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Dean, brown shirt Dean skiing by solar panels Dean denim

Dean Petrich's life, condensed:

Dean Petrich
 unique self-employed environmentalist

In the News

Background (Dean's life condensed):

Grade School
Dean Petrich was born September 15, 1950 in Seattle.  He started piano lessons in kindergarten.  Every week for the next six years Dean and his sister Dawn took swimming lessons from the beginning to the advanced classes. In first grade Dean was one of the best readers in the class. His second grade teacher was a square dance instructor, so by the age of seven Dean knew a large repertoire of square dances.  In third grade he won a crossword-puzzle-making contest, and began cutting out articles from the newspapers on pollution and transportation issues. Dean's father built him a large treehouse around seven trees, where Dean stored his collection of Mad magazines. By fourth grade Dean was in cub scouts, began playing the violin, taught himself how to type, and wrote, directed and starred in his first play.  Starting from a library book, he performed his first of many magic shows; for Christmas that year Dean opened his first magic kit.  In the '40's and '50's there was an amusement park by Bitter Lake in north Seattle called "Playland;" Dean's favorite place to go was the Fun House, complete with funny mirrors, moving floors, rotating barrels, and slides. By fifth grade he was first violin in the orchestra and had learned to play the violin on his head, behind his back, under his leg and in his mouth; he sang soprano in the choir; wrote and produced another play; had developed a keen interest in studying the weather and had developed the knack of correctly predicting it; and was performing magic professionally.  By sixth grade Dean could type 80 words/minute on an old-style typewriter; he wrote yet another play, did more magic, continued with both piano and violin, completed all his cub scout achievements, and began downhill snow skiing. He also was a loyal member of the traffic safety patrol, was a dishwasher in the lunch room, and ran for student body president.  From the age of eight to sixteen he spent his summers at Hendersons' Camps, where he learned archery, riflery, horseback riding, swimming, woodworking, campcrafts, folkdancing, sailing, canoing, kayaking, theatrics, story-telling, baking, Indian lore, pottery, and the skills of comradship.  During the summer between sixth and seventh grade Dean worked at a musical summer camp. His job was to tune 80 violins during each recess, to assist the school director with set-up; occassionally he was allowed to conduct the orchestra.  At the end of the camp he performed in front of everyone by playing comedy violin.
High School

     From seventh to twelth grade he attended Lakeside School.   In seventh grade he produced a prolific amount of line mazes, performed magic before the entire student body, took up judo, oil painting and clay sculpting.  He played violin in the Seattle Youth Symphony, held several offices in DeMolay, and was President of the Junior Magicians' Club of Seattle.  From 1958-1968 he frequented the Washington Athletic Club weekly where he took judo and swimming.  During these years at Lakeside Dean immersed himself in art, drama, music and publications.  He was a photographer and writer for the school newspaper, year book, and literary magazine. The sports he most excelled at were fencing (state champion team),  diving and swimming on the swim team, and he lettered in both cross-country and track (the mile: 4:49).  He was a junior ski patrol during the weekends at the Mountaineers Snoqualmie Lodge.  At fifteen he took the Mountaineers Basic Climbing Course and climbed several peaks, including Mount Baker.  He made two movies, acted in every play and musical, sang in the choir, and formed his own barbershop quartet.  His sixteenth summer was spent at a horse and mountaineering camp in Colorado where he climbed three peaks in one day, rafted down the Colorado River and was the champion of the obstacle course.  During his seventeenth summer he was the couselor for the youngest boys at Camp Nor'wester.  After studying Latin for four years, he went on to take two years of French in one year.  He was chosen to be the exchange student, learned Swedish and spent five months in Sweden.  At eighteen he returned to America where he graduated with his classmates, having earned a list of honors and credentials which got put in a little box somewhere.

