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. That’s part of the reason I’m starting Root Quarterly, a Philadelphia-based journal of art and ideas. We still do things worth debating and celebrating.
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, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive citations for my work from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Philadelphia City Council, and others. In 2018, I started Red Pen Arts, LLC, a consultancy that specializes in strategy, operations, event, and editorial support for social entrepreneurs and the arts and culture community. Clients include Jazz Philadelphia, for whom I serve as a part-time, contract Executive Director, the Queen Village Neighbor’s Association, Earlie Bird Productions, Ultra Capital, artist Deb Montgomery, Shakamaxon Fencing Club, the Erotic Literary Salon, and the Governor’s Woods Foundation, among others. I’m also currently the Vice-president of the board of the Philadelphia Folk Song Society.
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.
I believe in empowering people and communities to create a thriving economy and a living future, and I want to make Philadelphia a world-class city.
IN THE RECENT and DISTANT 9 - 5 PAST, AND THE STOMACH ACHE THAT STARTED IT ALL
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’ve served on the advisory board for the Overbrook Environmental Education Center and for art and sustainability organization RAIR, co-chaired Philadelphia's Urban Sustainability Forum, and held various volunteer posts with the U.S. Green Building Council, at one time co-chairing their Social Justice subcommittee. I 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, I worked at the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, most recently serving as its Deputy Executive Director. Earlier in Philadelphia, I worked on the multimillion-dollar capital campaign for the LEED Platinum renovation of Friends Center, a historic Quaker complex and locus for peace and social justice in the city. I also worked for Bread & Roses Community Fund, a social justice grant-making organization.
Prior to moving to Philadelphia, I 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.
Also in New York, I worked (very) briefly in the advertising industry. It was an awful, awful job. Every day on the train to work, I had a terrible stomach ache, and I resolved to love what I did every day forever after that.
And I so I did.
ABOUT THAT WHOLE BAND THING AND OTHER CREATIVE PROJECTS
I’m the guitarist, lead vocalist, and songwriter for the folk-noir band Sweetbriar Rose, which plays regularly in the Philadelphia region. We’ve 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, Haverford Music Festival, Bethlehem's Musikfest, and at the New Jersey Folk Festival, at which I was honored with a singer-songwriter award in 2014. I 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."
For five years, I 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. I have two solo albums—Bones and Treon's Cut Rate—and an EP, Mercy Mountain, in my catalogue. Sweetbriar Rose is at work on a new record, and I’m continuing to study cello at Settlement Music School with Carolyn Ellman, and hope to add it soon to more upcoming performances.
I’m also a published essayist, occasional fabulist, and seasoned event producer. My first publication was a critique of digital publishing in the anthology "Without Covers" with Purdue University Press, and since that time my writing has been featured at the Philadelphia Erotic Literary Salon, where I now serves as a co-producer and guest host; at the 2012 Philadelphia Fringe Festival in my multimedia production "The Articulate Landscape"; in the 2018 Vagina Monologues-inspired Earlie Bird Productions stage show "V2: Creation Myth," for which I also served as script editor and as part of the cast; and through various other venues and publications. I was also thrilled to do a Joni Mitchell tribute in the 2018 Fringe Festival show “Paprika Plains” and am looking forward to participating in the forthcoming event “DREDx” from Earlie Bird Productions as an editor and actor.
Life is art.