I am a community organizer and creative consultant with a focus on the maker movement, cooperative development, and creative economies. For over ten years I’ve been working with makers, entrepreneurs, brands, organizations, non-profits, cooperatives, and communities across North America to develop programs that engage community, celebrate diversity, and create economic opportunity. As founder of OMHG (Oh My! Handmade Goodness) I’ve been offering advocacy, peer support, and community programming for makers since 2010 and am known as a leader in the growing maker movement.
Named one of Canada’s top bloggers by Etsy I have spoken at events across North America on the maker movement and community engagement. I am currently working as a consultant with Etsy to develop Etsy Maker Cities, creating economic opportunities for local makers as co-organizer of Halifax’s Etsy Made in Canada and the Halifax Etsy team, and pioneering new models of regional cooperation as leader of Maritime Makers.
Cooperation, Community, and Creativity are my key words – how could I be anything but Canadian? I live and work in a 200 year old pink house perched at the top of town in lovely Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. I count myself profoundly blessed to do meaningful work for makers around the world while living a simple handmade life with my young family in this vibrant historical community.
Why community organizing? I sat on my first Board of Directors in East Vancouver by nine and had worked with over fifty inner city and rural organizations before I turned 20. I started my first handmade business as a young mom in 2003 and have been an entrepreneur ever since. As the great-granddaughter of an underground railroad operator, granddaughter of a civil rights activist who marched at Selma, and the Black-Cherokee-Jewish daughter of a diversity advocate it isn’t surprising I chose a life working with diverse creative communities. Drawing on this rich, diverse history of social activism and collective action I now use my community organizing skills to develop programs for both rural and urban communities across North America. I’ve built relationships with thousands of makers, innovators, companies and communities, to create projects that lift us all up and help us make real meaningful connections on and offline.
I know my two hands can make a movement and a hundred hands can make anything happen. I have seen through over 10 years of community organizing that when we work together anything is possible, my purpose is to help make that possibility reality.
I’ve been part of some great collaborations & interviews for web + print. Here are a few:
Consultation & Community Services
I am available as a consultant and community organizer to develop strategies, programs, and resources that increase community impact, strengthen local economies, and result in measurable social outcomes – whether it is moderating a roundtable of diverse partners, hosting an intimate retreat for makers, or organizing a market for thousands of attendees.
- Etsy Maker Cities consultant
- Co-organizer of Etsy Made in Canada Halifax
- Organizer of Maritime Makers collective
- Design & community consultation for Bamboletta
- Design & community consultation for Gentle Clothing
- Design & community consultation for Tara Swiger
- Community engagement strategy for Playful Learning
Speaking, Workshops, & Presentations
A dynamic and comfortable public speaker I have spoken at events across North America and would love to bring my positive, warm, collaborative approach to your programming! I have spoken on: the maker movement, community making, cooperative business, social entrepreneurship, online citizenship and why we need to use our heads + hearts + hands if we want to be whole people or make healthy communities.
- Etsy Team Captain’s Summit
- Plenary presenter at Hollyhock Summer Gathering
- Host of Maker’s Retreat at Hollyhock
- Etsy Road Trip (video)
- Altitude Design Summit
- Spark Retreat New Mexico
Want me to share my skills with you? Contact me with your project to learn more about my availability.
I’ve published 1200+ OMHG posts & written over 500, get to know me through the pieces that matter most:
Who am I? How did I get here? Why is community so important to me? Here is the short-long story:
I’m the daughter of a diversity advocate, granddaughter of a civil rights activist & 3x great granddaughter of Elisha Marshall, an escaped slave and Harriet McClintock Marshall operators of the underground railroad out of Dauphin, Pennsylvania.
As a Black, Cherokee, Jewish, Scottish, Canadian, American I’m already a tiny diverse nation, so with my ancestry it isn’t surprising I’ve always been a community maker and border-crosser. My mom tells me it became obvious when I was 4 or 5 years old and a new girl who only spoke in sign language came to my daycare, I learned to talk with my hands so I could include her. Years later as a preschool teacher I taught a little girl from Korea who was so quiet and sweet that until I started no one ever thought to engage her in the class community. I’ll never forget her laughter on the playground when she became part of the group or the card her parents gave me that year thanking me for my love giving her the confidence to step into herself. Whether it is making welcoming places we can gather online or helping a mama with her new baby offline-community, compassion, creativity, citizenship, using my head + heart + hands to craft a life of goodness with every interaction – this is not rhetoric, it is who I am and what I do. The Maker Movement, handmade & entrepreneurship have been doorways to open conversations about what kind of world we’re making together.
