San Jose innovation and creativity
3.3 Featuring: Shannon Amidon / Umbrella Salon / Veggielution 1
Taste the experience...
37 N. San Pedro St. San Jose, CA 95110 408-292-1502 thesatoriteacompany.com 2
Provides monthly food assistance to lowincome families with children. The average Family Harvest recipient householdâ€™s income is $1,462 per month. = 1000 meals
Delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income households with limited access to community markets. = 1000 participants
Provides weekly food assistance to low-income seniors. he average Brown Bag participant's household income is $1,050 per month. = 1000 participants
= 1000 households
Delivers food to geographically-isolated communities and those with limited services. We estimate that nearly half of the individuals served are children.
SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK: DONATIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Although a majority of food is received from processors, wholesalers and retailers, Second Harvest continues to rely on donations and assistance from growers, food drives, USDA allocations, and individuals such as yourself. Once food is donated, it is distributed to one of the many programs Second Harvest supports, including Family Harvest, Produce Mobile, Brown Bag, and Mobile Pantry These donations reach 247,000 people each month. Second Harvest Food Bank 750 Curtner Ave San Jose, CA 95125 Phone: (408) 266-8866 www.shfb.org
Data by Stacy Ernst Infographic by Brian Jensen: madebybrian.com
Issue 3.3 â€œHARVEST â€œ Autumn 2011
The Makers: Daniel Garcia Cultivator Sarah Garcia Marketeer Sarah Hale Sustainer Stacy Ernst Shaper/Blogger Victoria Felicity Conttributing Writer/ Photographer Felicia Larson Contributing Writer Sobrina Tung Style Editor Mary Matlack Contributing Writer Steveyann Jensen Contributing Writer Aleksandra Bulatskaya Contributing Writer Kevin Kempis Designer Jeff Garnder Designer To participate in Content Magazine: firstname.lastname@example.org
james conrad WRITINGS
PROFILE 12 Shannon Amidon 16 Hasti Kashfia 18 Josh Russell 22 Umbrella Salon
kashfia PORTRAIT 16
FEATURE 26 San Jose Chamber Orchestra 32 Veggielution 40 Mirco Brew
WRITINGS 46 James Conrad FASHION 56 Never Gets Old
SHANNON AMIDON Interview by Felicia Larson Photography by Daniel Garcia
“Nature provides an endless supply of inspiration.” Shannon Amidon is an adventurous, nature girl who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty, especially when it comes to art. So it’s no surprise that while traveling through Northern Thailand, she jumped at the chance to make paper from elephant dung. She likes to explore and discover, which comes through in her artwork. That sense of adventure is revealed in the variety of complex processes that her artwork undergoes on its way to completion. Though a self-described late bloomer as an artist, Shannon wasted no time getting up to speed. “I didn’t even start seriously making art ‘til I was about twenty-two or twentythree yrs old. I was always creative, but I didn’t really know what art was when I was younger. I can’t draw or paint and that is what I thought artwork and being an artist was. So when I discovered photography I went wild. I absolutely loved it.” When Shannon met her husband, Bobb Amidon, an Apple test engineer, photographer, and music aficionado, he encouraged her to take photography classes. So, off she went to class and to the library. Shannon consumed and was consumed by the genre of art photography. She read everything she could get her hands on and better still, her hubby came equipped with a variety of top quality cameras and great lenses, to fuel her passion. These sparks ignited a fire for Shannon, and her fiery fuchsia hair is proof that it doesn’t show signs of burning out. You certainly won’t find traditional photography in Shannon’s repertoire, no wedding or family portraits. “As I was taking my photography classes,” she explains, “I discovered a book on alternative photographic processes and antiquated processes. I fell in love with that kind of look and feel.” At times she will use a digital camera to take a picture and then expose the negative onto a piece of watercolor paper out in the sun. This creates
a piece with a contemporary feel, but a nostalgic look. Some of her other photographic manipulations include portrait puzzle boxes, and photo weaving. Nature is the focus of Shannon’s artwork. Her love of the natural world was cultivated in her younger years. Her eyes fill with a childlike wonder as she describes her girlhood home. “I grew up in nature, on a little old dairy farm in South San Jose. [We] had creeks, so I would go and get tadpoles, slide down the hills on cardboard, and stuff like that. I think that really influenced me as an artist, just to be able to go out and play until the sun went down. And I had an uncle who owned a horse stable; I started working there when I was about eleven or twelve. Again, that put me out in nature and outdoors.” Beyond photographic manipulation , Shannon also works with found natural objects - resurrecting and repurposing her beloved nature. In Shannon’s hands, dead, natural objects find new life as art or a piece of jewelry, through an extensive process of copper electroforming (covering non-metallic objects with layers of copper). Sporting the skull of the nutria around her neck is proof that Shannon breathes new life into what others would just as soon discard. These rodents overpopulate the southern states and a market for them has developed in natural history stores where they are available for purchase. Not only does Shannon work with rodents and lizards, she also has a thing for bullet casings. “It was a happy accident. To be honest, I saw a bullet necklace [that] was about $6000 and I thought, ‘You know, I can do that.’ I had some bullet casings because I like to collect lots of odd things from antique stores and flea markets. So I made a couple of the necklaces. I started out with some semi-precious stones. People really liked it, and I really liked it. It just kind of took off from there.” Now there are bullet casings
