Category Archives: Blog

Publication: DC State Fair food contests on DCist

Ah, the DC State Fair. I’ve always loved the passion and local talent behind this annual Washington event. For the ninth annual fair, I published an article about it on DCist. This is my first piece with the newly-resurrected publication.

Yesterday’s event was rainy but vibrant. I hope my piece enticed one or two people to come out despite the drizzle. Check out the article:

Put Your Recipes To The Test At The DC State Fair This Weekend

DCist article screen shot: Put Your Recipes To The Test

 

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Workshop report: A Jewish Communal Response to #MeToo

#Metoo in the Jewish community slide

A slide from Jewish Women International introduces the program at the July workshop.

Last week, I attended a workshop called A Jewish Communal Response to #MeToo. I came in my role as vice chair of the board for Hillel at Gallaudet. Kudos go to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington for hosting and inviting organization leaders to the table. Still, an invitation is just the beginning. I was curious to see what the conversation and approach would look like. The workshop, held over breakfast at the Federation’s HQ in Rockville, Md., followed a simple and proactive agenda.

First, Federation CEO Gil Preuss greeted us. “Many times,” Preuss said, “Change happens when moments arise.” In this case, he added, “We can’t let this moment pass.”

The main program kicked off with the particulars and immediacy of “this moment,” courtesy of Lori Weinstein from Jewish Women International. Weinstein is the CEO of JWI and, she noted, bears no relation to the notorious Hollywood figure who triggered today’s #MeToo movement. She started by outlining the types of harassment, then shared the picture painted by data from the Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The statistics point to outstanding challenges for nonprofits, especially in fundraising. Those who give to organizations can take actions and make assumptions that constitute sexual harassment. Continue reading

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From food sovereignty to crowned berries: Lessons from Rooting DC

Rooting DC program with seed packets

Rooting DC is an annual urban gardening conference held in a big, light-filled high school in Northwest Washington. The day-long event always leaves me awash with information and floating on good urban ag vibes. The 2018 conference, held on March 3, was no different. Here are a few lessons I learned in and out of workshops.


From “Garden Maintenance A-Z”

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Winter growth at the Leichtag Foundation

leafy low tree with single red pomegranate

A pomegranate lasts into January in Leichtag’s food forest

In January, I grabbed the chance to visit the Leichtag Foundation — and, as it turned out, munch the most delectable fruit I’ve had all year.

The window of time was small. It was early 2018, and my husband and I were ending a honeymoon/family visit to the West Coast. The next day, we would fly the 2,700 miles back to our work and lives in Washington, DC. Continue reading

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A Year of Meditation

screen shot of meditation tracker statistics

The stats from Insight Meditation Timer give a little motivation.

This past year, I’ve meditated every day. First thing in the morning, for 5 to 16 minutes, I sit with hands on knees. I breathe.

I’m sure that meditation and mindfulness top many lists of resolutions for 2018. So I figured for my last post of the year, I would share a little of my journey.

This turned out to be a good year for grounding in meditation. I had barely turned the first page of the 2017 calendar when I closed on my first home. I was a homeowner! Two days later, my boyfriend David proposed. Seven months after that, we got married. Now we’re celebrating our first holiday season as partners.

Somewhere in there, we both moved into the new place, David planned a wedding and found a new job, and I hurtled through a demanding semester.

What I learned

Something I read over and over is to come back to the breath. Another one is to erase the word “wrong” from your meditation vocabulary. You may struggle, you may notice things, you may learn. But there’s no wrong way to meditate.

A natural addition to that last rule: Don’t beat yourself up. Truth be told, I missed a handful of days. I would get on a roll with 20, 30, or 90 days straight and then I would miss one. I had to let go of the string and pick up a new one.

For newbies or intermediates, try this rich, practical source of guidance: FAQs from teacher Tara Brach.

Websites and apps

Here are a few I tried and liked.

Tarabrach.com – Website of teacher Tara Brach. She is the first source I used for my early guided meditations (sessions with a voice and/or music guiding you through a meditation). The website offers guided meditations, mindfulness resources, a calendar of events (most in the DC area), and more. Free. Donations encouraged.