What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open. ― Muriel Rukeyser
-Born 1982 in Victoria BC, I learn love for community from my mom and how to make change in my Nana’s textile studio. My nana turned undyed fibre into bright treasures and I played with scraps while she talked about her life-growing up Jewish in Brooklyn, modeling nude in Greenwich Village, designing clothes for Katherine Hepburn & throwing parties for Marlon Brando in Hollywood. She taught me crochet while telling me about marching for civil rights, being one of the first white women to legally marry a black man in California, and fleeing to Spain alone with two small children to protest the Vietnam War.
-At 9 years old I sit on my first board of directors for the Vancouver Big Brothers & Sisters. I write letters to the Premier, read The Diary of Anne Frank and watch Desert Storm on TV. I’m not going to wait until I grow up to make a better world.
-10 years old I discover entrepreneurship selling crystals from a found chandelier to the staff of a group home where my mom works as an advocate for people with disabilities. I’m creative and compassionate, falling easily in love with everyone no matter how obviously different they might seem.
-At 11 I start a drop in daycare for my low-income housing co-op. My aunt kills herself and we move to PEI by 12 I’m angry all the time. I listen to Ani DiFranco, read Leaves of Grass, buy army boots, decide protest will make a difference. I’m on CBC radio at 13 singing about how when I’m Prime Minister I will fix all the things & get arrested when I’m 14 for protesting the opening of a new McDonald’s with my Youth for Social Justice group.
-I’m 15 making bad friends & worse decisions, I decide not feeling anything is the answer to feeling everything. My nana dies, my mom’s mental health starts cracking, times are hard. When I’m 18 I haul myself out of addiction & an abusive relationship to start working with kids, they remind of the goodness in the world and myself.
-By 19 I’m a perpetual motion machine-I go to university & help found an art based summer camp for low income kids. I attend class and still work up to 18 hour days teaching preschool, leading groups for young people to talk about abuse, suicide & addiction, organize creative events believing community is the antidote to despair. I play rebel music, write papers at night, finger paint with kids by day.
-At 20 I leave the city for Cortes Island with $150, a backpack, and no back up plan. I discover the value of slow, rural communities, friends around campfires, how the ocean & forest fill up empty places. I write and read Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mary Oliver & Thoreau. I cook for people, swim in phosphorescent stardust at night, claim relentless cheerfulness as my superpower.
-At 21 I fall in love with a kind gentle young man, we have our first daughter & start a handmade business. We travel to shows & do markets with Ila in a sling. I host community gatherings, work for non-profits, read Paolo Freire and Teaching As A Subversive Activity, sink into mamahood.
-By 22 I’m on a mission to find a community to put down roots. We move to Sointula (meaning Place of Harmony” in Finnish) a remote BC town called where I teach preschool and am director of the local resource centre.
-In 2008 we move to Nova Scotia and try to build a life on a new coast. We buy a home in Halifax and have our second daughter Sela when I’m 25. I buy OMHG in July of 2010 as a diversion from the real work of community building and to distract myself from struggling to connect with Halifax after years in rural Canada. I fall hard for the internet when I learn OMHG can make community globally so I dive in with my head + heart + hands. Read my timeline to learn the inside story of how OMHG evolved.
-In 2012 we leap into love with Lunenburg, moved by the promise of community life we begin again to make a life for ourselves and two daughters in a little pink house in the midst of a vibrant historic town overlooking the ocean.
-At 32 I am even more committed than ever to a life of community & cheerful activism. I’m ready to take more intentional action on what matters most: cooperative community, true diversity, open gatherings, good citizenship, creative partnerships, book writing, heartfelt speaking & always-real meaningful connections.
If you’ve read this far you already know way more about me than I do about you – so let’s connect!