Here at the LIFESTYLE we aim to serve a community whose common creed is Reflection and Response. Throughout our previous 3 features we have seen various interpretations of this mantra and how artists incorporate R&R into their aesthetic works. Today we are proud to feature friend, mentor, and collective member Danny Kaufman. Danny’s experiences abroad sparked an interest in social justice that has led to a career in the non-profit sector that has taken him to positions in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Check the dialogue and join the conversation in the comment box!
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
DK: I was born and raised in Seattle and currently reside in Madrid, Spain.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
DK: For me, reflection and response is the conscious interplay between us and our environments; in so many ways, who we are is a reflection of where we are from, where we are at and where we want to be, so taking the time to reflect on that interplay allows me to be intentional in how I choose to interact with my surroundings.
How do you locate that definition of Reflection and Response in the work you do?
DK: Reflection and response is an integral component of the work I do and also has played an important role in helping me to define my professional and personal interests. The opportunity to study abroad in Havana, Cuba during undergrad, and later work with recent immigrants in the US gave me a first-hand perspective into the systemic inequalities that many underprivileged individuals and groups face, and also forced me to reflect upon my own privilege as a white, upper-middle class male. These experiences solidified my commitment to a career of public service working to address such inequalities in the U.S. and Latin America and inspired me to return to school to pursue a master’s degree in public administration. Since then I have had the opportunity to work for various non-profits in Seattle, Peru, Guatemala and most recently Spain, where I work for Women’s Link Worldwide, a non-profit working to advance gender justice and equality through strategic work with national, regional and international courts. In each of these experiences, taking time to reflect on my surroundings has allowed me to become more aware of the cultural biases I bring with me, helping me to avoid embarrassing cultural faux pas and learn about other cultures and people.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
DK: My most current project is building a touring bike to explore Madrid and — hopefully — go on longer trips around Spain and Europe. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to go on month-long bike trips with my dad, and continue to find cycling to be one of the best ways to travel. I am also trying to step up my skills as a photographer, and would love to publish a photo essay book exploring social justice issues in Latin America. As for future aspirations, my long-term goal is to start my own organization working to address social justice issues in Latin America.
Who or what inspires you?
DK: A true inspiration in my life was Roberto Maestas, Founder and Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza, a community and social service center in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. Maestas’ dedication and passion to address social inequalities, as well as his genuine care for people made him an incredibly charismatic, inspiring and bold leader, and one whose life work continues to make a positive impact on his community. More generally speaking, I am inspired by artists, artisans and activists, vibrant cities, nature, traveling, community, random acts of kindness, whale sharks and pho.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
DK: If you are interested in learning more about some quality organizations doing important work here are a few worth checking out:
Shout out to…?
DK: Definitely have to give a shout out to my mom and dad, for all of their support and love over the years. To my brother, David, for being a good listener, a wise man and an all around great guy. To my partner, Katie, for taking a leap of faith with me and for always landing on her feet. And of course, to big P and V for inviting me to get up on The LIFESTYLE. It’s truly an honor and I’m looking forward to seeing y’all do your thing!
Reflection and Response.