Remembering Herb Moore: A Force for the Creative Community

By Lessa Bouchard

Midpen Media Instructor and Show Producer

Herb Moore changed my life. We got to know each other while working on our environmental, artistic and social justice projects together. He invited me to participate in JumpStart, a writing group on Saturdays at 8:30 am. At the time, I was a diehard night owl. It was months before I actually made it to those early writing sessions, but Herb was going and he never gave up on me. When I finally did go, the group process, creative warmth, and energy were so powerful that it became a regular part of my week for a couple of years. 

When I met Greg Kimura and he shared his poem “Cargo,” I understood what had captured Herb’s infinitely giving writing heart. 

Excerpt from “Cargo,” by Greg Kimura
“You enter life a ship laden with meaning, purpose and gifts
sent to be delivered to a hungry world.
And as much as the world needs your cargo,
you need to give it away.
Everything depends on this.”

Excerpt from “Dragon Dreams” by Herb Moore 

“With our music, dance, poetry, art…our garden…our appropriate use of science and technology…or simply by the way we live our lives, we can sweeten the dragon’s dreams, return the “H” to its proper place and nurture the warm heart of the dragon.”

Herb and I and others from JumpStart would meet and write, read our work, and go out for coffee afterward. Even after Greg passed away, we kept the group going for about a year; often the end of our timed writings would be signaled “scrapophany” style, by the echoing beat of a box, or the thump of a book. Herb’s favorite, of course, being the strum of a guitar.

Scrapophany was a project Herb created in the ‘70s, creating new instruments around found objects. He was brilliant with soundscapes and across many instruments. One of my favorite treasures now is a resonant printing plate he rescued from “The Wall Street Journal” when it was down the street in the ‘90s. These plates make a brilliant thunderous sound and are a meaningful memento of the changing times in journalism. 

While Herb often spoke about the importance of “being a drop in the bucket,” he was more like a one-man tsunami. He was a guiding force for many organizations,including the Share Fair, seed libraries, community gardens, and the Midpen Media Center.

He helped launch Archive Mixed Media’s Dragonfruit series at Dragon Theatre in Redwood City. He read his environmental Dragon Dreams fable when the theme was “Thin Spaces of the Heart,” and played his songs in the “About Time” performance.

I miss him. Each time I brush my guitar strings accidentally, I think of Herb saying “hello,” reminding us all to enjoy the time we have together and to be “a drop in the bucket.”

Read more about Herb Moore’s lasting impact on Palo Alto Online.