Category Archives: [by kate & alysse]

Interviews & editing by Kate & Alysse.

post-election: keep hope alive

only-when-the-last-tree-has-diedand-the-last-river-has-been-poisonedand-the-last-fish-has-been-caughtwill-we-realize-we-cant-eat-money“Hope is a verb
with its shirtsleeves rolled up.”
– David Orr

Half of America, we are feeling what you’re feeling.

And we’re thinking what you’re thinking.

And we’re scared of the future you’re scared of.


Today, we don’t want to extend the echo chamber that is social media, so there will be no predictions or justifications here. We also certainly aren’t expert prognosticators about the repercussions of this current president-elect situation, though we have sure talked to a lot of wise women who have taught us all about planning and working and hoping and making dreams reality.

Although we carry heaviness in our hearts (perhaps to post about another day), today we share a few reasons to hope. No matter who we are, we all have reasons to hope. Here are some of our reasons, and we would love to hear yours in the comments!

  1. Change starts with the people, not the president. Hello civil rights, women’s suffrage, Standing Rock protests, GMO labeling, job opportunities for people with disabilities, life-saving drugs becoming increasingly affordable—I could go on and on and on and on. And on. Our voices get heard when we get loud, especially in the right moments to make change—and make history. (Just yelling all the time? Not so much.)
  2. Our president is only one person, surrounded by checks and balances even his or her power can’t eliminate in four years—or ever.
  3. The House of Representatives gets re-elected every two years; lots of local changes happen much more quickly than our president. Did you get passionate about this election for the first time, or do you vote in every single election in your community? Either way—great. Keep that election energy moving and don’t forget to cast your ballot next time and every time. Or better yet: Run for office!
  4. Organizations like the Sierra Club, NAACP, ACLU, National Immigration Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Boys & Girls Clubs, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), Emily’s List, Union of Concerned Scientists, Victory Garden Initiative, and oh so many others exist. And they will continue to exist, with our support. These teams of incredibly hard-working, passionate, intelligent human beings give us local, national and international platforms to be heard, collaborate with like minds, and work toward change with an excellent team.
  5. We get to choose how we treat our families, our coworkers and our planet, continuing to live out love in our daily lives.
  6. Freedom of speech remains a core tenet of our nation.
  7. Younger generations have a more progressive lean, and Millennials have recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the “nation’s largest living generation.” Knowing people on both sides of the aisle in our Millennial age group, this fact alone gives us hope.
  8. We have four years to plan and scheme and ORGANIZE. (Cry break: over.)
  9. Change continues with our efforts! That space that feels like it was carved right out of our spirits and stomped on? Now, we get to fill it right back up with hope and light and love and compassion and all the good things that we can shine throughout the world—one interaction, one choice, one moment at a time.

No matter who is president, the hashtag is right on: #LoveTrumpsHate. Every. Single. Time.

We started on a quote, so let’s end on another, from a book that might just be the inspiration you need to keep moving:

“When we love,
we always strive to become better than we are.
When we strive to become better than we are,
everything around us becomes better too.”
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

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people with panache turned three!

Panache Parties

Our 2015 People with Panache parties! The top is the whole crew in Milwaukee at the Ruby Tap. Bottom is the Panache women in Chicago at Beauty and Brawn Art Gallery and Think Space.

People with Panache just celebrated our third birthday! So we looked back on our year, and some themes popped out: Courage. Creativity. Commitment. And, of course, compassion.

The women we’ve met through this adventure traversing the Midwest aren’t doing what our culture would consider “realistic.” If there are rules related to what they’re doing, they’re breaking them. They’re setting their own paths, sticking to them and making plans that become reality. Beyoncé’s not the only one, ladies.

Whether your dream is to have a solid job so you can take your two weeks at the turquoise-iest beach a plane can reach, or you will not stop until you start the business that puts your values out into the world, we are with you.
Continue reading

happy father’s day!

Yesterday was Father’s Day and all we kept hearing on the radio was how Mother’s Day was way more important. We thought, well that’s pretty ridiculous! Dads are important, too! So today, the day after the Day of the Dad, we wanted to write about a certain group of people, the likes of whom are rarely discussed on this blog: Guys! Needless to say, none of what we or our awesome Panachies do would be possible without our dads. PWP is equipped with no shortage of fatherhood: Kate’s dad Stan and stepdad Dave as well as Alysse’s superfantastic dad Ken. Steve of Purple Door and Steve with First Class Care have been featured on the blog, and since we’ve started writing in 2013, no fewer than five PWP babies have been made, all with great dads (with panache).

