Marjorie, Venice and New York

 

Your story in a few lines, from the very beginning to nowadays

In a few lines? I am the child of a pair of early-technology-adopting entrepreneurs, economic analysts both, who left Wall Street to start their own company when I was still a toddler and that their adventurousness and optimism must be genetic. I was raised in a small town in the mountains of Vermont where my parents established themselves as among the first “location independent” professional analysts – As well as the banes of the school board and the laughing stocks of all those who knew how to use farming equipment – before even fax machines had become standard office equipment. While the education of we children was a top priority, my own adventurousness was a quality that my parents encouraged virtually without limits. (The day that I walked out on a boring day of Kindergarten, the teacher got in much more trouble than I did.) Before the age of ten, I had both flown alone and taken solo urban adventures in both New York City and Washington D.C.. Between then and now life has been a great adventure involving the tutelage of many learned scholars, intensive use of vehicles of transportation, various foreign languages, and whole lot of personal and professional risk taking.

 

Being an attorney and working also for business development and micro-enterprises, your destiny seems a vocation and deploy on few continents. How did you forge it?

Are “destinies” and “vocations” forged, or are they fated? The truth is that despite, being very free-spirited, I always enjoyed attending school, studying and doing research. Though it’s the equivalent of attending intellectual bootcamp, I even enjoyed law school. I was especially interested in laws impacting scientific research, technological developments and startup companies all of which were developing rapidly in the United States during the time I was in school. However, I always knew that I genuinely lacked the patience, and the competitiveness, to thrive in a corporate law environment. I joined the Peace Corps, specifically to work with micro-enterprises, as soon as I left law school. And, though I did practice corporate securities law for a few year in between, I always remained highly motivated to work with startups and small companies. I was fortunate to be able to build a network of investors and entrepreneurs who trusted my legal and market research capabilities. It is exciting, and a much more positive environment overall, to work with things that are starting up! Meanwhile, the need to constantly research and study diverse markets in order be give the best advice to founders, investors and entrepreneurs provides me with constant challenges, keeps me learning, and fulfills some of my own need for adventure.

 

From New York to Venice it must be a radical shift but also the fulfilling of a dream, if I am not wrong…

They’re both islands! That’s my usual response to this question. There are a lot of similarities between the fast-walking, urbane populaces of both Venice and New York. And, of course, there are just as many differences. Venice’ pedestrian lifestyle, and the layout of the city at large, create a very interactive community. Since my first visit here, I’ve been taken with how very social Venetians are! Meanwhile, on the physical and geographical sides of life, I’m especially fond of the very easy access to the lagoon, local produce and local products that Venetians can enjoy. The Venetian lifestyle strikes me as much more natural than “radical”. Perhaps New York is radical. Surely it is. When I read Salvatore Settis’ book “If Venice Dies”, I realized that I have very much felt the impact of the differences between cities constructed for social participation, like Venice, versus cities whose design is more conducive to production than to community-building, like New York.

I can’t really say that I come here pursuing a “dream”. I can’t even pretend to have long organized my life so as to one day land in Venice. Happenstance has been responsible for more than the half of it. Even my first visit to Venice happened entirely by chance. 17 years ago, I disembarked from a train on a whim and found myself in Venice. From that moment on, no matter how I occupied either my professional or personal time during the weeks or months in between, I was always plotting a return trip to Venice. I have made more than 37 visits to Venice in the past 17 years, and the length of each stay grew longer over time. Many many times, I’ve found myself on the phone with the airlines trying to push back the date of a return flight. Meanwhile, more than half of my flights home from Venice over those years have been either delayed or cancelled. That always felt like fate taking a hand. It certainly never angered me, no matter what I had scheduled on the other end!

The dream of living in Venice, as many of your readers probably already realize, is a much more complicated subject. The dream now-a-days is more about a reversal of fortunes – call them changes in and enforcement of policies if you like – that will enable Venice itself to remain a livable city. These days, that dream is in serious danger for Venetians and dreamers-of-Venice alike.

 

Which has been your greatest achievement on a professional side and the one, more personal, of the intimate Marjorie?

Both professionally and personally, it’s a great joy to live a life of constant discovery. Venice, of course, offers unceasing opportunities for discovery whether they be of urban design, art, architecture, history, nature or people. I feel fortunate that I’ve thus far been able to manage both my professional and personal lives in such a way that I am constantly learning new things be it through business development research or good old fashioned outdoor wanderings.

 

What is the book with you now and the music you never forget to bring with you?

I’m a hairs breath away from finishing The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante. As with any good book, I don’t want to put it down and I don’t want to finish it either! It’s especially tricky this time as it says right there on the cover that this is “The Fourth and Final Neapolitan Novel”… I guess it really is almost over! As far as music goes, I am partial to live music and have no shame whatsoever about chasing my favorite local groups around town. Meanwhile, fortunately, technology has enabled us to listen to virtually whatever whatever we crave hearing at the moment. And, I always travel with my old, original series, ipod which contains copies of all the CD’s I bought as a young woman.

 

Which is the secret hidden place where you are able to find peace in your actual city?

Umm… I’m not telling?! Seriously, in Venice, that is one piece of information that people are very hesitant to share. And, of course, “by the sea” isn’t much of an answer in either New York or Venice. But, ultimately, the answer is the same for both cities: I find peace on my feet, or on a boat, or in a car, or in a train… When I’m in motion, it comes naturally to me to process old thoughts, clear my mind, get ideas and set goals. Unfortunately, I often find it necessary to stop moving in order to actually get things done.

 

Which is your favorite food and drink?

I absolutely love hot and spicy food. Under that umbrella, I’m not sure that I have a favorite dish. Szechuan chicken or beef, Lao seafood stews, Thai or Indian curries, even just plain wasabi… They’re all so different and all so delicious! That’s where New York and I see eye to eye: International Cuisine.

Drink? Are we dividing alcoholic and non here? Because, surely, coffee and water are the two beverages that I drink every single day and I greatly appreciate them both. However, a nice round Italian red wine, maybe a Taurasi, is certainly something to celebrate…with a second bottle of the same.

 

A talent you have and the one you miss.

Though I’m fortunate to be an observant and creative person, I’m not as artistically gifted as I would like to be. Things I make by hand never materialize quite as well as I imagine them. As a result, I’m a great admirer and cheerleader for those who are able to both image and create beautiful things.

 

What did you learn from life so far?

Lots! But, I suppose the three most important things are: 1. Life really is a blessing. Every day, even the worst one, I find something to appreciate about my experience of the world. 2. Give no credence to the expression “better the devil you know”. It makes no sense. If you already know the devil, then the chances are quite good that the unknown is not a devil at all. I count many former-strangers among my closest friends. 3. Always get back on the bike. Some ventures succeed. Many ventures fail. Every venture is an adventure.

 

To follow Marjorie when in Venice, bookmark her blog on travels: http://www.ogvenice.com/

 

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