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Member Spotlight: Mocha Jean Herrup

Meet Mocha Jean Herrup. When they’re not tackling their busy workload at home in Seattle, they’re here on the South Coast visiting family and getting work done at Groundwork. We love that they make us a part of their East Coast visits!

What’s your profession?

I’ve been a film and media professor for a long time, teaching full time at the Austin Community College in Austin, Texas for most of my career, and now as an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington at Bothell.

In addition to being an educator/scholar, I have a lot of extra-curriculars. I worked with Austin’s SXSW festival for a long time on their film and interactive programs and am currently a programmer and print traffic coordinator for Seattle’s Queer Film Festival and Translations Transgender Film Festival.

I also write, make films, do digital design, and am active with several human rights organizations including Jewish Voice for Peace.

Describe a typical work day for you.

Right now I spend a lot of time creating materials for a class I’m teaching on the history of documentary. We just wrapped this year’s Seattle Queer Film Festival which, for me, involved a lot of downloading big film files, tracking them on various platforms, and filling in for various roles at the festival as needed– ushering, introducing films, selling concessions, etc.

Mocha Jean Herrup at Prizer Opening

What’s the biggest challenge you face at your job?

Right now I teach a class of 45 students, and the biggest challenge is creating enough space in the class for everyone to participate, while still managing to keep things moving with the syllabus I’ve created. It’s important to stay on track so that students are fully prepared for whatever assessment is coming up – homework assignments, midterm, group project, etc. — and it’s important to create enough flexibility in the class that we can explore where student interest shows up and cover the things that people want to talk about.

Do you have a morning routine?

On a good day I get up early, meditate for an hour in the community garden space across from where I’m living, come home and drink lots of coffee and eat a breakfast of gluten free toast with some kind of protein, work on my computer for a while, grade papers, etc., take a break to go swimming – open water if it’s warm enough outside, or at a municipal pool, or do a yoga class, come back home and work some more or go to an evening meeting.

On class days I do a bunch of work in the morning, go teach class, and come home and relax, which could involve listening to classical music and stretching on my yoga mat, or watching something fun and uplifting on TV– Schitt’s Creek, for example. Other favorite shows include This is Us, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I like to watch people being good to each other.

What are your favorite productivity tips or hacks?

Meditation. It’s hard to sit still when I have so much to do but always, I find that with a clear head and more relaxed body, I get way more done than if I had just jumped into things.

What do you listen to during the day?

I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. Don’t hate me.

How do you benefit from using a coworking space?

There are so many distractions at home, and it can get lonely doing what I do. I enjoy spending time in a coworking space because I’m way more productive there, and it’s nice to be around other people.

I have family in New Bedford and spend a lot of time there (and am thinking about making the big move here very soon). I love being able to hang out at Groundwork when I’m in town. It connects me to the community, I like the energy and the vibe there. It just feels good to be doing work there. It’s very… grounding.

Mocha Jean Herrup and Friends

What’s in your digital toolbox?

I’m into the Adobe Suite– Premiere, InDesign, etc. I also really love working in PowerPoint, creating everything except what it was originally designed to do [really boring bullet point presentations]. I use it to animate text and slap that onto a short film, or a quick and easy graphic poster that I can export as a jpeg. It’s really quite amazing all the things you can do in PowerPoint.

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your life?

People wonder why I gave up a lot of security in Austin with the life I had there. I loved being there for over 20 years, and then my heart wasn’t happy. I’m taking risks now and following my heart. Believing in myself in ways that, honestly, are surprising even to me.

What inspires you?

Nature and open space. Salt water swimming. Funny moments between friends. Poetry that, when spoken, makes me nod my head involuntarily. Kindness, like when people make room for each other on the bus, or someone behind a desk asks if you’re OK.

Caitlin Joseph