About Asha Dornfest

Photo credit: Karen Walrond

Hi, I’m Asha. I live in Portland, Oregon with my family. I’ve been a writer for over 20 years. Longer, if you count the stories I scribbled on binder paper as a kid.

The 1970s

My first published work was a poem in Children’s Digest when I was eight years old. I still remember the thrill of seeing my name printed in a real magazine. It was the first time I thought of myself as a writer.

The 1980s

High school. Big hair. College. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a Sociology degree.

The 1990s

Marriage. Jobs. Then something big changed everything: the Web.

My husband and I taught ourselves HTML and started a Web design company (the second of its kind listed on Yahoo!). I wrote several how-to books about Web publishing. One of these books was Microsoft FrontPage For Dummies, which sold thousands of copies and went into multiple editions. I became a professional writer, after all.

At the end of the century, we became parents.

The 2000s

My husband went on to work at tech companies, and I continued to work at home and write. I struggled as a new parent, and none of the parenting books I read helped me feel better.

By then, another big thing had happened: blogs.

I figured I couldn’t be the only one struggling as a new parent. So in 2005 I launched the Parent Hacks blog to swap “worked for me” tips and talk with other parents about what was really going on.

Parent Hacks took off, and it kicked off a 10+ year journey with the smartest, most generous community of parents on the Internet. My readers and cohort of fellow bloggers were wise, funny, encouraging, and kind. I no longer felt alone.

My writing career was transformed from a solitary job into a vibrant, dynamic conversation. Parent Hacks readers showed me something I’d always hoped was true: most people are helpful and generous when given the opportunity.

The 2010s

Few of us early bloggers realized we had kicked off a revolution in media and publishing. But soon enough, companies caught on and stars were born! Money was made! “Influencer” became a job title!

My work with Parent Hacks opened doors to video programming, media appearances, public speaking, international travel, and political engagement. It introduced me to new friends across the country. And it brought me back to writing books.

I joined my dear friend Christine Koh as co-author of Minimalist Parenting (Bibliomotion, 2013) which detailed the “trust yourself and keep it simple” parenting philosophy we’d both come to in our different ways.

In early 2016, I wrote Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life With Kids (Workman Publishing) to honor the Parent Hacks community and the early parenting blog community as a whole. This curated, illustrated collection will always remind me of the magic of those ten years of goodness on the Internet.

  • Christine and I co-host a weekly podcast called Edit Your Life, about making room for the awesome in your life.

2016

In late 2016, I took an unexpected turn toward civic engagement and grassroots political organizing. The 2016 US Presidential election results filled me with concern for the safety of my kids (all our kids) and the health and integrity of US democracy. On November 9, 2016, at the end of my PARENT HACKS book tour (and with no political experience), I started an online community group as a place to gather with local friends to educate ourselves. We wanted to learn how to get involved in the political process to make our voices heard.

Within weeks, the group grew to over 7000 Portlanders and became one of the early outposts in what grew into a nationwide movement. I led this group for two years, organizing meetings and events, encouraging participation, and building community. Together with other local groups, we made phone calls, wrote letters and postcards, attended town halls and rallies, and got out the vote. 

Thanks to the work of people like us, the 2018 election ushered a Democratic majority into the US House of Representatives. And I found myself surrounded by a remarkable community of new friends.

2020 and beyond

I left online community-building in search of a more sustainable, relationship-centered model for democratic participation. A group of friends and I formed a Democracy Club — like a book club, but for democracy.  

We’ve written a guide, How to Start a Democracy Club, so anyone can start a Democracy Club. I also wrote an opinion piece about Democracy Club for The Oregonian.

My kids are now adults. The pandemic has changed everything, as did the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. 

What’s next? I don’t have clear answers, but I continue to ask the questions, quietly, at times. These are the stars I steer by and try to keep in view:

Trust myself. 

Prioritize joy. 

Keep going.

How to Contact Me

The best way to stay in touch is to join my community of readers by subscribing to my newsletter

Please note: I don’t work with sponsors, nor do I accept review requests.

Speaking at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon in 2015. Photo credit: Armosa Studios
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MY BOOKS

PARENT HACKS
Genius shortcuts and workarounds for parents.

MINIMALIST PARENTING
Enjoy family life more by doing less.

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