Growing up in San Mateo, California, Russ set his sights on becoming an engineer. At Stanford University he completed an M.S. degree in Engineering Economics and found a position at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) as a weapons analyst. His job was to evaluate the cost effectiveness of various U.S. weapon systems. The Vietnam War was raging at the time and his defense job gave him a convenient draft deferment. But over time, he developed serious reservations about the validity of that war and about the need for any war.
One day, he was studying equipment that would shield our Naval strike aircraft from detection on their bombing runs. Staring at a top secret map of radar and missile sites in North Vietnam, he had his defining moment, coming to believe that there had to be a better way than war to provide for national security.
He began studying nonviolence at Joan Baez’s Institute for the Study of Nonviolence and a year later concluded that indeed, there was a viable alternative to war. He resigned his position at SRI, spent two years as a Vista Volunteer in rural Missouri and then returned to the Bay Area to begin a career as a consulting environmental engineer.
After retirement, the events of 9/11 reawakened his interest in issues of war and peace. He revisited his earlier work and began ten years of research to formulate details of a more peaceful national security policy. That work led to a set of Peace Principles and Programs that could provide a viable alternative to war. The big question was how to get from where we are now, as the world’s sole military Superpower, to a nation that could lead the world in a more peaceful direction. Given the environmental and economic instability in the world, he saw an upcoming window of opportunity for the US to change course. And he concluded that the impetus for change was going to come from the bottom up rather than from the top down.
In 2012 he distilled his ideas into the book Transition to Peace, a Defense Engineer’s Search for an Alternative to War. He then went about engaging audiences on KWMR’s Peace Paradigm Radio, engaging minds with his blog and traveling powerpoint presentation, and memorably engaging strangers on his cross-country “Peace Tour.”
Sadly, Russ transitioned to his final peace in May of 2015. We maintain this website in loving memory of his work, his person, and his belief in a world without war.