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A Wonderful Mind, A Tragic Loss

A Wonderful Mind, A Tragic Loss

In lieu of our usual topics this week, the FEED has chosen to honor a great loss to the Atlanta community in hopes that this tragedy will help fuel more good works and creativity.

Over the Memorial Day weekend Liam Rattray was killed in Little Five Points.  Every holiday weekend the authorities warn us to be careful, to not drink and drive, but a few stories of lives tragically ended always emerge.  This weekend was no different.

Although all deaths are tragic, the loss of Liam Rattray is especially poignant to the FEED Atlanta.  Our own Mike Lorey recently sat on a speakers panel with him at the Hub, where he heard about all the awesome work Liam was doing. We then reached out to interview him…..but that interview never took place.  Regardless, we think you deserve to know more about Liam and his efforts to improve our community.  We hope his example will inspire you to continue your work, honoring his memory with your continued perseverance.

Liam had impressive experience in local food systems and farming.  He had served as a farm hand, farmers’ market manager, policy advocate and traveled through WWOOF programs around the US.  He also worked diligently as a legislative aid for Georgia Organics, helping to make big changes for Georgia agriculture.

When we met Liam a few weeks back he was speaking on behalf of his latest project, ArkFab. In theory this organization focuses on affordable and appropriate biotechnology development and dissemination.  In reality ArkFab creates awesome things like homemade laboratories to grow and culture mushrooms, an open source hardware algae photobioreactor (i.e. something that could grow algae for things like sustainable fish feed or fuel source), and vertical farming technology systems. It seems that Liam’s mind, and the minds of his close collaborators, was a maze of technological possibilities.  All of these contraptions and experiments were meant to be shared- whether with other organizations who could use them to further their missions or with individuals using them for home-businesses or to reduce the cost of living. These ideas and their execution were amazing, potentially groundbreaking even, and that is something we treasure at the FEED.

So what is the lesson in this tragedy?  On a dark note, life is short.  At any moment Atlanta could lose another great mind- even yours.  But that should never lead us to fear or inaction, it should lead us to work for change as if we only have today.   That is what Liam did. He never stopped working and thus is leaving behind a powerful legacy, one that would have undoubtedly grown exponentially over the years.   On a lighter note, our passions and souls are limitless, even if our bodies are not.  Liam was a very young man but had already made a big difference.  He didn’t let anything stand in the way of what he wanted to accomplish.  His story tells us that passion and energy can carry you far.  Get moving, work hard, and make Atlanta awesome.