What part of town do you live in?
Where are you originally from? What brought you to town?
I’m from the DC area. My husband got a job here and he’s from here.
What do you think about Miami?
Miami has been a bit of a challenge to get used to. It’s taken a lot longer than I thought. I have found some wonderful people and it’s great place to be outside. I feel like there’s more empowered energy coming, which is good.
Would you tell us a little bit about your family?
I live with my husband, Josh. I think you know him. We have two boys; Henry is eight and Asher is ten. And, we have a dog named Ralph.
Tell us a little bit about what you do during the week.
I work at the University of Miami in the office of civic and community engagement. The office does a lot of great work serving as a bridge between the University and the community. I am working on a project that is looking at how climate change will impact affordable housing. In particular, what kinds of innovative solutions can we consider. We’re gathering lots of data that we’ll be able to share so that people can have a better understanding and make decisions about where they live.
What resources do you have at the University to help the community?
It’s like having your own multi thousand-person research team. People are very generous with their time. We have an engineer on our team from the Department of Engineering, people in the law school, people in architecture. It’s a lot of different groups across the University involved in our work.
What is a day like for you?
I’m always scanning the news, at the national and local level. This weekend in particular, I’ve noticed a lot more news coverage on heat impacts with these huge heat waves. A lot of the time we’re thinking about flooding and storm surge, but another aspect is realizing we need to be very mindful of rising temperatures. There’s a lot of people in Miami that don’t have good air conditioning. I start the day reading a lot of research reports. I’m an urban planner by training. So, in my past life I used GIS quite a bit and the University has incredible resources there. I spend time understanding the data and how we’re going to visualize it into something people can actually use and care about.
How did you get into this?
It’s aligned with the work I used to do. I worked as an urban planner in New York City. I did a lot of neighborhood planning. I think once Hurricane Sandy came, the focus of our work as planners really took on a different direction. It embedded these issues into all the work we do. I’ve always loved the policy making part of what I did. In this role, I’m not directly making policy, but hopefully we can come up with suggestions that can help decision makers to make sound choices.
Do you feel that the politicians you’ve dealt with are receptive?
I do. I’ve been really pleased at how open they are to working with groups from the University. I didn’t have that experience in New York – government was a different animal there. It’s been really refreshing to be able to work alongside government.
Are there any public resources that you can share for us to learn more?
Absolutely. Our office has something called the Housing Solutions Lab on our website. There are a number of tools there, two of which I think are the most useful. One is called the Miami Affordability Project . It is a comprehensive mapping and data tool, with hundreds of data layers about demographics, transportation and shows where the affordable housing resources are in Miami. Our office released another tool called LAND (Land Access for Neighborhood Development) and it visualizes the distribution of institutional government owned, vacant and underutilized properties. It allows people to see where there are pockets or parcels to build affordable housing. In our research, we’ve found almost 500 million square feet of underutilized vacant land.
How often do you come to the Pinecrest market?
I come as much as I can. I just started taking a pottery class on Sunday mornings, which was a real deliberation because I knew it would infringe on my market time. I try to send my family if I can’t go.
What’s your ritual like when you come?
First off, obviously you guys. Henry always gets a rainbows smoothie. I always see if there’s any jackfruit and what else you have. You’re always cooking up some new amazing concoction. Then we just circle around. We stop for pickles. Josh brought home some of the new Angry Booch Kombucha last week. We like to find new discoveries.
What do you think the market’s missing?
I think it’s missing some shade. I think it would be kind of cool to have the gathering areas interspersed between the stands. It would be like having little living rooms along the way and would provide different kinds of experiences.
What do you like about the market?
We love seeing you guys. We love running into friends. It’s one of the few activities that everyone in our family can agree on. So, it makes great together time.
You mentioned pottery class. Where are you taking classes? What are you learning?
Anhinga Pottery Studio. I am learning how not to get frustrated. I started a year ago it was the fastest three hours of the week. I love it. The teacher turned me on to this idea of making 50 mugs. Right now, I’m on number nine.
What makes it so fun?
Doing something with my hands and not having a keyboard. I like how it feels. I like how really small touches can totally change a shape or an intention. I love and hate that because it can be very frustrating. Every time it’s an exploration.
What do you enjoy doing with your kids?
We love to have dinner at friend’s houses. We’ve been part of a cabana with a bunch of other people. It’s on Key Biscayne and there’s been new families that have come in and out. It really does feel like vacation and when we have friends come from out of town, we try to take them there.
Where do you all like to go out for food?
We’re always on the hunt for cheerful, simple, delicious food. We like Root and Bone, we’ve been there a few times and kids like it. The biscuits are crazy good. On a night when nobody feels like cooking, we’ll go to Lime. It’s consistently good and everyone is happy.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
There’s a lot of cool places to try things out and be creative. My kids took pottery classes at the ceramic league. They’ve been taking lessons at the school of rock. We moved here from New York where taking any class or activity required months of being on a wait list – It was ridiculous. Here, I find it much easier to explore, experiment and try new things.
(A+W) We love the ceramic league and took classes there as well. They have classes starting in September.
What’s a worthy splurge for you?
A trip. We’re curious travelers at heart and we’d like to show our kids more of the world. I think that that’s definitely a worthy splurge.
What’s a fun rainy-day activity?
Movies and being as horizontal as possible.
What community groups or events or philanthropic groups do you all participate in that you might like to promote?
Our families have been affected by cancer. This year we joined the Dolphins Cancer Challenge and did the fun run around the stadium to raise money and awareness for cancer. For the last two years, we’ve been doing the Cycle for Survival, that raises money for Sloan Kettering, which is where my dad was treated. I feel like it’s a great event and I’m always so heartened by people’s generosity and support.
How can our community help your work with affordable housing?
Becoming engaged in the community is a way of helping everybody. Find a way to participate in the conversation, in whatever way is comfortable for you. There’s a lot of great groups and information out there for curious people. It’s about staying in tune with what people need.
Is there a question you would like to ask us?
What’s the next product coming down the line?
(A+W) We think it’s our Turmeric Pasta. It so delicious, and vegan too. And, you’re one of the few people who have tried it.
(JP) That’s what I wanted to hear! I think it’s so awesome.
What else might you like to add that I have not asked?
One more plug – for all organizations that rescue dogs, these organizations are near and dear to our hearts. To know our dog Ralph is to love him. There are so many pets that need homes.