Tag Archives: New York

The Rose Fellowship Finalist Summit


Last week I had the privilege to attend the first Rose Fellowship Finalist Summit. I found out just a couple weeks before that I had been selected. I was in a bit of shock, then super excited, then terrified. The intent of the summit was to bring together the finalist and the host organizations in one place before the final interview round. They wanted us to have the opportunity to network with each other since we all have a passion for community based design and could do wonderful things together. The hosts would have a chance to get to know us more before deciding on final interviewees. Like I said, exciting and terrifying all in one.

The summit was an all day event at the beautiful India House in Financial District. I was worried that there was going to be a sense of competition in the room since the 25 of us there are all hoping to land one of five spots this year. However, it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone was excited to be there an meet other people with similar interests in the design field. They made us business cards so that we could share our contact information easily with each other and anyone else that we wanted to be in touch with us.

After the welcome from Enterprise, the host organization representatives had four minutes to explain how they ended up where they are now. Then they sat down for a panel discussion about the fellowships. It was wonderful to hear how the landed in their various positions and how passionate they were about their jobs. After that we all had to give presentations.

The two weeks before I spent stressing out and trying to figure out what I was going to present  for my four minute, 12 slide pecha kucha. It had to get across what I was about in some way and why I deserved to be there. This was the first year they had done this summit, so I couldn’t even ask my friends what they did in the past. After talking it through and having some major help from some friends here, I ended up creating a presentation on how I ended up there and how Sturgis, my adopted hometown, had an impact on that path.

2015 JDunn Compressed Pecha Kucha

I was the fifth person to go. Luckily, I didn’t have to go first or last and got it out of the way quick. I managed to not stumble through it, I didn’t read my notes the entire time,  I don’t think I said “um,” and the timing with the slides was pretty good. After two years of not having to speak in public or in front of any audience, it was a bit of a shock to do it again. I’m so glad it went so smooth. Everyone had different approaches to the presentations and it was great to see what everyone is interested in or where they came from to get there.

After the presentations we had 10 minute speed interviews with our perspective host organizations. I applied for two projects so I met with both of them and they couldn’t have been more different. The one in South Dakota asked us to meet them for a drink in the down time before the evening social to talk more and get to know each other a bit better and asked us a couple serious questions in those 10 minutes. The upstate New York one was the exact opposite, much more relaxed, talking about the project a bit and what we had seen. I ended up asking him if he had any questions for me towards the end cause I didn’t want to have messed it up, the answer was, “nope.”

I did go meet the South Dakota crew for a drink and we discussed the project in more detail before heading over to the reception for the outgoing fellows. There I was able to meet up with my friend, Annie, who is a current fellow, meet her “classmates,” as well as the other current and many past fellows.  The outgoing fellows talked about their work over the past three years and then had a panel with their host organizations. It was so inspiring to see what they had done for their communities and how excited those places were to have them there.

The night ended at a bar with many of the finalist, fellows and Enterprise team hanging out. Many people would leave the next day, while I stayed through the weekend and hung out with my friends while showing Dr, K around the city.

It was kind of a surreal trip. To make it more surreal, on Monday I found out that I made it to the next round with the upstate New York organization. I will be heading back out to New York in less than three weeks for a real interview on site. My emotions are all over the place for various reasons and I cannot believe I made it this far. I cannot wait to see what happens at my interview or what comes of it.


In any case, I’ve met some really amazing people and I hope we really do use the network that Enterprise set up for us and great things come of it, even if we do not all end up as fellows.


Architecture for Humanity [Rebuild Restore Renew NY NJ]

Who could have predicted that when I became the Managing Director for Architecture for Humanity NY that it would mean being the leader during the time of an actual natural disaster in our own city?  It is safe to say that I had no idea how big this would be in the days that followed the storm.  After talking to Headquarters and heading out to Coney Island and seeing house missing the back walls or completely gone, it became apparent that New York was going to need help recovering, no matter how resilient New York is.  Seeing the power and subway system stay down for a week was unimaginable and there are still many areas without power and the trains are still not back to regular service.  To top it off, a snow storm decided to hit us the following week bring temperatures down and forcing people from their homes yet again where the heat was not work yet.  This was more than a little storm that did some damage. This is serious.

In the past the chapter has held fundraiser to support other cities worldwide after disaster has struck.   As the New York chapter, our projects are located within the five boroughs of the city, so never before have we had to rebuild and renew our own city.   We are at the beginning stages of understanding how the organization will be able to support the recover and rebuild after Sandy. On Wednesday we held our first field orientation and set up teams who went out to the hardest hit areas this past weekend to start assessing need and collecting stories about each community.  We will continue to hold orientation and send out teams until we have enough information to move forward. This information will help the chapter and headquarters understand how and where they can provide support and help.

