portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting global

environment | forest defense | save the biscuit

Legendary Forest Activist Joan Norman Passes On

I haven't an idea about how to say this. Joan Norman died today. She was killed instantly in a head on car wreck.
Dear All,
I haven't an idea about how to say this. Joan Norman died today. She was killed instantly in a head on car wreck.

Joan was in the process of moving to Brookings. After having been on a waiting list for two years to get her apartment - a move she wanted primarily for health reasons - the place had just come through and today was moving day. Details are sketchy yet, but apparently she was headed back to the Illinois Valley with her nephew, who is banged up some, but O.K. We don't know yet about the people in the other car. Apparently this happened near Twin Pines, is that still in Calif? More details will be reported later.

Joan said on March 12, 2005 "I don't know what else to do to stop the log trucks, so I am sitting down again." She was then hauled out of her lawn chair again, and arrested for the second time in the Biscuit campaign. She spent several weeks in jail, refusing bail on the moral grounds that she was not the law breaker. Then while in jail, she spent her spare time coaching other inmates as to what their rights were. Indomitable Joan was arrested over 100 times in her life; standing up for civil, social and environmental causes, and never had a lawyer until the Biscuit campaign. She always very successfully represented herself and the causes she stood up for. She will be dearly missed, as will her ever present enthusiasm and her no-nonsense powerful style.

Activists were attending a Sisters of the Siskiyou benefit in Ashland when this devastating news was learned tonight. Joan Norman was our number one Sister of the Siskiyous, dear friend, mentor and leader. Completely tireless and fearless!

After everyone absorbed the shock, I was asked, and am honored to announce, the group consensus about all this: folks will do exactly what would've pleased Joan the most!
Biscuiteers will take lawn chairs and sit down in front of the McGuire timber sale. For our forests and for Joan. We love you so much Joan. You're one of a kind. Like a rare spice. And she loved the trees so much.

The action will occur in a timeframe most respectful toward Joan's family. Details about Joan's memorial will be announced soon as we know what they are to be.

Thanks for the lessons, dear Joan. We're only getting started. God, you'll be missed.

Big Love, Annette

homepage: homepage: http://o2collective.org

I'm stunned 24.Jul.2005 03:20


I'm just sick this happened to Joan. I never met her--or the sisters of the Siskiyous--but when I read about her actions several months ago, I mailed her a postcard. I've never sent one to anyone else there. The card had yellow sunflowers on the reverse side. After I mailed it, I read the jail won't give inmates cards with decorations. I didn't get it in the return mail.

I recall Joan was 72, had been rearrested at the bridge, and had refused to pay bail, so she was spending many continuous days in the facility. I found her admirable, and how I longed to be near the sisters! I love the trees. I loved her work. I am so sorry.

Please post when her final celebration will happen. If I took a bus down from Portland, could someone meet me somewhere?

My heart is broken 24.Jul.2005 08:09


I cannot put into words what I am feeling right now. I am just shocked. There were still things I needed to learn from her. I was planning on going to Brookings this summer to spend time with her.

Please let me know when her final celebration will be. I will drive down and bring other people with me who want to go.

rest in peace forest defender... 24.Jul.2005 10:32


thanks for your hard work joan, though i did not know you, your actions touched my heart. peace.

Sad news 24.Jul.2005 10:59

Joan will be remembered

She made her mark, that's for sure. She was an inspiration to many, may we all accomplish 1/10th of what Joan managed to do.

Joan was an example for all! 24.Jul.2005 12:05


Joan was an inspiration and example of what effective "direct action" is all about.
I know that she would agree that the best way for us to pay our respects would be to get out in the woods and stand directly in the way of the injustice that is currently occuring all over the state of Oregon.

Rest in Peace Joan!
You will be missed, but not forgotten.

Joan on the bridge 24.Jul.2005 12:54


Our sister, our courage

Article 24.Jul.2005 13:12

Register Guard

Eugene residents injured in crash that kills woman

A woman and a boy from Eugene were injured Saturday in a crash that killed a Cave Junction woman near the Oregon-California border.

Thomas Halvorson, 11, of Eugene was taken by helicopter to Providence Hospital in Medford with serious injuries, the Oregon State Police reported. He was listed in stable condition. Susan Halvorson, 49, of Eugene was taken by ambulance to Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass. Her condition was not available.

The Halvorsons were passengers in a Ford Explorer headed south on Highway 199 about 3:30 p.m. when a northbound Mercury Sable crossed the center line for unknown reasons and hit the SUV head-on, police said.

The driver of the Mercury, Joan Miller Norman, 72, of Cave Junction was pronounced dead at the scene. Her 28-year-old passenger, Benjamin Tolle, was not injured.

