Grow Things That Make You Happy
Air Date: May 3, 2021
#6 Grow Things That Make You Happy
May 3, 2021
0:00 Chris Alksnis, Associate Professor & Program Coordinator, Psychology
13:15 Laura Bailey, alumna, Journalism
25:54 Nicole Morgan, Senior Administrative Assistant to the Dean, Faculty of Liberal Arts
One Market is hosted by Associate Professor Bruce Gillespie, Program Coordinator of Digital Media and Journalism.
Thank you to One Market Research Assistant Serena Austin, Melissa Weaver for graphics, and Nicole Morgan for campus promotion. Music by Scott Holmes. We are grateful for the financial support from the Senior Executive Office.
Bruce Gillespie 0:02
Welcome to One Market, keeping the Laurier Brantford community connected. I’m Bruce Gillespie. 35 episodes and more than 3,000 downloads later, we have arrived at the end of this podcast. It’s hard to believe that just one year ago, we were finding our feet with this new project. Experimenting with a way for our students, staff and faculty colleagues to stay connected as we moved into remote learning and teaching. What a difference a year makes. Before we get too nostalgic, though, we have guests to meet. First, we talked to a psychology professor about gardening and her advice to plant something that makes you happy. Then, we check in with a journalism grad who made a name for herself across the pond in London, but recently returned home to Brantford. And finally, we chat with one of this podcasts, biggest fans and supporters. All that and more on this episode of One Market.
Our first guest is Chris Alksnis, a Psychology professor and coordinator of the Psychology program at Laurier Brantford. Because it’s spring and we’re all anxious to spend more time outside, I talked to Chris about one of her hobbies, gardening. So, we wanted to talk to you about not, of course, any of your scholarly work, which of course we could spend hours talking about. But, something else entirely, which is gardening, because it is that time of year that I think a lot of us start to think about gardening. And I think especially over the past year, being at home so much, I think a lot of us have turned to gardening maybe more than we have in the past. Whether you’ve got a backyard, or a window box somewhere, or if just, you know, your apartment’s been taken over by succulents. I think a lot of people are thinking about this. So, what’s your connection to gardening? Is this a pandemic passion? Or is this something you’ve been doing for a while?
Chris Alksnis 1:45
Oh, I’ve actually been doing it for a little while. So, when we moved into this place, and we’ve been here about, oh my god, I can’t believe it’s been 17 years I’ve lived at this place. So, when we first came the garden was like a mystery to me, it was totally not my thing. But, as I saw things coming out of the ground, I was like, “Oh, is that a weed? Is that a thing that’s supposed to be here or not.” And so, then I decided, you know what? It would be kind of fun to, you know, go with it and see what I can do to beautify it, because some of the things that were coming up, were not pretty. And I decided they had to be weeds and this this will not stand. So, I’ve been doing it for a little while. But, I can say for sure that the pandemic has made it something for me that is, like, it was a sense of normalcy. When, you know, when the pandemic hit last March, it was a way to kind of ground myself. I didn’t mean the pun, but it was a way to kind of think about, you know, “Oh, this feels normal,” when everything else doesn’t feel normal. So, yeah, so I’ve been doing it for a while. But, it’s been a special comfort during the pandemic.
Bruce Gillespie 2:54
I remember specifically last year around this time thinking, again, when everything feels so abnormal, and scary, and uncontrollable. Seeing the leaves on trees again, and the grass coming up, and plants come up, like you said, felt really comforting in a way because it just, it felt so, like, “Oh, this is what always happens. Everything else is new and weird and awful. But, this is what always happens.”
Chris Alksnis 3:15
That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, and for me too, just even from an academic point of view. Last year I had done that winter term, it was just a term of new things for me. So, I was teaching a course that I had never taught before. So, that was already a new learning curve. I was a7cting Associate Dean for that term. So, again, a new role for me. So, everything was new. And then, it’s like, “Oh, now there’s a pandemic, okay.” So, it really, really helped me to have something that I could return to that I understood, you know, in terms of, okay, this is the flow of the seasons, and the world is as it should be.
Bruce Gillespie 3:51
Yeah, it’s funny, too. I remember when we first moved into our place, which ends up having a quite a big backyard, and the first spring, summer, fall, it was so much fun to actually go outside and watch to see what was growing. Because there were a bunch of different garden plots around the back. And everyone told us, it was good advice, like, don’t do anything the first year, see what comes up first. And you’ll absolutely not know, as you said, what is a weed and what is something that will end up being beautiful. So, it’s a lot of, sort of, waiting. And I remember those weeks of, like, “Is this big thing just a giant mess? Is it gonna be a weed that is populated across the rest of the yard? Or is this gonna turn into something beautiful at some point?” There’s so much mystery involved.