paired with feathers as well as animal teeth and horns. The jewelry has been a success that generates a steady income, and Shannon is proud of that. She has found a way to stay true to her passion and the natural history aesthetic that defines her work. With everything else that Shannon has going on, she makes time to give back to the community. “Every waking hour is devoted to art, or the community, or teaching, or creating.” She has taught soap making to young children, demonstrated her artistic processes at community events, and donated her artwork to a variety of local galleries and benefit events. Shannon also has a strong belief in fostering young, and up and coming artists most of the time in an informal manner. She gives access to her studio, sharing space and supplies. So what’s next for this vibrant nature enthusiast turned artist? An artist’s residency in Iceland should afford Shannon some volcanic treasures, and the chance to brave thirtydegree weather in search of the northern lights. There she will have the opportunity to create without interference from television or telephone. But in 2011, you can find her work exhibited locally at the Saratoga Library in September and October as well as at the Phantom Galleries from November through the end of December. And for a face-to-face meeting, you can usually find her in the SoFa district, for San Jose’s own South First Fridays’ Artwalk. Contact info for Shannon Website - www.shannonamidon.com Blog - www.shannonamidon.blogspot.com Online Store - www.shannonamidon.etsy. com Facebook - www.facebook.com/shannonamidonart
Hasti Kashfia o f
M o d e
B a y
A r e a
By Sobrina Tung Photography by Daniel Garcia
As Editor-in-Chief and Founder of MODE Bay Area, Beauty and Fashion Editor at Elation (a Persian magazine), a celebrity stylist, a board member of Tenderloin Health, and last, but certainly not least, a mom and wife, Hasti Kashfia has her hands full. While many others in her shoes might feel overwhelmed, this Bay Area blogger and stylist says it’s all about managing her priorities and keeps her family at the very top of the list. What started as Kashfia’s personal blog back in March 2009 has now grown into the hugely successful MODE Bay Area, a blog covering topics from fashion to non-profits to beauty and so much more.
How long have you lived in San Jose? I moved from Iran to San Jose when I was 8. And then my parents moved us to Fresno for 10 years. The minute I turned 18, I moved back. I love the Bay Area. Tell me about your MODE contributors. How did you build that team? It started out with people reaching out. I don’t think people understand how tiring and exhausting running a blog is. I literally go to bed at 3am every night. After I finish everything else, I sit down and I put my blogs up, I write them or I edit them. It’s hard finding a good core of people; it’s mainly the people that have reached out to us wanting to write that have stuck around and have been fantastic. My sister is one of the writers, and she helps edit and coordinate with the brands and designers we work with. My brother is my web designer. How did you build your following? I was styling before, so I had some industry connections, and I worked retail. But to be honest, I don’t really have an answer besides “I’m blessed.” I don’t have any other reason. We’ve never paid for advertising--it’s just followers recommending us to their friends. We have the best readers.
How did you get started in fashion? My first fashion job was as a cashier at Nordstrom. On my first day at work, I saw the store manager come down and talk to my manager. My manager came up and talked to me and said, “You need to go home and change.” I was literally out of Fresno... [laughs] What were you wearing? You know those foam flip flops? Those big huge 10” ones? I wore those and this satin maxi skirt and this lycra spandex black top. For some reason I thought it looked really good. That was my start. I was making $9 an hour. I didn’t have many expenses, but still, $9 an hour only gets you so far. So I had to learn how to mimic what our clients were doing on a budget. That’s when I discovered Nordstrom Rack. So I saw that you style The Real Housewives? Yes, I worked with Gretchen Rossi last season, and this season I’m working with Taylor Armstrong of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. How did you get into that? I interviewed Gretchen about her cosmetics line for MODE and told her to call me if she was ever in town. Lo and behold, one day I get a call from her. I was able to help her find a great hotel and met her up for dinner with my sister-in-law. We went and we hit it off. What has it been like working with celebrities? It’s been great. Gretchen really clicked with Azadeh, a local designer who’s phenomenal (www.azadehcouture.com). Azadeh ended up doing a lot of pieces for Gretchen in this last season. What do you think about style in San Jose? I feel like we don’t get enough credit. Everyone says, “San Francisco, San Francisco, San Francisco,” but we have a lot of stylish people here.