The driver of the Explorer, 20-year-old Michael Derek Halvorson of Cave Junction, was not injured, nor was his other passenger, Kaylie Miille, 18, of Cave Junction.

Everyone involved in the accident was wearing a seat belt. Highway 199 was closed for several hours.

In her memory 24.Jul.2005 21:51

another defender

Our most infamous Sister of the Siskiyou died yesterday in an auto accident. We love and miss you Joan. The following are her words as printed in Z Magazine.

"I am not afraid. I am 75 years old. Do you know what this culture has in store for me, an old woman? They will wait for me to be sick and at the end of my life and then strap me to feeding tubes, pump deadly drugs into me, put me on a machine to make my lungs go up and down and wait for me to die. I am not bound to go out that way. No, I would rather go out in a blaze, defending the world I love. I will be on the front lines someday, and my soul will know the time to go, and I will just leave. I will make that decision. Knowing this, I am not afraid. I am more afraid that my grandchildren will think I did not try hard enough to leave them a legacy of peace and a world worth living in."

Joan has been on the front lines with us throughout this campaign. She is on the frontlines with us now. Her immortality is in us, in what she has taught us, in what we do with those lessons, in how we carry on a tradition and way of life to which she was dedicated. The immortality of our ancestors is in how we chose to honor them, to make them present to us once again. The immortality of our ancestors is in how their words and their way of being influence our actions. Let's make sure Joan Norman is not forgotten.




Contact: Sue Norman Jones; 541.592.3190 Annette Rasch; 541.592.4334 or 541.659.2917
Laurel Sutherlin; 541.301.8963 or 541.899.3116

Cave Junction, Oregon - On July 23, legendary activist 72 year old Joan Norman was killed in a head on car collision on Highway 199 near the California border. Joan is dearly loved and revered by many; the news of her passing sends shockwaves through Southern Oregon and far beyond. Forest activists, friends, and family are now planning a solidarity forest defense action in her honor on August 2, 2005.

The "Biscuit Fire Recovery Project" began logging old-growth reserves just above the nationally designated Wild & Scenic Illinois River in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area on March 7 of this year. The image of Joan Norman seated below the American Flag in her lawn chair just before her first arrest on the Green Bridge has reached news racks nationwide. Stories of her courageous acts of resistance and conviction have touched tens of thousands of people.

"I don't know what else to do to stop the log trucks, so I am sitting down again," Joan said during her second arrest on March 14. Refusing compromise or bail payment, Joan voluntarily spent several weeks in jail in protest of illegal logging. While inside, she worked tirelessly to empower other inmates by offering legal resources and personal support. Joan was arrested over 100 times in her life; standing up for civil, social and environmental causes, and never had a lawyer until the Biscuit campaign. She will be dearly missed, as will her ever-present enthusiasm and her no-nonsense, powerful style.

Recently, Joan was asked if she was ever afraid to go to jail. Her response to that question echoes loudly through our minds today: "NO! No... I would rather go out in a blaze, defending the world I love. I will be on the front lines someday and my soul will know the time to go, and I will just leave. I will make that decision. Knowing this, I am not afraid. I am more afraid that my grandchildren will think I did not try hard enough to leave them a legacy of peace, and world worth living in. I don't want them to know the beauty of trees by looking at a book. I want them to be able to walk among 800-year-old trees and know that is our destiny. That is where we have to get back to."

Joan had a contagious resolve and humble nobility that challenged those around her to take a stand for what they hold most dear, becoming a national icon of the forest defense movement. She personified the dignified heroism of those who act selflessly in defense of the fundamental values most American's share; but rarely act on.

Her daughter, Sue Norman Jones, said "Joan would like to be remembered actively, not passively".

Asked what her message to the world was last march regarding the effort to stop the Forest Service's largest logging project in modern history, the Biscuit, Joan said, "Tell them to get some fire in their bellies and come to this gate of paradise and help us defend it. Tell them to come. I will be here."

Joan is survived by four children: Susan, Timothy, Terry and Annie, her friend and companion Bob Youdan, four grandchildren, one great-grandchild, nieces, nephews and her extended environmental activist family.

Information about the upcoming action to honor Joan Norman will be available at www.o2collective.org.
An interactive memorial is planned for Joan on Sunday, July 31st at 3:00 PM at the Forks State Park, south of Cave Junction, just off hwy 199. Friends can bring food, pictures, songs and writings, and are invited to participate in celebrating Joan's remarkable life and her legacy. Donations can be made to the Joan Norman Memorial Fund at Home Valley Bank in Cave Junction.


