Meet Julie Baumann, 38, executive director of SafeSpace London, and one of our 20 Under 40 Class of 2021 recipients
CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE director of SafeSpace London, Julie Baumann has never been one to shy away from controversy — nor challenge. As the only organization in London collectively operated for, by and with sex workers, allies, women and gender-nonconforming individuals, she works vigourously to raise awareness about the impacts of policing, criminalization and stigma on the lives of sex workers. Working to educate the public about sex work in London, and supporting and promoting the decriminalization of sex work, SafeSpace provides an environment where people are met with safety and dignity, and one that strives to raise the basic living conditions of some of our community’s most vulnerable and exploited members.
What would you call your biggest business achievement, and why?
As an executive director of a grassroots organization, our metrics for measuring success are based on the extent to which we can answer the calls of our fellow community members. Driven and inspired by daily encounters with folks who are denied access to the basic necessities of life, our collective ability to navigate a pandemic and grow our services during a time of unprecedented and widespread suffering is the success I am most proud of achieving as a collective.
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What about your biggest obstacle?
The criminalization of sex work in Canada impacts all sex workers but naturally, those who are most visible are impacted disproportionately. Because London is such a small city with challenges for anonymity, sex workers who work on the street are most at risk of racial and social profiling and other forms of intersecting oppressions. Furthermore, the Government of Ontario is becoming increasingly invested in funding agencies who view all sex work as sex trafficking and who take a prohibitionist approach to sex work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To quote a wise woman in my life, “To care, not carry.”
You’re temporarily stuck on a desert island — what’s the one thing you want with you?
My compound bow.
What about the best thing you’ve watched?