WANT TO MEET people, make new friends - maybe even start a little romance in your life?
Ruth Harvey had the secret: Get off your duff, get out and do things.
Do things that you enjoy and get to know people who enjoy the same things. And they will introduce you to other people, and pretty soon you have a network.
Bars and nightspots are OK if you like that sort of thing, but try burning off paint from the hull of a tall ship, as Ruth did back in the late '80s on the Gazela.
"So while you're down there burning off paint, you're having a conversation with someone and you realize you have something in common," she said. "And they laugh at your jokes, and you realize he kind of has a cute smile."
Ruth Harvey, a vivacious teacher, school counselor, psychotherapist, author and enthusiastic serial joiner of multiple community activities, social causes and assorted adventures, died Tuesday of complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig's disease. She was 69 and lived in Roxborough.
In the books she wrote, Connecting in Philadelphia and Connecting in San Francisco, she laid out her prescription for finding joy and companionship through dancing, canoeing, hiking, art and hundreds of other participatory activities.
"To maximize happiness, you need to engage in interesting activities you truly love, join the community that does them and have a lot of fun," she wrote in Connecting in Philadelphia, published in 1994.
"Research shows that you are most attractive and interesting when you are engaged and interested in what's going on, in something outside of yourself," she wrote.
The books were followed by workshops and seminars on building and enhancing social-networking skills and connecting with others.
The workshops encouraged people to form communities of friends, strike up a conversation with a stranger at an art opening in Old City, join a book club or discussion group, volunteer at a political campaign or church.
"Great conversations and friendships have been known to develop out of an evening of such potential," she wrote.
Ruth most recently was involved with a program for employees at SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District and the New Jersey court system. The project included designing and faciliting programs on communication, and on group and organizational development.
Long before the practice of "friending" people on Facebook or finding love on Match.com, Ruth acquired a vast network of friends the old-fashioned way:
She volunteered not only on the Gazela, but at a food co-op in Mount Airy. She grew bushels of tomatoes and other vegetables in community gardens for Philabundance and other organizations, and joined late-night campfires at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
In her counseling sessions, workshops and seminars, Ruth developed assignments for her clients to make connections with others by learning a foreign language, joining a Scrabble club, kayaking on the Schuylkill or hiking the Appalachian Trail.
She was a feminist, sailor, photographer, dancer and avid supporter of the symphony and opera. She took up golf in her adulthood, once getting a hole-in-one from 100 yards at the High Hampton Inn and Country Club in North Carolina.
She sang with the Anna Crusis women's choir and engaged in many line-dancing and fitness programs, not just to keep fit but to have fun and make friends.
She traveled the world with her husband, Jim Martin, bicycling across France and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, sailing in the Greek Isles with her son, David, visiting Israel, Egypt, Canada, Mexico, Alaska and elsewhere.
She participated in nearly every anti-war and civil-rights march on Washington going back to the 1970s, and was active with the Democratic City Committee.
When Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans and surrounding areas in 2005, Ruth and a group of her friends organized a carpool to Mississippi and worked for three weeks with the Red Cross.
A friend who went with her, Christine Thomson of Chestnut Hill, recalls discussing the idea of death with Ruth earlier this year. Thomson suggested the peaceful notion that Ruth would find herself being held in the arms of the goddess. "No thanks," Ruth said. "I'll take the adventure."
Ruth earned a bachelor's degree from Antioch University and a doctorate in psychology from Bryn Mawr College. She also worked as a professor at Bryn Mawr and Rutgers University.
Besides her husband and son, she is survived by a daughter, Rachel Harvey; a sister, Carol Ballentine; and four grandchildren.
Contributions may be made to Project Learn School, which played an important role in the learning development of her two children, 6525 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia 19119.