All posts by Sock Robot

Lindsay Amer

Cool Girl Lindsay AmerName: Lindsay (Lindz) Amer
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Artist/Activist

Artist and activist Lindsay Amer has turned the world into a stage for all audiences and actors through her Queer Kid Stuff edutainment YouTube channel. Lindsay has dedicated her young career to bridging the gap in theater and education for LGBTQ+ kids.

As a theater student in Northwestern University, Lindsay learned the ropes in producing for younger audiences, a skill that she honed during her Masters program in performance studies overseas. It was during her graduate studies in London that she stumbled upon an area that she was passionate enough to turn into a profession.

“I was learning new techniques and I started growing frustrated with the limitations theater presents, particularly for the kind of work I’m trying to do that gets censored by schools,” Lindsay explains. “I was watching a lot of YouTube at the time and thought that would be a good platform for what I wanted to do. I googled “what does gay mean?” out of curiosity and found that the only things that came up were a dictionary definition and a few resources for parents and teachers, but there was nothing specifically made for kids. I wanted to make a digital resource actually made for the young people who might ask google that question. And I just checked and our very first video pops up now in that search!”

For Lindsay, it was merely a process of trying to entertain and inform young audiences who are often deprived of certain inclusive, queer storylines as they’re growing up.

Cool Girl Lindsay Amer's Show Queer Kid Stuff

“I’ve been doing queer work for kids since undergrad, but I started in theater first where I was making new work for young audiences. I just fell in love with all-ages storytelling and saw a gaping void in LGBTQ+ content and themes in the work,” Lindsay recalls. “The first time I encountered a piece written for young people with a queer protagonist, I was completely blown away and I knew it’s what I had to start working toward. I’ve pretty much been doing this work ever since.”

Most recently, through the wide audience of digital media, Lindsay and Queer Kid Stuff have been able to reach more and more people, and to inch closer towards their goal of “a kinder and more equal future.” That’s not to say that the broad horizon of the internet has been entirely filled with admiring followers. Lindsay still is constantly reminded of the discrimination and stigma that queer people, young and old, still face.

“I get a lot of online harassment, but, to be honest, I’m kind of over it at this point. There’s so much systemic oppression working against queer people, women, and trans/non-binary people and talking about it all and creating narratives around it is still incredibly taboo,” she says.

By using art as advocacy, even when confronting trolls, Lindsay is able to fulfill her creative dreams and help other young people learn how to feel comfortable in their own skin and society.

Beyond her internet videos and her day job, Lindsay is also looking to bring her vision to the stage. “I’m directing and writing a play for my theater company! It’s Bluelaces Theater Company based in NYC and we make immersive sensory-based theater for people on the autism spectrum and other developmental differences. The show’s all about imaginary trains! It’s cool!”

So what advice does this YouTube star have for anyone starting out in artistic or advocacy endeavors?

“If you love it, do it and be it. Don’t listen to what other people want you to do, or think, or say, or be. Listen to yourself and your wants and needs and just do you. You’ll be so much happier for it.”

We think that Lindsay Amer’s work bringing Queer Kid Stuff to the masses makes her one Cool Girl!

See, read, and hear more of Lindsay’s work on her YouTube channel, website, and Twitter.

 

Jennifer J. Woodward

Jenn Woodward HeadshotName: Jennifer J. Woodward
Age: 40
Location: North Portland
Occupation: Visual artist and small business owner

Texas native and Portland resident Jenn Woodward has turned pulp into nonfiction with her papermaking studio, Pulp & Deckle. But this artistic whiz isn’t happy simply making paper, she’s trying to create a community space where this craft can flourish and gain the recognition it deserves.

Jenn discovered papermaking as a graduate student at School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The medium inspired through drawing, beyond the ink to the page itself. It was from there that the page became the stage, literally.

“What excites me most about papermaking is that it is pretty magical. You can take plant waste from your yard, or worn out jeans, cotton t-shirts, or towels, and transform them into paper pulp. And that pulp can be further transformed into sculptural objects, substrates for prints and drawings and photos,” she explains.

Of course, taking art from a creative outlet to a constructive occupation was a process in and of itself.

Jenn Woodward with Bamboo“When my husband and I moved to Portland from Boston, I didn’t really have an art studio, much less a space for papermaking,” Jenn recalls. “I was making and exhibiting art, but it felt like it was squeezed into my life, instead of being at the center of it. How to bridge the gap between what I wanted to do for a living, and what I was doing become a real priority.”

She wanted to share the craft while also creating herself, and she was inspired by the idea of community building, too.

“I wanted to give artists like myself who had worked with hand papermaking before, but didn’t have the space or resources to put together their own paper studio, the opportunity to come and work and utilize our set up,” she says.

From that idea Jenn and her husband started a Kickstarter to establish Pulp & Deckle. The campaign was funded successfully, and they opened in 2012. The studio is Jenn’s answer to wanting to make a living via papermaking, as well as providing a space to expose Portlanders to the medium and its potential.