We have some of the best-dressed women in the South Bay between Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga. What’s your connection with Westfield and Valley Fair? Last year they invited me to a small fashion show they had benefiting an animal society. Then they started talking about doing something bigger for breast cancer. I started getting all these ideas, and I asked if I could put on the show. Project Pink came to me. It was a first for Westfield. Was Project Pink your first fashion show? It was. It was one of the best feelings I’ve had when it comes to work. Westfield and I were on the same page--we chose to focus on the charity. I did the styling, the production, all the creative stuff. It was a really touching night. People ask me if working with celebrities is my favorite thing, but it’s really working with charities and making an impact in people’s lives. Any advice for new bloggers or budding stylists? You have to be unique; you can’t be an imitation of anyone else. If you’re going to do this for a career, you have to have tough skin, you need a support system, and you need to be completely comfortable with yourself. And, stay humble. What keeps you going? Recently, I was approached by a foundation in San Francisco that works with homeless people who have AIDS. They’ve asked me to be on the board of directors. If it weren’t for MODE, for what I’ve done, I wouldn’t have been given this opportunity. What keeps me going is stuff like this, and the legacy I’ll leave behind for my kids. It always goes back to my kids. MODE Bay Area: www.modebayarea.com/
Josh Russell is the founder of genArts, a social and professional network for emerging arts and cultural leaders, and a collaborator of eLan, Emerging Leader Alumni Network. Josh also flexes his passion for sports by being a contributing blogger to The Warriors Court (warriorscourt.com) and for the A’s at The Rant (beanesbunch.com). Interview and Photography by Daniel Garcia
What happens when you sit down with a piece of paper to write out what you are passionate about then take the next courageous step to build your career around those areas? Josh Russell did just that—and two categories emerged: arts and sports. With his wife 6 months pregnant with their first child, no leads or prospective jobs, Josh walked into his boss’s office one Monday morning after a weekend of reflection and resigned. This wasn’t a slam against the marketing positions he had with various ad agencies in San Jose. It was a catalytic moment that moved Josh from working to thriving.
But Josh is a person who likes challenges. So much so that he and his wife have begun monthly challenges (russellchallenge.blogspot.com) to try different things. Like learning the ukulele, stop swearing, and walking 10,000 steps a day. Though not all these challenges have become habits (the vegetarian challenge didn’t stick), Josh Russell embraced the challenge to make his interests his career. And in doing so, he has fanned a passion that is easily seen in his life and heard in his voice.
UMB REL LA SAL ON
By Stacy Ernst Photography by Daniel Garcia
Umbrella Salon is a cutting edge hair salon established in 2000 and is located in the heart of downtown San Jose. Content spoke with Umbrella’s founders, Kien Hoang, Michelle Givens, and Khiem Hoang about their experience as a small business owner in San Jose.
support for our storefront signage and walk-in clients through programs events, such as the Downtown Farmer’s Market, Music in the Park, and Christmas in the Park.
What made you decide to open the salon?
What are your hopes for the San Pedro Square area? For San Jose?
The driving force behind opening Umbrella is and continues to be the desire to refine our creativity, inspire clients, and share our culture with the community.
Our hope for the San Pedro area is that it will continue to grow small businesses and introduce boutique shops that will continue to elevate the downtown shopping experience. For San Jose, we hope it will continue to be the Capitol of Silicon Valley and continue to hone the diversity, talent, creativity, and technology in the Bay Area.
How have you grown over the years? We have grown tremendously since we opened. Originally, we started in a much smaller space. We had less than 1400 square feet, with only 6 stations. Since then, we have doubled our capacity and currently occupy 3,000 square feet. The talent of our stylists and connection to clients has helped us grow in terms of space and creativity. What advice would you give an up-and-coming stylist? Be passionate about your craft. You should immerse yourself in a salon that embraces a culture of creativity and lifelong learning. Education is a very important aspect in the art of hairdressing; continue to learn new techniques and to observe trends that inspire clients and other stylists on your team. What would you say is the greatest challenge as a business? In an era of 24/7 social media and mobile accessibility, deciding which specific social media brands to utilize in order to introduce the Umbrella Salon brand to the world is one of our greatest challenges. Is it Facebook, Yelp, Google Ads, Twitter, or one of the many other options? Do we align our strategy with all of them? And if so, how do we ensure that our message has continuity across all social media platforms? We want to create an effective personal experience and inspiring message for clients through various social media platforms designed to engage them, while delivering quality beauty resources. Has the city supported you as a local business? If so, how?
