We welcome our new interim executive director, John Torgrimson. As a staff, we naturalists will periodically interview each other with many questions, including sillier questions. It is only fitting to continue our tradition with John.
Birthday: December 6
Unique Fact: He is a published creative nonfiction writer.
Favorite Outdoor Activities: He and his wife have a three-season vegetable garden, including 400 garlic plants. They also enjoy going for walks on the Root River Trail.
Family: John has a wife and two adult children.
Pets: John has a golden lab rescue dog. “His name is Bao, which means bun in Chinese… His middle name is Wow.”
Spirit Animal: A tiger from the Chinese zodiac
Claims to Fame:
- He met Mother Teresa while riding an airplane to Vietnam.
- He hosted President Barak Obama when Obama visited Seed Savers.
- He gave advice to Cesar Chavez about a grape boycott (advised him to not do the boycott).
Memorable Environmental Experience: John helped build a dam in the Solomon Islands while in the Peace Corps. This was for the water supply and involved hauling equipment through the jungle every day for a month.
Longest Time Spent Off-the-Grid: John was out of regular communication during his 2 ½ years with the Peace Corps. Mail, including NewsWeek, would arrive a month late. During this time they also had no electricity or running water.
Library Ratios: John claims the books he owns are 40% about China, 40% about Vietnam, and 20% on other topics.
Books to Recommend (On the Topic of Vietnam): The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and Quiet American by Graham Greene
Favorite Plant: Garlic: “What I like about plants is that plants travel. Garlic came primarily from Central Asia. If you look at cuisines all over the world, garlic is involved…We grow a hardneck variety that some friends gave us a while ago. I think it’s a German Extra-Hardy, but they called it Fat Ass Andy. Which I like better than German Extra-Hardy.”
Favorite Animal: Dogs: “I’ve always made good friends that are dogs. Cats, not so much. I’ve been around cats, but they don’t give me time of day. They’ve been outdoor cats though.”
Favorite Insect: Bees, due to the role they play in pollination.
Favorite American Park: Teddy Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND
“It’s a really austere kind of park. It’s so different than the green grass in places here.”
If John had to fight, to the death, either 12 duck-sized horses or 1 horse sized duck, he would choose to fight the 12 duck-sized horses. “I’d be bigger than them.”
If John could have anything come out of his belly button in unlimited supply: Wisdom.
Advice to Less Experienced People: “Be a person of the world,” John says. “Do whatever you have to do to make yourself a participant.” He suggests learning another language or travelling to a place “outside your norm” to experience gained respect for other people and cultures. For this reason, he claims travelling with the Peace Corps is “one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.”
Words to Live By: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” -Marcus Tullius Cicero