Chris Alksnis 4:29
For sure. For sure. Yeah. I mean, my knowledge was so limited at that point. Like, you know, I understood, “Okay, that’s a dandelion, I understand. That one, that’s for sure a weed. I should probably do something about that one.” But, then there were other things where it’s just, like, “Huh, okay, well, that looks kind of pretty. I’m wondering if I should leave that be.” And then, of course, there would be times where my neighbour would helpfully come over and say, “Yeah, you should get rid of that. That’s gonna be a problem for the entire neighborhood if you let that one, you know, live and prosper.” So, I was like, “Okay, thanks.” Good, helpful.
Bruce Gillespie 5:02
I remember we had, and I will not be able to remember the name because it’s been a few years since we’ve had it, because we have eradicated it mostly successfully. But, it was a funny plant that came up with these weird, alien sort of looking leaves. And then, you know, pretty flowers. And then, eventually dark black berries. Pokeweed, maybe?
Chris Alksnis 5:20
Bruce Gillespie 5:21
And it was just, it was so. As I say to my friends, I’m drawn to plants that look like they could be Doctor Who villains, this sort of met that category for me. And we’re, like, “Oh my god, it’s beautiful.” And then, one day we find it looked it up because we wanted to see what it was called, and realized it’s totally poisonous. It shouldn’t be near animals, or people, or children. We’re, like, “Oh no!”
Chris Alksnis 5:39
Bruce Gillespie 5:41
We’ve been, like, almost tending for it carefully.
Chris Alksnis 5:44
Yeah, you’re, like, you’re helping the villain live.
Bruce Gillespie 5:46
Yeah, exactly. So, in that case, we needed neighbours to be a little more nosy and say, “Oh, no, get rid of that one.”
Chris Alksnis 5:52
Yeah, that’s a bad one. That’s a bad one.
Bruce Gillespie 5:54
Yeah. So, are you someone who orders, like, seeds and bulbs early in the year? Like, what’s your process like?
Chris Alksnis 6:00
Oh, I wish I was that organized. Every year, I think I’m gonna order seeds ahead of time, and then, have a little spot downstairs where I’m gonna put my grow light. And, you know, they’re gonna be these heirloom tomatoes that nobody’s ever seen before. They’re going to be really beautiful, and I can enjoy them come in August. Never happens, Bruce. Never happens. So, I basically, kind of, I was lucky that there were a lot of nice foundation before I got there. So, there were some really beautiful flowering plants. So, there were things that I just needed to kind of tend to and make sure they didn’t die. So, that part was good. I have started to move things around though. I’ve started to understand the sun patterns better. And then, I live in an area that has a lot of mature trees. So, as the trees grow, it changes the light conditions on my various parts of the lawn. So, I always have to do something different and I never know what it’s gonna be until the new season comes. And I think, “Oh, that used to be a plant that would thrive in the sun, but it’s no longer getting sun because the tree is messing up my sun pattern.” So, my basic is very reactive and not proactive.
Bruce Gillespie 7:12
Chris Alksnis 7:15
There’s something amiss, I have to fix it. And that’s about as organized as I ever get. Yeah, I wish I could be a little bit more proactive.
Bruce Gillespie 7:24
But, I think that’s just you listening to Mother Nature and taking a cue from nature. I don’t think anything wrong with that.
Chris Alksnis 7:29
Oh, I like that spin on it. I’m gonna use that. Thank you for the good explanation. It’s not that I’m disorganized. I’m listening, and waiting, and responding appropriately.
Bruce Gillespie 7:39
Exactly. Exactly. So, are you mostly into flowers? Are you doing some vegetables?
Chris Alksnis 7:45
I do some vegetables. They like so much sun and I don’t have enough sun for all of them. So, I have to choose carefully which vegetables I do. I tend to do tomatoes. Last year, we did jalapenos. That was awesome.
Bruce Gillespie 8:00
Chris Alksnis 8:01
I was very excited.
Bruce Gillespie 8:01
It never occurred to me jalapenos could even grow in this kind of climate.
Chris Alksnis 8:05
Oh, they like it. We had a very nice summer last year. And maybe that was part of it. I might do them again this year, I’m not sure if it’s, how it’s gonna work. But, we had beautiful jalapenos, we ended up, like, we pickled a bunch of them after. So then, that was pretty cool. Because then, you know, you open up your jar of pickled jalapenos in January and, like, “Oh, I remember when I, you know, nurtured you along back in July and August.” So, it’s like a little taste of summer.
Bruce Gillespie 8:32
It’s very satisfying.
Chris Alksnis 8:34
It totally is, yeah. So, yeah, it’s mostly mostly flower stuff, mostly, I’m trying to think what is my, is there a signature Chris plant? I’m not sure I would be able to say what that was.
Bruce Gillespie 8:48
Do you have a favorite? Do you have ones you look forward to every year especially waiting for those blooms.
