We had the good fortune of connecting with Dan Mueller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dan, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
When I hear the term or phrase “risk-taking,” I think about the way my heart starts racing when I have something important to say. When, because of the salience of my social identity and of how the content of my thoughts could be construed, I begin carefully combing through each word I wish to share. When I think about risk-taking, I reflect on how it feels to be truly seen and to be vulnerable enough to share what we each hold within. If I started a list of all the daredevil stunts the only slightly younger me pulled, risky might be putting it lightly. But for me, it was nothing. Just another day, just another activity or adventure. Just another way to show I wasn’t afraid or doubtful. Some could even say traveling abroad to developing countries, dedicating my first three years after undergraduate to unpaid service, and living and working abroad were bold moves. Through my eyes, it’s been things less physically precarious but the more mentally moving that have felt dangerous for me. Being the first in my family to attend university was by far more nerve-wracking for me than somewhat randomly booking a one-way ticket to San Diego and starting my own consulting social enterprise upon arrival. The opportunity to explore my identity and express myself has always proven a much greater challenge than navigating other metaphysical terrain. Some of the greatest risks we can take are allowing ourselves to open and soften to one another and the world at large. Though westerners often think of it as movement and meditation, the eight limbs of yoga offer endless ideas to inform how we connect with ourselves and interact with others. This is what I try to celebrate in my daily life and in the way I share the teachings of yoga. These are the risks we can all take in helping shape the world we wish to see.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Tears. Trials. Tribulations. Trusting my intuition. Those who’ve trusted in me. Trying anything twice. These are all things that have led me to where I live and lead from today. Lessons in listening, skills in softening, wise words from elders and wild visions have guided me from a small farming town in the heart of the Midwest to the sunny city of San Diego, where I have the opportunity to learn from and grow alongside likeminded thought leaders and practitioners of community empowerment and peace-building. It’s hard to answer to exactly what I do because I keep myself open to so much. I recently signed on to oversee Development at GRID Alternatives San Diego, a nonprofit solar installation organization that understands the importance of equipping individuals with the tools to revitalize their communities. I’m a California Projects Developer for Slow Food USA, which is an international grassroots nonprofit working toward a vision of “Good, Clean and Fair Food for All.” I also oversee operations for the San Diego Urban Sustainability Coalition and have had the pleasure of providing nonprofit management consultation services for a handful of awesome organizations here in San Diego over the last couple years. I’ve been practicing yoga for about seven years and was blessed to receive a scholarship to complete my teacher training a year ago. My journey into the world of yoga began with meditation in high school as a means of coping with diagnosed anxiety. Athletic injuries pushed me away from a career in sports and into impassioned academic pursuit. Yoga was the perfect marriage of engaging mind, body & spirit. When disordered eating crept its way into my life, my practice was there. While living and working abroad in atmospheres of uncertainty, my practice was there. I hope to empower others to find something they can return to no matter where in life they are. I aspire to cultivate an environment that is accessible and trauma-informed.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Friday Afternoon arrival: I’m know for the giving “The Food Tour,” so my ideal itinerary for a close friend visiting the city is going to leave us both feeling large and in charge. Because I’m a little dramatic, I’d pick them up from the airport, have them drop their things off at my tiny Bankers Hill apartment and head straight to where it all started for me: The Mount Hope Community Garden. We’d pick up churro donuts and dirty Matcha latte’s from Dark Horse Golden Hill on the way. I’d share with them the story of the racial justice work being facilitated there by Diane Moss and Project New Village and how it inspired me to pack my bags and make the move just two years ago. We’d grab some spinach ricotta slices from Luigi’s in Golden Hill on our way back to my place, enjoy the sunset, peering out at the bay from mini backdoor balcony and catch up over wine.
Saturday: We’d wake up early and walk down to James Coffee in Little Italy for honey cinnamon lattes and chocolate almond croissants before heading to the Farmer’s Mercado to grab provisions for their stay, stopping at Mona Lisa deli on the way back to my place for the insane pasta salad.
Next is my personal and crowd favorite: Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. We’d grab a snack from Fish & Loaf and pick up the freshest, most delicious and locally caught seafood So Cal has to offer and take in the sights and sounds of the fishermen’s version of a farmers market. We cook a big meal together, stay in and watch movies. Sunday: A trip to Kellogg Beach for paddle board yoga and kayaking to generate some energy before heading to the Rose Wine bar in South Park to feast on natural wines and the infamous salad pie.
Monday: I’m all about a day trip, so we’d head out to Anza Borrego Desert State Park for hiking and photo ops.
Tuesday: Plants for me and locally-made souvenirs for them, we’d head to North Park Nursery and The Bungalow. I’d be surprised if I could resist the veggie bagel sandwich at the next-door Communal Coffee, so there’s that. We’d head back and pack them up for their Wednesday departure.
The best tofu and ramen can be found at Dao Fu on Adams Avenue. It’s the perfect place to chow down after slurping down some cocktails at the very cool Sycamore Den just across the street.
Wednesday Evening departure: Just before dropping them off at the airport, we swing by Mitch’s Seafood in Point Loma for the freshest fish sandwich and cool bayside views. I can’t imagine sending someone I love off with any other taste in their mouth.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family and my partner for their unconditional love and support; Slow Food Urban San Diego for their conversations and commitment; The black women in my life for the reminder of the beauty and dynamism of our people; Lee Mun Wah for teaching me that curiosity and compassion are a compass for life
Modeling photos by Cat Coppenrath: https://www.catcoppenrath.com/
Nominate someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.