Nastassja Schmiedt is the Imaginatrix and Co-Founder of Spring Up. 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 were passionate about social justice in all its forms. Nastassja traveled widely throughout their life, and began writing creepy short stories inspired by Edgar Allan Poe at a young age, which later developed into writing spoken word poetry. As a student at Dartmouth College, Nastassja studied the social construction of race and gender and its impact on perception, self-identity, and politics, was a student leader in numerous campus organizations, participated in constructing the first trans* discrimination survey in Florida, and organized for greater digital voter registration of people of color.
Nastassja met Lea at an LGBT conference in 2012, and the two began to interweave their organizing, academic interests, and personal lives. In the spring of 2013, Nastassja was part of organizing the controversial #realtalkdartmouth protests, which highlighted the systemic underreporting of violence against marginalized students on campus and led to widespread online threats and harassment from peer students. Nastassja was the lead complainant on an intersectional Clery Act complaint against Dartmouth College to the Office of Civil Rights later that spring alleging systematic underreporting of sexual violence and hate crimes on campus. After leaving school as a result of harassment, Nastassja and Lea were inspired to create their own social enterprise to imagine alternatives to the current state of higher education and co-founded Spring Up, a multimedia activist collective creating a space for learning and healing. They traveled around the United States on a four-month road trip, giving workshops about campus violence and intersectional coalitional organizing at conferences and campuses and speaking to students from over 40 institutions of higher education. Nastassja is one half of the creative duo Phoenix Moment along with Lea, and together they co-authored MILLENNIAL SEX, a collection of short stories exploring themes desire, consent, and millennial sexuality, and co-host the Phoenix Moment Podcast.
Lea is the Mythematician and Co-Founder of Spring Up. They grew up in Southeastern Minnesota, in a small town of just over one thousand people. As a child, Lea read anything they could get their hands on, and loved to adventure outdoors. Coming from this rural background, Lea saw how important community engagement, thriving local businesses, and a vibrant arts community are to a healthy society. They studied the social construction of structural inequality and its relationship to global health at Dartmouth College, and were an activist for LGBTQ* rights and alleviating international health disparities, particularly HIV/AIDS. Lea conducted research into the neuroscience of learning, the historical efficacy of activist media strategies, and perceptions of privacy in healthcare settings within the Education and Sociology Departments of Dartmouth. During college, Lea had several fascinating internship opportunities at the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, the Rwandan Ministry of Health, and Ganas—a large urban intentional community in New York City—that helped them understand global mobility, public health, and the construction of community in deep experiential ways. They were also fortunate to have many opportunities for travel during their education, and developed an interest in the power of globally interconnected social entrepreneurship.
Lea met Nastassja at an LGBT conference in 2012, and the two began to interweave their organizing, academic interests, and personal lives. Lea was also part of the #realtalkdartmouth protests, and was the secondary complainant on the intersectional Clery Act complaint against Dartmouth College to the Office of Civil Rights. Lea graduated from Dartmouth College in June of 2014. They are the co-founder of Spring Up and is one half of the creative duo Phoenix Moment along with Nastassja. Together, they co-authored MILLENNIAL SEX, a collection of short stories exploring themes of desire, consent, and millennial sexuality. The two also curate the Global Portals community and the Imagine a World Campaign, and co-host the Phoenix Moment Podcast