          The University of Washington offered Dean a scholarship in photo-journalism, but he opted to live farther from home and decided to go to Willamette.  Had he taken that offer, his life might have gone a totally different direction.His four years of college at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, were even more prolific.
    As a freshman, he took a double load of courses.  For the first-day physical fitness test he did 32 consecutive pull-ups.  He continued with French,  played a comedy violin routine in front of the entire student body, and joined the Kappa Sigma fraternity.  At Willamette at that time, Kappa Sigma was a group of intellectuals -- the key school leaders in politics, publications, drama, art, music, and high grades.  Throughout his four years there Dean sang tenor twice a day in two different choirs, a madrigal group, and his own barbershop quartet.  He performed in every play, musical and opera.  His freshman year he was Stage Manager.
    During his sophomore year he  excelled in  astronomy and public speaking -- two of  his most favorite classes -- choreographed and performed several modern dance pieces, and took two year's worth of German in one year.  As the Yearbook Editor, he not only personally shot and developed almost every photograph in the book (and got almost every professor to smile), typed the majority of the text and layout (no computers back then!) and designed the format, but he also compiled one of the most complete archives of the year's events, including groups who were normally never considered for inclusion in the yearbook.
    That summer the Willamette Choir toured Europe for five weeks, and Dean could speak the language of every country they visited.  After they went home, Dean stayed and hitch-hiked around Europe on his own for another month, ending up in Sweden where he revisited his host family.
    During his junior year he was the Darkroom Manager where he spent many late nights developing film and enlarging pictures for all the school publications.  Between his junior and senior years he attended summer school at the University of Washington, where he took 25 hours of classes on elementary education, psychology, 19th century English literature, Shakespear, and teaching elementary science.  During this summer of total immersion into academics Dean began a prolific journal of his thoughts and comments on life, which now is the first of many volumes of writings.
    As a senior, he took a year's worth of Russian, graduated a half year early, and spent the second semester teaching five seperate and totally unique classes of high school English at McNary High in Salem, OR.  Throughout his four years in college Dean always had a camera around his neck, knew every person on campus by name, and was very active in the Big Brother program, having not one but two little brothers himself.  Five of his summers were spent as a staff member at Camp Nor'wester on Lopez Island.  As vice president of Omicron Delta Kappa, a very selective leadership fraternity, he conceived of and instigated the first recycling program the school had ever had.  Every year he won the intramural cross-country race.  He marched against the war on Viet Nam and joined Ralph Nader's ORSPIRG, The Nature Conservancy, and Greenpeace, and many other environmental organizations.  He got all the way through college without ever having smoked a cigarette, without drinking any alcohol, and without swearing. By the time he was twenty-one he could understand Latin, Swedish, French, German, Russian, and a little Norwegian, Italian and Spanish.

     After college his life began getting interesting.  For the next year he had to decide how to make money, and started seventeen different businesses simultaneously to see which would take off.   Then he got a job as a door-to-door salesman selling home portraits all over the state of Washington.  After knocking on doors six days a week for half a year, he eventually worked his way up to being a photographer and finally became appointed as the head photographer in charge of hiring and firing the others.  He wrote a fifty page manual on how to run the photography portion of the business and then quit.  Dean packed his backpack, stuck out his thumb in front of his parents' driveway, and began another of his biggest and most memorable adventures:  hitch-hiking around the United States -- a fascinating trip that is now written as a book on his computer.  One highlight was visiting Twin Oaks' annual national commune conference and visiting a number of communes thereafter.
     The only reason Dean returned home was to prepare for his next adventure: a summer at Arcosanti.  While at Arcosanti, he read, studied and led discussions on Paolo Soleri's writings and concepts.  He stayed beyond his workshop date and became an active leader, tour guide, and construction worker.  On his way home, he arranged to speak on Paolo's arcologies at a number of Universities, for pay.
Career Beginnings

