Cool Cat: Jodie Layne

May 22, 2014

As a new segment of our blog, we’re featuring people from our community that have galvanized us on our path as a small business, as activists, as artists, and as engaged humans. These inspiring folks are doing super cool things. The feature is called “Cool Cat”, because each and every one of them has made us excited and want to be better at what we’re doing.

In this day and age, it’s not uncommon for friendships to forge over social media. Such is the case with Jodie Layne, our newest Cool Cat. She was one of our first Instagram followers and followees- we liked each others photos of tasty vegan meals, cute romantic partners, and cuddly cats and dogs. We got to know one another over years, as you do on social media, in a peripheral sort of way. Then one day Jodie posted a simple photo that made me stop in my tracks and say, who is this woman? So I Googled her and it wasn’t long before I realized that the person behind all of these well-composed lifestyle shots, was also a passionate advocate for sexual health, empowerment and well being, gender equality and sex education.


As I write this, I’m listening to Jodie speak in a Ted talk about promoting pleasure and sexual agency, especially to women, to help reduce sexual assault. She is currently an educator at Nine Circles Community Health Center in Winnipeg and has a slew of other projects (and this too). Needless to say, Jodie Layne is TRULY inspiring and is MAKING A DIFFERENCE. I am thrilled that she took the time to share with us the day-to-day things that get her jazzed, not to mention what drives and inspires her work and her goals.

Soundtrack for the morning:
In the mornings I like to listen to either really aggressive or really positive hip hop: Angel Haze, Atmosphere, Bike for Three!, Beyonce, Dessa, Kanye, Cadence Weapon, The Roots, A Tribe Called Red and Drake. If I’m working from home for the morning, I like to listen to fun and upbeat jams with a retro vibe like Best Coast, Caroline Smith, Cults, and Haim.
Soundtrack for the evening: When I get home from work I like to listen to really dreamy music to cook dinner to, like Beirut and if my sweetheart and I are cooking together we usually listen to a funny podcast, like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! When it’s time for bed or some before bed writing or yoga, I like to listen to Kurt Vile, Wilco and the Head and the Heart.

Favorite healthy snack:
Bliss balls from the vegan deli down the street and/or some hemp milk salted hot cacao. Which sounds and tastes decadent, but is basically super-foods on super-foods.

Favorite unhealthy snack:
My version of Peanut Butter Bars from Pizza Luce in Minneapolis. They’re like a Reese Cup meets a rice crispie square: fat and sugar central and so good.

Woods or Ocean?
The woods! Living next to the Canadian Shield basically means I’m never more than an hour away from a forest -surrounded lake.

Cats or Birds?
Tweet tweet.
Shower or Bath? I am the queen of the bathing ritual.

Scented or Unscented?
All the pretty smells, please!

Bike or Car?
In the summer, I ride my bike Beatrice everywhere! I’m not brave to bike in our city in the winter though.
Stripes or Solids? Stripes, always.
Sweet or Savory? Salty sweets.
Personal mantra? Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist: keep loving, keep fighting.

What started you doing what you do?
Everything I do sort of stemmed from a year and a half I spent living in the rocky mountains. I was meeting so many people from around the world, with different life experiences and different ideas and the life I was leading was so unlike my life at home. I had always been an advocate for women’s rights and believed in the power of strong women (I wrote an op­ed about slut shaming women for my local paper at 14, hah!) ­ but I’d never called myself a feminist. I was also sexually assaulted around this time, which made me mad. Which made me think something was wrong with the world I was living in and the way sexual assault was spoken about in our society ­ and the way survivors were treated.

After meeting some really amazing women and having a lot of late night talks over cheap beer and buying my first BUST magazine, the rest was history. I ordered a few books from Amazon and it all clicked. Because of this I would eventually join a feminist collective, start an anti-street harassment movement in my city, start a sex-positive sex education column, and work in so many ways to end violence against women in my city.

I had also always considered myself a writer, but I started blogging when I felt isolated after all my ski season friends moved away to work out all of these new ideas. During this time, I worked as a nanny for two great couples ­ one of which who owned the restaurant The Trough. They taught me about eating well and locally ­ without Rosie and Mike, I doubt I would be into food or food issues. And I definitely wouldn’t know to pair a Riesling with curry.

What keeps you doing what you do?
Working in social services and writing about healthy sexuality ­ especially issues around violence against women is heartbreaking ­ frustrating, triggering, beautiful, powerful, necessary, and inspiring all at the same damn time. It’s the resilience of survivors of violence and the community that supports them that keeps me going. It’s the passion and compassion of the youth I work with and work alongside who that refuse to accept the way things are. It’s seeing things click for people, seeing hearts soften and seeing people feel empowered enough to speak out about the injustice that they see. I’m privileged enough to have a voice that gets heard often, so I refuse to waste that opportunity while there are folks being silenced or who feel they can’t speak up. The emails and hugs from survivors who see their story in my own is a pretty powerful push to keep going. I don’t know what else I would do without having my hands dirty in anti-violence work ­ it’s therapeutic.

What’s next for you?
I actually just accepted a new job as a health educator at a community health centre, where I’ll be doing harm reduction work around HIV transmission. I also just started working with a coalition who’ve joined the UN Safe Cities initiative to create community solutions and create policies around making city spaces safer for women. I’m also talking with some friends about creating a full-spectrum radical doula program and some ladies and I are taking on an exciting new project to connect women with a creative side or main hustle. And it’s only February! I’m trying really hard to recover from some pretty serious burnout, while balancing my need to keep creating, educating, and celebrating rad people and things.

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