Stan first got involved in local causes as a cyclist in his former hometown of Pittsburgh. Worried about the lack of local recreation options, Stan and his friends eyed an abandoned coal railroad in the area where they enjoyed biking. The team, all volunteers, started the Montour Trail Association to lobby for and maintain what’s now a fifty mile trail around the city. While the team knew little about climate change at the time, Stan says the experience with a “laboratory exercise in volunteerism” helped him learn about the power of ordinary people.
Stan has been concerned about our climate since he first learned about climate change, and spent lots of time trying to stay informed. However, for quite a while, he didn’t know much about what could be done to stop it. That all changed when he came to an MN350-sponsored talk on the climate movement, by national climate leader Bill McKibben. “That’s where I got hooked,” Stan says, “with MN350 bringing it to our backyard and knowing i could do something right here.”
After that talk, Stan joined MN350’s Pipeline Resistance Team, combatting dirty fossil fuel pipelines around Minnesota, from Line 3 to Line 37 to the Sandpiper Line. Drawing on his engineering background, Stan provided research for testimony and studies, digging into issues as deep as benzene migration during oil spills. But he’d always felt that something was missing: a positive alternative to everything the team fought. “I always felt that we were pushing against something, instead of advocating constructively.”
Others at MN350 shared Stan’s desire to dive deep into solutions. On his own time, he started a reading group and mailing list, called the Carbon Sequestration News Group, where members discussed sustainable agriculture practices, soil science, and climate change. While the group may sound wonky, Stan kept members dedicated and fascinated about a budding climate solution. “Seeing something that held so much promise was very appealing to them,” he explained.
In May of 2018, Stan was a founding member and volunteer leader for MN350’s newest initiative, the Solutions Team. Right away, he began volunteering his time to build out the team’s profile. Along with his fellow Solutions Team member, Ginny Halloran, Stan planned a public forum that gave attendees a deep dive into regenerative agriculture, a technique for combating climate change through small changes in farming practices. The event, titled “Soil Food and Climate: What’s the Connection?” was a hit, attracting 123 attendees, and generated enormous curiosity and interest in the topic.