Who are you currently crushing aka your WCE?
My mom :-) I use her strength as my inspiration to be always stay strong and have courage to share the lessons she has taught me on what really makes a beautiful world.
Who would you Freaky Friday with and why?
Oprah - Outside of her day to day probably being an amazing adventure, I would love to see her small moments of peace and silence just make her Oprah as a human, vs a public figure.
What's the most Chicago thing about you?
Pretending like you can withstand the cold when I really can't deal with it lol
You have the chance to meet one of your idols and ask them one question; who would it be and what would you ask?
I would want to meet James Baldwin and ask him his perspective of the patterns of human behavior we are seeing in the world today.
What are you up to now? Shamelessly plug yourself!
I am the Founder and Executive Director of The Simple Good - we are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to connect the meaning of good from around the world to empower youth to become positive activists through art and discussion. Through mindfulness and social emotional based art programming and public art projects, our mission is to transcend the message that no matter where you go in the world, good means the same to all of us and that is what connects us as human beings.
I started the organization 5 years ago which was inspired by my travels, ability to overcome my own adversities in life and working in underserved communities around the world. I worked at Mother Theresa's orphanage in India, slums in South AfrIca, Brazil, Chicago, amongst others. Outside of being an artist myself and my passion for it, the arts has a powerful capacity for anyone to conceptualize complexity, understand the breathe of the human experience as well as develop thoughtful forms of thinking. Ironically, highly-distressed communities who benefit from this development usually lack arts resources the most.
Through my personal experiences and my travels I have witnessed different forms of resilience which provided an opportunity for me to see beyond my own challenges. Many of our youth don’t have this opportunity. My idea for social change is to create empathy within our youth by connecting them to a world beyond their own and be inspired by different examples of hope and resilience just as I was. As millennials, it’s important to make it a priority to create environments that encourage self-esteem, self-worth and empathy towards others. With this we create individual purpose and accountability which decreases the risk of violence and creates a peaceful environment for all of us.
It is the practice of doing the little, good things that really make a difference to someone’s life. Simple things can change the world - and this is what we teach our students through art.
Right now we are planning out our Chicago programs for 2018 and our 5th international TSG Program! Check out our site to learn more about our impactful art program :-)
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years the goal is to establish TSG Art Programming in cities outside of Chicago both domestic and international. We are hoping to spread this movement around the world - and this is in effort to drive cross-cultural dialogue between youth at a young age and influence the education, art and business cultures to support institutionalized empathy within all of our systems.
What is your favorite movie or book right now?
I've always been a big Basketball fan and recently have started Phil Jackson's book, 'Sacred Hoops.' He talks about mindfulness within basketball which is something I would take notice of when I played. You had to be centered and aware of yourself and others in order to accomplish anything on the court. The Simple Good practices mindfulness within art all the time so reading this book has been a fun reminder of my basketball days through a different lens.
What is your favorite color?
Purple! And Turquoise! I've always been drawn to those colors as a kid and still am - I would always color with the Crayola "Bold Color" Markers cause it would include those colors lol. To me they are strong but peaceful colors which resonate with me.
Outside of your current career or passion, what would you spend the rest of your life doing?
Traveling the world and being a global vegetarian food critic :-)