Jewish Beyond The Tent Facilitator of the Week – Meleia

Though originally from the midwest, Meleia Egger is now a veteran Washingtonian. She also just happens to be a veteran of GatherDC’s Beyond The Tent Retreat. This year, she will be coming back to serve as a facilitator. We caught up with Meleia to chat about her experience at the retreat, as well as what she likes best (and least) about living in the District.

Where are you from originally, and how long have you been in D.C.?

I’m originally from Madison, Wisconsin. I will, as of this September, have been a Washingtonian for seven years!

What do you love best about living in D.C.?

So much! Rock Creek Park. Roof-decks. The food scene. The amazing neighborhoods. The Malcolm X Park drum circle. Jazz in the sculpture garden. The diversity. The happy hour and brunch culture. The healthy/running/yoga culture (to work off the brunch and happy hours). The summer HEAT!

Sounds like you have a lot that keeps you busy! Do you have time for any other hobbies?

Bird-watching, yoga, and spoken word – particularly storytelling and poetry.

What’s one thing you would change about D.C. if you could?

The extremely loud sirens going off so frequently.

How do you connect with your Judaism?

Community, conversation and creativity!

I know you’ve been on the Beyond The Tent Retreat, and you are coming back this year as a facilitator. What do you think the benefits of going on the Beyond The Tent Retreat are?

Connecting to nature, stepping back from your routine, and thinking about what it means to be a Jew in new ways!

What will you be doing in your role as a facilitator for Beyond The Tent this year?

I’ll be leading discussions, modeling vulnerability, and holding space for the participants while bringing my own perspective to it all.

What is one thing you couldn’t get through the day without?

My morning yoga.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  TO SIGN UP FOR BEYOND THE TENT, CLICK HERE!

Jewish Composter of the Week – Jeremy

If you’ve been to the Farmer’s Market in Dupont Circle, you’ve probably seen Jeremy Brosowsky. As owner of Compost Cab, Jeremy sets up shop each week collecting your uneaten food in order to turn it into amazing compost goodness. He’s been at it since 2010 but has recently picked up even more steam, now running DC’s new citywide dropoff program on behalf of the DC Department of Public Works.

Still not convinced? Read on to learn how something as simple as composting can make the world a better place. Bonus: Jeremy has set up a promo code for our readers and will donate half of the first month’s proceeds to GatherDC!

How did you first get into composting? 

My interest in composting comes out of my interest in food. It’s a very typical story. After my first child was born, I became acutely aware of everything that we were feeding her. And the more I learned about food and food systems, the more interested I became in the prospect of growing food in and around the city. Fast forward a few years and a few kids, and we were doing a lot right — cooking at home, shopping at farmers markets, etc. But we were still throwing our waste in the garbage, and that really, really bothered me

What made you want to start your own composting business?

Compost Cab exists to do two things. Make it easier for people to compost, and make it easier for urban agriculture to thrive.

I started Compost Cab in large part to solve my own family’s problem. We knew we wanted to compost, but we live in the city — we were worried about rats in the alley, we didn’t have any space to do it right, and with four small children, we didn’t feel like we had the time to do it ourselves. And then my entrepreneurial instincts kicked in.

The more I learned about food systems, the clearer it became that there are two ways to grow food efficiently and intensively in an urban environment. There’s the vertical greenhouse model, which takes advantage of technology requires aeroppnics and hydroponics and other generally capital intensive solutions. And then there’s the fertile soil model, which lets you grow your plants closer together because the soil is nutrient dense. You can maximize your per square foot production in the city through composting. But it turns out that for most urban agriculture projects, acquiring the raw materials for composting in city was a significant challenge.

We put two and two together and created a business that supports community composting and urban agriculture while enabling people to live their values every day.

Why do you think it’s important for people to compost?

For starters, there are all the environmental benefits of composting: reducing waste landfill, reducing methane released into the environment, etc. But beyond all that we’ve discovered that composting is a gateway drug for sustainability writ large. Composting is a daily, affirmative act of sustainability. Unlike other little steps you can take to improve your carbon footprint, like installing LEDs or a rain barrel (which are great things to do!), composting is something you and your family do every day. It’s a powerful tool for behavioral change.

What kind of foods can and cannot be composted?

If it grows, it goes. That is, anything that is organic can be composted. Food of all sorts, paper products, leaves, grass — you name it.  But if you want to compost in your backyard, or through a community based program such as ours, you want to keep proteins out for a bunch of reasons. We have a comprehensive dos-and-don’ts list on our website at compostcab.com.

What if I’m afraid that composting is going to make my apartment smell bad? 

We have a saying that speaks directly to that issue. If it smells bad, you’re doing it wrong. Like anything else, composting requires effort, but when done properly, which means creating a proper mix of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water, composting smells more like the forest, not the landfill. Or, you can join Compost Cab, and we can pick up your food scraps and compost them for you. Or, you can drop off your food scraps through DC’s new citywide dropoff program, which we’re running on behalf of the DC Department of Public Works.

Do you ever get grossed out by dealing with rotten food? 

Never. To be candid, we (almost) never have any issues with really gross stuff. We take education, outreach, and communication with our members and partners very seriously. As a result we’ve created a super clean stream of compostable material.

How do you connect with the DC Jewish Community?

