Next Vancouver speaker

David Whyte (online)

More info

November 6, 8:30am • CMVan | Radical | Zoom • part of a series on Radical

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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.


A scientist’s point of view on creativity.

We are thrilled to introduce Scott Sampson, our July speaker on Creativity and Intention. #creativity #intention

Scott Sampson is a dinosaur palaeontologist, science communicator, and passionate advocate for reimagining cities as places where people and nature thrive. Born and raised in Vancouver, B.C., he serves as president and CEO of Science World British Columbia. He has conducted fieldwork in many countries, published numerous scientific and popular articles, and regularly speaks to audiences of all ages on a broad range of topics. Sampson is author of multiple books, including Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life (University of California Press, 2009), How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), and You Can Be a Palaeontologist (National Geographic Kids, 2017). He is perhaps best known as “Dr. Scott,” host and science advisor of the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS television series Dinosaur Train, produced by the Jim Henson Company. Sampson is thrilled to be back in his hometown leading Science World in the next phase of its evolution. 

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

Creativity, in my view, is simply using imagination to make something new. That something can take many forms—from an idea, to a work of art, to a technological innovation.

I view my entire life and career as an interconnected creative enterprise. The first half of my career focused on imagining ancient worlds (that is, ancient versions of Earth).

For the second half, I’ve turned 180 degrees to imagine possible futures (thriving futures, that is), and have dedicated my work to empowering others to do so as well. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that no movement can be successful unless it provides a compelling vision that people want to move toward. My aim is to help catalyze that vision through a (highly creative) transformation of education.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

Without doubt, the natural world is my muse when it comes to creative inspiration and energy. Solo hiking in beautiful places not only recharges me, but allows me to feel connected in ways that open up the flow creative energies. Having said that, I am also deeply inspired and energized by a diverse range of thought leaders—from John Dewey to Rachel Carson to Loren Eiseley. Creativity is built upon the insights and imaginations of others.

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

Creativity is often the result of deep immersion—in ideas, in nature, in art, whatever. So truly dive deep into things you are passionate about, seek out a diversity of resources and mentors, and always be on the lookout for the emergence of unexpected connections.

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

Thomas Berry, self-described “geologian,” whose brilliant insights and prose helped so many forge creative links between the scientific and the spiritual, all the while moving us toward a new, compelling worldview to help root humanity in the 21st Century.

wildcard questions:

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

For me the where also includes a when. My door would take me to southern Utah 76 million years ago, to a place situated along a beautiful, Mediterranean-like coast where massive crested and horned dinosaurs roamed on land, while other astounding reptiles swam the seas below and graced the air above. I have spent years of my life excavating the ancient remains of this world, and would love to see it in all its glory.

What keeps you awake at night?

I am kept awake by what I consider the dominant challenge of our time—rapidly scaling up meaningful understanding of the interwoven challenges of our time, together with an ecocentric (versus anthropocentric) worldview.


Who likes chocolate? If so, then you’re going to love our June Speaker on the topic of #craft.

Meet Rachel McKinley, the head chocolatier at Purdy’s.

Rachel McKinley was born and raised in small town Manitoba. After careers as a competitive ice dancer, social support worker, and paramedic,  she obtained degrees in microbiology and English literature at the University of Manitoba. It was during he second degree that she fell in love with the alchemy of chocolate, and abandoned her path towards medical school for a career in the kitchen. After starting with studies online, she went on to train in chocolate in Montreal, Minneapolis, New York, Paris, Florence and Pisa, and opened her business in Vancouver, CocoaNymph Chocolates & Confections, which she owned and operated for 10 years. More interested in inventing new chocolates than running a business, she pursued a career in product development. She is now an instructor at Ecole Chocolat, the head chocolatier at Purdy’s Chocolatier, and a freelance product developer for multiple companies in the US. She also went on to study drawing and painting at Emily Carr and is an obsessive sculptor, maker of fine food and embroidered goods, and is working on her first novel.

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

Creativity is everything - it is how we solve any problem and move forward. I really believe it is about exploring all of the angles to a problem or task and only taking the easiest path when it is the right one. To me, the key to this is collaboration and community - getting the input and participation of others as much as possible.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

In boredom. I get my best inspiration and draw energy from quiet time alone, resting, when my mind is free to wander and make new connections and plans for new projects.

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

I wish someone had told me that I AM AN ARTIST. I didn’t feel like a creative person or a maker as a young person, and when I gave myself permission to be that, my whole life changed.

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

My first thought is Patrick Roger, a chocolatier from France who has distinguished himself as a sculptor in the art world by creating chocolate sculptures, creating molds from them and then casting them in metals to make them permanent. I deeply admire his work and process.

