Florence’s petite stature holds the steely poise of a ballerina. Her high cheekbones are accentuated by hair that is pulled into a bun and her skin takes on the glow of porcelain in the dying light. She loves to dance and had dreamed of doing so professionally when she was young. For a time she lived in Tajikistan, learning to Tajik dance and teaching ballet because there was no one else there who knew how to teach. Now she is a city planner in Paris which is a dance all its own, but she describes the process to me as it being much like working as a physician tending to the well being of a patient. Cutting away stagnant masses and rerouting the flow of urban highways so that the city can breathe with fresh life. To be a town planner is “...to improve the life of the people, the same as a doctor. We are a doctor for spaces.” You have to understand a little bit of everything to be a town planner, the geography and how it interplays with the ecosystem, the history and habits of its people, the whole story, before you can create a better future. When working in Paris this can be very challenging because it is such an ancient city and the core infrastructure was set in place long ago, to adapt to a modern culture it is necessary to “always rebuild the city on the city.”
“It is so gratifying to see what you create become a reality.” An example of this is Vélib,' which translates to ‘bicycle freedom’, this large scale public bicycle sharing system in Paris has about 18,000 bicycles and over 1,200 stations. Paris is one of the first cities to implement the system. “I worked on this project and it was very satisfying to see it working and people loving it.” Florence works at the national level now. She is working with politicians and hopes to become an effective consultant in political arenas by being “conscious of the needs for cities and for their inhabitants.” She has a strong drive to empower people and enhance their lives, “it is what I love about my work.”
“It is very important to keep an open mind to other cultures and other desires, it is the only way to build a better tomorrow.”
A single mother of two, Florence is intent on raising her young son and daughter to be tolerant. “It is very important to keep an open mind to other cultures and other desires, it is the only way to build a better tomorrow.” She abhors any kind of discrimination and is vehement in ending its perpetuation in the next generation. She tells her children “to be curious, but not judgmental.” Florence encourages their independence, and she knows first hand that the only way to find your happiness is to be able to make your own choices and learn for them. While her son and daughter are only 9 and 6 years old, and need a lot of guidance, she hopes to instill the confidence of decision making in them for when they are older. She wants them to be selfish in following their passions in life, and generous in their courtesy to others.
‘I am very much a city girl’, an urban woman with a love for the mountains, Florence spends vacation time skiing or hiking in the French Alps. While she loves to travel she is unabashedly in love with her native France, from the Alsacian vineyards around her hometown, to the beauty and energy of Paris. Through this she is able to strike the perfect balance between serenity and turbulence, much like her goals of bringing synergy to the bustling tangle of urban pathways.
Florence's Favorite Les Lunes is the Lace Dress in Pine pictured below.