S2 Eats + Awareness Project: Entering New Waters

In the next coming months, I’m going to launch a HUGE project. And I mean HUGE. And it involves food. If you know me, or have gotten to know me, then you shouldn’t be surprised by this at all.

This past Saturday, I found myself in a magical place. It felt like a home actually. It is a shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, named Archestratus, that is part cookbook and cooking related books book shop and also a cafe/restaurant. They host Blue Plate Dinners every Thursday night and a monthly Cookbook of the Month Club. The owner, Paige, is incredible and so nice. We got to meet her yesterday and talk to her and well, can we say “friends?!” all together?

I told her quickly about this project I’ve been working on and said to her pretty confidently as we continued talking, “when my project is ready, I’m calling you.” She was completely for it. And I now know where most, if not every event I host in NYC for “CIC” will be located.

I should also mention that I was with a friend of mine and a teammate for a project I’ve been working on as part of a program called Do Tank in NYC. Sana is her name and she is a fellow food lover. We talked and walked around the books and carried a ton to a table and shared food while talking to Paige. Sana is going to end up being a much larger part of this project than even I am aware of right now. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know yet what her role will be, but she will have a role. It may even be in the form of representing Pakistan.

Anyhow, this idea that I’m vaguely sharing with you now has a ton of moving pieces and a few people, all whom I trust with my life involved. I have a cousin helping with logo and branding design, my brother and his best friend involved in videography, another friend and past roommate willing to help with web design, my mentor as a board and planning member, and my Mom, too – she’s cooking. I’m sure I will bring on many, many more people, both trusted and untrusted. That is how you bring about change, after all.

This project has been in the works since the summer of 2014. That is the summer that Israel and Palestine were at war and the summer of the massive influx of migrants traveling from Central America to the US to get away from heavy gang violence and crime. Those migrants were children, many of them traveling alone, whose parents probably took loans out that they still cannot afford to get their child(ren) across the border to saftey. With both of these instances, for the first time in a long time I looked at the world and thought, “what the fuck is going on?” It may also have been the first time that I truly felt as though I needed to get involved. That my voice needed to be heard in a constructive manner. It was also a point when I realized that no matter what I do in life, my life has to be used to help stop the injustice of others.

Now, I’m not promising to change the world completely. No, that requires collective force. I am, however, proposing to use my stationery company, design skills, and extensive communication background to help shift and shape appreciation, acceptance, and change. This is daunting. It cannot be neatly designed. I am bound to offend many. I hope to impact many more.

To get this started, I’m sharing a collection of photos of foods that I’ve recently created over the past few weeks and months of putting “CIC” together. I have a long road to go, but food is the of the main focal points of this project. From this post onward, one a week will be dedicated to a recipe – some food(s) I’m devouring religiously, experimenting with as I develop and perfect, and/or am inspired by – I cannot promise that these recipes will coincide with exactly what I’m working on, but they will help build connection for when it is ready to be released into the world.  (SOON!)

Saturday night, as I walked around Archestratus, I thought about my life and the wild ride it’s been thus far. I thought about how food has always been a focal point in my life. I carry a lot of weight because of my relationship to food, both good and bad, but this project isn’t about that. No this project is about the nourishment food brings us all, across cultures and countries and religions. My unofficial slogan for this project is: “Even the most immigrant hating Texan eats tacos.” This project is about that element that brings us together even in our fear, differences and hate.

Walking around Archestratus allowed me to remember my abuela Herminia, who was a strong and rebellious female who created change in her own way. I thought about being a three and four year old helping make Honduran tamales with her and my mom. By helping, I really ate most of the ingredients and would annoy her, but my abuelo always had extra as backup. I still help my Mom make tamales every Christmas and the legacy continues. If I ever have children, they will learn and my soon-to-be three year old niece, will learn soon.

This is what life is all about. It is about the changes we make individually as well as collectively. It is about passing down our histories, cultures and family stories. It is about connecting over the pieces that make us all human. I hope you’ll join me for this journey. I hope you’ll help me share these stories and cultures and histories. I hope you’ll help shift your conscious as well as the greater conscious. Most importantly, I hope you’ll enjoy this.

To learn more and stay up to date, you are invited to sign up for our the newsletter on the Awareness page of the S2 Stationery website. (Scroll to the bottom!) You’ll get the good, juicy bits when you do…think of it as the fond at the bottom of a pan of caramelizing onions, or from a roasted chicken. Yum!

Until next week, keep your stomachs a bit empty, your hearts full, and your mind open to expansion and food. And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter!!





Food, Food Issues, The Feast Montclair and S2 Stationery & Design

Every year, S2 Stationery & Design gives back. Or tries to. In the past, I’ve donated custom work to organizations working on issues important to me, the owner, Sara. I’ve worked with a Breast Cancer letter writing organization, an organization that plants trees in countries like Haiti and Honduras, an organization that helps fight for protection of the Amazon, an organization that clips coupons for military families on bases across the globe, an organization that helps fund environmental research across the globe, etc.  These donations have put me in touch with fantastic people and I’ve forged some great relationships through these projects.

