Before Serena was 21 she had already lived on three continents. She kept up her international explorations with an impenetrable obsession for uncovering cultural gems, unexpectedly returning to the United States.
She fell back in love with her home country and created the GrassRoutes book series and blog to share her discoveries. It chronicles Serena’s West Coast travels, which prove that you can have a better adventure – even find a more delicious latte, or see more interesting exhibits – while doing everyone around you a favor.
Everywhere she goes she gathers invisible souvenirs: fun ways to tread more lightly on the planet. (Find these “Good Ideas” in most of her posts, and look for icons in the guidebooks to see who composts or is located on a public transit route, etc.)
Serena is a sponge for creative solutions to become more self-reliant, like sewing her own sheets and quilts, designing jewelry, making wild forays in the kitchen, and growing her own edible garden. Her foodie-ness is ever growing – she’s reviewed hundreds of restaurants, develops recipes inspired by her travels, and has a penchant for getting dirt under her nails (this is nothing new – she’s been gardening since she could walk.)
Her travel tips, writings, recipes, and photographs have since been featured in National Geographic Traveler, Sunset Magazine, several of the Edible Magazines, and numerous blogs, newspapers, TV programs, and radio shows. More at www.serenabartlett.com.
Serena can’t make up her mind between city and country – she’s equally comfortable on a pack trip with her poodle or taking the A train.
GrassRoutes Guides are an original book series all about sustainable travel – sustaining the wide-eyed state of exploration in a way that gives back to the local economy, environment, and community.
Each guidebook features unique chapters like Up Early, Dress Up, Pamper, and Volunteer. Follow the GrassRoutes icons to see what each place does to make a positive impact on the local economy, environment and community.
If you believe in local ownership and diversity, that community gardens and native plants should flourish, that buses and bikes are preferred options for getting around, that volunteering and community involvement are cool, that fair trade and organic dinners are ideal—then GrassRoutes Guides are for you.
A note on my critiquing style…
I have great respect for people who make things and people who serve others (which we all do in various ways even if it isn’t in our job description.)
After having been fed, entertained, cleaned up after, etc. in so many places, I don’t especially want to fill my writing with a steady stream of grumpy commentary. I have developed discerning tastes and an appreciation for a broad span of experiences, and when I’m researching I talk to everyone from orchestra conductors to hotel maids, each with the same regard.
If I’m unsatisfied more than half the time I simply don’t write a word – it isn’t worth it to me. I direct you, treasured readers, to the true highlights, and while I might note a distaste for fried foods cooked at the wrong temperature, or a spa day filled with elevator music, I stay mostly positive for a reason.
In this way GrassRoutes writings aren’t your typical form of review. My goal, and that of contributing writers, is to point you toward the most inspiring, delicious, exceptional places and events, and to highlight the good ideas we’ve gleaned from the experience.
The GrassRoutes Crew
Jessica Hilberman, a skilled journalist with oodles of passion for the Bay Area scene contributed to the Oakland/Berkeley guidebook and keeps everyone up-to-date with her fab twitter feed.
Jamie Freedman, ethnomusicologist, GrassRoutes playlist maker, and all around cool lady blogger knows the ins and outs of California and the secrets of America’s music scene.
Joy Lian Alferness is totally hooked in to the San Francisco restaurant culture; she’s also our local theater diva. She’s contributed to our San Francisco guide and is now taking time to be mom of two.
Ariella Saperstein is perched in Brooklyn Heights and helps me out when I’m homesick for New York City. But more than that she’s an incredible writer, thinker, and finder of cheap theater tickets and free outdoor movies.
Julia Dodge is a connoisseur of Bay Area culture. She’s contributed to our Wine Country guidebook and runs her own online magazine Vonette.
Maria Pecot is our resident night owl, who seems to find good stories everywhere she goes. She’s an Oakland native, now earning another fancy degree. Smarty pants.
Isaac Marion, creative wizard and author of crazy cool fiction is our Seattle insider. Keep up to date with him at his web home.
Marisa McClellan, canning blogger extraordinaire at Food in Jars, adds her wise two cents about great food and good times in Portland and Philadelphia.
Ilsa Bartlett, isn’t just my mom, she was also once a journalist and now helps me write and research Bay Area places. She also does counseling for transitions.
Raina Rose, talented singer/songwriter from Portland who is almost always on the road criss-crossing America and sharing her discoveries.
Nicky Kriara, multimedia artist and Portland native tells us the best of the Northwest, especially when it comes to the art scene.
Cheryl Koehler adds bountiful prose to our East Bay reviews when she’s not busy managing her magazine Edible East Bay.
Dutsi Bap, the GrassRoutes research poodle volunteers at the local senior center when he’s not bugging us for wild romps or keeping our feet warm while we write.