Steve's Passion & Perspectives

Steve has a commitment to leave every room he exits better off for having been there.  Steve met this commitment through answering the call of many local environmental groups who sought to better understand energy policy.  Steve spoke many times at BASEA, IEEE Power Engineering Society, the Museum of Science, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, the Vermont Public Service Board, the TieCon East Conference, MIT lectures, the Green Energy Edcuational Colaborative, the Technology and Entrepreneurship Forum, and the Deshpande Ideastream Conference among many other locations.

 

Steve has a commitment to team with groups that want to better understand how to make their local regional energy and transportation policies more sustainable.  Steve became a co-founder, webmaster, and popular panel moderator at AltWheels and worked to build more sustainable transportation in New England.  AltWheels won awards from the New England EPA for its work to reshape how people think about transportation options in the region.

 

For the last ten years Steve was very active in the Boston Chapter of the AMC, serving as the co-chair of the Boston Chapter's Conservation Committee.  Steve is a member of the IEEE, an ardent environmentalist, and a lover of hiking.  With his hiking partner Chris Digan, Steve hiked Mt Washington (more than once), Mt Chocorua, North and South Baldface (where they saw a moose), Carter Notch, and in 2002 they did an eight day AMC led hike from Franconia notch  across the state to Pinkham notch  which included several of the presidential range mountains –  Jackson, Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, Adams, Madison. The hiked the length of the Kancamagus highway on that trip.

Steve's Favorite Movie

North by Northwest

Steve's letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe

Video: Steve moderating
AltWheels in 2013
Video: Steve moderating
AltWheels in 2014
Video: Steve as part of the
AltWheels Panel in 2014
Video: Steve and Alison
at AltWheels
Video: Steve's interview
at AltWheels

Hiking the Presidential Range with Steve

Chris Digan, SVP Corporate Tax at EMC Computer Systems

We talked ourselves into doing that 8 day hike with the AMC in July 2002 from Franconia notch to Pinkham notch. I consider it a highlight of my life as it was something we had never done. I recall you and I going for a practice hike on a Sunday in May of that year after a heavy rainfall the previous day. We got up to the mountains and hiked and were hiking in 2-3 feet of snow- sucking wind and wandering off the trail several times trying to find the trail markers!  We were both exhausted at the end of that hike. Then came the big 8 day trip. First night we were in bunk beds in a 4 man room with two guys we did not know. What we should have realized was that first night was luxury accommodations compared to where we slept the following 7 nights in the AMC huts. Day one we were a small group of six hikers hiking to Greenleaf hut and we were that last AMC group to reach the hut and got lousy bed selections. After that first night we always made sure to not be the last to the huts so we could get beds as far from the men’s room as possible; to avoid the door banging during the night when the  older men had to get up to use the bathroom!

I remember the second day being the longest day of hiking and I ran out of water. We still finished ahead of groups 3 and 4 who were trailing us! Then after staying at Zealand falls hut for two nights, we were somehow were talked into hiking with the first group comprised of 3 Russian women who ran on the trail. It was one of the worst hiking days of my life as you and I were running to keep up with them- BIG MISTAKE on our part! They were younger and in better shape than either of us!!

 

Additionally you and I were 2 of the only 4 hikers (out of total of 25 people) that did NOT have poles as neither of us had ever used them before. Of course you and I had never hiked 8 days in a row before so we probably should have known that we needed them. We have relatively good weather that week as I only remember hiking in the rain for one day! I recall that I was mentally finished by Friday night at the lake of the clouds hut but we still had 2 more days of hiking ahead of us! You were stoic as I never recall you complaining about being tired like I was.  I do remember having a cold beer with you and the other hikers on Sunday afternoon in the Pinkham notch parking lot before departing! I drove to Fryeburg and showered for the first time on 8 days and drove home the next day!!

Steve, Alison and AltWheels

Mike Manning, Director of Business Development at AVSG, AltWheels Sponsorship Chair

From AltWheels earliest days, Steve Connors was a true leader.  My earliest recollection was at the very first AltWheels organizing dinner meeting.  We gathered at the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation - where it became clear that Steve was a leader - beginning with the pizza line no less!  I've been following him ever since. 

 

At that point in time, none of us really had any idea where we'd be going with this crazed concept of raising awareness  regarding environmental and sustainability topics within the transportation sector.  Now, it's been over 12 years since that very first dinner meeting.  AltWheels has morphed and transformed from a public lawn-style festival to a neatly honed professional fleet managers' symposium. In between, we spent three years at Larz Anderson, then super-sized to Boston City Hall plaza for two years where over 20,000 people attended, and then began the trend to a more focused event.  We spent a number of years with Staples Worldwide Headquarters hosting AltWheels and then more recently at the Four Points by Sheraton.

 

All along the way, there have been great memories and stories.  From the rainstorms and near-miss hurricane that plagued the lawn events at Larz Anderson - where Steve led the charge to save the exhibits from utter destruction - to Steve's creating and managing the first AltWheels website.  

