When Mason Cavell isn’t growing affordable housing as the Housing Director for Housing Works, a New York City-based organization that works to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS, you might find him riding his bike across the country with Bike the US for MS, a nonprofit he helped a few of his close friends start. In short, Mason has heart, and we’re not just talking about cardio fitness. We recently caught him with some rare downtime on the roof of a Housing Works community center in Manhattan’s East Village. And maybe it was the way the sun was setting over the downtown skyline, or just the IPAs we took up the ladder with us, but it seemed like the perfect blueprint for our next Fit Profile. Here's what Mason had to say.
If you had to wear one outfit as your “uniform” for the rest of your life, what would it be?
No doubt about it, T-shirt and jeans with auxiliary flannel and sensible footwear. You never know when you're going to have to run to or from something. It's also a great look to set low expectations around the office and endear yourself to people that really liked the 90s.
If you had a free ticket to any one event in history, what would it be?
I think I'd go with V-Day 1945 in New York City. The imagery of that day has always stuck with me — the significance, the bliss — it has always set a bar in my mind for the most significant collective moment. It's something my generation can't really relate to (the meaning part, not the drunk in the streets making out part) so it has a nostalgic appeal besides just looking ridiculously fun.
If you could transplant your life anywhere, where would you go?
If I could take friends and family with me — and a crew of hearty, clever, good-natured people from other families — we're going to turn Mars into the next California. Much more land out there to develop affordable housing than Brooklyn, plus the autonomous rover scene looks legit. I could say I'm doing it for the human race, but I'm really in it for the rovers.
If you could speak any foreign language fluently enough to write poetry in, which language would it be?
Whatever language best conceals my lack of poetry skills with its own intrinsic beauty. I don't know, German?
If you could give advice to a younger version of yourself, what would it be?
Besides don't give up the dream of being an astronaut? Double down on relationships, don't be afraid to make mistakes, work on your weaknesses, and do what you want regardless of how it might be perceived. And keep doing a lot of what you're doing young fella — life will be good!
If you were giving a Nobel Prize acceptance speech, who would you thank?
My patient and forgiving parents, girlfriend (who is way more likely to actually be in the position of accepting the Nobel Prize), a series of professional mentors, and some of my smart and/or motivated friends for their influence and inspiration.
If you could replace your non-dominant hand with anything, what would it be?
After a great deal of thought, I don't think there's really anything better than just another hand that's better than the one I've got — newer, more dexterous, and if it's preprogrammed to shred on guitar, that's a bonus.
If a huge meteor was going to crash into the earth tomorrow, what would you do with your last big day?
On the presumption that I haven't completely lost it, I'd probably make some calls, let my dog raid the fridge and run free, loot the beer store and take an armload to the roof to watch it all go down with my lady.