     Once back, Dean had a job lined up as a preschool teacher at a day care center, where he literally lived in the 4' attic and spent his days with children.  During his off hours he played violin in the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra.  Living with children seven days a week, he was inspired to learn more and to become more qualified, so he took a heavy load of early childhood education classes at Bellevue Community College.  In one of these classes one of his fellow students came to class one day in a clown suit to demonstrate some puppets she had made.  Dean asked if she would make him a clown suit in exchange for his taking her portrait.  The idea of being a clown was that someone somewhere was having a birthday every single day.  If this worked, there was potential for income.
     Upon his next phone request for a magician, Dean suggested that he come as a clown instead, not really knowing anything about what to do; he just knew that he had always been good at being silly and making children laugh.  At the party they played jumprope, walk the tight rope, tie up the clown, he told a story, helped with the cake and presents, and an hour and a half later the mother happily paid him the $5 he had asked for.  It worked!  Deano the Clown was born.
     Now he realized he needed to learn more skills and to find more customers.  Subsequently, he joined the New Games Foundation, the Seattle Story Tellers Guild, The American Unicycling Society, the Uniques (a local unicycling club), the Cascade Jugglers, the Puppeteers of Puget Sound, he took up tap dancing, roller skating and ice skating, and got his "D" license in sky diving so he could jump into picnics and large events.  Deano took private lessons from "Dave the Balloon Man", who at the time was by far the best balloon twister around.  Dean attended several week-long games-training sessions sponsored by the New Games Foundation; his four favorites were in Vancouver, B.C.; Colorado; Carmel, CA; and Redmond, WA.  Also during this time Dean passed his Associate and his Freestyle ski instructor status with PSIA had a special ski clown suit made, and spent several seasons as a ski instructor at Mt. Pilchuck.  He was in high demand for teaching children to ski. For twelve consecutive years, directly after returning from each weekend of skiing Dean spent three hours every Sunday evening enthusiastically participating in international folkdancing at the UW HUB.
     Living in the attic in Bellevue was getting a bit cramped, so he quit his job,  got an apartment in Seattle, and  worked in a portrait photography studio on Pier 70.  Here his job was to take small photographs that were mailed in from all over the country and to enlarge them into 3'x5' posters; he did this by photographing, developing, printing and mailing them to the mail-order customers, as well as photographing walk-ins and printing up poster portraits for them while they waited. After a half year working for someone else, Dean decided to be 100% self-employed.  He systemitzed his photography equipment and supported himself primarily as a freelance photographer, shooting mostly portraits, as well as weddings, daycare centers, and occasional models.  He was unusually good with children and animals.  During these next couple years he was also a manager at the Capitol Hill Food Co-op on 12th in Seattle.
    The brakes went out on the car his grandfather had given him as a graduation present, and he decided to go for an entire year without driving a car.  He bought a second-hand bicycle and trailer, joined the PAC of the Cascade Bicycle Club, and successfully did all his travel for an entire year by bicycle.  He initiated the "bicycles on buses" program, did several talk series on KRAB radio, and submitted numerous designs and had many meetings with METRO until the bike racks actually materialized on the buses.  He was also active in the expansion of the Burke-Gilman Trail, Rails to Trails, and mapping bicycle routes.
Environmental Commitment

      There was a series of fascinating presentations occurring at the Spokane World's Fair, to which Dean hitch-hiked each month.  Also Dean attended an "Alternative Agriculture" conference and many conferences on "Alternative Waste Disposal."  From these gatherings the seeds of many environmental organizations were planted, such as Tilth, The Abundant Life Seed Foundation, the Ecotope Group, the concept of Living Lightly, Ernest Callenbah's Ecotopia, the master composter programs, the recycling programs, the OREplan, SeaNet, and more. Together with others at the Spokane conferences, Dean organized several Living Lightly Fairs, equivalent to today's eco-trade shows, but on an educational rather than commercial basis.  These conferences in Spokane inspired Dean to buy a pedal-powered vehicle, to wear only natural fibers, to bicycle, recycle, conserve heat and energy, and to find out how purely eco-sensitively a person could live in the city.
     While living in a group house in Seattle, Dean became a member of the extreme "Zero Garbage Club," refusing to pay the mandatory garbage bill because his house produced no garbage. Any excess packaging was left at the store where the product was purchased. By gathering free wood from city dumpsters, his house was heated by burning wood in the old central coal furnace in the basement.  He continued as a manager at the Capitol Hill Food Coop, and grew part of what he ate in his own back yard. Dean hosted a series of programs on KRAB Radio discussing recycling, bicycling, living lightly, and a telephone interview with Paolo Soleri describing his concept of arcologies and his prototype: Arcosanti.
    The summer of 1977 Dean was the music director at Camp Nor'wester, and on his way home he stopped to visit two different friends on Whidbey Island.  At the first friend's house he spent an afternoon sitting on the porch with his journal, designing the ultimate bathroom and how it would fit into a totally environmental house.  Little did he realize at the time that this design would become reality -- these sketches became the beginning plans of Huckleberry Hill.  At the next friend's house where he sat playing his fiddle around the fire with two other fiddlers, the other fiddler told him about a piece of land for sale. Dean thought, "Wow, I could put up a tipi on my own land!" Hardly able to sleep that night, the next day Dean took all his earnings from working at the camp and made his downpayment on a very wise investment.
    Back in Seattle, Dean partnered with Len Dawson, who was building composting toilets out of ferrous cement on Indian reservations.  From this experience Dean wrote to Clivus Multrum and became a distributor.  In 1977 he bought his own Clivus Multrum to be used as the main waste system for his future house on Whidbey Island.
Fun Work

