The Jack Summit was more than a month ago, and it’s taken me all of March to figure out how to do this whole audio editing thing (I can say for sure that I will not be pursuing it as a profession :P). Natasha had the opportunity to attend, and was kind enough to share her thoughts and take-aways of the weekend. Basically, she returned and couldn’t stop talking about it for days and days, and I said to her, okay, this is what we’re going to do: You are going to stop rambling, save your voice, and we will make this into an interview. That way you can have an outlet for all this energy and ideas and inspiration and you can tell me all about it then. She beamed at my proposal. Without further ado, here it is, our first podcast!
Alternatively, view the transcript below (transcription is a close approximation).
A: So Natasha, welcome back to Vancouver!
N: Thank you Anne!
A: I’m really glad to have you home, because I was, like, kind of going to class… And missing you… A lot.
N: I assumed so. I’m glad you went to class though! [Laughter] That was good!
A: [Laughs] I did go to class, yeah.
N: I’m proud of you for going to class.
A: Thank you!
N: You’re welcome.
A: Okay, so… Let’s cut to the chase. How was the Jack Summit?
N: Well… I can’t really describe that in one sentence. So let’s talk about the entire summit!
A: Let’s talk about the entire thing!
N: Okay, so… You have 200 people in one room, who all love mental health, and who are all extremely excited and hyped on caffeine. I mean like… I think you can assume…
A: So they’re using substances?
N: [Laughs] Yes, we’re all addicts. It’s kind of like AA, except we’re all using stimulants while we’re there…
A: Okay I see…
N: But being productive and talking about mental health. So it was, uhh, yeah, no, we actually did talk about, umm, mental health initiatives. Not just, like, awareness, which is what, you know, we usually do. We actually were challenged to answer certain questions, to actually create concrete initiatives that we could implement immediately, you know… And there were some really fantastic ideas out there, like creating mental health slogans on Tim Horton’s cups…
N: I know, so stuff like that, like people… We, my group, had created this idea that we have an art gallery, that displayed, umm… You’d walk in and you’d have profiles of people with, you know, just regular stuff. So these people, their interests, blah blah blah… And then you’d go through the exhibit and you’d see these people suffering with their mental illnesses… And then you’d go out and at the end of the exhibit, you’d see these people, the actual people, and you’d get to talk to them about their mental illness. So…
N: Like there was a lot of cool stuff like that that we came up with, that… It’s totally doable, and like, that’s what we wanted, that’s why we were there.
A: That sounds really cool!
N: It was like, yeah, so many amazing ideas that weekend.
A: What was the first thing that you felt, when you, like, entered the conference, or when you met up with the people, the other delegates.
N: Umm, we had this little meet and greet, on Thursday night, umm, just like in the hotel lobby… And it was like everyone was buzzing with excitement, cuz first of all we got free food, so [laughs] that was probably why.
A: Yeah [laughs]…
N: And then I like walk up to the table immediately and I looked at the person next to me, and I’m like, “This free food is awesome.” They’re like, “I know.” And then we introduced ourselves, and we just started talking, and yeah, and then we were suddenly in a group and everyone was talking, and… So that was like, the first, like… “community moment”, where I was just like- this was what I want in life. Forlike ever… And then I met my roommate, and she was super awesome… So, definitely got off on the right foot. So the first day of the conference was just, like, a continuation of that… with more free food.
A: With more free food.
N: More free food…
A: Which is the most important part of any event.
N: Yeah! And it was good free food.
A: That’s good.
N: Really good, like, it’s not just like, here’s like a banana… [Both laugh] It was like, here are muffins, and breakfast sandwiches…
A: Aww, yumm…
N: I know, and then we had coffee and tea throughout the entire day.
A: Nice! And so, where did all these other delegates come from, and what were their backgrounds?
N: Umm… Everyone… We had people from every province and territory in Canada
A: Nice! Yes!
N: I know, which was awesome! And I met everyone from one of those provinces and territories, it was super cool. Umm… Everyone came from different backgrounds. I was expecting a lot of, like, psychology, but psychology was actually a minorty. Umm, we had a lot of people from social work, umm… A lot of people from completely irrelavant fields, like engineering, business, political science, economics… Just like, everything you can think of that’s offered at university, someone was representing it. So that’s what I found really refreshing is that I’m used to talking about psychology stuff, and then suddenly I’m used to talking about… just… people in general!
