After a half-decade dealing with a chronic illness (ankylosing spondylitis) and unable to write, I did the only thing that made sense: start a gourmet oyster mushroom business out of my mom's basement. I'd never eaten oyster mushrooms before, but they looked fun. Plus, the commute to the basement was manageable.
I do everything from scratch: from lab work on petri dishes to cooking rye grain in a pressure cooker to soaking an entire bale of straw in my bathtub, I know the entire production process of growing and selling mushrooms. And since starting Prairie Oysters two years ago, I've sold to countless chefs and restaurants across Winnipeg and did a summer stint at one of the local farmers' markets. I even got a two-page spread in the Winnipeg Free Press, the city's most-circulated newspaper.
Mushrooms or Testicles?
In 2019 Prairie Oysters had a problem: It forgot to respond to an email from email@example.com two years prior. Ed wanted to know if the company sold mushrooms or cow testicles, and they were so busy not selling cow testicles that they couldn’t respond.
To quash confusion, Prairie Oysters decided to overhaul its website to help Ed and others learn more about the company’s products.
ECHO CHAMBER 3000
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (www.humanrights.ca) puts on an event every year called Creation Lab, where groups of creative people get together over a weekend to brainstorm new ideas for interactive exhibits. Our group came up with a concept built around 'echo chambers,' those barriers of knowledge where we hear only one side of an issue. Echo chambers lead to some pretty negative things in society, like the vilification of everyone and everything that doesn't fit into our personal worldview.
The exhibit would have been built to look like a giant black igloo: when people entered, they'd be bombarded with an interactive display of satirical one-sided information about an issue (Picture a planetarium, but instead of a laser light show set to the music of Rush, a laser light show set to the music of biased information.)
In our presentation, we used "cats are evil" as an example of the content the EC 3000 would cover, receiving a mixed response from an audience clearly divided on the topic. Meeeooowww.
This was a really fun experience for me. I hadn't been able to work collaboratively for years, and I can't think of a better project to ease me back into that kind of environment.
FOUR/FIVE: AT RISK FOR DISEASE IN CANADA
Pitch deck for a documentary series I worked on with Canadian-based production company Build Films for TELUS Fund. The idea was simple: a documentary series that educates the four out of five Canadians at risk for chronic disease on how to lower their risk.
While we didn't get funding (yet), I'm really proud of this pitch. Knowing I could still write after years away was inspiring.
OLIBERTé REBRANDING PITCH
Pitch deck for rebranding Oliberté (www.oliberte.ca), a proudly-African shoe manufacturer that now makes shoes in Canada.
(It's OK... I don't understand either!)
Anyway. What a great branding document!
House of Innovation
Canadian Tire once bought a house in Scarborough and made a bunch of online content showing them fix it up with neat products. I wrote and directed the majority of the videos. It was a lot of work, but I got a crash course in commercial video production.
That's pretty awesome.
Getting hired at TAXI was a big accomplishment. You always hope you’re good enough for the “big leagues,” and to get to work at an advertising agency whose awards you fawned over in One Show award annuals is a pretty surreal experience.
Yes. I'm including an old radio spot in my portfolio. "Oh, but that's ten years ago. GET WITH THE TIMES, JARRETT!" Sure I will, but A) this is still a great spot ten years on, B) good writing never gets old, and C) I was in school when I wrote my first radio spot and won a grown-up advertising award for it. Not everyone gets to do that.
(Photo credit: tastemade.com. They call that a 'Freakfetti' cupcake.)
Why You Can't Grow Weed in Canada
that Won't Get You High
I wrote this article back in January 2019 because there wasn't a legal way for medical cannabis patients to buy THC-free cannabis seeds in Canada. For people living with chronic pain and other medical conditions that rely on the relief CBD provides, that's a problem.
(I'm still not sure there's a legal way.)