In Remembrance: Matthew Stein

Matthew Stein Sitting by a Tree

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Matthew Stein, author, environmentalist, MIT-educated engineer, green builder, and beloved member of the Chelsea Green family. Matthew died on December 19, 2018, while out in nature pursuing one of his many passions, rock climbing.

In 2000 Matthew published his first book with Chelsea Green, When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance and Planetary Survival. He authored a second survival handbook, When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival, eleven years later. Beyond providing valuable information on keeping one’s self and loved ones safe in the event of crisis, Matthew’s books displayed a profound awareness of the turbulence that would come in the twenty-first century: the threat of declining oil production and the ravages of climate change and ecological decline. Rather than resign himself to these disturbing trends, Matthew sought to provide friends, neighbors, and the community at large with the tools they need to survive and thrive, and to bring about a more sustainable way of living. As he wrote in an interview two years ago, “It is my hope that many millions of people will wake up to the realization that making the shift to sustainability is a matter of economic and ecological survival.”

Matt SteinMatthew not only wrote about wilderness survival and the importance of preserving our environment, he practiced what he preached. Growing up in Burlington, Vermont, he was an avid hunter, fisher, backpacker, rock climber, and mountaineer, and later in life he volunteered for Sierra Regional Ski for Light, guiding blind skiers and hikers. After graduating from MIT with a degree in mechanical engineering, Matthew founded Stein Design and Construction, where he built hurricane-resistant, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly homes. He also designed water filtration devices, solar roofing panels, medical bacterial filters, and other consumer products intended to increase quality of life and minimize our collective environmental impact.

Matthew was, in so many ways, ahead of his time. His recognition of the struggles that humanity faces, his refusal to surrender to them, and his generous gifts to the community—of knowledge, awareness, tools, and practical skills—will live on.

 We leave you with some of Matthew’s words from When Disaster Strikes on the importance of human connection and optimism in the face of adversity: “The truth is that disasters usually bring out much more of the best in people than the worst in people, and the spirit of sharing and selfless service is often what touches people’s hearts the most, leaving effects that travel far beyond the limited scope of the experience, like waves in a pond rippling off into the distance from the splash of a small pebble.”

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