"I have been arrested over 100 times standing against injustice. Why, I went with the freedom riders to the south. I went to Alabama to stop the lynchings and let the people be free. I went to Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham. I started out with members of a church. I met Martin Luther King, Jr. The thing we wanted to stand up to then was the destruction of the diversity of people in this nation. The slavery, racism, and violence toward people of color. The thing we are fighting today is much the same only we are trying to defend the diversity of the whole world, of life on earth. We need all of it to not just survive, but to thrive as a peaceful, loving people."

After that, Joan joined Vietnam War protests, she said, "I saw the genocide against the people of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and I jumped in, with both feet. I was at the Nevada test site protests. I stood beside the true hero's of this country. I stood by them at Fort Benning to protest the School of the America's, the place where international terrorists, death squads are trained."

"I was at the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999, I went to Washington DC to stop the G8 and the WTO takeover of the world. I have been in the streets with the best of them. I have lived for 30 years in a community of freedom riders. I lived in a motor home for 12 years and traveled to where I was needed. I had my own kitchen, my own first aid station, my few books and my passion for freedom and justice."

When asked how she got into environmental activism, Joan tells how her Grandson was responsible:

"He said "Grandma, it's so beautiful and amazing in the forest, you have to come with me so I can show you". So, I went with him. It was hard for my old bones and joints. He was so excited to be showing me this pure, beautiful world he had found. Excited that someone in his family would go with him. It was hard to go up the steep paths, but I did. And what he showed me was just so amazing. I saw it the first time through the eyes of a child. We should all go into the forest with young children. They see it like it is meant to be seen. With the innocence of a being still connected to the earth. They see it the way humans lived it for thousands of years.
I cannot explain in words what my grandson taught me. I can only say that you cannot read about nature and wild places, you have to go there. And, once you do, no threat of jail will keep you from preserving it. The wild places are the last place on earth that we have to remember our heritage and show us our legacy. We need to stand up and protect these places. This is why, at this time of my life, after all I have tried to defend, I am a forest defender.

When arrested last March 7 trying to block the Silver Creek Logging company's access to what activists maintain is an illegal old growth logging sale on Fiddler Mountain, Joan said, "they came and removed me from the bridge I was blocking by carrying me in my chair to the edge of the sheriff's vehicle. They put me down there and thought I would stay put. Then the officers went off to arrest someone else. I got up and moved my chair back to my space. My sovereign space. An officer yelled, "Hey you're not supposed to do that! Get back over where I put you." I just laughed. People have been trying to get me to be where they put me all my life. I have a right to stand up against evil and I will."

* Most of Joan Norman's quotes have been taken from a June 2005 interview with Ellen O'Shea that appeared in "Z" magazine. You can see the whole interview and more about Joan on Portland Indymedia.com

* To learn more about Joan Norman's last campaign, the ongoing effort to stop the Forest Service's largest logging project in modern history, the Biscuit, go to o2collective.org, kswild.org or siskiyou.org

So let's get our butts out there 25.Jul.2005 11:18


Joan was no-nonsense, all the way. Got a feeling she'll be watching...so bring your lawn chair, come to her memorial on Sunday the 31st, then stick around for an action on august 2. It'll really be something, the word is, two of Joan's children will be active participants!! Again, bring your lawn chair and your resolve, and let's make Joan proud. Maybe we can put a final nail in the coffin of the bogus "Biscuit Fire Recovery Project" once and for all (no pun intended...) I love you Joan, a sister

a photo 25.Jul.2005 12:46

GeDDeN CascadiA

I never met Joan but i was passed this amazing photo of her. The photographer is Chris (I forget his last name.) Inde and I regret the fact that we will never meet her now.
photo of Joan by Chris ?
photo of Joan by Chris ?

Much love 25.Jul.2005 14:56


Much love, Ms. Norman. Thank you for blessing us with your energetic perspective.

please come defend Siskiyou Forest and Wild Rivers 26.Jul.2005 00:56


Hi to you all out there,

I live near Cave Junction and I learned how my backyard is like the largest big connected wild place left in Oregon. I started hiking and swimming in the rivers. I know who Joan is, she was admired and I
think some people were also kind of scared of her. But this actually
is because she made them consider doing things they would not normally consider to do. Or else she made them feel quilty if they knew they
would not get involved even though they could agree with her views.
So these environmental activists around here are really fiesty, and
now maybe more people will come down here and join us all to give a
good salute to Joan. I am making friends. The ones I know help me out sometimes. And there is alot of older people who are really cool here. So I am going to borrow a lawn chair for the action on tuesday after
Joans memorial party.
Anyone that would come down here will be supported, the people are
great.I heard that we can get more details by watching the indy web
sites this week, this one and also rogueimc.org I hope to see people
from the north come to join us for our forests and for Joan. I wish I
got to talk to her.
from Jim

Hey Jim I'm coming down 26.Jul.2005 06:49


Hey Jim,

I will be coming down to Cave Junction this weekend and trying to get time off from my job to stay a few days. I plan to bring my lawn chair. I am trying to get the word out that I have room for five people... I am asking people to leave a message on the ride board at People's Coop if they need a ride. Or people can call the 02 collective number and tell them they need a ride from Portland. I can also stop in Eugene to pick people up. I will check the board at peoples every few days. I plan to leave Saturday morning early. I may have to come back on Monday morning. But, I hope to stay longer.

