Next Vancouver speaker

Linda Solomon Wood

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May 3, 8:30am • SFU Woodward's — Goldcorp Centre for the Arts • part of a series on Preserve

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Ian Cromwell is a man who is easily bored. Born in Vancouver but spending half his life in Ontario, Ian’s pursuit of distraction led him down two very separate paths. By day Ian is an academic whose research interests center on the economics of health care. By night Ian is a regular feature on stages within Vancouver’s music scene both as a solo looping rock and soul artist, and as the fiddle player for saloon-folk band Jack Mercer & The Whiskey Bandits. For the previous two years, Ian has been host and curator of Locals Lounge, a live interview and performance series devoted to exploring Vancouver’s underground indie music scene. Ian tweets under @Crommunist.


How do you define creativity and apply it in your life and career?

Creativity is being able to turn your ideas into something tangible. In my academic career that usually means finding practical and reliable solutions to difficult problems. In my music career that means using sounds and musical idioms to convey a mood. In my life outside that it’s about just trying to be a better and more constructive person every day.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

Boredom is an extremely powerful motivator for me. I get very restless very easily, and even in my downtime you can typically find me tinkering with 4 or 5 different things at the same time. It leads me down a bunch of different trains of thought, which I am periodically able to sit still long enough to stitch together into actual productive work.

What’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

Be a kind and responsible person - it’s not ‘creative’ per se but it will take you very far in life and it’s great for your self-image. Aside from that, look really hard at why you do the things you do the way you do them. Actions speak louder than words, and we can learn a great deal about what motivates others and ourselves by looking at the actions we take rather than the things we think we believe. It will help you find better ways to create.

Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?

Janelle Monae or Kurt Vonnegut.

Two additional questions:

How does your life and career compare to what you envisioned for your future when you were a sixth grader?

From the time I was 12 years old until I was halfway through my undergrad, my plan was to grow up to be Frasier Crane. I wanted the call-in radio show, the cool apartment, the wisecracking coworker… the whole deal minus Niles. I’ll be Dr. Cromwell sometime next year and I host a music interview show so parts of that dream are still alive.

What books made a difference in your life and why?

This is a terrible answer, but “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. In between the bats**t nonsensical appeals to rampant self-adulation, there was actually the core of a good point about the nobility of having a strong sense of yourself and your motivations, and being honest to yourself and others about why you’re doing things. It’s a really badly-written book that nonetheless gave me some pretty helpful ideas when I was quite young.

Check out Ryan Gill’s Q&A, our upcoming speaker for October.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your life and career?

For me, creativity is an original thought or idea and then putting it into action. That last part - action - is very important. And, sometimes, it’s gotta be big and bold. Like when we named our marketing engagement agency CULT - some people thought we were crazy, but it’s paid off big time for us. We only wanted to work with companies that desired a “cult-like” following, and we found them - or should I say, they found us. I’m a connector and I’m a starter, so my creative juices really get going when I see, meet and engage with people who can help me carry out all the big ideas swirling around in my head.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

I love to read, so I’m always reading books about entrepreneurs, startups, cryptocurrency, etc. I also love the energy of entrepreneurs and culture makers like Joe Rogan, urban monk Jay Shetty, and Casey Neistat. I’m influenced by rap culture. I’m a rap geek, and i’m close friends with the leadership at The Fader out of Brooklyn NY…which helps keep me close to the culture globally when it comes to urban music. Most often, creative ideas come to me when I’m in a room with my talented team who challenges every idea brought to the table and draws out the best in all of us.

What’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

VULNERABILITY IS COOL. I wish I’d known that it’s ok to ask for help. For some reason, we’ve been hard-wired, especially as men, to think that we need to make things happen and get it all done by ourselves. When you do that, you end up feeling very isolated, anxious and alone - I know because it happened to me.. And sometimes still does. And then, if or when things don’t go as planned and you fu&* up, you really feel like a failure. We’re all so hard on ourselves, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve learned, and it’s taken me a while, that surrounding yourself with community and finding a mentor is so valuable. Yes, we’re all going to experience failure and hardship, but you can’t let it break you. It’s all about how we handle the hard times and channel that energy into moving forward that counts.

Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?

I love Brené Brown and I could listen to her all day. We invited her to speak at The Gathering (my global event) last year, and she accepted. We were thrilled. She has re-defined vulnerability and I, personally, have gotten a lot out of her books and talks. I’d also like to hear psychologist Jordan Peterson speak. He can be very controversial, and I don’t always agree with what he has to say, but I really admire his desire to provoke thoughtful discussion and debate. His views aren’t always popular, but he’s definitely hit a nerve when it comes to gender politics, millennials and freedom of speech.


What fact about you would surprise people?

