Making a Dream

by Noel Pattani

As you know from last week’s story, Mara Reinstein is a kick-ass movie critic who tells you how it is no matter the possible backlash. If you missed it, don’t worry. You can read about Mara if you scroll down

I first met Mara when she was my teacher at a Gotham Writers Workshop. Quickly I saw her passion for writing about movies. I knew she would be an amazing addition to Women’s Work and after sharing just a few of Chris’s stunning photos she was on board.

Lisa Calvo for the Women’s Work project

One of the goals with the Women’s Work project is to depict our subjects in a moment that is contextual to their work. However, Mara spends most of her day either in a dark theater or screening room. That environment would not create the most dynamic picture and we felt Mara deserved a little bit more glamour. Then it came to Chris, he wanted to create a quiet and pensive moment in time amongst a well populated 1950’s drive-in theatre. He envisioned the movie light pouring onto the field of cars, but the center front stage would be our hero,  Mara Reinstein.

Chris had a vision but how could we perfectly transport her to this time and place? First, I began reaching out to local drive-in theaters. Luckily, there are still drive-ins operational in the Tri-State area but unfortunately, they are not open in December.

Since traveling to a warmer climate wasn’t in the budget, the only option was to create a composite photograph. I began the search for the perfect background plate.

After weeding through many options and confirming with George McCardle, our trusted retoucher, we finally landed on a background plate that fit our needs perfectly.

To create a picture where Mara is placed seamlessly in our dreamy drive-in would require a car she could interact with. We wanted to find one from the ’50s and after asking around I discovered Klassy Karz. We knew that somewhere in his collection was the right car and after carefully reviewing the inventory we chose a playful light mint and white 1955 Studebaker as Mara’s co-star.

Now that we had the plate and the car it was time to turn our attention to hair, makeup, and wardrobe. The 1950’s is jammed packed with style icons like Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, and Grace Kelly. We wanted to create a look that could have been plucked right out of the postwar era. When I think of timeless style icons, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe are just the bee’s knees. Both women during their time defined femininity and continue to do so today. After discussing options with the talented Dawn Episcopo, who shared many styling options for us, we all agreed on the stunning look below.

For Wardrobe, we opted to utilize Mara’s personal garments. After deciding on the perfect pink fuzzy sweater and ideal circle skirt, pre-production was done and we were ready for our shoot. Next week we will get a little insight on how Chris created this shot in Bud’s Studio on December 3rd, 2018.

For the Love of Movies

A trip to the movies is a chance to escape the everyday. While you sit comfortably in the dark, you are whisked away to a faraway place.

For a few hours you get lost in someone else’s story, however, now we often trade in the sticky floors of the theatre for our comfy couches where pants are optional. But, to navigate through the endless sea of entertainment we look to our helpful critics to avoid the epic flops. These eloquent masters, like the late Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, sit through hundreds of movies and thanks to the movie critic, we can avoid wasting our money on the next big disappointment.  

Another addition to our Women’s Work project, film critic Mara Reinstein tells it how she sees it and puts her years of expertise into every review. In our brave new world, strong opinions are always met with an equal but opposite polarizing force. For Mara, this truth is amplified. Her judgements often make her the target of hateful and down right dreadful comments. After her 2018 review of Aquaman, which she described as an overstuffed mess, began to be bombarded with spiteful hate mail and messages through social media. These messages were sent by men who felt it wasn’t her place to speak about a comic book movie because she was a “girl”.

These people think I’m unqualified just because I’m a woman. They have no idea that I love movies just as much as them, probably more so.

Mara Reinstein

Mara’s passion for movies started quite young. She fondly remembers her father taking her twin brother and her to the movies when they were in kindergarten. Movies like Airplane, Tootsie, and Chariots of Fire fueled her passion for motion pictures.

When she was only sixteen, she wrote her first review on the disappointing movie of  Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Mara knew being a critic, a job that included two of her favorite hobbies of writing and movies, was her true calling and she wouldn’t let a little gender bias stand in her way.

