Talking with #MakeItHappen Micro Grant Recipients Mia Scharpie and Gabe Fine!

  • Team Schusterman

January 10, 2014

Mia Scharpie and Gabriel Fine are a creative team with both design and food backgrounds. When they're not dreaming up pop-up restaurants, they run health organizations that rethink primary care and community health, design public spaces and develop materials that empower designers to be social entrepreneurs. They're excited about using creativity and food to build community.

Mia and Gabe’s idea to create a stellar pop-up Kosher restaurant in Boston was recently chosen to receive a $1,000 #MakeItHappen micro grant! To read more about their project and to volunteer to help them #MakeItHappen visit Mia and Gabe's idea page.

What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself?

Mia: #practicalidealist #testkitchen #maker 
Gabe: #smallcommunities #JewishLumberjacks #snacksonsnacksonsnacks

What inspired you to apply for a #MakeItHappen micro grant and what do you hope it will achieve?

While food should be bringing Jews together, the lack of good, contemporary kosher cuisine presents a boundary for full-spectrum communal inclusion. We felt that we could create an experience that brings a diverse range of Jews together around the table--at a real event for all the senses.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Mia: Alarm clocks, sunshine, brunch.
Gabe: Alarm clocks, Mia, brunch.

What is one change you want to see in the world?

I think we both really believe that the way full-time work and family/pleasure/community time are distributed, is not optimal. We would both like to see a work week which focuses on community creation and personal enjoyment as well as professional considerations.

What is the biggest risk you have taken and how did it pay off?

Mia: I asked  out a boy I really liked.
Gabe: I said yes. I suppose our next risk is starting a pop-up restaurant.

Have you ever failed before and what lessons did you learn?

Gabe: In my early entrepreneurial days I failed at creating a clothing import-export business. Lesson 1: The market for expensive, loud-pattered custom designed muumuus is limited. Lesson 2: Market research is key.

Who are your heroes?

Josh Applestone: we like his take on quality and local food. Conflict Kitchen: beautiful concept design and execution. Mark Bittman: because how could you not love him?

Where do you find solitude?

Gabe: Small spaces separated visually from their surroundings.
Mia: My journal, exercise.

Where do you find community?

In shared experiences, debating values with loved ones and cooking with friends.

If you had to give up one modern convenience what would it be and why?

Mia: I think I would give up my GPS because sometimes it’s fun to get lost.
Gabe: I think I would give up daylight savings time because 3pm is too early for shabbos.

What is your favorite Jewish memory?

Mia: Friday nights with my family--we eat dinner, then all head to the living room to read. About every seven or so minutes someone interrupts the silence with a giggle or an anecdote from their book. My immediate family is very small--just my mom, my brother and me. We always tried to have quality time over meals, but Shabbat was the time we relaxed, caught up and were together at a constant background level even when we were involved with our own activities. 

Gabe: My favorite Jewish memory is going to early morning minyan with my father. We tried to go regularly for about a year when I was nine, sometimes on shabbos and sometimes before day school. Our shul had multiple separate services, but there was always an incredibly early morning minyan where the average age must have been around 70.

It managed to be the quickest and the warmest service I have been to, to this day. At least two of these guys could have passed the pin test on the entire Tanach, and would just shout out layning corrections from their seats before the gabbais could even get to it. It was a minyan of passion, community and brevity. Even though they rarely spent more than an hour a day with each other, they all showed up for each other’s tragedies and simchas. In many ways I am constantly seeking to find or create that Jewish community everywhere I go.

The Schusterman Philanthropic Network is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.