That Girl: Dana Taylor
October 27, 2009
__Dana Taylor, a vibrant and colorful girl with an extremely loud laugh wears at least six earrings at one time — none of which match — and an array of unique necklaces. Her eclectic and carefree style jive with her love of life and diverse interests which range from sustainability and food issues to Usher’s new song, “This Ain’t Sex.” Here on campus, Dana is working toward sustainability as a vital member of the Student Environmental Action Coalition and Real Food Williamsburg. This campus group works to bring sustainable food culture to Williamsburg. As we sit under the big tree in front of Jefferson Hall, Dana fills me in on her no-retail vow and why students at the College of William and Mary need to step up the volume, and the joys of dreaded hair.__
*First, can you tell me a little bit about your background and what you’re studying here?*
My background: born and raised in good old Manassas, Virginny. Lived in the same house with my same family for 18 years, and then I came here. I have an older brother who just got married in January. He and I are close, but he’s up in Maryland doing the whole job thing. And I am an anthropology major and an environmental science and policy minor.
*Why’d you choose to come to the College?*
Well, because of the trees. Really, I toured other campuses, not many, but this one just spoke to me. I’m glad we got a spot under this big tree.
*Do you have a dream job?*
Dream job? Yeah. The World Food Program the United Nations does. Not only do they do disaster relief in the food area, but they also do long-term sustainable food engineering and logistics and implementation of their plan. And that’s worldwide obviously; somewhere I’d really like to get involved because I think I’d be an asset on the groundwork for implementation.
*What’s an attitude shift you think students at the Collge would benefit from?*
Well, I’ve been trying to change my attitude, and I’m doing a pretty good job right now; just like being direct. “Be direct,” I find myself telling people that a lot, if they’re debating about whether or not to tell people something or not, like “How should I say this?” I’m like “Dude, be direct.” And it’s been working out well for me.
*What are you busy with this semester?*
Real Food, [I] teach class at the Rec, live in a house — it’s work, that’s why they have people who take care of dorms. I have schoolwork, too; I’m doing an environmental study on policies regarding least turn populations in the bay area. I did fieldwork over the summer for it.
*What got you interested in the issue of food and sustainability?*
Well, the people that I have been hanging out with and the fact it emerged as an issue in SEAC. I started learning about it through peers, then I started taking classes, and I was like, “Man, this is my jam.” So I started doing Real Food.
*What do you think people should start being aware of in terms of food consumption and sustainability?*
We’re fine right now, we’re not suffering noticeably, but we’re in a bubble, a safety net here; the people here and the socioeconomic class, because most of us have money, and it’s a privilege to be here. You can’t blame people for it, but it’s hard to raise awareness about that, and it’s hard to put yourself outside of what you know.
*What is your favorite weekend activity?*
My best weekends always involve dancing, and there really hasn’t been enough of that lately. That’s why I’m really excited this weekend for the dance event and the step show; and there are a lot of parties to start dance parties at.
*What kinds of dancing are you into?*
I’m open to all dances. I mean, whatever. Whatever dance the most people are willing to do; whenever there’s music that makes people move, it’s the best when everyone’s doing it.
*What kinds of tunes are best to dance to at the moment?*
We just started Syndicate routines, so right now my repeat song is “This Ain’t Sex” by Usher [Laughs].
*You also teach classes at the Rec?*
True life. I teach Zumba right now. I mean I started out going to the Rec, I always went to the hip-hop class, and it was always really fun. Hip-hop with Crystal was my solid once-a-week-class. I came every time, and she told me I should try out to be an instructor, so I was like, “Hey. Good idea.” So I did, and I got it and taught hip-hop, branched out and taught cardio-dance, and then branched out some more and got Zumba-certified. I’ve learned some sweet salsa moves and reggaeton and merengue.
*You have a colorful and eclectic bunch of jewelry on. Tell me about your style.*
I made a vow last November to not purchase retail. I declared that I would not buy retail anymore unless it’s something I really need or is worn out. I’ll check the thrift store first, and if they don’t have it and I still need it, I’ll buy it somewhere else. A) It saves money; B) I got sick of shopping; and C) I didn’t want to participate in the consumerist mass herding of going to the shopping mall as a pastime. It’s just a challenge, and trading clothes with your friends is great.
*What’s your favorite article of clothing?*
It’s a skirt; 100 percent cotton, but it’s got a couple layers. It’s black and dark blue, and my mom passed it off to me. The best part about it is that it’s really twirly.
*You had dreads for a while. What was that like?*
It was really fun. My roommate from last year had them freshman year, and she wanted them back; so I just kind of felt like doing something crazy, and she encouraged me. So I encouraged her, and we did dreads. It was a great bonding time, and it was definitely fun and got us through the semester.
*What word do you think best captures your essence?*
First one that came to mind was loud [Laughs]. I just feel loud. I walk around and say hey to people and realize that I’m louder than I should be given the situation. Like there might be a meeting here, and I’ll be like, “Hey.” I laugh really loud, I just feel really loud.
__Nearing the end of the interview, I spot Dana’s patterned, vintage sunglasses among her books on the table. When I tell her how cool I think they are, she tells me she found them in a box belonging to a great aunt. Upon her encouragement I try them on, and Dana loudly yells, “Case in point, girl, get it. Those look so good.” Dana Taylor just wants you to keep it spicy, and keep it loud.__