Beginning with my Coming of Age experience at age 13, I was lucky enough to know Stan Crow and receive mentorship from him for almost 20 years.
From 1969 to 1985, Stan dedicated his time to working with the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), an international human development organization. His work took him from rural Texas to the inner cities of Washington, D.C., Harlem, Rochester, NY and Majuro, Marshall Islands. In 1981, Stan and his wife Carol were assigned to ICA headquarters in Chicago, IL, to head up the residential youth program for ICA volunteers were working abroad in rural villages. In 1983, he and Carol decided that the youth were no longer being served in their urban environment and decided to relocate the program to rural Bothell, Washington.
The dissolution of ICA programs in 1985 led Stan and Carol, along with other ICA alumni, to create Songaia Cohousing Community on the land formerly occupied by the youth program. The youth program, known then as The Residential Learning Center (RLC) might have dissolved at that time as well, but Stan had a vision and transformed his work into a non-profit program,
Rite of Passage Journeys, modeled after a primary ICA pedagogical practice, a rite of passage called The Sixth Grade Trip. Stan directed Journey's for over 20 years, until he “passed the rattle” to me in 2006.
Stan was a founding member of the Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church and naturally took on the role of Director of Religious Education, helping to build Coming of Age programs as a key component of UU youth programming all around the country today. Throughout his time developing initiatory programming for youth, he received mentorship from indigenous leaders, most notably Carolyn Hartness and Calvin Hecocta, and actively cultivated relationships with folks doing similar work across the country.
Having studied theater at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas, Stan believed strongly in the power of ritual enactment to transform. He had a genuine love for young people, and modeled the transformative power of caring mentoring relationships. For him, cultivating connection with the natural world was one of the most important teachings he passed along.
In 2009 Stan unexpectedly passed away. While humble in his teachings, he never hesitated to challenge those of us lucky enough to work with him to do more than we thought we could do. His mentorship was a profound gift and I find that I am still unpacking what I received from him.
Click here to read memories of Stan Crow’s impact.