I am Jilly Charlwood. Jilly Jane Charlwood in fact, a name that seems to provide John Horn with an endless source of amusement. As if Horn is any better as a name than Jilly-Jane. I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and I have just returned to Melbourne after an 18 month working holiday in Vancouver.
What do you do for fun?
I surround myself with people who are more intelligent than me. There’s nothing in life more fun than learning from friends.
What is your favourite community and why?
Eltham in Victoria, Australia, where I was lucky enough to grow up. Eltham is about 30 kilometres North-East of Melbourne, and is a ‘green wedge’ community that provides under-developed, environmentally sound living space within the Melbourne suburban region.
Eltham started its life as an artists’ colony and has managed to retain its hippy sensibilities by developing a reputation for art, culture, environmental activism and strong community spirit. The house I grew up in had no fences separating neighbouring properties, we lived next door to one of Australia’s most renowned landscape artists and in 1986 a rare breed of butterfly long thought to be extinct was discovered in a nature reserve at the end of our street.
It’s just that kind of place.
What is your superpower?
How do you use it to build community?
A little bit of etiquette goes a long way in developing relationships with people. Much more than knowing which bread plate is yours at a group dinner, good manners are a quiet reminder to one another that we are all human, and that humans respond to being treated with respect. And from left to right it’s BMW – bread, meal, wine. Easy!
1. Cubicle Connectiveness. For seven glorious months I was lucky enough to sit next to Jilly Jane in our open-concept UBC office. She was and is an absolute delight in every single way. Jilly knows how to work hard, fast and smart, so she motivates the people around her by walking the talk. Speaking of talk, if you’re bugging her – which I may or may not have done once or twice or seven-hundred-thousand times – she is happy to assertively apply her kick-arse manners in a way that makes “shut the hell up” sound like a really, really happy Feist song. Jilly also gets what she wants by striking an important balance between politeness and assertiveness (again with the manners). She is wicked-smart. And, finally, at least once a week I asked her for updates on her three favourite things about [INSERT RIDICULOUS THING HERE] or “who would win in a fight: a beaver or a kangaroo?” and, well, she always provided exceptionally thoughtful answers and/or ones that were just as stupid as the questions themselves.
2. Australian Vegetarianism. Have you heard of the term “throw another [insert giant piece of meat here] on the barbie!”? Well, it kinda sorta reflects Australia’s carnivore culture. And our friend Jilly exists as an ardent vegetarian within such a cultural landscape. Also, she happily shares recipes, ideas and impact-of-meat-on-the-planet stories in very, very intelligent ways. Speaking of Australia, the Daily Gumboot now has an Australian Correspondent!!! We can all look forward to Jilly’s first post as this blog’s community truly reaches epic global status!
3. Competitiveness. Jilly. This was the best GTKYC that we’ve ever done. Because you’re the best. YOU WIN!!!
SPECIAL BONUS REASON: We’re still great friends after the following goodbye scenario at the UBC Bus Loop:
Jilly: “Well, John Horn, it’s been great working with you. Thanks again for the drinks.”
John: “No problem, Jilly. Thanks for the memories. I’ll never see you again.”
[INSERT AWKWARD SILENCE HERE]
Big hugs exchanged.
John: “Stay classy. Have a great trip. Like I said, I’ll never see you again.”
Exeunt. [Editor's note: this exchange is still referred to by Ms. Charlwood as "the worst goodbye from all of my friends in Canada and, possibly, in the history of the world."
…as told by John Horn