Alysse and Dad! #nofearkengear

Alysse and Dad! #nofearkengear

Whether your dad is your rock, your support system, your best friend, your caregiver or even just your sperm donor, let’s all take time to thank them for giving us life so we can go on to be the best we can be! Continue reading

Farewell to Forget Me Knodt

One of the most joyful parts of writing this blog has been watching the women we meet grow and change and follow their dreams. For example, Lisa of Sister Pie in Detroit just celebrated her first full week as proud owner of her very own brick-and-mortar pie shop! Moriah in Milwaukee recently got her dream job where, in her words, “IT’S MY JOB TO LISTEN TO OUR COMMUNITY AND MAKE CHANGE!” (High five these two when you see them next!)

Others surprise us. This is the week Janessa, formerly and forever of Forget Me Knodt, turns from boss lady into Employee of the Month. (Fleur Inc., you’re going to have your hands full… of flowers!)

With no further ado:
“A Fond Farewell”
by Janessa Ambrosio

fmk_closing Continue reading

Turn Your Dreams into Actions

People with Panache

Our first PWP business card! We can’t wait for our new ones to be ready very soon!

Alysse: On Tuesday night, an HDMI cord almost ruined my plans. (And I’m still not entirely sure what an HDMI cord is, but anyway…)

Eight friends were coming over to watch The Empowerment Project, and I didn’t have quite the right technology going on… so we crammed onto my two couches, put my laptop on a kitchen chair, passed around some popcorn and my favorite apple-Brie cheese deliciousness and watched The Empowerment Project! WAY more special than using a TV, right?

Kate: About 90 miles south, a few nights later, I gathered a bunch of friends and a couple bottles of vino and nuzzled up (probably a little less close together) for The Empowerment Project. We teared up at the pilot’s story, laughed at the mathematician, and had one of those nights where you talk so much that all of a sudden it’s 11:30, and you feel like you’ve only gotten started. Continue reading

Wake Up Call

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that—that is what life is.” There’s more to this Amy Poehler quote here, but this is exactly what we’ve been talking about all day!

Quote: She believed she could, so she did.We have been interviewing and talking and getting all out of our comfort zones (more on that later) for a couple months now to bring People with Panache back to you.

(Okay, okay, since September.)

But, contrary to all we’ve learned from interviewing 84 people across the Midwest since we launched in 2013, we were waiting for the “right” time. We wanted to have our new business cards ready, our new website design totally perfect, new photos, and all these things—that we are still working on—but we could. NOT. wait to come back! Continue reading

update: it’s the great milwaukee victory garden blitz!

Alysse says this year's best record so far is 15 gardens built by one team on Monday morning. "So far on Tuesday when we start we’ll have installed over 207—that's a little behind, but we’ll catch up. We’re doing over 500 beds, and still have to fill most of them with soil. We started with 40 garden beds in one day in 2009 and are now up to 500 in two weeks." Here are Gretchen and Alysse on either side of the Wisconsin senator and representative.

Alysse says this year’s best record so far is 15 gardens built by one team on Monday morning. “So far on Tuesday when we start we’ll have installed over 207—that’s a little behind, but we’ll catch up. We’re doing over 500 beds and still have to fill most of them with soil. We started with 40 garden beds in one day in 2009 and are now up to 500 in two weeks.” Here are Gretchen and Alysse on either side of the Wisconsin senator and state representative.

“We believe growing our own food will create a more sustainable, community-based, socially just food system than what we’re currently offered.” —Alysse Gear

The Blitz has begun! This week was the start of Victory Garden Initiative’s Great Milwaukee Victory Garden Blitz. The team has planned for months and gathered tons of volunteers to help install 500 garden beds in yards, schools and businesses across the county. Continue reading

update: congrats to “the empowerment project”!

The Empowerment Project on People With Panache

Kate on the left, Alysse on the right, our favorite documentary in the middle! “The Empowerment Project” is for everyone, and we can’t wait to hear about its travels, empowering people all over the world.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled interview to bring you an update on “The Empowerment Project!”

On Sunday night, we went to the cozy Music Box Theater in Chicago for the third screening ever of “The Empowerment Project.” Fancy, huh? We hope you remember it from our interview with Sarah (and many, many Facebook posts). “The Empowerment Project” is a documentary following a film crew of five women as they hop in a minivan and travel across the country to meet ordinary women doing extraordinary things. Continue reading

happy anniversary: panache turns 1!

Today, we celebrate one year of People with Panache!

We traveled through 6 states, conducted 52 interviews with 61 people, attended street fairs, special shop events, a play and even a few Chicago rooftop landscaping sessions—all to meet and have fun with these wonderful, wild women and men. Our “panachies” are inspiring, encouraging, grounding, brave and bold. And they made 2013 the richest, most motivational and fun year of our lives so far. Thank you to everyone from Jon-Girl (our first interview!) to Elizabeth (our latest). Thank you to our Internet providers for not slacking on us while we host our weekly meetings remotely from Milwaukee and Chicago. Thank you to Lucca for brightening every week with a fantastic GIF. And a special thanks to each and every one of you for reading—one or all 52 interviews.

For our anniversary, we’ve put together a list of 15 of our favorite quotes from the past year.

