Monthly Archives: September 2015

our chicago pwp party!

IMG_9476Last Thursday night, September 24, Alysse and I hosted our second PWP party—this time in Chicago at Beauty & Brawn Art Gallery & Think Space! Whenever I throw a party, I somehow convince myself that NO ONE is going to show up. So until people started trickling in on Thursday evening (besides my mom, who showed up first), I was panicking.

But after the last person had gone home with her custom Big White Yeti candle and a phone full of new connections, we cleaned up, full of joy and exploding with pride and gratitude. Over the course of 3 hours, we had about 35 of my favorite people on this planet gathered in Beauty and Brawn, and I can’t wait to do it again.

For Alysse and me, it’s all about creating our own kind of community—a community of women united not by occupation or demographics or geographics. No, these women are united by something bigger: their ambition and passion to make the most out of this life. That is one of the main reasons Alysse and I write this blog and have gatherings like this. We are lucky enough to get to meet these amazing women and tell their stories every week—but when we’re sitting one-on-one with them, listening to their triumphs and disappointments and lessons learned, we can’t ignore the overwhelming desire to connect them to others who know exactly how they feel. We try our very best to portray each woman in our blog posts as who she really is, but there’s nothing like the feeling you get hearing someone’s story firsthand. And that is the inspiration for creating the PWP community. Continue reading

meet melissa: milwaukee teacher, leader, community creator part 2

Here are Melissa, my roommate Jessica, me and Kate at our first People With Panache party! This Thursday, from 6-8, we're having another celebration of People With Panache at Beauty & Brawn Art Gallery and Think Space. You're invited! :)

Here are Melissa, my roommate Jessica, me and Kate at our first People With Panache party! This Thursday, from 6-8, we’re having another celebration of People With Panache at Beauty & Brawn Art Gallery and Think Space. You’re invited! :)

“I have this desire to create the best world for children,” Melissa Pallin says.

This vision rings so true to me, too. Growing up with a grandma who ran a daycare with me as her little sidekick, a mom and dad who were parental figures way before I was born, and a toy box full of dolls I called my “kids,” I’ve always loved children, even when I was one. Now, at work, I get to write grants for programs that provide children with education about growing food, eating healthfully and working as a team—and because we’re so small and connected, I also sometimes get to work with the kids, too. It’s a great blend of my skills and passions, something I think most of us strive for. Melissa has also found a way to lead a passion-driven life—as we saw in last week’s post. I hope you met Melissa already but if not, she’s a perpetual student, teacher, and creator of a better, brighter future for Milwaukee’s children.

Melissa Pallin, 29, established Summer of Learning in the City of Milwaukee, an 8-week summer education program featuring a 5-to-1 student-teacher ratio, Montessori methods and real-world experiences with the City of Milwaukee as the classroom. It was precipitated by the facts that (a) more than half the achievement gap between higher- and lower-income youth can be attributed to lack of access to summer learning and (b) most students lose about two months of their grade-level math skills over the summer, but lower-income students also lose more than two months in reading—while their higher-income peers actually make gains.

Melissa also created Milwaukee Teacher SPAce, a hub of teacher enrichment, connection and support in a spa-like atmosphere. Membership itself comes with collaborative open workshops, health and wellness opportunities, and more for teachers to feel supported and cared for. Melissa also sets up Teacher SPAces in schools themselves to catalyze collaboration, health and wellness through workshops, spa sessions, and even parent education retreats. Finally, Melissa works to make satellite SPAces in businesses and other community resources, featuring programming the first Tuesday of every month, bringing teachers, parents and children out into local businesses. Continue reading

meet melissa: milwaukee teacher, leader, community creator

Melissa’s goal: Connect the whole city to make dramatic change in education. “Teachers are community creators, designers, talent developers, and more,” she says, and the list goes on!

Melissa’s goal: Connect the whole city to make dramatic change in education. “Teachers are community creators, designers, talent developers, and more,” she says, and the list goes on!