     Simultaneously, Dean was beginning to learn to tune pianos.  He joined the Piano Technicians Guild in 1973. That same year he went to an auction with a friend and bought his first piano; he accidentally bid himself up from $15 to $35.  Now he owns over 180 pianos, most of which he obtained for free.   Every month from then on he attended every PTG technical training session, seminar, convention and meeting offered in the area. Dean has held just about every office, and from 2000 through 2002 he was elected president of the Seattle chapter.
By now he was becoming quite well known both as a photographer -- taking portraits, shooting weddings, day care centers, filming models, and specializing in children and animals -- and as a magician.
    From 1972 through the mid 80's he taught classes at the University of Washington Experimental College every quarter.  Some of his more popular topics were: "Improve Your Memory," "How To Improve Your Conversation," "Paolo Soleri's Arcologies," "Why We Laugh," "The Joys and Woes of Being Self-Employed," and "New Games."  During this time he continued dancing Israeli and Greek circle and line dances every Sunday evening when he returned home from skiing.  To get around, his favorite mode of transportation was to drive his PPV (people-powered vehicle) which had adjustable bucket seats, stick gear shift, rear view mirrors, and pedals for both the driver and the passenger.  There was space in the back for fuel--a bag of groceries.
    Also during this period he spent a year seriously studying Swedish massage.  In addition, he took an in-depth class in foot reflexology.  Although he was qualified to take the Washington State exam for a professional massage license, his clowning career was beginning to bloom and whisked him off in other directions.  Because of his energy and talent and his interest in social, political and environmental issues, Dean became the host on a weekly KING TV quiz show called "The Great American Game",  in which two teams were pitted against each other to answer questions on local issues.

Land for a House Made out of Garbage with a Waterless Toilet

     With his acreage on Whidbey Island Dean began designing and building an idealistically 100% environmentally conscious house using all recycled and reused materials.  He called it Huckleberry Hill.  Board by board the house slowly materialized out of his vison.  The goal was to prove that so much garbage was thrown out in the city that an entire house could be built from other peoples' waste, and that is exactly what he did.  Although the original design was a cluster of seven hexagons, each with 15' walls, ultimately the design became a cluster of three hexagons with a total of over 4000 square feet of floor space.  Some of the unique features are a 60'+ tower, a 40' underground tunnel, three concrete slides, three hot tubs, a sauna, three play houses, a zip line, a large tire swing, two trampolines, solar water heater panels, exclusively composting toilets, compact flourescent lighting, and all non-toxic household products.
    For the next twenty consecutive years he envited everyone he knew (and that's a lot of people) to his famous annual week-long birthday bash. These parties became quite famous.  Each year something different was highlighted, such as swimming, musicians, jugglers, improvisational theater sports, marrionettes, stunt fiddling, unusual inflatables, woods games, story telling, waking to live harp music, and even a pie fight.  One year Dean sky-dived into his yard ten times in one day with some of his sky-diving friends.

Russia & Sweden

    At the age of thirty-eight Dean decided to relearn Russian in order to go skiing in Armenia.  While in Moscow he performed in Russian for an elementary school.  In what was then Leningrad he spent an afternoon conversing with a controversial painter who spoke only Russian.  In Armenia he was personally invited to partake in a private wedding feast, he played parachute games with children in a park, and he spent several days snow skiing.  During this time he spoke only Russian.
    Then he returned to Sweden for his third time, where he visited the Clivus Multrum factory in Stockholm and met Mr. Lindstrom himself, the inventor of the Clivus Multrum, at his house on his 81st birthday.  He gave Dean a personal tour of all his original inventions.  He was quite excited to have any visitors at all, let alone an American who could speak Swedish and who knew about his toilets.  From there Dean revisited his exchange family in Sweden, went sky diving and snow skiing in Sweden, and realized that the one thing he still hadn't done was to marry and have children.

     After numerous relationships with many wonderful women, Dean finally chose whom he thought would be his life partner.  Shortly after returning home he married Lynda in 1988.  Micah was born a year and a half later, and so began Dean's family life.  Lynda sold her house and the three moved from Seattle to Whidbey, where Lynda already had many friends and associates.
Lynda opened her own store, called Llynya's in Freeland.  Her store has become a focal point on south Whidbey for personal and spiritual growth. Llynya's is a metaphysical gift shop and healing center. Gifts range from books to crystals and many creations from artists around the country. Classes, readers and healers are available each month. The shop is full of magic with crystals, fairies, dragons, angels, sweet scents, great cards and delight in every corner! Personal assistance is available in selecting products and services that will support and enhance one's spirtual journey. The shop space provides a relaxing and nourishing atmosphere and private space to meditate. Llynya is extremely honest, dedicated, and is a phenominal listener.  She is dedicated and committed to helping others, and consequently she has gained much respect in the local community and receives countless compliments on herself and her store.  She is so artistic that everything she touches becomes beautiful.
After twenty years together, during 2008, Dean and Lynda became un-married.  Lynda change her name to Llynya Nya Carey.
    Micah learned to skate board, to snowboard, to ride a unicycle, to play the piano and the guitar. During June of 2003 Dean and Micah traveled together to Sweden to visit the family Dean had lived with when he was 16.  Dean and Micah visited Arcosanti once for Arcosanti's 25th anniversary and once for Paolo Soleri's 90th birthday. Micah attended the Langley Children's Center (preschool), Wellington Montessori School, Langley Intermediate School, Langley Middle School, Langley High School, and Bayview Alternative School.  He attended Camp Nor'wester on Johns Island for three summers.  Micah is thoughtful and perceptive, uniquely creative, easy-going and congenial, has excellent eye contact, and shares a positive sense of humor.  He has many friends. Currently Micah is out of school, living with Llynya, taking Tai Chi, yoga, snow boarding, gardening, doing odd jobs, working for a mover, and deciding what he wants to do in life.


