Many thanks to fellow board member Paul Peterson for researching and writing this profile of Michael.
Michael has been on the board of the Stone Trust since 2016 and has earned Level III and instructor certifications from the Dry Stone Walling Association of of Great Britain (DSWA-GB). Michael began working in stone on a casual basis in high school in Detroit while working with a landscaper. He built his first retaining wall in his own backyard. After college, Michael migrated northward in Michigan, where he worked as a carpenter and real-estate broker before shelving his logging company to start a stone landscaping business that focused on retaining walls and landscape settings.
A turning point occurred in 2007 when Michael attended a Dry Stone Conservancy (DSC) workshop and the National Walling Competition in Kentucky. Michael says, “It was then and there, that I knew that I had not known. I was working in isolation.” After that weekend, through mentorship and self-study, Michael began to learn the craft of dry stone construction. He soon became an accomplished wall builder, a DSC Certified Level II Waller, and a DSC Certified Instructor. He participated in numerous workshops around the country over several years and assisted with restoration projects contracted by the National Park Service with the DSC.
In 2008, Michael connected with the soon-to-be Stone Trust co-founder Jared Flynn at the Stone Foundation Symposium in Barre, VT. Through The Stone Trust, Michael was certified as an instructor by the DSWA of Great Britain in 2014. Michael seeks continuous improvement in his own dry stone construction skills. He is intensely committed to creating a robust pipeline of skilled professionals and instructors to ensure the continuity and quality of dry stone construction.
Michael has imagined possible future expansion of TST projects, consistent with the mission of improving and sustaining the craft of dry stone construction. One possible expansion would involve more formalized collaboration with outside agencies who need assistance with dry stone projects, such as the National Park Service and state preservation efforts. Michael also envisions TST further developing the custom mobile workshop that can be set up almost anywhere. Michael welcomes all sizes of dry stone construction projects because “although not all dry stone projects are walls, the basic techniques for wall construction are transferable to much larger projects.” One example is the dry-stone-supported Delaware Aqueduct connecting Pennsylvania and New York. The original 25-foot-plus tall engineered wall was damaged by ice floes and high water and had to be repaired. This enormous structure was designed by John Roebling, architect of the Brooklyn Bridge.