When Christina Kane was eight years old, she became fascinated with wallpapering. She asked her mother to show her how to do it, and her mother showed her on a small section of wall. Within a week, Christina had single-handedly wallpapered the entire living room, matching the pattern up and smoothing out the bubbles.
“I think I’ve always enjoyed finding out how to do something and do it well,” Christina Kane, Director of Culture at The Grove, told me recently. Finding out how to do something and mastering it has been a consistent theme in Christina’s life. She was hired on the spot by Arthur Murry Dance Studios when she was spotted by studio instructors at a party. “I actually never got to be a student,” she laughed. At The Grove Christina’s mastery of details is evident in a variety of ways, from the meticulously handwritten notices to the choice of wines and her vibrant hosting at the weekly Wine Down sessions.
Originally from the Pittsburgh area, Christina started honing her appreciation of various aspects of what constitutes a culture at an early age. “I had very brave parents,” Christina said. “They let me travel overseas at fourteen.” Her first adventure abroad was with a group that went to Mumbai, India. The experience was so positive that she decided to register for home schooling and take courses at a community college, allowing her to complete her high school accreditation early and free up time for more travel overseas. She returned to India a number of times, as well as travelling to Norway, Columbia, and South Africa on mission trips and doing humanitarian efforts.
Asked what she wanted had to be when she grew up, she replied, “I wanted to be an adult and have my own apartment and my own bills. Because, what do adults talk about? They talk about their place and they talk about paying their bills.” A successful career in healthcare provided Christina with the ability to have her own bills, as well as a large two-family house where she was able to develop a dynamic creative culture with the young artists and professionals who lived there with her. Unfortunately, the economy took a downturn, forcing Christina into a different direction. “[I] had a house full of brilliant people as I slowly and painstakingly remodeled it, only to have my career change at 27-28.” It was a disillusioning experience. “You’re in a system where it’s not designed for freelancers, freethinkers and problem solvers,” she said, ruminating on the effect of the crash on the housing market. “To overcome injustice like that, I think was really hard. Hard on my identity and I think it’s hard on society. Not the job, but the home – that’s a big part of how I expressed my creativity and my offering. . . To have that loss. I think, was harder than switching jobs and being creative with finances.”
Typically, Christina rebounded. She enrolled at Southern Connecticut State University, where she majored in psychology and fine arts and ultimately found her way to The Grove. Christina is often the first person new members or visitors to The Grove encounter. Along with providing a welcoming presence, Christina shapes the daily culture by, as
she puts it, “providing definitions for people to get immersed in our Grove Collaborative culture; to really celebrate the milestones that can go unnoticed as you build a business; as you build a dream. The happiest part, I think, is the privilege of knowing so many passionate people who are filled with purpose and are pursuing it every single day. I love discovering those ah-ha moments that make people come alive and if at all possible, to facilitate that.”