Next Vancouver speaker

Kirby Brown

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September 2, 8:30am • SFU Woodward's — Goldcorp Centre for the Arts • part of a series on Magic

A Q&A with our September CMVan speaker, Kirby Brown.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
I’m an ‘inside the sandbox’ creative guy. I like to have real solid and entrenched boundaries to operate within. They’re my favourite to kick over and see where the sand spills. My career has been defined by solving big messy problems. That often means you can dig around in juicy systemic issues where others fear to tired and then turn the whole model on its head.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
I’ve never lived in a city. I need an enormous backyard to wander around in. Wandering aimlessly is almost always my muse. Following animal tracks, deer trails and generally stumbling around in the woods never fails to offer something new…and occasionally it’s itchy.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Talk it out. All of my best ideas have only been half baked until I’ve spoken the words aloud to someone…anyone. When I was younger I’d stay quiet and then the inspiration would just slip away instead of developing.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Austin Wang - winner of the International Science Fair Award.

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?
I got chosen to be the Valedictorian for my little grad class in Lunenburg, NS. I was such a distracted student that I though I was just submitting my final English paper. Turns out my teacher chose it to be read. Now there was only 200 kids in the whole school from grades 6-12 so I figured there would be maybe a couple of hundred folks in the crowd. But no. The Premier of the province showed up along with the Lt. Governor and a whole gymnasium packed to the gills. So when I took the stage, terrified, that proverbial little voice piped up and said, 'either you can humiliate yourself forever or you can be a good public speaker.’ Well there’s no choice in that so I took the mic and ran with it. The Premier said it was one of the best speeches he’d ever heard - which is little praise from a politician - but I realized then that you can create your own reality. I’m still fearful about speaking in front of people but I can don that mask when I need to.

What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?
'Coming Through Slaughter’ by Michael Ondaatje. It’s an atmospheric story of a jazz musician but when I read it I could actually hear the music in the erratic and staccato way he wrote. He transcended genres. Way cool.

Creative Mornings Global Theme 45 was: WEIRD!

Whether it’s butter in coffee, bacon on donuts, fashion in the 80’s making a return, or the culture of an organization, weirdness reveals that there are no rules or right answers. Weirdness widens the edges of the status quo, and if we allow it, it adds beauty to our lives because it introduces us to a multitude of complexities that we may be ignoring.

This theme was chosen by the Austin chapter and illustrated by Will Bryant. This month, 150+ cities will get weird and play with weirdness. Rather than flinching at the unfamiliar, perhaps this is a time to embrace the strange, the new, and to explore our boundaries.

Our next CMVan speaker for September is Kirby Brown!

Kirby has made his career in tourism by being a bit of turnaround guy until recently. Now the GM of the popular new Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, BC that has changed into being a ‘turn it up’ guy. And, for the last 9 years, he and his friend Keith Reynolds have been spending every spare moment bringing play to kids in some of the worlds most chronically conflict ridden areas. Playground Builders is as grassroots as a charity gets. The guys do most of their work at Keiths’ kitchen table in Whistler, BC where they hand write thank you cards and argue over Skype with gravel suppliers in places like Baghdad, Iraq and Kabul, Afghanistan trying to shave cents off the cost of construction. It’s not about being cheap. It’s about spending every single dollar donated on building as many safe areas for kids to play as possible. And they’re just getting ready to ramp it up.

Vivienne McMaster is a photographer, workshop leader and positive body image advocate. She helps folks around the world to see themselves with compassion through their own camera lens through her program Be Your Own Beloved. Her photographs have been seen in such places as Oprah.com and The Huffington Post as well as numerous books and magazines. The camera and selfportraiture helped her heal her own negative body image and brought forth a creative career of helping people to cultivate positive selfesteem and body positivity through the creative process of selfportraiture.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career? To me creativity is stepping into the unknown. It’s that question “What would happen if I…” and following that intuition. It’s at the core of my own work, especially when we’re talking about seeing ourselves with compassion through a camera. We think we know the answer to what a photo of us would look like, whether it’s through our own camera or someone else’s. But healing how we see ourselves comes when we step into that which we don’t yet know. Applying creativity to our relationship to our bodies and selfcompassion changes it big time and that question is at the heart of both my personal photographic practices as well as my work.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration? My best creative inspiration awaits me out in the natural world. Almost daily I go for a photo walk around my neighbourhood be it the evening light rays or the beauty growing in the community garden. While this is pivotal for my content creation process, it also helps me fill up my own creative well. I think often when we make our creativity into our work and add pressure to it, we can unintentionally lose that way the creativity nourishes us. These walks have been a part of my creative process from the beginning and help me remember to take photos for the joy of it, not just for work. But of course it also gives my mind space to let ideas form and I usually get stopped somewhere along the walk to jot ideas down in my journal.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person? I wish I’d known how much we can chart our own course as creatives. The tools and technology that we can use to do creative work has changed so much even in the past 5 years and I couldn’t have imagined it as a young person. That the possibility of what a creative work life could be is only as limited as we let it be!

