Monthly Archives: December 2015

meet nayla: revolutionizing education in milwaukee (escuela verde series 02)

Nayla Bezares 02

How Escuela Verde works: They have a lot of open project spaces in their schedule, and students complete projects to earn credit to advance from one grade to another. If you’re a student who wants to go to medical school, for example, there’s a medical workshop where they bring in professionals from the community.

Kate and I were so pumped to feature Joey Zocher and Escuela Verde, we decided to turn her story and others’ into a series. Please check back over the next few weeks for more Q&A’s with the advisers, educators and overall awesome humans who staff Escuela Verde.

Nayla Bezares, 28, has been an adviser at EV for 5 months.

“My dream was to work for the bad guys and change their perspective,” says Nayla. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she always knew she wanted to save the world. Now, Nayla’s working with the Good Guys, I’d say, but she got there in a roundabout way.

Nayla and I met at one of our favorite places in Milwaukee—Outpost Natural Foods—to talk about dreams, education, and yes, trying to change the bad guys to change the world.  Continue reading

meet ruth b8r ginsburg: milwaukee musical activists

Ruth B8r Ginsburg

They picked the name Ruth B8r Ginsburg to promote female empowerment—and help people be a little more informed about politics. Notorious R.B.G. is a pretty fabulous role model!

“I feel like I dropped into the middle of this blossoming place, and it’s been amazing.”

“This is sort of therapeutic for me, a safe haven.”

“I feel like this is also a vehicle for messages. We can help!”

These uplifting thoughts bring to mind some of my favorite parts of life—activities that work toward my goals, within my passions, with people I love. While Ousia, Danielle and Johanna said them in the context of their melodically harmonizing, lyrically inspiring band, I feel like they could’ve been talking about anything. A new community, a calling, a group of friends.

That makes sense because Ruth B8r Ginsburg is all three. This week’s interview took me to a kitschy, cozy, eclectic third floor of a home in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. It was filled with warm tones and temps, low light and laughter of a bunch of inspiring women. Plus community bottles of local mead and a round of Brie literally being nibbled on made it feel a little extra Wisconsin-y. I liked it a lot.

My friend Quinn Cory invited me to a rehearsal of Ruth B8r Ginsburg, a Milwaukee band known for its mesmerizing harmonies. (Check them out here!) Practice was at the home of Johanna Rose, upright bassist extraordinaire, and I sat on the floor with them and got a really special glimpse into the energy that flows between this stunning ensemble. I even got to be there for their very first recording session. Continue reading

meet erika: woman thriving fearlessly in chicago

Erika Gilchrist, WTF, People with Panache

Erika also started the WTF Institute, where coaches and speakers can license award-winning content (created by Erika of course!) for two to three years and present it. It has three modules in a nice progression. She wants women to understand that they’re not valuable because of what they DO, but because of who they are.

Erika Gilchrist is a woman of juxtapositions.

She grew up in a large family with a packed house—but is an introvert who needs a lot of alone time. She absolutely adores children—but has no desire to have any of her own. She’s been performing on stage practically since birth—but merely the thought of being squished in a large crowd makes her anxious. And she’s happiest when she’s helping other people—but also feels that it’s selfish (in a good way!).

As we sat in Erika’s favorite park on one of the last beautiful fall days in Chicago, we ruminated on many other aspects of Erika and spent a long time talking about communication and how people so often get it wrong.

“It’s a balance—understanding how other people operate so that you’ll know how to communicate with them, even if they’re the polar opposite of who you are,” she says. “That whole thing about treating people the way you want to be treated… I’m like, No. Treat people the way they want to be treated.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: The tug of war between introverts and extroverts can be exhausting—one wanting to hang out all the time (E), the other always wanting a night at home to relax (I). With better quality communication, this struggle isn’t necessary. I opened with Erika’s quote because as you read the rest of our story about her, this notion permeates so much of her actions, thoughts and advice—finding success in any job or industry or business endeavor is about engaging and activating your human network. And that is what Erika loves to help people do. Continue reading

meet joey: revolutionizing education in milwaukee (escuela verde series 01)

Three years ago, I made a list of my personal heroes. I was on a quest to pave a path that melded my skills with my passions and my possibilities, and these people were true inspiration.

Joey, her mentor, and a group of teachers came together to start Escuela Verde as a team, under the umbrella created by the trailblazing TransCenter for Youth.

Joey, her mentor, and a group of teachers came together to start Escuela Verde as a team, under the umbrella created by the trailblazing TransCenter for Youth.

Then I made a list of my core values and drew little maps of potential professional paths I could create for myself, including things like starting a farm, going to grad school, moving to places I’ve never even visited, and—this is great!—working at Victory Garden Initiative! I just found the little notebook I wrote all my dreams and plans in, and I don’t really remember writing that, but it came true. I also researched the best educational programs and companies to work for, compared my strengths and weaknesses, and considered the characteristics and careers of those I looked up to most.

Now fast forward to today, and I really do feel like I’m living the values I listed while I take on the best parts of those paths I drew. (However, I laughed out loud when I found my weakness list and realized most of them hadn’t changed. Note to self: Work. On. Those!)

I also happen to work for one of the women on my hero list—and that dang list just won’t stop growing. Who would be on yours?

Settle in for a good one; Joey’s my newest addition. Continue reading