didn’t grow up on a farm…
“Though I didn’t grow up on a farm, I’ve been attracted to them all my life. When in 1972 I finally came to buy my own home, it was a farm. My psychological roots grew instantly into its cold, rocky soil. I have tried several times to leave it, reasoning that I could write more if I didn’t spend so much time shoveling manure, that I need to be where the political action is, that I’m not a very good farmer anyway, that New Hampshire is a terrible place to farm. But I’ve always come back. Something deep in me needs to be attached to a farm.” Donella Meadows
“If we haven’t specified where we want to go, it is hard to set our compass, to muster enthusiasm, or to measure progress. But vision is not only missing almost entirely from policy discussions; it is missing from our culture. We talk easily and endlessly about our frustrations, doubts, and complaints, but we speak only rarely, and sometimes with embarrassment, about our dreams and values.”
–“Envisioning a Sustainable World”, Feb 12, 1996
“You may be able to fool the voters, but not the atmosphere."
We have within us…
“We have within us the ability to wonder,
the intelligence to understand,
and the love to care about that which we wonder at.
I try to play to those abilities,
within myself and within others,
and in them I always find hope.”
–Dana Meadows wrote of her work in an online forum in 1992