Our society still tends to look to men as the end-all, be-all tastemakers in our industry. I don’t know if or when that stereotype will ever disappear. I tend to ignore the haters.

Mara Reinstein

And we are glad she does. As the film critic at US Weekly you can find more of Mara’s quick witted opinions on the newest thing hitting the big screen. With skin as thick as her hair (self-proclaimed), she won’t let the thoughtless comments of some stop her from speaking her mind.

Don’t worry, next week we will discuss how we created this dreamy 1950’s inspired photo!

Kodama – Spirit of a Tree

Here in the Northeast spring has sprung. The once barren trees looming over our heads are now sprouting with new life. As the lush green growth floods our landscape we once again marvel at the dramatic rebirth of these gentle giants and reminding us of the great role trees play in our world. From producing much of the oxygen we breath, to shielding us from the harsh summer sun, trees are often overlooked. But, for Mira Nakashima, trees play a large part in her life. As the daughter of the famous woodworker, George Nakashima, her upbringing was molded by the philosophies her father embodied.

Mira Nakashima, Designer and Woodworker

Each tree, each part of the tree, has its own particular destiny. We roam the world to find our relationships with these trees.

George Makashima

With the belief of working with trees deeply ingrained in her at a young age, Mira has continued her father’s tradition of making unique and memorable furniture after his passing in 1990. Surprisingly, she was not formally trained as a woodworker but as an architect.

Mira Nakashima

Architecture was extremely good training for me as it was with my father.  Not only can you visualize shapes and volumes on paper, but engineer the structure and visualize the piece in a given space.

Mira Nakashima

She began her studies in architecture as an undergrad at Harvard and earned her Master’s at Waseda University in Tokyo. After receiving her Master’s, she returned home to New Hope, Pa in 1970. Once there Mira spent the next 20 years as her father’s assistant. In this role she quickly became skillful in woodworking and mastered the techniques that her father was renowned for.

Classic Daybed

When it was time for her to take over the “family business”, she strived to maintain a close connection to her father but over time her designs began to push beyond the boundaries set by her father.

Conciod Coffee Table

I’ve created a few new designs out of necessity, sometimes in collaboration with my design assistants, sometimes in collaboration with the client, and always in cooperation with the wood and the woodworkers

Mira Nakashima

It is through this respect for the wood and the tree it came from, that you will not only find a Nakashima piece sitting in a lucky home but also within the walls of a museum. The ability to see the true potential of a raw material and allow it to be beautiful in its own special way is what makes Nakashima furniture truly one of a kind.

Mira Nakashima

Healing Garden

When we first wrote about our time at Oregon State Penitentiary we shared our trepidations of entering a male maximum security prison. In that tale we introduced you to Megan Lowe, a Corporal Corrections Officer at OSP, but she wasn’t the only one we were meeting that day. Once we wrapped our dynamic shoot with Megan in the middle of a locked down cell block we were ready to be securely relocated. We arrived to a space that looked more like a recreation room at a day camp rather than a prison

The large gym like open space was outlined with rooms made of chain link fencing. Each brightly colored vibrant room contained a different club run by the inmates themselves with the help of Patrice Lans.

Patrice is Oregon State Penitentiary’s Activities Director and another addition to our ongoing project, Women’s Work. Before taking on the challenge of working in male prison Patrice spent twenty-four years in the grocery industry and peaked at the corporate office level. Feeling the need to change paths she accepted a temporary position in the kitchen of Coffee Creek Correctional Facility as a food service coordinator. Soon after this, she was asked to interview for a different position and was hired by the activities department in OSP.

I really like the niche that I’m working in. I love to be in the trenches instead of managing other tasks and such. I’d rather be working with the people, making stuff happen.

Patrice Lans

And with her help stuff does happen.  For one, Patrice and the Asian Pacific Family Club of OSP are working towards being the first prison in the western world to have a healing garden within its walls.


