Hi, I’m Jo.
I’m a feminist sociologist.
I’m a parent.
I dabble in small scale farming.
I make things, mostly with textiles (knitting, quilting, sewing).
I practice yoga.
I watch TV and hang out on social media.
I drink beer.
Freedom and autonomy are a big part of my life. I run my own business. I homeschool my daughter. I grow my own food, even the meat. I live where my dogs rarely have to be on a lead. I have never had exclusively-indoor cats. However, freedom and autonomy involve support, community, compromise, and doing stuff I don’t like very much. I bring that sense of freedom to my understanding of academic freedom.
The work I love is helping others love their academic work.
My dad instilled in me a belief that it’s important to do what you love and to do it well. He gave me a profound trust that I could earn a living that way. He also showed me that a career path is not a straight line and might even have some abrupt bends in it. I have seen evidence that he is right.
More about me:
I’m a big picture thinker. I see patterns and connect dots. That’s probably what attracted me to sociology in the first place.
I was awarded my PhD (University of Essex) in 1994 and taught and published as an academic sociologist until 2002. Through my involvement in administration and service, I discovered that I much prefer helping others realize their academic dreams and began to transition out of that career and into this one.
From my academic career (in the UK), I bring a knowledge of the competing demands, organizational culture, and day to day realities of your work. My transitional jobs with a granting agency (in Canada) gave me deeper knowledge of the funding process, peer review, and the wider policy environment influencing your day to day academic life.
From my yoga practice I’ve learned that you can aim for an ideal while honouring your own specificity. I know that working within your comfort zone can expand your comfort zone. Effort and work need not be painful. I know that what you can do today is not the same as what you can do tomorrow, and that progress is not linear.
From my creative work I have learned that sometimes you just need to try things. That it’s okay to rip things out and try again. That we get better with practice. And that sometimes we don’t know what the final object will look like until we are part way through making it.
I believe that you can have a life outside your work doing other things that make your life meaningful, whatever they are. I love my work but my work is not my whole life.
I believe that your (academic) work is important and valuable. You get to define what success looks like for you and go for it.
How can I help you feel free, as a contributing member of a community of scholars, an institution of higher education, a family, a community … ?
I don’t do this alone.
There are lots of things I can do and more that I could do if I put my mind to it. I choose to focus on my best contribution and doing the work I love. I have a support team who love to do different things. A good old-fashioned organic division of labour works for us.
Sarah Lacy, tech fairy and web wizard, is the detail person to my big-picture thinker. She helps turn my big ideas into practical plans and deals with a lot of the day-to-day details that keep this thing running. If a link is broken or a form won’t submit, Sarah will magically make it better with some fairy dust.
Sheila MacLeod is a writer, editor, and communication consultant who shares my compassionate approach to writing practice. Sheila leads A Meeting With Your Writing when I’m on holiday, sick, or otherwise need support.
Amy Crook is responsible for most of the custom artwork I use in my business. All those cartoons and colouring pages came from her pen or brush. She turns my wordy ideas into visuals. She also does the graphic design work that makes all the words look nice, like my much-loved “Writing in Progress” sign. I made the quilts all over the site, and Amy turned my photos of those quilts into a workable background.
Nathan Briggs does a whole lot of technical stuff I don’t even understand to make sure that everything flows smoothly even though I don’t understand all that technical stuff. I imagine him leading a team of tiny ninjas who go inside the server to guard the site from hackers and viruses, fighting them off when necessary. He’s also got rapid response ninjas for when the bad guys get through. Nathan and his ninjas make it possible for me to focus on the stuff I’m good at without worrying about all the evil that can happen on the internet.
Wendy Cholbi helps with intermediate level tech stuff like installing plugins and themes, getting various pieces of technology to play nicely with WordPress, and getting Amy’s graphics on the site they way they are supposed to be.
More infrequently I use Almonte Print Shop when I need actual physical stuff like business cards or posters. Karen Fisher is my accountant. I have had business coaching support from Charlie Gilkey, Grace Judson, and Fabeku Fatunmise.