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Janet Pelz
A writer, community organizer, gym rat and mother of two living in Seattle.
Recent Activity
- Janet Pelz It’s a big week for women featured on this web site. Tuesday morning, September 11, Marla Smith will appear on the Today Show, talking about her work bringing clean drinking water and sanitation to Ethiopia, Bangladesh and other places around the globe. Her network television appearance follows a citation by SELF Magazine as a Woman Doing Good, along with fellow honorees Shakira, and Padma Lakshmi. An excerpt follows below, or read the full story by picking up the magazine on your newsstand. Read my How Does She Do It? story here, and better yet, support the work... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2013 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz Kathleen Flenniken turned my perception of poetry upside down when she offered the attribute of convenience. “You have time to write poems when you have small children. You have little bits of time and poems feel like they’re a better match for that,” she described, reflecting back on how her pursuit of this craft fit within the daily chaos of young motherhood. When I was at that stage, I would have had “take a shower”, or “clean away the minefield of plastic toys” filling that bit of time. Poetry -- not the reading of and certainly not... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2013 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz Hello friends. I know you probably thought I had disappeared permanently, but I’m merely taking advantage of the ultimate flex-time – writing when life allows. I wanted to touch base before my next story, coming soon (-ish), about Kathleen Flenniken, Washington’s Poet Laureate. Wonderful woman, wonderful story, wonderful work. But first, a couple updates. One happy, exciting; and one quite sad. Donna Moodie, one of my first profiles, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $75,000 to launch a new product: Miss Marjorie’s Steel Drum Plantains. I’ve been hearing about Kickstarter campaigns for a while and figured... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2013 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz Never mind. I had hoped to post a two-part story of Sister Charlayne Brown, SNJM, following four interviews and a great deal of writing. Alas, at the last minute, Sister Char just wasn’t able to do it. She didn’t feel comfortable having a story about her life accessible to anyone and everyone on the internet. So we pulled the plug. Yes, I’m disappointed, but it would be far worse for all involved if the story was posted and then she had misgivings. In the process of researching for her story, I did come upon a great deal... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2013 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz With all the focus being given to the selection of a new pope – pundits handicapping the chances of various Cardinals like ponies at the starting gates – this seems like a good time to resurrect my web site. It has been living for quite some time in that black hole of spam. I spend so much time deleting scintillating comments at the end of my pieces with authors bearing names such as “Cheap Cialis at Home” and “Pornographic Online Casinos” that I haven’t had much energy – or time – to do any real writing. While... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2013 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz The technology gremlin undid my effort to post the Gloria Steinem message on why this election is so important particularly for women, so here's a second try. Paste the URL into your browser to connect to my site, where the video is accessible but for some reason is not being transmitted via feed. I promise you'll be glad you spent the 3 minutes watching. Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2012 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz Yes, my friends, it is time to awaken the beast. The beast is me, this blog, in case the metaphor was wasted. Using this platform for a last pitch to help get our President re-elected. Could there be any more at stake? Sure, 4 years ago the issue was a war being fought overseas, and yes I had mighty strong opinions about that. This time, the war is being waged here, and women are caught in the crosshairs (or more accurately, the pubic hairs). Ouch! There are some great videos circulating the web, some of which will... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2012 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz Like the French bakery whose scent lures me with the promise of butter on the tongue, I’m drawn to Cicada Bridal to tease my fingers across the textures of raw silk and lace. Not to mention dreaming in the stunning designs and outrageously rich colors. Starting the day at Cicada, 1121 1st Avenue Seattle 98121 I’ve been pulled in like this on several occasions since that magical day 15 years ago when I exited the dressing room in a lavender shantung silk column dress to see my friend Judy dialing her cell phone. “I’m calling Mario’s to... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2012 at How Does She Do It?
It has been a couple weeks since I posted my story about Detective Cookie, which brought with it a wonderful new friend and some readers new to my site. It’s a nice feeling having a friend in the police department. I loved Cookie Bouldin’s reaction to seeing her story among all the others I’ve posted: “It makes me want to meet all these amazing women! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all get together and learn from each other?” Which is basically what I hope this web site could do, without the challenges of organizing schedules among a few... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2012 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz It seems like everyone knows Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin, even at the times she hadn’t known herself. In the Chicago projects where she grew up, opportunities to make the wrong choice were a plentiful commodity. But thanks to strict parents and a number of adults who took the time to care, Denise Bouldin learned to know herself. And she’s determined to return the favor those people paid her, in a hundred different ways, every single day. In a loud and lively lunch spot in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, I wait my turn to say hello to Detective Bouldin.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2012 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz New Years rolled in like a mild surf on the bay, the days as small waves lapping on the shore. Back in the times when New Years seemed like something that didn’t come around very often, January would crash with a resounding wash of foam upon a waiting beach. I’ve been aware of a numbing around the edge of days. I imagine this like a type of encroaching blindness where the periphery loses to black while only the center image remains. Is this a simple reaction to aging, I wonder, or is it a response to our... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2012 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz Part way through my volunteer shift distributing food at the Downtown Food Bank a face came through the line. I went through the data bank of my memory – did the person evoked have a job the last time I saw him? Yes – a good one working for the State. Age similar? No, this face was much older. I shut down the computer on that file, but a thought lingered. Something about how any of us could end up on the receiving end of a food line one day, and that you’d be surprised at who... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2011 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz I catch up with Jennifer Argraves of Crown-S Ranch at the midpoint of one of the many cycles that makes up her life. Through our conversation, there are references to the cycles of the land, of the animals she raises, of the business she runs that supports her family, even of the materials she and her husband use to build their feed sheds and solar-powered chicken trains. And each of these cycles is guided by their motto, “Better for the animals, better for the environment, better for you.” (some of the grass fed cattle at Crown-S-Ranch in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2011 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz This New Year’s resolution was to find myself in some unexpected places and to say yes to some unexpected offers. Fortunately, no one has invited me to go skydiving or to dine on cockroaches. I’ve already stepped into some new territory this year and had reason to congratulate myself. But then the big offer came through – the one coming at the midpoint of calendar that allowed me to draw a big black line through that resolution and mark it ‘done’. It started when my brother Dwight Pelz, Chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party called and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2011 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz For Seattlites, Uwajimaya is not just the destination for home-made sushi ingredients, it is a journey to a far-away place at the end of the ride-free bus. Amid the shelves piled high with exotic food items you’ll see the regular neighborhood customers, many of whom are elderly immigrants, filling their grocery carts with reminders of home. You’ll see pre-school classes ogling the live fish and bins of strange fruits and vegetables, tourists taking photos and office workers on lunch break. It’s a place that has come to define Seattle almost as much as the Space Needle. I... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2011 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz The sun is shining today and with it comes the prospect of spring, new life, long evenings outdoors, the hot bake of sun on the face, and bare feet in the sand. I’m working on setting up some interviews – I have one next week that I’m excited about and others in the email exchange (Would you be interested? When are you available? Don’t worry – every woman I interview says there is nothing interesting about her life…) In the seven days since I posted the story about Sandy Hirsch, I’ve had more than 600 hits, along... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2011 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz Her own childhood marked by a series of 11 checkerboard moves -- from Belgium to Germany to Switzerland to England to Germany and back to England -- Sandy Hirsch brings a certain empathy to her clients. “I had an immediate affinity with never really feeling at home anywhere as well as feeling at home everywhere because of all the traveling I’ve done. Never feeling ‘bien de sa peau’ -- feeling right in one’s skin. I have the ability to morph constantly because that was what I was trained to do as a child. I know what it’s... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2011 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz I was chatting with Rebecca and Carol at the gym ( and they asked what I was doing today to change the world. O.K., so I’m not changing the world, but having a web site provides me the chance to describe it from my point of view when the mood strikes. So, in a departure from my usual fare… The Tucson shootings have sparked another round of debate centered on our interpretation of the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution. Did it occur because of hate talk and conspiracy theories, or because of easy access to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2011 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz If Neighbor had a rank, Anne Travis-Barker would be a General. Four star. There is nothing militaristic to her calling. Rather, it is rooted in her Christian beliefs, and stirred with real world understanding and lots and lots of love. Ms. Anne’s neighborhood is wherever she is at the moment – her south Seattle seven bedroom home which she fills with children; the back corner of a modest building nearby which is active with evening AA meetings, mentoring sessions for young women, Church service on Sunday and any other needs her community might have on all other... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2011 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz It’s interesting how my attitude changes towards each New Year. Often I approach it with a surge of energy to tackle goals, usually ones that got lost in the year-end holiday run-up. I’m sort of easing into this one, less intent on accomplishments than on opening up to opportunity. Holding on to Autumn I think my new attitude is shaped in part by the amazing women I’ve had the opportunity to interview for this site. They’ve taught me that focusing on a path is not necessarily the avenue to fulfillment, especially if it blinds me to other... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2011 at How Does She Do It?
- Janet Pelz I’m always interested in a good read. My guess is that you are, too. So, how about sharing some of the best books you’ve read this year. What titles do you think we should all consider and why? Maybe we’ll get some ideas for year-end gifts or just a boost of reading inspiration to take into the next year. One of my book highlights this year came to me from a suggestion. My friend Leslie, who has known me for long enough to know told me I should read The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2010 at How Does She Do It?
By Janet Pelz I met Mary-Ellen Buchanan prepared for an interview with a gifted teacher of children with exceptional needs, but within moments of settling down with our coffees, the conversation took its own path. For me this became less of a story about her professional calling than a broader story about the webs of support that we create, taking turns both doing the holding and allowing others to hold us. Committing to the idea that no one is beyond, beyond needing help, beyond being worthy of it; beyond the limitations we thought that age or mental or physical development... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2010 at How Does She Do It?
View Full Album It was one year ago that I launched How Does She Do It? promising prospective readers: “You’ll be inspired by the extraordinary and ordinary life stories of women in the Seattle area. Each week I’ll interview a single mom, elite athlete, artist, or community volunteer; women who have arrived at their destination or women in transition – about who they are now and what choices they made to get to this point. I’ll ask these women to tell who has made a fundamental impact on their lives, and what resources they turn to for support. And I’ll... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2010 at How Does She Do It?
It’s bustling on Saturday morning at the Haller Lake Social Club, home to the Creative Dance Center for the last 15 years. The 1920’s wood frame structure, with its creaky stairs and broken up spaces is alive with a “Cheaper by the Dozen” kind of feel (I mean the 1948 book, not the cheesy Steve Martin film). There’s a sense of family among the multiple generations coming to dance with their babies or to drop their grandchildren off for class. And there’s Anne Green Gilbert, the nationally and internationally recognized visionary in the field of dance education, unassumingly weaving herself... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2010 at How Does She Do It?
As How Does She Do It? readers you might be interested in supporting a couple events coming up in the Seattle area. October 19: Preview the film “I Know a Woman Like That,” a documentary film that features some amazing older women, including Maxine Hong Kingston, Rita Moreno, Gloria Steinem, Lauren Hutton, Eartha Kitt, and other not-so famous women, including a 92 year-old ballroom dancer and yoga instructor and a 90 something year-old water skier. Maxine Hong Kingston and the filmmaker will be on a panel moderated by Mayumi Tsutakawa following the film. Broadway Performance Hall, 5:30 - 9:00. Your... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2010 at How Does She Do It?