Johannes Harald Falk Songdahl III, of Norwell and Rockland – “Jay” to many of us – passed away on August 29, 2018, at the age of 22. Jay leaves behind his mother (Judy) and father (John), brother Erik, paternal grandmother, maternal grandfather, Hedwig the dog, and many devastated cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends.
An intelligent, creative thinker from the beginning, Jay refused to follow the expected course as he matured into adulthood. Not because he was rebellious or lazy, but because he didn’t see it as the purposeful way he wanted to live. Shunning the prospect of a formal college education and 40-hour workweek, Jay instead became a fantastic reader, learner, and teacher on his own terms.
Anyone who knew him recognized that Jay marched to his own beat and fully embraced the “not all who wander are lost” lifestyle. And, boy, did he wander in the short time that he had. Jay first set out to explore on his own when he was 20, driving first to Iowa, then south to Tennessee, and as far west as Montana. He met his Rainbow Family along the way, and charmed us with stories of his adventures once he came home. When he set out on his next trip, it was by bus and rail – his way of exploring while testing the possibility of a life with fewer possessions. Jay was a kind and non-judgmental person who would readily give what he could to help someone else. He ventured out—not naively—but with an inherent faith that the world would be equally fair to him.
Jay’s passionate belief in the importance of protecting the environment and growing and distributing healthy food to those in need was fueled by the volume of food waste he saw while working in the restaurant industry. He pursued his interests in sustainable farming and botany by working at organic farms in Massachusetts, Vermont and Florida. An avid camper, Jay treasured the peace and beauty of the woods and spent much of his time outdoors. His love of foraging opened his family’s skeptical eyes to what was readily available to us right here, free of charge. One of his greatest joys was to share the seasonal harvest with those around him – sautéed cattails, stinging nettle stir-fry and dandelion mead were among his most delicious offerings.
Ever the teacher despite his young years, Jay kept us on our toes with his funny but effective guilt-inducing rants against unhealthy eating habits, the use of chemical-laden products, and conspicuous consumption. Even if he pushed the envelope by being a little too sparing with the bathroom water and bringing back “fresh-enough” reclaimed produce from the dumpster behind the local organic food store, Jay practiced what he preached. He made us all think about how we live our lives and how we could better protect and appreciate the natural environment. It was important work, and he will be missed.
A celebration of Jay’s life will be held in the spring, and details will follow at a later time. If you would like to honor Jay this holiday season, his family asks that you consider a donation of time or money to your favorite charity, or to one of the causes that Jay supported: Food for Free, The Boston Area Gleaners, Food not Bombs, Smile Train, or your local food pantry or homeless shelter.