DISCOVERIES: Jenny Douglas, “To Build a Brooklyn Cottage: Journey of Discovery in Six Parts” (2/6)

Jenny Douglas-01That 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


Yazmany and I decided that the Brooklyn Cottage would have monthly themes around which various programs–storytelling evenings, cooking classes, meditation gatherings, writing workshops, pop-up art shows–would revolve.

Our first month’s theme, in March 2012, was Failure. Our friend Cali Rivera, formerly the sous chef for the acclaimed Prune restaurant on the Lower East Side, presided over a cooking class celebrating dishes that were originally seen as failures (Tart Tatin, anyone?). Philip Kirakofe came to talk about The Failure Club, his start-up that dares its enrollees to risk more, risk bigger, and fail often. We had a Failure to Meditate Well, which gave credence to the importance of just sitting, no matter what.

And we finished out our debut month with this: an evening of Stories About Failure.


Stories about failure

I rarely suggest designs to Yazmany. As the poet David Whyte has said: “What you can plan is too small for you to live.”

jenny_2~~~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.

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