 

In 2004, we organized a caravan of alternatively-fueled vehicles from Larz Anderson to Steve's place of work - MIT.  I can imagine Steve's co-workers at MIT saying:  "You want to do what?"  But he convinced them otherwise - and we had a great evening there - showcasing our vehicles to the MIT community. http://news.mit.edu/2004/altwheels-0922

 

As AltWheels changed to cater to the fleet manager crowd, Steve took on the role of event moderator and helped to craft the day's agenda.  Without his input and knowledge, I doubt AltWheels would be as highly regarded as it is today.  AltWheels won a regional EPA award for helping to shape alternative transportation in the region and now gets hundreds of commercial and municipal fleet managers each year to meet and see what are not only best practices but "next practices."

 

Beyond AltWheels - Steve and I share a common but quirky passion - and that is personally cleaning the environment.  It turns out that we both carry gear to enable us to clean up whatever litter that might be found along a country road, maybe on Mass Avenue in Cambridge, or here in the Navy Yard in Charlestown.  I think this goes to show Steve's deep caring for the Earth as well as his humility to get "down and dirty" to keep our environment clean.

 

So, with just three months to go before our next Altwheels (September 19, 2016),  I look forward to continued collaboration with Steve and Alison to continue our mission in  "Creating a Sustainable Transportation Vision for the 21st Century".

AltWheels

Stephen B. Russell, AltWheels Program Chair & Director Massachusetts Clean Cities

The AltWheels event started in 2003 and continues to be the go-to event to learn about alternative technologies and fuels in the transportation sector, and Steve Connors is a driving force behind this event.

My first experience with Steve was as an attendee at one of the first AltWheels events where he served as the moderator for the OEM panel. He really put the manufacturers to task on why they should be producing more efficient vehicles for the public. He really gave them a run for their money - It was great! He continued in that role as moderator for the OEM panel each year and set the tone for the fleet days that followed.

One remembrance I’ll never forget was his zest to get things done as an AltWheels organizer. He was the MIT spearhead that arranged to have all the displayed vehicles at the Lars Anderson Museum caravan through Boston to MIT. I will never forget the stares of the public as well as the police escort! After the thrill of the drive Steve gave a moving speech on alternative transportation.

Steve has always been a wonderful resource. I came to know his impact on the State of Massachusetts when I became the Clean Cities Coordinator for Massachusetts. He assigned grad students to study the emerging electric vehicle technology. They produced an informative report supporting the direction in which the state was headed and what needed to be done. This effort proved that Steve was willing to go above and beyond for the state.

Over the years it has been my honor to work with Steve. I appreciate all his support to make the world move to cleaner technologies.

Steve's Philosophy

Cathy Whitmire, Spiritual author and family friend

It is said that the only question we have to answer in life is “Did we love enough?” And Steve loves Ali, his family, friends, colleagues, students and the world with his whole heart. This kind of unconditional love not only leaves a mark high on the heart; it inspires others, makes the world a better place and endures forever.

 

I first heard about Steve from Emily Sander (Alison’s mother), who told me that a very impressive MIT expert in renewable energy had come for a potluck meeting and had brought a broccoli salad. While people were impressed by Steve’s articulate explanations of complex issues and his amazing power point presentation they were intrigued by his down-to-earth humor and humility. In Cambridge, world-class experts don’t usually bring vegetable salads to potlucks where they are a keynote speaker.

 

Later when I co-officiated Steve and Ali's wedding I got to know more about Steve. I discovered he is inherently optimistic and has a life philosophy he calls “no-regrets living.” He says that “with all the craziness in the world the only thing you really have control over is how you treat other people.” And Steve has found that "it is easier to be nice."

 

Steve and I have often talked about faith. Steve is a critical thinker who leaves lots of room for mystery. He believes his life has been blessed, but his time in the Peace Corps made him realize how many people around the world suffer. This awareness led him to become an agent for positive change. He seeks to help create a world where everyone can flourish and feel blessed.

 

Steve walks his talk. He lives with no-regrets and leaves every room he enters better off for having been there. That is not easy to do while trying to beat the odds of stage four esophageal cancer.  But after three years of operations, dilations, chemo, immunotherapy,  radiation and more Steve continues to quip with nurses and astound doctors with his good humor and resilience. Steve doesn’t deny the difficulty of “juggling flaming alligators” and navigating unknown terrain, but his loving nature and compassionate core have shown through his three plus year battle with cancer.

 

Wheeling Steve down the hall to therapy at Spaulding Treatment Center in Charlestown I was amazed to see Steve smile and say hello to everyone we passed in the hall. Even when Steve's balance was impaired he was still was picking up litter on Boston sidewalks. Steve says he isn’t fearful or depressed, and Ali observes that he doesn’t waste energy on things that aren’t important, doesn’t get grumpy and is an amazing sport about the indignities that come with being a cancer patient. And when I tell Steve he is living "heroically," he tells me, with characteristic humility, that he is just doing what anyone else would faced with cancer.

 

In the midst of the chaos and disruption that is cancer, Steve and Ali savor every moment together. Ali says she feels like she has won the husband lottery. Steve tells her constantly, “Love and adore you, Babe,” which Ali says makes life with Steve “pure bliss every single day.”