Dan McGuire Remembers Alan Chadwick
Dan McGuire was a student at UCSC during the early years of that university's existence. In 1970 Alan asked him to take on the role of Student President of the Garden Project, a position he held for the better part of two years. After Dan left for England in 1971, the position of Student President was transferred to the lovely Miss Christina Gibbs. It was clearly a difficult job being the intermediary between Alan and the various students that came to volunteer in the garden, because Alan could be quite strident in his sense of how the politics should work. Many of the students who wandered in to Alan's domain needed some shaking up to set them straight, but some of them didn't quite see it that way. If Alan ruffled their feathers too severely, they would complain to their professors or to the administration, and this would have negative repercussions on Alan. So the Student President's job was to insolate, to whatever degree possible, the poor students, who were likely to take offense, from Alan, who was likely to give it. The photograph shows Dan on the chalet deck during one of the festive lunches regularly held there during Alan's time at Santa Cruz.. Photo, Michael Stusser, 1971.
The apprentices had their own president, but there the role was quite different. Not being enrolled students, they had no sense of entitlement about how they deserved to be treated. They counted themselves lucky to have the opportunity to work with Alan, and for the most part, were ready to accept the consequences of their errors in the form of Alan's tirades where necessary.
The position of Student President was not an elected one, rather the candidate was chosen by Alan himself. This meant that the chosen one had Alan's confidence, and that, by virtue of the service rendered in this capacity, Alan would generally handle him with kid gloves, so to speak. After all, the President could be called upon to represent the garden project in various ways to the university administration, and it would not do to have that individual carrying a grudge against Alan because of unnecessarily harsh treatment. So, as well a being a challenging job, it was also both an honor and a shield against Alan's temper.
Dan handled the whole business with grace and equanimity. Rarely did anybody have cause to complain about him or his handling of authority. Soft-spoken and possessed of a healthy sense of humor, he managed to satisfy both of his constituents: Alan Chadwick and the student volunteers.
Here Dan speaks in general terms about what he saw as Alan's intentions in creating the garden. This piece was originally written in connection with the publication of some of Alan Chadwick's lectures, but is relevant to an understanding of Alan's underlying approach.
Dan remembers a camping trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains in eastern California when Alan took his first (and perhaps only) vacation from his work at the UCSC Garden Project. This must have occurred in the summer of 1970.