Chris Alksnis 8:53
Yes. I love the spring ones. So, I have some beautiful, beautiful hyacinths. And they have such a beautiful smell, oh, it’s so perfumey. And because it’s a spring flower, it’s an early spring flower, then I know, “Okay, it’s really happening. The snow really is going to go away. I really am going to get to see a nice summer.” And, so yeah, those are the ones that I’m, like, very excited when they pop up.
Bruce Gillespie 9:16
The ones in our garden that I’m most a fan of, they were here when we got here. And again, because the light patterns have changed so much in our backyard. They didn’t grow for a long time. So, we actually started new a few years later, because I really missed them. We didn’t know what they were. They grew up in the middle of everything else. We have a sort of small pond garden in the middle of our backyard. And they just look like an ornamental grass at best, giant weed, you know, at worst. And so, we’d really thought about pulling them out that first summer, we just thought “No, like, they’re really big. We should just leave them and see.” And then, one day we came out and they sort of had small little buds that had sort of fallen off sort of as an arc away from the leaf as a little tree branch. We’re like, “Okay, well it’s something who knows what it is.” And then, a couple days later, it was super sunny, late summer because they really like a lot of light. They had all opened into a range of tiny, bright red and orange blossoms that are so, like, and they were almost electric coloured. Like, you could not take a photo and capture the colouring properly because they just, like, halfway across the yard, they would catch the corner of your eye because they were so bright. They’re called crocosmia, which I’d never heard of before, but they look like little fireworks erupting out of your garden. And they were just, they were the most amazing thing. And I look forward to them every year, even though they come very late in the season.
Chris Alksnis 10:33
Oh, that is so cool. I’ve never heard of them either. And if you have any seeds that you could put in an envelope and send me that would be awesome.
Bruce Gillespie 10:40
Well, they seed really well, actually. And again, I think because they’re sort of grassy in nature, like they seem to reproduce really well. So, I will definitely do that.
Chris Alksnis 10:47
Bruce Gillespie 10:48
So, given your experience with gardening, do you have any tips for people who are just getting started and want to sort of start gardening this year maybe?
Chris Alksnis 10:56
Oh, that’s a, let’s see. I would say, I mean, your advice at the very beginning was really good, though. Like, the kind of need to think through the light patterns, you need to think through what’s the space that you have, like, what’s it going to do, right? So, I think you have to match appropriately. So, if you’re, you know, if you don’t have very much sun, then tomatoes are not going to work for you, they’re gonna look very sad.
Bruce Gillespie 11:24
Regardless of how much you want them to, they will never work.
Chris Alksnis 11:27
Yeah. You can try as much as you’d like to impose order. It’s doesn’t necessarily work out. But, I would say, I mean, grow things that make you happy, right. So, if there’s a way that you can grow a pretty flower that smells really nice. And even if you can’t have a whole lawn full of them, if you can find the things that you love and and see if you can make that grow within the parameters of what we can do in, you know, North America. Like, cacti are going to be harder, just don’t even try. But, yeah, you know, because it’s already hit and miss whether it’s going to succeed, like, not necessarily going to happen. So, you know, just kind of go with something that you think you would like to see. But, don’t be too sad if it doesn’t work the first year because sometimes it is a longer term kind of process.
Bruce Gillespie 12:20
I think that’s good advice. We had lots of stuff that we’re very excited about the beginning, and especially the bulb kinds of things. And they didn’t produce the first year or two. And then, when they finally did come up completely unexpectedly, three or four years later, it was just this magical surprise waiting for us one day.
Chris Alksnis 12:34
Yeah, I had that with peonies. Peonies are, like, notoriously fussy, and they like to have a particular, you know, amount of sun and they have to be, you know, deep but not too deep. You know, like, there’s all these things, these are rules about peonies. And so, I’ve moved mine around, and then afterwards I had read, “oh my god, don’t move a peony because it’s gonna take at least five years before the flower comes out.” And I was just, like, “Oh crap.” And so, one year they just magically bloomed after all my efforts. And I was just like, “Yes, this is a win.” I was so excited.
Bruce Gillespie 13:07
It’s a great feeling.
Chris Alksnis 13:09
It totally is.
Bruce Gillespie 13:11
Chris, thank you for joining us today. This has been really inspirational for this time of year. I think we’re all looking forward to getting outside some more.
Chris Alksnis 13:17
Excellent. Thank you so much. It was really fun.
Bruce Gillespie 13:20
Next up, our research assistant and intern, Serena Austin, brings us a conversation with Laura Bailey, who graduated from the Digital Media and Journalism program way back when it was just Journalism. Laura starts by explaining how she became interested in journalism after arriving on campus.
Laura Bailey 13:37
When I enrolled at Laurier Brantford I’d actually enrolled in Contemporary Studies because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. But, I knew I wanted to go to university. And in my first year, Contemporary Studies had a lot of overlapping courses with the other programs. And I took Journalism 101 in my first semester of first-year. And by the end of the third week, I changed majors. And I knew then that I wanted to take journalism as a course as my actual degree going forward.
