Becoming More Intentional

danielle blogPosted by Gardner Fellow Danielle Puretz

On December 6, 2014 I wrote myself a letter as a closing exercise for the Global Poverty and Practice capstone course. I remember our discussion on the day we received the assignment: very few of the students in the class knew what they would be doing upon graduation, and among those that did, all were applying to grad school. I remember the professor passing out the sheets of blue paper, the black and yellow sketch of a tree I’d included with my letter and the smugness I felt at my idea to enclose a twenty dollar bill as a reminder from my past to present self that we have cause to celebrate.

In December of last year I did not know that come fall, I would be embarking on the John Gardner Fellowship, I did not know where I would be or what I would be doing and my biggest fear was that I would be “tired and stuck in a lease I can’t afford.” But beyond the evidence of chaos and confusion that was my life at the time, I asked myself some crucial questions, shared some personal insights and posed some exciting challenges. I dared myself to do things that scare me, shared the hope that I would be making art and writing for the sake of it, reminded myself to read and exercise my mind, wrote that “creative processes are opportunities for [us] to listen to [ourselves]” and incited a call to action telling myself to cultivate insatiability, never stop seeking inspiration, listening, learning and experimenting. Continue reading


The Success of Failure

danielle blogPosted by Gardner Fellow Danielle Puretz

“One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.” – John Gardner

This has been an exciting couple of weeks in some of the communities that are John Gardner’s legacy. On October 17th, we celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the John Gardner Fellowship, bringing together past and current fellows from both Berkeley and Stanford. And then this past weekend in Washington, D.C. several of us fellows were able to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the White House Fellowship program.

Since I’ve been with my placement for just about two months now, this was really the perfect time to remember the larger community that I’m participating in.

One of the greatest lessons that the John Gardner Fellowship community has shared, is this sort of comfort with failure. Alright, I’m not sure how comfortable anyone can really ever be with failure, but the fact is that no success is ever achieved without risking failure. So maybe sometimes such work, such progress, really looks like a looming failure hanging in front of your face.

Attendees of the Gardner 30th Anniversary Dinner

Attendees of the Gardner 30th Anniversary Dinner

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