Portland Art Museum Monster Drawing Rally

For the first two years Jenn kept her day job, but she was finally able to dedicate herself to Pulp & Deckle full-time after receiving support from the non-profit c3:initiative. As a result, Jenn has been able to start Pulp & Deckle’s residency program. She’s also been completing a larger scale, community engaged art project, called Fruits of the sun (for all the unknowns), which was recently exhibited at the Portland Art Museum for a one-night First Thursday event.

Fruits of the Sun Pop Up Portrait“Over the past several months I hosted pop-up portrait drawing sessions at farmers markets and other spaces, inviting participants to sign-up as live models via 20 minute portrait sessions.The drawings were made with handmade paper embedded with various types of seeds. The paper will act as fertilizer for the seeds, and the drawings will decay and grow into fall vegetables and native wildflowers,” Jenn explains. You can read more about Fruits of the sun (for all the unknowns) on her project blog, http://fruitsofthesun.com.

Jenn’s artistic vision is blossoming. Even after a recent fire which damaged part of the Pulp & Deckle home base, she sees the studio’s outreach and ouvre spreading branches from its Portland roots.

So what advice does this hardworking handcrafter have for other young female artisans?

“Try to be kind and patient with yourself and others. In our daily lives it can make a huge difference!”

For her papermaking prowess and for cultivating a creative community, we think Jenn Woodward is a very Cool Girl!

You can keep up with Jenn and Pulp & Deckle at: http://pulpanddeckle.comhttp://jjwoodward.weebly.com, & http://fruitsofthesun.com. Or, visit Jenn’s social pages: Facebook, Twitter, Pulp & Deckle’s Instagram or Fruit of the Sun’s Instagram.

 

Elle Potter

Name:  Elle Potter
Age: 33
Location:  St. Louis
Occupation: Founder of Yoga Buzz

As a child growing up in Kansas and then Colorado, Elle Potter was inspired by lands far far away. No, not in fairytales, in the encyclopedia.

“I was really obsessed with India when I was young. I used to do presentations on India to my class based on what I learned from World Book Encyclopedias, not because it was an assignment, but because I just wanted to share everything I learned. I’m not sure when I was first introduced to yoga, but knowing myself, someone probably mentioned it was a thing from India and I probably immediately pretended like I knew all about it,” she says. “I first started practicing yoga in high school with Rodney Yee VHS tapes and on PBS with Wai Lana. I didn’t take my first actual yoga class until I graduated college, and when I took my first vinyasa flow class, I immediately knew I wanted to be a yoga teacher. Within a week, I had signed up for the yoga teacher training at that studio.”

That said, Elle’s journey through practicing to teaching yoga didn’t lead to zen-like calm. After her previously untreated anxiety disorder sidelined her in 2014, Elle realized that she needed to do something for herself. She took a break from teaching yoga, brainstormed, and decided to take her desire to inspire away from the studio.

“My husband worked at a brewery, and we worked together to put on a yoga and beer tasting event as a part of St. Louis Craft Beer Week in July of 2014,” Elle explains. “I thought maybe a few of my friends would come, maybe twenty people tops… but we sold out the event at 100 people, I was on two local news channels and St. Louis Public Radio! I started getting emails from folks asking when we were going to do another one.”

Not long after, Elle was hosting an event at the Ferguson Brewing Company in Ferguson, Missouri. It was one month after Michael Brown had been killed, and Elle was teaching yoga to a community that was still wounded from racism, segregation, and civil unrest.

“We choose to donate a portion of ticket sales to the Ferguson Youth Initiative, an incredible organization that offers after-school activities for local students. We had a great event with a sold-out crowd, but as I looked around the room, I was surprised to realize that even though we were kind of making yoga more accessible by taking it out of the studio setting, we were still reaching the same demographic that was already showing up to yoga; able-bodied white women who could afford a $20 yoga class,” Elle recalls.

“It was a defining moment for Yoga Buzz; I started asking more questions about all the barriers that make yoga in-accessible, and I realized if I wanted to do work to make the practice available to more folks, I was going to have to do a lot more than yoga at breweries. Since then, we’ve hosted 300 pop-up events all over St. Louis, and trained a diverse community of 73 new yoga teachers to take the practices of yoga to a variety of populations who might not otherwise have access.”

Yoga Buzz’s instructors have gone on to teach yoga to senior citizens in assisted living facilities, children who are part of foster care/adoptive services, veterans at the VA, and prenatal yoga for low-income families.

“I’m eager to do more work to elevate the voices of yoga teachers and students in my community who are breaking the stereotypes of what a yogi looks like,” Elle adds.

Making yoga more diverse and all-inclusive has been the foundation of her foundation, and while it is an effort of many, Elle’s spirit is what sparked it all. By taking her diverse yoga circus on the road and inspiring communities with Yoga Buzz’s message of accessibility, unity, and inclusion, we think that Elle Potter is a very Cool Girl!

Check them out at Yoga Buzz, FacebookTwitterInstagram, & Snapchat.

