Small world: Sassy dictionary tweets, meet progressive Southerners

Sometimes, it all comes together.

For the back cover of the Spring 2018 issue of Sarah Lawrence magazine (theme: “democracy & education”), I had the great good fortune of interviewing SLC alumna Lauren Naturale, former Content and Social Media Manager for Merriam-Webster—aka the woman behind all those sassy tweets that helped get you through the beginning of the Trump administration. I’m not on Twitter much myself, but even I followed along.

In person, Lauren was even more incisive than her famous tweets, while also being warm and funny.  Our conversation netted way more good material than the cover could contain, so my editor and I put together a fun “web extra” to take some of the spillover.

Word Nerds story with photo of blonde woman

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That would have been enough awesome for me for one issue. But I also got to write about the invincible Polly Hoben Greenberg, a college alumna and one of the brains behind the Child Development Group of Mississippi, which launched that state’s Head Start program. Among other brilliant moves, Greenberg helped to recruit local black women with little formal education to lead those Head Start classrooms, and she produced an album of children’s music that included many freedom songs and spirituals and was released by Folkways Records (now a part of the Smithsonian).

Vinyl LP with little boy making peace sign

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Definitely an embarrassment of riches now, right? But wait, folks—there’s more!

The cover story of this issue is Moises Serrano, an imminent SLC alumnus and rising star activist for both Dreamers and LGBTQ rights. In anticipation of the issue coming out, Arthur and I watched the award-winning documentary Forbidden: Undocumented & Queer in Rural America, which follows Moises through several seasons of his life and work. About 15 minutes in, there’s a scene in a small church in North Carolina where Moises is presenting about the lesser-known hardships many immigrant communities face, like depression and teen suicide.

Forbidden documentary Moises Serrano

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“Hey, is that Zach?” we suddenly asked each other. We ran back the video and yep, there he was: Arthur’s uncle Zach sitting in a pew, nodding thoughtfully to Moises’ words. What were the chances?! Zach—a former minister, current health care justice advocate, and lifelong civil rights activist—showed up again thirty minutes later, in another clip from the church event. Guess great minds are bound to be in the same place at the same time.

While I think every issue of Sarah Lawrence is worth reading (and I’m not biased at all), this one makes some particularly good connections.

When clients go to Mexico

My dear friend and longtime client Elena is leaving NYC on a pre-dawn flight to Mexico tomorrow to embark on the 10-day silent meditation retreat that will usher in a bold new “oh-my-god-what-is-happening??” chapter of her life. I would say congratulations and good luck, but I don’t want to trip up her whole not-speaking thing.

Since we met a decade ago, I’ve known Elena by turns as a diligent, fair-minded, and hardworking coworker, partner in shenanigans, and small business proprietor. She thinks about almost everything deeply. She makes sumptuous vegetarian meals on the fly. Over the years, she’s handed down a grip of her classy clothing to me, which I hope made beautiful space in her closet with the same proportions as it filled the ghastly gaps in mine.

Elena

Recently, Elena decided to take an indefinite break from her glamorous Upper West Side life: she parked her baby blue Piaggio scooter in storage, sold most of her other belongings, and put her successful nutrition coaching practice on hiatus. Tomorrow, she’ll touch down in Mexico, and after that, it’s off to work on a veganic farm in the southwest. After that? I’m pretty sure she’d say your guess is as good as hers.

The fact that I realized today that I should probably retire Elena’s testimonial from my website (for now) is the least important part of this story, but it did make me want to tell it, so that’s cool.

Godspeed, Elena! You’ve got chutzpah, and I love ya. Just remember: Wild Women Don’t Sing the Blues.