Zen student, widely published writer, and world traveler George Nicholson (“Nick Shindo”) Street of Birmingham, AL died after a brief bout with pancreatic cancer on Friday, September 8th. He was 56.
Nick grew up in Decatur, AL, where he graduated from Decatur High School (C’85). He was active on the swim team, and in high school theater productions. He majored in ethics at Oberlin College (BA ’89) and received a master’s in religion at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University (MTh ’91). After a decade working as an editor in the world of scholarly publishing in New York and Los Angeles, he returned to graduate school at USC Annenberg, where he received a degree in print journalism (MA ’07). His writings on religion, science, sexuality, media, and culture have appeared numerous publications, including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. Most recently, Nick served as a senior writer for the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, a role which took him to locations as far-flung as Nigeria, Brazil, Sweden, and Dubai in a quest to help increase public awareness of the role of religious movements in creating social change. He continued to work remotely for USC after moving back to Alabama in 2021 to live closer to friends and family.
Complementing his academic interest in religion was Nick’s lifelong quest for personal spiritual fulfillment and community. For 15 years, he was a Buddhist priest in the Hazy Moon Zen Center (Los Angeles), where he was known by his dharma name “Shindo.” After his move to Birmingham, Nick remained committed both to his personal meditation practice and the goal of building a thriving and mutually supportive meditation community. In the months before he died, Nick deployed his community organizing skills to found the Alabama Meditation Network, which connects individuals with meditation groups across the state and organizes group retreats.
Nick was preceded in death by his parents Herbert Sheppard Street and Frances Gaye Nicholson Street, and his brother Herbert Victor Street. He leaves behind his cherished brother and sister-in-law James “Tad” and Christin Street; his adored niece Emily Street and nephew Sam Street; his uncle, Lester Emmitt “Nick” Nicholson, Jr.; a bounty of Street and Nicholson cousins with whom he convened for various holidays; and a wide circle of devoted friends that spans the globe.
Nick was deeply loved for his calm, open-hearted nature; his fundamental optimism; his wit; and the delight he found in the most quotidian joys: gardening in the LA sunshine, singing in Birmingham’s Steel City Men’s Chorus, exploring the caves and waterfalls of Northern Alabama, and road-tripping across the south to reconnect with his beloved network of family and friends.
A memorial service will be held in Birmingham on November 18th. Contributions in Nick’s memory may be made to the Alabama Meditation Network, his final passion project: https://alabamameditationnetwork.com/product/donate/