Hello! My name is Julia and I am a queer community organizer and activist in Pittsburgh, PA. I dedicate my time, energy, and skills to the people because I know my purpose in life is to build community and inspire change.
I run a justice-centered intentional community called the Open House, which has been a primary source for femme & queer community building in Pittsburgh for 5 years. My community is most well known for an event called Community Dinner, which is a weekly free vegetarian meal open to all. The meal regularly feeds around 20 guests, adding up to over 4,000 meals out of my home since I started the event in 2012. My community has hosted a monthly film series called Keepin’ It Reel for 3 winters, we hosted a 9-month mental health workshop series, and we host additional lectures, talks, and classes on a wide variety of topics. The Open House has helped create a thriving and connected queer community in Pittsburgh and I intend to dedicate the next several decades of my life to this project, which I run entirely for free.
I am also an active member in Socialist Alternative which is at the forefront of the leftist movement across the US, in Pittsburgh, and internationally as a member of the CWI (Committee for a Workers’ International). We spend many hours meeting, having political discussion, planning actions, and executing them. Our organization has been involved in every major Pittsburgh protest since the Trump election and had been active for years before then.
As for my background, I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Florida with minors in Arabic Language & Literature, Organic & Sustainable Crop Production, and Sustainability Studies. I went into college expecting to study International Relations and work in the Middle East. Ever since high school, I saw diplomacy in my future, but after studying abroad in Morocco and learning more about history and the state of the world, I decided global politics was not my life path. Upon this discovery, I turned my interest to Environmental Politics and Sustainable Agriculture. My life was shaken by some classes and a series of food documentaries I saw, and it was clear that this would be my new path. I became rooted in the alternative food and farmer scene in Gainesville and began my training as a farmer. After learning the basics of farming through various internships and organizations, I planned to apprentice on a farm somewhere in the US when I graduated.
Instead, I found a Master’s program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh in Food Studies. It seemed too good to be true. At the time, there were only 3 other programs focused on this subject in the country, and I decided it was worth the chance. I moved to Pittsburgh with the intention of strengthening my theoretical knowledge about the food system and how we can create change and developing my farming skills so that I could one day grow my own food and teach others to do so as well. I am happy to say that I reached both of these goals and developed even more projects, like Open House, to take my goals a step further. I have now been working in and actively studying alternative food for 8 years. In 2012, I received my Permaculture Design Certification from Phipps Conservatory, and in 2014, I received my Master’s in Food Studies with a focus in Food Politics, Food Justice, and Sustainable Agriculture. Since moving here, I have spent about 5 years growing food, both small-scale gardening and running Pittsburgh’s largest urban farm. I also worked in local food distribution for 2 years, something I fully intend to use my skills doing in the future as well.
As for my personal life and activities, I have been an avid cyclist for 9 years and commute on the same fixed gear I have had since 2011. I am an everyday learner, and I love to read radical history of all sorts. I am a linguaphile and have intensely studied 6 languages in my life, mostly through self-study (Russian, Spanish, Italian, French, Arabic & Dutch). I am an amateur barber and have been doing clipper cuts, designs, and fades for 3 years. I am a non-conforming woman and have been out as a radical lesbian since 2009. I am a huge fan of Myers-Briggs personality typing and a proud ENFP.
I have a lot of goals for my future and intentional community is at the core of all of them! In 20 years, I see Open House as a thriving community that benefits hundreds of people on the regular. I am so excited to see this goal into fruition. In the meantime, I intend to spend a lot more time writing as a means of political action in addition to continuing my involvement in leftist politics through Socialist Alternative. This blog is a practice for that goal in particular!