When I first started working at Zeitspace in September 2019, people had no idea what a journalist was doing at a tech consultancy. That may still be true now, even as my time at Zeitspace comes to an end (my last day is today). A content marketer I know once joked, “Welcome to the dark side” when she heard about my new gig. It’s true there has always been a very strict and necessary line between journalists and marketers. But the work I’ve done at Zeitspace (and the work the Zeitspace team has done) is anything but dark.
Some of my favourite stories (and, thankfully, there are many) revolve around the theme of tech for good. I’ve had a chance to write about our pro bono work with SHORE Centre, with whom we collaborated on Choice Connect, which offers people a referral to an abortion — a web-based app that seems particularly important these days. I got to speak with Ren Navarro of Beer. Diversity., about taking her previous in-person diversity training for brewers digital — another timely issue. And I’ve written pieces about our work with Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation, where the Zeitspace team designed and developed the Impact Amplifier app, which shows Waterloo Region residents how far their donation dollars go. Recently, I wrote about our work with CycleWR to develop a hyperlocal, open source cycling app that provides a cyclist’s view of the world.
Those are all stories about our work, sure. But our work wasn’t the feature of those stories — the people we worked with and the good work they’re doing was.
One of the first pieces I wrote for Zeitspace was a reflection piece, much like this one, about Fluxible Conference, part of the UX festival Zeitspace partner Mark Connolly co-founded and co-chairs. I wrote then that although I wasn’t a UX designer, I couldn’t help but come away from the conference thinking about who our world is designed for, who it’s not, and how we can all change that, designers or not. I’ve had the chance to interview so many UX designers, researchers, and writers, and I can tell you that I feel just as hopeful about the future of design now as I did then. Maybe even more so.
Ironically, being around people who thoughtfully design apps that make our world a better place has also made me a better writer. I write with intention and even submit stories to literary magazines with intention too. (Along with being a journalist and journalism instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University, I also write fiction.) I thoughtfully consider the weight of the words I use in my fiction, and choose words based on their ability to deepen the meaning of the story I’m writing.
Journalism can be a tough chew-you-up-and-spit-you-out industry. My time at Zeitspace was just what I needed as a journalist and a writer. I got to tell stories of hope and vision and stories where people were bold and didn’t accept the status quo. I even got to do some UX writing! And now it’s time to do something else. I’ll keep teaching journalism at Laurier because coaching and mentoring the next generation of journalists has been important to me since I walked into my first newsroom more than 20 years ago. I’ve always privately written fiction but in November 2020, I started sending my fiction to literary magazines and some of those stories are being published this year. It’s exciting work that fills my heart and I’m so glad to give it the time and space that it needs to thrive.
I am, and always will be a storyteller, journalist, and writer. Thanks for joining me on my journey at Zeitspace. I hope you’ll keep reading.