The amount of support form local members and architects has been overwhelming to say the least. I have never had to speak in front of over 100 eager people wanting to help through Architecture for Humanity NY and more people and firms keep reaching out to us. We have an amazing team in place that is spearheading the coordinating all the of these volunteers and compiling all the information.  It has been amazing to see the architectural community come together and I am very excited to see where all of this leads and what projects the chapter and headquarters will support.  In the mean time, consider volunteering or donating to help us Rebuild Restore and Renew New York and New Jersey!


So I have some exciting news over here on Perishable Item.  It just goes to show when you start to think about changing everything completely, the thing you wanted to begin with happens.  I am so happy to say that yesterday, I gave my boss my two weeks notice.  It has been a long time coming as some of you may know. After a horrible start to the day of my interview, the interview luckily went really well.  After a crazy fast turn around, it was decided that I am going to be working at PlattDana Architects with  Melissa! She claims to be worried that I will get tired of being around her, but we all know that it’s her getting sick of me we have to worry about.  I promise to post more information later, but I had to share the great news as soon as possible!

Spring planting: Will They Survive?

My latest potential victims.

I am ready for summer.  I rarely say that, maybe it’s more I am ready for the end of spring/very start of summer in New York, because I will probably hate summer when it gets here.  Hot, humid weather is not my cup of tea.  Western South Dakota or Montana summers, I will take in a heart beat.  In any case, since we didn’t really have much of a winter here, it has felt like spring has been going on forever and I am ready for some warmth in the mornings and evenings.  I am also ready for the early spring produce like rhubarb.  In reality I probably have another month and a half before I will see it.

Never-the-less, I am trying to decide what plants I will attempt to keep alive in my little garden.  My hope is that my roommate will have a major green thumb that concurs my black one.  The only things I have been able to get to survive back here are the crocuses and daffodils that just planted one November.  They do the rest ever spring.  No watering required.  The hydrangea and day lily plants that were well established when I moved in also survive with no care.  Chances are if I tried to care for them, they would die.  So really we are looking for some low maintenance plants that I don’t have to touch much.

I wanted to get an idea of price and think about what I wanted to grow, so my neighbor, Kurt, and I ran down the farmer’s market on Saturday to see what they had.  Of course we went a bit late in the day, so most of the booths were down or in the process of tearing down, but we found a couple that still had some plants.  Mostly there was only flowers and herbs to pick from.  We both decided we would get some herbs.  I have a couple long box planters and four plants fit nicely in each one.  I did try the herb thing once before in these boxes.  It failed because the cat  I was fostering at the time destroyed them.  Stupid Cat.  So I like to think I will get these to survive and actually be able to use them in recipes.  I bought dill, oregano, rosemary and english thyme.  If these make it two weeks, I will go back for some chives, basil, cilantro, and parsley, I think, to fill the other box.

Dill, Thyme, Rosemary and Oregano

I biked them home and re-potted them right away.  Didn’t want to loose my enthusiasm.  My favorite part is the little tags I made with old tile samples I saved from the office garbage.  If I only had better hand writing, the would be perfect.  As for the plants, we shall see if they survive me, the raccoons, various birds, and whatever else mother nature has to throw at them.

Old tile sample turned plant marker.

The Pioneer Woman and my Oldest Friend

Jamie and I have been friends since the first day of kindergarten.  That was over 23 years ago.  That’s longer than two of my siblings have been alive.  We’ve definitely gone on different paths since leaving high school, but we have always been friends.  When she was getting married a few years ago, she wrote little notes to all the bridesmaids. She reminded me that we had been friends for 20 years and I really couldn’t believe it.  I had never really thought about it.  How many people are still close to the friends they made when they are five?  Maybe a lot of people, cause what do I know?  I just do not personally know that many.

I tried to find one of use in Kindergarten, but those are all at home.

Don't know what is going on, but I'm guessing we were going through someone's grandma's closet. And then documenting it.

