Photo credit: Morlene Fisher

1. Introduce yourself: who are you, what do you do, and why is it important?

My name is Janice Whyne. I’m a Londoner by birth, a Jamaican by birthright, heritage, culture, and more. Professionally, I’m currently occupying the space of a community development practitioner in Southeast Asia.* I’m seconded to a local non-profit, and aiming to contribute to their work with and for the Urban Poor. This role carries some leadership responsibility for a small local team, as well as recently being approached to sit on the foundation’s (NGO) board (argh!).

Other things I am known for, or have been known for are: writing (blog posts, poetry, songs, long Christmas card messages…), singing, running 26.2, baking scones, and some other things. I’m a daughter, sister, aunty, cousin, friend, and a person just trying to be me. –In all my multifaceted complexity.

Why is what I do important? Not sure I have a straightforward answer to that. There is a saying that says,

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.*

Ecclesiastes Chapter 9 verse 10

To some this may sound macabre-esque, but here is some of what I take from it. In this life -whether you believe we get the one life to live or that there is an afterlife- we are connected beings (who sometimes share the same values, priorities, experiences etc.) inhabiting the same space; who can impact each other for better or worse.

So if there is something I can positively contribute to this life we are all living, I think I should. Particularly with and for those who have been impacted by ˜the worse’. I cannot confess to always doing so with all my might, but I’m endeavouring to give it a go.

2. What is your most valuable skill?

My ability to encourage (lit. root meaning = put the courage into) others and journey with them to realise more of their potential.

3. Describe a tool, technique or practice that makes a difference to your work.

The importance of relationships. Whether you work in a no-nonsense, purely business environment, or a team is your family vibe (which loosely describes a recognised work culture in Asia), everything begins and ends with relationships. With how a minimum of two parties interact and relate to one another.

The health and future of your team, project, organisation, profit margin etc., can hinge on your ability to sufficiently understand the nature of existing relationships and your ability to appropriately maintain them. Dependent on where you live and the type of work you do, the interplay of cultural capital, norms & practices, social politics and such -whom some may feel has no place in official business- can define/dictate whether you get the job done.

4. What advice do you most need to hear?

Once again, not sure I have a clear or concrete answer to this but will go with the most articulate thought that came to mind. In the words of Nike, ‘Just do it!’ A friend of mine once gave me a hand-designed postcard, which was decorated with the words, procrastination is the most creative art form I’m very inclined to agree, and could also probably present a good argument to support or unpack it. However, I also know that for some things in my life–from daily mundane to bigger issues–a just do it mindset would be helpful. As it limits the room for rationalising myself out of it or allowing it to grow bigger in my mind than it probably is. Which in turn increases the desire not to do it!

5. Suggest an endearing and humorous question for question number five and answer it.

What is something that you have stuck up your nose?

A Sanatogen vitamin tablet. I was in the 4th or 5th year of school (today’s year 11/12), in our last lesson for the day. The teacher wasn’t in the classroom, and for some reason, I was sitting at her desk. Who knows why I had a Sanatogen vitamin on me (maybe I was supposed to have taken it that morning), but I did, and I decided–possibly because of a dare–I wanted to show that I could put it up my nose.

It was round and fruity (around the size of a fizz ball sweet), and up my nose it went and subsequently got stuck. Thankfully, it didn’t require forcible removal by medical personnel. It did though require some frantic and ferocious blowing and manoeuvring of my nose, in front of my classmates (oh the shame), until finally out the coloured pill popped. My nose ran red for a little bit too!

One last thing¦ Suggest one or two people you know whose answers you’d like to read and who you think would enjoy answering.

Have you ever done it? If not, you (the creator or Driverless Crocodile).

Kenny Tamara. He is the co-owner of a local coffee I frequent, as well as I believe an architect, and involved in different social action initiatives. I reckon he’d have something interesting to share and would be up for it.

*Now UK based (as of Dec. 2022)

This post was 1st published in November 2019 at Driverless Crocodile, as part of their Five Questions series.