The Girls!

Nicole Green

JournalistSan Francisco, CAStory & Photos by Lauri Levenfeld

I knew Nicole Green was a stand-out for the lucky year I had her interning for The Project for Women. I immediately understood her drive, her understanding, her passion and her kindness towards others and the world around her.  What I did not realize was her total badass perspective on the way she wanted to see the world, record it and change it for the better. Over the past year, Green has gone on to shine light on her own star locking in a journalism major and a future career telling stories through her writings &  photos.

Last week, she jumped at the chance for her first major assignment covering the Northern California fires for her college magazine. Through her story today on The Project for Girls,  Nicole gives us a unique window into the heartbreaking relics and devastation of last week, yet celebrating the women and men who bravely fought to keep their communities safe and who will forever be marked as heroes. 
 1. Who are you? What were you like as a child?

Hey! My name is Nicole Green and I’m a 21 year-old Journalism student at San Francisco State University. I grew up in an extremely small town, the type of town where everyone knows everything about everyone else, in Northern California. I couldn’t get away with changing a song while driving without my mom receiving a text from another parent about Nicole ‘texting and driving.’ Though at the time I hated living there, I appreciate what the town gave me. It gave me the motivation to seek bigger and better things.

When I asked my mom about what I was like as a child, she responded “Oh, God!” I’m choosing to take that “Oh, God!” as a compliment whether it were meant to be one or not.  As a child, I was fearless. To this day, my grandparents still refer to me as Sandra Dee because of the countless nights they spent watching me perform songs from Grease. I’d stand on their coffee table, with my microphone brush in hand, a towel acting as a long wig, and sing (not well), “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee.”

 

2. What is it about being a journalist that calls you to action? What do you hope to gain through the stories you tell?

Journalism is something that forces a person out of their comfort zone. It’s not a job that only requires sitting behind a desk. Journalists are expected to meet, interview, and learn from all different types of people.  I think those are the things that draw me towards journalism. Journalism has a way of bringing people together and that’s something I enjoy. I love going into an interview and expecting one thing, and then coming out with something completely different. It changes my perspective on things.

3. You had your first major assignment this weekend to cover the Northern California fires in Napa for your college magazine… What was this experience? Can you give us more perspective on what’s going on there?

My experience covering the North Bay Fires was surreal.  Saturday morning, I packed up my gear, hopped in my Volkswagen bug, and drove to Santa Rosa with white surgical masks in hand. I had zero expectations about my trip. I was just hoping to take a few shots of the destruction, maybe get a few interviews, and then head home. When I arrived, I was granted access behind barricades into the neighborhood of Fountain Grove.

As I drove through what used to be neighborhoods, I was shocked. The homes of thousands, some of which are my friends, are completely leveled.. Metal patio furniture, ceramic figurines, concrete stairways, and dozens of brick fireplaces are all that remains in these suburban areas. I spent hours amongst the ruble, taking photos of everything I could.  Towards the end of my afternoon, I ran into four firefighters from San Francisco. We spent about an hour talking about the amount of destruction caused by the fires. All four agreed that this is the worst fire they’ve ever seen.

 

5. When you accept an assignment (like the fires), is fear ever an issue? Describe the process of getting prepared, emotionally and physically, for the task.

So far, fear has yet to be an issue. I also think, because I get so excited about covering events like the fire, I don’t let myself fear. Having a camera between you and what you’re taking photos of, really makes a difference. It almost acts like a shield. It separates the photographer from subject. Having that separation makes it easier to take photos of tragic or gruesome events. For the fires, it was more emotional than anything else. I found myself thinking about how my life would be, had my home been destroyed by flames. 

 5. Describe a news story or event that has changed your perspective on life and the way you live it.

I remember first learning the news of the Sandy Hook shooting while sitting in an AP Environmental Studies class, at Gilroy High School. I could not comprehend how someone could do something so awful and terrible. These are things I still struggle comprehending… Time and time again, we hear about these horrific accounts. And each time another shooting occurs, I think about all of the people who are important to me. I think about how different my life would be, if they weren’t in it. These horrible and tragic events that occur way too often, have taught me to not take the people you love, for granted.

 

6. Who are your life heroes?

My mom, duh! She’s absolutely amazing. My sister and I often talk about how lucky we got having her as our mom. Her cookies aren’t too bad either!

Michelle Obama. Honestly, who doesn’t love Michelle Obama? Do I even need to explain why she’s a life hero?

Sophia Amoruso, the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, and the author of Girlboss, a New York Times best seller. She’s a badass who doesn’t take shit from anyone.

Zoe Frank, the smart, sassy, and kind nine-year-old girl I nanny. I’ve cared after Zoe since she was five and have seen her grow so much. She inspires me to work for a better world.

7. With all that is going on in the world today- politics, natural disasters and more, what are the things that you hold tightly to move you forward? What things are most important to you?

This is so cliché and so not an answer anyone wants to hear, but my family is by far the most important thing to me. My dad, John, mom, Monica (my sister and I call her Momica), and sister, Natalie (or Bratalie. Whichever one I prefer) are by far the coolest, kindest, and most supportive people I know. I didn’t realize what amazing family I had, until I left for college. I think it took being away from them to realize how incredible they truly are.

 

8. Name a song that best describes you and why.

“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen is one of my all time favorite songs. It’s an old song, but a good song.

My dad, a music obsessed geek, only allowed ‘good music’ to be played in the car. This consisted of Queen, Pat Benatar, Tom Petty, The Stones, Chrissie Hynde, and so on. If we even suggested turning on Top 20, we were immediately shut down. At the time, we hated it. We didn’t want to listen to Hotel California when we could have been listening to Oops I Did It Again. Now, looking back, I am SO appreciative of the music my dad ‘forced’ us to listen to.

It also doesn’t suck knowing all the words to Bohemian Rhapsody.

 

9. Describe your girl tribe.  Who and Why?

My girl tribe consists of some badass women. Every girlfriend I have encourages and inspires me to do better and to be better.

One is currently studying in Australia, another is killing it while writing for a beauty website, one is the president of my sorority, another is running her own makeup line, and one is interning for Google. I have to pinch myself when I’m around them.

10. What’s next for Nicole Green? (In all aspects of life, tell us your dreams!)

New York City, baby! After I graduate, that is.

I’d die to work for a magazine like Paper. You know, the magazine that broke the Internet with the photo of Kim Kardashian popping champagne? Paper Magazine is based in New York City and focuses on fashion, pop culture, lifestyle, music, and art (basically everything I’m interested in). The magazine is filled with stunning photos ranging from high fashion, to celeb profiles, to recent events. It’s my dream job. I still have another year until I’ll officially be done at San Francisco State.. Until then, stay tuned!  

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