How have you seen San Jose change over the years? San Jose has changed significantly over the years. The collection of diverse and talented people has blanketed the entire city. San Jose and the South Bay have become a destination for small/ large businesses to plant their roots and create opportunities for talented professionals. In your opinion, what is the most exciting aspect of growth you are noticing in our city? The increasing diversity of our population continues to be the most exciting aspect of growth in San Jose. The diversity of people creates an opportunity for individuals to learn and embrace other cultures, as well as allowing other cultures to become a part of the community. Umbrella Salon’s desire for creativity and diversity, along with their passion for San Jose, is what sets them apart. Whether it’s with their loyal clientele, or their enthusiastic demonstration models, Umbrella continues to push the limits of style through cutting-edge innovation. Don’t be afraid to swing by, and be sure to let them know Content sent you! Kien Hoang – Creative Director/Co-Founder Michelle Givens – Co-Founder Khiem Hoang – Business Manager/Co-Founder Address: 2 N. Market Street, Suite 100 San Jose, CA 95113 (408) 293-4242 WWW.UMBRELLASALON.COM
Yes. In collaboration with the City of San Jose, the Redevelopment Agency, and the Downtown Association, we have received continued
The that you you have have to to go go to to San The Orchestra. Orchestra. Many Many people people may may think think that San Francisco Francisco or or Palo Palo Alto Alto to to enjoy enjoy aa bit bit of of classical classicalmusic musicor orto toexperience experiencemusic music from from contemporary artists from around the world. However, in our own backyard, contemporary artists from around the world. However, in the midst of our the San Josethe Chamber Orchestra been bringing chamber music for over backyards, San Jose Chamberhas Orchestra has been bringing chamber 20 years. This chamber orchestra began with a conversation and an idea. It all music for over 20 years. It all began with the help of the San Jose Chamber began with the help of the San Jose Chamber Music Society and Opera San Music Society and Opera San Jose's conductor, Barbara Day Turner, who Jose’s conductor Barbara Day Turner, who had a conversation about “It would had a conversation about "It would be nice to one day...” Auditions were held, be nice to one day to…” Auditions were held, and the chamber orchestra and the chamber orchestra became a reality. It was founded by Barbara became a reality. It was founded by Barbara Day Turner and a few string playDay Turner and a few string players who were involved in Opera San Jose and ers who were involved in Opera San Jose and then grew after that. Barbara, then grew from there. Barbara, the founder and director of the SJCO, talked the founder and director of the SJCO, talked a little bit about the history and a little bit about theorganization. history and progression of the organization. progression of the
SAN JOSÉ CHAMBER ORCHESTRA By Victoria Felicity Photography by Daniel Garcia
“The farming thing was not something I really thought about as a life choice, ever. I would say that it would be cool to be a farmer, but it was a total joke,” confesses Mark Medeiros, farm manager and co-founder of Veggielution, the two-acre burgeoning community farm in East San Jose. Along with co-founder Amie Frisch, Mark has made that joke a reality. A son of Portuguese immigrants, tied to both the land and the sea, Mark was born in San Jose – coincidentally in the neighborhood that Veggielution now serves, an area with a rich agricultural history and a large Portuguese community. When Mark was three years old, this family moved from East San Jose to San Martin. There the Medeiros family was able to buy a house on an acre, and reconnect with the land. At age 18, Mark left San Martin for college. But, those 15 years spent in San Martin were formative. “Watching a lot of development occur in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, it was alarming to me. I grew up in this country, no stop-lights, no nothing and over the course of 15 years, just tons of development.” Watching his community turn from rural to suburban, Mark began to consider the themes that carry through his work today. “Social justice issues related to globalization, poverty, capitalism were big for me. I just became a really politicized, activist, college student. I started at De Anza where there were a lot of radical professors who made me go crazy.” Continuing his studies at San Jose State and majoring in Sociology, Mark cultivated a garden in his backyard. “Two tomato plants and a basil, that was the goal.” After a successful summer of backyard gardening, Mark was hooked. Deciding to take his own backyard success a step further, he began posting flyers in the Naglee Park neighborhood adjacent to San Jose State asking if people would let him garden in their yards. He also sent an email out to student lists looking for help. Enter Amie Frisch. Growing up in Hayward, Amie and her mom gardened in their backyard. “As a child I was fascinated by plants. I begged
my mom to buy me plants, which I could never remember to water, but I kept trying.” Amie began her college career at San Jose State with no idea what she wanted to study. She tried her hand at teaching, botany, and biology and finally decided she wanted to study agriculture, only to discover that of the many things offered at San Jose State, there was no agricultural program. Amie chose Environmental Studies – a major that was broad enough to encompass her interest in agriculture. Soon, Amie’s attention was captured by many of the important issues related to food. “Food is this amazing hub issue. We all have to eat everyday, and what we put in our bodies impacts us, our communities, our families, our environment and other people. There are so many ripple effects from what and how we eat.” In 2007, Amie’s interest in food justice led her to some student activist groups and email lists where she came across the email from Mark. As Mark posted his Naglee Park plea for garden space, he simultaneously begged for help from fellow students. “The instant I saw it, I jumped in. I was looking for the next project.” Amie contacted Mark and became part of his gardening group. “We weren’t sure whether people would say, ‘Who the hell are you?’ or maybe ‘Yeah, mow my lawn and you can have some space to garden.’” To their surprise, neighbors were very welcoming, and the group gained access to four backyards. Equipped with one class in sustainable agriculture, Mark, Amie and a group of engaged students spent a year practicing what they knew from childhood, what they learned in school and from books. It was hands-on learning that first year. “We’ve been learning by doing ever since. We just built on that base and decided to start a non-profit farm.” They began looking for space.