Serena Austin 14:07
Laura Bailey 14:09
Yeah, so, you know, the program has had the benefit of having some really amazing professors from a wide range of publication backgrounds and a really small class size when I started. So, I think my graduating class was about 25 or 30 people. So, we were a small group, but it also meant you got really good access to the professors, access to other students, access to resources. I remember when we got our first video editing suite, and there was a big competition to get access to that, but because there was only so many of us, it wasn’t too too bad.
Serena Austin 14:44
Yeah, I feel like that’s still the draw for a lot of people. It’s kind of, I don’t know, I can’t imagine either. I just know on a bigger campus for me, like, in a class with, like, 300 people. I don’t think I would do nearly as well in that kind of situation.
Laura Bailey 14:59
I agree. There are definitely issues in post-secondary education in Canada, where it is about having the most students in your program to make the most money for your school. And in that case, a lot of students suffer with not getting enough time with the professors, enough time with various colleagues in their classes and not enough of the resources. So, I think Laurier Brantford is such a perfect university campus. It’s small, it’s close knit, it’s tied with the community. There’s great facilities, great professors who want to live and work in the city. And you get a great class sizes and I met some really great people and I’m still in touch with a lot of people from my university days.
Serena Austin 15:41
Wow. And then after you graduated, I heard that you moved straight to London to start working there.
Laura Bailey 15:50
Not quite. So, during my time at Laurier, I also did some work for the local newspaper, the Brantford Expositor. I did some freelance work as well, doing copywriting and various articles, and editorial type content while I was at university. I also worked on The Sputnik, so I had really sunk my teeth into the writing side of things and editing side of things.
Serena Austin 16:16
Laura Bailey 16:17
And when I graduated, I got a job very quickly at a local company in Brantford as the media communications coordinator. Which is basically internal communications, external communications, emails, the website, government communications, working with the membership. It was a very, very vast job. But, the key component of that job was the ability to write coherently, and write well for different audiences. And that’s something that you really do learn in journalism. You know, I’m not I’m not a professional journalists now, I never really was. But, that course set me up for success in any kind of communications job because everything you see in the world, every advert, every television show, every song, it all has a writer behind it. So, when I took that job I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. But, I did know that the hours were better, and the pay was better outside of journalism. So, I went to the dark side, I was in PR. And then after about a year working there, I was just genuinely bored with life. You know, it was this post-university slump of, “Is this it? Is that all I’m going to do?” And I decided to take a trip to Europe, where I did a bus tour across Europe for a couple of weeks, and then saw some family that I have over there. And when I came back to Brantford I said, “Okay, that’s it, I’m moving to Europe.” And, you know, you say that kind of jokingly, you want to do a gap year or, you know, travel the world. But I’m lucky enough to have dual citizenship. So, I was able to go to Europe without needing a visa. So, I was trying to choose where I might go. London in the U.K. seemed like the best option because it is a major city, English speaking. I really, really wanted to go to Paris. But, my French isn’t good enough. I settled on London. And I spent eight years there working in social media and digital marketing jobs.
Serena Austin 18:21
So, I know, kind of, social media is a big sector for a lot of us in the program. I’ve looked at, like, current job postings, and it’s a lot of social media marketing, stuff like that, and also internal communications. But, a lot of us don’t really know what that kind of involves, so could you tell us a little bit more about that?
Laura Bailey 18:42
Sure. So, doing social media and your day to day life is very different than doing it for a business. Although the skill set is the same in terms of being able to film the TikTok, or edit a photo. There’s a lot when it comes to being a business that you have to consider. From the tone of voice that your company chooses to use, dealing with complaints, dealing with positive feedback, questions, comments, concerns, I had a colleague once who said that he missed the good old days when he used to have 90 days to reply to somebodies complaint. But, with social media, you’re lucky if you have 90 minutes. And I think a lot of businesses are realizing how important social media is. And comparing my time in the U.K .to my time now back in Canada, businesses in Canada are pretty far behind. I had a great example, I was flying with a Canadian airline who will remain nameless. And I had an issue with my meal choice on the plane, it wouldn’t let me select it, and I tweeted them. It took two weeks for them to tweet me back and I had already returned by then. And, you know, compare that to, there’s an airline in Europe where, as long as I can remember, so at least probably 10 years now, their Twitter account has operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week and in 15 languages.
Serena Austin 20:12
Laura Bailey 20:13
So, you know, social media as a customer service channel is definitely, definitely a thing. But, it’s also a communications channel for getting your brand’s messaging out there. Whether that’s something really obvious, like new products or sales, down to any kind of corporate social responsibility, any kind of good stuff that the company’s doing.
Serena Austin 20:34
So, you’re back in Brantford now, when did you decide to do that and why?
