My first project in Toledo was co-founding Toledo Choose Local with a group of business owners and community leaders. This non-profit was formed to promote locally owned independent businesses and to educate about the economic importance of choosing local.
I have done quite a bit of work organizing with the Justice for Danny Brown Campaign. I founded the Maumee Bay River Festival in 2012 to bring awareness to our amazing watershed. I am no longer affiliated with that festival, because the non-profit that I invited to partner with and receive the profits from the festival gave me an insulting and laughable ultimatum. I don’t mind saying that in public because of how much disrespect was spewed at my work.
I’ve collaborated with The Commotion on a couple of experimental performance pieces expressing the irony of how our culture treats our freshwater Great Lakes.I sailed the Great Lakes on a wooden sailboat undergoing an intense sailing and biology curriculum. I opened “J. Russell’s Lounge” in Murphy’s Jazz Place with my friend Kat for about 2 months. It was short and sweet. I loved working at Murphy’s. I’ve organized bike rides and ice skating parties — fun things to bring the community together.
My current project is a small business called Boochy Mama’s MycoBotanical Tonic. I make kombucha, which is a fermented tea. I really love the process and making new flavors with herbs and flowers. I have a bottling and manufacturing license, and work out of a kitchen in the Old West End. I just got to the point where I have small-scale retail distribution to stores, restaurants, coffee shops and yoga studios. I also just set up a biodiesel fueling station on my family’s property in Michigan, so I can drive my car on 99% biofuel until it gets too cold.
This ol’ kombucha business I’ve got going right now is looking successful. I’m making sales, getting positive feedback, scaling up based on demand, working (more than) full time and sustaining myself…and I still like it. So far, so good.
People who radiate passion for what they do or even ideas they have — their eyes get big and they talk with their hands and they’re kind of intense — they make me smile and often trigger ideas and motivation. Radical environmentalists are also pretty badass and inspiring, like Sea Shepherds and Earth First!
Born in 85’, grew up in Sylvania with my really amazing family and friends. I went to Ohio State and was in the International Scholars Program. I met some really rad people and studied Portuguese in Brazil, which was really an excellent vessel to explore Brazil. I did well academically, but I don’t have too many hard takeaways from economics or any of my other courses. Looking back, it feels like it was more of an environment to learn critical thinking skills, gain new perspectives and formulate ideas. Since I graduated in 2006, I’ve dipped my feet in many streams. The most consecutive thing I’ve done is teach tennis (since 2003), and even that was off and on, and this is actually my first year not teaching or coaching.