OTC’s leadership team has been working in the field for many years as commons catalysts and leaders. Read on to learn more about us, then check out our initiatives in the Commons Work online resource center.
Julie Ristau—Co-Director (Minneapolis, MN)
Julie Ristau has an extensive background in leadership development, community organizing, publishing and agriculture. She helped launch Utne Reader magazine and served as Publisher and Co-Chair. She was Executive Director of the National League of Rural Voters and co-founded and directed the Regeneration Partnership, an initiative that worked to reinvigorate rural civic institutions around the country. She held the endowed chair in Agricultural Systems at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA), where she taught, conducted field research and did enterprise development aimed at building social capital in communities. Ristau helped create Homegrown Minneapolis, an initiative launched by the city of Minneapolis to expand local food and sustainable agriculture in the region and is a board member of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. Julie began working with On the Commons in 2005.
Ana Micka—Co-Director (Minneapolis, MN)
Ana Micka has served as finance director for numerous Congressional and Senate races and over the past twenty years helped found and lead a number of national organizations including Progressive Majority, Organic Consumers Association and Citizens for Health. She served as the Executive Director of Citizens for Health, building an organization with more than 100,000 grassroots members advocating for a healthier food system and natural health options, and then took a two-year breather from campaigns to lead Reuniting America, an organization focused on deepening understand and trust among leaders with very different partisan orientations. Ana recently published the Fresh Girl’s Guide to Easy Canning, a home canning DVD and guidebook, and created the Food Preservation Network in the Minneapolis area. Ana has been with On the Commons since 2007.
Jay Walljasper—Senior Fellow and Editor of OnTheCommons.org (Minneapolis, MN)
Jay Walljasper is a writer and speaker who chronicles stories around the world that point us in the direction of a more equitable, sustainable and brighter future. He is the author/editor of OTC’s All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons and The Great Neighborhood Book. He has been executive editor of Ode magazine and was editor of Utne Reader for 15 years. He is a Senior Fellow at Augsburg College’s Sabo Center for Citizenship & Learning and a Senior Associate with the urban affairs collaborative Citiscope. His personal website is: www.JayWalljasper.com. Jay has worked with On the Commons since 2007.
Alexa Bradley—Program Director (Brooklyn, NY)
Alexa Bradley has worked as an organizer, facilitator, trainer and popular educator for more than 25 years, with a particular focus on linking community organizing to broader social movement strategies. She has worked as a senior partner at the Grassroots Policy Project providing tools and training to build the resilience, vision and power of community change organizations throughout the US, and was Co-Director of the Minnesota Alliance for Progressive Action (MAPA), a groundbreaking labor-community coalition. She was also a recipient of a Bush Leadership Fellowship to research participatory processes and other transformational tools in organizing and leadership development. Alexa joined the OTC leadership team in 2010.
Faye Brown—Program Director (Minneapolis, MN)
Faye Brown has been working on Native environmental and social justice issues since 1980. She worked with the Black Hills Alliance, an alliance of farmers, ranchers and Native peoples organizing to stop uranium mining in South Dakota, founded the Leonard Peltier Support Group/Indian Justice Network and coordinated public relations campaigns for Native communities with the Direct Expression firm. From 1995 to 2010, Brown was a senior staff or consultant at Honor the Earth, a national Native environmental organization. During this time she also worked as a consultant for Native artist John Trudell and Angelina Jolie’s All Tribes Foundation. Faye joined the staff of On the Commons in the fall of 2010.
Jessica Conrad—Content Manager (Minneapolis, MN)
Jessica Conrad has been working to communicate the essence of the commons and the sharing economy from the beginnings of her career: At Sol Editions, an editorial services company focused on the natural world, innovation and design, she worked as a researcher and writer for Lisa Gansky’s The Mesh: Why The Future of Business is Sharing (Penguin 2010), a Wall Street Journal bestselling business book. Jessica continues to write about the sharing economy for media outlets such as Minnesota Public Radio. She has also been a grant writer for The Promised Land, a Peabody Award-winning public radio series featuring innovative thinkers who are transforming underserved communities. Jessica brings a deep knowledge of the strategic communication of content—from book projects to blogs to individual tweets—to On the Commons, where she’s worked since 2011.
Camille Gage—Artist-In-Residence (Minneapolis, MN)
Camille Gage is an artist and activist who creates interdisciplinary projects, collaborative public art and mixed media performance, often with a topical edge. Gage’s co-creations address difficult themes in a manner that strives to engage rather than confront. As an artist and engaged citizen, Gage is inspired by the intersection of art and political expression. Her work is an illumination of the common, the universal; the personal that is, at once, also political. Gage has performed at the Walker Art Center and First Avenue in Minneapolis, as well as many venues in New York City including The Bottom Line and The Knitting Factory. Her work has been shown at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), The Weisman Museum, and the Katherine Nash Gallery, among others. Her essays have been published in the StarTribune, access + Engage, the Utne Reader, MN Womens Press and Art Paper. Gage is a founding member of Form + Content Gallery, an artist’s cooperative in Minneapolis.
In addition, On the Commons recently appointed a team of poet advisors who will review submissions to UNCOMMON/WORDS: A collection of commons-inspired poetry. Our poet advisors include:
Sarah Browning, author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007) and co-editor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology (Argonne House Press, 2004). Browning is the Director of Split This Rock and DC Poets Against the War.
Douglas Kearney, author of Fear, Some (Red Hen Press, 2006) and The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), which was chosen by Catherine Wagner for the National Poetry Series. Kearney is a professor at CalArts and Antioch.
Juliette Patterson, author of The Truant Lover, winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize, and Dirge, a chapbook recently published by Albion Books. Patterson teaches at Hamline University and serves as a faculty mentor in Chatham University’s MFA program.
Crystal Ann Williams, author of three collections of poems, most recently Troubled Tongues, winner of the 2009 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Prize, finalist for the 2009 Oregon Book Award, and shortlisted for the Idaho Prize. Williams is the Dean for Institutional Diversity at Reed College, where she has been on faculty since 2000.
Please click here to read our poet advisors’ full bios.