I remember my first CMTO like it was yesterday. I was brand new to Toronto, and was still finding my bearings. I’d been an attendee at CreativeMornings Vancouver for several years, and knew that in coming to Toronto it would be my go-to event for meeting interesting folks in my new hometown. The event was at 401 Richmond, and Kyle Baptista was the host at the time. I accosted him immediately, and started volunteering at check-in the next month. In early 2014, I joined the organizing committee, and a year later, was invited by Kyle to take over hosting duties.
I spent 10 years working in health research, and whenever I came to CreativeMornings as an attendee and told people what I did, they said things like, “it’s so great that you work in research but you’re still interested in creativity.” This made me sad. Not just that many people didn’t see science as creative, but that I was often viewed as a ‘non-creative’ person for not being a graphic designer. So my main goal in becoming host was to expand the idea of what creativity meant for the CMTO audience. And I think that we’ve achieved that. In the past two years, we’ve had a run crew leader, a chef, an illustrator, a visual artist, a cycling activist, an opera director, a graphic novelist, a tarot card reader, a coffee expert, a spoken word artist, a financial advisor, and a scientist who 3D prints with NASA to name a few. We’ve written with squid ink, learned to set work boundaries through song, played with dinosaur poo, and confessed our secret creative projects. We’ve been in 4 different venues. We held our first speaker sponsor dinner, started doing attendee feedback surveys, created collaboration station (which has since been adopted by other chapters around the world), had strategic planning sessions, and reached speaker gender parity both years that I’ve been host.
CreativeMornings Toronto is organized by myself and a core team – Christina Hug, Angelique de Montbrun, Eleni Alpous, and Jillian Gora, who work tirelessly to try to bring a little bit of magic to CMTO. With these women, I’ve spent countless hours planning, talking strategy, brainstorming speakers, budgeting, crafting, staying up all night skyping into chapters around the world, and taking a trip to the CM Global Summit in Austin to meet with other hosts and organizers to be inspired to make CMTO even better.
I’m pleased to announce that in May, Christina Hug is going to take over as CMTO host. I have no doubt that she is going to blow this community’s socks off. She is a magical, wonderful, hard-working, intelligent, and thoughtful human, who will undoubtedly take CreativeMornings Toronto to soaring new heights.
As for myself, I’m heading back home to the West Coast. This time though, I’ll be skipping over Vancouver and heading to the small town of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast of BC. From there, I’ll be filling my days continuing my freelance writing practice, trail running through the forest, and swimming in the sea. I am also BEYOND EXCITED to announce that I’ll be continuing my CreativeMornings journey, piloting a small town model of CreativeMornings to highlight creativity in rural communities, and to help form stronger city/country connections. Introducing CreativeMornings Sunshine Coast.
I want to thank each and every one of you for bringing your energy to this community. For getting up early month after month to join us on a Friday morning to connect with each other, and learn about an amazing creative person in this beautiful city. Thank you for your thoughtful icebreaker nametag answers, for your 30 second pitches, for your smiles, and laughs, and tears. Thank-you to our volunteers for getting up even earlier, for sharing your spirit with attendees and always having a smile on your faces and a spring in your step, for giving a part of yourselves to this community. Thank-you to our speakers for sharing your stories, inspiring our attendees, and helping every person who watches your talk to think about the world a little differently and to really know that everyone is creative. Every one of you plays an absolutely essential role in making CreativeMornings the experience that it is. And we could not do it without you.
It has been a joy and a privilege to be able to share and connect with so many of you. Thank-you for giving me the opportunity to host this community for the past 2 years. For every ounce of energy I’ve put into this chapter, I’ve gotten it back ten-fold. You have made me into a better person, who believes beyond a doubt in the power of community, in giving a damn, in face-to-face connections, in learning from others, in hugs and high fives.