The Nopo Magazine
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The Nopo Magazine

Building A Home, Building A Family

Writer and activist Jodie Patterson shares her journey to build an equitable, beautiful, and inspiring home for her eclectic family

“It’s not how you run your house, so much as how you build and care for it that really makes the difference.”

Wise words from one of the most inspiring women The Nopo has the good fortune of calling our Ambassadors. Jodie Patterson, writer, activist, and, most of all, the proud mother of five children, is the builder and carer of a home that, over the course of the years, has in turn shaped, built, and developed the souls and personalities of the family who has lived in it.

Photos from @jodiepatterson

We came across Jodie’s powerful work on LGTBQ+ rights and activism and how they influence family dynamics and knew straight away we’d love her to be part of the Nomad Collective. “I’ll be honest, I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know the brand,” Jodie reminisces with a smile, “But one look at the website was enough to blow me away. I love the precision, the attention to detail, the beauty that exudes from each product and artisan story.”

With five children, two marriages, and a mixed heritage like no other, Jodie’s family is really an open, equitable, and collective community. The family counts atheists as well as people of faith, a mixed Swiss-Vietnamese, African-Canadian, and Ghanaian heritage, and a blend of English, Swiss-German, and Twi (a Ghanaian dialect) spoken by various generations of the family at any one time.

Photos from @jodiepatterson

“I think no matter where you are dwelling, as a family or as a larger community, you need opportunities for people to feel safe and thrive, to communicate and disagree with decorum, and to do that you need an equal blend of common and private spaces.”

Indeed Jodie’s home is built around plenty of common areas where the family can mingle and gather, whether it be playing chess or solving a crossword puzzle at the kitchen table while dinner is cooking, or sharing thoughts and stories about each other’s days on the sofa after a meal.

Photos from @jodiepatterson

Originally from New York, Jodie studied literature in Atlanta at Spelman College, before moving back to NYC and crafting an eclectic career spanning from fashion PR to publishing, to writing and LGBTQ+ activism, which she threw herself into with a passion after one of her children came out as transgender. During her time in Manhattan, she moved all over, from Tribeca to Lower East Side and Soho, until she realized her children were way too immersed in the consumeristic hustle and bustle of New York City, where life runs at a million miles an hour and moments of rest and mindfulness are few and far between.

“When I moved the whole family to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, I made a very conscious decision to build the home around shared spaces, much like cities that have plenty of open, common spaces like parks and gardens thrive, compared to those with more highways and a car- instead of people-driven approach.”

Photos from @jodiepatterson

The two living rooms in Jodie’s house are welcome and open to all anytime of the day, as is the kitchen, which is the only room that has to stay open at all times. While the bedrooms are conceived of as more private spaces, they still have areas to lounge and share (“That’s why I loved the Macramé Hammock with Pompoms by Makamah for my boys’ room!”).

With three teenage boys, life in lockdown wasn’t always easy, but the family survived and thrived thanks to their flexibility and Jodie’s enlightened parenting. Doors were more often closed to give each other the necessary space and privacy, and the kitchen was kept as a rigorously no-work zone, becoming the point of reference for family gatherings, to share moments of gratitude and joy together.

Photos from @jodiepatterson

The key theme for Jodie, who was raised with a healthy mix of her mother’s Southern graciousness and her father’s Harlem attitude, has always been that of building. Whether it be the family, the community, a space, a church, Jodie was raised in an environment where men and women alike were responsible for building each other up, thus elevating the whole community.

Jodie remembers with fondness both her parents and grandparents houses, beautifully built and decorated, real gems where you could feel the sturdy structure of the house, the care and love that had gone in decorating it, from the lace curtains to various kinds of handicrafts that she has inherited and has used to build her own home today.

Photos from @jodiepatterson

“I’m a writer first a foremost, and craftsmanship has always interested me because of the real-life stories that lie behind each object. I’m fascinated by how objects made by hand carry a meaning and a different way of seeing the world that we might not know about. As a mother, the mission with my children has been to educate them to pull out these meanings, these stories, especially where they might be less obvious.”

Just how important crafts are to foster understanding and bridge cultural gaps became clear to Jodie one summer when, back in the vacation home they rented every year, she happened to find an afro pick that her children left behind the previous year. The hair pick had barbeque sauce stuck on the prongs, and a melted down handle, signs that the family who moved in after them must have accidentally mistaken it for a kitchen tool.

Photos from @jodiepatterson

“We had a laugh about it, but my kids were honestly shocked that someone might not know what an afro pick is! It was a great life lesson though, and really hammered the message home that the objects we use carry a story, a meaning that is not always obvious to others. That is what’s so powerful about The Nopo: the ability to shorten the distances and build an understanding between the artisans who are making these objects and those who are using them, helping us customers to understand the cultures they come from.”

Shop Jodie Patterson’s Curated Collection

Meet The Nomad Collective, The Nopo’s community of Ambassadors: endlessly creative and curious individuals who are making a positive impact in the world, working every day to shape the reality of their everyday life for the better. Our Ambassadors are supporting The Nopo in our mission to democratize e-commerce and allow artistic excellence to become truly borderless. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be introducing them and their Curated Collections, continuing this week with Jodie Patterson.

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