This year, S2 has had to scale back on charitable giving, but last Saturday, October 11th, I was able to participate in an event that fits with the future of S2 Stationery & Design.  A lot of the explanation will need to be given at a later date – I’m still in the business planning stages here – but I want to share with you today a bit about the organization I donated time and S2 goodies – The Feast Montclair.

The Feast as described by them is:

Since 2008, The Feast has been committed to fostering a community of innovators who are revolutionizing their industries and striving for social impact. Each year we host a flagship Conference to share unique perspectives and tackle today’s greatest societal challenges. Our Conference serves as a starting point for relationships, groundbreaking projects and new initiatives that run all year long.

In 2012, we expanded internationally and created The Feast Worldwide. This independently organized series of dinner parties runs in parallel with our Conference. It gives passionate people from around the world a chance to engage their own communities in collective action.

We believe the world needs a more ambitious vision for the future. By creating that vision together, we can empower the the next generation of innovators and make our ideas tangible through technology, creative process and business models that put people first.

The Feast to me is more of a collaborative force of minds, not limited to the innovators of the world. See, everyone has creativity and possibility – it’s a matter of how it is fostered and shared.  When I was asked to participate in the Montclair hub, I jumped in. I saw endless possibility, not to mention, we decided on the topic of food and well, I’m a foodie at heart. I couldn’t say no!

As someone who helped to fill a vacant spot, I quickly became busy and juggling the planning on that end, plus working part-time and running a business, it became a bit overwhelming, but things worked out last Saturday and we were able to put on a hugely successful evening full of great speakers and full tables of conversations on how to help bridge food insecurity in the suburbs – in towns like Montclair for example. Speakers ranging from farmers to school lunch advocates to food pantry administrators helped steer attendees interested in the topic on ways to go about helping those less fortunate in their own community.

In addition to managing set up of the  venue, Watchung Booksellers, a fantastic independent book shop in Montclair,  guests were checked in, food (by the incredible Tiny Elephant Cafe that shares space with Watchung Booksellers) was served on time, I was in charge of the overall attendee experience. I was the first person guests saw when checking in. I chatted, made new acquaintances, and generally helped to keep the flow of the evening cool and collected.  I was also the person at the door at the end of the evening passing out goodie bags.  And that, my friends is where my donation really shined.

The goodie bags had a small set of my “Blank Seasonal and Local CSA Inspired Recipe Cards” in them.  It was only one of each card, so a total of five cards and they didn’t have envelopes, but that was to help foster creativity. As I wrote in a note to each guest, the cards were to give them a taste of this product that I designed with a good friend of mine to help raise money for the Long Island CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that I once was a member, and she still is a member – 20% of each sale of a set of those cards (includes 10 cards – two of each recipe and envelopes) is donated to the CSA to help low-income families buy into a farm share and eat local, seasonal and healthy food.  Now are you see why I jumped in to help with this event?  I also instructed them to come here to grab a template to use for making their own envelopes out of recycled paper, magazines, anything. I also encouraged them to use the card as a postcard, a far cheaper solution. All in the spirit of being creative and sustainable. Two things that ring true to the heart and mission of S2 Stationery & Design.

As we discussed the decor of the evening, we went back and forth on incorporating herbs and wild flowers on the tables and finally, thanks to another volunteer, created center pieces with mason jars and veggies – orange peppers, red tomatoes, radish, tomatillos, eggplant. We decided that the herbs should be something the guests would take home and use for whatever purpose they chose. I had originally thought why not make small boutonniere like satchels tied with twine and put them at every seat, but then we decided it would be better to tie the herbs around each set of cards and place them in the goodie bag. It was an easier solution for having guests take something home with them.

They came out gorgeous. Absolutely stunning really. And I’m thrilled with them! I really believe they would make a fantastic favor for any event actually, not just a Feast event focused on food. They could be used for baby showers and bridal showers; for house warming and even funerals (yes, I went there – why not pass out a favorite recipe from the loved one?!). They are 100% customizable and are fine just the way they are shown below. Either way, they are something that I’d give out regularly and often, well as often as herbs are available. They could be fine tuned to fit your town, your city, your village. These are completely and totally what you make of them and lets be honest, everyone loves food and eating. Not to mention, sharing recipes and meals is one of the oldest past times of humans – like that of storytelling.

I can’t stress enough how much I love these and how excited I am to offer these sets the public. I’m not sure how yet, but I know that thanks to some local farms in Montclair, I know where to get herbs and can start off in New Jersey ASAP. Huzzah! I owe it all to The Feast Montclair and the snazzy team of women that put it all together and helped set the path for community involvement in an issue that is near and dear to my heart – food equality – but for the future of S2 Stationery & Design.

IMG_4097 IMG_4098 IMG_4112 IMG_4100 IMG_4101 IMG_4103 IMG_4104

Anyone interested in purchasing these please contact me via my Etsy Shop or my website. These are fantastic little gifts for the upcoming Holidays! For those of you interested in a the sets with herbs and or customizing your own set with herbs, contact me via my website. Yay!