Brit Charek, 33, recently received a Knight Arts Challenge grant for the Bechdel Fest, a film festival celebrating gender equality and diversity that is slated to debut in May 2019. In addition to her job as a high school English teacher, she is vice president of PechaKucha Akron and executive director of Crafty Mart (Akron’s independent, handmade marketplace). She lives in Medina with her husband and two sons.

Teaching rewards

I teach 10th grade at Cloverleaf High School [in Lodi]. I also have a CCP class, which is a dual-enrollment class through the University of Akron. I’ve been teaching that class for four years now, and I feel like I’m finally finding my groove with teaching people not just to be writers but to be thoughtful writers.

Hemingway and Shakespeare

I love Hemingway, and I love Shakespeare. I love the clean and neat, but also the super-complicated. I want to share my love of literature and get kids involved in a story. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what kind of story it is, as long as they can learn the skills of how to be a good reader and writer.

Crafty Mart growth

Crafty Mart has been really cool. When I started there in 2012 it was this biannual craft show, and then we incorporated as a nonprofit. It got to the point where we were attracting 5,000 people to these events. We’ve started doing more entrepreneurial training and hired some part-time staff.

Crafty Mart values

I really pride myself on being a conscious consumer. Even when I can’t shop local, I try to shop small. I know it costs more and means more trips, but I just can’t stand giving my hard-earned dollars to companies that I don’t share values with. I spend an almost embarrassing percentage of my Crafty Mart paycheck at Crafty Mart events.

Art as therapy

I’m more of an arts advocate than an artist myself, but I still see value in engaging in the creative process on whatever base level you can. I had some real issues with anxiety and depression after I had my second child, and even simple things like coloring or painting wooden beads was so relaxing for me, especially when I’d do it with friends. The hands-on, DIY workshops we have at Crafty Mart aren’t huge money-makers, but I always make sure we include them because they’re community-builders.

Female heroes and villains

It was really awesome to go and watch Wonder Woman with my older son. It wasn’t just action, there was this narrative arc. And it’s nice to see women in roles where they’re not just being saved. Actually, we just saw the new Thor movie, and there was a woman villain [Cate Blanchett’s Hela]. I don’t want to root for the bad guy, but I kind of wanted to root for her.

Bechdel Fest

We’ll be telling the stories of women and people of color and the LGBTQ community. (The name is a reference to the “Bechdel Test.” A movie passes the test if two named female characters have a conversation about something besides a man.)

Conversation-starter

I’d like the Bechdel Fest to start a conversation about gender equality. Having that conversation is important. I want my kids to value all people. Also, it’s just for audiences to enjoy great stories.

FAVES & RAVES

Food

I’m obsessed with Nepali Kitchen. They have a Paneer Curry that if I was lucky enough to choose my last meal, that would be it.

Kid stuff

The Akron Children’s Museum is awesome. Both my kids are entertained there. And Lock 3. We really like Winterfest. The ice skating is terrific. And once they tire of that, you can take them on the slide and all the other stuff.

— Clint O’Connor