Mallory Shotwell

My day job is founder and director of the nonprofit Madison Community Discourse (MCD). I’m also a freelance artist and was previously a Montessori teacher.

I founded MCD in 2012 as a way to connect people in our community through art and discourse. To create sustainable and lasting change, members of a community must feel engaged and empowered and that’s what we work to do through MCD.

Each year MCD chooses a theme that we explore through workshops, discussion groups, interviews and exhibitions. Our first topic was love, followed by courage; this year’s theme is happiness. Our current study will end in October 2017 with an installation at Madison’s Central Library in December. We’ll have 15 juried pieces of art and six interactive pieces that will require input from participants to be complete.

Being involved in this project has been so rewarding. Each interaction has been a way to have one fewer stranger in the world and one more friend. The topics we’ve learned about—love, courage and happiness—are universal to all experiences, yet so personal and evolving. With happiness, one common thread seems to be that most people find it’s linked to their relationships. I’m honored that so many people have opened their hearts to us and shared such personal stories and feelings.

My most memorable caffeine would be one of a few choices. One is the coffee I drank in a garden in Rome during a fast tour of Europe; another is the espresso I had on a wonderful trip to New York City—again in a garden! Or, the coffee I drank on the Appalachian Trail. I’ve been section-hiking the trail the last few years and bring a travel French press as one of my backpacking luxuries. There’s nothing like waking up on the tippy top of a mountain and watching the sunrise in the middle of nowhere while enjoying a fresh cup of coffee.

No matter where I’m drinking my coffee, I enjoy the still, slow moment in the middle of the whirlwind when you can stop and take in the experience.

My current caffeine of choice is typically plain black coffee, usually an Americano. I really enjoy the flavor of coffee.

My favorite place for caffeine is Café Zoma. I used to work there while I went back to school and I view it as my unofficial office. I also love to have coffee in my own backyard and I grew to love coffee by drinking it in my mother’s backyard.

 The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is my mother. She died in 2007 and I wish that I could have coffee with her again as if no time had passed. It wouldn’t need to be a special occasion; I’d love to just hang out with her.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  our to-do list! In all seriousness, if we can tackle those things we feel we need to accomplish, then perhaps we would feel we had the time to tackle our greater mission of compassion and connection. Sitting down with a cup of coffee can be a catalyst for connection. It’s easy to think that we’re so different from one another—especially in the current political climate—but I think we’d discover that isn’t the case. We only get one life, so we have to make it count. I try to notice, or seek to create, extraordinary moments everyday to take advantage of this time, this life, that I have. I feel lucky for every day. And coffee always