What we loved about Mel Starrs 6-9-1973 to 14-7-2012

I've just heard about Mel's death and want to do something for her. Here are some of the wonderful things she did, and what people are saying about her. If you would like me to add a link to anything by or about Mel that is published online, please let me know and we can share it here.

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  1. Tribute from her partner Mark Fretwell
  2. Mark has set up a JustGiving page to raise money in memory of Mel. You can donate here:
  3. There will be a picnic to celebrate Mel's life in Regents Park London on 28 July. You can RSVP on the link below: A gathering in Leeds is also planned.
  4. How Mel described herself on her blog. I knew I was going to like her straight away. Six years on she looked back at what the blog had achieved. 
  5. Read about Mel's career on her Linkedin profile, and her many recommendations
  6. Mel's last public appearance was a talk in Leeds about Corporate Social Responsibility. Here is Martin Brown's storify of the event and Mel's write up of her talk.
  7. Paul Wilkinson's tribute to Mel
  8. Tribute by Martin Brown, including Mel's last writing in Building:
  9. Martin writes: Having a vibrant deep green scheme such as Living Building Challenge established in the UK would be a fitting tribute to Mel’s passion and expertise in Building Code, BREEAM and LEED.
  10. Building’s digital and audience director Phil Clark remembers Mel Starrs

    You don’t need me to tell you the influence, respect and affection that Mel Starrs, who died last weekend, inspired during her short life. Just go on the tribute posted yesterday on her blog site Elemental  —  one of the first and best UK blogs on construction and architecture — by her partner Mark and read the comments. Search @melstarrs on Twitter twitter.com/search/melstarrs. Go to a tribute site that was created this morning by social media mogul Su Butcher. Read these tribute blogs by Paul Wilkinson and Martin Brown. And read the recommendations on her LinkedIn profile page.


    The outpouring of emotion in the past day, frequently by people that hadn’t even met her, speaks for itself. It underlines her great quality, very rare in the industry she served. She was a brilliant communicator.


    Mel’s rise as a key industry figure rode two defining movements this century: the digital revolution and the emergence of sustainability as a central concern for architecture and construction. Mel lived and breathed the first and diligently charted the second via her blog, which started in 2006. The blog and all her digital pursuits challenged any lazy assumptions or stereotypes that have been associated with those communication tools: that they are trivial, poorly researched and throwaway.


    In fact I think some of Mel’s writings will outlast traditional media (books and, much as it pains me to say, magazines) on the topics she was expert in, which ranged from technical areas of sustainability such as BREEAM and LEED to planning and policy concerns, business theory and digital media. They combined rigour and a sure grasp of the detail without being dusty and academic, and were always underpinned by humour and warmth of spirit. Unlike some in sustainability circles Mel never displayed any exasperation or hurled brickbats. She calmly and assuredly engaged in the debate and never lost an optimistic outlook, which has been clearly challenging in the past couple of years.

    I got to know Mel when I started blogging on sustainability back in 2007. I think I can speak for anyone that came across her when I say that there was an immediate meeting of minds. You immediately felt comfortable in her company, whether that was debating on blogs, bantering on Twitter, connecting in virtual events or, and yes this did happen, meeting her in person.


    A memory sticks in my head of when digital and physical collided. I was on a train bound for Leeds to a green event and informed my Twitter followers of that fact (in the days when we got excited about that). Within seconds up popped a reply to inform me that one of said followers - Mel - was also on said train. We met and Mel took me to a favoured drinking spot in the city where she graduated and lived during part of her career. We bonded over a shared love of reading and indie music.


    Both professionally and personally, her passing is a deep loss. As I grappled with sustainability in the latter part of the last decade she was an invaluable support and guide - this ranged from feedback, advice, judging a list of green gurus I compiled and participating in events my company organised. More recently she contributed articles to Building and was an invaluable help in compiling a list of 50 green leaders for Building’s sister title BD in March. I have no doubt that Mel would have upgraded from judge/adviser to a leader had her life not been tragically cut short.

  11. Tribute by Paul King of the UK Green Building Council:
  12. "There aren’t enough people who are prepared to challenge, consistently and persistently, in pursuit of a better built environment, a better world for future generations to enjoy. Mel was one, and always did so with real conviction and the best of intentions. Her premature passing is a reminder that we should all make the most of every moment we have to challenge, to try and change things for the better."
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