Next Toronto speaker

Candice Hopkins

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September 27, 8:30am • Design Exchange • part of a series on Muse

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CreativeMornings: Your Stories

After three years, 33 events, and over 6000 attendees, we’ve been reflecting lately on the connections, collaborations and creative projects the CreativeMornings/Toronto community has pursued together.

We reached out to the community recently to hear what has transpired in your creative career as a result of a CreativeMornings event. If you have a story to share, get in touch with us at

To start us off is CMTO 14 speaker Dave Meslin, who reflects on his CreativeMornings talk:

"I had a great time speaking at CreativeMornings last year, but the traditional ‘speaker at a podium talking an audience’ is kind of disempowering for everyone, because it creates a hierarchy where one person has the mic, and the others are passive. So the part of CreativeMornings that I’m really excited about, is the part that begins as soon as the microphones are turned off: the collaborations that are conceived through the networking capacity of the event. You could call these projects the "offspring" of CreativeMornings. It’s been great to be a part of one of these offsprings, and the organizers of CreativeMornings should take pride in knowing that they created a space for that to happen."

Regular attendee Jay Wall took Dave up on his offer, and shared what happened next:

"At a CreativeMornings Toronto talk back in January 2013, my ears perked up. Dave Meslin was speaking about the role of visual communication in fostering civic engagement. As the creative director of a social impact graphic design studio, I felt that Dave was speaking my language – about something that I’d never really noticed: public notices.

"I knew about Dave’s track record of non-partisan community activism and I’d even read his work, but CreativeMornings was my first time hearing him speak in person. Dave talked about the need for creativity in the way governments engage citizens. Specifically, he showed examples of public notices – you know, those typically black and white “development proposal” ads and signs that often fail to engage citizens in making decisions about their cities.

"In 2012, Dave established the "Dazzling Notice Awards" to recognize municipal governments who are raising the bar and re-designing their public notices to better “dazzle” and engage the public. At that point, the awards were still a small, fledgling project. That day at CreativeMornings, Dave extended an invitation to the audience. He asked that if anyone was interested in being a part of the project, to speak with him after the talk. So I did.

"I told Dave why his talk had resonated with me. Although I hadn’t really thought about public notices before – perhaps because of their very invisibility – I saw the potential for design and visual communication to make an impact and to make an important civic process more accessible. Dave was game to have more hands on deck. And with that, my company STUDIO JAYWALL came on board as the design partner of the Dazzling Notice Awards.

"Over the last two years, Dave and I have worked together to create an identity and website for the awards and to scale the project with a Canada-wide call for entries and a national jury panel. Along the way, Spacing and the U of T Cities Centre have joined us as partners.

"We’re thrilled to present the 2014 Dazzling Notice Awards, December 17th at Toronto City Hall. This year, we are recognizing six Canadian municipalities who are actively encouraging public engagement through their notices.

"Looking back on that first morning when I heard Dave speak, I’m filled with gratitude for the way CMTO sparked this collaboration and ultimately contributed to building a more democratic city and country. My Toronto friends, you continue to inspire me. Thank you."

–Jay Wall, Creative Director/Designer, STUDIO JAYWALL

We hope that CreativeMornings has had an impact on you. We’d love to hear your story.

Kyle Baptista, Organizer

The 2014 Awards Ceremony is Wednesday December 17th, 1pm at Toronto City Hall Committee Room #1 100 Queen St. W. The awards are co-hosted by Josh Matlow, CMTO 14 speaker Dave Meslin, CMTO 32 speaker Matthew Blackett and Jay Wall. Click for more details.

(photos by Bekka Palmer and Ace Boothby)

If you follow CreativeMornings Toronto on social media, a few weeks ago you probably noticed that several of our team’s members were in NYC attending the first ever CreativeMornings Global Summit.

The purpose of the Summit was for CM organizing committees from around the world to finally meet face to face, and talk about their experiences, their triumphs, and their failures. When I registered to attend the Summit, I knew that it would be a memorable experience. I knew that it would be fun and educational. I knew that I would come away knowing more about organizing CreativeMornings events than I had in the past.

