Council of Stewards
Carl Baumann retired in 2005 after 34 years in business. He spent 6 years in commercial banking and 28 years with the Miller Brewing Company in numerous financial positions. Carl is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor helping small businesses and nonprofits start-up and operate. He teaches business planning courses and seminars for SCORE. Carl is also a member of the UNC School of Social Work Board of Advisors. Carl and his wife Susan have chosen to support Bluestem because of their love for nature and desire to find a burial option that is gentle on the earth. Learn more about Carl here.
Sidney Cruze is a talented artist, communicator, and conservation advocate who passionately supports people of all ages spending more time in nature. Sidney is the former owner of Zola Craft Gallery in Durham, and has worked or volunteered for conservation organizations in the region that include Unique Places, Eno River Association, Triangle Land Conservancy, and Duke Gardens. Sidney is married and the mother of daughter Izzy, another lifelong conservationist. More on Sidney coming soon.
Heidi Hannapel is a wife, mother, grandmother and spiritual seeker living and working in Durham, North Carolina, where the redbuds in the spring and the buckeyes in the fall remind her she's home. Nature is her constant. As a young girl moving every couple of years, she experienced a rootlessness that sent her running for the woods and trees in her neighborhood. Heidi treasures the richness of North Carolina's Piedmont—its people, art, history, culture and landscapes. Heidi believes that nature is the most natural place for restoring ourselves, and for having conversations around death, dying and the legacy we want to leave for future generations. Heidi first learned of conservation burial from land trust colleagues in Florida who were committed to burying a longtime supporter of conservation in her favorite landscape. Heidi is a founding member of the Conservation Burial Alliance and a cofounder of Bluestem—a shared dream that emerged from meaningful conversations with compassionate friends, while caring for her dying mother. More on Heidi here.
Shenae McPherson is a passionate and powerful advocate for healthy aging in Orange County. She is the administrator for the Volunteer Connect 55+ program and provides countless resources and learning opportunities to the community. More on Shenae soon!
Allen Brimer is the pastor of The Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill, a historic congregation founded as a race equity church during the Civil Rights movement and a leader in progressive justice causes. Allen is formerly the Co-founder and Pastor of Farm Church, a congregation that meets on a farm and leverages the resources of the farm to address food insecurity in Durham, North Carolina. Prior to Farm Church, Allen served congregations for twelve years in Kentucky and Indiana. Prior to seminary, Allen was an organic farmer and worked on farms in New Mexico, Tennessee, and Indiana. Allen is an Adjunct Professor in Comparative Religion. Allen farms, barbecues, is a rabid baseball fan and loves to make (and share) pie. Allen has two sons: Eli, in 8th grade, and Ben, who is studying architecture in New Orleans. Allen is a co-founder of Bluestem. Find more on Allen here.
Jennifer Evans is a mother, grandmother, artist and businesswoman. She is the cofounder of Trio Family Services, a local agency dedicated to providing families with the caregiving support they need. Jennifer's full bio coming soon.
Jeff Masten is a 25-year resident of Durham, moved by the reverence and spirit of the natural places throughout the Triangle. With over 20 years working in the field of conservation, Jeff’s expertise is in building partnerships, and creating and leading cutting-edge conservation projects. Introduced to conservation burial in 2006, Jeff has supported the development of conservation burial projects in North Carolina and throughout the country since then. Jeff’s personal experiences accompanying his father and step-father in their end of life journeys, is at the core of his calling to create Bluestem. Jeff believes nature is where each individual can have their own personal, physical, emotional and tactile experience. “There is something about walking through nature, experiencing its sights, sounds, and smells that can trigger memory and healing from one's grief. Bluestem is that place, where spiritual and natural spaces are invited to coexist.” Jeff is a founding member of the Conservation Burial Alliance and a co-founder of Bluestem. Learn more about Jeff's work building conservation burial projects here.
Franziska Rokoske is a nature lover, land conservation enthusiast, and passionate advocate for improving all peoples' experiences towards end of life, and after death. A clinician by background, Franzi spent the past 20 years shaping federal health policy to support patients and families facing serious illness and end of life. Her work has also touched on how we can increase the quality of conversations families have as they navigate complex decisions about their care and death. In Franzi's personal experience: "I was the caregiver for my dying mom, navigating these same issues and growing in my understanding and compassion for how people make their way through this journey towards end of life and beyond. In the past I was driven by the question "what is a good death?" These days I'm passionate about the question "what is good care for family, community, and the earth after death?" Franzi is a hospice volunteer, and is currently completing yoga teacher training, with a focus on restorative yoga that combines mindful movement practices in nature with compassionate meditation. She is excited to contribute her energies to creating Bluestem as a nurturing, healing place for all to engage with the mysteries of our experiences in life. More on Franzi here.