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Web Developer/Web Applications Developer

I learned to program in high school in the late 1970s, using a teletype machine connected to the county’s mainframe computer by a rotary telephone. It printed on a roll of paper for output and wrote and read data by poking out and probing for holes in little yellow rolls of paper punch tape. I became a software engineer, developing desktop applications before developing for the Web. I also have experience in usability, graphic design, copy writing/editing, and technical documentation.

I am currently a freelance developer and Principal at Fix My Website Now.

Group Process Facilitator/Strategic Planning and Strategy Development Consultant

I’ve been active on a wide range of social and environmental issues for more than 30 years, working from the local to the global level. I have started co-ops, run electoral campaigns, founded a labor union, worked in war zones, organized direct action mobilizations, coordinated international coalitions, and helped negotiate global environmental treaty texts. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on facilitation, social change strategy, and organizational development.

Currently I am Principal at Root Action Consulting.

Photography Enthusiast

I’ve been into photography since I was a kid, developing film using strong chemicals in poorly-ventilated closets and bathrooms (which might explain a few things).

Some of my work can be seen on this site and at Skip Spitzer Photography.

I make photographs, rather than photography-based art (which entails digital manipulation that makes an image less approximate a real scene—like removing pimples or adding birds). I believe that images that look authentic, but are not, can actually be harmful to people and nature. More about this.

I am working on a project called “Forest school,” about my son’s experiences learning in nature.

I also produced an online course on hiking skills for photographers: Getting [to] the Great Landscape (Hiking for Photographers).

Parent

I have a son and two stepsons, and spend a lot of time learning about child development.

I run Positive Play Playgroup, a weekly toddler playgroup based on RIE, Magda Gerber’s excellent parenting philosophy.

I am particularly interested in child development that supports responding to, and coping with, a world that is full of social and environmental harm, and already in a state of deepening planetary catastrophe.

See the Parenting page for resources about parenting for child development (including RIE) and parenting for environmental and social justice.

Environmental and Social Justice Activist

In my avocational social change work, I focus on underlying systemic causes. My article A systemic approach to occupational and environmental health provides a good orientation to my thinking about the underlying institutional bases of social and environmental harm.

I’m currently focusing on climate change. I created and maintain RespondToClimateChange.net, a website for those who have yet to face climate change. It has audience-specific open letters that provide a brief, clear, comprehensive, sugar-free, up to date, and science-based overview of the climate situation. It has a guide and resources for taking social action and making the lifestyle changes at home that can actually make a significant difference.

I coordinate Family Climate Action, a group of Portland families working together to help prevent global catastrophe.

I’ve been to jail for non-violent civil disobedience, a bunch of times.

Other

I eat a whole-food, plant-based diet. I’m a fan of Dr. Michael Greger’s work, and highly recommend his book How Not to Die.

I have been living car-free since late 2013. I wrote a piece on how to raise consciousness with a bike trailer billboard. Many years ago, I co-founded The Bike Church community bike repair co-op.

I like to read, backpack, hike, sail, and play guitar.

Favorite knots: adjustable grip hitch, bowline.

Previously

I’ve done a variety of things in the past. Here are some.

  • Senior Program Coordinator at Pesticide Action Network North America
  • Chair at Santa Cruz Action Network (local electoral politics)
  • Principal at Getting Deeper into the Wilderness (mostly teaching backpacking in the field)
  • Software Engineer at Netscape Communications, Borland International, and others
  • Sociology Instructor at UC Santa Cruz, San Jose State University, and several community colleges
  • Technical Writer at IBM
  • Co-founder/Board Member at UCSC Graduate Student Employee Association
  • Co-founder at The Bike Church community bicycle tool and repair co-op
  • Organizer at (Sub)urban Homesteading and Sustainable Living Meetup
  • Organizer at Progressive Parents Portland Meetup
  • Organizer of/participant in international solidarity brigades and delegations to Nicaragua and Cuba

Formal Studies

After a bad car accident interrupted my doctoral work, I was awarded a “don’t starve” M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

I was actually expelled from high school for chronic absenteeism after ditching my senior year of high school to start earning my B.A. in Economics from Stony Brook University, with a minor in Hunger, Health, and Poverty in International Perspective (as part of Patrick Hill’s excellent Federated Learning Communities program).

I am a Certified Bicycle Technician (United Bicycle Institute, Ashland, OR).

I completed a certificate program in Conflict Resolution Mediation (Conflict Resolution Center, Aptos, CA).

An open letter to those who haven’t faced climate change

It is very likely that the climate crisis is profoundly worse than you think.

Read the letter

An open letter to parents about protecting your children from climate change

Really, the most important thing you can do as a parent is to look, eyes wide open, and respond.

Read the letter

Selected publications

Spitzer, S. A systemic approach to occupational and environmental healthInternational Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. 2005; 11: 444-54.

Spitzer, S. Hiking For PhotographersThe Luminous Landscape. July 2014.

Schafer, K., Reeves, M., Spitzer, S., and Kegley, S. Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability. Pesticide Action Network. May 2004.

Spitzer, S. Effectively Using Hiking Poles: The Gas-Brake-Coast MethodBackpackingLight. July 2011.

Spitzer, S. RIE Principles for Parenting in Nature. Free Forest School Blog. January 2018.