But when I touched down in New York, I was not prepared for the overwhelming outpouring of love, generosity and emotion that would come in the days to follow. I will not go into specifics, and will instead encourage you to take a look at Flickr (also albums 2, 3, and 4), and #CMSUMMIT14 on Instagram and Twitter to view some of the details. What I will write about here is the same message that myself, Kyle and Christina all took away from this experience. And that is that we are not alone.

I know that we mention every month that there are new chapters starting in different cities, but what don’t always mention is how being a part of CreativeMornings along with these chapters makes us part of a huge global family. Every month as you’re getting up early to head to CMTO, there is someone else in another city somewhere on Earth who also set their alarm clock an hour ahead, and will fill out an icebreaker nametag, and grab a coffee, and hear a great talk and be inspired and meet someone new in their community.

So the biggest lesson to come out of the Summit is that wherever your travels may take you, if there is a CreativeMornings chapter, you already have a built-in community waiting there for you.

What adds to this magic even more is the fact that all of these chapters around the world are run exclusively by volunteers. This means that there are HUNDREDS of volunteers worldwide working to make CM events special and magical, and working to build accessible, ego-free, creative communities in their cities.

On that note, we encourage you to reach out when you travel, and if you’re not travelling, check out some of the amazing talks happening in other cities every month on the CreativeMornings website.

And to give you a little taste of what the Summit was like, and the feeling of warmth and fuzziness we got from attending, we’ll leave you with the CM Summit summary video. Thank-you all for being a part of the CMTO and global CreativeMornings community. We couldn’t do it without you.

CreativeMornings Summit 2014 from Bas Berkhout on Vimeo.

-Altaira Northe

Every now and then on the CMTO blog, we like to feature an upcoming event that helps to highlight Toronto’s amazing creative community. The Makers Nation’s upcoming Meet + Make workshop happening this Sunday September 28th is one such event.

What is Meet + Make?

Meet + Make is the first event of its kind that the Makers Nation will be hosting. The Makers Nation founder Christina Hug says that, “the goal of the event is to create a space for people from all different backgrounds and experience levels to come together around the art of making. Basically it’s an excuse to get people out, tap into their creativity, and learn new skills!”

Of course, being Maker focused, the other main purpose of Meet + Make is to showcase some of the amazing and talented makers that have set up shop in the city of Toronto. While Meet + Make is the baby of The Makers Nation, Hug likes to think of this event as a collaboration between The Makers Nation and all of the Makers involved.

What can I expect at this event?

The folks from The Makers Nation of course, as well as Makers from The Shop, Nightjar Books, Peach Berserk, and MAKELAB, along with Kaye Prince, Sabrina Doyle. Attendees will be able to choose two intensive workshops in which they will learn skills ranging from wood carving, to how to perfect your Instagram posts. A lunch and learn session will be catered by YamChops with a talk by the founders of BRIKA, and coffee to keep you going will be provided by the folks at R Squared.

The whole event will wind down with a happy hour session, where you can chat with other Makers and attendees, and enjoy some cocktails and snacks.

Sounds like the perfect day to us.

Register using the discount code “CMTO” at checkout, and the whole shebang will cost you a mere 75 bucks. And if you see one of the CMTO organizing committee members while you’re there, be sure to say hello!

This past month, the CreativeMornings global theme was COLO[U]R, and here in the Toronto chapter, we decided to take the theme very literally.

Enter Tiffany Pratt. On her website, Tiffany describes herself as, “… a fairy godmother. [Whose] joy is to sprinkle possibilities everywhere [she goes], into everything [she does], and elevate the world to a more beautiful place.” Before meeting Tiffany, you might imagine that this is somewhat of an exaggeration, but when she enters the room, you immediately know that it is not. Tiffany Pratt literally embodies the spirit of everything colourful and good in the world – she is glitter and rainbows and hearts and unicorns all wrapped up into one amazing, warm, and genuine human being. Tiffany Pratt will greet you with a bear hug even when you’re covered in bike sweat. Tiffany Pratt will bring you cocoa when you’re sick.