Located at the junction of the 280, 680 and 101 freeways, the Emma Prusch Farm Park, a city park, consists of 47 acres of land dedicated to preserving “San Jose’s rich agricultural heritage and rural country feel.” Emma Prusch, a dairy farmer, deeded her 86-acre farm to the City of San Jose in 1962. Over the years, portions of the farm were allocated for PAL stadium and the freeways that frame the space. With the remaining 47 acres, the farm park, which includes the farmhouse, a barn, an orchard and many animals, is a reminder of the valley’s agrarian past. After the success of their backyard gardening project, Amie and Mark were looking for some contiguous space. “We were shocked,” says Amie, about the moment when a friend showed them the empty fields on the outskirts of the park. “We just stood there for five minutes. This land is fallow, and designated for agriculture, and it’s a city park with all these resources, and it’s close to freeways for easy access, and major bus lines stop right in front, and it’s Story and King – the perfect low-income neighborhood for something like this.” Mark and Amie worked with the Emma Prusch Foundation and the City of San Jose to eke out the first 1/3 of an acre on which to farm. In 2011, they are breaking ground on the second acre. On a sunny, Saturday morning, I visited the farm during their volunteer workday – every Saturday from 10-12:30. When I arrive, the farm is bustling with people checking in, getting assignments and others hard at work. Hand painted signs are everywhere – cheery, whimsical and practical. Beyond the sheds, hen house and check-in tent, the rows of crops and vibrant flowers fan out, framed by the massive freeways. There are piles of compost, the occasional tractor and people everywhere sporting big straw hats and work gloves. I find Amie and we sit down to chat beneath a trellis that she assures me will soon be taken over by chayote squash. With her hair cut short,
practical, Amie models the attractive Veggielution t-shirt; worn by so many volunteers, you’d swear it was a uniform. She is a small woman, in her 20’s, but once the conversation begins, I can tell that her intensity is formidable. Veggielution has blossomed into not only a producing farm with a farm stand and a farm box program, but also a learning environment for their immediate community. “When we start listing all the programs that we do, it’s really long. All of those programs interact with each other in really powerful ways.” Amie cites their Cooking Matters class as one of her favorites. “Cooking Matters is a 6 week cooking and nutrition course for low income families; mostly mothers take the class. We run them in Spanish.” To complement the Cooking Matters course, Veggielution has started a farm box subscription that will allow the Cooking Matters participants the chance to take home the kinds of vegetables they learn to cook in class. “If you have a dollar, you can get more calories at McDonalds than you can in the produce section of the grocery store. We offer really healthy, fresh, affordable produce grown locally – that’s just not available to people in this community,” says Amie. The cost of the family share boxes is kept at a discounted, affordable rate. Veggielution also offers a sponsor box at a higher rate to subsidize the low cost boxes. At press time, the family shares are full, but the sponsorship shares are still available. “We have a really strong outreach engine going in the community here, so it was really easy to fill the family shares.” As the morning progresses, I make my way back to the volunteer tent where folks are preparing food for the pot-luck lunch that starts at 12:30 – the end of the volunteer day. All volunteers are encouraged to stay and share a meal together. I find Mark Medeiros sitting in the tent – clearly not comfortable sitting, but forced to do so because of a recent nail-in-the-foot injury while working in the hen house. Dressed to work, Mark’s
large sun hat shades his dark features and seems to be a part of him – never leaving his head, always prepared. Volunteer leaders come up to him one by one making sure they are headed in the right direction. Mark gives them clear orders. “We don’t want anyone to feel like they don’t have a job here,” he says. As farm manager, Mark’s focus on hard work is evident. “The amount we have been able to accomplish in 4 years through hard work and perseverance – we just started working and working and working. The fact that you can affect the world and affect actual, visible, physical change is cool.” Mark remembers working on other important activist issues in college and finding it somewhat discouraging because the pace of change is so slow. At Veggielution, Mark is able to see the fruits of his labor and share that with his immediate community. “One of our goals is to foster a sense of place for people,” says Mark. “I don’t think that a lot of young people here really feel like ‘San Jose is my home and I care about San Jose and the surrounding land and I want to be here and I want my kids to take care of it.’ The best societies, that are the most sustainable and equitable, have that sense of responsibility to community and to place.” Our conversation is interspersed with questions from volunteers whom Mark knows by name. Indeed, Mark cites the volunteer program as one of their “cooler successes.” Mark looks out to see the more than 50 people working on the farm thanks to “a really well coordinated group of workday leaders who have gone through a training program. They help facilitate and educate the other volunteers on sustainable farming practices. Leaders integrate volunteers into the overall farm community and make them feel welcome. We’re trying to build leadership in everybody who comes here.”
