Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2019

Remembering: Spring Ruth Friedlander 1943 - 2019
by Bridget Basham and Wendy Bertrand

Spring R. Friedlander, Cornelio Terraza and Bridget Basham after a day of planting vegetables

This remembrance of Spring R. Friedlander's life is a collage of quotes and details from their own written account. The full account ( includes their living arrangements, family history, personal relationships with women and men, health issues, activism in the womens and queer movements and included thoughts about how they lived their values. The following gem self describes Spring R.'s essence.

"My core values:
My being pivotal
Eco village
Hands on work
Living collectively
As a planner/ contractor

The author's have reduced the writings willfully left, into this remembrance of numerous unique and professional accomplishments including highlights of Spring R.'s participation in the Organization of Women Architects and Design Professionals.

Spring R. was born July 24, 1943 and raised in Chicago. They attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison 1961-65 earning a Bachelor of Science. After college, Spring R. was employed as a planner in White Plains, Westchester County, New York. Shortly after, they obtained a Master's in Urban Planning from Hunter College CUNY 1969, and at some point, migrated to the West Coast where Spring R. became a coordinator of Bay Area Women Planners, 1972.

"I entered the women's movement in 1969" wrote Friedlander.

Wendy Bertrand remembers, "In 1972, during my last year as a graduate architecture student at UC Berkeley, then Ruth Friedlander, led a consciousness raising talk in a living room with standing room only that I [Wendy B] attended and was motivated to learn more about the women's movement and the possibility of starting an organization of like-minded women in architecture, their response to a question I asked, became one of the influences that led to the founding of the Organization of Women Architects in 1973."

"I changed my name from Ruth Friedlander to Spring Ruth Friedlander in 1976."

"In Oct of 1980, I decided to become a tradeswoman. I'd been looking for another career for four years and realized in a flash of light, that i had been drawn to the trades for my whole life, had enough experience doing the work to know that I was decent at doing it, I would not have to sit at a desk, which was hard for me to do, I could get paid for using some of my excess physical energy, it was well paid, and by age 37 I was confident enough to handle the discrimination expected as a woman in a man's field.
I joined the Skilled Workers Resource Network, a support group for us who were beginning [as] self-employed construction workers [where] I got to be the token woman. So I felt welcomed which felt wonderful. I in turn welcomed women who joined later. age 37 I was confident enough to handle the discrimination expected as a woman in a man's field.

I obtained a certificate in carpentry/ residential construction from Peralta Community Colleges in the San Francisco East Bay 1982. From 1989 - 1991, I taught carpentry [part] time and functioned as the administrator for the Carpentry program at Laney College, and taught a class of women being trained to enter construction. The students completely remodeled a gutted duplex that was sold to finance the program. The students were well instructed by me, as confirmed by their next teacher, Cynthia Correia, who was hired as the first tenured tradesperson.
In 2003, I was certified as a Green Remodeler, active in the Green Remodelers Guild. It evolved into Build it Green, and [I joined] the Organization of Women Architects [and Design Professionals]. In 2008, I was certified in Green Building Professional Training. In October 2009, I was certified as an EPA Lead Certified Renovator.
In 2014, I retired as a contractor, carpenter, and house remodeler, after 34 years."

Bertrand recalls that Spring R. regularly attended the September OWA+DP Retreat and mentioned being pleased with the intellectual conversations that were different from those in other groups. Also Spring R. lobbied for and proudly hosted a well attended OWA+DP holiday party in their Oakland co-op house.

Architect Jean Nilsson nominated Spring R. Friedlander to the OWA+DP Steering Committee as a needed long-time member in 2016. "Spring is a former city planner who is now working currently as a contractor. She is interested in living collectively in co-housing and is active in the LGBT community. She is interested in joining the steering committee because she not only has deep knowledge of the organization, but also has insight to future programs."
~ OWA+DP Steering Committee minutes of October 25, 2016.
Spring R. and I (Bridget B.) were neighbors and often spent Friday nights together at Spring's apartment in East Oakland, planning OWA+DP's upcoming #me too and you event of July 2018. Mainly we were talking big ideas and sharing idealisms over Spring R.s favorite take-out, Battambangs.

"I put together the agenda for the Organization of Women Architects and Design Professionals held in San Francisco, July 14th this year. There were breakout sessions in which stories of harassment were shared, as well as celebration of male champions of change, and a workshop on how to disrupt an entrenched workplace culture. I shared my background as a city planner, a housing remodeler, and having taught construction at a high school and at a college as well as reconstructing my own shared house".

Spring R. in action at the #me too & you OWA+DP event July 14th 2018

Bridget Basham remembers, "Spring R. and I first met at the OWA+DP retreat in 2017. I was immediately drawn to their quirkiness and intelligence. We got to know each other during the 2018 Women's March in Oakland. I remember keeping pace with Spring R., which is to say was moving very slowly. Spring R. was a dedicated participator in the women's movement in spite of a body that was becoming increasingly less-able. It was during this slow walk that I connected with Spring R.'s deep humanity, and sageness."

Spring R. at Women�s March 2018 in Oakland

"As of 1/20/18 OWADP Org. of Women Architects and Design Professionals has the tentative goal of doing what we can in our professional roles to contribute to creating a sex positive culture and still protect against predatory behavior," wrote Spring R. at this time.

Spring R. and I (Bridget B.) believed that women needed to provide and acquire tools outside of entrenched societal roles, expectations and behaviors. In this respect, we hoped to transcend the #Me Too movement by providing tools as simple as creating supportive environments for conversation, by encouraging leading from places of confidence and strength, and understanding that women's struggle is bigger than a single "one" and that we women, are allies and each-others' greatest resource for support and turning the tide on prejudice.

Spring R.'s final writings included this exit-plan/ end of life logic: "MY REASONS FOR SCHEDULING ASSISTED SUICIDE WITH DIGNITAS (in Switzerland) are as follows, I have been surprised that ending my life while still somewhat functional has become one of my main personal and political causes over the past 2.5 years. I have been saying for decades that at some point in the aging process, prior to when my body fully closes down, and while I still have my mental faculties, I will choose not to create another phase of my life."

*The authors have respected Spring R.'s expressed preference to use to use R. after Spring, and to use the 3rd person plural pronoun their or they in general, however that we would write a remembrance in the OWA+DP Newsletter was never discussed before her exit.

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