Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: What a year its been!

Cheers to 2015 and Happy New Year! 

The end of another year means another holiday letter to try to sum it up in a few words, which is never easy, but is a wonderful exercise in reflection and appreciation, so here goes... 

My big accomplishment of 2015 was completing my Executive Master in Public Administration at NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. It took me a long time to decide to go back to school and I'm so glad I did. I refreshed my skills, updated my knowledge, and extended my network with a whole new group of amazing people.

Additionally I've been working on a new project helping the Court and Smith Street Business Improvement District in Brooklyn get off the ground. It means working with property and small business owners who envision a neighborhood with improved services and it gives me a big dose of the geeky, local economic development stuff I love. I'm also keeping an eye out for additional work and always looking out for my next exciting project, so if you have ideas or something you need help with get in touch. 

In my extra time, I'm working on Participatory Budgeting in my City Council district again. With a year of practice under our belt, our committee is able to enhance our work and hopefully move a number of great projects forward. My economic development/public policy book club has had another year of stimulating conversations. The best one was after reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, which opened up room for the ongoing important conversation about race that all of America is having. Understanding race, diversity and class issues takes lots of exploration and I continue to really try to understand better. I'm inspired by #blacklivesmatter and am trying to do my part to push the movement forward. Once again, being at a university during this time has been great, because the discussions are often more real and raw than the ones in other parts of my life and include a broader cross section of society to learn from. 

Going to school full time was great because it gave me time to really dig in and learn. It also gave me breaks to travel and you all know how much I like to do that. This year I went to Burma and Vietnam in January. Visiting Burma was amazing because of the rich Buddhist traditions they value and the beautiful architecture that accompanies that. Plus it was exciting to see a country getting back on its feet again after many years of isolation and political repression. Vietnam is experiencing the same story, but is years ahead and really bustling. In May, I went to New Orleans for Jazz Fest again. I spent the days exploring Southern culture with a sweet tea high and danced the nights away to funkadelic rhythms. In June, I went to Morocco and Southern Spain, an area that used to sit under the rulership of one kingdom and it was fun to explore the cultural and architectural similarities. The Moorish style both soothed and inspired me with its incredible ornateness and symmetry. In July, I spent a good old traditional week in Cape May with my family watching Americans in their natural habitat. Then finally in October I went to Mexico. I made short stops in Mexico City and Puebla to quench my street art habit and then went on to Oaxaca, where I participated in another Global Exchange trip. This one focused on the indigenous communities of the area. We got to learn about their struggle for rights and sovereignty, as well as, exploring the deep traditions behind Day of the Dead and participating its festivities. 

Lastly, all I want for Christmas next year is a woman President so I'll be doing my part to help Hillary by heading to Iowa for 12 days to work on GOTV for the Iowa Caucuses. I did it in 2008 and it's how political geeks experience nirvana. Its a whole state that loves to talk politics inteligently!!!

In the spirit of staying young at heart, I hope you all have been able to open your minds to new passions and projects that they will continue to grow in the new year. Remember, do something everyday that scares you!

Wishing you well!


You can click any links above or check out my blog to see pictures and hear even more about my travel this year.

Or follow my street art Instagram feed at @streetartisallaround
Or my portrait Instagram feed at @facesfromaroundtheworld
And my economic development and urban planning rumblings on Twitter @cordeliaNYC

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