Women of Wednesday: Joi Donaldson on Safe Spaces and the Healing Properties of Writing

WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY is a weekly micro-interview series featuring women of color in various industries and walks of life, focused on highlighting their pursuits and making it easy for readers to support their endeavors. If you would like to be featured, please submit your answers to the below five questions here.

Joi Donaldson, Author, Photographer, Poet, Videographer (Richmond, VA)

1. Tell us about the work you’re doing and why it’s important.

My work involves expanding the therapy of writing to teenage girls and women and being a vocal advocate for social understanding and change. Writing can be intimidating; we often equate it to hated book reports and bonus paragraph questions on exams. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since childhood and writing was the main activity that gave me the confidence to speak up and tell my story. My goal is to share the healing properties of writing and, more recently added, mixed media art to this demographic and the world.

2. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing the work that’s important to you?

Active and consistent participation.

3. What do you need in order to continue your work in the way you envision?

Understanding, expanding into schools, and collaborating with other local programs. Not everyone who participates will have a tough wall to break down. Some just want to find the words to match to their emotions. I want to be able to meet their needs through understanding and meeting them where they are.

4. Where and how can we support you to make #3 happen?

Spread the word. Check out the Paper Storms info page and register here.
 We often go Live on Facebook during class so those who can’t physically attend can still play an active role while participating. This course is donation-based and powered mainly through social media and word-of-mouth. One other way is informing curious participants that this isn’t English class: you won’t be judged by your knowledge of subject-verb agreement. You won’t be judged at all. This is a safe space to explore your backstory and write all about it.

5. What is your favorite quote?

“We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.” –Steven Pressfield, The War of Art