Laura Bailey 20:42
So, in 2020, I decided to move back to Canada. And this was quite early on in the year before the pandemic took a hold of the Western world. Obviously, we knew it was already taking hold in Asia, but it hadn’t quite hit Europe and North America yet. I’d already decided to move home, I’d been away for eight years, there was various personal reasons to come back. And I said, “Okay, well, I’ll move back in the summer, give myself a few more months of seeing friends and family, a few places in Europe, I want to go before I leave, to see again,” and you know, call it a day. And then, the pandemic hit, and everything shut down, and you couldn’t do anything or see anyone. So, that kind of put a bit of a downer on my last few months living in the U.K. You know, we were living in quite a strict lockdown initially. And then, by time I left, I mean, flying was a completely different experience. I mean, I was flying once a month for eight years across Europe, and for work, and for pleasure. And that first plane ride back to Canada during the pandemic was interesting.
I mean, I had a whole row to myself, so I couldn’t complain.
Serena Austin 21:50
Laura Bailey 21:51
But, just the sense in the air, you could feel the weight of the fact that this was a risk that everybody was willing to take. This this trip was a risk, right? So, I moved back to Brantford in July last year. I did my two weeks of quarantine at my friend’s rental property in Kitchener, because my parents are in the risky age category. And we didn’t want to take a risk. So, I spent two weeks in the sunshine on the back porch, thinking about work, what might I do for work? What are my options? But, luckily, my last job in the U.K. was some freelance work. Because at my actual last job, I got furloughed with the pandemic. So, we got put on leave basically, to save the business, which was totally fair. And so, I got some freelance work through connection from two jobs ago. So, I was working from home for most of that last bit of the U.K. And it turns out that agency also had a team in Toronto.
Serena Austin 22:55
Laura Bailey 22:55
So, that piqued my interest, obviously, because I knew I was moving back to the greater, Greater Toronto Area. And I kind of dropped the hint to a few of the people I worked with there in the U.K. And they said, “Oh, for sure. Like, we’ll tell the Toronto team to basically hire you.” You know, networking is very important. We can talk about that in a minute. But, I came back to Brantford hoping I would have a job, not knowing for sure if I would. I was lucky enough that my parents’ home is still large enough to accommodate their grown adult daughter. And, you know, I had a mix of coming back and feeling the pressure to immediately get a job. But, I also knew that it had been a tough six months for, like, the whole world. And I knew that I needed time off. So, even when I got offered the job with my current company, I said, “I won’t actually be able to start until the end of August, because I need some time off.”
Serena Austin 23:54
That’s good. Good for you!
Laura Bailey 23:54
Yeah, I just moved across the world. It’s a pandemic, it’s the summer, you know, I need some time off. And I think putting myself first is not something historically I was very good at in my jobs. I always put the job first. So, I made a conscious decision to take some time off. I was lucky enough to have a bit of money, so I didn’t need to worry, living rent free. And then, the job started. So, yeah, I came back, not knowing what my next steps would be. But actually it was a great opportunity to continue working for the same agency, just in a new country.
Serena Austin 24:30
And how have you found, like, are you working remotely?
Laura Bailey 24:34
I’ve been lucky enough to work remotely. In some ways, I wish I could meet some of my colleagues because I actually quite like working with them and I, like, miss people. But, in other ways, being able to work from home has been one of the best thing is things that’s ever happened to me. And that’s because in 2020 I was diagnosed with autism and I had absolutely no idea I was autistic. I knew that I had to work harder in social situations, I knew that I was always exhausted at the end of the day because I was constantly spending all my time fitting in. And I knew that certain parts of the work place made it impossible for me to work. And so, when I took this new job here in Toronto, I said, you know, “Even after the pandemic, I would like to work from home most of the time.” And their response was amazing. They said, “That’s not a problem. Sounds good.” And I think a lot more companies are gonna are going to be looking at that. So, the ability to communicate effectively in writing is even more important than it’s ever been, because so many of us will not be in person with our colleagues.
Serena Austin 25:42
I agree. Well, Laura, honestly, this has been a really great conversation, and I thank you for taking time out of your day to speak with me.
Laura Bailey 25:52
No, it was great to chat.
Bruce Gillespie 25:54
Our final guest is Nicole Morgan, who works in the Faculty of Liberal Arts Dean’s Office. And there’s a very special reason why we wanted to talk to her. Hi, Nicole, and thanks for joining us today on One Market.
Nicole Morgan 26:07
Hi, Bruce. Thanks so much for having me today.
Bruce Gillespie 26:10
Tarah and I were really excited to finally get you on the show, because we think of you as our number one fan. And I’m going to say number one fan on campus, because I have to say, I think if we were looking number one fans overall, my mother would probably be right up there because she seems to listen to the episode as soon as it comes out. Because I get an email within half an hour telling me everything she thinks about it. So, just to be safe, because I know she’s listening, I’m going to call you our number one on campus.
Nicole Morgan 26:37
I love that your mom is listening to the podcast that’s so sweet.
Bruce Gillespie 26:42
Diligently, I think she could probably really ace an exam about, like, One Market trivia.
