Occupation: President, Green Works in Kansas City
Tell us about your work with Green Works: We educate urban high school students about the environment and then raise money to place them in paid summer internships in the environmental field. The goal is to get these students involved in meaningful environmental projects and introduce them to careers that most of them have never considered. We are the only nonprofit in Kansas City doing this work.
Hometown: I grew up in the Flint Hills, in the town of Wamego, Kansas.
Current neighborhood: Southmoreland neighborhood northeast of the Plaza
Who or what is your sidekick? My sidekick is a rescue beagle named Scout. Scout does yoga at around 4 p.m. on her favorite rug and eats as many vegetables as I do. And she reminds me to have fun.
What career would you choose in an alternate reality? I have so many: film director, comedian, saxophone player for a rock band, scientist, sculptor, owner of a garden store, architect, even hotel concierge. I’ve been told that I’d do a heck of a job as director of FEMA, but I wouldn’t enjoy it.
What was the last local restaurant you patronized? I accompanied friends from L.A. right across the state line to Oklahoma Joe’s.
Where do you drink? I like the cocktails at Westport Café, the Majestic, Extra Virgin, Bluestem, and the Justus Drugstore patio.
What’s your favorite charity? Green Works! The one I started.
Favorite place to spend your paycheck: The Tivoli for independent films and Nature’s Own market in my neighborhood for local and organic food. I also have a weakness for hand-knotted rugs, Mexican art and really good street tacos.
What local phenomenon do you think is overrated? It brought a lot of life back to downtown, but the architectural design of the Power & Light District is underwhelming, and it looks like it could be in Anywhere, USA.
Where do you like to take out-of-town guests? The Nelson-Atkins Museum, preferably in the evening when the Bloch buildings are lit. We walk over from my house across the lighted sidewalk at the KC Art Institute.
Finish this sentence: “Other than the Kauffman Center, Kansas City got it right when ... ” We developed the Central Library and the parking garage featuring the community bookshelf.
“Kansas City screwed up when it ... ” Eliminated the trolley system, didn’t build the stadiums downtown, and didn’t set aside funds over the years for replacement of our sewer and storm-water system.
“Kansas City needs ... ” More neighborhood gathering places that people can walk to (small parks and locally owned coffeehouses, restaurants, bookstores, etc.). These become the places where community building occurs — neighbors get to know one another and eventually care for one another.
“People might be surprised to know that I ... ” Am an introvert.
“On my day off, I like to ... ” Read; garden; walk my beagle, Scout; take pictures; work on an art project; write; shop at a used-clothing store; see an independent film; talk to my neighbors; watch the art students from my front porch; make ice cream in the summer and soup in the winter.
“In five years, I’ll be ... ” Wiser and a better gardener. It’s inevitable about gardening, anyway.
What TV show do you make sure you watch? Would you believe I do not watch TV? There are so many other fun things to do. Right now, I spend a lot of my evenings working on a community-development project in my neighborhood and planting my backyard with native plants.
____ take(s) up a lot of space in my iTunes: No iTunes, but I’ve been listening to my Van Morrison CDs quite a bit lately.
What movie do you watch at least once a year? I like to watch Grumpy Old Men around the holidays.
What local tradition do you take part in every year? I always attend the UnPlaza Art Fair in my neighborhood and support the local artists.
Celebrity you’d like to ride the Mamba with at Worlds of Fun: I’ve always been interested in the “business” of the Rolling Stones, so I’d like to meet Mick Jagger. I would ask him to teach me a few dance moves while we waited in line and I would like to hear about his inspiration for “Gimme Shelter.”
Favorite person or thing to follow on Twitter: Who has time?
Person or thing you find really irritating at this moment: Facebook/Twitter. Sometimes it feels like people have become obsessed with making sure everyone knows they are interesting, successful and cool. It’s like a constant barrage of annoying holiday letters.
What subscription — print, digital, etc. — do you value most? I read The Kansas City Star to keep up on local politics, neighborhood issues, and funding or partnership opportunities for my nonprofit.
Last book you read: Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz. I cannot recommend it as an easy, uplifting read.
Favorite day trip: It may be a little far for a day trip, but I love to visit St. Louis and wander around the old neighborhoods. I also like to hike at Weston Bend State Park and I enjoy visiting Omaha.
What is your most embarrassing dating moment? I had friends who set me up for a lunch date on a very windy day in February. I arrived at the restaurant, and my date came over, introduced himself and shook my hand. Then he reached up and flattened his hair and said, “I can’t believe how windy it is outside. Look what it did to your hair.” I explained to him that wind or no wind, my hair pretty much looked this way all the time.
Interesting brush with the law? I actually called the police on a ghost. My dog started growling in the middle of the night, and I woke up and heard distinct footsteps on my third floor. I grabbed my dog and the phone and stood next to the front door and called the police. The police came over and went up to the third floor, and there was no sign of an intruder, just a very small window that was open. (The window was too small for a human to get through.) I was the president of the neighborhood association at that time, and it was rather embarrassing.
Describe a recent triumph: Green Works just turned five years old! We are getting ready to celebrate this fall with a service day in September and a fundraiser event Thursday, October 11, at KCP&L’s Energy Center. In this economy, it’s a big accomplishment.
For information about Green Works and tickets to the anniversary party, see greenworkskc.org.