“Growing Food and Justice from the Ground Up” reads Amie Frisch’s business card. Coming from student activist backgrounds, Amie and Mark may not have known what they were doing with regard to farming, but they certainly took a critical look at the community they were developing and applied their sense of justice to all aspects of Veggielution. Mark remembers that as a group of college students coming with a certain amount of privilege, the founders understood that they had an opportunity. “From the very beginning, we were critically conscious about who’s involved, who’s not involved, what are we doing right, do people feel welcome.” Veggielution has a well-oiled outreach machine that works in the Story/King neighborhood surrounding the farm, as well as, in local schools. At this point, the outreach is mostly with the Hispanic community, although they have plans to reach other ethnic groups in the future. It strikes me that the Veggielution community is a microcosm of a hard working and just society and anyone who works with Veggielution is privy to that community and that example. “There’s a lot that’s wrong with our society and there are a lot of things that need to change, and there are a lot of fights that need to be fought. But what we’re doing here isn’t a fight. It’s just pure positive creation. We’re just creating what we want to see, what we want our food to be grown like and what we want our community to be like. I think people get a really positive energy from that,” says Amie. Indeed Mark goes on to remind us that, “touching the earth, doing physical labor, is important symbolically for people. Farming and gardening is so much more accessible than saving the polar bears. We have a fetish about all of these far-off eco system things, but if we’re going to be urban people, this is our home.”
As the conversation drifts off toward familiar farming problems – carrot-eating chickens and geese, deer who get caught trying to cross the freeway, fences, bees etc., I’m drawn back to one of the things Amie said early in our conversation, “Before the 40’s, there was no such thing as organic agriculture because there weren’t the chemicals to make it non-organic. We’re looking back to that time, but it’s not about going back. It’s about learning from our elders and learning how things used to be, but bringing it into the future and into the present in a new way that works now. Incorporating the new technology to make everything better and easier.” Looking around at the luscious crops and the generous numbers of volunteers, I wonder about their secrets of success. “It doesn’t take really knowing what you want to do,” says Amie. “It takes passion, vision and persistence and willingness to ask for help. Those are the ingredients.” www.veggielution.org Farm stand hours: Saturday 10am – 2pm Volunteer hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 8:30-12:30 Saturday: 10-12:30
M I C R O
A beverage teeming with bacteria and yeast is taking over San Joseâ€™s underground kitchens. By Aleksandra Bulatskaya Photography by Victoria Felicity
Interview and Photography by: Daniel Garcia
"I am going to sleep when I'm finished." Interview and Photography by Daniel Garcia I first met James Conrad at the SubZero Festival in June 2011. He approached me with a cigarette teetering on his lips, in one hand a whiskey bottle, and in the other a flier pedaling his coming novel, The Ideal Man. My first impression was that this guy was either insane or the next great American author. After spending time with James, I see it is a combination of the two. To what proportion these two elements make up his identity will be revealed as his work and life unfold. Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, James found his way to San Jose to “get back on his feet” and to reconnect with his family who had preceded him out West. Sitting with beers and smokes outside of Caffe Frascati, James, thin and wild haired, blurted out his story intertwined with 60’s and 70’s classics rock hits that had inspired him as he forged through the writing process. How did you get the bug for writing? I suppose it was a life long thing. I have been fascinated with stories since a young age. It is kind of a family thing. My dad often told stories of growing up in rural Maryland. For what it’s worth, my mother’s side of the family is Scottish, Celtic, and what I have noticed is that in the Celtic tradition storytelling is a large part of it. At one point, I was learning guitar and wanted to be a rock star but the business is not for everyone, like Ina Hunter says in the song “All the Way From Memphis.” And since I couldn’t really seem to get anything going, I fell back on writing, which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. How did your novel, “The Ideal Man” come about? You know they always say that Art is therapy, and as petulant as it sounds, I wrote this novel to get back at my ex-girlfriend. I was doing poetry and doing well reading in New York…for a novice. But this girl, one of the last things she said to me was, “I honestly don’t believe in your writing. I think it would be the death of you.” That was enough to make me want to kick her to the curb. That was one of the most difficult decisions in my life. But the funny thing about certain decisions is they often turn out to be the best decisions you could have made. So, I went through the post-break-up emotional roller coaster for about 7 days straight, slept
