My dear friend, Jo Holtan, has a new venture, GoJo. Basically she is incredible at creating events, igniting and supporting innovation, and has an unparalleled gift of spreading magic and energy wherever she goes. Jo asked me to write about space making at Tribe Porty and shared the following through her blog. Thanks bud.


I have the amazing opportunity to meet & collaborate with people from across different areas of work, skill sets, and perspectives.  Each time I hear about someone’s work and passion, I’m inspired at how seemingly unconnected areas of work have strongly connected themes.  

I asked my dear friend Dani Trudeau who is the Founding Director of Tribe Porty to reflect upon her space and I love how she has applied her lessons from dance to how she has choreographed Tribe.  Created last year, Tribe Porty is a community coworking and creative events hub with a growing following of artists, freelancers, and those wonderful undefinable folks (you know who you are). You can read more more about Tribe and the inspiring work that Dani is doing at

At North Carolina School of the Arts, my least favourite class as a modern dancer major was choreography. I had trained in ballet for far longer than contemporary dance and was used to be told what to do- no improvisation allowed and perfection was the aim.

When we were asked to create new movements as well as put them into new choreography, I was lost. The most I could imagine was replicating some modern choreography that I learned at Alvin Ailey one summer into almost all of any new choreography I was asked to design. It was hugely frustrating to be asked to do something without being given the tools to learn how to. I didn’t know that the key to choreography was drawing from what made me uniquely me, or movements which were created from feelings, thoughts and visual inspirations which came from my own experiences.

Recently I have been challenged a bit by some of the complexities which communities quite often have and Jo said to me, ‘Tribe is your art’.

This made a few things fall into place for me. Designing the space and enjoying being creative with the look and feel of Tribe was easy. What is hard is bringing the community with me yet stay true to my art. At times, I questioned my own wants for Tribe being the same as the people who use Tribe.

I have decided to view it more like a choreographer.

How can I make the most of the stage, the dancers, the set and the audience? What does each dancer bring to the overall performance and how can I make my own vision for the piece be realised?

This perspective feels great and makes much more sense to me and the desire to continually develop Tribe Porty. Each member is so talented and brings their own gifts to the stage.

My role is to try and make sure each one feels part of the dance, at times as a principal dancer, at times part of the corps. Together we can make amazing art and there are endless dances to be choreographed. Keeping in mind, that some dances are better than others and a fair amount of improvisation is required!

Approaching Tribe Porty this way also allows me to carefully craft and indulge my creativity, for the love of my art. Saying that, I could apply that analogy to many things in life; how can apply my strengths into situations which turn challenges into opportunities for growth and creativity.


Note from Dani – Thank you Geoffrey Baines for the drawing above and for the Dreamwhispering sessions; they continue to help me find the answers from within myself.


New House


Home is much more IMG_6067than shelter; home is our centre of gravity.

We moved in a few months ago but you know how things go, I haven’t had time to look back and reflect and enjoy until now. We only had a couple of months to find, sell and buy a new place and we are really happy.  The family is settled and it feels like home. The place really didn’t need much work, just decorated to our style and some storage built as the place had no storage and no shelves anywhere. The other plus side is that the basement is unfinished so we have already started dreaming and planning our next project.

Here are some before and after photos, hopefully you can figure which is which. I just received the old decorator’s box for a Christmas present. Think I like it in the dining room, but will live with it for a bit to know for sure.

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Our lounge was a bedroom but we thought we would make the most of the wood burner. Treewrights made our lovely oak fire surround. I brought back some deer antlers from South Dakota and painted and mounted them in a picture frame.

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Another bargain, Portobello’s sale facebook, £35 for the chair and I added some old coffee sacks to the sides for fun. The leather topped table was a freebie for helping someone move some furniture.

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We turned the living room into our bedroom and made a bed to fit. All in, about £70 in scaffold boards and a post. Bob is well impressed with his joinery skills- me too of course! The old fire surround became our headboard. I also managed to sew some curtains for under the desk and for the living room-for the first time and they are the right size.