So you’re probably wondering what this all has to do with the Pioneer Woman.  Cause chances are you’re here cause you saw the words “Pioneer Woman.”  It’s okay, I won’t hold it against you.  Yet.  I have been enjoying the Pioneer Woman for awhile now and last time I saw Jamie, we some how got on to the subject of her.  I love the PW.  But Jamie loves the PW, so much so that she wants to be the PW.   I can understand, some days I won’t mind being her either.  She funny, a great cook and she lives in the middle of no where with the hot cowboy she married and their kids and makes a killing off her amazing blog.  Did I mention the hot cowboy?  I, however, couldn’t be farther away from a place that would have such specimen around.  Jamie has her cowboy and lives in the middle of no where and they have a kid.  So she’s well on her way.  Although, unless it has improved dramatically since high school and her days of burning noodles, her cooking needs some serious help from the PW.  So anyway, during this conversation about the PW, I mentioned how my friend had gone to a book signing of hers in Manhattan not too long ago and I had to miss it but was hoping to see her next time around.  Jamie was rather jealous, probably one of the few times, and I started formulating a little plan.

When Melissa mentioned that the PW was coming back because she had a new cookbook coming out, I bought another copy of her book The Pioneer Woman: Black  Heels to Tractor Wheels- A Love Storyto get signed for Jamie.  I was going to get her the new cookbook but I couldn’t pre-order it because it came out the same day of the signing, so I wouldn’t have it on time.  And, (no offence Swanny Brownie), I’m just poor, I didn’t want to pay full price to get it at the signing when I could pay half for it online.  Plus I figured Jamie would have ordered the cookbook herself and she had not read the love story yet, I checked with her cowboy.  So armed with my book for signing on March 13th, I posted a Facebook message about getting to meet the PW that evening.  Just as I hoped it would, Jamie saw and replied about how jealous she was and how she needed every detail, little did she know I was setting a little trap:)

The Pioneer Woman Speaks

The PW was hilarious and cute.  She took pictures of the audience and told funny little stories.  She also encouraged us to swoon over her Marlboro Man– and really, who wouldn’t?  She told her little story of how she got to where she was standing now, with great pictures and a song when her favorite dog and possibly the love of her life, Charlie, came on screen.  After her half hourish presentation.  Melissa and I stayed in our seat as we were instructed and waited for our turn to meet the PW.  In that hour and a halfish.  Jamie sent me multiple text messages and I sent her the video below of the PW singing to Charlie.  In one of her messages she asked me to buy a new cookbook to have signed and send, not to her, but to another friend.  Melissa and I both thought this was bit funny.  At that point I had already gone up and bought the Charlie Book to have signed for Jamie’s little girl, and now I was going back again for the actual cookbook at Jamie’s request and it wasn’t even for her.  To top it off, I didn’t actually have a book to be signed for myself.  Melissa had her copy of Love Story for signing but I just had three books for three different people.

Meeting the PW! (Via Melissa)

After our long wait and a small chat with the PW about how I was sure I did not know how to proper pronounce Jamie’s daughter’s name correctly, and a picture later.  We were out the door and I was planning my packaging.  The next day at work I wrapped up the books in butcher paper and twine with a little note to send off.  A few days later a happy thank you appeared.  I do love making other people happy.  Especially those who have been able to stand me for almost a quarter of a century.

Packaging for delivery

Perishable Item- A new start.

I decided it was time to start a new blog when I decided I am definitely going to leave New York.  I don’t know when, I don’t know where I am going, but I know that  it is time to start making those decisions.  Okay well maybe I’m not 100% sure I am leaving, but something big needs to happen, a change of some sort and I don’t really see that happening here.  Again, not sure what this change is, but it is time to start actively seeking that change.  I also knew that meant doing all those things I meant to do during the first five years I’ve been in the city.  Not that I didn’t do many things during those years, but there are plenty of things that I never got around to and maybe I should have started this sooner, but I want to document them.

I was already toying with the idea of  expanding my existing blog, Connect via Recipes.  I have a lot of little side projects that I do and I tell people about them, but never really show them.  Plus, there are all the experiences that I wanted to share here and there, pictures promised that I never sent.  I just didn’t feel that my existing blog was set for that kind of posting, so I decided a newblog was the way to go.  I have added all of my Connect via Recipe posts to Perishable Item, so it would be easy to manage.  The one problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to call this new blog.

Then I saw this post on Apartment 34.  The image and the words stuck to me and I couldn’t stop thinking about them.  I guess they just really struck home with all the ideas that have been spinning in my mind.  I really like the concept of thinking about yourself as a perishable item- we are.  You only have so much time, and you should enjoy it.  It might not always be happy go lucky or easy, but you shouldn’t feel restless, like somethings missing or your stuck.  I need to make a change, I feel stagnant.  I can’t keep wasting time in a place that I feel stuck in, that never leads to anything good.  So this blog will continue to have regular recipe posts and new ones about all the things I’m doing that are, (I hope you find), interesting and the changes that are coming.

Inspiration via Apartment 34