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 April 2012, we picked Dirt as the theme for the Brooklyn Cottage’s second month of operation. The artist Will Kurtz taught a sculpture class using dirt from my back garden. We hosted an evening of Dirty Storytelling. And we held a cooking class, led by the immensely talented Cali Rivera. (When I passed along the theme to Cali, he promptly replied: “No problem, we’ll do a cooking class focused on food grown in the ground.”)
The Brooklyn Cottage’s cooking students that night wore aprons bearing fragments from our last two storytelling evenings. (In the photo below, Diery Prudent wears an apron that says, Human beings, not doings. As I shared at our storytelling gathering the month before, my mother has long made a point of reminding me this.)
Future themes would be Family, Work, Doubt, Lust, In-Progress, Death, Flavor. There were–have been–many others. Somewhere along the way, I met an impassioned artist named Iviva Olvenick, and soon she became my co-curator of the occasional pop-up art shows we’ve since gotten into the habit of creating.
Below the artist Nicola Ginzel sits with one of her sculptures, and several viewers, at the second show Iviva and I produced together: Totems & Talismans in October 2014.
~~~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.