Nicole Morgan 26:46
Hey, that would be a good idea. We should do One Market trivia.
Bruce Gillespie 26:51
We could, again, I think you would probably do really well also.
Nicole Morgan 26:55
I hope so.
Bruce Gillespie 26:57
So, at the risk of sounding self congratulatory, which I guess we’re allowed to do at our final episode. Because you’ve been such a big supporter of the podcast from day one, we just we would love to hear your thoughts about it. So, how did you start listening to in the first place? How did you find out about it?
Nicole Morgan 27:14
Well, I guess I probably found out about the podcast when you and Tarah asked me to share the the podcast link around the campus. So I don’t know that I was privy to any insider information before that came out. Actually, I might have been just as surprised as everybody else when, when the first podcast was ready to go. And I just, you know, I know the intention behind the podcast was to provide this connection that we were all missing, being that we have been moved to remote work. And, you know, it was exactly that. I think you said in the first episode, it was like the watercooler conversations that we were missing. And although a lot of us had the opportunity to see each other in Zoom meetings and different things. It was really the stuff that was missing from that, were the conversations that you would be having as you were passing somebody in the hallway, or, you know, when you ran into somebody at the coffee shop, and it was just really great to hear what people were doing. And, you know, I think my favorite thing about the podcast was how positive it was, you know, we were all in different ways, having different experiences with the pandemic and being moved to remote. And a lot of the things I think, that we’re getting focused on in the media and in social media was how bad things were. And I think your podcast just reminded us that good things were happening. And, you know, although people were struggling, and you know, things weren’t great, people were making the best of it in different ways. And it was just really nice to hear the positive stories that were coming out of the podcast that maybe would have been missed otherwise.
Bruce Gillespie 29:10
That’s great to hear because one of the things that Tarah and I really talked a lot about early on, as much as we did talk about anything, because we got started really quickly. Was that we knew he would have to talk about pandemic related stories and remote work stories. But, we felt like people were getting a lot of that kind of information elsewhere. So, we didn’t want to, sort of, repeat a lot of the stuff, scary stuff, let’s be honest, that people were already, sort of, seeing a lot of and maybe we’re tired of. And we thought, again, to your point, what we really felt was missing were those more natural conversations you’d have with people. Because as I think you would probably agree, in Zoom meetings we tend to see the same people over and over again, people from your faculty, people from your department. And what I really miss about being on campus was running into someone who I have no purpose to meet officially, but people I’ve known for years, and I just love running into. But, it was those kinds of conversations I felt like I was missing.
Nicole Morgan 30:00
Yeah, and I really liked hearing the stories. I mean, some of the stories that you shared were stories that, you know, I kind of knew about, I don’t want to say, lived alongside. But, I’m thinking about Alicia, for example, her pandemic story was so unlike anybody else experience. And although I had heard that on the day to day happenings, because I’ve worked with Alicia on her team, it was interesting to hear her perspective on those experiences. And, you know, her positive attitude, which was just unwavering during all of that. It was, you know, stories like that were really great. But, then there were so many interviews that you did with people who I didn’t know, or people who I didn’t have maybe any reason to interact with remotely, or even when we were on campus. So, it was so nice to hear a diverse range of, you know, student stories, faculty and staff stories and just, you know, get the opportunity to hear what people are doing that maybe I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Bruce Gillespie 31:07
Yeah, and I think I would totally agree. I think a lot of the stories I like the most hearing about were things that probably wouldn’t naturally come up in conversation and meeting right? So, I loved hearing about people sewing, I loved hearing about people’s farms, and then the stuff that they probably wouldn’t talk about in a normal context. But, this is like, “No, let’s take 10 or 12 minutes, and let’s just talk about your farm, or the pig you rescued from a tree.” Like, these are the stories I really want to hear.
Nicole Morgan 31:33
Yeah, it was really interesting to hear things, like you said, that you, even if you were running into those people, you know, at the coffee shop, you probably wouldn’t have gotten into the same levels of conversation. And just learning so much about different people on the campus was really fun.
Bruce Gillespie 31:52
And that’s what I tell my DMJ students all the time. That one of the best aspects of being in journalism and doing this kind of work is it’s a license to be nosy, right? So, as you said, if you’re bumping into someone for five minutes at a coffee shop, you’d probably get a very short story of, you know, how and why you rescued a pig from a tree. This is, of course, the story about Alicia, she appeared at the end of season two, go back and listen to it if you haven’t because it’s a really great story. But, in this kind of context, you have a perfect license to say, “Hey, you’ve agreed to 12 minutes, I’m just gonna keep asking nosy questions, because I really want to know everything about it.”
Nicole Morgan 32:25
It’s a great position for you to be in, right?
Bruce Gillespie 32:28
It was, it’s a great license to be nosy and still sound, sort of, polite about it, it’s great. But, I also loved meeting all sorts of students. So, some of the students we worked with were DMJ students that I did know, obviously. But, I got to meet so many other students doing such interesting schoolwork, or volunteer work, or having interesting, sort of, life experiences during the pandemic that I probably wouldn’t have met in other circumstances. And I really, really liked hearing those.
