Mark Stimson Bio
I grew up on Cape Cod, under the cultural umbrella of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where my father worked as an oceanographic engineer. The Cape was an idyllic environment of pine woods, sandy beaches and salt marshes, and I spent a lot of my youth alone, observing and learning from Nature. From this I acquired an appreciation of natural law, and developed pattern recognition skills. When I was five my mother changed partners, and I acquired a step-father, Dr. Robert Guillard, a superb scientist and an extraordinary Renaissance man. He had a big influence on my development. My mother was/is equally extraordinary—an accomplished performer and teacher of early music, and an instructor in the TM movement.
With the rise of “alternative” lifestyles and technologies in the 1960s and 70s, my family and I took up organic gardening, and together we restored an antique Cape-style homestead with a brick fireplace and wood-fired bread oven. In 1970 we started a small summer farm in rural Maine. There I studied Forestry and Woodlot Management with the local extension service. During that period I read a lot of books on alternative lifestyles. My early influences include historian Eric Sloan, visionary Buckminster Fuller, homesteaders Helen & Scott Nearing and guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I credit Maharishi and the TM program for keeping me out of a lot of trouble, for which I was clearly headed. Conversations about self-sufficiency, spirituality and sustainability (although we did not call it that at the time) were a daily part of our family life.
My high school education included 1 1/2 years at Bourne High, a fairly good public school, followed by academic studies at Sea Pines Academy in Brewster, MA and its extension, Sea Pines Abroad in Austria, Italy and other parts of Europe. After some misunderstandings, I left the program, disillusioned with formal education in general. I earned a GED during the following year. Rather than attending college, I went into the trades, learning to build traditional wooden sailing craft. This hands-on, apprenticeship learning suited me better than abstract, disconnected learning as practiced in school. Working with men who were mostly in their 60s and 70s, I discovered the meaning of vernacular wisdom (and humor!). Concurrently, I gave sailing lessons, was the navigator and sailing master on several yachts, and captain of my own 32′ South African-built yawl. In 1980, my involvement with the Transcendental Meditation Program led me to Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, where I helped build two large-scale meditation domes.
In 1982 and newly married, my wife and I settled in Fairfield to raise a family. I managed several MIU construction and restoration projects and formed and operated two business, including a nationwide manufacturer and distributor of wood moldings used in antique house restorations, and a local distributor of windows, doors and other building materials. From these ventures I learned a lot about managing and motivating people. To supplement my skills, I studied business accounting and marketing. My wife and I home-schooled our three children for most of their upbringing. Many of my current ideas on pedagogies come from this period of intentional “learning by doing.” One of our projects was the building of a 36′ catamaran, and taking her by inland waterways from Iowa to Maine. As a measure of our homeschooling success, all three of our children were admitted to Interlochen Academy, a highly selective private high school in Michigan.
In the late 1990s a mid-life creative turn sent me in the direction of professional artist, and my oil paintings were shown in well-known galleries in New England and the Midwest. In 2001-2, I wrote a novel, Gislebert, and self-published with a reasonable return for the time it took. I then became fascinated with the Irish (Uilleann) bagpipe and served a five-year apprenticeship under master instrument maker Tim Britton.
In 2007 I joined MUM’s Sustainable Living Department and helped with curriculum development and the “green” renovation of the 20,000 S.F. Library Science Wing. As MUM’s Sustainability Coordinator, I took on the job of assessing campus energy use and finding solutions for saving energy, reducing waste, lowering MUM’s carbon footprint and producing the campus’ first carbon reports. During that time I coauthored, with Executive V.P. Craig Pearson and others, MUM’s AASHE campus Climate Action Plan. Given the moniker “Professor of Practicality,” I taught numerous project-based courses, and was director of the SL Built Environment concentration. The courses I developed include: Sustainability, Buildings & the Built Environment, Natural Building, High-performance Green Building, Eco-Cities, and Tiny Houses. I also taught Creative & Critical Thinking. In addition, I helped coordinate SL Senior Projects, and coordinated community sustainability projects with the SL MA students. With Dr. David Fisher, I founded MUM’s Applied Soil Biology Laboratory, with guidance from renowned soil scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham.
In 2015 I earned a MA in Maharishi Vedic Science (Indian Philosophy), and, in 2017, an additional MA in Sustainable Living. My focus for the former was to examine the relationship of moral development (Kohlberg), higher states of consciousness (Alexander, Travis et al) and sustainable behavior. The latter degree focused on sustainable community development, with an emphasis on sustainable education. In mid-2016 I left the SL Department to pursue other ventures.
Working with my wife and two sons, we founded Big Blue Fairfield, a local sustainable center for Music, Art, Science and Technology. Projects we have worked on include building and delivering to the Standing Rock/NoDAPL protest group a solar and wind powered mobile medical clinic, developing an advanced industrial-scale compost turning machine, hosting numerous workshops, concerts and art exhibits, and purchasing and commissioning a sailboat from which to conduct international humanitarian and social sustainability endeavors. My intention at this point is to pursue whatever worthwhile social/sustainable projects I can become involved with. GCAS fits the criteria well.