The Venus and Her Fly Trip trilogy is created through the collective effort of the Mermaid Brigade, an incredible team of healers, therapists, teachers, artists and thinkers who are concerned about the inner life of our young people and want them to remember the magic of life. The Mermaid Brigade seeks to give kids tools that will help them not only survive but thrive, by enchanting them with stories that reflect their own positive inner qualities.
Julia Hengst, LMFT
Julia is an avid surfer, traveler and word aficionado who was born in Texas and reborn in Santa Cruz, California. Having lived and studied abroad in wildly diverse settings, she brings a passion for multi-cultural awareness, somatic psychology, spirituality and media literacy to the project. She holds an undergraduate degree in Media Studies from UC Berkeley, a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from JFK University, and an imaginary degree from the University of Puns. A youth mentor for over 20 years, she worked for 5 years in high school settings in the Bay Area, founded a mindfulness and meditation retreat for teens, and has an ongoing private practice dedicated to healing trauma of all kinds. Her writing experience includes professional stints at Mandala Magazine and newsdesk.org, a chapter in Blue Jean Buddha, and extensive case notes for scores of therapy clients.
Julia is a master herbalist, Gestalt psychotherapist, homeopath, bodyworker and author. Creator of the Lily Circle flower essences and author of The Language of Plants, she is the founder and director of the Naturopathic Earthquake Survivor Relief Clinic in Haiti, which has offered free treatment to over 60.000 people to date.
Heather has been a teacher for the past 25 years. In classrooms, mountains, forests, and oceans she has relied on the imaginative power of storytelling to mentor and educate young people. She has a Masters Degree in Education from Antioch University, a bachelor degree in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley, a California State Teaching Credential and a Certificate in Waldorf Education. She currently lives in Santa Barbara where she teaches 5th and 6th grade at the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara. In her free time she loves to surf, make music and travel with her friends and family.
Esther is a children’s book illustrator from Catskill, a small town in upstate New York beside the Catskill mountain range. When she was seventeen, Esther went to study at California College of the Arts in Oakland California, and after graduating with a degree in printmaking and illustration worked as a letterpress printer at Carrot & Stick Press. In 2013 she moved to Berlin Germany where she focused her attention on illustration and children's books, which had been her ultimate dream since the beginning of time. Some of Esther's clients include Maker's Magazine, Love and Radio, Literally Speaking and Compagnie des Wanderers.
Dr. Ara Holiday, PsyD
Ara is a 28-year old clinical psychologist working at a community mental health center in West Virginia. She is training to work in the magical art of spiritual healing as well. She has always had a love for art and creation, among many other things, and spends free time making “doodles” as one of her creative outlets. The idea of creating artistic doodles for a series that promotes confidence, acceptance and a sense of connection to the world is an exhilarating and magical opportunity.
Caity is an artist and ocean enthusiast born and raised on the East Coast. She was born in South Carolina, but grew up on the ocean in the North Shore of Massachusetts and continues to be inspired by the surf culture she was immersed in from a young age. With salty hair and sandy toes, helping others through teaching art in her community fueled her introduction into the art world. Now alumni from Plymouth State University, she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fine Art and a minor in Art History. Her body of work created over the years has gained her exposure in galleries across New England and her research in art history has been presented at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Repetition of expressive mark making and bright colors throughout her work has allowed her to build her own visual vocabulary unique to her artistic style and experiences of life riding waves.
Sarah Clark, MS/MALD
Sarah is a producer, project manager and organizer extraordinaire. As Founder and Director of Image & Sound Group, she manages creative arts initiatives that make the world a better place, including literature, video and animation projects in K-12 education, public health, environmental conservation and animal welfare. Sarah's formal education is interdisciplinary; she has a BA in Public Health (with Minor in Peace and Conflict Studies) from UC Berkeley, a MS in Food Systems and a MA in Law & Diplomacy, both from Tufts University in Boston. She spends half her time outdoors, half indoors, half with animals, half with humans, and half in the US and abroad -- mostly in Latin America. As a fluent Spanish speaker born and raised in Southern California all of her work focuses deeply on promoting bi/multi-culturalism, bi/multi-lingualism, the questioning of “rules” and and the dissolving of “borders.”
Edith served as the Director of Staff Equity and Diversity Services at UC Berkeley for over 15 years. She also taught multicultural conflict resolution in the Peace and Conflict Studies Program. An alumnus of UC Berkeley, Edith has created diversity educational curriculum and consulted with departments on multicultural organization development efforts to enhance organizational productivity.
Rachel counts jazz, hip-hop, classical and several other genres of music as foundational precursors to her style, as both songstress and educator. Playing off of her formal music training, Rachel takes those influences into her honest lyricism and playful production as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and public school music educator. Growing up in Pennsylvania, she received her degree in Music Education from Temple University, and resided in Philly to teach music in the Philadelphia School District. In 2011, Rachel trekked across the country to California to start from scratch personally and musically, finding home in the classrooms of east Oakland and releasing her debut album, Life Injected. Currently residing in Austin, TX, Rachel continues to share her growing journey, creating and teaching music in the Manor Independent School District. Her unique perspective as an urban educator and musician lends itself to her confidence in the transformational opportunities music offers.
Catherine Owens, MS
Catherine is an artist, writer, and plant-lover living in Boston, MA. Since hanging her shingle as Chalk & Ink in 2012, she has created chalk murals for restaurants, businesses, and homeowners throughout the Greater Boston Area. In her artwork, she aims to capture the grace of movement in the natural world and the structural elegance of manmade forms, together with a healthy sprinkle of whimsy. Today, she utilizes her creativity in support of social and environmental causes, both as a member of the Mermaid Brigade and through her new platform, Quarry and Reseed. There, she weaves art with her formal areas of study in the health sciences, sustainable agriculture, and rural development, to explore the ethical and ecological impacts of the more creative aspects of our daily lives: art, fashion, food, and design.