Following Her Passions
Stephanie Elson Bruneau’s connections to Miquon run deep, as both an alumna and a Miquon parent. But lately, she’s created quite a buzz on campus.
“A great joy for me was being invited to set up a hive of bees on the roof of the Nursery classroom at Miquon,” says Stephanie. “The kids had so many great questions and were so much fun to work with!”
A love of the natural world
Her love of the natural world took form in her own time as a student here. Stephanie attended Miquon from Kindergarten through sixth grade, graduating in 1990 and continuing on to Friends Select School. She attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and then did masters work in environmental policy and planning at Brown’s Center for Environmental Studies.
Stephanie says she is passionate about the natural world and about community building. “I certainly find the root of these passions in my time at Miquon. Miquon sparked my love and respect for the natural world. From turning over rocks in the creek to tapping maple trees and playing with fire at the fire tables in the science room, the natural world and natural phenomena have always excited and inspired me.”
Stephanie recently published The Benevolent Bee (Quarry Books, June 2017), which is a practical guide to the many things beekeepers can harvest from their hive beyond honey, including pollen, propolis, royal jelly, beeswax, and bee venom. It features directions for crafts and recipes for natural remedies.
“My love of nature led me into beekeeping, and after 10 years working with and teaching about bees, I wrote The Benevolent Bee.” She was excited to share her passion for beekeeping with the curious young minds at Miquon.
Co-op in the mix
She also shares her enthusiasm for sustainability and community building in her work as the programs coordinator at Weavers Way Co-op, a local food cooperative that is a cornerstone of the Northwest Philadelphia communities of Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill, and one of the oldest food cooperatives in the country.
“To me, the cooperative economy is about supporting people and place instead of faceless corporations like Amazon that value money over people and planet,” she explains. “Co-ops give local people a stake and a say in the business, which means that the health of the community (people and the environment) comes first.”
“It’s a values-driven organization, and coming from Miquon, this is of utmost importance to me.” Weaver’s Way’s business model also overlaps with her environmental studies. “We do a lot at the Co-op surrounding sustainability,” she explains.
The Co-op manages two urban farms, promotes bulk shopping, holds zero-waste events, organizes workshops on topics ranging from native plants to beekeeping to backyard composting. “This all excites me and fits right into my interests and experience in the natural world,” she explains.
Stephanie lives in East Mt. Airy with her family, their cat, their guinea pig (Fred, who used to live in the Miquon Nursery), bees, and 5 chickens. Stephanie’s two children, Clara (age 6) and Atticus (age 4), currently attend Miquon in the Nursery and Kindergarten classrooms. “It is such a joy to watch them come home from school happily covered in Miquon mud,” she says.
“My passion for community building also has roots in my time at Miquon. There is such a strong sense of community at Miquon. It’s a community I’ve carried with me since graduating. At 40 years old, some of my closest friends are those I met in kindergarten. So, I’m passionate about working to support strong and vibrant communities like the one at Miquon.”
And by the way . . .
In May, Stephanie was a part of the Miquon Spring Fair planning committee to help Spring Fair be a zero-waste event! All event attendees were encouraged to bring their own plates and cups and cutlery, and reusable plates were available to rent to those folks who forgot to bring their own. Dish washing stations and compost bins for food scraps were set up, and at the end of the Fair, volunteers weighed all of the trash, recycling, and compost collected to compare as a benchmark in future years.
Email Stephanie if you want to get involved with next year’s Spring Fair; we are always looking for Spring Fair Eco-Ambassadors to help out!