In homage to Lee Schipper

Our long-time colleague and very dear friend Lee Shipper left us on Tuesday evening, warmly surrounded by family and loving friends. Since he meant so much to so many of us who have been involved in the uphill struggle for sustainability in all its forms and corners of our lives, I thought it would be appropriate to open up these pages over the next days, and possibly more than that, to a selection of pieces in which the author reflects on the kind of very special person that Lee was.

If you have not had a chance to have a look at this, his family set up something called a Carrying Bridge in which we were all invited to me comments and leave notes to Lee which the family kindly read to him on a selective basis when his strength permitted. you can find it at

I know I am not the only one who carried Lee in my mind and my heart over this last very hard month, so let us see what we might be able to do now to provide some sort of appropriate memorial for Lee so that his work and originality will not be forgotten. I have some thoughts on this which I hope to share with you in the coming days.  Let me provide you an advance clue on one aspect of it: and that is that I think it would take Lee smile and jump for joy.

But for now let me step back and leave the pages of World Streets open to your tributes, on the understanding that if you do not make us smile or laugh at what you have to say, the opportunities of your getting published here will be significantly reduced.

Goodbye Lee. We miss you greatly, we will not forget you and we are going to honor you.

# # #

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at and @ericbritton

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12 thoughts on “In homage to Lee Schipper

  1. Dearest Lee – we will miss you and do our very best to carry on the momentous work you took on and follow the (bike) path you blazed. I’m very sorry I was never able to pedal the Berkeley hills with you.

    To his loved ones – all our strength and love during these days. I hope you can find solace in knowing the deep and lasting impact he will have on this planet.

  2. I am deeply saddenned to hear this. While I knew Lee was ill, I had no realised it was likely to be termninal. I have long respected his work and had the privilege of working with him on a couple of projects in New Zealand in 2007 and 2008. I miss his humour and good will, as well as his thoughtful and perceptive insights into sustainable transport and cities.

    To those who knew him better and were close to him in his final days, I offer my love and support in your grief, and thank you for your care and support to this man who we all appreciated. He was a great inspiration to many people around the world and his legacy lives on through his work and the people he worked alongside.

  3. Very sad news indeed. A series of ‘best of Lee Schipper’ items is a good idea, Eric.

    At numerous meetings Lee has been a great inspiration to me with his energy, enthusiasm, attention to rigor, and his clear thinking on how to make transport less of a problem and more of a solution. He leaves a valuable legacy. I will miss him.

  4. What a great loss! I first met Lee at ‘ENVIRONMENT 2005’ in Abu Dhabi,UAE. May his gentle soul rest in peace.Dr Joshua A.Odeleye,

  5. This is a great loss for all of us. My thoughts go his family.
    Lee was one of those rare people who managed to combine passion for life with passion for his work. He could inspire people to think out of the box by endlessly posing new questions and providing new bits of information, while a moment later jump to share small video clips of his performance with different jazz bands. I shall never forget his performance in Copenhagen during the COP15 where he proved that he could jump from serious debate about transport and climate change and directly into a band entertaining large crowds. Lee will live on as a memory with many of us.

  6. I counted Lee as a friend as well as a colleague and I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing. We first met in Kunming, City of Spring, in the People’s Republic of China, and we corresponded regularly during my years in London. He was more than wise; he was inspiring.

    I very much hope that we can honour him, collectively, in an appropriately memorable way in the weeks to come. On my part, I shall request my clients in the Tasmanian Government to provide a dedication to Lee in the Final Report of the Study on which I am currently engaged: Lee came to Tasmania last year and helped to inspire this Study.

  7. When I last wrote in this guestbook I’d just learnt of his illness and was sure he will come out fully recovered.

    It was therefore a great shock when I heard a few hours back that he is no more. I first met Lee about seven years back and over the years we became good friends. I was always amazed by his quick-silver responses through his one line Emails (I’d tease him that his subject line was longer than his message) but his views were always insightful – never flippant.

    Over the years we also became good friends and exchanged views on another topic of great interest to us both – that of Jazz. He was a highly talented vibraphonist and would send me links to some of his performances.

    As I mourn his death, and convey my condolences to his family, I can see him somewhere far away playing his vibraphone with an expression of intense concentration and great tranquility..

    Sujit Patwardhan

  8. My condolences to his family. I met Lee in Washington DC some years ago thanks to my friend Ramon (un abrazo amigo). I was lucky to read some of his articles before so I was able to fully enjoy from his enthusiastic presentations and deep knowledge. He has inspired so many people in different ways that no doubt he will always be here.

  9. In 1978, the Hawai`i environmental organization, Life of the Land, held an energy conference. Lee was my pick as one of five speakers. We were supposed to meet at his hotel to finalize details, but he got side-tracked (probably out running), and met back-stage minutes before I was to introduce him.

    As soon as he learned that I was German, he switched languages, told me about his adventures playing jazz all around Europe, his encounter with Frau Furtwwaengler and, with no time to spare, handed me two pieces of paper. At the podium, I read the long piece and moved on to what I presumed to be page two. To my horror, I realized after a couple of sentences that page two was a synopsis of page one. I was repeating myself in front of a filled room. Beet-red pales (pun intended) relative to the color my face turned.

    I quickly asked the audience to welcome Dr. Schipper–my second faux pas– he hadn’t earned his doctorate yet, but did not correct me.

    We’ve remained friends and, like all of you, I will miss his quick wit, his humor, his facility with languages, his love of music and science.

    Rike Weiss

  10. This is a great loss for us all. We’ll miss Lee a lot.

    Who else brought such jazz — literally and figuratively — to the international sustainable transport scene?

    Take good care everyone.

  11. God bless his soul and give all strength to all carry out his dreams in future. I met him first in 2008 and never though this active person or say VIVRANT Man could passed away suddenly. I will remember Lee not just for Academics but also for the music that used to play. Of course we will miss a person in Clean Air Annual Meet always having a Bag with lots of knowledge to share !


    Dr.Piyush Ranjan Rout
    Co-Founder, Local Governance Network, India


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