Lina Newhouser, Common Dreams Co-Founder, 1951-2008
Artist, political activist, organic farmer, businesswoman and proud, loving mom
CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine -- Lina Jeanne Newhouser, 56, died Friday evening, July 18th, from complications following an April 'mini-allo' stem-cell transplant as part of the long treatment in her defiant 3-year stand against non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Lina was an artist, political activist, organic farmer, businesswoman and proud, loving mom.
Lina was born in Grand Junction, Colorado -- the daughter of John and Charlotte Newhouser. But she considered her beloved New Orleans home - where she was raised and went to high school. Lina graduated from Southwestern College in Memphis, Tenn. She also lived and studied at the University of Munich, Germany for two years.
After college Lina became a lead community organizer for ACORN: the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, working stints in Texas, Little Rock, Ark., and Bridgeport, Conn. In 1980 she worked on the national staff of the Citizens' Party, trying to elect Barry Commoner President as a vehicle for starting a new progressive third party in the US -- here she met and worked with both of her future husbands on the Citizens' Party staff. Lina then was off to New York City for a job as co-director of The Media Network -- combining her two passions, art and politics, in a project using independently produced films as organizing and educational tools in NYC's working class neighborhoods.
In 1984, Lina and her first husband Bert DeLeeuw moved to Belize where Lina focused on her painting for a year. Then Lina and Bert moved back to the US and bought a 200-acre old farm in Huntingdon, PA - in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. Over 5 seasons Lina & Bert turned their 'Blue Moon Farm' into a hugely successful organic vegetable and flower farm. Chloe was born in 1989. In May of 1990 Bert was shot and killed by a neighbor when Chloe was just 6-months old -- and Lina soon sold the farm.
In 1991 Chloe and Lina moved to Kentucky for Lina to work at Appalshop, an arts and education center based in the eastern coal region of the state. Lina was the Assistant Director of The American Festival Project at Appalshop, work she continued after her 1993 move to Maine when she and Craig married. Moriah was born in 1995.
Since 1996 Lina has worked as International Program Director for Transformit, a small, extraordinary Maine-based firm that designs, builds, rents and sells sculptural structures made out of fabric for the special event, trade show, architectural and retail markets. She loved her work (and her co-workers) at Transformit which combined her skills at art, organizing and working with people - and allowed her to travel to Europe a lot - putting her German, French and Italian language skills to good use.
In the 1980's Lina served for a time as the national president of the Alliance for Cultural Democracy, a national activist arts organization that flourished from 1982 to 1994. In recent years Lina served on the Cape Elizabeth Arts Commission.
In 1997, Lina, and her husband, Craig Brown, co-founded Common Dreams, the popular online news & views website for the progressive community.
Lina is survived by her husband, Craig Brown; daughters Chloe May DeLeeuw Brown,18, and Moriah Brown,13, all of Cape Elizabeth; her brother John Newhouser and his wife, Teri of Houston, Texas; her brother Mark Newhouser and his wife Joan MacDonald of Glen Ellen, Calif. And her mothers-in-law Evelyn DeLeeuw of Green Pond, New Jersey; and Ruth Brown of Cape Elizabeth; and many in-laws, nieces and nephews and a wide circle of friends all over the world.
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A celebration of Lina's life was held on September 7th, 2008 at the Inn by the Sea across the road from her home in Cape Elizabeth. Over 200 friends and family came together to toast Lina - her work, her art, her family and her life. Warm sunshine, loud zydeco music, good food & drink and so many great friends. Lina would have loved it!
In lieu of flowers, Lina's family requested that memorial donations in her honor be made to the work of CODEPINK: Women for Peace.