for 14 hours and woke up feeling unfettered. But there still was that, “How dare you” in the private moments. Fast forward to winter 2006: I was at my favorite bar on the Lower East side reading Irvine Welsh, who is one of the authors that made me want to write fiction, a story called The Undefeated. The male anti-hero very much reminded me of my ex-girlfriend notion of the ideal man. I was just about finishing it and in that moment I thought, “I can write a story like this.” So, I do use a lot of the basic tropes in The Ideal Man but what I did was went more in depth into the characters and there are these two stories that converge. But you could say that this novel is a little bit of therapy and revenge. As immature as it sounds there is a part of me that wants to take the contract from Fine Tooth Press hold it in my ex-girlfriend face and say, “Neener-neener-neener!” [laughter] So tell me about the story? I began brainstorming in late 2005 when the “spider bit Peter Parker,” so to speak and I started doing a MySpace blog to see what kind of attention I’d get. One thing that gave me a bit of hope is that I had gotten some good reactions, even though it was a rage-tagged first draft and had yet to find out about Elmore Leonard’s carnal rule of leaving out the parts your readers are going to skip. But people really reacted to the characters. The story is about twenty-nine-year-old Grace Watts, who is feeling stifled in her marriage to David Watts, a successful real estate agent. He is financially secure, but is insensitive, unimaginative, sexually inept and sometimes cruel. As Grace seeks meaning in her life, David becomes annoyed at what he considers “erratic behavior” and frustrated that his wife refuses to let anybody dominate her. Furthermore, he is tempted by the affections of Lana Dyson, his colleague from the real estate agency who is waiting for his increasingly fragile marriage to disintegrate so that she can have him all to herself. However, Grace remains with him because she has a fear of being alone. Grace crosses paths with Anthony Parris, an artist who opts for one-night stands because of a fear of intimacy. She becomes disgusted when she sees him in the arms of many different women, but when she unwittingly attends one of his exhibitions; she becomes
increasingly drawn to him herself. In turn, Anthony learns that Grace is a dependable confidant. As David begins to let Grace down more and more, Anthony proves – much to her surprise – to be a strong ally. It’s not a new theme but if anyone can find something in it that speaks to them, that’s great! But, I didn’t want to make it a “tapioca pudding”--there is lots of sex, and drugs, and sex, and a miscarriage, and sex, and a savage beating. And, I might as well come clean, it does advocate the use of hallucinogens…and there’s a fatal car crash. You have been working on this story for the last 6 years? My whole mindset was, “I am going to sleep when I’m finished.” I was doing 20-hour days eating ramen noodles and soy sauce on rice locked up in the Markham Plaza on “skid row” Monterey highway. Listening to the Kinks, and Rod Stewart and the Faces. But it was a long process; I had been rejected by every publisher in Manhattan and then found Fine Tooth Press in Connecticut. They had it for over a year until I opened my emails one day and saw in the body words like, “edgy, entertaining and thought provoking.” Next thing I jumped up out of the chair so fast that it fell over. I was jumping up and down, screaming and bug-eyed. I found myself memorializing the moment with the first rock ’n roll song that came to mind, “Here she comes now singing, money, money”! [sic] So, finally, it will be available at barnesandnoble.com and out in print in this Fall. What’s next for you? I have been taking the time to oversee the publication but I do have a couple projects that I go back and forth on. I am working on a historical crime novel set in New York in the early 70’s. Another novel, called Copperhead, which is slightly autobiographical but at the same time, the main character is not an alter ego rather more like a guy I could have a beer with who is in a situation similar to one that I’ve lived. It is best to sort of draw from your own experience. I forget who first said it, “Write what you know.” Story is observation, and real life experience is, you know, the lifeblood.
BRIDGE Photography by Daniel Garcia Designer: Amy Romaine, Never Gets Old Model: Katie, Hmmodels.com Make-up/Hair: Asal Styling: Aleksandra Bulatskaya Photo Assistant: Victoria Felicity
Each piece from the Never Gets Old collection is a story onto itself. A Blue Silk Road inspired printed dress tells the story of traveling horse cultures of Mongolia. A jewel toned 1940’s cocktail party long-sleeved number, a little fur cuff from Russia, a playful lace appliqué shift dress Holly Golightly would have worn for her coveted breakfast at Tiffany’s. Using second hand clothing and recycled materials as a base to re-imagine and altogether remake the originals, Never Gets Old designer and San Jose native, Amy Romaine displays extraordinary craftsmanship and vision rarely showing the growing talent of local artists. Romaine’s trademark of flattering cuts can take a men’s vintage wool vest and transform it into a women’s top that has the coveted vibe of pure sexiness without the intent of necessarily being so. In a sea of designers vying to be cutting edge and wearable, Never Gets Old is looking back to look forward.
Brown metallic dress. Size 4. The buttons are a vintage copper collection from CT. One of a kind. $280.
Blue Paisley block print dress. No longer available for sale. Fur & Glamour Cuff. Vintage Fur Coat re-invented into a braclet. Swarovsi Crystal details embedded into the fur. $55.
Black lace dress is vintage piece circa 1930â€™s. Size 6. One of a kind. $170
Black and white wool tunic vest. $78. Size 4. One of a kind.
