Next Vancouver speaker

Shauna Sylvester (online)

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October 2, 8:30am • CMVan | Transit • part of a series on Transit

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Join us February 7th as we’re thrilled to bring Stanley Hainsworth to the stage.

Stanley Hainsworth is a highly attuned branding machine. He mastered the art of brand story craft while serving as the creative-in-chief at three of the great brands of our time: Nike, Lego, and Starbucks. He served as vice president of Global Creative during the coffee company’s maturation into the cultural icon we know today. His creative influence extended from campaigns to all consumer touch points.

Prior to that, as global creative director for the Lego Company in Denmark, Hainsworth directed a total visual overhaul of the brand, including advertising, interactive, packaging, retail and brand stores. At Nike, he worked on everything from the brands association with the Olympics to creating Nike Entertainment. Hainsworth founded Tether, a global creative, cross-discipline studio in 2008. From redesigning a handcrafted Italian coffee brand to reflect its rich heritage to creating engaging and shareable stories for BMW Motorcycles, Tether has a passion for well-told tales. He has written books on branding, is an educator, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and a sought-after speaker on branding and design worldwide.

Enjoy our Q&A from Michael Green our January speaker.

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

Enduring childhood abandon, a deep desire for adventure, a willing exploration of risk, and an undying dedication to love.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

This one is simple; in nature.

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

You will find yourself when you find yourself; never force it and never expect more of yourself than the moment you are in.

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

Yvon Chouinard, founder of Great Pacific Iron Works, Chouinard Equipment, Patagonia, 1% for the Planet and a host of other progressive organizations and companies but most importantly a father of modern day ice climbing and designer of my first ice climbing axes.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

There is a long and silly list of craziness; from free climbing solos to rappelling off a suspension bridge into a waterfall wearing my cap and gown at Cornell graduation, to being the first to ever kayak the northern border of Afghanistan (with my son Makalu when he was 9 years old), to some big scary climbs in Alaska and the Himalaya, to kayaking off glaciers with huge katabatic winds and swells in Antarctica with Makalu when he was 10; to pinning a poem I wrote on the trees – line by line – on the hike up the Grouse Grind for a girl so she would see it on her morning run; or I suppose believing we could create a seismic global shift in construction to address climate change and starting a free global online education program to make that happen. I think maybe I have a long list of crazy……

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?

There is nothing stopping us from solving the world’s greatest challenges other than an assumption that someone else will.

We’re thrilled to present Michael Green, as our January speaker, presenting on the topic of Roots.

Michael Green is an award-winning architect, speaker and author known internationally for his research, leadership, and advocacy in promoting the use of wood, new technology and innovation in the built environment.

Michael is the founder of MGA | Michael Green Architecture, an architecture and design firm creating ambitious, innovative modern timber buildings, DBR | Design Build Research and TOE | Timber Online Education, a non-profit school and research platform.

A Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Michael is the author of several international publications on mass timber and tall wood.

CMVan Volunteers: Teaser for “Our Volunteers Take the Stage” to talk about silence

Come join us on December 6th for our Volunteers Take The Stage! event

CMVan volunteers are a group of diverse, inspiring, creatives that work in silence behind the scenes to bring this event to you every month. This month’s theme of Silence brings their voice to the front of the room.

Alexander Neff

Alexander is the founder of Drawing Thanks—a daily portrait series focused on highlighting amazing people who inspire and influence on both local and global scales. The individuals featured in his portrait series range from movers and shakers across the globe to the friendly faces of his hometown, Vancouver. 

When he isn’t out meeting and drawing inspiring people in his community, Alexander can be found at the Railway Stage & Beer Cafe, advocating for local music as Director of Community Engagement for Locals Lounge— a live showcase of Vancouver’s best musical talent, helping audiences discover the people behind the music. 

Alexander is currently working on his first book, Drawing Thanks: Convene. Through a series of interviews, stories, and portraiture, this book explores the roles of creative Vancouverites who are cultivating and empowering community through their creative practices.

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

Creativity is a product of interaction. It is a result of listening to and interpreting your surroundings. Sights, sounds, feelings, emotions—when you tune into these experiences, interpret them, and express that interpretation, you are actively participating in creativity. My creativity is fuelled by community. In both my life and career, I strive to surround myself with people who can expose me to perspectives and experiences which differ from my own. The work I produce is designed to share these new perspectives. For some, that may provide relatability, for others, a new perspective. With every creative endeavour I approach, my goal is to reach an outcome of connection and newfound understanding.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

I find energy in human connection. Every form of creativity—in some way—is meant to connect. An artist is energized when their composition moves a viewer; a chef is energized when their meal is enjoyed; a musician is energized when a crowd dances to their music. I am energized when the stories I tell build and support community.

