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Jun 23
Tuesday
Scene and Heard
Warrior Tribute to Pamela Krasney

Pamela Krasney

Pamela Krasney

It is with sadness and appreciation that the Shambhala Times shares with you the news that sangha sister Pamela Krasney died on June 9th in her home in Sausalito from a heart condition.

Pamela was a very active and inspiring person in our Shambhala world. Many of us knew her as a friend and fellow practitioner, supporter of our Centers and Region, longtime Board member of Shambhala Mountain Center, member of the Shambhala Trust, and Board member of Naropa University. She was also involved in many other causes, and gave herself to a number of important projects. You could not be around Pamela without being inspired by her energy, her dedication, her sharp wit, and her compassionate nature.

A description of her life taken from Naropa University encapsulates many of the aspects of her journey:

pam_arms_up

Pamela Krasney was an innovative, catalytic and deeply authentic social activist for more than half a century, starting with her participation in the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was an art history major in the mid-nineteen-sixties. Moving to San Francisco after graduation, she became involved with the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Diggers, a community arts and action group that provided free street theater, food, medical care, transport, and temporary housing in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and opened “Free Stores” that gave away their stock.

Pamela became a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner in 1974 and lived for the next decade in Boulder, Colorado, where she was a student of Chogyam Trungpa, and worked for and attended Naropa Institute (now Naropa University), earning an MA in Contemplative Psychology in 1983 and serving on Naropa’s board for the past thirty years, much of that time as Development Chair.

with husband Marty Krasney

with husband Marty Krasney

After returning to California and marrying in 1984, Pamela was active in the HIV/AIDS community, initially as a caregiver and eventually as the Chair of the Marin AIDS Project. Since 1999, when she befriended and began to work with Jarvis Masters, a wrongly-convicted Death Row inmate at San Quentin State Prison, Pamela was a fervent criminal justice and anti-death penalty advocate. She was active in Human Rights Watch, was on the board of Death Penalty Focus for many years and had been serving as a director of the Prison Mindfulness Institute (with Acharya Fleet Maull).

She lived with her husband Marty in Sausalito, California and had two children and two grandchildren, and more best friends than anyone else.

Pamela will be greatly missed by all of us who knew her, and by all the people whose lives she touched who may never have met her. The Boulder Shambhala community will be having an event to celebrate her life later in the summer.

A Warrior of Generosity
Tribute by Gregory Lubkin
Kalapa Patron and Co-Chair, Shambhala Trust

VesuviosIf someone had set out to create the perfect model of generosity in the Shambhala world, they could not have improved on Pamela Krasney. Many years ago, when I was an underemployed and underpaid professor of medieval history, she convinced me that I could somehow afford to donate hundreds of dollars a month for three years to help Shambhala Mountain Center build a proper dining room. Pamela convinced me in part because she was giving so generously herself that I felt ashamed not to donate something myself. She convinced me in part because she had such enthusiasm and certainty about the importance of SMC that I felt inspired to contribute what I could. And she convinced me in part because she pierced my sense of poverty, so that I could see the powerful abundance pervading the world of warriorship. In the words of another leading Shambhala patron, she taught us how to give until it felt good.

Pamela bore her wisdom lightly, but she was relentless in her efforts to be of benefit. Her boundless generosity was genuinely refreshing, and happily balanced by a cheerful irreverence. Besides being been one of Shambhala’s most active and effective donors and fund-raisers, Pamela sat on many charitable boards and shared her intelligence and experience widely. Even in her last weeks, she successfully steered through the Shambhala Trust grant process a new project addressing issues of at-risk youth in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For those of us who have been working with Pamela in Shambhala’s mandala of generosity, it is difficult to imagine life without her keen mind, her ready wit, and her open heart. We will miss her terribly.

My Good Friend Pamela
poem by Vicki Hitchcock

at the Sukhavati for Pamela in Mill Valley

at the Sukhavati for Pamela in Mill Valley

My good friend Pamela was the queen of dead headers
Not the “grateful” kind traveling the country in VW buses
I’m talking about the ones who master the art of picking dead blossoms off of plants..
Her plants, your plants, perfect stranger’s plants
Plants in front of fancy hotels while she was waiting for the valet to bring her car
No plant was safe from her fearless care
No dead leaf could rest for long on her lawn
No weeds could settle in her flower beds Even in these last few months, of weekly treatments, she would shuffle out hunched over to pick dropped leaves and clean up unruly bushes.. She always took care of everyone and every thing in her world On her last afternoon she escaped into her beloved garden
To pull and pick a few pesky intruders
And then, as she climbed into her bed to rest a moment, her heart suddenly stopped
Her heart that so many of us relied on
Her heart that held so many of us in its fierce and honest embrace..
Stopped.. Just like that.
Later that night, as I am on my porch sharing the news with a fellow shattered friend in another town, I break down.
“you’ll never believe what I’m doing right this minute” I blubber, laughing and crying at once,
“I’m dead heading my fucking plant!” A loud hoot erupts in space and we two friends left here laugh and cry together for a long time…
Too many losses to hold in a single moment
It will take years.
That night, a soft rain came, soaking our parched gardens, sending a shower of brilliant yellow leaves onto the grateful grass…
Bringing the whisper of a smile to our broken hearts

Share your tributes and memories here, below in the comments section.

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4 responses to “ Warrior Tribute to Pamela Krasney ”
  1. To Gregory, Vicki , Tamara, Gayle and Leslie,

    Your tributes to Pamela are so beautifully expressed and heartfelt. Thank you for describing what so many of her friends feel. I am flooded with emotions as I go back 56 years when I met Pam. Wonderful memories. She leaves behind an extraordinary legacy. She is a lady who made an enormous difference in the lives of many, from all walks in life. Pam’s smile and enthusiasm is greatly missed . She leaves us richer for knowing her and puts a smile on our hearts.

  2. Leslie Murphy
    Jul 5, 2015
    Reply

    Today is July 5th. I just found out that Pamela died. I am a little in shock. Thank you for the beautiful tributes. It helps so much to read such true and real words about this amazing human. My heart goes out to her wonderful family and all her best friends the world over….I can honestly say, I love you Pamela Krasney….

  3. Gayle Van Gils
    Jul 3, 2015
    Reply

    Vicki, thank you for your beautiful tribute. Pamela and I became close friends (as you say, everyone was a “best friend”) in the first summer of Naropa in 1974. As the years separated us in geographical distance and programs I attended became more east coast oriented, we lost touch. Your article brings it all back into present moment focus. Thank you again for your words.

  4. Tamara Sell
    Jun 26, 2015
    Reply

    Thank you for this tribute, and Vicki for your poem….made me laugh and cry. We will miss Pamela. And probably none of us know the extent to which she gave to and supported our mandala, and especially to SMC and Naropa. I’m sure she is on her way to continue to benefit beings wherever she is.


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