It has been proven that nature such as flowing water and plant life can reduce stress. In a study in 2016 done by Arcadia University about gardening programs in prisons has shown to enhance incarcerated individuals’ psychosocial well-being in three different ways:

  1. Increased their self-efficacy and self-worth
  2. Decreased their anxiety and depression symptoms
  3. Reduction in reincarceration rates.

With the healing garden there is hope of improving the overall quality of life for all the inmates.

I feel strongly that I’m making an impact by building and facilitating these programs in the prison, so that the inmates will be better citizens when they get out.

Patrice Lans

Patrice is making a difference is the lives of the inmates she works with and with her help projects like the healing garden become a reality. A reality that benefits everyone.

Reaching for the sky

It was when Abingdon Welch was 14 years old that she realized she wanted a career in aviation.

I told my mom, ‘hey mom, I want to be a pilot.’ She said, ‘that’s nice, pass the peas.

Abingdon Welch

Not understanding vocational school, Abingdon’s parents wished her to follow a more traditional path and that is what she did. After high school, she attended four years at the University of California, San Diego which resulted in a degree in psychology and film. During that time she did not forget her dream of one day sitting in the cockpit and flying a plane.

With saving every penny from summer jobs she was ready to jump head first into flight training the moment she finished university. Because of her diligent planning, she was able to attend the American Flyers Flight School without acquiring any more student loans. In 2007 she graduated with her commercial rating and was hired as a professional pilot.

It was also in 2007 that Abingdon launched Abingdon Company. On November 3 her namesake became the first watch company to meet the needs of female pilots, mechanics, and adventure women.  Born out of necessity, the fully functional aviator’s watch is fashionable, versatile, and most importantly, made for women.

I really wanted a pilot’s watch and since they didn’t make anything for women, I established the watch company

Abingdon Welch

It was that simple. Abingdon saw something was amiss and set her mind to make it right. It’s a wonderful way to improve the world. However, her impact doesn’t end at fabulously functional accessories. When looking back on her road towards becoming a pilot, she realized the struggles she had.

I didn’t come from a family that was in aviation. I really didn’t know where to start, so I just kind of found out things as I went along and it took me a long time.

Abingdon Welch

It was those difficulties Abingdon wanted a younger generation to avoid. She wanted a support system for young women and with that desire, the Abingdon Foundation was created.

I started Abingdon Foundation to help women figure out where they want to go, and not necessarily in aviation. If they want to explore scuba diving. If they want to explore maintenance becoming a mechanic and they don’t know what to do or where to go, we can help.

Abingdon Welch

The Abingdon Foundation supports women to find their way through scholarships, community outreach, and networking opportunities. Like the lack of aviation/adventure watches for women, Abingdon created something that women didn’t realize they needed. With these tools, she hopes to make the journey for the next 14-year-old girl a bit easier to reach their dreams.


Love to Explore

Many of us spend most of our days trapped inside four walls with a window, if we are lucky. While pounding away at a keyboard, we sometimes allow our minds to drift away to fantasies spending the day outside in the sun with the sounds of nature as our soundtrack. Yet, there are some who don’t have to dream of an escape because the outdoors is their office. One of these lucky individuals is Mia Anstine.

Mia Anstine

Mia grew up in a small town in southern Colorado. It was there that she learned she loved to explore the nature that surrounded her. Mia’s natural instinct to explore isn’t a surprise. She comes from a long line of hunters. Growing up her father hunted for food and her mother grew a garden and taught her how to fish. Their lives were simple and focused on the basic necessities of life. But it wasn’t until Mia and her mother moved to San Diego that she realized how fortunate she was as a child.

Many people in urban areas never notice birds, plants, or trees. But I quickly learned that looking hard enough led to finding wild places and outdoor areas to explore.