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

Your heroes are real people and they are accessible. If someone inspires you, tell them. Show your gratitude—that is a powerful tool which we all have access to. Be honest, be vulnerable, and let people know when they bring value to your life. I have been fortunate enough to develop relationships with many of my heroes just by reaching out and expressing gratitude. That has resulted in mentorship, collaboration, and friendship. A special type of magic happens when creatives support creatives. Never forget that it goes both ways.

What myths about creativity would you like to set straight?

“I am not a creative person”—speaking these words is the equivalent to giving up on a race that has not yet started. I will fully admit that I am guilty of referring to people as “creatives.” I have even done that in this interview. We need to stop looking at “creative” as an adjective which can be used to describe a certain type of person and look at it as an action—“practising creativity,” if you will. Creativity takes effort and hard work. It is a skill which anyone can develop. Sometimes people view my work and say “I wish I could draw like that.” I always respond with “you can.” At the time of this interview, I have drawn a portrait every day for 662 days. Any skill requires time and effort to develop; creativity and artistic ability are no different.

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

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. When I first read his book “Flight of the Hummingbird,” I realized the impact art can have when it is purpose-driven. That realization is what transformed a sketchbook full of faces—drawn simply to “be a better portrait artist”—into an outlet for gratitude. The sense of purpose Michael’s work provoked in me was what really made me a better artist. I drew a portrait of him because of it.

What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?

I can’t recommend “Secret Path” by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire enough. It is another powerful example of purpose-driven creativity. I happened to read this book and experience the album around the same time I read “Flight of the Hummingbird” by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. That became a pivotal point in my life. I was studying in college and found myself in an incredibly competitive environment. I was conditioned to have a “be the best” attitude about my creative work. That exposure I had to purpose-driven creativity was the first step in retraining my brain to be inspired by other creatives and not view them as “competition.” I can say—with the utmost gratitude and pride—I owe my success to the creatives who have inspired and supported me throughout my journey so far. I now measure my success in the support I can provide to others through my creative work.

Christine Bissonnette

Christine Bissonnette is a performance poet, storyteller and speech arts teacher specializing in voice.

After receiving her degree in English (with a concentration in creative writing) and theatre in 2008, she’s trained extensively with some of North America’s leading voice and breath teachers. As a poet, Christine uses non-linear narrative and evocative/sensorial imagery to explore her relationship to growth, narrative, and imagination. As a teacher, she is interested in providing opportunities for students to explore/discover the nuance and power of language (especially when spoken out loud).

Her most recent project is a poetry, piano, and dance collaboration about the experience of anxiety — which will be released December 2019.

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

In a keynote speech playwright Marsha Norman did for the Kentucky Arts Council 25th Anniversary Celebration Conference in 1995, she said “Art saves people. It saves us from our singularity, from our separateness. Art both documents our differences and saves us from them. Art is how a culture records its life, how it poses questions to the next generation, and how it is remembered.’

With this in mind, I would define creativity as our personal way of bringing voice to/expressing what’s important to us and how we perceive the world. Our creative impulses helps us experience our internal landscape, and encourages a deeper discussion on topics between individuals (across time, and in different cultures) that wouldn’t occur any other way.

I use my own creativity, to record, examine, and explore my life (my perceptions, beliefs, fears, curiosities, and hopes). My creative practice gives me a wonderful sense of perspective, and helps me to appreciate and acknowledge my own growth; the many ways I’ve changed.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

I find my best creative inspiration when I’ve slowed down, potentially lit a candle or gone for a long walk, and am in a place of calm. My favourite time to write, is first thing in the morning; my mind feels fresh, my thoughts are (generally) quiet, and I am more apt to make bold writing choices.

Although I also find that once I’ve made the decision to immerse myself in a creative project and commit to making it happen, I’m more likely to be inspired during all parts of the day. While walking, waiting for the bus, in the shower (it’s a cliché, but it’s true). That’s when that voice recorder app on my phone is really helpful. I love being in the middle of that creative energy.

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

There’s no rush. I wish I had given myself more permission, right away, to nurture and explore my creative practice and hone my skills. Although two years ago, I did end up stepping away and really focusing on my craft (leaving social media, and lessening my output), initially I really felt that I needed to get myself published immediately… potentially before I had properly listened to other perspectives, and begun to form my own opinion on the topics I wanted to write about.

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

I would love to hear Bo Burnham speak at Creative Mornings. Last year he released a film called ‘Eighth Grade’ that looked at social media use and their impact on experiences of anxiety in teens. This is one of my favourite films from last year, and his eloquence and thoughtfulness in interviews continues to inspire me.

Someone else I would love to see speak at Creative Mornings is Audre Lorde (although she passed away in 1992). Her essay [Poetry is Not a Luxury]( is an outstanding essay that I’ve considered deeply when approaching my own work.