Anastasia Gensic Krutulis

Name: Anastasia Gensic Krutulis
Age: 50
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Occupation: Public Health Graduate Program Online Degree Coordinator

Anastasia Krutulis was always drawn to learning, which meant spending quite a bit of time with her nose buried in books as a child in Indiana.

“I was an early, avid reader and always loved my local library. The way check-out systems worked back then, they did not allow books to be returned the same day that they were checked out. Children could only check out a limited number of books on their card, but I would read them all and then come back the same day wanting more. The librarian made a big deal out of allowing me to have an adult card with which I could check out an unlimited number of books…and she became my hero,” Anastasia explains.

After working in a library during college, and still being drawn to toil in the stacks after graduation, she decided to pursue her Master’s in Library Science. Originally Anastasia’s plan was to develop skills in data management, but she soon found herself in the throes of traditional public librarian work, which afforded her time to home-school her children while also maintaining an amazing career in Public Health.

She went on to become a laboratory manager for a longitudinal early autism identification study and then the Public Health Graduate Program at Purdue University. She was nominated as a member of the board of trustees for her local public library and also volunteers with the library’s friends organization, where Anastasia sorts and prices the antiquarian book donations to sell.

Her passion for community wellness is equally as strong as her library involvement. “Public Health programs are the link between scientific research, education and government policy,” Anastasia explains. “Public health improves the quality of life of individuals. It helps prevent and reduce the impact of disease and suffering. I can’t think of anything more important than that.”

And stepping from macro to micro, Anastasia seeks to help those in her immediate circle just as much as she extends her hand to the public; she manages the social media and online marketing aspects of friends’ businesses and her father-in-law’s artistic endeavors with reclaimed wood.

Working in academia as well as on the limitless community of the internet allows Anastasia to glean myriad experiences and constantly challenge herself.  “I haven’t had a single, direct career path and that’s fine with me,” she says. “Every opportunity enables me to learn new skills and expand my own horizons.” And it’s that adaptability and curiosity that she has bestowed upon her four children, as a mother, and their teacher.

And what does this home-schooling, book stacking, quilt making, public health serving, social media maven and mother have to say to all the young people out there wondering what the ‘right’ path is for them?

“Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” It’s far worse to pretend to know something that you don’t.  “I don’t know” leads to “I can figure it out.” Go figure it out. Ask for help – maybe even ask a librarian!” Anastasia says. “Keep asking. Keep learning.”

Very sage advice from one super Cool Girl!

Maya Polson

Name: Maya Polson
Age: 28
Location: Caledon, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Owner, Rider and Trainer at Ladera Equestrian

Before the age of ten, Maya Polson was riding at summer camp. By the time she reached the second farm where she was a camper, she was smitten with equestrian life.

“I fell in love with a pony there named Kismet, and started weekly lessons on her in the fall and have never looked back. My parents were both involved in horses when they were younger, so I come by it naturally,” she explains.

As she started high school, Maya and her family investigated the possibility of owning a farm. Over time, her dream slowly turned into a reality. When she was just finishing university, she and her family started looking into private farms for their four horses.

“Our agent found our current property completely by chance, and it was a great opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up…all the pieces seemed to fall into place,” she says. “It’s bigger than what we had planned for, giving me the ability to run it as a business and go for my childhood dream.”

Now Maya works every day at her own facility, Ladera Equestrian. Specializing in training, including hunter, jumper, and equitation, Maya’s farm has also produced two foals with the hope of grooming a future champion. Ladera’s main aim is to provide a gorgeous, professional facility where horse lovers can ride, compete, teach, and be taught. That said, running a farm isn’t as effortless as a champion jumper clearing a log fence.

“Holidays and long weekends don’t mean much because, especially when you own the facility and give the regular staff the time off, the animals still need to be cared for. The same goes for bad weather days, whether it’s snow or ice, the animals still need to be attended to. I am thankful for being able to live on the property and not have to worry about dangerous driving conditions,” Maya says.

Two of Maya’s current homebred horses were her initiation into training life. Ages 7 and 4, they keep Maya on her toes and allow her the opportunity to grow beyond simply being a horseback rider.

There is an expression that every time you work with or ride a horse, you are either training or un-training them. I think that is part of what draws me to the sport, there is always more you can learn yourself or teach the horse,” she elaborates.

It’s this mindset that has allowed Maya to work towards her ultimate goal, representing Canada internationally on the show jumping team. “Shorter term goals are to develop myself and my young horses into Grand Prix caliber athletes,” she adds.

What advice does this ever-busy equine aficionado and lady farm hand have for young women?

“So often, especially in the horse world, people say they couldn’t reach their goals because they didn’t have the money or the opportunity. If you want something bad enough and are willing to work hard for it, doors will open and people will take notice,” Maya says. “When you work hard towards a goal and finally achieve it though, nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment and confidence in yourself.”

For working hard to apply her efforts to her passion and for launching Ladera Equestrian, we think Maya Polson is a very Cool Girl!

Keep up with Maya through her website, Facebook, or Instagram.