Laury Hammel’s Birthday

Before I met Laury Hammel, I had many heros.  People like Wangari Maathi, Mohammed Yunus, Mother Teresa (yes, I know they are  all Nobel Peace Prize winners.)  Not that I was friends with these people.  In fact, I have never met any of them personally.

When I first met Laury, it didn’t occur to me that he would become one of my heros.  I thought he was more of a character, a rebel, and an idealist.  He showed up at meetings dressed in gym clothes, even when they were held in formal settings.  He would say injudicious things. Like the time he clashed with someone over a green justice issue before he had really made the connection between the problems of the inner city and the degradation of our environment.  And I thought he talked too much at our Sustainable Business Network board meetings.

But, I was wrong.  Laury did not talk enough.  So it took some time for me to learn that there are hundreds, no, thousand of people whose lives he has enriched.   Laury’s inspiration and hard work built the Longfellow Tennis and Sports Clubs, and many other vibrant organizations, including the New England Business Association for Social Responsibility, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, the International Symposium for Spirituality in Business, Cambridge Local First and other Local First campaigns.

Laury is one of the very few people in this world who successfully combines passion for his ideas with compassion for the individual.  Like me, Laury wants to save the world.  And he has allotted himself another 60 years to succeed or die trying!  Yet he never sacrifices anyone no matter how antithetical to his views, on the alter of his idealism.  He believes in people, he cares about people, and he puts his heart on the line every day.

Laury is the ultimate coach.  How many people have received the gift of encouragement from Laury, both on and off the tennis courts?   If you need an example of Laury in action, here’s one:  The message Laury left on my cell phone voicemail after I represented the SBN for the Boston launch of the Sustainable Business Leaders Program.

Hey, Susan.  Woo Hoo!  Congratulations to all of us.  A great job on a great talk.  I thought that the morning just went great. It’s a breakthrough moment justifying all our good work over the years and your investment in time, energy, resources and inspiration.      

It’s a blessing to know you, Susan, and to work with you. It just feels so good. And, watch out world, cause here we come! We’re  going to save the planet!

I listened to that message at least ten times.  It’s a punch in the arm.  It’s like having Lance Armstrong praise your bike riding or Tiger Woods praise your game of golf. That’s why Laury is one of my heros. 


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