N: And not generalizing towards the psychology of it, but generalizing towards what’s practical for everyone. So that was really cool to see people’s backgrounds influence that. Yeah I mean like… Two of the people at my table on the first day were politics majors…
N: So… That’s like, amazing, you know, to think that you have people who are going into the field of politics carrying this mental health torch.
A: Yeah! Which is actually quite important in our society…
N: Yeah, yeah, that’s crucial.
A: To get anything done, really.
N: Yeah, we need people like that.
A: Mhmm. Cool! And… I hear there was a ball pit?
N: There was a ball pit. I think I ruined some balls [laughs]…
A: Oh no!
N: I was too excited and I jumped right in. I had, like, big winter boots on, too, that I forgot to take off; I was that excited… When they were like, “Okay everyone from UBC get in the ball pit,” I was like, “OKAY! I’m getting in the ball pit!” And yeah, that was a thing…
A: I saw some of those pictures and it was like, you guys are making the funniest faces!
N: We couldn’t stop laughing! They were just pointing cameras at us, and we’re just like, this is embarrasing… I don’t know! Like, we just had… we couldn’t be serious. No one was serious that weekend…
A:Yeah, no, like, obviously you guys had a lot of fun, and I think that’s really… That’s crucial in a lot of big events like that: it’s not all just serious conversations and discussions.
N: Oh, no! But, like, yeah… It was equal parts fun and serious.
A: And dancing.
N: And dan – oh, so much dancing.
A: So the energy was great…
N: The energy, yeah…
A: Everyone was kind of hyped up, and, like, was it inspiring and motivating as well, as I would expect?
N: Yeah, like, every word… Every synonym of “inspiring” and “amazing” you could possibly think of, that was it. It was, like, blew my mind with so many good things, in so many good ways.
A: Maybe you guys should just make up a new word for a synonym for that, you know?
N: Yeah like… Jack…Summit.
A: Yeah, like, “It was so Jack Summit?”
N: [Laughs] “It was so Jack Summit”… “That’s so Jacked up!” [Both laugh]
A: Yeah![Laughs] Oh Natasha…
N: Oh god… that was awful… Oh… [laughs] Anyway…
A: Yeah, okay. Well, I also know you brought home these wonderful emotion buttons, can you tell me more about them?
N: Yeah, I keep forgetting to bring them… I have like five for you. But yeah…
A: Thanks so much!
N: Yeah! I took a picture of like the entire wall, and, just like, it was like empty at the end of the day. And we had all these lanyards, and, like with our names on them and where we came from… And like, at the beginning of the conference, they’re like, put your, like how you’re feeling today on your lanyards. So like I went up to the wall, and I was like, I’m feeling inspired…I’m feeling hopeful… I’m kind of feeling blahh, which was a word, and I was like, this is amazing. Umm… And just, like, they had… It was just this wall of just this, emotion wall, with buttons, and I was like, I want this every day! To just, like go into a class, and like go to the emotion wall and just like pick off your emotion, and put in on like your chest, or something? Yeah… Wouldn’t that be amazing? I think it’d be amazing. This is such a good idea…
A: Yeah! I’m like, speechless right now, like I think that’s SO awesome! [Both laugh] Can we please do that?
N: It’s so easy to do too…
A: You say, you talk a lot about how, like, wonderful the Jack Summit is, and how it’s an amazing experience… Umm, can you tell me more about, like, what you think the Jack Summit did well, compared to other mental health conferences and initiatives that you’ve attended?
N: Well, the past initiatives and conferences I have attended have been focused on awareness, which is great, but… What I liked about the Jack Summit was that, you know, they explicitly say- awareness is fantastic, but we need more than awareness. So that was what the conference was about, is pushing past awareness to create actual change. And not just, you know, say, you know, this is what we could do, opposed to this is what we will do. And so that’s what the conference was, this is what we will do. And… Yeah, they centered around that and they made us do this, and it was actually really hard… to find and come up with… specific ways that were actually gonna implement change. Like it’s not easy. It’s a difficult thing to do, but, like, when pushed, like, we came up with some fantastic things! And even now, like, we’re getting a Jack chapter here at UBC started. So, umm like, things are happening…
N: Yeah. Which is exciting.
