Barbara Bry is, above all, a delightful woman. However, her warm and gracious demeanor is by no way to be confused with frailty. She is, after all, the powerhouse who created ProFlowers.com, a very active community leader and a contender for City Council District 1.
District 1 encompasses Carmel Valley, La Jolla, and University City, which are called home by a large portion of the Jewish community of San Diego. In our interview, we explored Bry´s take on everything from mini-hotels, the drought and the way her Jewish roots have informed her successful career.
L’CHAIM Magazine: How has your Jewish background informed your personal and professional trajectory?
Barbara Bry: I was brought up in a Jewish family outside of Philadelphia, with Jewish values of Tikkun Olam and Tzedaka, and I think those have informed my whole life in terms that I have always been involved in the general community and the Jewish community, and it has been an important part of who I am.
L’CHAIM: You are a journalist and an entrepreneur. In what ways will those experiences help you serve the city better?
BB: I think the combination of the two is very useful. As a journalist you learn how to ask questions, to research, to listen, to probe. Those skill sets are very useful for a City Council member. Also, as a journalist, sometimes it´s hard to get the information you want, and you don´t take no for an answer. You keep pushing and pushing until you get what you need. The same is true for an entrepreneur. I´ve been on the founding team of two companies which did things which were very disruptive at the time…
L’CHAIM: How do you plan to conserve water and still keep San Diego beautiful?
BB: Twenty years ago in San Diego, we used as much water as we use today, and there are many more people now leaving in San Diego, so we have been doing a good job in conserving our usage overall. We can do a lot as individuals [by implementing measures to conserve in our households]. On a larger scale, the City and the County can do a better job to recapture rainwater with rain barrels. The City is also working on a program – which I support, to recycle wastewater and turn it into clean drinking water, by utilizing proven technologies which have been used in Israel and other countries.
L’CHAIM: Seniors are living longer and need more resources. How do you plan on covering their needs?
BB:Many seniors today are not comfortable with technology, yet they need it. So one of my priorities is to make sure seniors know where to go to get these skills. Our public libraries are doing a good job on offering free classes. At the Jewish Women´s Foundation [where Bry served as Chair at the time of printing], we have founded two programs, one at the JCC and Jewish Family Services to teach technology to seniors, which I am very proud of.
L’CHAIM: There’s a lot of talk of rent hikes. How do you propose San Diego deal with its expensive housing issue?
BB: Rents are going up because we don’t have a lot of supply. I have a few different ideas to expand affordable housing opportunities in San Diego… One of the issues that really concern me are mini-hotels. There are probably around 6,000 homes in San Diego that are rented two nights here, a week there (throughout the year), and are not available for permanent San Diegans to rent or own. The City should enforce the existing city code to prohibit permanent whole-house, short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods.
Bry´s campaign slogan, “She Means Business” really seems to encompass what she´s all about. We learned a lot from this intelligent woman who doesn´t seem to shy away from difficult challenges, but on the contrary, embraces them. To learn more about Barbara Bry visit www.barbarabry.com.