The EcoGrrl Interview: April

April

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April is someone I met a little over a year ago when I was first starting out as an entrepreneur, as she was an employee of my very first client. She’s moved on to greener pastures, but I’m glad to still be in touch.  While I’m still getting to know her, I can definitely say this:  April is authentic, she is kind, and she is incredibly intelligent with so much to offer.  I had a feeling she had so much more to say than what I knew about her already when I asked her if she’d do this interview…so with that, please meet April.  Like what you read?  Follow her on Twitter!

What or who inspires you most?
My grandmother, because she’s strong, adaptable, and hardworking. She moved to to the U.S. from the Czech Republic when she was in her early thirties, and made a better life for herself and her daughter. She learned a new language, joined the workforce, saved and retired at 60. Now, in her seventies – having returned to the Czech Republic, she remains a stylish and inspiring woman. She travels the world and doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

What do you turn to when you need strength?
Music has always been an important part of my life. When I’m working on a project, cooking, or driving, the odds are good that I have music on in the background. A friend recently asked me if I meditate, and, while I am interested in yoga and Buddhist practices, the truth is that I haven’t fully taken on a traditional meditation program (yet). But listening to music is my form of meditation as it has been since I was a child.

How can women best support and/or empower other women?
I am a Web Developer. It’s hard for women to be taken seriously in the tech world. For the most part, it’s still a male dominated industry. You have to believe in yourself, be yourself, have a strong presence, and meet and network with other women in the industry. Women of all ages should be able to define themselves on their own terms. I think acting as a mentor –sharing experiences and encouraging one another supports empowerment.

What do you love to grow? What would you like to try growing someday?
We put a stand of Green Temple Bamboo in our backyard, to form a dense screen. I love bamboos. They are resilient, sustainable and amazing plants. I’d like to get some other varieties in tubs, above ground, and learn more about them.

What are your creative outlets?  Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t?
I’ve been an avid amateur photographer for a long time, and now mobile apps like Instagram make it easy for me to share my photos. I use it as a vehicle to document the details of my life and facilitate creative expression.  You have the ability to make your immediate surroundings as beautiful or eccentric as you want. It’s fun to experiment with color and texture. The unexpected snapshot can be inspiring and fun.

Someday I’d love to take up writing.  I’ve always been a little fearful of it.  It seems very personal.  I’d like to write something in the Science Fiction genre because I feel it explores the human condition in a unique way.

In what environment(s) do you feel most in your element?
When I’m traveling. I moved around a lot growing up, so I feel quite in content when I’m on the go. I like the rush and the excitement of the unknown.  Experiencing cultures close-up (either abroad or a new part of the U.S.) can give you a real appreciation for where you are and where you came from. I like to slow down perceptions so I can savor them, looking closely and absorbing the environment.

Who are your top three nonprofits you support and/or volunteer with and why?

I believe strongly in environmental causes, and am very into animal rights.  Life on Earth is beautiful and fascinating, and I’d hate to see it destroyed just because of recklessness and apathy. I like to support environment causes I feel are making a difference in the world through action and education.  I support any endeavor that aims to improve the quality and circumstances of life for current and future generations. I don’t believe that humans are any more important than any other species on the planet. I don’t see why we deserve to live any more than they do. I think other life forms deserve the right to prosper.

What recent “green” change have you made in your own life?  What’s next?
Although it’s not very recent, I am proud of going mostly vegetarian. I am strongly opposed to the treatment of factory animals, so removing myself from that system has been great. I still eat seafood, but infrequently (making sustainable choices). I believe that we should all move away from the standard American diet. As far as what’s next, I can easily see myself going in a more vegan direction.

Where in the world do you consider a sanctuary?  Why?
Since I grew up in a military family, always on the move, with no real hometown, the only place that comes to mind is my mother’s house – and that means wherever she is currently living. Right now she’s in Arizona. Before that it was New York City. But the geography doesn’t matter; it’s basically just her house, her kitchen, and the two of us spending time together. My mother has always supported me unconditionally. She never limited me in any way and has always trusted my decisions, no matter what. This unconditional support gave me such courage and strength and allowed me to have numerous adventures and perils which I resolved and enjoyed.  I feel the safest when I am home.  That’s my sanctuary.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
I don’t live with regret, so I would tell my younger self to not worry, have fun; everything you’re doing, you’re doing for a reason. It is going to work out. Maybe I’d tell her to slow down when she first gets her driver’s license.

How can we as a society be more radical in supporting a healthy planet?
Again, I firmly believe that the best thing an individual can do for the planet is to eliminate or at least reduce the amount of meat consumed. Factory farming has more of an impact on the globe than all of the cars and trucks burning fossil fuels. I know it’s hard for some people, but a more vegetarian lifestyle is the way to go.

What sparked your interest in environmental issues?   What’s the first “eco” thing you ever did?
When I was an undergrad, I majored in sociology. I took a social movements class and we talked about overpopulation, lack of resources, etc. It was something you didn’t hear about as much back then. It scared me. It took me a few years, but those lessons have always stuck with me. The first major thing I did was to drive less and ride my bike more.

How do you live simply?
When I purchased my first home, I made sure it was an eco-friendly, energy efficient home. I also try to shop locally and support the farmer’s markets. We are blessed here in Portland to have access to so much great produce.

Could you leave us with a favorite quote of yours?
I’ve always loved the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” That sums up my whole life.

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