A: And it’s gonna keep happening.
N: And it’s gonna keep happening.
A: You’re gonna make sure it keeps happening.
N: Oh, I’m gonna make sure it keeps happening! Absolutely!
A: So the fact that it was very action focused, and, uh, not so much focused on the awareness piece… Do you ever feel that, umm, our community, especially at UBC, is, uhh, already quite up there in terms of mental health awareness? And that there needs to be more…
N: Umm… I think we have a lot of awareness, but… My qualm has always been that we… that’s all we do.
N: We only bring awareness to things, and, like, it’s obviously not working. So we need to try a different approach.
N: What that approach is, I don’t know. Like this is the hard part, is trying to figure out what will actually work, to get people to care about mental health. So we need to implement awareness in a way…
N: Through like a mechanism that actually… gets people to think about mental health, and to stay thinking about mental health. Not just, like a day of like… You know, like I love Bell Let’s Talk day, but after that people stop caring.
N: So we need to somehow continue that feeling, and get everyone excited about mental health.
A: Was there anything… Like it sounds like it probably was fantastical and it was wonderful, but was there anything that you think the summit lacked, compared to the other things that you’ve been involved with?
N: Oh god… I don’t know… I mean, like, free food, free… free swag, like… ball pit?
A: A ball pit. [chuckles]
N: I mean, like, come on. Like they even took us to the Ontario science world!
A: Uggh! I’m so jealous.
N: You should be, it was fantastic. So… I mean, I think the thing it lacked was not being longer… [Both laugh].
A: Okay. Let’s make sure the future organizers know about that.
N: Yes, they should.
A: Make it longer.
N: It should be like,oh, forever. I just wanna live in that, like, that community. It was amazing.
A: That environment?
N: Yeah. Like you know when people come up to you and ask you, like strangers you don’t even know, you’ve never talked to before… And they’re like, “How are you?” “Oh, fine.” They’re like, “No no no no no, how ARE you?” And you’re like, “Umm… You know I’m… I’m kind of okay. Like, I just… I’m excited to be… But I’m just like okay?” And they’re like, “Cool, that’s good to know.” And I’m like, “How are you?” And they’re like, “I’m kind of feeling the same way too. Yeah… Kind of anxious, but like, yeah, lovin’ it here!” And then you just like part ways, like it was… It was just, like, amazing moment. And I’m just…
A: Like, does that even happen on earth?
N: Yeah. That’s what I was wondering after. I’m like, did I just dream that, or… Why can’t we have this everyday?
A: Yeah, like instead of having that superficial how-are-you exchange that people always have…
N:Someone… Yeah, at the, we would all like always share our ideas after the brainstorming sessions. So I know there was one woman who said, you know, “How are you?” has become “How are you” when you’re shouting it to someone across the hall and before you even hear the answer you’re gone. You know, it’s become so impersonal.
A: What was your most memorable moment of the summit?
N: Oh god, do I have to choose one?
N: No, I can’t…
A: And I have another one word question for you.
N: No, I saw that, and I was just like, I can’t sum this up in one word… Uhh, my most memorable moment… Umm… Probably actually seeing the wrap-up video at the end. Like I got a little bit teary, cuz I’m like, I know this is ending, but look how much we’ve done! It was just so… Bittersweet.
A: Bittersweet is an interesting emotion.
N: Yeah, it is an interesting emotion. It’s like, I love this so much that I can’t describe it, but it makes me cringe cuz it’s over!
A&N: [In unison] Yeah…
A: And, if you could tell anyone… Umm, about you’re experience at the summit, in one word, what would it be?
N: It would be, “Here”, as I hand them the application form.
A: [Laughs] Okay, good one.
N: I just thought of that too! [Laughs] Like on the spot. [Laughs]
A: That’s what it’s about! Umm… Cool. So thank you so much for joining me in this interview and doing it.
N: As I always do. [Laughs]
A: Yes. K, thanks Natasha!
N: You’re welcome.