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings? I’d love to hear Jessica Wood speak. She’s an incredible photographer and part of the Tea & Bannock Indigenous Photographer Collective, a website and blog I’m deeply moved by.

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger? I help people make peace with how they see themselves in photos and change the lens they see themselves through, through their own creative expression and their own camera.

What’s your one guilty creative indulgence? Polaroid film. Up until recently it was finding really old expired film for one of my vintage polaroid cameras but now it’s the beautiful Impossible Film that I’m so grateful we have as an option going forward and that Polaroid is still alive and well in so many ways. I try to save it only for when I travel but then I let myself go wild with it. It gives us that instant gratification of seeing the photo but also the old school beauty of film.

Barrie Mowatt has a long and accomplished history as an educator, philanthropist, and entrepreneur opening the Buschlen Mowatt Fine Art gallery in 1979. Barrie is the visionary behind the Vancouver Biennale Open Air Museum, where he combines his passion for art, education and community service in exhibitions that bring great art to public spaces where people live, work, play and transit, free for all to enjoy, explore and be inspired by. Barrie is also the founder of the Celebration of Hope Foundation, co-founder of Taste the Nation, and the Buschlen Mowatt Scholarship Program at Arts Umbrella. Barrie received the Vancouver Business in Arts Award from the Vancouver Board of Trade, and the Ethics in Action Award, presented by Vancouver City Savings and the BC Work Ministry. He has twice been nominated for Western Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of socially responsible businesses.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career? I never think about what creativity is, I just am. Creativity isn’t a tool that I pull out when I think I need it. It’s inherent in my attitude and the way I navigate the world.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration? On an airplane, when I’m off to explore my curiosity about the world. Its quiet space, when I can just be with me and shut everything else off. It helps that I can’t connect to WIFI on board!

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person? Trust yourself.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings? Barack Obama and Patch Adams.

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger? I turn the city into an open-air museum.

Where was the last place you travelled? In the last week I’ve been to the University of Washington to do a presentation for the department of Landscape Architecture, then I went to San Francisco for the opening of the new SFMOMA and the world premiere concert of a Dan Visconti composition, and then I flew to Winnipeg to tour of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

Looking forward to a good dose of #CMreality from @ShachiKurl at #CMVan. (at SFU Woodward’s)

A public policy analyst, Shachi Kurl directs research, communications, partner development and operations at the Angus Reid Institute. She brings 15 years of experience to her role, spending the first part of her career as political reporter and as a representative for the small business community. Shachi is a recipient of the prestigious Jack Webster award for Best TV Reporting. A frequent columnist and commentator, she holds a degree in Journalism and Political Science from Carleton University in Ottawa and serves on the boards of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation and the CKNW Orphans’ Fund.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
My career has always dealt in the realm of data, facts and accuracy – so you might not think there’s a lot of creativity to be found… for me, creativity is about new approaches, taking risks and looking for different ways to use facts and data to tell compelling visual and narrative stories

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Books, novels, arts and animation for the visual side. In the stillness of nature. So much of it for me is thinking time. In the garden pulling weeds, on a run, sitting on the beach… and in the shower.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
That failing doesn’t necessarily mean your life is going to end!

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Jane Austen… you didn’t say “living” ;)What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Shot a documentary in a Cambodian minefield along the Thai border

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?
I ask people questions and tell you their answers

A public policy analyst, Shachi Kurl directs research, communications, partner development and operations at the Angus Reid Institute. She brings 15 years of experience to her role, spending the first part of her career as political reporter and as a representative for the small business community. Shachi is a recipient of the prestigious Jack Webster award for Best TV Reporting. A frequent columnist and commentator, she holds a degree in Journalism and Political Science from Carleton University in Ottawa and serves on the boards of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation and the CKNW Orphans’ Fund.

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