Karen is a real foodie, especially when it comes to desserts. Her blog, Fussy Eater, is known by many, however, most people are unaware of the woman behind the blog. Karen served a year with AmeriCorps and committed her schooling to Social Work. Read on to learn more!
Where are you from? What brought you to Boston?
I am originally from Buffalo, NY. I came to Boston by way of Vermont, where I served a year with AmeriCorps *VISTA after completing my MSW. [ served another year of VISTA south of Boston in Taunton where I fell in love with Boston. In addition to being an all-around great place to live, it’s also the best place to be nerdy in public. I have lived in Brighton, Allston, and Jamaica Plain. Since 2010 I’ve lived in Jeffries Point in East Boston and love it here. I am very grateful to live near the water, or as I refer to the experience, Mother Nature’s Prozac.
What’s your occupation? What’s your favorite thing about your job?
I’m a social work instructor at Bridgewater State University. My favorite thing about my job is growing the next generation of social workers. I love working with first generation students, watching them grow as learners, and opening up new areas of knowledge to them. I taught two courses this summer (15 week courses in 5 weeks!) and graded about 50 papers this week so it can definitely be challenging. As Zora Neale Hurston has said, “Research is formalized curiosity” and Carl Sagan has said, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” I primarily teach research methods, social policy, and human behavior theory courses, and work to develop that sense of curiosity and critical analysis in my students.
Tell us about your time with AmeriCorps! What made you want to join?
I couldn’t wait to join AmeriCorps *VISTA after I graduated with my MSW! [Then] I went to public schools growing up, and by the time I went to college, I didn’t have many role models or mentors for the career I was trying to build or the educational trajectory I was on, so getting as much experience as possible was very important to me. I looked into the Peace Corps but had this nagging sense that while there was great need overseas, there was also much work that needed to be done here in the US. My goal was to either be in the mountains in Alaska or in a big city like New York; I served 1 year in Morrisville, VT (population ~2,000) and a second year just south of Boston in Taunton.
I was very passionate about giving back to my community and learning how I could best make a difference. My service included helping a supervised child visitation center and working on the digital divide at a Boys & Girls Club. It is still a strong passion of mine to explore how social workers can use technology, for example, by working with a group of macro social work collaborators to host chats on Twitter using #MacroSW.
How/why did you start your blog, Fussy Eater?
I started my first blog back in 2004. At the time I was working on a PhD and suffering from crippling writer’s block. I read that getting into the regular habit of writing could help so a blog was born. I am very passionate about desserts and folks were always asking for my recommendations, so it also made sense to try and keep track of places and desserts I liked. My mother had always called me a fussy eater growing up, so I figured I owned it and named my blog Fussy Eater. I don’t get to blog as often as I would like (see daily grind mentioned above) but I have ideas for how to keep having fun with the blog and get the community more involved. I’ve always planned to write a book based on the blog!
What’s your favorite neighborhood in Boston? Why?
My favorite neighborhood is East Boston, not only because of the views, great food, and that I have the best landlord ever. I remember during a blizzard not long after I moved here the T had shut down and I didn’t have a car so was basically trapped in the neighborhood. [I remember when] KO Pies in the Harbor opened up. If you were able to walk there they had half price pies! And an awesome, massive party. In fact, another time I was at KO Pies with a friend and we ended up having lunch with a man in a wetsuit who swam up to the restaurant. [He] ate and then swam back to wherever he was going! I’m also excited to be in Eastie.
It is still somewhat affordable. I know I can walk into just about any establishment in this neighborhood and afford things. It’s great that Boston is growing by leaps and bounds. But, I feel like there are people not really able to participate in that success because it takes a lot of money. [Boston] has really accelerated over the last 15 years since I have been here. I will do whatever I can to keep living in Eastie for as long as I can.