Monthly Archives: September 2013

meet lacie: chicago runner and athletic-wear creator

Lacie at Desk, People with Panache

“For me, having my own business and being a mom and a wife, running gives me that hour of alone time,” Lacie says. “I think it’s really important for women to take that time for themselves.”

Working out is not something that comes naturally to me. Even the word cardio gives me hives. So for someone to make running sound like anything more than torture is nearly a miracle. Continue reading

doodle day: running style

We love us a good flow chart. And either way with this one—you’ve got the right answer! We hope you’re looking forward to next week’s interview, ’cause we sure are.  Lucca‘s GIF is just a preview!

Runner Flow Chart

If you’re ready to run around but can’t wait to read the interview, check out our favorite food truck traversing the Midwest with delicious dishes that keep you on your toes!

[Doodle by Lucca.]

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meet bridgett: kalamazoo food trucker on a mission

Organic Gypsy on People With Panache

Bridgett has tons of allergy-friendly options—and at a farmers market last summer actually served one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ little boys, who had gluten, wheat, dairy and other allergies. Her truck had the only food the little guy could eat. (She just gets more and more awesome!)

Bridgett was living in San Francisco when she had a five-minute chat that changed her life and brought her back to the Midwest. She had an idea: she’d be an organic gypsy with a traveling food truck. Continue reading

meet heidi: wisconsin-native painter goes west

Heidi Keyes on People With Panache

Heidi sometimes took small canvases with her on flight attendant trips and made 8x8s in her hotel rooms—though that meant she could only fit one pair of shoes, and one less sweater.

“My parents run a petting farm in East Troy, Wis., and my first job was as a pony walker there,” says Heidi Keyes.

I’m reasonably certain Heidi had many 12-year-old girls’ dream job at a very young age. Continue reading

doodle day: paint by heart

Paint by numbers were one of my childhood favorites. Perfect ending every time.

Our next Person with Panache is quite different. To give you a hint, she might use a few of the same tools, but her work is full of heart, and it’s true art. When we got the chance to speak with her about travel, independence and joy in her job, she just had this sparkle about her. We can’t wait to share! (Bonus: We did a playground photoshoot, which was a blast! Any other ideas for future photo ops you’d like to see? Click on the firework below for inspiration.)

painter-fantastic-moment001

[Doodle by Lucca.]

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meet susan: chicago’s 21st century grandma

Susan and Orchid at her writing desk on PWP

Her grandkids call her Honey instead of Grandma. Susan’s first-born grandson says she’s a “21st century grandma.”

In honor of Grandparents Day last Sunday, Sept. 8, I was excited to meet Susan Good. Susan started GrammaGood.com, where she doles out advice and informative stories for grandmas like her all over the world.

Continue reading

meet alissa: farmer feeding milwaukee

Alissa Moore on People With Panache

“I feel like every year I get better at this,” Alissa says.

I was giddy on my drive to Herons’ View Farm. It’s a hundred-plus-acre swath of beautiful land just outside Milwaukee, managed by Alissa Moore. While watching tall buildings turn into strip malls and then into barns on rolling hills in all shades of green, I was probably speeding a little too much just so I could get there as soon as my little Corolla would take me. (Why on earth has teleportation not been invented yet?)

Alissa and I talked and harvested and nibbled on fresh-from-the-field green beans, ground cherries and tomatillos. One thing she mentioned really stuck with me—the beautiful magic she felt at the first farm where she worked, Chubby Bunny Farm in Connecticut. I’m not sure if she knows it yet, but she’s creating that same feeling at her farm, one perfect tomatillo at a time.

People with Panache: How did you get to where you are today?

Alissa Moore: When I worked on that first farm, Chubby Bunny, a week in I thought: I wish I could quit my job and do this forever. Now I am!

Let’s start at the beginning: After college, I worked at a couple corporate jobs in Minnesota, and my brother was looking into farming. I got so excited looking at all these places he could work, and eventually checked in with myself and realized that’s what I wanted to try. So I left my office job in Duluth to do my first internship in Connecticut. After three seasons of interning I got a job on a farm in western Wisconsin, which did a lot for me.

