Issue #6: Pineapple brings women together 🍍

Happy Monday! In this issue of Capital Women, readers will be able to learn about Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s former “first lady of poetry,” an event that offers a refresher course on feminism, and a Q&A with the founder of an organization that is all about connecting women in the food industry.

Ariel Pasternak
Founder of Pineapple, a community for women in food

What inspired you to create Pineapple?
I started Pineapple in May 2015 when I moved back home to D.C. to help open up the brick-and-mortar restaurant for Chaia, a seasonal vegetable taco shop in Georgetown. I began meeting other women in food in a one-off capacity and recognized they didn’t know one another. Moreover, I was craving a community of like-minded women with whom I could share a variety of ideas in the food world—from the culture of agriculture to food insecurity in our nation’s capital to starting one’s own business.

When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to accompany my parents at the Aspen Ideas Festival every summer. (It’s a week-long symposium of the world’s greatest leaders in politics, business, health, innovation, and more convened by the D.C.-based Aspen Institute). Attending this “meeting of the minds” every year seriously transformed my perspective on the power of sharing ideas through inspiring in-real-life events. The first Pineapple event, a potluck, was a gathering of 30 women I personally knew in my living room. When a good friend asked me then what I wanted Pineapple to be, I jokingly said, I want it to be like the Aspen Ideas Festival—just it’ll focus on women...and food!

Why the name, "Pineapple"?
We called our community Pineapple because we were inspired by the idea that a pineapple is a traditional symbol of hospitality. (And because saying "pineapple" out loud sounds playful.) This is exactly how I see our community: We are a group of women who are serious about our passion for food and hospitality but don't take ourselves too seriously. At Pineapple, networking, learning from each other, and all-around women’s empowerment is something that can be fun and enjoyable as well as powerful.

What types of events do you offer at Pineapple?
Pineapple is a platform to connect the foodie world with the good food movement in order to create a better, more inclusive food system. Our events highlight a spectrum of female food leaders throughout the industry—farmers, restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, policymakers, nonprofit advocates, and more. We’ve hosted skills-based workshops (learning how to make bread and other ferments), panels with nationally acclaimed authors and businesswoman (like Christina Tosi and Samin Nosrat), farm and vineyard tours, and so much more.

In Washington City Paper, you said, "You [women] can’t do this alone"? Could you elaborate more on what you mean by this?
I firmly believe people achieve professional success through maintaining and cultivating a strong network of meaningful relationships. I also think it’s particularly important for women to invest in a network—not only for her personal career, but also for the collective success of all women’s work.

I think often about an “old boys’ club” where men who share interests or backgrounds invest (whether financially or emotionally) in one another in ways big and small to see all of their boats rise. Women, on the other hand, haven’t historically had an “old girls’ club,” but rather they have been taught to compete rather than support or collaborate with each other. This paradigm needs to change. Women are at the helm of so many incredible businesses and organizations—they are creative, ambitious, and brilliant. What would be possible if we as women worked together? Through establishing collaborative communities, we as women can amplify our collective contributions.

How do you see Pineapple growing in the next five or 10 years?
The future of food is female, and we want Pineapple to be a leader in that movement. We’re establishing Pineapple in new cities throughout the country, starting with San Francisco and New York by the end of this year. Our goal is to create a national network of women in food/women interested in food with deep engagement on a local level. Through building such an audience, we hope we can establish another phase of our business that engages the active food-driven community we’ve created.

Are you a D.C. resident? 
I am indeed!

If so, what do you love most about living in Washington, D.C.?
D.C.’s creative and food communities are incredibly supportive and collaborative. From what I’ve experienced in other cities, there’s nothing like D.C. when it comes to entrepreneurs and creatives going above and beyond to see their peers succeed. This spirit is something we hope to cultivate through Pineapple in cities we expand to. My other thing I love about D.C.: The Dupont Circle FRESHFARM market. It’s such an incredible community asset and gathering place with delicious, local food year-round.

  • The National Museum of Women in the Arts is now hosting an exhibit that focuses on the causes and potential solutions to the epidemic of violence against women. [The Washington Post]

  • Learn about the legacy of Sheila Hixson, a Maryland-based politician who served as a mentor to many now serving in Annapolis. [Bethesda Magazine]

  • Washington City Paper is doing a podcast now, and their pilot episode features Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. [iTunes]

  • Take a moment to remember Washington, D.C.’s “first lady of poetry,” Dolores Kendrick. [Washington City Paper]

  • November 27: This refresher course on feminism should be on everyone’s to-do list.

  • November 30: Ethnocine, a collective of women filmmakers, is hosting a night of cutting-edge ethnographic films made by feminists.

  • December 2: A team of women will host a comprehensive skills-building workshop that will discuss how to present confidence, manage a team, and find mentors.

Michelle Goldchain contributed to this newsletter.