FRED BRANFMAN – BRIEF BIO

Note: Deeply affected by his discovery of savage U.S. Executive Branch bombing of innocent peasants in Laos, and profoundly concerned to avoid species-suicide from climate change today, Fred Branfman has sought during sustained periods of political, spiritual and psychological activity to understand and improve human affairs. His main personal concern has been cultivating a “life-affirming death awareness” described at http://www.trulyalive.org.

1. POLITICS
PEACE ACTIVIST, 1969-75: Exposed The U.S. Secret Air War, CIA and Executive War  in Laos while living there (1967-71) as an educational advisor and then journalist; directed the Indochina Resource Center in D.C. –  educating Congress and the media, publishing many articles and studies, speaking around the U.S., spending 6 months in Indochina in 1973 – and was blamed by U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin for the fall of Saigon. Edited Voices From the Plain of Jars, the only book written by the peasants comprising 95% of the population to emerge from the war. (1971-5).
SOLAR ENERGY AND GRASS-ROOTS ACTIVIST, 1975-79: Authored the State of California’s SolarCal strategy, wrote Jobs From The Sun and Working Papers for Economic Democracy, helped found the grassroots Campaign for Economic Democracy after serving as Director of Research for Tom Hayden For Senate.
CABINET-LEVEL OFFICIAL, 1979-83: Authored the Governor of California’s 1981 and 1982 State of the State Initiatives for Investment in High Technology and People while serving as a Cabinet-level official; worked closely with Silicon Valley leaders, authored the California Commission on Industrial Innovation final report signed by Steve Jobs, David Packard, BOA Chair Lee Prussia and many others. (Directed The Commission on U.S.-Central American Relations, 1984)
PRESIDENTIAL-LEVEL ECONOMIC POLICY, 1985-87: Authored the “Strategic Investment Initiative” presidential plank and ran numerous public policy events while working at Senator Gary Hart’s think-tank.
NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND HIGH TECH POLICY, 1987-91: Authored “An Investment Economics For The Year 2000”, “Consortia and Capital”, and “Industry-led Strategy” while directing Rebuild America, advised by Robert Noyce, Larry Summers, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, George Hatsopoulos,  Laura Tyson and many others.
GLOBAl WARMING POLICY, 1996-9: Authored a “Moral Call on Global Warming and Future Generations,” signed by most of America’s religious leaders, Jimmy Carter, Elie Wiesel, Andrew Young and many others, while directing For Generations To Come and Protecting Future Generations. Directed the “Global Warming Central” website, attended Kytoto.

2. SPIRITUALITY
—  SPIRITUAL JOURNEY, 1991-99: After concluding that America’s political and economic system could not be saved from within, he embarked on a spiritual journey to seek answers from outside it. He engaged in extensive Buddhist meditation including a 3-month silent retreat, lived with Hassids in Jerusalem, studied with Hungrian spiritual teacher Laszlo Honti, spent 6 months studying Hinduism and Buddhism in India and visiting  the Plain of Jars, attended many workshops and had countlesss in-depth conversations with many of America’s best-known spiritual teachers, read widely, etc.
THE MEANING AND MORTALITY PROJECT, 1990s: Established “The Meaning and Mortality” project, whose advisors included Jack Kornfield, Stan Grof, Irvin Yalom, Steven Levine, Ram Dass, Sam Keen, Jacob Needleman, David Spiegel and many others.
MANUFACTURING, JOB-TRAINING, INTERNET CONSULTING AND WRITING, 1990s: Consulted  for the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences on manufacturing and job-training policy, the San Bernardino County Internet Project, worked with Wired On-Line, wrote extensively for Salon magazine.

3. PSYCHOLOGY
PSYCHOLOGY STUDY AND SELF-DEVELOPMENT, 1999-2009: Studied existential-humanistic psychology with Dr. Robert Firestone and a large group of his friends in Santa Barbara; did substantial psychological work on himself; authored “More Life, More Pain”; created and developed the “Life-Affirming Death Awareness” practice; authored the “TrulyAlive.org” website. Worked on and studied feeling, intimacy in relationships, sexuality, child-rearing, friendship, death anxiety and many related topics.

4. INTEGRATION
WRITER, BUDAPEST, 2009-: Lives today in Budapest and the U.S., working primarily on averting climate change and cultivating a life-affirming death awareness; has worked with Legacies of War, Give Children a Choice and the Mennonite Central Committee to build a pre-school on the Plain of Jars, clean up unexploded ordnance, and re-translate Voices From the Plain of Jars back into Laotian to teach Laotian youth about the bombing. Recent articles include “Unintended Consequences in Nuclear Pakistan,” “Will Boomers Answer To The Call?”, “An Outsider Looks At Earth”, “Living Life By Embracing Death”, “On Being A Good American In A Time of Torture”, “Making Global Warming a Human Issue”, “Replace Petraeus”, “Alive In The Apocalypse”, “Is Therapy Dead?” (Robert Firestone interview),  “A Soldier For Peace” (Kerry), “A Journey For Truth”, “The Ted Koppel I Knew”, “War Crimes In Indochina And Our Troubled National Soul”.
BUDAPEST, 2009-: In Budapest, where he lives a block from the Danube, he spends most of his time writing, reading, thinking, meditating, walking, and deepening his relationship with his wife Zsuzsa Beres.

5. OTHER
PUBLICATIONS: In addition to Voices From The Plain of Jars, he has written over 40 articles for Salon magazine, and been published  in The N.Y. Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Today, The St. Louis Post-Dispatchthe San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston GlobeHarper’s, The Washington Monthly, Playboy, The NationThe New Republic, Salon, Tikkun, Newsday, The Progressive, Liberation, Alternet, The Huffington Post, Truthdig, The Sacramento News and Review, and many other publications. He has also written chapters in Laos: War and Revolution, (ed. by Nina Adams and Al McCoy), The Pentagon Papers: Volume 5 (ed. by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn) and Imagine (edited by Marianne Williamson), and a forthcoming book on U.S. War Crimes in Indochina.
BACKGROUND: Born in 1942; grew up in Great Neck, New York; educated at the University of Chicago and Harvard; lived on an Israeli Kibbutz (1962-3) and in a Tanzanian village (1965-7); has spoken Hebrew, French, Swahili and Laotian; previously married to Nguyen Thoa.)

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