Mia Anstine

As she grew up her life began to take her further away from nature but no matter where she lived there were always places to go, explore, and learn about. Sometimes it would just take a little longer and she would have to wander a little further. Shortly after college Mia realized that she missed the country life and after moving to Texas and then Oregon she returned to her hometown in Colorado.

near Durango, Colorado

Even though she returned to her small town life in the mountains that she greatly missed she didn’t pursue a career in the outdoors.  As a highly successful salesperson for a building company, she worked tirelessly to stay in the top ranks. This left her little time to do what she loved, hunting. She was a single working mother like so many others that wanted to provide for her family. She wanted to be able to put food on the table like her father and his father before him. So, Mia began to head out on solo hunts on the weekend.  Sometimes her little girl would tag along and carry her shotgun for bird hunting.

The mother-daughter time was priceless, and the outdoors was a welcomed break from my non-stop commissioned sales job. The outdoors is good for your soul.  

Mia Anstine

It wasn’t until Mia met her now-husband, who owns an outfitting business, that she began to transition away from sales and into working in the outdoors. It all began when he was short a hunting guide.  Knowing that Mia was a good hunter he asked if she was willing to help. She agreed to fill in and that was the first step in her career as an advocate for the outdoors.


These days, I make a little less money than I did when I was the top salesperson for a large corporation, but everything I do to encourage others is empowering and brings me joy. It’s so rewarding. In all things I do, my mission is to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, cook, eat, survive, create and live life positively.

Mia Anstine

Mentoring the Future

When Connie Chang was young she didn’t know what she wanted to do. She had three great passions growing up; music, writing, and math. But through her father, who has a traditional chemical engineering background, she was always intrigued by research and science. However, it wasn’t until college where she had an influential mentor who inspired her to study biophysics in graduate school.

So with a new found focus she continued her education at UCLA where she studied soft matter science and the physics of viruses. She then went to Harvard for her postdoctoral studies in the area of experimental soft matter physics. After completing her time at Harvard in 2013 she began her career at Montana State University as an assistant professor in chemical and biological engineering. 

I love my job: teaching students, interacting with diverse colleagues, making scientific discoveries, and engaging with the scientific community and the general public

Connie Chang

Connie realized how lucky she was as a little girl to not just have one but two parents in the sciences. Her mother studied agricultural chemistry.  Like many girls, Connie knew she wanted a job that helped the world and realized that a STEM career could allow her to make a difference. Unfortunately, Connie only makes up a small percentage of women who realize this career path could fulfill them in that way.


STEM which stands for 

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math

These fields represent one of the fastest growing industries in the US.  STEM occupations have grown 79% since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million. However, women are still underrepresented in this industry. According to the National Science Board in 2018, women made up almost half of the overall workforce but are only 28% of Science and Engineering jobs. The question is why are more women not entering the STEM world? In a survey done by Microsoft of girls and young women 91% described themselves as creative but only 37% see Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as jobs that involve creativity. It has been proven that when young girls are exposed and mentored by women in a STEM field they are more likely to see that path as an option. Connie understands how important it is to go outside of the classroom and interact with the younger generation.

I am passionate about being a role model for younger women in science

Connie Chang

She takes her passion and shares it with the girls of Expanding Your Horizons. EYH network began in 1974 as the Math/Science Network. An informal group of women scientists and educators in the San Francisco Bay area who were concerned about the low female participation in Math courses. The program quickly developed the idea of conference programs in which middle and high-school girls participate in hands-on activities in STEM. Each year EYH has around 24,000 girls attend their events and more than 80 conferences each year taking place in 33 states and three countries. 

With programs like EYH and Girls for a Change, Connie hopes that we can raise greater awareness of recognizing biases and inequality in higher education. By inviting underrepresented speakers to the conferences to share their stories they are proving to young girls that, yes, there are people who look like them in the STEM fields. To improve women’s numbers in these fields we need to show them that they belong and have a place in these industries. 

Connie Chang