Celebrating our 85th Anniversary!

We are just a few days away from our 85th Anniversary Celebration of the Harriet E. Richards Alumnae Association!

To date, we have nearly 75 alumnae, guests and current House members currently signed up to attend our Annual Meeting & Brunch this weekend – on Sunday, April 6 at 11am. Other events throughout the weekend will surely help us commemorate cooperative living and spirit too. You can read about events taking place this weekend, including the Brunch, here.

If you are interested in attending, but missed the registration deadline for any of the events, please contact HERAA.

Alumnae at Alumnae Tea 2010

Alumnae at annual Tea 2010

RSVP – Valentine’s Day Tea Party!

We hope you can join us at this year’s Valentine’s Day Tea! We’re hosting a casual afternoon gathering in celebration of the Valentine’s Day holiday. Come visit the HER Cooperative House for fine company, tea and light fare. Family members are welcome.

If you have any questions please email us at heralums.191@gmail.com or call the HER House at (617) 352-7000.

RSVP here for the Valentine’s Day Alumnae Tea Party

Elizabethan Dining Room

House decorated for Valentine’s Day 2013

HERAA Newsletter Winter 2013

As we enter the 85th anniversary year of the HER Alumnae Association we hope you will take the time to reminisce on the legacy of the House and its impact on your time at BU and beyond. One great memory prompt is our annual newsletter, full of alumnae updates and news of the House. You should’ve received a copy of our annual newsletter in the mail by now, but we’re also posting it below for your review. Be sure to check back to the 85th Anniversary Weekend webpage for updates as well!

Winter 2013 Newsletter

(See our past newsletters here too!)

85th Anniversary Save the Date!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The holidays are a time for family, and here in the HER House, we’re all about celebrating the nutty family we’ve created! All of the HERlies took part in the annual Secret Snowflake tradition, much like the Secret Santa many of us grew up with, that encompasses all religious and spiritual beliefs – we just wanted to show how much we care!

In the spirit of giving and gratefulness, we HERlies try to make Secret Snowflake about showing our love in little ways, with less emphasis on material goods. Inspirational notes written in creative places (fridge whiteboard, anyone?), baked goods left in the kitchen and tiny tokens like Hershey Kisses left on the bed are all common “gifts” given throughout the week. Some of the newer HERlies to the House were pleasantly surprised by the intensity of Secret Snowflake. Most people probably do Secret Snowflake once, giving a single gift at a party where everyone involved is present…

Let me tell you: the HER House is not tame when it comes to Secret Snowflake! At least as early as 7am on Monday morning after Thanksgiving, seasoned HERlies were tiptoeing around the House, taping snowflakes to doors and leaving sweet messages in mailboxes. The pressure was on: HOW CAN I MAKE MY SNOWFLAKE FEEL LOVED AND APPRECIATED?!

It was all in good fun, of course, and the annual holiday party at the end of the week was a wonderful time with amazing food (I bet your residence didn’t make a full turkey), decorations, and a final gift exchange where all of the gift givers were finally revealed!

One of the blessings of living in the HER House is living with family: we eat together, we clean together, we fight and laugh and cry. Most importantly, we support one another through the good times and bad. The holiday party was a lovely reminder of that, and through (many) tears of gratefulness, we expressed to each other just how much we value our place in the beautiful brownstone we call home.

Happy Holidays from our crazy little family to yours!

– Nicole Rapkin (CAS ’16)

Alumna Spotlight: Emily Torgrimson

This year marks the 85th anniversary of HERAA, and thus the existence of 85 graduating classes of incredible women worth knowing. In the lead up to the Alumnae Weekend on April 4-6, 2014, we will introduce you to one alumna from each decade starting with the most recent and working our way back to our earliest House residents. You can read our other Alumna Spotlights here

As we head into the season of giving thanks, we’d like you to meet Emily Torgrimson (COM 2006). She currently lives in Minneapolis, MN and serves as co-founder and executive director of Eat for Equity, an organization with roots in the HER House. A COM Journalism graduate and recipient of a Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota, Emily has helped “build a culture of generosity through sustainable community feasts.” Through her work she has expanded Eat for Equity to ten different cities across the United States and engaged citizens to raise over $100,000 for local and international nonprofit causes.

