“PULSE offered me a chance to get to know Pittsburgh on a meaningful level much quicker than if I had just moved to a new city on my own. Turned out that the gritty and green character of the city fit me well.” – Neil Stauffer, PULSE ’01-’02 Alumnus
Neil Stauffer is a PULSE 2001-2002 alumnus. As a PULSE fellow, Neil found the program to be a perfect opportunity to combine his interests in organic farming and community living. Thirteen years later, Neil is still a proud Pittsburgh resident. He works as the general manager of Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance – a farmer-owned cooperative that delivers farm foods to customers in the Pittsburgh area through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscriptions, online Farm Stands, and wholesale restaurant deliveries. Neil believes that PULSE played a critical role in the process of discovering how to apply his passions to a career.
What kind of work do you do now?
I am the General Manager of Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, a cooperative business owned by about three dozen farms in Western Pennsylvania. I help connect these local farmers with customers in Pittsburgh via restaurant sales, a CSA, and an Online Farm Stand. We have a warehouse and office on Hamilton Avenue in Larimer.
What attracted you to the PULSE program?
After college, the community living opportunity that PULSE offered felt very natural and appealing to me. The clincher, however, was the placement. Directly before PULSE, I was enjoying work on an organic farm back home in Lancaster, PA. The director of PULSE at that time, Jessica King, found a placement for me on an organic farm right in the city just a mile or two from the PULSE house. That connection to the land in an urban context was very attractive to me.
How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?
PULSE offered me a chance to get to know Pittsburgh on a meaningful level much quicker than if I had just moved to a new city on my own. Turned out that the gritty and green character of the city fit me well. I grew up in the suburbs and went to college in a very rural community in New York, so I was more used to those contexts than the city. However, living in a city intrigued me. My PULSE placement, therefore, sparked a deep personal interest in finding ways to bridge the gap between the rural and urban living experience.
What was the best part of your PULSE experience?
As a liberal arts college grad with no established career goals, I was still looking for occupational direction after college. PULSE ended up providing just the space I needed to get my footing in that department. Our PULSE housemates also had a lot of fun together.
How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?
I think mostly it set me in a professional direction. PULSE also put me in a place to make a ton of connections during that year. It’s kind of amazing to think back on how many of my professional connections were started during my time in PULSE.
What did the PULSE experience teach you about yourself?
I think it reinforced how important community is to me. Establishing a life in a new place makes a lot more sense when you have a supportive community around you.
Story by PULSE fellow Jenna Baron.