Jim Harris, TecNica Supporter

Jim Harris was an important component of the start-up of TecNica, holding informational meetings at his trade school, the Technical Training Center in San Jose. From the very beginning, TecNica needed a way to meet with and recruit interested people who had working experience in technical fields such as informatics. In Berkeley where I lived, it was easy to have informational meetings , but the people who came were predominantly grad students in engineering and computer sciences, not many with working experience. These would be found in Silicon Valley.

Fortunately, I had already met and had been working with Dave Wald, an electrical engineer living in the Valley. He had a good friend who owned and ran a trade school which might be used to hold our informational meetings. It was quickly arranged and we had our first event at the school in late 1983. Twenty to thirty people attended and a number of them went on to be Volunteers. These meetings were scheduled to be monthly from then on, and they became the single biggest source of TecNica Volunteers.

Jim was also a generous financial contributor to TecNica. On both accounts, Jim has a special place in the TecNica history.

Thank you Jim.

Michael Urmann

[For those of you who may never have met Jim Harris, following is the obituary that we received from Progressive Secretary.   If you wish to learn more about Progressive Secretary (a great organization), click on this link.



Jim Harris

Social activist Jim Harris lived for truth and justice, and died Friday, June 3, 2011, released from his struggle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.  Founder of the internet letter writing cooperative, Progressive Secretary (with Pat Murphy), he made lobbying for peace and justice easier. Committed to working for social justice throughout his life, he started Progressive Secretary in 1997 as he was recovering from leukemia, and he said that work helped him get well and also heal from subsequent lymphoma. Currently, Progressive Secretary has nearly 4500 members and is still working for a better world for all.

Self identifying as a Jew, a Quaker, an atheist, and a Marxist, Jim Harris was a member of the Sacramento Friends Meeting, and previously was a member of the San Jose Meeting. As a young student, Jim joined the Civil Rights movement, going to Mississippi to help SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and was, as he put it, “a foot soldier” in the movement.  Earning a Master’s degree (MS) in electrical engineering at Columbia University, he was a computer consultant, software developer, programmer, teacher, union organizer, and worked with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. In the 1980’s and1990’s, he was President of a trade school, Technical Training Center in San Jose which trained students for the computer industry. He created an innovative curriculum in which students with minimal education backgrounds could get the equivalency of a two year associate’s degree in six months and be placed in good jobs.

A gifted musician, Jim played a number of instruments, including trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, piano, penny whistle, and tuba. In recent years, he played with a number of local Dixieland bands, including Jerry Kahale’s Good Time Levee Stompers, Billie and Her Buddies, and Ned’s Jazzboat Shuffle. He played Jewish music with Bennie Benjamini, and Klezmer, the soul music of Eastern European Jews, in groups with others, including good friends Joe Liebling, Corey Weinstein, and Robin Goodfellow.

Born Nov 13, 1940, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Mac and Rebecca (Goldie) Harris, he lived in California from the age of three, growing up in San Francisco and Oakland.

A Quaker memorial service will be held at noon Sunday June 12, at the Sacramento Friends Meeting House, 890 57th St, Sacramento, with socializing and snacks before and after. In the afternoon, there will be a gathering at his home (9153 Rundelay Way, Sacramento, CA 95826) for reflection, music, and potluck food, from 3:00 to 7 pm.