From left to right: 1. Victoria Felicity Her passion for photography grew while she was living abroad. After recently relocating to her hometown San Jose she has honed her passion focusing on live music and lifestyle portrait photography. “Passion and art is birthed from your spirit not from the classes you take. It’s inspiration from your experiences and a will to never stop seeing the world differently.” 2. Aleksandra Bulatskaya Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Alex loved writing poetry and fiction since learning the alphabet. She received a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies with a minor in journalism and creative writing from San Jose State University. Her work has appeared in SOMA Magazine and her love of avant-garde art led her to styling conceptualized photos for Access Magazine and creating her blog, www.pastelmarina.tumblr.com You can find her at a food rave or scouring antique shops for a vintage typewriter. 3. Jeff Gardner Jeff was born and raised in San Jose and, besides a few detours living in San Francisco, has spent a majority of his years enduring the everchanging landscape of downtown San Jose. This included many late nights creating flyers for shows, designing logos, throwing and promoting parties, playing guitar in bands, and DJing. He currently works at Liquid Agency as a Designer. 4. Sobrina Tung Born and raised in San Jose, Sobrina has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Walnut Creek but has found that the availability of parking and friendly people in San Jose just can’t be beat. She loves the delicious and whimsical aspects of life. In addition to her writing and styling contributions for Content Magazine, you can find her musings on delightful things to eat, see and wear on her blog at www.Quietlikehorses.com 5. Steveyann Jensen Steveyann is a full time design student finishing up her coursework in Interior Design at West Valley College and currently works for a design firm in Los Gatos. She was born and raised in Santa Cruz and now resides there with her husband. If she isn’t studying hard or working on a project, you can find her pouring over design and fashion blogs and magazines for inspiration. “I love how design can drastically alter how we interact with or respond to a space; it can effect our emotions and mood, and I love that we have the ability to create and shape that experience. There are so many different options, design never gets boring!”
6. Kevin Kempis As a recent graduate of the Academy of Art University Kevin has been immeresed in the design world for 7+ years. Throughout his career he has lead creative initatives for companies such as Riottt.com and Sephora. With his years of experience and now a designer at LEVEL-studios.com Kevin has realized the value of communicating a brand not only through the compelling stimulation of visuals but through the avenue of strategy and the understanding of current cultural landscapes. He is also an avid enthusiest of reality television, The Giants and Tang. Mostly Tang. To view his personal work go to www.KVN10.com 7. Mary Matlack Born and raised in the suburbs of San Jose, Mary is a crazy advocate of all things local. With a freezer stocked with locally raised meat and poultry, eggs, vegetables and fruit direct from the farmer, she is wondering what’s next – a dairy cow? Mary’s husband, two kids and neighbors would prefer if she would just focus on her other passion - rediscovering the charms and the spirit of San Jose and sharing that with others. 8. Felicia Larson A native Californian, who has lived in the San Jose area for the last fourteen years. She is an aspiring writer, public speaker, and a personal coach, with the designation of Associate Certified Coach, from the International Coach Federation. Felicia and her husband Dave have three amazing children who constantly keep life interesting. In her down time Felicia can be found hiking through State Parks or lounging on beaches. Further information at www.journeycoaching.us.com or www.felicialarson.com 9. Asal Fard Asal is an international makeup artist with more than 10 years professional experience; specializing in unique makeup looks for weddings, fashion, TV & film, events, and training. For her, it’s not just about the makeup. She cherishes the time with her clients, because not only does she add to them, but they add to her life. She enjoys getting to know them, laugh with them, and even share tears with them! Creating unique looks while building true connections is what she loves about her job. www.asalbeauty.com
Contributor’s Notes Issue 3.3 Autumn 2011 I am not a big fan of saying good-bye to summer. The idea of that growing chill in the air makes me feel the Sunday afternoon before returning to work, like most elementary school age boys once they begin to hear the words, “back to school”. So I have chosen to not think about the weather, but to enjoy the colors and the idea of Harvest. same way some people feel
Harvest used to be a term synonymous with autumn and fall. But over time has morphed to mainly focus on the idea of reaping the fruit and produce of the season. And that is what we look at in this issue 3.3 of Content: the reaping of fruit. We have put together several interviews and profiles of San Joseans who are in a season of their lives that are seeing the fruit and beginning to reap it. Each one represents the labor and risk and perspiration that it takes to see a result. We hope that their stories encourage you as you move forward in your quest to be fruitful and that you, like these people, come to enjoy a great Harvest. CULTIVATOR Daniel Garcia email@example.com COVER: Illustration by Daniel Millan Photography by Daniel Garcia Designer: Amy Romaine, Never Gets Old Model: Katie, Hmmodels.com Make-up/Hair: Asal Styling: Aleksandra Bulatskaya Photo Assistant: Victoria Felicity
CONTENT NEXT ISSUE
Neighborhood 3.4 Winter 2011