We have been restoring parts of North Creek Forest since 2011. We developed a routine that attracts many volunteers from UW Bothell, Cascadia College, and area schools. In our third year we cleared blackberries away to discover a nightmare of a site: deep mud, abandoned cars, piles of concrete rubble... Then Ian found us.
Ian was a force. He brought his own tools, the very best. He blended into the crowd, leaned into the work and began teaching details about plant roots, methods, shade requirements and so much more. His depth of knowledge was astonishing. He was an undergraduate student at UW and we experienced what it was like to be adopted by Ian.
Ian loved to teach. Students were enchanted by his stories. Everything he said seemed simple but if you listened long enough you would see he was giving out hints of an almost unfathomably large and intricate web of life, a forest ecology. The Jr High kids, like everyone else, loved him.
Ian studied with Dr. Amy Lambert that year and worked in the forest as a volunteer. He worked at the greenhouse on campus, the UW Wetlands, and worked and studied in many capacities with Dr. Warren Gold. His teachers and fellow students are heart sick to lose him.
"He was one of the brightest individuals I have ever met. His passion and enthusiasm for our great outdoors was contagious and everyone who met him learned so much from him. He was a beautiful soul..." Sarah Park
This is a tragedy we will not recover from soon. That is expected. However, people will be coming to North Creek Forest for a long time. The trees Ian cleared a place for and planted will be here for them. Great grandchildren of the students he taught may be moved by the presence of those trees. Someday the trees will even be called "ancient". People won't know who planted them. But does it matter? Probably not to Ian. He was just doing his art.
"No form of life was insignificant to you. You could educate people and get them excited about the smallest things. You had an appreciation for this earth that most people wouldn't understand. You had such impact on so many people's lives, often without even knowing it. You were happy to live simply, just you and the trees, or the barren desert. A couple of books, a camp stove and a can of beans would keep you happy. I miss you so much my love." Lana Mack
Ian, you made a difference. We love you and cherish your work.
Rest in Peace.
Please join us to honor and celebrate the life of Ian Barlow on November 28th, 1:00 PM, UW Horticultural Center.