So there it is people...you want to go...you got a ride. No excuse. What will you say when the forests are gone, when there is no water, when the air if fouled, when the birds, salamanders, wild flowers, healing herbs, not to mention children and old people are sick and dying. What will you say? It was too hard to go. I had to work. I had too much on the line. It's time to stand up and be counted. The life we have now is not sustainable. It is only a matter of time before it is totally fouled. Nothing will change unless we stand up.

Jessie -- plz call Cascadia Rising too 26.Jul.2005 10:24


Cascadia Rising (www.cascadiarising.org -- not to be confused with the infoshop on Clinton St.) also gets a lot of requests for rides. Please let us know when your driving down there if you still have room for riders.....

email info--at--cascadiarising.org or call 503-493-7495

From the Medford, Oregon paper 26.Jul.2005 17:11


Activists mourn Norman
Mail Tribune

The environmental community is mourning the death of Joan Miller Norman, a prominent figure in the protest against salvage logging in the forests burned by the 2002 Biscuit fire.

Norman, of Cave Junction, died Saturday in a head-on collision on Highway 199 just north of the Oregon-California border.

The 72-year-old grandmother is best known for her role in blocking loggers in March from harvesting trees at the Fiddler timber sale.

Norman, who walked with a cane, sat in a metal lawn chair in the middle of the Green Bridge over the Illinois River to prevent a crew of timber fallers from going to work on the old-growth reserve about 25 miles southwest of Grants Pass.

"She unwittingly became an icon (for the Biscuit movement) because she forced people by her image to confront the issues," said Laurel Sutherlin of the Ashland-based Oxygen Collective environmental group. "When you see an old fragile woman sitting and facing arrest it hits you in the gut."

She was featured in national media coverage of the controversy over salvage logging in national forests, including Z Magazine and The Associated Press.

The 500,000 acres burned by the Biscuit fire have been at the center of the debate between conservationists and the Bush administration about what to do with national forest land burned by wildfires.

Norman was arrested twice during a week of protests at Fiddler. The second time she spent 16 days in jail, declining to pay $150 in bail.

Annette Rasch of the Sisters of the Siskiyous conservation group said she spent two days in jail with Norman.

"Her role in life and in death is about giving us courage," Rasch said. "She wasn't afraid of going to jail for standing up for what was right."

During her lifetime, she was arrested more than 100 times for protests concerning issues that ranged from Civil Rights to the Vietnam War.

She began fighting to save old-growth forest reserves when she moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1986, said her son, Timothy Norman.

Timothy Norman said he and other family members have received thousands of phone and e-mail messages from environmental activists from across the nation who knew her.

"They said they were inspired by her," Timothy Norman said.

The accident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday when the car she was driving crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic and struck a sport utility vehicle.

Two passengers in the SUV were injured and three others in the accident escaped unharmed.

Norman is survived by four children: Susan Norman Jones of Takilma, Timothy Norman of Cave Junction, Terry Norman of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Annie Norman of San Jose; friend Bob Youdan of Sunnyvale; four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A memorial is set for 3 p.m. Sunday at the Forks State Park, a half-mile south of Cave Junction off Highway 199.

Active Honoring of Her life 28.Jul.2005 19:03

live free

The second of two blocades honoring Joan and her legacy was erected the other day.

Along with this a friend is on a solidarity fast for 13 days (in respect of the 13 lunar cycles in the earth's trip around the sun)

Resisitance continues, the trees still stand!

call the sild syskiou action number to get involved: 541/659-2682, or just come down to the bicuit :)

what happened 21.Nov.2006 12:19

Kaylie Miille hipitarian@hotmail.com

Well, I was a passenger in this fatal accident. I never met Joan, and our views of the world are different, but i can imagine she was a good woman. I just wanted to know, if there was anyone out there that has information of the autopsy report. We are unable to access this information, and honestly it would put some closure to the horrific accident. Just picturing her lifeless body everyday while i drive to school, work, or anywhere, is a difficult thing to erase. If there is anyone who can help, please email me.


Thank you, God Bless

Kaylie Miille