A Little Something About Our Dear Departed Friend Greg…

The story of how stoke got its roots!

Once upon a time there was a unique and amazing individual named Greg Junell.

He spent a lot of time trying to make the world a better place by cultivating connection between people through education, music, art, and making everyday things more wacky and fun. Greg knew that the world is a big place, and that it would be easier to spread his vision by empowering others to cultivate connection, too. He had the awesome idea to start a business called Stoke the World that was going to stock and rent Pods of fun-ready equipment and supplies to make it easier for others to make parties, events and other cool things happen. 

Unfortunately, Greg only had a little time to work on that noble goal before he passed away.   (F**k cancer!!)

Before he died, Greg told us he wanted us to throw a big party for those that knew and loved him, to spread the positive vibe and to “Be a Lighter for Others’ Lamps”. We threw a great wake for Greg at Pozo Saloon over a whole weekend, and called it “Stoke the World”.

Many people camped, taught workshops, shared their art, listened to music, and generally lit other people’s lamps, culminating in the burning of a structure symbolizing the light Greg brought to the world.

After that, we wondered – how will we carry this idea into the future?  
Eventually, inspired by Greg’s dreams and after much discussion with many people, Jean Mussen Balsz founded the California non-profit Stoke the World, to bring together a group of similarly inspired people to help put this goal of lighting people’s lamps into real practice.


After the boring paperwork was done, the non-profit slowly grew; throwing more events, participating in beach and creek clean ups, creating groups to do things like Conspiracy of Joy, Directory of Stoke, and our Adulting Academy… following our core values in promoting volunteerism and cultivating connection in our communities.

From those efforts, and our experience at Pozo, we created an annual Gathering, for like-minded people to come and share their varied and special gifts and skills, to cultivate connection with others, to make new friendships and refresh old ones. It is meant to be a place where we can all enjoy music and art in the woods, talking long into the night around the fire, and enjoying the incredible natural world that we all partake in.
Changing someone’s perspective for the better, helping light their lamp – that is the core of what Greg was trying to do and what we are trying to do still – to make the world a little bit better every day. If we can keep doing that, the future will be bright and full of wonders.