5 Questions with Activist, Artist and NYC Poll Worker, Lindsey Briggs

Z_Briggs

Lindsey “Z” Briggs is most known, internationally and domestically, for her work in the world of puppetry.  But for me, the most interesting thing about Z has always been her passion for activism.  I can’t think of a conversation that I’ve had with Z, where she didn’t talk about service, doing something for others, or what she thinks could be done to make the world a better place.  In trying times like these, seemingly small acts of volunteerism, like becoming a poll worker, makes Z a role model for me, and so many others.  Anyone who walks the walk, and talks the talk, is always worth my time and consideration.  (A side note: We had a different blog lined up for this week, but after the specific acts of hate that took place in my own borough last night, I decided we needed to take it up a notch.  Thank you to Z for making time at the last possible minute).  Here are “5 Questions” for advocate and activist, Lindsey Briggs.

JMK:  At this moment in time, it is impossible not to see how crucial it is to vote.  As a young voting citizen of this country, what made you volunteer to be a poll worker, and what have you learned from the experience?

LB: Following the 2016 election I wanted to be more involved.  Because I have two young kids at home, I can’t show up to meetings or rally’s in the same way that I could before kids.  It occurred to me that helping with the election might be a good fit, and I looked into being a poll worker.  I want to be a friendly face that can help to make the voting process a positive one.  I have learned quite a bit about the election process, and the work that goes into being a poll worker.  I had no idea that all New York state poll workers must arrive at the polling site at 5am and are not dismissed until at least 10pm, but sometimes much later.  We receive two, one hour breaks throughout the day, but it is a very long day.  If you see a poll worker, be sure to say thank you.

JMK:  Z, when I think of you, I think of you as an activist first.  How are you giving your time to your current primary cause?

LB: There are many causes that are very important to me.  Black lives matter and educating others about institutional racism and common sense gun legislation are both topics that I feel very strongly about.  As I said above I don’t have time to attend the meetings and rally’s that I wish I could be at, but instead I make sure to have conversations with people about these topics and do small things in my own way to help promote positive change.

JMK: You are a parent of two young, beautiful and imaginative boys in NYC.  What active measures are you engaging in to teach them compassion?

LB: We talk a lot about empathy and trying to see things from others perspectives.  Everyone’s feelings are important.  I feel very lucky to be raising a family in New York City, as it is so diverse and a wonderful example of so many different people living and working together.

JMK: Anti-Semitism is on the rise again globally and in this country.  Just last night, a synagogue in Brooklyn was vandalized with disgusting graffiti.  The words written on the interior walls of that house of worship makes one’s chest tighten and heart sink.  As an artist and activist, what do you do when you hear of such horrific hate crimes?

LB: I think about what must have happened in that person’s life to make them feel such anger against others.  It makes me sad.  I have hope that the next generation will be an example of understanding, peace and tolerance.

JMK: Agreed!  We must keep hope alive for our children.  On a lighter note, at this time of year, families are gathering around the table to share time together.  They’re also sharing food!  Would you please share what your favorite family dish is and how it makes you feel?  

LB: We have spaghetti and meatballs every single Monday night.  You are all welcome to come.  It is everyone’s favorite meal, and we will likely still be making it every Monday night in 20+ years.

JMK:  You’re awesome.  Thanks for this.  I now officially feel hopeful for Tuesday’s vote. 

Lindsey “Z.” Briggs is the Foundation Manager of The Jim Henson Foundation.  She has been working as a professional puppeteer since 2004 and has had many opportunities to perform in television, internet shorts, pilots, live theater, and independent films.  She studied at the University of Connecticut Puppet Arts masters program for 3 years and has attended and worked as staff for the National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.  Z. lives in Astoria, Queens with her husband and 2 children, and performs live puppet theater for families throughout New York City as co-artistic director of WonderSpark Puppets.

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Why Do We Crave Hearty Foods When It Gets Cold?

Meat Pie
A meat pie c/o my mother.***

As the weather gets cooler here in the northeast, one is inclined to eat rich hearty foods.  The soup lists on menus are getting longer and the warm food trays at buffets are looking better and better.  I am craving mashed potatoes.  (That probably has nothing to do with the weather).  As someone who tries to eat whole foods and fresh vegetables as much as possible, the cold weather is a challenge for me.  I don’t care for salads in the cold weather, no matter how savory they may appear to be.  I crave warm foods, starch and calories.  But alas, the whole food edict is helpful in assuaging these desires and leading me down the road of roasted vegetables.  As I approached the starch filled lunch line at work today, the question on my mind today was, “Why do we crave hearty foods in the cold”?

 

My first impulse is to say that we need to insulate ourselves. To some extent, depending on where you live, this is certainly true.  But after a bit of research,* this hypothesis does not satisfy me.

chipmunk

However, it did lead me to find some data on another thought I had. “What if we’re stockpiling for winter”? It turns out that there is research that, while not conclusive, suggests that as it begins to get darker sooner, we begin to eat more.  Whether that’s out of boredom or a natural hibernation instinct, I can’t say.

But it is third and most soulful possible conclusion that I relate to the most.  As it gets cooler, we lead into the holiday season where memories quite often collide with food.  In my family, there are a few favorites.  Turkey dinners for my mother.  Shepard’s pie, a stew or a roast for my father.  And for my brother… Aunt Peggy’s legendary meat pie.**  I confess that I don’t have one food that is my go to. I just like food.  Really well made, preferably healthy, food.  But whole foods and vegetable diet be damned, for the past week, I have been craving that meat pie like a lion craves an antelope.  Bring it on!

Putting aside the irrational arguments for the health content of the meat pie that my family often makes, I know that our communal craving is not just the taste.  It’s the activity.  Meat pies are made with love.  The meat is seasoned and slowly cooked.  The crust is laid into the very specifically chosen pan with great focus and care.  When cooked and drained, the meat is poured into its shell with such anticipation.  As a child, helping to break the pieces of cheddar cheese and carefully laying it on top of the meat, making sure that the entire surface was coated with cheese was a very pleasing task for me.  And of course, we would now lay on the top blanket, the soon to be crust , by artfully placing the croissant dough triangles on top, while trying to keep aside a reserve of dough.  But the best part, truly, to this day, is deciding what to “draw” on the top crust with the leftover dough.  When the pie hits the table, everyone looks to see what the lovingly drawn image is before cutting into the pie.  Memories.  So many beautiful memories.  Often, after the meal was through and the leftover pie was placed carefully in the fridge (the leftovers are even better), my mother would call my aunt and tell her the tale of the evening’s meal.  My sweet, funny, loving aunt would go on about how it is always a crowd pleaser and how now she would have to make one.  Family.  It’s not just about taste.  It’s about family.

I guess in the end, for regular, everyday people, it does not matter why we crave more calories in the winter.  It matters that we do so healthfully and mindfully.  Roasting vegetables.  Limiting gravy and fatty contents.  Keeping a holistic approach to eating while allowing ourselves a few of the treats that the cold weather traditions bring.  And when we are dining with loved ones, that we eat up the very special gift that we have with them, time.

*https://www.npr.org/2011/12/19/143938954/winter-munchies-do-we-eat-more-in-colder-months

**If this recipe is really owned by Pillsbury.  Sorry.  We’re giving Aunt Peggy the credit.)

***Check out some of my mother’s blog entries at https://diaryofadedicateddiabetic.wordpress.com. 

(This is the video of the chipmunk in the photo above:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTjGNhuPl2c)