Portrait of a Type A Bohemian
No One Is Just One Person
I live, work, write, garden, make music and produce shows in Philadelphia, Pa. My tiny cottage in Queen Village, affectionately referred to by friends as "The Shire," contains two gardens (and another down the street), two humans, two rescued cats and many, many instruments, including, most recently, a cello named Alezan Germaine. I'm into politics; I like to cook; I'm learning to fence; my band's name is Sweetbriar Rose and we're gearing up for a second record.
I am in awe of the writing of Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Marilynne Robinson, Cynthia Ozick, and Toni Morrison, could have listened endlessly as Christopher Hitchens defanged his foes, mostly agree with Sam Harris, and am grateful to E.O. Wilson for his gentle and brilliant explanations about our place in the world. During movies, I often cheer for the dragons, apes, plants, dinosaurs or other species who should, at any chance they get, rightly remind us of our hubris as humans. Credit is given Homo sapiens, however, for creating art, red wine, and good bread.
Growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian, an archaeologist, a marine scientist, and a writer, and I still wouldn't rule any of those out. For twenty years I helped run nonprofits, taking turns at arts, social justice and sustainability organizations. In 2018, I started Red Pen Arts, LLC, a consultancy that specialized in strategy, operations, event, and editorial support for social entrepreneurs and the arts and culture community. My biggest client is Jazz Philadelphia, for whom I serve at a part-time, contracted Executive Director. Just prior to starting Red Pen Arts, I was the COO of Red Flag Media, where I was also the Editor-in-Chief of Grid, a Philadelphia-based urban culture and sustainability magazine, where my favorite part of my job was doing feature interviews with thinkers such as environmentalist Bill McKibben, Pulitzer-Prize winning science writer Elizabeth Kolbert, and fiction writer Amitav Ghosh.
I reject the notion that you can either be a visionary or an operations manager. As an English and Philosophy major in college, I took turns in theatre productions and tutored logic. I dream in stories and spreadsheets. If it means anything to you, the folks at Meyers-Briggs think I'm an INTJ that likes to think big and get things done. I consider myself a Type A Bohemian. And the answer is, yes, I can help you with that.
Heather Shayne Blakeslee believes in empowering people and communities to create a thriving economy and a living future. She has 20 years of experience as a sustainability, social justice, social entrepreneurship and arts advocate/practitioner, and she's received citations from her work from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Philadelphia City Council and others. She wants to make Philadelphia a world class city.
Most recently, she served as the COO at Red Flag Media, an independent publisher of music and sustainability magazines, and as the Editor-in-Chief of its publication Grid, a Philadelphia-centered urban sustainability and culture monthly. She has served on the advisory board for the Overbrook Environmental Education Center and for art and sustainability organization RAIR, has co-chaired Philadelphia's Urban Sustainability Forum, and has held various volunteer posts with the U.S. Green Building Council, at one time co-chairing their Social Justice subcommittee. She also led the 150-person volunteer Host Committee and accompanying projects and event production when the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo was held in Philadelphia in 2013.
For seven years, she worked at the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, most recently serving as its Deputy Executive Director. Earlier in Philadelphia, she worked on the multimillion dollar capital campaign for the LEED Platinum renovation of Friends Center, an historic Quaker complex and locus for peace and social justice in the city. She also worked for Bread & Roses Community Fund, a social justice grant-making organization.
Prior to moving to Philadelphia, she spent six years in New York City at Poets & Writers, a national nonprofit literary organization that believes literature is vital to sustaining a vibrant culture, and briefly in the advertising industry.
Music, Writing, Event Production & Performance
Available for Freelance Projects and Productions
Heather Shayne Blakeslee is a published essayist, occasional fabulist and seasoned event producer. Her first publication was a critique of digital publishing in the anthology "Without Covers" with Purdue University Press, and since that time her writing has been featured at the Philadelphia Erotic Literary Salon, where she now serves as a co-producer and guest host; at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in her multimedia production "The Articulate Landscape"; in the Vagina Monologues-inspired Earlie Bird Productions stage show "V2: Creation Myth" for which she also served as script editor and as part of the cast; and through various other venues and publications. For three years, she served as the editor for Grid, a monthly urban culture and sustainability magazine in Philadelphia, at which she is still a contributing writer. She loves to help people tell stories.
Blakeslee is also an award-winning songwriter whose Americana folk-noir band Sweetbriar Rose has been featured at regional venues and festivals such as World Cafe Live, Bourbon & Branch, numerous Sexton Sideshow productions, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Brandywine Folk Festival, Bethlehem's Musikfest and at the New Jersey Folk Festival, at which she was honored with a singer-songwriter award in 2014. She was also awarded best songwriter and best Americana act at the Elephant Talk Music Awards in 2015.
The band's 2013 debut album, Cultivar, was called "impressive and spooky" by critic A.D. Amorosi of the Philadelphia City Paper and "a terrific CD" by the iconic Gene Shay, retired host of WXPN's The Folk Show. The Philadelphia Folk Song society counts Sweetbriar Rose among their "most exciting and boundary pushing acts." Blakeslee is the guitarist, lead vocalist and songwriter for Sweetbriar Rose, which plays regularly in the Philadelphia region and is preparing to record their sophomore effort.
For five years, Blakeslee was also a ringleader in the all-girl old-timey country trio The Estelles, and for many years was a solo artist in New York City. She also has two solo albums--Bones and Treon's Cut Rate--and an EP, Mercy Mountain, in her catalogue. She's studying cello at Settlement Music School with Carolyn Ellman, and hopes to add it soon to upcoming performances.