Meet Jillian Kowalchuk from Safe and the City
When I posted about my new project, this very blog on the Huckletree members slack channel, Jillian was the first to respond. Once I’d sat down with the Jillian and talked through what she’s up to the reason was very apparent. What she’s creating will benefit all of us based in London, and hopefully, she will roll it out quickly to other countries too. As a woman, I can tell you that unwanted harassment is a daily occurrence. On-line and off-line, so on behalf of the women of London, I thank you.
What are you up to right now?
Jillian: I’m working on a new platform that creates safer walking routes for women. It works by crowdsourcing data from women’s experiences on sexual harassment in combination including with crime statistics, lighting and businesses open late. This will provide alternative routes, instead of just the fastest, to safely route, share and evaluate walks in order to create safer communities. It will look in future to enable services underground, so no tubes, but it can deal with walking and buses.
Often the people who harass or attack are persistent offenders, it’s not likely to be a one-time thing. If they are reported, then that can stop future antisocial behaviours and potentially more serious crimes. Currently, it’s in beta testing and users can sign up at www.safeandthecity.com. We will start with London and then scale globally. The data will be transparent so women can feel empowered to prepare for their walks and decide safer businesses they want to support.
Also, I set up FemTechTalks, which is a monthly series of talks, which is aimed to equip women (and their male allies) with the information, tools and strategies to empower them as they launch and scale their businesses.
What’s your favourite place to work?
Huckletree, because I love the design, feel and the community. Knowing that you will see the same faces and draw support from them when in need. It is an amazing location and the building is impressive to bring people to. I’m on the Huckletree Alpha programme, which is a 3-month long accelerator. I’m really enjoying it so far.
Would you say you are a digital nomad? Could you work from anywhere?
Yes, I have. Prior to Huckletree, I worked in cafés and at home. I’m a nomad in general. I’m a Canadian, living in London but this is the 8th country I’ve lived in. Now that I own a tech business it makes it stable in some respects, having a global business, and having skills the skills to move and work globally without an issue.
What are your favourite gadgets that you are using right now?
Mac user, and an Apple Phone. I don’t have many tech accessories. Have been using a VR kit recently. We used it to show the feeling of a woman walking along and being sexually harassed. It works really really well, as it helps you to empathise what a woman actually goes through, as not everyone can understand it, if they have never experienced it. I’ve also used the snapshot glasses, and love those.
Do you shop for Gadgets?
Not really that interested, in them. I have a plain black wallet smartphone case and that’s it.
How do you get inspired?
Usually when I’m least expecting it. If I intensely focus on something and then just leave it to settle, an answer usually follows. Gratitude and mediation really help. I have the 5-minute journal and a vision board. Sharing ideas and talking with people, helps me look at things in another way.
What’s the one big event in your life that really changed you?
My mother passed away when she was 45, I was 19, so that spurred on my travels and made me focused on the here and now, and made me maximise time and not settle for mediocrity.
How do you stop yourself getting burnout?
Daily morning routines. I love an early start, so I, don’t feel rushed. Exercise really helps. Noticing when you are stressed and dealing with it.
What city gives you energy? And why?
Amsterdam, I love it. It’s such an open and liberal city. It has wonderful canals and history. Vancouver, which is my hometown because of nature, the active living culture, and just in general New Zealand. I lived in Dunedin, which has access to beaches and you can get away from the crowds. The people are very genuine and kind.
What’s your ultimate holiday?
Something active and connecting with new people. Not just zoning out. I like accomplishing something. I cycled from Paris to London with the TechBikers. I had time to meet people and it really left me inspired. I met a lot of amazing people that I am still in touch with now and some really incredible things happened afterwards from people that I met on that trip.
What travel tips would you give me?
Use Safe & the City, when it’s ready in December starting in London. Watch what people are doing, trust your gut and join in with the local community. Adventure and put yourself in uncomfortable (not dangerous) situations, as that is where you grow the most.
How would people contact you?
and join our online community through our website www.safeandthecity.com and social media sites.