1. “I’ve always believed that if you step off the cliff, the bridge will appear. I’m really afraid of heights, and now I feel like I’m on a parachute trying to get across because the bridge is very faulty. But I have to keep believing I’ll get there.”
Courtney Berne, saver of the apes

2. “I just decided, this is my shot, and I’m not going to put on pantyhose and fetch coffee for someone anymore after all the things I’ve accomplished in my life. I put my house, my car and everything else I had in my possession on the line for collateral, wrote a business plan and went full force. I thought, if I fall, I’m going to fall big, but I’m going to try.”
Lindsey Meyers, artist and art gallery owner, Beauty and Brawn Gallery

3. “I let fear control me, and I wouldn’t do something because I was afraid someone would think I was stupid, or I’d fail or be rejected, but once I went full-time and decided not to let anything stop me, it changed everything. Take that, fear!”
Lauren Wakefield, photographer, Lauren Wakefield Photography

4. “Don’t follow my no-business-plan path. Have a business plan; have financial goals. I have short-term and long-term goals that I try to achieve. And don’t give up. I would hate for someone to have a sparkle in their eye for a business but they’re stuck in a boring job staring listlessly out the window.”
Kimberly Eberl, owner, Motion PR

5. “They think I was granted this special ‘whatever’ that they weren’t, but what it really comes down to is that I understand that everyone else is given the same opportunity to manifest whatever they truly want in life. Part of it is the really strong intention, and the other part is the work behind it. Positivity, hard work, creative problem-solving—it’s kind of American idealism. You can be anything you want to be!”
Bridgett Blough, chef, driver and everything else, Organic Gypsy food truck

6. “In any job, if you’re losing track of time because you’re loving what you’re doing, that’s when you know you probably should be doing that thing. And like I said, the naysayers kind of pushed me toward it. I always want to prove people wrong.”
Leslie Barlow, artist, Leslie Barlow Art

7. “It was hard to find a community of people. Through having my shop, I’ve kind of created it for myself. I now have this community of artists that are part of the space that inspire me and help me feel a purpose in what I’m doing—more like I’ve made a spot for myself here.”
Steph Davies, artist and owner, the Waxwing

8. “We’re like modern-day mystics. I mean, we don’t possess any mystical powers, but we’re into manifesting our own destinies. Thoughts become things. If you think all day long, ‘This sucks, this sucks…’ that’s what you get. The craziest things have happened in our business because we decide they’re going to happen and talk about it a lot. I mean, why are you two here and two other girls aren’t? You’re putting actions into your thoughts.”
Julie James, owner, Drought juice

9. “The thing about being an entrepreneur or following a dream is that you have to give it your all, and there’s no time as an adult when nothing will distract you. Someone older and wiser told me: If you can figure out the basic action that you want to do and that makes you happy, then you can do any career as long as you know what that is.” 
Lisa Ludwinski, baker, Sister Pie

10. “Sometimes you’re going to make crappy work, and you can paint over it. You have to make bad work to make good work. Everyone has something different to teach you, even if you don’t work in the same medium, same style.”
Heidi Keyes, painter, Heidi Keyes Art

11. “I went into the job market just like you did, out of need of sustenance, because I had to. But it didn’t feel right. It felt like I was wearing a different size shoe or something. And you begin to learn about yourself. I refuse to admit that my deck of cards was already laid out when I was born. Anything could change; anything can change.”
Jon-Girl, owner and fencer extraordinaire, RedStar Fencing

12. “I think in society there used to be this belief that if you followed this one defined journey you’d achieve the American dream. Now job stability isn’t always there. Job descriptions and duties aren’t as defined as they once were. For our generation that’s sort of a blessing and a curse because it’s allowed us to really find what’s interesting for us and try different things, but we have to work harder to sustain ourselves.”
Jen Ede, publisher and editor, Edible Milwaukee

13. “Always find a way to be doing something that you love—even if it’s just on your own time. Let’s say you want to be a writer, but for the moment you’re a restaurant server. Make sure you’re writing and reading and figuring out ways to accomplish those goals.”
Cristina Daglas, magazine editor, D Magazine

14. “I sat at my desk thinking, this isn’t fair to my job. I can’t do this any more; I’m burning at both ends. I’m so passionate about [Ginger P Designs], it would be silly to close the book on it—it was blossoming! I would hate to tone it down or stop it.”
Gina Peterson, creator and designer, Ginger P Designs

15. “It’s really exciting to say to the world, this is my dream, this is my ultimate. What would I do if I weren’t afraid? I thought, if I wasn’t afraid I would make this film, and I would see where it would take me. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. Knowing what you want to do at any age is so powerful. Being comfortable with yourself and knowing what you’re passionate about and what you want to do—that makes you unstoppable.”
Sarah Moshman, filmmaker, Heartfelt Productions (and The Empowerment Project!)

[Photos by Alysse.]

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