Michael Diehl, In Memoriam – Berkeley, CA \ Michael’s friends are currently organizing a Celebration of Life in his honor, we will share details when we have them.
Michael Diehl was a passionate man who dedicated the majority of his adult life to helping others, even when his journey had been detoured (with or without housing). Did you know that Michael attended seminary school? He didn’t speak lightly of it, but only to people he began to have a connection with – though his life journey took him in a different direction, and that direction was really being on the front lines to help the poor, mentally-ill, and disadvantaged who were primarily living on the streets.
You could find Michael at Peoples Park or downtown Berkeley, or in West Berkeley. He was a teacher, a friend to many, an advocate to all. He would be a fixture for many years at city hall, town hall, and other meetings to voice his concerns and to help advocate for policies about homelessness, the mentally-ill, and affordable housing.
He was referred by many as Mayor of the Streets. He loved dancing. Often you’d see him at Peoples Park when there were festivities (music mandatory) where the excitement would take over, and even in a place that may have seemed dismal to many, he would dance for hours. As a community organizer, activist and advocate, Michael’s commitment to fighting for injustice will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace.
by Gwen Austin, BOSS Community Builder and Development Associate
I will always remember Michael’s low voice and gentle way of speaking, making his points with logic and heart – his sense of humor, always laughing while ceaselessly fighting – his commitment to protecting the homeless at People’s Park and protecting its open use, even as the tides of opinion turned – his willingness, and insistence, on talking with people on all sides of an issue – his perennial presence at council meetings and hearings – his constant reminder that trauma shapes us in ways we may not even realize and we can’t ignore it – and of course his tall hat, making him easily identifiable from blocks away. We have lost an unforgettable spirit, fighter, ally, visionary, and friend. I will always remember him while dancing, speaking truth to power, and tilting at windmills.
by Sonja Fitz, BOSS Director of Development & Marketing
Following is a story BOSS posted about Michael in 2014:
Michael Diehl has been part of the East Bay organizing scene for nearly thirty years. After decades of talking to people on the streets and working hard to spread the word about injustices and get homeless people involved in solutions, he is one of most trusted and respected organizers in the community.
Read his featured story in the Street Spirit newspaper – His Heart Is Always With The People On The Street.
Recently BOSS received funding from the City of Berkeley to expand our street outreach work on the streets of Berkeley and Albany. Much of what we have learned from Michael over the years is being applied in this effort, as well as from the experiences of BOSS’s Benefits and Entitlements Specialist Team (BEST), which engages with eligible people on the streets to help them apply for SSI and access needed services.
Thank you, Michael, for your true dedication to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. We are honored to work with you.