A lot of people don’t know that I was very sick as a child and spent the first couple years of my life in and out of the hospital. It was hard on my family to say the least. I also dream of owning an NHL hockey team one day. The St. Louis Blues have always been my team, but who knows what opportunity will transpire when the time comes.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?

My dad has had a huge impact on me and my three brothers. We were a large family and lived a very modest life in Brockville, Ontario. My dad was a mailman and worked really hard to support our family. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and worked odd jobs. We didn’t have a lot, but we had love and community.

How does your life and career compare to what you envisioned for your future when you were a sixth grader?

When I was in grade six, I was collecting and selling golf balls from the course near our home. I was also trading sports cards with my buddies. I really had no idea where life was going to take me, but I showed an entrepreneurial spirit early on. I just had zero idea I would one day end up working with world-class brands like Harley Davidson, Keurig, Home Depot and Vans. I’m grateful. 

Join us for our October event with a talk on Honesty and Creativity with Ryan Gill.

Gill is a self-made, successful entrepreneur and mentor who has lead a career of abundance through community, trust, transparency and sharing.

He knows firsthand the challenges with inflated egos in creative industries, and he’s out to smash the false assumption that a person’s success and fulfillment is contingent on their abilities alone.

From humble beginnings in Brockville, Ontario, he has built a successful marketing engagement agency known as Cult Collective, an international marketing summit called The Gathering and a global ecosystem for the creative entrepreneur, known as Communo. He’s a two-time author, speaker and social media vlogger. Most importantly, he’s a husband and father of two daughters.

Making some #CMVan pins to bring to the @creativemorning global summit next week in New York. Thanks @makerlabs for always being a terrific supporter of the creative community! (at Vancouver, British Columbia)

We’re excited to announce Michelle Lorna as our speaker for September.

Michelle Lorna Nahanee is an Indigenous innovator and change-maker from the Squamish Nation. She grew up in Eslha7an, and then East Vancouver, and works within the intersection of class, race, culture and creativity. She is the founder of and the designer of a life-size board game and workshop called Sínulhkay and Ladders.

As a communications consultant and graphic artist, Michelle has worked on social justice projects for First Nations organizations across Canada and also within her own Nation. From health promotion to gender equity, Michelle’s collaborations have influenced opinions, changed behaviours and mobilized community action. She is a supportive leader who is most comfortable behind the scenes—contributing to projects that improve First Nations realities for the last 20 years.

Michelle recently completed a Master of Arts in Communication from Simon Fraser University where she wrote “Decolonizing Identity: Indian Girl to Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Matriarch.” She concluded her research with a call to dismantle academic barriers to decolonizing practices.

Michelle is also the Board Chair of Kwi Awt Stelmexw, a Squamish arts and education organization.

Global Theme Announcement from our HQ team

August’s Theme is Community

A community is a reflection of what we crave: belonging.

Belonging is the heart of human connection. Our hardwiring is to be social creatures, to need one another. We cannot become our best selves without feeling like we belong to a tribe that sees us, respects us, and lifts us up.

A sense of belonging can be fostered in many ways: food, music, volunteering, a cause. You can scan a room and see a diversity of backgrounds, ages, and skill sets—yet the common thread is shared desires and aspirations. It’s magnificently profound how simple this connection is, how deeply we all crave it, and how it changes the trajectory of our lives.

The work of community is when a person walks into a room with fear and self-doubt, only to leave with a new narrative and a feeling of possibility and hope.

We can give that experience to one another. It’s the work of being human.

This month’s global exploration of Community was chosen by our Philadelphia chapter and illustrated by James Olstein.

For almost two years now, we’ve been producing small free workshops called ‘FieldTrips’ for those who didn’t get a ticket to the main event. FieldTrips are an opportunity to learn something new, explore creative companies around Vancouver, and connect with interesting people. They’re also a ton of fun.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve hung out with kittens at the Catfé, gone on a guided tour of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens, participated in an improv class at Instant Theatre, got a behind-the-scenes tour of Kudoz, learned about blockchain at Dctrl, and visited with some sea creatures at the Vancouver Aquarium.

You can see the pictures from those field trips on Instagram. Follow us at @creativemorningsvancouver


Recently we decided to start sharing a little bit more about what we’re getting up to each month.

For our July FieldTrip we headed over to Georgina Lohan’s Studio for an introduction to sculpture. She’d given me a short description of what we’d be doing that morning in advance, but when she said that we’d be ‘throwing’ clay, I didn’t actually realize that she meant we’d very literally be ‘throwing’ clay. At the start of the workshop, Georgina brought a big bucket of clay and demonstrated how to throw it on the ground to slowly start to create a flat surface to work on. We were meant to throw it down, then pick it up, throw it down, then pick it up… it was a lot harder than it looked.

