Word came last week that Alan Deane, who attended nearly every event at our Crawford Family Forum, died in a bike accident. Deane called himself "homeless by choice," crafting what seemed – for him – to be a satisfying if unconventional life. Off-Ramp host talks with KPCC's Jon Cohn, Jenny Smith and Sharon McNary about their memories of Deane.
Once word of Deane's passing came around the office, multiple people shared their memories of Deane with each other, and I'd like to share a few of those with you:
Jon Cohn, of the Crawford Family Forum wrote: "Anybody who has attended an event at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum (CFF) since we opened in March 2010 is likely to have seen or spoken with Alan Deane. 'Homeless by choice,' Alan frequented our events, was always the first to RSVP, and rode his bike from Eagle Rock for every program. He developed relationships with members of our staff as well as with other CFF patrons. In fact my father, who lives 3,000 miles away and has only come to two events ever, was able to vividly recount the conversations he had with Alan."
"Based on the reported direction that the bicyclist was going, the time of the accident, and the fact that we had a CFF event that evening that Alan had RSVP'd for, it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume he was on his way to us. Alan attended all but one of our public events in the past year-and-a-half and influenced many of our public conversations. He was an active member of the community we have just begun to build here and will be missed."
Alan appears about 1 minute into this video by WildBell (aka Will Campbell), showing his bike commute on Bike To Work day in 2009.
Sharon McNary, Public Insight Journalist, wrote: "Alan slept in his car, kept his belongings at a local storage place, and said this lifestyle had taken him from being several thousand dollars in debt to having several thousand dollars in the bank. He showered at the gym and ate at church food kitchens. He would give them his food stamps to buy more food. He didn't like the people at the shelters, though. That's why he preferred sleeping in his car."
"The last time I saw him - at a CFF program – Alan told the crowd about how he had been a professional guitar player in some well known bands, but that he burned out on it, accumulated too much debt and put his possessions into storage. He described how he now lived the life he wanted to without external controls, rent or mortgage payments.
"He rode across town the other day and found a tree down in a roadway. He says he spent a couple of hours just dragging parts of that tree off the road to let traffic pass. To him, that was a great, productive day. My takeaway is that there are a lot of ways of being happy in this world, even if by others' measures you're not doing it right. Alan did seem like a genuinely happy guy."