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Jennifer Futrel, 1979-2008

Activist Jennifer Futrel, also known as Calico Future, died in her hometown of Louisville, KY on October 4 after being hit on her bicycle by an aggressive driver. From an early age, Jen was involved in activities to create a more cohesive and peaceful community. As a teenager, she participated in a youth-driven zine called BRAT and was a member of the progressive DIY community center, The Brick House, in downtown Louisville.

More recently, Jen became interested in cooking for activists. While participating in the 2004 Democratic National Convention-to-Republican National Convention march put on by Seeds of Peace, Jen quickly switched from being a marcher to working in the kitchen. This experience later inspired her to buy a diesel truck and trailer and convert them into the “Down Home Hospitality Cafe.” Jen took her mobile kitchen on the Grassroots Caravan bike ride from Madison, WI to the RNC in St. Paul in August of 2008. She fed and nurtured all of the participants on that ride with vegan food and her spirit of love and the passionate belief that change can happen.

In an interview during that ride, Jen said, “Hospitality is a concept that can change the world. At its heart, a hospitable service or person provides their service to any or all comers. . . There is no community without a hearth; there is no household without a hearth. That’s the one most important element that can draw a group of people together and make them feel like family: eating together, being nourished with love.”

According to the obituary printed in the Louisville paper, Jen was known to her friends and family as an avid musician, writer, cook, bicyclist, activist, and organizer in Louisville’s vibrant alternative community. An acquaintance said of Jen, “I always sought our random conversations for their unusual depth and, really, for her unusual honesty. She was an absolutely compelling person, and full of real courage.”

Claiming as her heroes fellow Kentuckian Wendell Berry and Kurt Vonnegut, Jen once wrote that the person she would most like to meet is “anyone with a manifesto in their head and the courage to talk about it. Anyone that would rather speak inappropriately than not at all. Anyone that can hold their head up high and stand for something. Anyone who will fight by my side.”