I like to wear many hats. I like honest, creative work and I like being versatile. I love storytelling and optimism. I am adventurous and intuitive.
I am from a small farming community in the panhandle of Texas. My hometown, Plainview, is also the birthplace of Jimmy Dean, singer, actor, and sausage artisan. Buddy Holly was born in Lubbock, about 60 miles away. I remember having a moment of silence in his honor on a third-grade field trip. If you have a minute, look at these pictures taken by Jason Lee.
My family owned and operated Smith Potato Inc., a company with many acres of crops and three packaging facilities in three neighboring towns, Olton, Dimmitt, and Hart. We cultivated potatoes, as expected, but also pumpkins, watermelons, and peanuts. I had the privilege of often tagging along in the field, on the assembly line, and in the office. I helped prepare seed and tended to the different crops. I sorted the harvest as it came by on a conveyor belt getting rid of rocks, debris, and sometimes rotten produce. I gave directions to semi drivers as they pulled into the docks and helped weigh the truckloads. I was even lucky enough to secure a slight portion of each watermelon and pumpkin harvest to vend on our front lawn every season. The produce was always very affordable and people began to expect me. I was able to witness the many different aspects of business and agriculture. I feel deeply connected to the earth and to my neighbor and I am devoted to sustainability and wellness.
As it happens sometimes, my grandfather, my mother’s father, passed and my mother felt called to be closer to her family and her hometown. The summer before I began high school, my family packed up the farm and moved to the west Texas town of El Paso. El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico are bordering metropolitan cities with almost two billion people combined. Folks travel back and forth for work, school, or fun every day. I am a Mexican-American and living in El Paso allowed me the opportunity to communicate with many different individuals from man different backgrounds. I graduated high school in 2004 and I attended the University of Texas at El Paso from 2005-2011. I completed coursework in Linguistics, Anthropology, and Museum Studies. I have always been passionate about language, research, and culture.
I took a break from my studies and accepted a job as a membership coordinator at the YWCA, my first experience with nonprofit organizations. I felt inspired by the activism and experiences shared with me and I decided I wanted to learn how to share these and other stories across multiple mediums. I attended the Art Institute in Portland, OR from 2011-2012 and studied Media Arts and Animation. Since 2013, I have freelanced graphic design work mostly using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for organizations, individuals, and businesses. I strive for optimistic and meaningful designs. I am a stickler for diligent records and I am able to prioritize and organize efficiently. I am often working through the night and in my spare time on designs, doodles, and everything in between.
In January of 2013, I focused my experience in hospitality, business, and agriculture and opened a tearoom in downtown El Paso, TX with the support of my family. Tea+garden offered bulk herbs and tea, prepared tea and pastries, tea parties, tea accessories and gifts, local artists, and massage. We also coordinated and hosted weekly classes and talks on managing health and wellness. I love solving problems and I feel it makes me a great host. I managed accounts, inventory, vendors, marketing, and events until we closed in 2014. It certainly took time to heal after closing our doors and I spent the next two years freelancing and publishing an illustrated eBook about desert herbs.
In September 2016, I joined Community Crops, a non-profit in Lincoln, NE dedicated to growing farmers and increasing food stability. I partnered with four schools, two elementary and two middle schools, in different parts of Lincoln to implement school garden programs for kids in 1st-8th grade. I created lesson plans, instructed participants, managed volunteers, and coordinated garden events. In the past, I had tutored English and, in 2011, I taught at a cooperative preschool. I had experience creating lesson plans and working with students and families, but Community Crops allowed me to expand my skills and impact the community in new ways. Participants learned the life cycle of a plant, they grew their own plants from seeds, they tended to the school garden, and they tried a new seasonal food each week. We also collected feedback on their experiences. My position was grant funded and concluded August 31st, 2017.
Through my work at Community Crops, I was able to partner with the Lied Center for Performing Arts in the Spring of 2018 creating lesson plans and activities for students. This time, I worked with other teaching artists to create a curriculum for Seedfolks, a one-woman performance based on the book by Paul Fleischman. In the book, a young girl plants a few bean seeds in a vacant lot and inspires her neighborhood to clean up the empty lot and plant their own garden. Our curriculum culminated in an event at the downtown library in Lincoln, NE. Participating schools planted native plants around the library and students shared poetry. Karen speakers shared traditional music and dance. Finally, we all shared a meal together and thanked each other for the opportunity just as they do in the book.
I found myself working in an awards production facility silk screening and etching for a brief period. I worked with light-sensitive materials to apply stencils to glass, acrylic, and even gongs.
For the last twelve years, I have cultivated a diverse and specific set of skills because I like to wear many hats. I like honest, creative work and I like being versatile. I am a storyteller, a curator, and a campaigner. I am adventurous and intuitive and I love solving problems. I am committed to reducing and reusing at work and at home. I struggle with wellness and business and I dabble in many different therapies. See more of my work here. Follow my stories on this blog or follow my designs and my cats on Instagram. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.
Lee, J. (2017.) A PLAIN VIEW. Retrieved from https://www.jasonleefilm.com/a-plain-view-splashpage.