I had quite the year and quite the time trying to decide what to put into my top ten picks of 2011. In fact, I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten, so here are my twelve favorites from the past year plus one to grow on. Happy New Year!
My year began in Joshua Tree National Park, camping in the high desert, climbing to the top of high places and relaxing in hot tubs with Laughlin Barker and Matt Leonard. One of the most beautiful places I’ve spent New Years (and to my surprise, coldest).
I spent the rest of January kicking it with my home girls Linda Wells and Shana Ortman as well as Alex, Tim, Erik, Laughlin and Matt. Out of everyone, Linda, Shana and I really know how to treat ourselves right and we took an over night vacation to a small town on the coast and picnicked, drank wine and hot tubbed. Oh yeah, and started our new business, the Cast Iron Collective.
In March, we occupied the Wisconsin Capitol building! I captured my experience from the days I was inside: Resistance Wisconsin Style. Wisconsin, I’m so proud of us.
“Building Community One Drink at a Time!” We also opened the Riverwest Public House Cooperative!
In April I worked with a posse from Greenpeace and we executed a banner drop over the Sanitary & Ship Canal in Chicago, effectively blocking a tug with a load of barges full coal from accessing the power plant for five hours while simultaneously getting a ton of media in Chicago to shut down the plants. My full story on that is here too: We Can Stop Coal.
In the beginning of June I had the pleasure to spend a week in the Bronx working with the fine folks of Housing Works, an advocacy & action organization working to end the AIDS epidemic by providing stability through housing to families living with AIDS and HIV.
To add icing to the cake, Sean Bibby was in town visiting and Adam Beadle had just moved to Milwaukee–three cheers for amazing UU friends!
The Riverwest 24, best event of the year, hands down! In addition to the incredible outpouring of community, I shocked myself by biking 245 miles in 24 hours and finishing as first female!
Butter Manor! This year was great at our house though a year of transition with Wendy’s family moving out and Jill and Shouty (and Leslie) joining Nicole and I. Never has there been a household as full of strong ladies as Butter Manor.
About a year ago I read the book “Vegetable, Animal, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver and resolved to try to incorporate something I grew myself for every meal I made at my house. I’m proud to report that starting with the first of the greens in the spring I have continued to hold true to my commitment and it has been one of the most satisfying components of my life this year.
In the beginning of October I helped Noah, Weston and Jeri Waldman re-launch the S/V Dandelion, a 35ft hand-built, wooden, cutter-rigged sloop. For the next month and a half I pretty much lived on the boat as we learned how she sails, prepared for our trip and fell asleep each night to the rocking of the waves and lapping of the water.
We departed Milwaukee on November 15th and over the course of the next month, made our way towards Florida via Lake Michigan, Calumet River, Sanitary & Ship Canal, Des Plaines River, Illinois River and Mississippi River. The photo above is the view out of one of our portholes.
Life on the Dandelion was incredible. As I only got back two weeks ago, I’m still processing many of our experiences. One things for sure, the month that Weston and Noah Waldman and I spent on the rivers together has left a mark on me that I’ll keep for life (literally and figuratively).
And now I’m here on the Long Arm Farm outside of Viroqua in the driftless region of SW Wisconsin helping to watch over the goats and birds for a few days while staying warm around a wood burning furnace and escaping the hustle and bustle of city life.
And today I’m another year older. Twenty-eight. I feel like I’m doing things right for myself. While I’m not too certain what I’ll end up doing this year, I’m confident it’ll be an interesting one. I’m going into this year with the lesson learned that you have to put out there what you want otherwise you probably won’t get it. So if you thought I was bold last year, just wait–it’s on!
I love you, my friends & family. Happy New Year! – xox Shea