We’ve been working with Jewish organizations since we started back in 2010. For many years we’ve been donating our services to the DCJCC for their annual Everything But the Turkey Thanksgiving volunteer event, in partnership with DC Central Kitchen. We’ve composted the Labor Seder for Jews United for Justice. We do regular presentations at day schools and synagogues across the region. And then personally, my family is very active in DC Minyan (a community which we helped start), as well as at JPDS (where are four of my children have gone to school). Generally speaking, Jews bend toward environmental stewardship and activism, and we’re proud to help enable those instincts in the realm of sustainability generally, and composting and urban agriculture in particular.

 If I’ve never composted before, what’s the first thing I can do to get started?

Head over to compostcab.com. We’ll point you toward DIY resources or how to participate in a dropoff program. Or you can sign up for our home service: we’ll deliver you a collection bin and get you up and composting in no time. To make it even easier to get started, we’ve created a promo code just for Gather DC readers. Anyone who signs up for our home service in May using the promo code GATHERDC will receive half off their first month of service, and we’ll donate the other half to GatherDC!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Jewish Newbie of the Week – Sammy

As a part of GatherDC’s Jewish Person of the Week feature, we will be highlighting one Jewish “newbie” each month. (Are you new? Do you know someone who is? Nominate them––or yourself––today by emailing Shaina!)

Meet this month’s Jewish Newbie of the Week, Sammy!

Sammy and I met in 2010 at – you guessed it – Jewish summer camp (yes the photo is us during that summer). Between then and now we had barely kept in touch, except to play quick games of Jewish geography for people we went to college with. I hadn’t realized she was in DC until I spotted her walking up Connecticut Avenue while I was on the bus, so I sent her a text. She didn’t have my number anymore, so my “I see you” didn’t land as well as I had hoped (she was slightly confused). However, once I told her it was me, she was really excited to hang out again! Part of the beauty of GatherDC is our love of reconnecting with old friends and making new ones! Learn more about Sammy in this week’s interview.

Shaina: I heard you’re basically fluent in French. Have you been to France before?

Sammy: Yes! The first time I went to France was in 8th grade, with a school trip. I also lived in Paris for five months during my junior year of college. I loved it and can’t wait until I go back next.

Shaina: Where else have you traveled? Which place was your favorite?

Sammy: I was really lucky that my undergrad experience took me around the world. While I lived in Paris, I traveled to Spain, Italy, and Greece. I have also been to Madagascar and Peru through college-sponsored trips. My favorite place is hard to choose because every single place was so distinct, but I LOVED Florence, Italy. (That might have to do with all the delicious pasta and gelato.)

Shaina: You moved to DC the day after you graduated from college with no job. What was that like?

Sammy: Honestly, that is one of the craziest things I have ever done. My parents and friends all thought I had lost my mind. Somewhere along the way–during second semester of senior year–I decided that I wanted to live here, so I committed to moving. I convinced two friends to come with me, we found a place in Van Ness, and I packed my car and drove down. I was really lucky that I was able to start temping really quickly and then found my current job! I don’t regret it at all!

Shaina: What’s your advice to someone who is new to DC?

Sammy: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! There is so much happening 100% of the time in this city. It is always worth it to go see the monuments at night and meander. If something sounds interesting to you, go! Don’t be afraid to arrive at an event without a big group, I’ve found that people are incredibly welcoming.

Shaina: What does a typical Saturday in DC look like for you?

Sammy: I actually like to do brunch on Saturday because it is WAY less crowded than a typical Sunday brunch. My favorite places are Open City, District Kitchen, and Scion. I also love to just relax and find something fun to do around the District.

Shaina: Complete the sentence: When the Jews of DC Gather… 

Sammy: it’s always a good time!

As a part of GatherDC’s Jewish Person of the Week feature, we are highlighting one Jewish “newbie” each month. Are you new and want to talk about getting more involved in Jewish life in DC? Sign up to grab coffee.

Jewish Journalist of the Week – Michael

I met Michael early on in my job at GatherDC (at the time it was Gather the Jews). He’s a constant presence in the DC Jewish community. In our interview, I found out about his life living in Hong Kong, his past helping out during the early days of GatherDC, and why he loves journalism. Find out more about the Jewish Journalist of the Week in this week’s interview.

Super-Jewish Girl of the Week: Rachel Goldberg

What do you do?

I work for a Jewish non-profit that helps ensure Jews marry Jews so we can make Jewish babies and then they can marry Jews and keep this whole thing going!

Where are you from?

Long Island. The Jewish part.

What are some of your hobbies?

Going on Jswipe, going to synagogue, going on Jswipe at synagogue, and brunching with my friends from Brandeis.

What’s your favorite part about being Jewish?

The Torah. I’m in a book club where we read the Torah each week. You really only need one book. So many life lessons!

What’s your favorite food?

OK, so it’s like a sushi roll, except it’s called a Gefilte Roll. It’s gefilte fish wrapped in lox. And no rice, which is great because I’m actually carb-free right now. Yum!

Are all of your friends Jewish?

Define Jewish. No really, I’m so interested in hearing how you understand Judaism – it’s one of my favorite conversations.

Where’s your favorite place to travel?

Thailand.

Wait, really? I would have thought Israel.

When I’m in Israel I don’t feel like I’m traveling because it’s my homeland.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are not even those of the original author. They are totally made up – Happy Purim!