     For the next decade Dean continued building his house out of found recycled materials, expanded and streamlined each of his businesses, and continually improved on the quality and professionalism of everything he did.  All of his businesses evolved and thrived, and because of them Dean has been on TV, the radio, and written up in the papers many times.  These businesses expanded and branched off in several directions.
    Ever since he was little, Dean has wanted to write and be an author.  In grade school and high school he excelled in creative writing, and he majored in English in college.  Although he began keeping a diary in elementary school, he started his first journal while attending the University of Washington in 1971.  Over the years he wrote over twenty-five hand-written journals, which have now, of course, continued on his computer.  For a period of time his writing stopped when he got married and had someone to tell everything to.  However, his mind did not stop and moved in the direction of writing books to help other people.  In the midst of everything else he has been doing, he has slowly been managing to contribute to eight specific books that he would like to complete and publish.  Purchasing his first laptop in 2002 his ability to write was able to accelerate, and now he is writing weekly.  These are the books he is currently working on:
     Dean is extremely goal-oriented and has achieved nearly every goal he has set for himself.  Probably his best attributes that have led to these achievements are that he is creative, energetic, patient, and sincere. He is intense and passionate in work, play, and politics.  Some of his global goals to help the world to be more liveable are: to encourage tolerance; to increase organic local food production; to reduce population growth; to redesign the transportation system; to preserve the few remaining natural habitats; and to increase the number of individuals choosing to leave smaller global footprints by going solar, bicycling, recycling, non-toxic, etc.  Among his current personal goals are the following: to complete the eight books he has in process; to share his knowledge by writing, speaking, giving tours and teaching; to finish building his house; to return to being 100% debt free, as he has been three times previously; to travel; to share agriculture & produce from his land with the local community; and to play more music with friends.  Currently his primary goal is to create his retirement income with his favorite home business.


     With food prices rising, GMO's becoming increasingly prevalent, and more people going to the food banks and on food stamps, Dean is developing his lower two acres into an organic farm. The orchard is growing apples, pears, plums, apricots, cherries and possibly peaches. The bulk of the garden will be vegetables and berries. So far water and power is installed; fencing is next.

Ultimately Dean would like to a cabin by the garden to share with people who have no money and who need a place to stay, in exchange for work in the garden. The local Greenbank Farm Agricultural Program has students and apprentices who have little money and who need places to stay. This space could also be used for locals who need a temporary place to stay, or for travelers who want an alternative to traditional hotels -- such people as,,,, and more. There is a hot tub by the gaarden, a second hot tub and sauna up by the house and a third hot tub in the woods. Plans are in the works for a long slide from the tipi on the hill to the garden in the valley, as well as for a tree house around three fir trees in the woods. Unfortunately the neighborhood rules will not permit commercial agriculture using community water, so all the food grown will have to be donated to the food bank or given away to neighbors and friends. Water use will be frugal and metered.

Free Pianos

     Dean has now collected so many pianos that it would take nine years with no pay to rebuild them all. At this point he has decided to give them away for free. Currently he has 45 pianos rented out, 25 pianos for sale, and over 100 pianos available for free because he hasn't had time to fix them. Rather than taking unwanted pianos to the landfill, Dean rebuilds them and donates them to needy musicians, to charity auctions, and to foster families. If the piano is not worth rebuilding, he salvages all the usable parts for repairing other pianos, and he has a hefty supply of winter firewood. If you know any artists who want some unusual shapes and parts, they are welcome to take what they want.

Into the Future

    At this point Dean's time is focused on working to become debt-free within the next few years, entertaining friends, rebuilding pianos, re-writing his web sites, gardening, getting his books ready for publication, advancing his businesses, skiing and dancing -- international folkdancing and swing dancing. Mark Twain once said that the best investment a person can make is a friend.  Keep in touch, and come visit. 
Cell phone: (206) 324-5055; e-mail:

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