Bright and early on the morning of her talk, Tiffany led a crew of volunteers in transforming 918 Bathurst into a colourful wonderland. Every free surface was draped in streamers, and every chair was donned with a wooden rainbow beaded mandala bracelet, which had been made in a CMTO volunteer craft night with Tiffany earlier in the week.

CMTO 31 Tiffany Pratt (by Laura Crowell)
(Image by Laura Crowell)

Attendees filtered in, and after a brief introduction by CMTO’s Trailblazer Christina Hug, Tiffany Pratt took to the stage.

CMTO 31 Tiffany Pratt (by Yvonne Bambrick)
(Image by Yvonne Bambrick)
CMTO 31 Tiffany Pratt (by Laura Crowell)
(Image by Laura Crowell)
CMTO 31 Tiffany Pratt (by Yvonne Bambrick)
(Image by Yvonne Bambrick)

There were so many amazing quotes from this month’s event, and I’m sad to say that not many of them were actually captured in my personal notes or on the twittersphere. I attribute this to the fact that the air at 918 Bathurst was so filled with magic, that being wrapped up in tweeting about it rather than being present seemed like it would not have been true to the spirit of the event itself.

But if I can paraphrase, some of the overall lessons learned went something like this:

  • When you wake up in the morning, stand tall, take a deep breath, raise your arms to the sky, and imagine rainbows shooting from your fingertips.
  • You can be all the things; you do not have to pick one path in life, nor should you. Do all the things, and be all the things.
  • Plant seeds today, and tend your garden, because you never know when the seeds you’ve planted will come to fruition. Sometimes a project that you start today will finally all make sense and hit its stride years down the road.
  • Everything in life is a balance between shit and luxury.
  • Be true to yourself. Love completely and with abandon. See beauty in everything.

Tiffany’s energy as she spoke on stage, about her journey as a designer and in life, had the audience absolutely captivated. She is so incredibly passionate about what she does and the world around her, that listening to her talk, you can actually feel yourself starting to believe that you are stronger and more capable than you had previously thought. This is how Tiffany Pratt is a true Fairy Godmother; not just for all of her glitter and colours, but because being around her will make you believe that anything is possible, and it will make you believe in yourself.

To end, I will leave you with the same Roald Dahl quote with which Tiffany Pratt, overwhelmed with emotion, closed this month’s talk: “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”


See more photos at

Thanks to Shutterstock sponsoring September’s event!

If you’re involved with the creative community here in Toronto (or anywhere else in Canada for that matter), you’ve probably heard of Cossette. Started in 1972 as a small Communication-Marketing firm in Quebec City, over the years Cossette has expanded to include offices across Canada and now in the US.

Along with this growth in footprint and reach, Cossette has also garnered a slew of impressive clients and awards, positioning themselves as highly sought after innovators in the field of marketing communications both here at home, and abroad. But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility – and Cossette takes this responsibility seriously.

On August 18th, Cossette announced an official ongoing sponsorship relationship with the Toronto CreativeMornings chapter (adding on to its existing sponsorships with Vancouver and Montreal). As stated in their press release announcing this new partnership –

“Realizing our potential means constantly seeking out new and exciting perspectives on creativity and how it will impact our future and the world around us,” says Glen Hunt, Chief Transformation Officer of Cossette in Toronto. “Cossette was built on a foundation of independence, innovation and entrepreneurialism and we are proud to support a program that reflects that same spirit by celebrating and inspiring the creativity in all of us,” adds Hunt.

Thanks for having our back, Cossette! Looking forward to a strong and happy relationship over the next year!

Photos from CreativeMornings Toronto #29 with Graeme Stewart.

Photos by Luana Suciu (

Graeme Stewart M.Arch OAA MRAIC CAHP is a registered architect and Associate with ERA Architects. Graeme has been involved in numerous urban design, cultural planning, revitalization and architecture projects with particular focus on neighbourhood design and regional sustainability.

His international research and design work was instrumental in founding the Tower Renewal Project; an initiative in modern heritage examining the future of Toronto’s remarkable stock of mid-century tower neighbourhoods, with the City of Toronto, Province of Ontario, United Way, University of Toronto, and other partners.

He is a regular lecturer in the Toronto Area’s Universities and Colleges and is the co-editor of Concrete Toronto: A Guidebook to Concrete Architecture from the Fifties to the Seventies.

Graeme is also a founding director of the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, an interdisciplinary urban research organization focused on furthering research related to Toronto’s urban future. In 2010, Graeme was the recipient of an RAIC National Urban Design Award and in 2014 the Jane Jacobs Prize for his ongoing research and design work related to Tower Renewal.

The Toronto area contains the second largest concentration of high-rise buildings in North America. The majority of these are modern concrete residential buildings, built during the City’s post-war expansion. The Tower Renewal Project is an initiative to re-examine these buildings’ remarkable heritage, neighbourhood histories, current place in our city, and future potential in a green and equitable Toronto. Learn about Tower Renewal. Sponsor: (Mailchimp)
Venue Partner: 401 Richmond (
Breakfast Partner: Sense Appeal Coffee Roasters (
Merchandise Partner: Swipe Design (

Photos by Luana Suciu (



More details about this talk

Well… I did say that “SEX is the great inspirer” in the last post, so now I need to back it up. But instead of boring you with historical references to art and sexuality, or an incomplete study on how SEX has inspired artists and creatives through human history, I’ll share what tomorrow’s speaker, Sonya Barnett, finds inspiring.

(yeah, we asked her)

Without further ado, here’s a brief list of Sonya’s SEX inspiration:

- Clayton Cubbitt’s Hysterical Literature, or you try reading while having an orgasm.
- The Invention of Pornography (book review), self explanatory ;)
- Can Pornography Be Art? A discussion on New Statesman
- A collection of vintage erotica, or forget vegan smoothies, THIS is what Pinterest was made for.
- Gardens of Pleasure, the largest collection of erotic art from ancient China is on display at Sotheby’s Gallery Hong Kong
- The Kama Sutra Alphabet by French illustrator Malika Favre, or methinks I need to brush up on my ABCs…
- The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, or a bit of the history of how humans have tried to supervise public morality. This reminds me of a new book -> Sex and Punishment: a 4000 year History of Judging Desire

And if the above really piqued your curiosity, here’s some extra SEX resources…

- The Origins of Sex: a History of the First Sexual Revolution, by Faramerz Dabhoiwala. Named “Book of the Year” by The Economist, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Observer, The Sunday Herald, Hindustan Times. BBC History Magazine, Brain Pickings.
Here´s another Guardian review, and a Brain Pickings post.

Some other illustrated SEX book posts by Brain Pickings:
- “Legendary Anthropologist Margaret Mead on the Fluidity of Human Sexuality"
- Susan Sontag on love and sex.
- Alain de Botton’s “How to Think More About Sex”, a tremendous book in explaining why sex is mesmerizing and how it grounds us. (a review)
- The first ejaculation in history: Death & Sex, by Tyler Volk and Dorion Sagan. Here´s an interview.
- An ABZ of Love: Kurt Vonnegut’s Favorite Vintage Danish Illustrated Guide to Sexuality… wow!

- @AmigoJor

You see it in every billboard. It’s written in every pop song. The greatest works of film and literature are sprinkled with its power. SEX. No other human topic captures our collective imagination like the act (or the thought) of getting it on.

But behind the obvious allure of SEX, beneath our hormones and the natural impulses that put SEX at the centre of our thoughts and daily actions, there lies a mountain of history, cultural traditions, man-made rules, and taboos that mediate (or even repress, or enhance) our experience of SEX.

And if SEX is the great inspirer, the impulse behind some of humanity’s most daring creations, then we need to discuss it. We need to hear from every corner of the world about it’s creative potential, about it’s impact. Most importantly, we’re curious to know, with the advent of the internet and all things instant, where SEX is taking us as we venture into this 21st century. After all, we are the Tinder generation.

So, why did Toronto pick SEX? Well… why not. We live in one of the most diverse and progressive cities in the world, but with some lingering conservative Protestant traditions. So perhaps this is a way to challenge that old perception of Toronto and show off our own sexual revolutions.

It is no accident that Toronto will host WorldPride 2014, the first North American city to host a pride festival of this scale. Toronto is also the home of SlutWalk, a global movement that has caused a widespread conversation about sexual violence and dignity.

Aaand that brings us to this month’s speaker. Sonya Barnett is an activist and advocate for sex-positivity, and describes herself as an “artist, speaker, and sex educator”. Sonya founded The Keyhole Sessions (NSFW) “as a safe and welcoming community for people to experience the union between sex and art”. She also co-founded SlutWalk to combat victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and sexual profiling. Sonya won Feminist Porn Awards in 2013 and 2014 for her erotic art, and rumours say that #CMTO attendees may or may not be subjected to the screening of award-winning porn.

So as proud Torontonians, we felt like challenging our own audience with a topic that taps into our private thoughts and behaviours. We also wanted other Creative Mornings organizers to think about SEX. We wanted them to live and breathe SEX and show the world how to address a complicated topic with grace and creativity. More importantly, after a month of talks about SEX in 30 countries and 75 cities, we hope that the month of April 2014 will be forever remembered as the time when Creative Mornings chapters everywhere pushed their creative boundaries.

With this firm conviction in mind, our only hope is that things do get a little awkward. #fingerscrossed

To date, CreativeMornings/TO has been very successful at coalescing Toronto’s creative community around informal and unstructured learning and inspiration. Month after month, our events continue to sell out in minutes with waitlists longer than the number of attendees, but we’re still not reaching the full potential of this community.

Toronto is a massive city, the fourth largest in North America, with a bustling diverse population of more than 2.5 million people. While we continue to serve the creative heart of Toronto by hosting our events centrally, we could do more to feature and showcase creativity in every corner of Toronto.

That’s why we’re proud to announce CreativeMornings/Toronto/POPUPs. Smaller events which feature local creativity to a local audience, that are showcased to the world via

We hope to host at least two POPUP events this spring and summer, and hope you’ll come along for the ride. To get involved in planning these events, please get in touch with CreativeMornings/Toronto Trailblazer Christina Hug or contact us at

Hi there, we’re CreativeMornings Toronto, a monthly breakfast lecture series for Toronto’s creative community. We connect, inspire and delight young creatives with lectures, discussions, and environments that allow them to do something special: become more of themselves.

We’re seeking four passionate leaders within Toronto’s creative communities to take us into our third year, but also to grow our audience, stature and influence over Toronto’s creativity.

Please read more about the available positions:

A CONNECTOR to share our creative efforts with the community,
A STEWARD to enable our events with partners and sponsors,
A COORDINATOR to bring our gatherings together, and
A TRAILBLAZER to take us to new heights.

The CONNECTOR will share our creative efforts with the community by:

  • Upkeeping with event & chapter details
  • Sharing creative opportunities and event recaps on our blog
  • Profiling speakers, attendees, volunteers and other community builders
  • Growing our community through opportunities for media outreach

The STEWARD will enable our events and community by creating co-beneficial partnerships with:

  • Organizations who will partner, sponsor and support our events
  • Creative events, festivals and movements with whom we strengthen our community
  • Stunning spaces, places and venues in which we inspire our audience
  • Caterers who will provide the best coffee and breakfast in the city

The COORDINATOR will be the engine that brings our community together, by:

  • Managing any and all event logistics
  • Finding photographers and videographers to capture our events
  • Recruiting and managing an amazing group of volunteers
  • Preparing pieces of flair like IceBreaker Nametags and other unique elements that make our community special

The TRAILBLAZER will take our community to new heights by:

  • Spreading our unique model to benefit underserved areas of the city
  • Working with a small group of creative entrepreneurs to envision, prototype & build true connectedness and collaboration amongst Toronto’s creative community
  • Inventing, creating and building opportunities for creative enlightenment

All positions will require about 5-10 hours/month of work, and are expected to be on the organizing team for at least a year.

Interested in one of these positions? Send an e-mail to: & tell us why this community is so important to you.

Can’t commit the time just yet? We’re always looking for more volunteers. Fill out this form to get involved.

If you’re interested in a specific position, please add a few thoughts about how you would improve CreativeMornings with you at the helm.

Please submit your interest before January 6th.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

*Toronto photo courtesy Shutterstock.