The Earth Guy!

Stele, his philosophy, and what it’s like to have 40 years of commitment to the climate movement


As Boulder has grown as a community, there have been numerous people who have made their mark upon the town we live in currently. Whether that may be a family dog walker, protestors you’ve seen around Pearl St., or the many of the locally owned businesses that make it home for so many people. While some refer to him as the “Earth Guy,” climate change activist Stele has been protesting around parts of Boulder for 21 years and continues to spark up conversations throughout our community. At the age of 16, he was first introduced to the book Kinship With All Life, written by: J. Allen Boone. The book sparked a newfound realization that “consciousness or the appreciation of life just didn’t suddenly appear after we evolved to be very complex beings, that there had to be some motivation, appreciation of life and drive early on, even at a cellular level.” Ever since, the individual drive to push for climate activism has heavily influenced Stele’s day-to-day life. 

His fixture downtown is, of course, focused on his activism. Boulder in and of itself is a very climate aware town. It houses the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), along with a multitude of climate organizations and movements. Still, Stele claims that it isn’t enough: “so many people come to Boulder. It’s a misnomer to say that there are people here who aren’t very disruptive, and we’re killers of the planet. There are absolute monsters who come to this town… [a]nd so if you want to meet millionaires and probably a couple of billionaires just wait around in Boulder.” He acknowledges that corporations & businesses account for a large percentage of total carbon emissions, but insists that the individual has an essential role too: “Every average American gets to decide if one square kilometer thrives or withers every year. So that’s really awesome for people who are kind of angsty about the whole climate thing.” Even though an individual’s role might not compare to that of a government’s or company’s, Stele holds fast to the idea that personal accountability and awareness are key to a successful climate fight.

Stele’s self-determined role in the community is to talk to everyone he can and inspire them to do the same. He uses narratives about supposed-past lives (he told us that we had been friends as wildebeests in the Serengeti in our past lives) in order to awaken some sort of “celebration of life” in his audience; he wants to motivate people not out of fear of the climate crisis but out of the joy of what a natural planet could mean. His positivity comes off a slightly jarring, especially when juxtaposed with the dire deadlines he advertises. His explanation, through a convoluted metaphor about falling off a bike, is that people need to know that a serious consequence is coming. Putting a date on Earth’s irreversibility, he argues, is an eye-catching way to do just that. Yet his optimistic attitude sticks more than his predicted apocalypse- he wants people to dance, hike and enjoy the outdoors.  

As for now, Stele’s hanging around the Boulder Farmers Market and taking up a conversation with anyone who’s curious. His eco-themed memorabilia and narrative whirlwinds will leave you with not only a sense of his activism but his place in the community in the world around him.