Nicole Morgan 32:55
Yeah, I liked hearing the student stories. I don’t have a lot of contact with students in my role. And so, you know, it was a really great added bonus to be able to hear what they were up to. And again, like I said, the positive things that were happening in their lives when, you know, not everything that was going on was positive. I loved hearing that Tarah actually got her research apprenticeship idea and students through the podcast after hearing the work that they were doing. Some of the students that had been interviewed on episode one, Tyler and Delores, I think. And that’s kind of what sparked her idea about creating a research project and, you know, giving those students an opportunity to do that work, to have a, you know, some financial gains. And the outcome of that work was just really amazing. The website that that group created about the comparisons between the polio epidemics and the COVID crisis that’s happening right now is really amazing.
Bruce Gillespie 34:00
Agreed. And again, I think all of these experiences go to show what a really interesting, thriving, small community we have. And I think in a small community like this, it’s that kind of work that can happen. It’s like, oh, you get an idea from somebody for a new project, you make that project happen. In the same way, frankly, the podcast came together. So, for folks who don’t remember, or didn’t listen to the very first episode. Tarah and I had talked two years ago about doing a podcast of some sort. And we didn’t know what it was going to be, we had a couple of ideas. And we we’re sort of thinking through a much more normal kind of academic process, which is, we’ll think about this, maybe we’ll take a course or workshop, we’ll do some pilot episodes, we’ll see what works. We’ll focus group it, and then we’ll do something. Whereas, of course, when the pandemic started and we we’re all, sort of, sent home, it came together much more quickly. It’s like, “Well, what equipment do we have? What kind of digital services can we use online on the cheap? And what can we do right now to, sort of, help this void that we’re feeling in terms of our community?” So, it’s funny to think about how things can happen in these small communities.
Nicole Morgan 35:04
It’s kind of a good reminder too that you don’t always have to think the process through the way that maybe we’re used to. Because I think you and Tarah working sort of spontaneously made an amazing product that you guys should be really proud of, and that I think everybody around the campus is just so thankful for.
Bruce Gillespie 35:25
that’s very nice. But, I think you’re right, I think we’ve both consciously been trying to show to people, we’ve sort of written up in our reports for our funders as well, is that we sort of see this as a concept, a proof of concept kind of case. That, hey, you can do this, and hopefully, what we’re showing for students especially is that you don’t need to be an expert at this stuff to jump in and try it out. And as the UX folks always like to say, iterate as you go, like, do something, see if it works, fine tune it, change it, see if it works the next time. And certainly over a year of doing this, and almost, like, I think 3000 downloads at this point, has given us a lot of chances to sort of try new things, to see what works and do that fine tuning. But, again, I give a lot of credit to the kind of community we are. Like, I can’t think of another place where people who don’t teach in the same program, don’t have any the same sort of research interests, like Tarah and I do, would ever, sort of, collaborate on this kind of project, when neither of us even had the technical expertise at the beginning of the year to do something like this. But, I think it also speaks a lot too to everyone else that we could reach out from the first moment like a year ago, reaching out to people saying, “We’ve got this crazy idea, would you be willing to put yourself out there and come on board?” Because most people, the vast majority of people said “yes,” and have been so helpful and positive and had really great things to contribute. And it’s, I mean, we could have kept going forever in terms of all the great stories that are out there. But, I like to think of it as a sort of proof of concept of what can happen at a community where people are really committed to doing work that makes them feel connected.
Nicole Morgan 36:58
Well, and you know, to add to that, I think, you’re talking about the community that we have in Brantford and it is so unique and it is so special. And I think that common theme could be seen throughout so many of the interviews that you did on campus, not on campus, but with the folks from our campus. Because every story was about how, you know, great and seamless things were when it came to transitioning from being on campus to being remote. So, many people spoke about the team that they worked with and how, you know, the group just made everything come together in a way that felt seamless looking in, maybe that wasn’t the case.
Bruce Gillespie 37:46
So, Nicole, do you have any favorite moments or episodes looking back on more than a year of One Markets?
Nicole Morgan 37:53
Some of the episodes that really stuck out for me, I loved that you interviewed Chandler. I know you and I are huge Chandler fans, and it was great to hear her on the podcast. I really looked forward to hearing Kate Rossiter’s interview. For some reason, I thought she was gonna give us some great insight about the pandemic. And, you know, her experience is so relatable. She talked about how things have not been great with kids at home and all the other things that are coming around with the pandemic. But, she just made it really clear that she still had so many things to be thankful for, and I just really loved hearing that. I loved the episode where you spoke with the retirees. And hearing Gary talk about the stories from the start of campus was just really fun. I love the pop culture inclusions that you guys did in season two. They were a really great way to compare the campus to other things, and I actually just ordered MOO, so I’m waiting for it to arrive in the mail.
