Sunday, 29 March 2015

Quote of the Week - Reichl

“When a person has lived generously and fought fiercely, she deserves more than sadness at the end.” 

I love Ruth Reichl. The way she writes about food as life and life as food - it's as though everything she writes is a good meal - simultaneously comforting, enticing, inspiring, tantalizaing and satisfying.

It's Monday - stay in the fight; get what you deserve.

Be unapologetic.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Women You Should Know - Practivist Nafeesa Monroe

Women You Should Know:
Practivist Nafeesa Monroe

[Editor's note:  We've combined a Women You Should Know with a feature for our Practivist series. Practivism is pragmatic, proactive, promotable activism. Nafeesa Monroe certainly qualifies as a practivist, by taking her art, craft and training to the next level with the Classics in Color project. You can be a practivist, too, if you like her mission, you can support the project via Fractured Atlas.] 

How old are you, if you don’t mind? 

AAAAHHHH! The one thing I CAN'T SAY! I've been in the theatre for more than twenty years.

What is the main focus of your practivism at this time and how does that manifest? 

Making theatrical classics (including Shakespeare and what might be considered other classic works for the stage) accessible and relatable to a culturally and ethnically rich community. It manifests itself through the creation of Classics in Color: A Theatre Company, which  is in its inaugural season and fundraising stage

Classics in Color focuses on producing vibrantly-cast classical works for the stage, expanding the perception of classical theatre. As a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic ensemble, Classics in Color embraces the theatre of inclusion, on stage and off, opening up and extending the understanding of classic tales. Classics in Color: classical theatre for all the people, by all the people.

Currently CIC is co-producing an ethnically diverse production of the play "Proof" by David Auburn. This shift in the ethnic background of the family in this play allows a different audience base to see themselves on the stage in this story. It also expands the conversation about women and math to include women of color and what challenges they face in math and other STEM programs.

We could use your help to make it happen. Your financial support is tax-deductible. Every little bit counts and makes a difference!

What route did you take to get here?

I have been performing on stage for more than 20 years. A few years ago, I received my MFA in Classical Acting from The Shakespeare Theatre Company's Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University. This led to teaching Shakespeare primarily in public schools to young people who did not see themselves represented on the stages they attended. I decided to do something more pro-active, and thus created the theatre company. It's still growing, as am I and its mission. It's a challenge, but worth it.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Quote of the Week - Adichie

"This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles."
~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun

Reading this beautiful book strung with these beautiful sentences. It's a wonderful thing to be in the hands of a great writer.

How did I not know there was a movie version of this already? It's Monday - let's not go to the why of that question. Let's stay positive.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Women You Should Know - Sylvia Robinson by Angelique Palmer

Women You Should Know:
Sylvia Robinson

by Angelique Palmer

My prayers are usually silent ones: I have a conversation with a god I don’t call god. I admit I am not in charge. I ask that I be made powerful enough to handle my day and that the good people of the world catch a break.

I live in Manassas, VA. It is too far from Washington, DC to be so close. It is also too close to DC to be so far. So DC will start to claim you, and it will insist you know the best parts of its spoken word scene. Speaking spots, slightly off the beaten path and famous for it: Bloombars, Will Work for Food, and the Legendary Spit Dat.

Spit Dat- smack in the middle of Howard University campus, inside the ECAC on Euclid Ave- is more like a church than most poetry spots; there’s more call and response, more material in the raw and more of a patented respect. As a result there is a set of devout followers that call Spit Dat home, and they know Sylvia Robinson as something a little more than human.

Just ask them. A simple, informal Twitter poll, “Who is Sylvia Robinson?,” will yield the good word from the DC spoken word underground:  
“[A] soldier. An example. A preserver. A champion. A cornerstone. A quiet giant,” 
says Nicholas Lampkin, part of the innovative clique known as #infinigrind. 
“Someone who said they were glad I was part of their community when they didn't have to,” 
said Jenny V., “Someone who loved me when I didn't.”  
“An angel who provides sanctuary” says proofreader and publisher Stephanie Chapman, “... a gift from God.” 
Spit Dat host, Dwayne Lawson-Brown credits her with the show’s longevity, 
“She is singlehandedly the woman who saved Spit Dat. My hero.” 
And graphic designer and writer Tisean Bell summed up the mood, 
“She is the curator of a space that brought me back to God and Myself.”

That space is the Emergence Community Arts Collective a place where one could find community gardens and capoeira classes, knitting circles and salsa dance parties, glimpse sof art’s future and a portal to the past. When it comes to the ECAC, she’s the bookkeeper, haymaker, chief cook and bottle washer. So while Angel and Ride-or-Die gets thrown around liberally among her fans, the ECAC website describes Ms. Robinson as, “Executive Director… the founder and visionary for the mission ECAC now holds.” She’s in charge of the vision, and that vision is community.

There’s a book that goes around the room as a performer is featuring on the finished pine boards of the third floor room-turned-sanctuary. Everyone is asked to sign it and it is sent home with the feature. I treasure mine. The lovely comments can send an artist kite-high one day, and dig that same human out of a funk a week later. Printed in the book is the timeline of the building. A history of community service, and shared work; of educators, womanism, and how this tough tall brick house still stands. Inside its covers one can easily discern how the spirit of the old school, the very essence of the ECAC is in fact Sylvia Robinson. She souls the foundation, spines the climbing stairs, and embraces everyone with her solid columns. As another #infinigrind member Chris Harvey explains it, “she is a champion. A beacon for the lost. A pillar of positivity. Warmth and iridescence. Understanding. Love”

Late last year a lot of us learned by way of a GoFundMe campaign that Ms. Robinson had fallen ill. Cancer had come where it was not welcome, and would not be tolerated. Cancer hit a brick wall!

We spoke briefly on Valentine’s Day, Sylvia and I. She said she is feeling better, but not her best. She is happy I am writing about the ECAC and maybe too bashful to be interviewed. I understand this; keep your glasses on and your cape tucked in – this is how superheroes move. 

My prayers are usually silent ones. I pray that the good people in the world catch a break. I pray for Sylvia Robinson a lot more lately. She’s good people doing good things.

Angelique Palmer is a Performance Poet and Educator from New Orleans now living in North Virginia. A former television news producer, she was the host of Silent Treatment Entertainment’s weekly open mic, “Spirits and Lyrics” in Manassas and is the curator of The Lock’d & Loaded Cash Slam. She's all about pancakes, Ska music, and answers to Artsy, Nerdy, and Ang.  Find her on Twitter or Facebook.  (Women You Should Know - Judith Jamison)

Zesty has been running the Women You Should Know series every March since 2012 - to look at previous posts, use the blog archive on the right of this page.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Quote of the Week - Nelson

Why don't I have this shirt?

"...with every tweet I am concerned about the ramifications, the blowback from living my politics in an unbounded public space. It feels professionally and personally risky to simply speak the truth of my life."

Yes! YES! Yessssss!

This quote is from a great article on the risks of public feminism. Post-gamergate, I think it may be time to face the fact that there are risks and personal trauma associated with being a feminist out loud. 

Nelson goes on to say, "However, increasingly, I am finding that this kind of conservative self-policing is not worth it ..." I want to believe her. I want to believe she will keep speaking, you will keep speaking and I will keep speaking the truth of our lives.

And really - why don't I have that shirt? And yes, Willow Smith is m style icon of the moment.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Women You Should Know - Marianne Moore by Siofra McSherry

Women You Should Know:
Marianne Moore
(November 15, 1887 – February 5, 1972)

by Siofra McSherry

An adopted native of New York, Marianne Moore was one of the greatest American modernist poets, admired with an unusual unanimity by her peers, from Gertrude Stein to John Ashbery. A graduate of Bryn Mawr, Moore edited the modernist magazine The Dial in the 1920s, a position that placed her at the centre of international modernism, a taste creator and a maker (and breaker) of reputations. She lived with her mother in Brooklyn until the latter’s death in 1947. Her attachment to her birth family led her to fulfil Virginia Woolf’s injunction to woman writers—that we must have a room of our own—with a significant caveat: the room was shared, not with a husband or children, but a nonetheless demanding and loving companion. Moore was sexually indeterminate and resolutely chaste for her entire life: she considered marriage, in fact, to be a dangerous institution it took a woman all her “criminal ingenuity” to avoid.

As a poet, Moore emerged a clean original. Her succinct style, almost taxonomic precision, esoteric subject matter and scattergun interests formed an unprecedented combination. The product of her writing gave her pause when she was asked to describe it as poetry; she allowed that what she wrote was, at least, closer to poetry than anything else. Moore loved to recount the details of the surface of an object, whether a Chinese enamelled plate or the side of a glacier, and adored odd, armoured and strange animals like pangolins and armadillos. Poetry, she states in her most famous poem, is supposed to give us “imaginary gardens with real toads in them,”,something that stands between the raw and the genuine.

Moore has long been one of my favourite poets, and it is probably impossible to break down the attributes of something one loves in order to explain that love to others. I admire her virtuosity and wit and her incredible eloquence, and there is an ascetic, almost Quaker-like philosophical slant to her thought that appeals to me. When it comes down to it, though, I love the precision of her work, the time and attention she paid to everything she came across, and the fact that so much of the world and its endlessly various phenomena seemed to her to be worth thinking and writing about. She paid as much attention to the rules of baseball as an etching by Dürer. This is the essence, to me, of a mind that is fully present and appreciates living.

Despite the difficulty of her poetry, Moore was one of the best known and respected poets in America at the time of her death. She appeared on the Today show, was photographed for Vogue, and threw out the starting ball of the season for her beloved Yankees. Her popular profile has faded somewhat in recent years, and I would love her name to come as easily to mind as Stein’s or Eliot’s when discussing modernism, or great American poets, or even 20th century literature. I hope this might find some new readers for her: she repays time spent with her a hundredfold.

The contents of Moore’s Brooklyn apartment, along with her papers, are preserved at the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia.

Siofra McSherry is a writer, researcher and doctoral scholar. She has published her poetry widely and writes art reviews for

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The First Taste: Charred Broccoli & Pesto Pasta Recipe

Charred Broccoli & Pesto Pasta Recipe
Gluten-Free, Vegan

by Alicia Ying

Sometimes I get really bored of salads and want some other kind of veggies. I was talking to my girl friend on the phone while walking through Ralph’s whining about how I needed to switch my greens up. As I was perusing the produce section, I noticed that the broccoli was on sale. “Broccoli is on sale for 99 cents,” I tell my friend.

“Ooh!” she exclaims. “Make some charred broccoli!”

“Huh? How do you do that?”

She described how she just threw it in the oven on high heat and that it was super simple to make. She told me how the tops get really crunchy and how delicious the almost burnt pieces tasted. I said, “Why not?” and threw some broccoli into my basket.

I went home, cut up the pieces, tossed them in some EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), garlic salt and popped them into the oven. Several minutes later, I took them out, and DAMN-- they were delicious! The charred parts added this smokey flavor that I immediately fell in love with. It did need some acidity, so I scrounged through my fridge and found a lime. I squeezed the juice on top of my broccoli and WOW-- perfection! I was obsessed. This was my new favorite side dish!

Broccoli packs 11.2 grams of protein per 100 calories so this is a total winner for vegans and vegetarians! For a little easier math, 1 cup of broccoli has 31 calories and 4.2 grams of protein. I ended up chomping down on 2 cups of my charred broccoli giving me 8.4 grams of protein for lunch, keeping my energy levels up for the rest of the day.

Now, what to fix for my main dish? I had some organic brown rice pasta and decided to make a pesto garnished with sun-dried tomatoes. These two dishes together made the most satisfying lunch! Not only was this a healthy meal, but it was incredibly affordable too. And took me minutes to make.

Try it out and let me know what you think by commenting below!

What creative ways do you cook your vegetables? I’d love to hear about your tasty treats as well!

Thank you for reading and come back next week for more tips on how to make tasty food that is healthy and affordable!

Much Love,


Charred Broccoli Recipe


1 whole head of broccoli
3 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 tbsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ lime


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.

Chop the broccoli head into small pieces of florets. Put into a bowl.

Toss the broccoli in the EVOO, garlic salt, and black pepper.

Lay the broccoli evenly on the pan.

Pop into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. **If you want it extra charred, leave in for an additional 5 minutes.

Take out and place onto your plate.

Squeeze ½ a lime on top of your broccoli.


Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes


8 oz. organic brown rice pasta
3 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste


Boil some water in a pot. Add a sprinkle of salt.

Pour in pasta and cook for 7 minutes.

Take out and drain.

Add to a bowl and toss in your pesto. Mix well.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes on top. Mix well.

Serve and enjoy!

Alicia Ying is a professional baker, born and bred in sweet, southern Georgia. A world traveler, Alicia enjoys eating delicious global cuisine and savoring a good cup of coffee. Also a blooming actress and producer, she has been seen on "Days of Our Lives," "Young & The Restless," independent films, and multiple web series.

Alicia's passion is to create dishes that are healthy and affordable. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. More adventures in food and travel on her blog:

Monday, 9 March 2015

Women You Should Know: Elinor Ostrom by Mark Walton

Women You Should Know:
Elinor Ostrom
by Mark Walton

In the course of my formal education I’ve been taught Garrett Hardin’s theory of ‘the tragedy of the commons’ twice, both times as fact. In quite different contexts, the message was the same: unless public or private institutions manage ‘common goods’ such as land, water, forests or fisheries, they will be depleted and overexploited by greedy, uncooperative individuals.

Whilst I was being taught that we could not be trusted to manage our shared resources, one woman was studying the facts on the ground. Elinor Ostrom was demonstrating that, not only are groups of individuals quite capable of cooperating to manage complex resources, but that they can do so more sustainably, and more efficiently, than either governments or private companies.

From the 1960s onwards, Ostrom studied many different examples of local, collective systems of managing shared resources, ranging from ground water in California to fisheries in Indonesia. She and her team were able to identify some key principles of successful management. They found that neighbours came together to set boundaries and assign shares and that common tasks were done together. Rules were set, and monitors watched out for rule-breakers ,who could be fined or excluded.

The arrangements she studied were not put in place by governments or large conservation organisations, they were built from the bottom up. They were based in local cultures and discussed face to face. They were based on trust, reciprocity and collective action.

Ostrom identified that some goods are neither ‘public’ nor ‘private,’ but instead are ‘common pool resources’ and capable of being sustainably managed and fairly distributed by ordinary people, without recourse to either the state or the market. In 2009, she was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in recognition of a lifetime spent breaking new ground and challenging economic orthodoxies.

Ostrom herself was always keen to point out there are ‘no panaceas,’ but that where there is trust, cooperation and communication there may be no end to the resourcefulness of people to manage the resources they share, in ways that are fair and that enrich, rather than deplete, the resource itself.

Elinor Ostrom died in June 2012, the month that I established Shared Assets, a social enterprise that supports the development of new ways of managing our woodlands, waterways, parks and green spaces. Ostrom’s work is both a guide and an inspiration. But my admiration isn’t only academic or based on a shared belief in practical, bottom-up solutions, her down-to-earth humour, the humanitarianism that informs her work, and the twinkle in her eye, make me think that Elinor Ostrom was someone I’d have enjoyed sitting up late with, and sharing a whisky. 

At a time when our world is convulsed by ongoing crises within both the state and the market, you might think that we would all know about a woman who won a Nobel Prize for describing an alternative way of organising ourselves and our resources. As our old world order groans and crumbles around us, we all need to know a lot more about Elinor Ostrom.

Mark Walton is the the founder and Director of Shared Assets, a London-based social enterprise that works with communities and landowners to develop new ways of managing woodlands, green spaces, parks and waterways. Shared Assets' vision is the creation of a 21st century commons. Mark is also a poet, spoken word performer and itinerant boat dweller.

Zesty has been running the Women You Should Know series every March since 2012 - to look at previous posts, use the blog archive on the right of this page.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Quote of the Week - Williams

"She wanted to be extraordinary, to possess a savage glitter. "
Joy Williams

I don't know, but who doesn't want to possess a savage glitter?

 Gorge pics from Frankie Savage glitter glitter so much glitter - see what google can do for you?

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Women You Should Know - Lula Washington by Myshell Tabu

Women You Should Know:
by Myshell Tabu

Tendu | "To Stretch"

Her dance was denied.

Past age of consent
when her muse 
introduced feet to marley
but dreaded direction
from Bruin bosses
told her 22 was too old
to start dancing.

Pisces persistence found flaws
in common sense
so she dreamed against the wind
baby girl on one hip,
husband holding steady,
battered down 
academia's ivory towers of rejection
took first steps into legend.

Nobody could deny
work ethic and talent,
like left foot and right,
moving in syncopation with vision.
She saw Cher back stage,
leapt for "Love and Happiness,"
hoofed it for Hollywood
until her dreams were big enough
to stretch $25 into a theatre,
developing diminutive dancers
to follow her vision, too.

"I do dance, not drugs,"
motto chanted through
cramped rooms near Adams and Redondo.
Since then, 
forty five thousand pairs of feet
danced to her diverse design,
populating companies and programs
all over the world
with traces of her genius.

She got down like that,
spotlighting seeds of special
in nappy haired possibilities.
Took me from taking her class
to teaching my own
before I could drive,
sending me to inspire my own
crop of futures.

Former Soviet republics
passed beneath her callused soles,
she knows Chinese provinces
by their family names
now lauded as celebrated alumna
by university that once closed its doors.

Lula don't give up,
epitome of struggle and sincerity
installing the same
in children and dreamers

one step at a time

Myshell Tabu is a Los Angeles based actress, freelance graphic designer, and home educator to two awesome daughters. She studied film at Chapman University, and holds a degree in Africana Studies with a minor in Theatre Performance from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Zesty has been running the Women You Should Know series every March since 2012 - to look at previous posts, use the blog archive on the right of this page.