Faces in the Crowd – Writing Her Own Script

Posted on February 14, 2019 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

Looking to the Future

 

“I am a creative person. I have  asked many questions and have experienced a lot of life. I want to keep writing stories that create dynamic roles for Black women.”

Meet Tara Lee Reddick.

Tara grew up in Antigonish, the youngest of four children. She had an imagination, was independent minded and always wanted to travel. While many have hazy recollections of their childhood, Tara can remember vividly small details of her youth from a very young age.

After completing grade 11 in the local school system, Tara decided to do her final year of high school in Halifax. “I wanted a different and more diverse experience. I had never been taught by a Black educator and wanted to spend time with classmates who were like me.” Living and going to school in Halifax was a great education. There were plusses and minuses. “I realized that you choose friends by their character and not the color of their skin.”

The next four years of Tara’s life were very demanding. She moved to Toronto, had a child and worked at several jobs. “I went from a small town, to a larger city (Halifax) and then to a big city (Toronto). I was so busy raising a child and working that I felt I never had time to really think about my future.” She moved back to Antigonish as a single mother seeking family support which was not available in Toronto.

Tara was always writing. No scrap of paper in the household was safe when she got an idea. She was also intrigued with acting. One day, unannounced, she wandered into Filmworks in Halifax inquiring about acting opportunities. She auditioned for the CBC mini -series “North, South” and got a small role. Realizing that she needed more professional credentials she took Neptune Theatre’s Pre-Professional Theatre Program. This nine month intensive course focused on such things as acting, musical theatre and script analysis.

In 2007, she was a stand-in for the movie “Poor Boy’s Game”. She became intrigued with the process of filmmaking and watched how all the pieces in a production fit together. She decided that writing scripts was what she wanted to do. Around this time she met Ann Verrall, an independent filmmaker who was doing a lot of work with indigenous groups. They wrote some scripts together.

A turning point for Tara was when she played the role of Tituba in Two Planks and a Passion’s play “The Crucible”. “Do I want to create dynamic roles for Black women or be the token Black woman often portrayed on stage and in film?” She co-wrote and co-produced “Stroll” which was shown at the Atlantic Film Festival.

A chance meeting with Emmy Alcorn in Halifax was another game changer for Tara. Emmy was the artistic director at Mulgrave Road Theatre and asked Tara if she would like to write a play. She was asked to write about a play about a woman from Lincolnville who ends up working for the family of the legendary, Ed Sullivan, host of a very popular variety show.  While the story line was compelling, Tara wanted to write her own story about the unique richness of the Black people of rural Nova Scotia. The result was “The West Woods”, a critically acclaimed work. Not only did Tara write the script but she also acted in the production. According to Alcorn, “Tara had a big vision and she was committed to doing the work to realize her vision. She has a lot of courage and is not afraid to take on projects that require her to get outside her comfort zone. She’s very professional and she has a big heart full of generosity.”

To say that Tara leads a full and busy life would be an understatement. She is the mother of four children and continues to live and work in Antigonish. She is involved with many worthy organizations and is a gifted communicator and facilitator. She is in her third year at St.F.X and it should surprise no one that her field of studies includes Sociology and Gender Studies. She realizes that a good education is very important.

Tara has a keen sense of self and a good sense of humour.

But make no mistake, she’s writing her own script. This independent thinker is a game changer for our community.

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Faces in the Crowd – Outside The Lines

Posted on November 1, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

 

“I’m a fun guy to be around. I try and make people feel happy.”

Meet Justin Gregg.

Justin grew up in small town Vermont, the only child of a father who was a lawyer and a mother who worked for the Chamber of Commerce. In a time when the internet had yet to take a foothold on society, he loved playing in the outdoors. His mother was an animal lover who helped the local humane society find placement for stray and abandoned creatures.

At the age of ten, he travelled to Massachusetts on a whale watching trip. He saw a humpback whale and was immediately captivated with marine life.

Justin grew up and was considered a nerd, when being a nerd wasn’t cool. He loved science fiction movies and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In high school he played a variety of sports and in grade twelve, got his first taste of acting participating in theatre. Upon completing high school, he travelled to Sweden as an exchange student and completed an additional year of studies. This was a transformative experience. He learned a new language and for the first time came to appreciate that people in other parts of the world think and act differently.

Even though the idea of studying marine biology had some appeal, Justin enrolled in a linguistics program at University of Vermont. “I didn’t particularly like science as a subject and thought the program would be too difficult.” At the end of his second year, he headed off to the Netherlands to study linguistics and the Dutch language. He met his future wife, Ranke while both of them were participating in the production of “Romeo and Juliet”.

In his fourth year, Justin and a dozen colleagues from an a capella group, travelled to New York in a limo to perform at an UVM alumni function at the Windows of the World restaurant atop the Twin Towers.

Ranke moved to Ireland after attaining her Masters degree to pursue a Ph.D. at Trinity College. Justin moved to Ireland to be with her but with no job prospects and proper work visas, he decided to become a student again taking a one year sound engineering and music technology course. In 1999, the couple married and Ranke took a year off to travel to the United States. It was around this time that Justin’s father became sick which led to a protracted illness. Years later his mother would develop ALS. “At a young age, I became conscious of suffering and end of life issues.”

Back in Ireland, Justin tried his hand at a number of jobs including voice over work. After attending a Celtic scholar’s conference in Wales with Ranke, he decided that he would pursue a Ph.D. He spent an entire year at the local library reading books on biology, zoology and genetics. He decided to do a program in Cognitive Psychology. When he pitched his idea to the people at Trinity College, he was told that he would need to find a field supervisor. He contacted Kathleen Dudzinski, a renowned dolphin communication researcher.