Bruce Gillespie 39:02
Oh, there you go.
Nicole Morgan 39:03
Because I’m hoping that maybe this summer around the corner, I might be able to get in a little bit of reading. And one of my other favorite episodes was your interview with Souvankham after she won the Giller Prize. I just thought that was such a charming conversation. And although I haven’t had a chance to meet her in person yet, the conversations that we’ve had have just been really great. And I was so happy to hear that she had won that, and to hear about her experiences with that award ceremony was really nice to hear.
Bruce Gillespie 39:37
It’s funny, those are some of my highlights as well. And some of them seem like they could have been 10 years ago and I would have said, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
Nicole Morgan 39:47
You know, the year has in some ways flown by and in other ways it feels like time is standing still, right?
Bruce Gillespie 39:56
Yeah, absolutely. Nicole, thank you for spending some time with us today. Thank you for your support of One Market. It’s been great to chat with you.
Nicole Morgan 40:04
Bruce Gillespie 40:06
And that’s a wrap on the final episode of One Market. To help send us on our way, here’s my partner in podcasting, One Market co-creator, Tarah Brookfield.
Tarah Brookfield 40:17
Well, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank two groups who are really essential to the podcast. One would be all of our fabulous guests, who included students, alumni, faculty, and staff members, who made time for us in this really chaotic year. And they were very brave to be recorded, and hear their own voices. We’ve always had a lot of feedback from guests saying, “Oh, I don’t want to go back and listen, because I’m really nervous.” But, I know I shared those fears myself. But, I was really impressed that people who consider themselves shy really put themselves out there, and we appreciate that. They were very generous with their knowledge and the stories that they shared. It really helped me, and I imagine many of our listeners, really learn about life in and outside of Laurier this year, which was really important because we were so isolated, most of us. And it was sometimes hard to see beyon my own computer screen, or my own home, and I got to step into other people’s lives and hear about their worlds. And I’d also like to thank our listeners, we appreciate it the feedback that you gave to us about things that you really liked. Or when we asked for suggestions on how to do better, some really great ideas came out of that. And the word of mouth to help the podcast grow was much appreciated. That was also just part of the community, just sort of having people out there listening, and knowing that people cared about the work that we were doing. And my final thank you would be to Bruce, who I always knew before this project as sort of a smart and funny colleague. Sometimes our offices were close by, or we’d see each other in meetings. And he would always be a great person to talk about books, and plays, and dogs. And he always had lots of smart things to say about our work environment. But, I really got to know him better through doing this podcast. And I really admire his bravery for putting this together and putting himself out there carving out the time amid his administration responsibilities. Bruce, you were super creative, and you worked so hard at making this podcast. Whatever people thought it turned out to be, I don’t want to put those words into, but I think it was successful in achieving what we set out to be. And this is really, this was your initiative, and your drive, and your technical skills, and your creativity that made it what it be. And I just was really honored to be a part of that.
Bruce Gillespie 42:37
Thanks, Tarah. We’d also like to thank all the people behind the scenes who have contributed to the success of One Market. First, a big thanks to Heidi Northwood, Laurier Brantford’s Senior Executive Officer who provided funding for the show. We could not have done this without her. Thanks too, to our Dean Kate Carter, for her support of an enthusiasm for this kind of creative community building project from day one. We’d also like to give a shout out to the staff who helped us wrangle our finances over the past year, Melissa whose job Caitlin Crager, Chandler Berardi, and Jennifer Beam. And to Nicole Morgan for helping to spread the word across campus about our new episodes. Big thanks, as always, to Melissa Weaver, for her terrific One Market logo and the graphics you see each week on Twitter and Facebook. And to Serena Austin, our diligent research assistant and intern who has transcribed the entirety of the podcast and handled our social media. We’d also like to thank our families for their patience with this work from home project that required to so much quiet and tiptoeing around the house and taking dogs outside during recordings. Finally, I’d like to thank Tarah. Although I’m the one you hear every episode, having all the fun chatting with our guests, Tarah was the steady hand behind the scenes doing the same amount of work for far less credit. As I’ve said before, she’s the ideal partner full of good ideas and willing to just dive in and do the work with lots of enthusiasm and good humor, despite her teaching and research commitments. I’m grateful that she agreed to sign on to this kooky project so quickly and with so much confidence, despite neither of us knowing how it would really turned out. Certainly one of the highlights of the past year for me has been the opportunity to work with her so closely. So, thanks one last time for joining us on One Market. We hope it’s helped you feel a little more connected to the Laurier Brantford community and we look forward to a time in the not too distant future when we can meet again in person on campus.
One Market was created and produced by Bruce Gillespie and Tarah Brookfield. Music by Scott Holmes. Graphics by Melissa Weaver. Our research assistant and intern is Serena Austin. Thanks for listening. Keep in touch!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai