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In the spirit of this month’s theme, we’d love to know how we’ve done, are doing and what you’d like to see us do more of to bring you moments of joy and inspiration. Share your feedback in our year-end survey, and if you’ve got any speaker suggestions, we’d love to hear them!

Yessss! Take me to the Survey!

In honour of this month’s theme Moments, we’ve brought back the much loved CreativeMornings Toronto Time Capsule.

We’ve given the questions a bit of a refresh and brought back some old gems. If you didn’t take part last year, it’s your very own personal digital time capsule. It features a half dozen odd questions dedicated to helping you record who you are today, at this very moment. Some questions also invite you to look outward, to your practice or workplace, to your community, to your city.

Write whatever you like. And in a year’s time, it’ll arrive in your inbox, just like that.

Thank you to our December 2015 speaker Teva Harrison for inspiring the idea in the first place when she spoke on the theme of time.

This month we welcomed Michelle Latimer (Métis/Algonquin) to speak on the theme of Mystery. Michelle is a Toronto based filmmaker, programmer, actor and activist.

Her films include Choke (Sundance Special Jury Honorable Mention in International Short Filmmaking), The Underground, Nimmikaage and the feature doc ALIAS. Michelle is currently adapting the bestselling novel The Inconvenient Indian for screen and directing a short doc for Field Of Vision. She programs for Hot Docs Film Festival and the Dawson City International Short Film Festival.

This past Friday, Michelle shared some of her current work, an episodic series she directed and produced called RISE. Made in partnership with Vice Canada and APTN, RISE documents “the largest gathering of indigenous people in more than a century [coming] together to protect the area’s water”.

Watch Ep 1 and Ep 2 now on VICELAND.

Grounded in finding truths, Michelle shared her account of witnessing the response to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We were so honoured to have her share her first hand account, and the translation of that account into a powerful story worthy of the world’s attention. Our audience shared the impact of Michelle’s talk too:

January’s theme is Mystery, chosen by the Houston chapter and illustrated by Joseph Alessio. This month in 160+ cities around the world, we’ll learn how creatives from various backgrounds dance with mystery and infuse it into their lives.

In early February, the volunteer CMTO organizing committee squirrelled ourselves away in Leslieville for part of a weekend to reflect on 2015, review the responses to our year end survey, and plan for the year ahead.

Our planning retreat included lessons in empathy, meditation and visualization, kitchen dance parties, and serious brainstorming sessions; all of which we hope will help to make the CMTO events for the year ahead even better than the last.

We arrived in Leslieville on Friday night to settle in and reconnect face to face as a team. To get in the headspace for the day ahead, we sat down for a few rounds with the 21 Toys Empathy Toy (see 21 Toys Founder Ilana Ben Ari’s CMTO talk here).

To use the Empathy Toy, two individuals are blindfolded; an observer then assembles 3D puzzle pieces and hands them to one of the blindfolded individuals. An identical set of unassembled pieces are handed to the other person who’s blindfolded, and the person with the assembled set then attempts to guide them to put together their puzzle pieces to match. The unblindfolded individuals are just there to observe. Once the puzzle assemblers believe that their sets match, they take off their blindfolds, and everyone deconstructs what happens. It’s amazing how a seemingly simple tool can really spark a dialogue about language use, observation, and how different people see the world differently. Creating metaphors and checking in with our partners was something that happened repeatedly. Playing with the Empathy Toy, grounded so much of the conversation and collaboration throughout the retreat.

The next morning, we woke up bright and early to go for a coffee fueled walk along the Scarborough Bluffs. The erosion eating away at the cliffs was omnipresent as we looked Northward. The lake and sun however, seemed oblivious to effects of the wind on the Bluffs. We stood mesmerized by lake sparkle. Fresh air and big breaths, we were ready to take on the day. Walking and exercise are an incredible strategy to boost creativity. Immersing yourself in nature is another strategy your brain will welcome.

Saying farewell to the bluffs, we returned to the house for the first exercise of our retreat. We began with a 10 minute guided meditation using the Headspace mindfulness app. We were more focused and grounded in our purpose after the meditation, and this lead directly into the core exercise, a 10 minute event day visualization. Geared at improving each attendee’s experience of CreativeMornings, we were asked by CMTO host Altaira, to imagine arriving at a CMTO event for the first time; we were then verbally walked through a CMTO event, from arrival to departure. We imagined arriving at our first, and were all confronted with new feelings and thoughts about how we arrived, were greeted, questions we had about our seats, the food, the speaker. Visualizing a familiar scenario anew was an invigorating experience that resulted in powerful conversation. Suddenly we were faced with gaps in the experience of an attendee. We realized that while we do a great job of greeting people at the door, that they might feel a little lost once they’ve entered the space. We also realized that we might need to give a bit more context about the speaker, and CMTO itself, once people are seated and paying attention. When you’ve been putting on an event from the organizer perspective for over a year, sometimes you forget what it feels like to be an attendee and equally important, a volunteer.

We refueled with a hearty team-made lunch and launched into the afternoon by reading the entirety of the CMTO Annual Feedback Survey. First of all, huge thank you to everyone who took the time to it fill out. On average each respondent spent over seven minutes giving feedback – an incredible amount of time for a survey – your responses spoke to just how much this community means to you.

We went through each and every answer, and really took your thoughts to heart. Here are some of the main takeaways – as an audience, you’d like more opportunities to engage with each other, both at and outside of CMTO events, that means more creative/alternative forms of networking; you’d like more information on the speakers themselves, and more context given as to why they were chosen for that specific global theme; you feel frustrated that it’s not always possible to get tickets; and you really REALLY miss the bagels. We hear you!

We spent the vast majority of our afternoon reviewing these survey responses and looking at ways to incorporate your feedback where we can, or to better open up the lines of communication where we can’t. At present our events hover around the 200 person mark – there’s a tipping point we’ll need to reach in terms of number of people wanting to attend before they can push beyond that threshold and turn CMTO into a much bigger (and less intimate) event. We continue to believe that hosting our events for 200 people serves you all best, as it maintains an intimacy for the networking experiences you so strongly look for as well as opportunities at the mic for YOUR TURN and time after the talk with the speaker.

Like every good retreat, the afternoon’s work was followed by an impromptu kitchen dance party – we snapped some polaroids, and took another walk around the neighbourhood to get our bodies moving, clear our heads, and pick up ice cream–because excel spreadsheets need to be followed up with ice cream.

For our last assignment of the day, we went through the amazing list of speaker suggestions that were sent in with the surveys, and mapped them out (along with our own suggestions) with the themes for the year ahead. Again, thank you so much to everyone who sent us speaker suggestions! We’re a core volunteer committee of five, so hearing your different perspectives on the amazing Torontonians you’d like to hear speak is invaluable to us. A million thankyous. We were really proud of reaching gender parity last year, but there’s still a lot of diverse speakers and sectors we’d like to learn from. So please keep sending in the names of people who inspire you to our email . Each month’s global theme pushes us to uncover less conventional speakers and challenge us, and all of you, to connect creativity with a much broader definition. We believe that that’s the magic of Toronto, and of CreativeMornings.

We closed out the retreat with a list of lessons learned, and a plan for where we want to go in the year ahead. We love this community with all our hearts, and are looking forward to helping this community grow and change for the better in 2016.

Hugs and High Fives,


In our December 2015 talk, Teva Harrison encouraged the CMTO community to write a letter to their future selves outlining the type of person they want to be, and the type work they want to focus on. Returning to this letter and rereading the aspirations you set out for yourself is an opportunity to check-in on your current trajectory, course correct, and to move forward on your journey.

A journey, that can sometimes seem like it passes by in the blink of an eye. How many times did you hear/think this week “how is it February already?”

Without taking the time to check-in; be it through a self-addressed letter or looking back at what Instagram photo we posted 52 weeks ago (this was ours), it can be difficult to quantify just how we’ve grown over a set period of time.

The CMTO time capsule is back for its second year, to provide you with just that. A snapshot of your creative self at an exact moment in time.

We’re offering to store your goals, dreams, and aspirations under lock and key for a whole year. When December rolls around we will email you with your answers and you can reflect on how much you have changed over a year.

Whether you end up achieving every goal on your list or if you flipped the proverbial table and started anew mid-2016, the CMTO time capsule is a way to look back at how far you’ve come (no matter how winding the road).

So go ahead, share your deepest desires (and your snack food/favourite jam of the moment, this is ours) and go give 2016 your all. We’ll check back in approximately 45 weeks.

Submit to the CMTO time capsule!

CreativeMornings Toronto is excited to partner with A Good Book Drive this November! A Good Book Drive is an annual book drive to bring stories to a new generation of readers, and support kids in need of new books. Throughout the month we’re encouraging you, the members of the CMTO community, to post a portrait of yourself with your favourite children’s book, along with a quick blurb about why you chose the given book. Post your photo to Instagram with the hashtags #AGBD2015 and #CMTO for your chance to win a prize! (TBA)

Bring a copy of your favourite children’s book with you to the next #CMTO talk on November 20th, and we’ll donate it to The Children’s Book Bank in Regent Park. We can’t wait to see what stories and illustrations inspired the young you, and will go on to inspire other young readers in our community. See you Nov 20!

CreativeMornings Toronto is looking for a few awesome new folks to join the volunteer organizing committee!

If one of the positions below interests you, please get in touch at toronto at creativemornings.com subject line JOIN OUR TEAM, with your resume, and answers to the following questions:

1. What do you love about CreativeMornings, and why do you want to get involved?
2. Why are you the best person for the role you’re applying for?
3. Who is your dream CMTO speaker and why?

Please submit by Friday October 2nd. We look forward to hearing from you!

Social Media and Content Facilitator | 10-15 hours per month
Create social media calendar for CMTO, and act as primary driver of social media posts
Post CMTO Event day page each month
Create Mailchimp campaign to coincide with Event day page each month
Liaise with photo and video teams to post and promote event day content
Coordinate CMTO org committee to write blog content
Think of creative ways to connect with our audience using social channels

Speaker Engagement Lead | 10-15 hours per month
Help speakers to develop, and prepare for their talk each month
Seek out potential speakers for future CMTO events
Speaker follow-up communication, post event day
Think of ways to better aid, facilitate a thoughtful and fruitful experience for each speaker from start to finish

Video Editor | 5 hours per month
Experience with Adobe Premiere, multi-camera editing, and adding stills from PowerPoint.
Time to edit one video every month in the week post event

Calling all Trailblazers!

Are you looking to get more involved in the Toronto creative community? Well then, have we got an opportunity for you!

The Creative Mornings team is looking for volunteers to form a Trailblazing Task Force (TTF). Working closely with Christina Hug, our resident Trailblazer you’ll set forth to take CMTO to new height.

Here’s an example of just a few of the initiatives we’d be tackling together.

1) Monthly Craftaculars for on-site decorations based on the global monthly themes - You’ll be part of the entire creative process! From mapping out what would be relevant for each event, to deciding on materials, hot gluing, painting, laser cutting, and designing in preparation for the big day.

2) Outreach expansion initiatives - How do we get a more diverse audience at CMTO? How do we reach surrounding areas in the GTA?

3) How do we surprise and delight the CMTO community of speakers, sponsors, attendees, and volunteers. Let’s create incredibly memorable experiences that will keep the creative high going all month long!

We’re looking for creative thinkers, yea-sayers, experience builders, crafters, makers, and doers! All skill levels are welcome and all creative backgrounds, interests, and curiosities are encouraged! Enthusiasm and high fives will get you everywhere with this team :)

We’ll host our brainstorms over Google Hangouts to accommodate as many schedules as possible and will aim to meet in person once a month for a creative extravaganza.

If you’re interested answer three quick question on this form and we’ll get you on the list!

Community Spotlight: Hot Pop Factory

This month we hosted a talk with Steven Artemiw of Parkdale Road Runners, on the global theme of UGLY. Steven shared stories about the ugly side to running, and pulled us through to the other side, highlighting the beauty that can exist when you build community around one of your passions. This January, the CMTO organizing committee came up with a few running-related shenanigans to complement the Ugly theme and Steven’s talk. We asked for ugly race photos on Instagram (just search Instagram #CMTO to see the incredible submissions we received), and we encouraged attendees to run to the talk. In return, the runners and social media participants received their very own CMTO finisher’s medals! Our goal with all of our CMTO events is to find new ways to integrate and showcase the talents that exist in the broader Toronto creative community into each Friday morning. Enter Hot Pop Factory, with the design from our own Eleni Alpous in hand the Hot Pop Factory folks donated their mad laserbeam skills to make our idea a reality. If you haven’t met Hot Pop Factory before, they are a 3D-Printing and Lasercutting studio located in downtown Toronto. They specialize in creative applications of digital fabrication. And they’re awesome! Aside from offering workshops and helping to turn amazing ideas into reality through their services, the Hot Pop Factory team are true supporters of the Toronto creative community and are the first to cross the finish-line of our hearts. CreativeMornings Toronto would like to send a huge high-five to everyone at Hot Pop Factory for bringing our CMTO medals to life!