KUOW's latest experiment is a nerdy supper club with our journalists
When we called for inquisitive people to apply to be a part of a three-month “bookless book club” experiment, we had no idea that so many of you would be so hungry for a different kind of dinner party.
Our new KUOW Curiosity Club will be exploring the possibility that surprising stories and great food can transform a group of strangers into a community.
Over the course of three months starting in January, our inaugural cohort of 10 hand-picked Curiosity Club members will be meeting for three dinners at The Cloud Room on Capitol Hill. Plum Bistro, Seattle’s original plant-based comfort food hot spot, will be providing the fare. KUOW’s most surprising stories will be the fuel for our conversation.
As KUOW's community engagement producer, I’ll be facilitating the conversation. Two different KUOW journalists will be joining us for each dinner.
Nearly 90 applicants responded to our first proposal with insightful and entertaining musings about our city and the world. One applicant told us she is both awkward and outgoing (us too). Another enlightened us about Danish farming practices. Another identified herself as "a little old lady but in bicycle cleats not tennis shoes."
It was tough to choose only ten.
Curious about who made the cut and what’s going to come of this nerdy supper club? Meet the first cohort of our KUOW Curiosity Club below and follow #KUOWCuriosity on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to be a part of the experiment — even if you won’t be joining us for this round of dinners. And then stay tuned. If our experiment turns out to be a successful one (we’re optimistic!), we’ll be opening up another round of applications in the future.
Our new Curiosity Club members are:
Mellina White Cusack is a Seattle resident who writes about how politics and culture impact our society. Oh, and a little bit about fashion, too. She blogs at The Seattle Conservative and has contributed her thoughts locally on The Evergrey and KUOW. She is curious about why our country has grown more and more divided in recent years, and what it will take to bring us back together again. In the past, Mellina has contributed to DapperQ, a queer fashion site, and most recently served as Campaign Director for Christopher Rufo for City Council.
James Miles is originally from Chicago and moved to Seattle from Brooklyn, New York where he worked as an artist and educator for the past 20 years. Before joining Arts Corps as Executive Director, he was the Director of Education at Urban Arts Partnership, in New York City. James also facilitated workshops and designed curriculum for the New Victory Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Disney Theatrical Group, and others. James is a former accountant, model, and actor. He can be frequently found on social media as @fresh_professor, writing about arts education, educational policy, and academic inequity.
Ruchika Tulshyan is an award-winning inclusion strategist and journalist. Her book "The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality In The Workplace" focuses on strategies for organizations to advance women in the workplace. Her company Candour advises organizations on diversity & inclusion strategy and better communication. Ruchika writes regularly for publications such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes and The Seattle Times. She is also the inaugural Distinguished Professional in Residence for Seattle University's Communication Department. Ruchika is curious about people's stories, why Seattleites don't like children, and puzzled about why the top-rated online recipes for Indian food are usually written by non-Indian people.
Amanda Carter Gomes is a Midwestern native who has been living in Seattle since 2002. She spent much of her early career working in marketing, event management and photo shoot production. In 2013, Amanda was recruited to join the team of an online publication as managing editor and subsequently took over the site in 2015. In 2017 she created The Fold to fill a void in online publications focused on women beyond the millennial range. Amanda lives in West Seattle with her husband, two boys and pup, Clementine.
Jennifer Hegeman is a dog owner and Navy veteran. She works as a teacher-librarian at a suburban public high school, where she has taught for 29 years. However, for the first 23 of those years Jenny Hegeman was Mr. Hegeman. In 2014, Jenny transitioned from male to female. Today, Jenny identifies as transsexual. She describes her transition as “an arduous yet magical journey causing a complete metamorphosis of Self.” And curiosity? It’s been said that you can’t learn from what you already know. Jenny is curious what other people know and are passionate about. She believes that if you find a person’s passion — and listen to them — you’ve found a teacher.
Shin Yu Pai is a poet, essayist and visual artist. She served as an artist-in-residence for Town Hall Seattle, is a former ambassador of On The Boards, and served as the fourth Poet Laureate of the city of Redmond from 2015 to 2017. She currently works as a full-time events producer for Atlas Obscura, designing public programs and experiential events that take place throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is curious about neuroscience, chemistry, food, faith, and creativity.
Sharlese Metcalf is a DJ at KEXP where she is also the education coordinator. You can hear her on Expansions on Sunday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight. She also works as a promoter of events in clubs and bars around town at Depth, Studio 4/4, Audiodrome, Just One More Thing and Videoasis. She serves on the boards of the Northwest Film Forum and Seattle Music Commission. Sharlese is also a member of TUF, a collective focused on uplifting marginalized folks including people of color, women, and those of queer, trans, and gender nonconforming identities. Sharlese is most curious about music and personalities and how those things correlate with emotions and experiences.
For Erik Molano, design is a call to be critical and reinvent everything around us, from smart phones to social systems. He believes the future is ours to create, and we must build it together. He is a graphic designer, event organizer, and co-founder of Photon Factory (a hybrid organization that is half design studio and half community space). He lends his design background to connect Seattle’s creative professionals with social justice and arts organizations. Erik believes that Seattle has the characteristics necessary to create a true social shift, and he encourages Seattle towards becoming the world’s first self-designing community.
Sofia Locklear was born and raised in Seattle. She received her BA from Seattle University and is currently a PhD candidate in sociology focusing on social determinants of health and race and inequality. Sofia also works at the Seattle Indian Health Board, conducting evaluation research that is centered around indigenous cultural values and ways of knowing as an effort to combat structural oppression. Sofia is curious about conspiracy theories and the depths of the ocean! She is also curious how people make sense of the world around them based off of their personal identities and experiences.
Jin Park is a 28-year-old architecture graduate student at the University of Washington and he just moved to Seattle a few months ago. Prior to Seattle, he spent a third of his life each in places of contrasting cultures -- South Korea, Middle Georgia, and the Bay Area. He recently spent his first quarter of graduate school studying the soon-to-change urban area of downtown Seattle between Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square and as a result he has become highly interested in how restructuring of urban environments can generate urban progress and opportunities. The relationship between culture, architecture and food fuels a majority of his inquisitive thinking.
What do you think?
We'd love to hear your thoughts.