Building an Artistic Sustainability Network

Nancy Rahman: Building an Artistic Sustainability Network

Nancy followed her passion for arts and culture and created a blog about culture in Chicago with her friends. She now encourages and speaks about the importance in the preservation of the planet. 

I was born in Cairo, in the early ’80s, of course, where it was very different from what it was today. I was you know, amongst a lot of families. I think my parents were getting ready to leave Cairo anyway, because it was getting a little bit difficult to raise children, in the way and the standards that they had wanted for their own selves, and their careers. So, we moved to Dubai. since I was six years old, I lived in Dubai, and my life had changed in many ways. Number 1, I didn’t have the family that I was blessed with in Cairo. But at the same time, I had an amazing amount of friends, and, being away from family, you have to create your own, through friendships and whatnot. So, at a very young age, I started to learn what it’s like to build my own community, and I just carried that wherever I went.

I have always, always been interested in the Arts, since I was very little. But, unfortunately, the Middle Eastern culture doesn’t encourage that kind of thinking. You’re meant to become a doctor, lawyer, or banker. So, as much as I wanted to study the Arts, my parents encouraged me, they appreciated my creative side, but they just thought that it would be better for me to get a solid degree before I could make a decision to pursue other interests. I am very creative, and also my way of thinking was a little bit out there. I still have to this day, people who used to call me crazy or quirky, or weird, but that’s just because I have always challenged, since I was very little, I challenged the norms.

When I went to New York, I just found a lot of people, who were like, who always questioned everything, they wanted to know more, like “why?”. I just felt so at home for the first time. All the noise, and all the stimulation, and all the busyness that New York offers, did not bother me, because I was soaking up all of the energy there is, unreal. So, when I first came here, because of immigration, work permits, and whatnot, I couldn’t really find work or, so I decided, instead of pursuing job opportunities and interviews, and then being told that I can’t work there because of my immigration status. I decided to focus my energy in just developing a blog, and then I thought this was my chance to like restart, I spent so much time in private equity in Dubai, I might as well come back to what I truly love, which is the arts and culture.

So I started snapping up photos of people on the street that were dressed uniquely. Because Chicago, at the time, wasn’t known as a stylish city, and I documented it. From there, more and more people started coming in to join, there is my friend Jason, who wanted to talk about the men’s wear, which is very unique here, in Chicago. And then I had another friend, Priya who came in to write about the food. It just started developing and turning into a magazine, we became a magazine! But recently, I have redirected completely, I have always been passionate about the environment, and recently with all that is happening with climate change. Especially, in the last two-three years, I felt that it’s important for me to go and talk about my life, right now, after having children as well. How we can encourage people to preserve the planet in any way they can, by living more consciously and sustainably. I think building your network is important because you never know what person can open a door for you based on what ideas you have.

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