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Kids bedrooms

All had free range on decorating and they did well!

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IMG_5867 image IMG_6633 IMG_6634The dusty pink unit was from the fabulous Friday Street (£20 because one handle was broken)!

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The bathroom didn’t need much. We found this ladder in the basement and cut it to fit, hung a mirror, pictures and a basket, done. The boy scout tin was a $5 find in an antique shop in South Dakota.

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We had to say good bye to flowers, went for a blue grey. Kitchen needed some serious storage; again found these crates in the basement and they became our storage solutions. The spice wrack is a metal arrow, compliments of TK Maxx.

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Decided to use some wire baskets for wall storage, my family laughed at me at first but it actually works well. I found the small writing unit at an antique shop, bargained down to £30 and painted some mustard stripes down the sides. We found a large piece of wood, cut it to size and screwed on some hooks from IKEA for a coat wrack.

Next…. the garden and basement!

Happy homemaking!



Just draw it/paint it

IMG_0942I bought a brilliant book, Just Draw It, by Sam Piyasena & Beverly Philip and it has been a great way to get back into a habit of drawing without the pressure of trying to create something great.  It is organised as a series of exercises which provide essential practice for your brain, eye and hand- from rapid-fire sketches, to detailed observations of tones and contrasts, to capturing the mood of a scene, or looking at structure through the formal rules of perspective.


Get your pencils and paints out and enjoy the practice as much as the finished product.

Here are few sketches from the book and beyond.

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Bikeable Jo takes on Kuala Lumpur

One of my new favourite posts. Proud this girl is my pal!

Bikeable Jo


I have spent the past week in Kuala Lumpur on a workshop exploring  the definition and needed action around global citizenship in higher education. Bikeable Jo was even featured in a film shown on the day.

I had a spare day so I thought I would take advantage of the time and try and connect with a few local cyclists. Luckily Chan responded to a couple tweets and showed up with two foldable bikes.


Despite the heat and rain, we hit the road. Chan was great leading me around the city and navigated the route to avoid some of the bigger streets. We saw a few cyclists but cars clearly dominate the road. So much that it didn’t feel right taking in big deep breaths from all the exhaust fumes.

Chan took me to a Malay village inside the city for breakfast (in classic travelling Jo fashion, it would…

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Passing the campervan on

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It’s the end of a wee journey of wee journeys.

We haven’t told the kids yet, but we have decided to sell our VW campervan. We love it and it has been fun doing it up but the time has come to pass her on.

An ode to our campervan adventures;

Scotland is great for camping, with wild camping being my favourite but you need to know the rules. Found this useful forum for good wild camping spots for campervans. A couple of times we just jumped in the campervan with no real idea of where we were going and hoped for the best. It worked out most of the time but sometimes it was hard to find a respectful place to park that was secluded. Short trips with the kids were my favourite. A hour an hour’s drive and we could be at a lovely new spot, go for a walk and it felt like a mini holiday. Izzy probably loved the campervan most of all.  She has spent hours playing in it just parked in front of the house. I hope her new owners have many good times with  her as we did.

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The Dani’s Drawers influence- faux grass carpet, map countertops and cozy fabrics.

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Providing Value




“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” -Julia Child


On the back of my last post and the line, “nothing is meaningless”, I am led to thinking about how to provide value. For the last couple of years,  I have been consumed with social value and how to make a living without taking something valuable from someone else. How does helping others and marketing core benefits become sustainable? There are some answers as well as no one answer.

Most people want more good things like love, acceptance, time, attention, money and less bad things like stress, anxiety, loneliness and debt. The difficult distinction is creating an enterprise that gives people what they really want not what you think they should have. Who else is looking for the perfect balance of passion and income to make work something you love?