During this workshop, we were going to have the opportunity to contribute to her SeaCreatures sculpture series. She’d be taking what we’d created, and then expanding on it. Eventually hints of what we’d done would appear as part of the base for the finished pieces. Our instructions: to mold and add and play without holding back. She didn’t want these to feel planned. The name of the game was chaos. I found this challenging, but many of the participants created some truly beautiful pieces.

The theme for this workshop was ‘intention’ and Georgina shared what that word means to her in how she approaches her work and life. She shared that although we may set many kinds of intentions – weekly, yearly, and lifetime – she feels it’s important to gain clarity on the biggest, or most significant lifetime intentions first.

To illustrate her point, she provided this image: you’re creating a decorative jar with big rocks, small rocks, and gravel, sand, and water. If you start by adding the large rocks, followed by the small rocks and gravel you’ll give yourself the opportunity to play with how the sand and water fit into the puzzle. There’s possibility for some additional creativity.

“But if you fill your jar with water then add sand, gravel, pebbles and then try and jam some big rocks in you’re likely to break the jar, or at the very least, not get much in before it overflows and makes a big mess. Life can be similar. If we set our biggest intentions first, the details of life will fit in easily as we go along.”


Georgina Lohana is a soloprenuer running a studio for contemporary ceramics, specializing in porcelain sculpture. As well as producing her own work, she also teaches workshops in pottery and sculpture.

Every Sunday for the rest of the summer, Georgina is running $40 drop-in clay workshops. Drop-ins require registration which can be done on her website. Registration for her September workshops is now open, and she is offering an early bird discount of $25 for registering before August 10th. Learn more!

1 Question Q&A with Georgina Lohan

How do you define creativity and apply it to your life and career?

“I think there is a close connection between improvisation and creativity, but like a good jazz musician, it is helpful to know your instrument well, to understand the how-to, in order to experience those moments of freedom. But no matter where you are on the spectrum of learning, creativity expands our state of awareness and allows us to make connections and take action in ways that we might not consciously consider, or that bypasses the rational, logical, language based centres of the brain. A creative practice is one that provides the essential structure and support around creative engagement. I think it probably is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration! The purpose in having a daily practice, building skills and spending time on the infrastructure needed, having the discipline to do what is needed, even if its not so enjoyable, is to get everything to line up for those moments when you are “in the flow”, and you experience those peak moments where the work almost seems to create itself and breakthroughs are possible!”

Make sure to subscribe to CreativeMornings Vancouver to keep up-to-date on upcoming upcoming talks and field trips:    

Dan Mangan is a two-time JUNO award winning & two-time Polaris Music Prize listed musician and songwriter. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife and two sons. With Jesse Zubot, he scored Hector And The Search For Happiness, a feature film starring Simon Pegg. Dan has also infrequently been a contributing writer for some publications such as Huffington Post Canada, Montecristo Magazine and The Guardian (Arts section).

Mangan has toured extensively in North America, Europe and Australia and has released four studio LPs as well as a handful of other EPs.

In 2018, Dan will release his 5th LP as well as score new shows for Netflix and AMC.


How do you define creativity and apply it in your life and career?

I think that artistic expression, of any kind at all, fills in the gaps of where language and social context fail. For me, I can convey my thoughts in song more broadly and in a way that isn’t really possible simply through conversation, or even long form text.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

I’m always a better writer when I’m tuned into other peoples’ work - seeing theatre or dance, reading books, watching good shows or movies, etc. - I’ve always been a political writer and there’s certainly no shortage of world-woe to digest at the moment.

What’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

Just work through. Sometimes you get stuck on something and you can’t see the other side. At this point, I’ve written so many bad songs that I’m less emotionally attached when something I write doesn’t quite “get there”. But weirdly, you still have to finish it to move beyond it. I’m embarrassed by some of my early work, but if I hadn’t finished it, I wouldn’t have been able to move into the work I’m more proud of. Another thing is figuring out what you’re good at - I’ve spent a lot of time emulating people I admired, and the truth is that the only way I’m going to produce something meaningful is if I tap into the core of whatever I am, not them.

Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?

I have always been blown away at how John Stewart balances creativity and humour with politics and awareness. You have to be a special kind of smart to be that finely tuned into the world AND that funny.

What was the best advice you were ever given?

Even when it seems like it might feel good, being intentionally mean will never (ever) make your life better. What books made a difference in your life and why? Cat’s Cradle changed my life in high school. And then Slaughter House Five. They opened a door. Vonnegut has a way of summing up all of humanity’s beautiful absurdity in just a few words.

What books made a difference in your life and why?

Cat’s Cradle changed my life in high school. And then Slaughter House Five. They opened a door. Vonnegut has a way of summing up all of humanity’s beautiful absurdity in just a few.