Here’s an excerpt:

"Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives. As they become known and accepted to ourselves, our feelings, and the honest exploration of them, become sanctuaries and fortresses and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas, the house of difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action.”

What books made a difference in your life and why?

There are a number of books which have had a big impact on my life, but there are a couple which come to mind which have been particularly important to how I approach my work.

The first is 'Addiction to Perfection’ by Jungian analysts Marion Woodman. This was one of those books that I wanted to throw against a wall. It really got under my skin. In my early 20s, I used to laugh about being a perfectionist, but this book made me rethink my relationship to this identification; I stopped referring to myself as a perfectionist after reading this book.

'Metaphors We Live By’ by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, was another hugely influential book for me. Using philosophy and linguistics, the authors examine the way different metaphors shape the way we perceive reality. Examples are time (time is a limited resource), and love (love is a journey). This book made me think about the metaphors which are most commonly associated with mental illness, as I was writing and working on Left Opened.

What practises, rituals or habits contribute to your creative work?

Something I have done since I was a teenager, is take detailed notes on many of the books I read — recording the passages that really resonate with me. This ritual or habit has contributed to my creative practice in two important ways. First, it has helped me hold onto the ideas argued by different authors I read, and begin to draw connections between different fields and perspectives. Second, recording verbatim different passages from the books I read has helped me to become a better writer, by bringing my awareness to the way these different authors express their ideas, and how they work within the written form to be expressive, persuasive, and above all, engaging.

What are you proudest of in your life?

I’m proudest of the relationships I’ve healed, built, and nurtured with my mom, and my siblings. My mother is a pretty amazing woman (as are my brother and sister) and their presence in my life gives me an overwhelming sense of groundedness and support that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m also very proud of the relationship I’ve been building with my partner, and with my friends. When I get sucked into the mesmerizing allure of ambition, these relationships remind me of what’s truly important.

Annelies Tjebbes 

Annelies is passionate about making the world a better place and is not afraid to stir the pot to help enable this. She’s most fired up about addressing inequities and improving livelihoods in her global community. Annelies brings an expertise in Social Innovation and Systems Change work to her consulting practice that provides strategic planning, facilitation and evaluation support to Social Purpose Organizations.

As an engineer with a background in community development and social enterprise, she has experience in a diversity of sectors and brings a creative, rigorous and human-centered design mindset to her work. Annelies has facilitated hundreds of courses, workshops and conferences internationally, has served over 20 clients in the social innovation ecosystem, and has conducted Strategic Planning sessions that have dramatically advanced Canadian organizations.

She has a love for working with and investing in people and thrives on community, courage, creativity, communication, curiosity and compassion.

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

Creativity is the most open and honest expression of our vulnerability, playfulness, and personality. It enables us to communicate our greatest hopes, dreams, and fears and to connect deeply with ourselves and with our global community. Through no other form can we express ourselves in a way so truly aligned with our inner beings and this thus creates a very personal connection with anyone on the receiving end of our creative pursuits.

I try to connect with my creativity in all aspects of my life. Whether I’m designing a workshop to support youth wellbeing in Fort St. John, working with my co-owners of a community development housing project on the Sunshine Coast, or stringing together a series of passes that leads to a game winning goal on the soccer pitch, creativity fuels me and helps me bring a spark to my work and my life. It takes courage to express ourselves creatively, and I encourage everyone to find opportunities to tap into their creativity and share it with the world.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

I love working with my hands. Though I’m an electrical engineer by training, and a whiz on the computer, to me there’s nothing like taking pen to paper to help channel creative energy. I love working with different facilitation tools and tricks to generate creative ideas for workshops, strategies, dialogues and projects. I often map things out on flip charts or whiteboards with lots of coloured post-its, markers and stickers. Blocking out time to really dig into a creative endeavour to me is key. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but just carving out a space and a commitment to an output helps me engage in my creative process and move projects forward.

I also find a ton of creative inspiration from being out in nature and engaging in physical activity. Some of my best ideas come while riding my bike (Carmen) around town, or hiking in the forests of our beautiful province. I was part of a 1-month Social Innovation Residency at the Banff Centre and we did a lot of work out in nature and looking at Systems Change through natural systems. I would have never thought to talk to a rock to address some of my personal internal challenges, or to dance out a solution to gender equity, but this program really helped rattle some of my rigid training picked up in engineering, and helped me approach problems from a completely new angle using creativity and innovation.

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

In terms of creative process, my top strategy is to dive in, withhold perfectionism and just get something on paper or screen to get the ball rolling. I used to spend a lot of time trying to wordsmith or perfect projects as I went along, but being able to get something out there and then refine after a night of rest with fresh eyes has done me wonders! Instead of banging my head against the wall trying to do things in one long push, I break the effort up and approach it with a fresh mind each time which really helps me progress more quickly towards a creative output. Through burnout and overwork I have developed a philosophy around “working smarter, not harder” and this has been essential for me both in producing better work, but also maintaining balance and health in my life.