125 Women who Changed our World (USA version) and A Century of Distinction (UK approach).


I feel almost a fraud writing my thoughts next to this image of the brave Malala Yousafzai. However, we all have our talents, our gifts and purpose and they are different and all valuable in their own right. Malala gives us all courage to forge forward in our quest to living a fulfilled life. What’s your greatest success so far and what is ready to get shared?



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The dressing up box happened. Izzy was not sure about it at first. It was a new piece of furniture in her room which she wasn’t quite ready for and initially requested to move to the office. It made me think…maybe I was being selfish. Maybe making the dressing up box was for me?! Don’t worry, I am over that now. The truth is, I made her a lovely bit of furniture for her room, managed to not spend more than £8 all in.  I reused the buttons from a Trade School barter, an old broom handle, a pallet given to me, some old fabric, hooks from the tool box and the giant buttons off my old slippers. The bag was from a pair of shoes I bought last year and the “jewelry box” is a cigar box a friend was throwing out. My friend’s 17-year-old daughter said, I wish my mum would have made me one of those when I was little. That was good enough for me.

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Dani’s Drawers is about living a way that is right for me and showing my children to respect all things and nothing is meaningless. Life is made valuable by giving your time and acting with love. 

Are you a pirate or princess?



It all started with a quick facebook post about my reluctance to answer my 4-year-old daughter’s Christmas wish of two princess dresses. I found myself ordering a pirate dress instead and asked my friends if this was naughty or nice. WIth mixed revues, I was feeling guilty so didn’t order the pirate dress or buy the princess dresses. Then a friend, Kevin, posted that I should do neither and to let my creativity run. So, that is the plan. I am going to build a dressing up/imagination box full of all kinds of thing to let one’s imagination run wild.

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I am divided by this dichotomy.  Although I am a feminist, I was also a ballerina growing up and I would like to think that being exposed to all opportunities is best to nurture her own identity. After thinking about this further, I realise it is the over sexualisation of some dressing up that bothers me. Dressing up is about trying out different personas, being someone else briefly and experiencing a little bit of something new. It is not about playing a role that someone else thinks you should play.

There is quite a bit of information around the topic of dressing up, particularly for girls.

Avoiding sexy costumes, a CNN report says: “Marketers basically decide what is ‘girl’ and what is ‘boy,’ which ultimately leads to two very distinct ways to profit as well as a blind acceptance from the consumer who, often, doesn’t realize it’s happening,” Yulo says. “Girls are inundated from a very young age with inappropriate messaging by way of products like ‘skinny’ jeans for toddlers, or T-shirts that say, ‘I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother does it for me,’ and sexy Halloween costumes. Kids begin to codify other kids by placing them in strict categories that they’ve been taught — not born with. Inevitably, kids begin to believe that girls need to be sexy, and boys believe it, too.”

Trying to be a rolemodel is difficult. I love women of all kinds for lots of different reasons. The women in my life are amazing and I hope that my daughter will realise the beauty of being a woman and how that goes far beyond playing a role or fitting into a box that is 2 dimensional. Oh wait, I hope I realise that too!

Back to where it all started…the Christmas wish of princess dresses. I hope the dressing up box filled with possibilities is a hit. I’ve drawn some plans for a box made from a pallet, paid £.30 for an old broom handle at a junk yard and found a brilliant website for making a variety of comstumes. Now I have to get making! Pictures of it complete soon!

So much, thanks

Had a lovely Thanksgiving, full of games and some pumpkin home-brewed beer. The brown paper table cover was perfect for doodling thankful shout-outs and keeping track of Balderdash choices.


In true DD style, I grabbed what was in the recycling bin, bottles and cans and used some brown paper I bought to wrap Christmas presents for the table, put out some candles and done; £6 all in (including flowers).

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Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving

I celebrate Thanksgiving in hopes that I am not ignorant enough to offend Native Americans. I celebrate Thanksgiving because I love the pure fact that people get together to share a meal, give general thanks and play games all night.
If you are celebrating, embrace your people without forgetting the people who shouldn’t be forgotten. And make your table look nice…:)