A while back a fashion journalist connected me with Anna Brones – writer, artist and activist due to some clear similarities of interest: biking, food, fashion, writing, sustainability, feminism. The list goes on. Before we first spoke I did some Googling around. What became immediately obvious was that Anna is a woman with enormous energy and chutzpah, who dives full force into unique areas of interest. Take her book on the Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break – (Anna is a coffee aficionado who’s family is originally from Sweden) or The Culinary Cyclist – ranging from practical information on how to grocery shop via bicycle, to beautiful recipes for lavender earl gray tea or a simple healthy breakfast. Her books are works of art in their layout and the visuals included throughout but also refreshingly simple.
Since our first conversation almost a year ago, Anna has become my source of inspiration and a guiding light for how I might one day pump out creative projects without the usual vices of fatigue, procrastination, or any list of excuses I make for watching a crappy film on Netflix rather than creating. Indeed, her Instagram feed, @AnnaBrones is powerful enough to jolt you out of a mid week malaise by viewing one of her beautiful activist paper cuts paired with a feminist call to action.
The epicenter from which she creates is a small town outside Seattle where she grew up and recently returned to with her husband. From their little house in a little town where they commute by bicycle, she creates and connects wildly innovative ideas on sustainability and the potential for a greener life through her writing and art. Take for instance her article on designers who use textile waste for their products, or a company that uses byproducts from coffee that would otherwise be waste or pollutants to make a delicious flour for baking, or a pro bono lawyer for farmworkers and other harder to reach clients who transports her mobile services in her smart car. Oh and she’s also about to teach a class on indie publishing to middle schoolers.
Her latest work, Comestible – is a quarterly publication of seasonal recipes, local food activism, and fun seasonal ways to connect with nature like foraging and gardening. These publications are chalk full of interesting tips for healthy eating like shaving raw asparagus for a salad. And, the paper cut visuals and illustrations are powerful, lovely and simple like the recipes themselves.
As I have long marveled at all of the fantastic creative projects she continuously produces and shares with the world I had to ask her, “Where does all your energy come from?” or “What happens when you look around and depressing things are happening. How do you bounce back?” Her response: When she gets mad at the way women are treated or human rights abuses in the world or the like she marches over to her desk and starts creating and uses that anger and frustration to fuel her work. Whoa.
The other thing I notice is that she winds dark and frustrating issues, like the persistence of white men in the government obsessing about women’s reproductive rights into humor and further creativity. Over the holidays, her Feminist Ginger Bread Cookie recipe had me laughing out loud – not to mention the little cookies are works of art. It is definitely worth reading and saving for next holiday season.
One last note on Anna Brones is that she is the genius behind the rotating set of bike earrings made from recycled bike tubes I wear each week. She has informed me that she will finally be selling her beautiful bike tube earrings. I promise to keep you updated as soon as these puppies are posted.
When I think about Anna’s work and the impact her creativity has I return to the Kenneth Rexroth quote I shared a while back that Anna is also a fan of: “Against the ruin of the world, there is only one defense—the creative act.” Somehow, when our response to dark issues – persistent greed, poverty, violence, environmental degradation, corruption etc. etc., is creative, that we express love, creative freedom and possibility through our observations of a truth, it is transformational rather than adding to a sense of entrenchment in the status quo. So when I encounter a prolific creator/artist and activist like Anna it gives me hope for my own potential and that of our world.
Thank you, Anna Brones, for shining your creative light on our world.
P.S. – Be sure to check out your local Women’s March this coming Saturday Jan 21st. You can look for me in Raleigh sporting one of Anna’s buttons. Need a poster? You can download Anna's papercut design poster here.