Close your eyes (Okay, not actually—it’s really hard to read that way). Breathe in the sweet, vanilla-tinged smell of chocolate-chip cookies in the oven. Imagine the feeling of the warmest late-summer breeze on your skin. Let yourself get mesmerized by the image of a lake dazzling in the last golden glimmers of sunset. All those sparkly, warm, happy, almost-as-good-as-the-best hug feelings are my best attempt at describing what it feels like when you’re around Melissa Pallin. (She’s even sweeter than this pie I’m eating—and as you know, I freakin’ LOVE. PIE.)

During the day, Melissa, 29, is a teacher at Highland Community School, a Montessori school part of the Milwaukee Public School system. She also founded and runs Milwaukee Teacher SPAce and Milwaukee Summer of Learning (SOL), which take up her nights and summers. She is incredibly sunshiny, exuberantly enthusiastic, and I think all who meet her would agree: Melissa was born to work with children. Continue reading

meet imani: chicago designer, photographer, artist

50 Shots, Imani Amos, People with Panache

Imani is holding the flyer for her “50 Shots” project. She says, “The project really isn’t about me. It’s more about pride and these men who are doing great things as a part of our community.”

I could eat Mexican food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So I like to think of myself as a taco connoisseur. Recently I may have met my match: Imani Amos. When I met up with her to talk about her recent, stunning, timely and captivating art photography project, “50 Shots,” we ended up spending the last 20-ish minutes talking tacos. Thanks to her, I have a list of new places to try in Chicago!

Imani is currently at the tail end of earning her graphic design degree at the Illinois Institute of Art. She also teaches West African dance and has been performing since she was five years old. On the side, she is also a freelance model, but she wants to move more toward the other side of the camera—directing the shoots rather than being in them. She has a VERY cool Instagram. And although she bills herself as a graphic designer (not a photographer), she recently created a photography art project called “50 Shots: Humanizing America’s Most Hunted” that depicts the mug shots of 50 black men and five things about them that you might not know by looks alone. The outcome is powerful, compelling and so relevant to today.

People with Panache: Imani, your “50 Shots” show is eye-opening and beautiful. Where did you get the idea?

Imani Amos: I have a notebook where I just jot down ideas. About 3 or 4 years ago, I had this idea to take a mug shot of a few of my black male friends. I thought about how my friends who I knew very well could easily be pulled over and taken to jail. So I thought it would be funny if I took a mug shot of them and wrote down what they actually do. Continue reading

meet christina and jacob: investing in entrepreneurs through tourism

“If you want to change the world, take something powerful and nudge it.”

I’ve seen this quote attributed to a few people—but no matter who said it, that’s what Christina Taddy and Jacob Taddy are doing.

Christina and Jacob are working on transforming the travel industry with living wages, alleviating poverty—so they hope these businesses will eventually not need them and they can move on to other locations, other countries. “We want to call and hear, ‘Well, we’re booked…’,” Christina says.

Jacob and Christina are working on transforming the travel industry with living wages, alleviating poverty—so they hope these businesses will eventually not need them and they can move on to other locations, other countries. “We want to call and hear, ‘Well, we’re booked…’,” Christina says.

This brother-sister pair and I shared a table at Colectivo (Kate’s favorite coffee shop in Milwaukee) to talk about Onwards, the nonprofit the two built together. Onwards uses tourism to address global poverty, beginning in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Onwards breaks the seemingly insurmountable challenge of alleviating poverty into three parts that make a pretty phenomenal model: They offer microfinance services, training, and ultimately revenue for the businesses they invest in. Their lending model gives lower-interest-rate loans and only accepts repayments when Onwards provides business via trips they plan. “With our first loan recipient, Raquel, we booked two nights with a couple dozen people and a few staff trips. She’s paid back $450 of her $950 loan so far,” Jacob says—and that’s only from a portion of her proceeds. “This lending model shares the responsibility but takes the risk off the vulnerable, more impoverished entrepreneur.” Onwards has only been around for a little over a year, and they’ve already given two loans, planned two trips, and are about to host four launch parties across the country. These two were just the inspiration I need lately—they waste no time. Continue reading