Stephen’s dad was a prospector, so he grew up exploring North Shore mountains and working summers in the Yukon. His early working life was in a lab that served the mineral exploration industry, much of that time in neutron activation analysis. That got too routine, so he left and wound up an electrician and electrical contractor working in commercial and residential construction and renovation.
At the beginning of 2013 he volunteered with the WaterWealth Project, a newly forming community organization working to change how decisions are made that impact freshwater. One thing led to another, he let the electrical business go, and is currently the Campaign Director at WaterWealth. When not working he likes to go for walks with Pi jiu the activist chihuahua, swim in local rivers and lakes, run along area dikes, and spend time with the infants in his life. They are the closest representatives of who he is working for.
He has been concerned about climate change since the 1990's. By 2012 it was obvious that governments in Canada were not doing anything about it, so he was looking for some way to do more, to help bring about change. He saw an event announcement in a local paper for a showing of the documentary White Water Black Gold. After the film there was discussion and the organizer passed around a sign up sheet for people who wanted to stay in touch. That turned out to be the conception of the PIPE UP Network. Being part of it has been life altering for him. PIPE UP gave him that way to work for positive change that he was looking for. He’s met many diverse, hard-working, creative, brilliant, courageous, caring people. It opened doors to learning and experiences that have changed him in ways he never expected. It also led quite directly to a completely new path with his work at WaterWealth.
Groups like PIPE UP give people a place to agitate, educate and organize. A way to resist the influence of global megacorporations. What progress has been made in Canada to move toward a better future, has been made through the hard work of everyday people raising the alarm, pointing out the damage being done, demanding better, and showing the way to it. PIPE UP focuses on tar sands, pipeline, and tanker issues and solutions. It links arms with groups that focus on race, gender, poverty, water, air, food security, and more, because in the end we are all after the same outcomes--better social structures, reigning in of industrial abuses, better relations among people, and better applications of planning, engineering, and technology to secure healthy futures for our families and communities.
There was a surplus of optimism after the most recent Alberta and federal elections, and the Paris climate talks. And it's true that there have been some positive moves by Canada and Alberta to undo some of the damage of prior governments, such as reduction of partisanship in bureaucracy, and restoration of certain democratic and scientific freedoms. However the work of organizations like PIPE UP has become no less vital. From local to global scales, we have already embarked, with feet on divergent paths, toward great change. Groups and networks of engaged people who strive to ground their work in the highest of human qualities provide our best hope for settling on the path with a future.