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Inspiring Stories from North Park, South Park, Kensington & Normal Heights

The heart of our mission at the SD Voyager is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the San Diego’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out the rising stars from North Park, South Park, Kensington & Normal Heights below.Jenna Ryan

Madison Williams

Growing up, I was always in and out of the hospital with various sports related injuries. It became routine to take a visit, twice a year, to my orthopedic surgeon to figure out what I had injured. This routine quickly transformed into a love for medicine- having both very positive experiences and very negative ones too. Just like so many black women, I found myself being doubted and not taken seriously by physicians when taking trips to the hospital. As a child I didn’t recognize how terrible it was and would usually laugh it off as “HA! they didn’t believe me, silly doctors”, but looking at it now- it is extremely dangerous and scary. As I grew older, I began to notice just how dangerous these acts became- reading stories on black women being misdiagnosed, mortality rate of black women during child delivery, and being dismissed when bringing up health concerns- it’s all very real and happening every day. Read more>>

Julanda Davies

I wasn’t always interested in herbal medicine. When I was a young child, I was very sick. As I became an adult, I was used to being on all types of pills. I was prescribed medication for pain, anxiety, depression, asthma and blood pressure. I began to have side effects from some of those medications and was prescribed more pills. It was a never ending cycle. I never had a second thought maybe there was an alternative to prescription medicine that could possibly help all of my ailments. Fast forward to 2014. My beautiful mother had her first stroke… Then, her second, third and fourth. It was during this tumultuous time that I decided to change my life. I needed to take a hold of my health and my mind because I was spiraling. A coworker told me about a product that helped asthma. I have had asthma since birth and so that is what I wanted to start on. He told me that Elderberry syrup could help me get off of steroids and asthma pumps. I wanted to give it a try but it was very expensive at the time. Read more>>

Joshua Tonies

Growing up in the rural Midwest provided a rich ecological backdrop that inspired wonder and stewardship, but it was a challenging social milieu for a queer kid who made comics and stop motion animations for fun. I was independent to a fault in my youth. My parents were very accepting and supportive of my interests and I was fortunate to be raised among strong women in my family. My mother demonstrated the importance of emotional intelligence, my Yia-yia (greek grandmother) always encouraged me to challenge myself and not become complacent. My father was a literature professor and there was an abundance of folklore and mythology immediately available in our house. I was always fascinated with creation myths and the ways in which fiction expand our human experience and empathetic capacity. I also just adored the illustrations, and the ways pictures could be windows into these narrative worlds. I think reading was a gateway for me to explore telling stories with pictures. I grew up during the transition from analog to digital in music, photography, film and art making. Read more>>

Bree Mckemy

Omiaje originated from my own hair care journey and interest in all things D.I.Y. The struggle has always been real, growing up with thick, dry, naturally curly hair, and finding products that kept it frizz-free, detangled and moisturized. When I did find products that did the job, they all seemed to be loaded with synthetic ingredients that could have easily been replaced with natural ingredients, like herbal extracts and oils. This led to me experimenting with formulating my own hair products for personal use. I was already pretty experienced with making my own lotions, body butters and perfumes, so I quickly developed a real passion for concocting potions that would make my curls pop, using as many plant-based and food-grade ingredients as possible. I always knew I wanted to start by own business one day, and after about a year of refining my hair product formulas and testing them on friends & family, I knew this was my perfect opportunity. Read more>>

Isabelle DeMillan

Since I was young, I have always wanted to care for animals and the natural environment and knew I needed a career that would make a positive impact on our planet. I decided to study wildlife conservation biology during my undergrad, but soon realized how impactful green building and sustainable community development can be for our future. I decided to pursue a graduate degree in sustainable design with the hopes of making our communities more efficient and sustainable. During my studies, I was shocked to learn of the lack of regulations against toxic ingredients. I learned that our FDA has only banned around 11 ingredients out of 12,000+ from being used in our personal care and household products, and could not believe that our government would allow big corporations to sell toxic chemicals to us. I wanted to get the word out there, so for my thesis I created an online guide listing out all the non-toxic products that could be found in local Boston grocery stores. Read more>>

Daniel Cono

When I lived in North Park with friends, about seven years ago, they would always have other friends come over to play card games on a frequent basis. Now I wasn’t really ever much of a game player, whether video games or table top games, but I’ve always had a keen interest in watching others play and trying to understand their motivations for wanting to play certain games & and how they choose to play them. So after a long hard day of cleaning pools, throughout San Diego County, I would often come home with a cheap bottle of red wine, go shower, and prepare for the raucous fun of heated competition with simple card games among friends. It wasn’t until after about a year of engaging with these card games, plus watching all the reactions to and by others during game play, I drunkenly made a bold claim to my friends “that I could design a better card game than any game they’ve brought around!” – which was answered with a chorus of obnoxious mocking laughter. Read more>>

José and Karla Los Ébano

Memories from José: When I was in 4th grade and my teacher was planning a school trip to Disney — I immediately begged my mom for permission AND my own camera. I used to see the brochures. I wanted to shoot those images on my own and there was no way I would go to that trip and not bring those memories back home. My mom had no clue about cameras, all she knew was that they were too expensive for just a kid so she still managed to buy me a second-hand one without knowing if it actually worked or without any hopes of seeing it again when I would get back from the trip. It was a film camera, my sister taught me how to use it and only took one roll to the trip. I had to manage my 24 shots. I took my commission very seriously; my shots consisted in the things that just excited me the most: the rides, the places, friends, how things worked. Read more>>

Kayley Driggers

I remember seeing National Geographic books when I was a kid, and I dreamed of being the person who got to go to that incredible place and photograph it. My first film camera was a pink barbie film camera (to be honest, it’s probably still in a box at my mom’s house). Over the course of my childhood, I was given a few more film cameras and I always took a few disposable cameras with me to camp. I remember getting my first digital camera, I took that camera with me everywhere. Photographing everything high and low, I took pictures of plants, icicles, the sky, food on my plate, friends at the park, dogs walking by; really anything that caught my eye. One of my favorite pastimes when I lived at home was opening all of the boxes of photographs and shuffling through them, passing them around and sharing stories and memories of each photograph. My mom has about 5-6 bankers boxes with thousands of photographs and a dozen albums in them and I’ve spent so many hours shuffling through them; reminiscing on old times. Read more>>

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