MEET THE TEAM AT WEN

Meet the team from Wen (Women's Environmental Network)

A MINUTE WITH……

JULIA MINNEAR

Julia is our Feminist Leadership Facilitator

Meet….Julia Minnear

Julia has worked in environmental organisations for 15 years and is a former Co-Director at Wen. She believes in the power of using feminist and participatory principles to achieve social and environmental justice.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Feminist, Leadership, Facilitator. Is that cheating?! In more than three words, my role is helping Wen to embed principles of feminist leadership throughout the organisation – a brilliant challenge. My role model is Srilatha Batliwala, a social activist and author from India, who wrote an excellent handbook called “Feminist Leadership for Social Transformation” – I highly recommend it – This might sound a bit silly, but I think it changed my life!
 
 

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?

Back in the day when Wen was only 4 or 5 people, me and Kate (current Co-director) used to run organic food growing courses with women’s groups in Tower Hamlets and Hackney. I have a lot of nostalgia for that type of work. I love being outside and seeing how powerful nature and gardening can be, particularly as a type of therapy. Since then, Wen’s food projects have expanded massively. It’s exciting to see people like Elle, Josh, Han, Jo, Shaheda, Julie, Clyo and the Soil Sisters team leading on that work now with so much creativity and passion. It’s really inspiring and I secretly wish I could switch jobs with them.
 
 

What is on your wish list for your next five years at Wen?

 
They say that organisations go through cycles – I think that’s probably true. With the team having expanded it feels like Wen is re-making itself at the moment. We recently did an exercise where everyone shared their personal values to see where the crossovers were. The idea is to develop Wen’s strategy in line with the energy and values of the current team. It’s a co-creative process, but it also feels like an important way to get to know each other. I’d really like us to keep finding fun and creative ways to learn, share and collaborate together. I have this vision of bread being kneaded – folding this bit into that bit, and that bit into this bit, until you have a good dough! As with bread-baking, I think time and patience are probably also key ingredients!
 
 

What are your biggest professional challenges?

 
Probably trying to overcome the idea of having to be or act in a certain way in order to be taken seriously! I think it’s the usual imposter syndrome stuff – the idea that there are other people out there that are better qualified, more knowledgeable, more skilful and more articulate than me, and that they should be doing my job! For me, Wen has been an important place for unlearning all of that. We’re not deficient, we don’t have to be perfect and it’s okay not to know! Sadly I still have to keep my inner gremlins in check on a regular basis.
 
 

Given a chance, who would you like to be for a day?

 
Someone who is living very far away from everyone else; I’m imagining being in Antarctica, or up a mountain where there is no phone signal, no Wifi, no planes overhead. It would be a lovely break!

 

 

 

Elle Mcall

Elle our Just FACT Programme Manager

Meet….Elle McAll

Elle is passionate about inclusive climate action, and believes in the unique power of food to bring people together. She has worked in the charity sector 7 years, managing a wide range of environmental projects.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The cats! I have two black cats, Rambo and Patsy who jump on the bed in the morning asking for their breakfast. While they’re having theirs, I have muesli with berries and a big spoonful of peanut butter.

 

How would you describe your job to a child?

 

This is a great challenge but hard to do! One answer could be I mostly work at a laptop and go to meetings! Another answer is – I support projects that get food to our bellies in a way that is good for our health and the environment.  This includes projects that grow food nearby, that have less plastic packaging, that don’t use polluting transport, that recycle food waste so it can be turned into something useful again…..and much more. It’s about trying to make healthy affordable food (that doesn’t harm the planet) available to everyone! (…Maybe that’s still too abstract!)

 

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

 

Every day is different! As well as working on ‘Just FACT’, I’m also part of the Intersectional Feminist Working Group at Wen, and one thing I’m currently working on with the team is our 5 year action plan. It’s really exciting to be setting goals and actions that get us actively working towards being an anti-racist, inclusive, intersectional feminist organisation.

 

What’s your favourite film & why?

Thelma and Louise, which I watched for the first time in lockdown 1! It’s really funny, captivating, about female friendship and about women trapped in a patriarchal world who are asserting control over their own lives. It was made 30 years ago, but hasn’t lost it’s brilliance.

 

What is your guilty pleasure?

I do love a chocolate covered coffee bean….

Linda is our Operations Manager

Meet….Linda Tai

Linda has worked in the health and community sectors for over 10 years. Originally from Australia, she now calls East London home and is interested in building sustainable communities. Alongside her role at Wen, she is co-founder of Sunny Jar Eco Hub, a social enterprise on a mission to make low waste living easy and accessible for all.  

What gets you out of bed in the morning? 

A strong cup of tea, with a bit of soya milk, no sugar.  

What is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional? 

My biggest achievement to date is starting a social enterprise, Sunny Jar Eco Hub, with my business partner Maud 2 years ago.  Creating Sunny Jar has enabled me to combine my interest in community health and wellbeing with my passion for sustainable living. We deliver workshops and community projects, with a mission to make low waste living easy and accessible for everyone. 

 

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

My typical day can involve anything from developing Wen’s policies and processes, to managing our membership database, to helping out staff with queries. I’m currently working on our office spaces, organising furniture for our new space, Limborough Hub and reviewing our Covid-19 risk assessments.  

What do you like most about your job?

I love the variety of my work at Wen, there is always something interesting to work on and a problem to unpick.  

 

What’s the most recent app you’ve downloaded but are yet to use?

I’ve just downloaded Go Jauntly, which is a walking app. You can record your favourite walk on it and share with the community, and you can find new walks in your area that others have recorded. I’m hoping to discover new places in my local area and beyond!   

Meet… Han Smith

Han never ceases to be amazed by the power of community organising and is inspired by grassroots people power around the world! Prior to Wen, Han worked with student led campaigns network People & Planet, where they managed the University League table – ranking UK universities on their social justice and climate action. Han is currently a trainee at OrganicLea, a food growing project in the suburbs of North London. At campaign and action training camps, Han can sometimes be found running a workshop called 80’s disco stretch n’ sweat!  

Han - Wen

Han is our Just FACT Mobiliser 

When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? 

My friend recently went to visit her parents in the rural Welsh town she is from. In the last year a new train station has been built on the rural train line where it now stops at a tiny village where there are views of rolling hills and 1 tiny white cottage. The person who lives in the cottage, unhappy at the development of the train station has written in protest on the side of their cottage, in huge perfectly formed lettering ‘WELCOME TO HELL.’ 

It’s the first thing you see from the station platform (aside from the rolling hills). My friend sent me a photo and I cried and cried with laughter for about 20 minutes. OK, I’ve started laughing all over again now! 

What gets you out of bed in the morning? 

The sounds of water and birds. The light. Wondering what the trees look like today. Curiosity for the nature outside usually.  

What’s the most recent app you’ve downloaded but are yet to use? 

Pokemon Go. My nephews (6, 4 and 3) are really really keen. I downloaded it last weekend under their pressure but also wanting to find more ways we can connect and play together.  

What is your guilty pleasure?  

I’m pretty keen to kick back on the idea that we should build guilt in to the pleasures we take. So whilst I appreciate what the phrase ‘guilty pleasures’ is commonly understood to mean, I don’t really relate to it. I know that I could say I love watching Eastenders for example, which I do. I don’t feel guilty about it though… it’s a brilliant bit of TV! 

(At the moment there’s a Black Lives Matter influenced storyline; intersecting Covid, state healthcare, controlling relatives, mental health and unhelpful white neighbours. It revolves around the character Patrick Trueman, his family and of course the people of Albert Square)  

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