I had a full-time internship, a quarter acre of land that they just let me have for the season and my own CSA, which stands for community-supported agriculture. It was really crazy ‘cause I had a full-time 45-hour-a-week internship, or more, plus my CSA. It was really intense.

That was a great experience for me because for the first time I had my own customers and my own promises to keep, but I had all of my mentor farmer’s equipment and all of his knowledge. And farming scales up pretty easily in terms of planning, so basically I planned for 12 shares that season, and the next season when I got a job managing another farm, Wellspring, and had to plan for 100 shares, I knew how the process worked.

PWP: How long did you intern overall?

AM: Some people do one or two farming internships and then start their own farm. For me that wouldn’t have worked. I’m too much of a perfectionist. I spent the four years I interned learning how to farm from people who were really good at it. That meant when I went out on my own I had a lot of really great knowledge.

Alissa Moore on People With Panache

Alissa sells her produce through farmers markets and restaurant shares.

PWP: Is that how you approach life a lot of the time? I can be a little impatient, so that makes me think!

AM: Yeah! It’s hard enough to convince people of the importance of local food and that organic or sustainable is really better. So when people go out there and start farms with little experience, they’re going to put out a product that’s not as good, not helping the reputation of everybody else.

PWP: What makes you happiest?

AM: The two things that make me happiest right now are farming, or growing food, and hanging out with my niece. She lives in Minneapolis and is six-and-a-half. We’re super close.

And I just like being able to be outside. I think plants are so incredibly amazing. I’m pretty much blown away by the plants every day.

PWP: Isn’t that nuts that you can just plant a seed and get all this?

AM: It’s unfathomable. I really like going to the market or when I’m doing a CSA, talking to people and hearing how they didn’t like certain vegetables until I put it into their CSA box. People who didn’t like arugula suddenly eat it every day.

PWP: Is your job more secure than some because you’re being paid by the landowners?

AM: I don’t know that secure is the right word. But I have more stability, a more dependable income than some farmers I know.

PWP: Do you know a lot of other farmers? It seems like farmers could pretty easily be isolated.

AM: Yeah, we are isolated! But we do a lot of socializing. We’re actually working pretty hard to create a social network. There’s this institution called the Grange that used to be really popular, and we’re toying with the idea of starting a Grange here.

“I like being able to work with food, seeing it grow, feeding people.”

But there’s this debate out in Oregon about restarting a Grange but calling it the Green Grange, and it’s kind of creating a rift among sustainable versus conventional farmers, and we don’t really want to get into that fight around here. I mean, they’re not bad people. I’m meeting with our neighbor later who wants to rent land from us and grows conventional. He’s a super nice guy, he cares a lot about topsoil and farming the right way, and he’s going to grow organically—not certified organically—but isn’t going to use treated seeds, GMOs or herbicides on our land. It’s easy to say conventional farmers are bad, but they’re just trying to eke out a living farming like the rest of us.

Alissa Moore on People With Panache

At first, Alissa had a hard time getting used to all the waste, like overripe tomatoes, but it ends up helping the soil. Together we picked cherry and heirloom tomatoes for the next day’s farmers market.

PWP: What do you like most about farming?

AM: How tangible it is—being able to work with food, seeing it grow, feeding people. I also really like that I have an outlet. I don’t sit still very well; it’s hard for me to do nothing, ever. And I’ve always been like that, had a lot of energy, enjoyed physical work.

PWP: Any lessons you’ve learned from farming?

AM: Oh, yeah. I think it’s made me a lot more relaxed, which is funny—farming really isn’t relaxing. But it really makes you have to go with the flow.

PWP: Any advice for women starting to do what they really love?

AM: Well I have this favorite quote by William James.

“To change one’s life:
Start immediately.
Do it flamboyantly.
No exceptions.”

That’s what I kind of live by. When I’m starting to feel unhappy, I think: What can I do to immediately and flamboyantly change my life? I feel like that’s kind of what I did when I started farming. I left my life, packed up everything and drove away. I know everyone can’t do that but there are small ways you can do that for yourself.

More to the point: If there’s something you really want to do, find a way to do it. Start.

[Photos by Alysse.]

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