We are so excited to welcome a new Community Manager to the family here at Groundwork. Talia Luening joins us with a passion for social justice, mutual aid, and books… to name a few. Most importantly, she understands the importance of community and creating a place where people of all backgrounds can feel a sense of belonging.
You’ll be hearing more from Talia right here on the blog and on IG (tune into @groundwork_newbedford), but first we invite you to learn what brings her to Groundwork in this interview.
What led you here? Give us a short summary of your life journey up to this point.
I grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Cape Cod, and spent most of my adult life there after college. I went to a few colleges and took a few breaks in between before figuring out what I wanted to “do with my life” (I’m still working on that! It’s a constant work in progress, I find.) I eventually finished getting my BA in Human Development with a concentration in Family Studies through an adult learning cohort that was offered through Lesley University and took place at Cape Cod Community College, in 2010.
Most of my work experience has been in Early Childhood, as a nanny, preschool teacher (for 10 years, working my way from assistant to Lead Teacher to running a preschool summer program) and Head Start home visitor. Children have always been what brings me joy and what I felt most knowledgeable about, but the profession began to be emotionally exhausting for me and I decided to take a break from it.
Other than Early Childhood, I have worked in a variety of professions, mostly in the food service industry, as a server at various restaurants on the island, and occasionally dipping my toe in the retail world for a friend’s small businesses here and there.
I love people, I care deeply about community, and I thrive in group environments that foster meaningful relationships. Working at a coworking space felt like a natural, and exciting, next step for me.
Your experience includes early childhood education, as well as hospitality. What are some of the things you’ve learned working in these different environments?
The most important thing I have learned in my work with people of all ages, in many different environments, is that all people want to be seen, heard, and valued. It’s that simple. We as humans, whether we are three years old or eighty years old, just want to feel that when we speak, we are being listened to, and that what we say matters, even if only for a moment.
I believe strongly in the power of personal connections and that a supportive community is key to any successful endeavor, whether that be a business, relationship, or social justice issue. We need each other and the only way to get through this life is together, supporting each other. Each environment I find myself in just further confirms those beliefs for me.
What excites you about working at Groundwork?
Community, connections, and relationships! Of course, this is a job, and as such, I will do whatever is expected of me in my position at Groundwork, but beyond making coffee and sorting mail, I am excited to meet new people, share ideas, and come up with new and exciting ways to better serve our community. I am passionate about social justice in all forms, and feel especially called to mutual aid and community outreach. I have already been able to speak to a couple members here at Groundwork who have similar interests in these types of issues, and I have been able to learn of new ways I may be able to get involved, which is very exciting for me.
What inspires you right now? What are you listening to, watching, or reading?
I am often inspired, I must admit! I am a naturally passionate person and when I am interested in something, I am all in!
As I have said, I am passionate about social justice, and as such, much of what I read concerns some type of social justice issue or movement I am or would like to be involved in. Currently I am reading “Abolition. Feminism. Now.” by Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, and Beth E. Richie. (Side note, ask me about the time I saw and spoke to THE Angela Davis on my favorite beach on the Vineyard… one of the most incredible moments of my life!)
But in between reading about abolition, systemic racism, and the prison industrial complex, I love to read cheesy fantasy novels, dystopian future fiction, and poetry. And, pretty much anything else. I am a BIG reader (I worked at a bookstore for a short time, my nana was a librarian, and I wrote book reviews for a Martha’s Vineyard online magazine…. and I still smell every new book I buy!) and will read almost any genre and am always up for book conversation.
Music is a huge part of my life as well. My family is filled with musicians (both my siblings are singers) and my mom, although not a musician herself, is a huge music fan and always surrounded us with music. Currently some of my favorite artists are H.E.R., Lil Nas X, King Princess (she has a song called “Talia”!) and Daughter. I am always looking for new music to listen to and have a very eclectic taste.
I watch entirely too much TV, so this could get out of hand fast, but some of my current favorites are Euphoria, Queer Eye, and, I am ashamed to admit, The Bachelor. I am a sucker for reality TV (hence, The Bachelor) so if anyone wants to talk about the latest installment of almost any reality TV, I am always here for it!