That the The Brooklyn Cottage exists is itself a mini-marvel of the 21st century. This salon series is the brainchild of the eternally curious, questioning, meditator, aesthete and bon vivant Jenny Douglas. Founded in the aftermath of her divorce, this “urban farmer of the heart” has husbanded something quite extraordinary into being—proving that yes, idealism alone is a sufficient fertilizer! She hosts her meetings-of-the-minds in her Brooklyn townhouse’s bona fide parlor with its bona fide hearth, which she uses in the way that these gracious spaces were intended: to provide a welcoming setting for people to mutually engage, entertain, educate and delight. This has proven to be the perfect backdrop for the parade of types of all stripes she has invited to share their discoveries—and spark discoveries in others (including yours truly). Like the Shinto Torii gates of Japan (the country of her childhood), Jenny’s evenings are portals from the mundane to that simple, sublime sacredness that occurs when great people of goodwill convene under one roof—offline!
~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatrix-in-Chief
In the fall of 2011, I found myself in a Park Slope living room receiving a “divination” from a West African writer and teacher named Malidoma Some.
Malidoma looked at me with a direct gaze and said: “You must make yourself like a cottage. You must create a new sense of home and power and belonging. And from there, you will be given the opportunity to contemplate how to help others view their circumstances not from a reckless, tragic perspective but from an initiatory one.”
At the time, I was newly divorced and living alone in a Prospect Heights brownstone for half of each week while my daughters stayed with their father half a mile away.
Malidoma’s ideas were all new to me, but somehow they made sense.
On January 2, 2012, a young man named Yazmany Arboleda came to my house for tea. We’d both volunteered at a boarding school in India some months before, albeit at different times, and somehow had still managed to become not only acquainted but very fond of each other. It was our first time to meet in person.
“What do you want to do?” Yazmany asked me.
“I want to build a Brooklyn Cottage, “ I answered.
So with a budget of zero, and with me curating and Yazmany designing, this is what we began to do.
~~~In the spring of 2012, serendipity prompted Jenny Douglas to integrate her experiences as a TV/radio news producer, her degrees from Sarah Lawrence and Columbia Journalism School, and her globetrotting childhood into her new calling: an urban farmer of the heart. The result was The Brooklyn Cottage.