Snapshot: Dan Knapp, co-founder, Urban Ore

Dan Knapp. Photo: Pete Rosos

By Pete Rosos

The son of a Wisconsin sharecropper/trucker/foreman, Dan Knapp is a co-founder of Berkeley’s Urban Ore, whose self-described mission is “to end the age of waste”. With a PhD in sociology, he’s been a teacher, academic writer, and community organizer. Long before recycling became fashionable he was a pro recycler.

When did you arrive in Berkeley?
In September 1979. I hitchhiked from Eugene Oregon. It took me two days.

What’s your ‘hood?
Urban Ore is in West Berkeley. I live in Richmond.


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was more interested in learning than in sports. In college, a happy intellectual.

Where and when are you happiest?
I love dealing with complicated issues, making order out of chaos.

Which living person do you most admire?
Paul Hawken who wrote The Ecology of Commerce.

What drives you mad?
Traffic.

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
A little more charming maybe, if I could figure out how to still be myself.


Who, or what, is the love of your life?
My wife of course. My grandkids. My two daughters.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
In 1976 when I completely dropped my professorship. That whole career, that whole thing I worked so hard for, after eight years, was no longer a concern, and I just decided I couldn’t be in that straightjacket anymore. I wanted out.

What three things would you take to a desert island?
A knife, some matches. I’d hope I’d have some water.

What does Berkeley mean to you?
Well, in spite of the City Council being prone to making mistakes sometimes, I think there’s a lot of common sense in Berkeley.

Berkeleyside’s “Snapshot” column, inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, is a new, occasional series by Pete Rosos in which we take a moment to get to know some of Berkeley’s most interesting people. Pete Rosos is a freelance photographer, husband, and father of two who lives in south Berkeley. Let us know in the Comments who you would like to see featured here.