We are pleased to announce and spotlight Jake Sell Hicks as our newest Featured Blogger & Volunteer
Jake was born and raised in Northern New York, but has lived in Oakland, SF, Seattle, Rochester, and spent many months at a time traveling in Europe, North America, and the Islands. He’s on a constant quest for meaning, justice, and hope. Some of his previous jobs include TransAmerican Tour Guide, Big Tech Company Business Consultant, Flower Garden Designer, Bike Messenger, and Conservation Photographer. Volunteering, editing photos, and networking occupy most of his time at the moment, while he waits to hear back on postgrad admissions in Social & Political Theory. Passions include queer theories, historicization, feminism, postcapitalism, critical race theory, and the global South. Connect with Jake on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or through Email!
Why did you decide to volunteer at 540WMain
JSH: 540WMain is truly at the intersection of everything, be it neighborhoods, “sides” of the city, educational stages, political workings, or identity orientations. The dynamic nature and seemingly endless possibility of the mission and of Calvin’s drive and expertise really drew me to it.
Where did you grow up?
JSH: I was born outside of Oxbow, NY, a tiny hamlet in Northern, NY between the Adirondacks and the Thousand Islands. Where did I come of age? Oakland, SF, and Rochester. Other formative locales include the Dominican Republic, Scotland, and the American Southwest.
When you’re not volunteering at 540WMain what do you like to do?
JSH: I’m constantly running around to meet with different folks from all corners of the city and outlying areas, trying to connect the dots that have gone so long unconnected. If I get time, I edit my photos or boulder at the Red Barn.
For you how does what you do as a brand or business related to
JSH: Well, if I have a business, it’s investment in other people. The communities that are so thinly knit are really what keep us all alive since they act as the foundation to everything else: how we see ourselves, how we define meaning and purpose, and the frames through which we understand and celebrate joy.
How do you stay healthy?
JSW: I try to stay centered. By that I mean that I try to always be mindful, in every way. Eating whole foods, loving the people around me, keeping my wandering feet from the pit of fear that so easily sucks us in, sleeping enough, a good bath every once in a while, treating my body as my temple, and anything else that I find to be restorative for myself and for those around me, which sometimes means just being alone. I used to ride bikes a lot and practice yoga quite a bit, so there are definitely strong connections between our bodies and all other forms of health or wellness.
What’s your favorite healthy food to eat?
JSH: I don’t really like unhealthy food (except butter I guess). I eat quinoa pretty much every day, as well as greens, legumes, and almost any kind of fruit or veg. Grapes, gineps, pickled cauliflower, and ackee are some favorites.
How do you express creativity in your life?
JSH: I’m a photographer, so that’s a pretty direct form, but there are so many indirect forms of creativity that we can all share. Just interacting with and caring about one another (or ourselves) is a pretty intense form of creativity. I also rail against traditional institutions of accrued power, which takes creativity.
What is it that inspires you to volunteer in the community?
JSH: The above mentioned institutions of accrued power. I would like to aid oppressed peoples in empowering themselves however that may manifest itself. Support seems so foreign to the world I have come to know, and I can’t happily exist in a purely competitive and unjust environment, so I work to make small changes where I can.
What are you working on now?
JSH: Nowhere! I just moved back to the area about a month ago, and I would really like to be working in meaningful ways, and that doesn’t necessarily mean doing something in a professional or w2-receiving capacity. I’m trying to expand community-driven spaces, rather than profit-driven spaces.
What do you like best about living in Rochester?
JSH: Rochester is the most complex little city I’ve ever found: it has a violent history, a vibrant populace, and an air of hope and hopelessness that mixes into these interesting pools of oil and vinegar, like the Rotcore punks or the Flower City Noir Collective. I also love the banks of knowledge here, which allow for some intersection with the community or the community’s interests, when implored to do so.
What do you like least about living in Rochester?
JSH: There isn’t much access to wilderness or spaces of natural peace and ecological wellbeing.
Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
JSH: Another cause I’m involved with is the Rochester Democratic Socialists’ Postcapitalist Futures Project, which aims to make tangible the heretofore semiabstract or theoretical implications of the eventual degradation of our current late capitalist economy and all its trappings. Sounds haughty, maybe, but something like a community garden is an extremely pure example of how we can operate outside of and beyond (or “after”) late neoliberal capitalism.
Photo credit: Jake Sell Hicks