For four summers, one in the Bahamas and three on a volcanic island off the coast of Japan, Justin studied dolphin behaviour. He swam with them using an underwater camera to record behaviour and sounds. He completed his doctorate in 2008 and in 2013 published a signature book called “Are Dolphins Really Smart”? The book was somewhat controversial arousing a lot of criticism by the media. As a result of this, he started to publish his own articles and became a science writer.

The couple’s daughter was born in 2008 in the Netherlands where Ranke had gained employment. Justin became a stay at home dad. “My number one goal in life was to get married and become a father.” He became a stay at home dad, when being a stay at home dad wasn’t cool! “Even though The Netherlands was progressive, it was unusual to be a stay at home dad. I was not part of the mainstream mother group.”

Yearning for the rural life, Justin applied for a self -employment permit to Canada in 2013. “I wanted to live in the country, cut my own firewood and have my own bees.” B.C.  was first on their list but a cursory investigation determined that the west coast was a bit on the pricey side. Justin’s grandmother’s family had lived in the Annapolis Valley so they set their sights on Nova Scotia. At around this time, a position became available in the Celtic Studies department at ST.F.X. University which Ranke applied for and was accepted.

After a year of renting, they purchased a home in Pleasant Valley. The couple believe in self-sufficiency. They installed solar panels in their home, grow their own garlic, cut their own wood and make their own honey and maple syrup.

Justin is an adjunct professor in the Biology department at St.F.X. and is a senior research associate with the Dolphin Communication project. A prolific writer and author, he now has his own publishing company called “Outside the Lines Press.” He is active in community life and contributes his many talents when called upon. His sense of humour, inherited from his very witty mother, is on full display when he leads an improv session.

Antigonish is very fortunate to have such a talented individual who lives life “outside the lines.”

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Faces in the Crowd – Keeping the Wheels Turning

Posted on October 11, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

 

 

“My employees mean everything to the success of my business. My core values guide me.

Meet Jennifer Baudoux.

Born in Stellarton, the second oldest of four girls, Jennifer learned from an early age the importance of a person’s roots, tradition and family values. For many years, the family would drive over to Kenzieville to visit her grandparents. They also took several trips around the province looking for adventure.

She and her sisters were outdoors people. Besides biking and running, Jennifer had a passion for sports with ringette dominating the winter months and soccer in the summer. As part of a rite of passage, she got her driver’s license followed by her first job in the food services industry.

Her first leap of independence was a three week solo trip she took to Norway at the age of 17 to visit an exchange student.  She had never been out of the Maritimes before but received the blessings of her parents to travel alone. Her trip to Norway fuelled her passion for travel and the outdoors as she spent much of her time mountain climbing.

She had a good head for math so it wasn’t surprising that she attended the community college in Stellarton to pursue a diploma in business information technology. She wasn’t sure of her career path but she knew it would be in business. “I wasn’t fuelled with angst wondering what I would do the rest of my life. I was just waiting for the right opportunity to reveal itself,” says Jennifer.

She married in 1997 and she and her husband bought a piece of land in Hazel Glen which they cleared with their own hands. She took a position at McDonald’s restaurant and spent 17 years with the company, many in a management role.  With two small children, this was very demanding with long hours at work. Like so many couples, there was a lot of juggling with one partner working day shift and the other the back shift to make things work.

Both she and her husband ended up working in Truro. This required a daily commute and after a hydroplaning accident one day while transporting the children, they decided to buy a home in Truro. While they liked Truro, there was much second guessing and the lure of Pictou County was too strong. “There is great comfort in knowing where you’re from.” They bought an old home in Kenzieville not far from her grandparents.

In 2007, her husband bought a Canada Bread franchise. Jennifer decided to leave McDonald’s to work with him. His travels took him to the A&W in Antigonish. The local franchisee, hearing of Jennifer’s extensive experience in the food services industry, asked if she would meet with him. Despite her initial objections (“I’m not doing this again”), she decided to partner with the current owner in 2012. In 2016, she became the sole owner.

“I learned a lot about being a woman in business. You must believe in yourself and not be intimidated. You have to learn to take things in stride,” says Jennifer.

Recreation was and continues to be a crucial part of her success in business and in life. “Sports are good for the mind, the body and the soul. “ An avid biker and runner, many a problem was solved while out on the back roads or a mountain. Both she and her two children have become competitive cross country mountain bikers. Jennifer recently competed in the Canada Cup and her children hope to qualify for the Canada Games team some day in the future. The three of them have also completed triathlons.

The A&W franchise in Antigonish has been recognized locally and nationally as one of the top restaurants in the chain. This hasn’t happened by accident. In a hyper competitive industry, Jennifer has been able to attract and keep employees in a business which is known for a high turnover rate. She notes that paying a fair wage is part of the equation but Jennifer does the extras that go a long way to engender loyalty. She provides fresh fruit for the staff and uses team building exercises like skating, bowling and trips to the Keppoch. She takes people in a management role to national and international conferences.

Jennifer is the president of the Maritime Association for A&W and is a skilled trainer and motivator.

When summing up her life to date, Jennifer indicates that business has helped her with her personal life and her personal life has helped in business. “You need to set goals and be prepared to work hard to attain them.”

Jennifer’s wheels are always turning whether in the board room, the restaurant or on Keppoch Mountain.

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