Emily at work with Eat for Equity

Emily at work with Eat for Equity

Who are you?

If we are what we eat, I am dim sum from my childhood in Hong Kong, jello salad from my family’s return to small-town Minnesota, and my mom’s pesto made with basil grown on our farm.

What is the best meal you had during your time living in the HER House?

Everything I know, I learned from house meals. I’m joking, but also serious. I saw how food was a delicious way for people to share their stories, by making the “hippie” grain salads or paella they had grown up with. And I saw how food could be a creative outlet, when cooks themed meals around fire or Midwestern cuisine [I take pride in having introduced many people in the house to jello salad and hot dish]. I saw how food brought people together in a natural and powerful way, when we invited our classmates and friends to the shared table.

Emily at one of the first Eat for Equity dinners at the HER House

Emily at one of the first Eat for Equity dinners at the HER House

Eat for Equity started as a small event held at the HER House, but you’ve helped grow it into a national non-profit organization. Please talk about how Eat for Equity began.

In my senior year at Boston University, Hurricane Katrina hit. I wanted to help, but I didn’t have much money to give. And so when I saw a recipe for jambalaya, I thought out loud, “What if I made a New Orleans-themed meal? Do you think people in the house would donate a couple bucks for hurricane relief?” My friends in the house said, “Yes! And what if we invited everyone we knew? What if we made it a party, not just a dinner? And what if we tried it?” When 100 people showed up, we realized that this basic idea could be transferred to any cause, as a way to build a giving community around social change. And Eat for Equity was born.

Please talk about experiences serving as executive director and what it’s taken to bring the organization to its current state.

Create space for others to join you and help you succeed. When I first brought Eat for Equity to Minneapolis, I did it all. I picked the organization, I planned the menu, I invited the guests, I cooked for 50 people in kitchen, I cleaned up. And don’t get me wrong – others helped out a lot. But I while I was doing a lot of work, I wasn’t doing enough to create opportunities for others to join me and help me succeed.

Others took it on, and I realized that this was much bigger than me – and then I got to dream bigger, and focus on expanding Eat for Equity to other branches. I couldn’t start those branches myself, but I could create opportunities for others to lead and co-create. I used to think that leadership was forging ahead to make things happen. Now I know that leadership is also creating a structure – recipes, ingredients, and a balance between guidance and independence – that allows people to take ownership toward the same goals.

What advice do you have for the HER community on expanding or embarking on a path toward professional growth and success?

Be open to changing the dream. You may be doing something ten years from now that you couldn’t imagine today. I studied journalism at school and my original dream was to be an environmental journalist.

For many years, I worked in public radio, while juggling part-time jobs and volunteering for Eat for Equity. Working as an associate producer on The Promised Land, a Peabody Award-winning public radio show, I realized that telling important stories wasn’t enough for me – I wanted to be part of the story.

Emily and fellow HER alumna Clara Herrero (CAS 2006) at an Eat for Equity- Oxfam American collaborative event at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee

Emily and fellow HER alumna Clara Herrero (CAS 2006) at an Eat for Equity-Oxfam America event at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee in 2013

I wouldn’t be here today if I had not made my first dream come true. I started to realize that I really enjoyed my part-time work, that there was a through line with those jobs – they were about food and community – and that maybe that was a good plan B.

I went back to school and got a Masters in Public Health. When I became open to changing the dream, that’s when things started to fall into place, opportunities started to open up and Eat for Equity started to take off in ways I couldn’t have predicted.

Why would we want to meet alumnae from the graduating classes of 2000-2009 at the Alumnae Tea on April 6, 2014?

My housemates from that era are amazing women. We’re pursuing our passions and our own paths, we’re making a difference, and we’re proud to be part of a continuing legacy of sisterhood and cooperation. My friends from the house are my best friends from college – we’ll have a lot of fun together and with you.

Have suggestions for other alumnae we can interview and feature in the Alumna Spotlight? Email your ideas to HERAA at heralums.191@gmail.com.