Michael “Goz” Gosney, Collaborator & Friend
(July 11, 1954 – April 28, 2022)
Beloved friend and Special Projects Associate at Synergetic Press, Michael “Goz” Gosney peacefully departed this world on April 28, 2022. Goz, as we called him, was a culture creator, a DJ, thinker, writer, publisher, event maestro, and super-connector whose vision pulsed at the heart of many communities. Based in San Francisco, Goz was an innovator in digital, ecological, and psychedelic communities alike. His words and actions inspired many to think creatively to find solutions to big problems. He would jump right in to help mount any event that promised good fun to build community and restore ecological balance. He was deeply loved by many and we are shaken by his loss.
We are grateful to Michael’s close friend and collaborator, Steven Wagner, for writing this history for us of Goz’s unique time on this planet:
Michael was a writer, editor, and publisher of books, music, and multimedia. He was a thought leader in the fields of technology, consciousness, and environmentalism who created and produced events in San Francisco and worldwide. In a 1995 interview, Timothy Leary described Michael as “one of the few great pioneer humanists in the digital world.”
Michael was born in Pittsburg, PA and graduated from Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, KS in 1972. He attended Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ in 1972-73 and University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS in 1975-76.
After relocating to San Diego in 1976, Michael co-founded the literary agency The Word Shop, published the Journal of Holistic Health from 1978 to 1980, and founded the independent publishing house Avant Books in 1980. His notable publications include The Life and Adventures of John Muir (1979) a biography of the early conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club: the English version of the play Buddha (1983) by Nikos Kazantzakis; and Deep Ecology (1985) a collection of essays proposing a progressive, post-modern environmental sensibility.
From 1986 to 1991, Michael published and edited Verbum, an early personal computer and computer art magazine widely recognized as one of the first periodicals to be entirely produced with desktop publishing techniques. In 1991, he published Verbum Interactive, which showcased digital articles with video, hyperlinks, audio files, and CD-Audio. It was hailed as a groundbreaking product and attracted the attention of Apple, Kodak, Adobe Systems, Toshiba, and Microsoft, leading to many collaborations in computer-related art and publishing realms, including the Imagine Exhibit of Personal Computer Art, a touring exhibition that the Los Angeles Times described as marking “the distinction between an earlier era of computer graphics and newer computer art.”
In 1995, Michael relocated to San Francisco and established the Verbum office in the heart of the booming SoMa district. He loved The City and proudly made it his home for the rest of his life. He always honored it in his work, and many would say that he personally exemplified its unique spirit. There was no more natural representative and genuine emissary for San Francisco than Michael.
He was a prominent and highly innovative producer of festivals, conferences, and exhibits. His semi-annual Digital Be-In, a San Francisco-based celebration and technology showcase was described by Soledad O’Brien on MSNBC as, “where 60s counterculture meets 90s cyberculture.” The many counterculture icons instrumental in the event included Timothy Leary, Chet Helms, Allen Cohen, Ken Kesey, John Perry Barlow, and Ram Dass. Michael produced eighteen Digital Be-In events over a 25-year span, including special editions in Tokyo in 1995 and London in 2005.
An early proponent of deep ecology and green cities, Michael shared a long collaboration with the ecological architecture model community Arcosanti, near Phoenix, AZ, where he produced the Paradox Conferences in 1997, 1999, and 2001, bringing together leaders in cyberculture and sustainable development. In 2011 and 2012, he produced the San Francisco Bay Area Deep Green Conference, which featured panels on ecology and cannabis legislation and exhibitions of green cultivation techniques.
In 2002, Michael co-founded the Green Century Institute, an information clearinghouse for sustainable community solutions. The non-profit provided consulting and advisory public services and produced a range of events and workshops, including the San Francisco Green Cities Expo at UNEP World Environment Day event in June 2005. From 2013 to 2015, he produced and hosted the talk radio podcast Eco-Evolution, featuring in-depth interviews with innovators on technological solutions to ecological sustainability issues.
From 1998 to 2001, in collaboration with eMusic, Michael produced Radio-V.com, a weekly radio program on U.S. public and college stations and electronic music sites. In 2001, he co-founded Cyberset, a San Francisco-based record label showcasing world, ambient, dance, vocal, and urban music.
Since 1999, he co-managed Earthdance International, a non-profit that coordinates the annual Earthdance multi-location global peace party. At the time of his passing, Michael was Managing Director of the Techné Verde ICT research project with the Buckminster Fuller Institute developing social and collaboration networks for transformative culture; and Director of Strategic Planning for Synergetic Press, a publisher of books and journals on psychedelic research, biospheric science, and regenerative design.
Michael was a lifelong creator and tireless supporter of music and the arts. He championed the legacy and work of the Beat poets. He produced music and dance events for Earthdance, Green Festival, and the How Weird Street Faire. He organized the official Burning Man Community Dance on the playa, entertaining ecstatic revelers on myriad occasions as a beloved trance deejay. Michael enriched our culture with art, music, and poetry of the highest vibration.
The breadth of Michael’s accomplishments is only eclipsed by his inspirational and lasting influence on countless family members, friends, and colleagues. A man of impeccable character, endless optimism, clear vision, and heartwarming presence, he had a singular ability to bring people together in ways that sparked profound, enduring relationships and vital creative endeavors.
He was a deeply spiritual man, a true seeker of wisdom and higher consciousness who stayed the path until his final breath. He loved his family with all his soul and was immensely proud of his daughters Kate and Rachel and grandchildren Harrison, age four, Ophelia, age two, and Clara, age one. He loved being a granddad—nothing made him happier than his three “little ones.” His eyes lit up at the sound of their names.
His vast community of friends, colleagues, and collaborators reaches around the globe, and his spirit will emanate within so many who felt blessed to be in his orbit, who revered him as a trusted friend. If it is true that a man’s heart is not judged by how much he loves, but by how much he is loved by others, then Michael’s life was an exemplary one that will continue to inspire far beyond his time on this earth.
Celebrating Michael Gosney
Friday, May 27, 2022| | 3-8 PM PDT
Join us virtually or in-person for an afternoon of art, ceremony, remembrance, music and celebration, honoring “Goz” who left us for new adventures on April 28. There is no charge to attend the memorial; please click here to RSVP and/or make a donation.
Anything raised above event costs will be applied towards maintaining Michael’s archives and/or future symposia and events in his honor (the next Digital Be-In, anyone?).