Lea Roth & Nastassja Schmiedt

 Lea Roth, TEDxWashingtonSquare, 10.15.16

A. LEA ROTH is a mythematician and knowmad. Growing up in a tiny town in Minnesota, they developed a love of stories and outdoor adventures, and an appreciation for local (and non-local!) communities. They studied how humans learn, grow, and connect at Dartmouth College, where research grants and an interest in public health brought them around the world and developed into a passion for the transformative power of globally interconnected social entrepreneurship. Lea met Nastassja Schmiedt at a queer conference in 2012, and the two began to fall in love and interweave their organizing, academic interests, and personal lives.

 Nastassja Schmiedt, TEDxWashingtonSquare, 10.15.16

NASTASSJA SCHMIEDT is a storyteller and imaginatrix. They were born in Florence, Italy and raised in Miami, Florida. Growing up as a mixed-race child model and actress, they came to understand the importance of representation and media, and became passionate about social justice in all its forms. As a student at Dartmouth College, Nastassja studied the social construction of race and gender and its impact on perception, self-identity, and politics.  Nastassja’s writing is featured on online platforms including Blavity and HuffPost. 

NASTASSJA AND LEA were the organizers and lead complainants on a 2013 federal complaint against Dartmouth College to the Department of Education regarding the institution’s handling of sexual violence and hate crimes on campus. In 2013, Lea and Nastassja created Spring Up (timetospringup.org), a multimedia activist collective making a space for conflict transformation through intentional mythmaking. The two appeared on stage with 50 other survivors and Lady Gaga at the 2016 Oscars in a breakthrough statement for the sexual assault movement and contributed to the moving anthology “We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out.” Their student activism is featured in the award-winning 2015 documentary “The Hunting Ground” and the forthcoming “Silent College.” Nastassja and Lea co-authored Millennial Sex, a collection of short stories exploring themes of desire, consent, and millennial sexuality, and they co-host the Phoenix Moment Podcast. They enjoy making bowties for their cats Audre and Wilhelm. Nastassja and Lea are engaged and planning their union ceremony in Colorado!

Developing a healthy and loving relationship to your body and sexuality is a complex process, especially when healing from sexual violence. As queer community organizers and survivors of sexual violence, Nastassja and Lea have spent years trying to understand gender and sexuality, trauma and healing. The breakthrough was when they realized that they needed to turn their activist gaze inward and embrace their own healing journeys before they could help or teach others. Nastassja and Lea used creative writing as a therapeutic process to build trust and communication; to define their own narratives - and imagine new ones. The fiction they wrote held the lessons they learned and facilitated transformative experiences around sexuality for people of many ages. With that, they realized they had a toolbox for an innovative storytelling and conversation-based sex ed curriculum to help people build strong foundations of empathy, communication, identity, and consent. Their fictional book Millennial Sex Education is available for free download at timetospringup.org/millennialsexeducation