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

I would love to hear Gloria Steinem speak. One of her most recent books “My Life on the Road” gave me a much deeper understanding of what her life was like as a women’s rights activist and the challenges she faced and connections she made. Her dedication to this fight and her efforts to bring an intersectional approach to gender equity are admirable. The creativity she brought to community engagement, mobilization and dialogue are things we could all learn from, and her use of non-violent communication tactics are an inspiration. I am so grateful for the work she has done and am inspired by the dedication she brought to this cause in her life.

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

I was destined to be a doctor. I loved helping the nurse out at school, was intrigued by the inner workings of the body, and suffered enough injuries and health challenges as a kid to understand the deep importance of medicine. At that age, the only professionals you really heard about were doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, veterinarians and firefighters. As a kid, all I knew was that I wanted to help people and from my simplistic view of career planning, I saw becoming a doctor as the best fit to do that.

With top marks in math and physics in highschool I was encouraged to explore engineering, and when I discovered Biomedical Electrical Engineering I figured this was the perfect combination of skills for me. While I loved the challenge of designing medical devices during the early years of this career, I felt too disconnected from people in this profession and from the ultimate impact I was contributing too. Having “retired” from the formal profession of engineering, I love that I can now use my engineering skills to problem solve social challenges that I care deeply about. Systems thinking is a core skillset for engineers and I believe this is key to addressing challenges from a holistic, root-cause perspective.

How will I tie it all together? While I have a deep admiration for doctors and the work they do every day to support our health and wellbeing, I think the western medical system has major flaws that lack upstream, preventative approaches to health and also the ability to address complex cases like chronic pain and mental illnesses. I hope to contribute towards evolution of the medical system to enable us to take a more holistic and integrated approach to health.

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?

In 2015 I suffered 2 panic attacks out of the blue in what otherwise was a very “successful” and positive year. Diagnosed with panic attacks and admitted to the urgent care clinic I began the journey of painfully wrestling and grappling with the crashing down of my superhero identify and the navigation of what new path would work for me. In that first week I hadn’t left the house other than to be rushed to the ER, and when I took my first steps into my new world the sounds were deafening. It is excruciating dealing with demons inside your head and physical symptoms that can’t be explained, but the gifts that anxiety has brought to me and the insights that panic have given me have transformed my life and my relationship to my work, my creativity and my path. I have spent the past 4 years since this moment rewiring my brain, quieting old patterns and broken ideals, and re-envisioning how I want to live my life. There is a quote I learned during this time that “anxiety is a gift”. This has been one of the most challenging things to accept, and the first year of this re-wiring was excruciating, but the gifts I’ve been given through this experience have shaped who I am today and are essential to my being.

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?

Our world is facing extreme social, environmental and economic challenges and I use creative tools, frameworks and approaches to help tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time.

What was the best advice you were ever given?

Have you listened to the Sunscreen Song lately? A simple video with some really profound insights that I’m still working to adopt in my life!

Beyond this, you’ll have to come hear my talk to learn some of the rest! 

Join us Nov1st. We’re thrilled to have Indigenous restaurateur, 60s Scoop survivor, author, and professional traveller, Inez Cook.

Inez Cook grew up in Vancouver BC and is a proud member of the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola BC. Inez is the co founder and owner of Salmon n’Bannock Bistro located in Vancouver as well as an author of the children’s book The Sixties Scoop. The Award winning Salmon n’Bannock Bistro opened its doors Feb 15 2010 and proudly showcases Indigenous cuisine with a modern palate.Inez and Salmon n’ Bannock have been featured in several international media outlets including National Geographic, CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, The San Fransisco Chronicle, der Spiegel, Samatha Brown , Moosemeat and Marmalade, and Power to the People to name a few.Inez has worked in the travel industry for over 28 years and has lived all over the world. She always dreamed of having a restaurant that could take guests on a journey, but did not know that the journey she is taking you on is the journey within.Q&AWhat’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

One creative piece of advice I wish I’d known as a young person is that there is not a wrong answer. Express yourself through your creativity and passion and the rest will follow.How do you define creativity and apply it in your life and career?

Creativity - expressing myself and celebrating new ideas towards my life and brand

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

I think my travels have helped inspire me and often my best ideas come to me in a dream .. it’s even better when I remember them

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

That would be a tie / Maya Angelou or my Grandpa

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Might be riding a jet ski in Saudi Arabia with the Religious police chasing me Women were not permitted to drive let alone a jet ski

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?

I am a full time flights attendant that owns a restaurant and does catering … full time

If I could open a door and go anywhere where would that be?

Door to heaven to check in on loved ones passed the ones I knew and never met