Insight Timer – This is what I used to track how long I had meditated and geek out on stats. App with guided meditations, adjustable timer that tracks your meditation data, and discussion groups. Free. Donations encouraged.

Headspace – A friend recommended this and I went through two of its programs. It’s an app with sets of 10- to 30-day guided meditations, plus one-off rescue sessions for anxiety, focus, and so on. Cute videos, too. First 10 days free, paid after that (currently on sale).

If you want to add “oms” to your 2018, I hope this proves helpful. If this made you think of your own journey, feel free to share by email.

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I was featured in the Washington Jewish Week

Well, I’ve had my day in the sun. This month, the Washington Jewish Week featured me in their “You Should Know…” section. I got quite a rush (and had more than a few nervous moments) at the thought of sitting on the other side of the interview table. The reporter, Hannah Monicken, put me at ease. The result is a laid-back conversation that touches on my passions for teaching and Jewish farming.

Click below to check it out:

Photo by Hannah Monicken, taken in the Gallaudet garden!

“You Should Know … Rhea Kennedy,” Washington Jewish Week

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What I’m Consuming: Women on Screen, Part II

Continuing on from Part I, I give you:

Good Girls Revolt

In the Amazon series Good Girls Revolt, it’s 1969 and News of the Week only runs bylines with men’s names. The media is all about guys like Doug and Randy and Sam. This show, though, is all about Patti and Cindy and Jane. I watched the ten-episode Season 1 soon after it came out last fall, and I’m still thinking about it.

The three main characters work at News of the Week — a fictitious magazine — as researchers and a caption writer, each supporting a man. Patti is a striver whose passion for news wins over her personal life every time. Cindy writes photo captions and feels more at home in the newsroom than at home with her law student husband. Jane was the editor-in-chief of her college newspaper, but now bows to the editorial control of male editors.

The story line clings to those three, but others make welcome appearances along the way. The first cameo is Nora Ephron, who pops up in Episode 1, faces sexism, and … well, I won’t spoil it. Let’s say she’s about nine episodes ahead of her time.

The dialogue moves fast. Patti or Jane talk out who they need to probe, dial a source, and get the job done. They’re the Ginger Rogers of the newsroom, doing everything the men do, but behind the scenes and in huge hair.

Does this sound like a ladies’-view version of Mad Men? If you think so, you’re in the company of many, many reviewers.

Patti, Cindy, and Jane face their own battles and injustices, but with refreshing results: They don’t take out frustration on fellow women. When Nora joins them, Jane gamely shows her around. When Jane hits a wall getting a source to go on record for her reporter’s story, Patti steps in to nab the right interview. Next to these alliances, Don Draper’s friendships with men look downright catty.

I agree with critics who say that the atmosphere is simplified. The race relations, especially, leave me wondering. Could a white man who buys into mainstream culture dig an FBI conspiracy against the Black Panther Party? Would a black woman in an all-white, male-dominated newsroom find her biggest challenge is awkward small talk? The women are also so selfless and forgiving. Crab mentality and gender stereotypes aside, would that come easily to anyone in the competitive world of journalism?

The best part? For me, it’s the DC connection. That comes in the form of Eleanor Holmes Norton. Today, she’s a congressional delegate for DC in her third or fourth decade as a DC statehood crusader and law professor. In 1969, she’s a self-possessed attorney with the ACLU. It is the Norton character who looks into the researchers’ wide eyes and tells them they have a case.

Occasional complications and nuances help move the story along. Patty is a complicated soul, as she grapples with her obsession with getting the story and advocating for herself. She also shows tender feelings for her reporter lover boy while resisting commitment. The male characters are also well-developed. Aside from the chorus of horn dogs and misogynists, several show the pull between the waning ways of the 1950s and the social justice groundswell of the ’60s and ’70s. In another notable twist, the feared and revered publisher happens to be a woman named Bea. She shows up one day to treat the male cadre of reporters and editors to a three-martini lunch. Bea’s appearance shows that gals can be both powerful and sexist.

I haven’t come across a parallel of Erin Ramsey’s essay urging people to see Good Girls. I will give my own endorsement, though. Give the show a chance — especially if you’re a writer, journalist, or witness to injustice.

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