My one guilty creative indulgence is classes - I will take a class on skillshare, udemy, with a human, anything that’s offered really! It’s evidenced by two degrees, a certificate in fine arts from Emily Carr, classes in writing from UBC and SFU, and more. It’s only guilty because I am already busy and I can’t concentrate on one form.

The best surprise I have experienced in my life was the moment an art director I was working with called Andrew told me he was not, as I had believed, a married man, and that we should go out for coffee. We’ve been together ever since.

Curious what she does? check out the video.

We are thrilled to announce our May speaker, Crispin Elsted, who will be speaking on Commitment.

Crispin Elsted is a Canadian poet and publisher of handcrafted and printed books. He is the cofounder, with his wife Jan, of the book-publishing company Barbarian Press located on a remote farm in Mission BC. They hand set type and print woodblocks on presses that date back as far as 1850.

Elsted has also performed as a Shakespearean actor in repertory theatres and has composed, arranged and performed jazz and classical music. In his Vancouver upbringing he was a bear minder at the Stanley Park Zoo as well as a writer at CBC!

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

Creativity is simply the current cant word for imagination. Like everyone else, I use imagination whenever I consider or speculate about a subject, try to conceive an approach to a new or unusual problem, or attempt to develop a new way to articulate thought. Occasionally I succeed.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy? 

That’s quite impossible to say: it can be anything, at the right moment. Sometimes it may be ‘a certain slant of light’ (in Emily Dickinson’s phrase); at others, my wife’s voice, or a turn of phrase overheard in a street – a chord of music, sudden pain or pleasure, the feel of a cat’s back under my hand, or a stone. The source of the energy which derives from it is implicit in what Chesterton said: ‘Art is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.’

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

You’ll never make anything worthwhile if you don’t love the labour involved, the process of making, more than the finished work.

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

William Shakespeare – although I expect he’d decline because of the pressure of work.

What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?

There have been too many to remember, but essentially every one of them taught me the same thing: try again. But of course, since they pushed me forward, they weren’t failures, but parts of the process. Nothing from which you learn can be a failure.

What are you reading these days?

Sasha Abramsky. The House of Twenty Thousand Books Henry R. Plomer. English Printers’ Ornaments Re-reading Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series.

What fact about you would surprise people?

I was once a bearward – which in some ways was my favourite job.

What are you proudest of in your life?

My wife’s love.

If you could interview anyone living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why?

Mr Bert E. Smith, a compositor at the Curwen Press, Plaistow, London, from 1924 to 1964. I don’t when he was born, or when he died, or whether he left any descendants. During his time at Curwen he designed and composed in type hundreds of ornamental borders, most set in pairs of formes to be printed in two colours. (Curwen Press was at this time entirely a letterpress operation.) Many of these borders were wrapped and stored at the press for future use in reprinting jobs, and at Barbarian Press we now own all that remained of them when the press closed in 1984 – over a hundred.

We are presently preparing a book to be called Bordering on the Sublime: Ornamental Typography at the Curwen Press which will set out the history of the press, discuss their particular style of design, and Bert Smith’s approach to the use of ornaments. We will also reprint all of these borders from the original type.

We can find out nothing about Bert Smith beyond his name and the fact that he spent forty years at Curwen, most of them working exclusively with ornaments. We have a few photographs. I would be honoured and delighted to be able to speak to him – although I am quite sure he would be bewildered at all the fuss. That, in fact, would be part of the fascination.

If you could do anything now, what would you do?

Exactly what I am doing.

What music are you listening to these days?

A range of operas (Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Janáček, Donizetti); symphonies by Mieczysław Weinberg, László Lajtha, and Miloslav Kabeláč; Dvořak’s string quartets; early 1960s Miles Davis (pre-‘Bitch’s Brew’), and Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band.

What books made a difference in your life and why?

The Plays of William Shakespeare. My father began to read Shakespeare to me the day I came home from the hospital as a newborn, and continued to do so every day until I learned to read for myself at 3, and very often after that as well. From Shakespeare I came to recognize the beauty of the English language (helped by the fact that my father read beautifully), and the natural attraction of narrative, which I came to learn at almost the same time held the same attraction as melody: compelling sequence and intrinsic logic. Narrative is metaphorically bonded with melody in structure and effect, as are diction and tone in language with harmony in music.

A Note by William Morris on His Aims in Founding the Kelmscott Press … I saw a facsimile of this, the last book issued by Morris’s Kelmscott Press, in a bookstore when I was an undergraduate, and I was struck for the first time by the splendour of type and its placement on the page. I had always been a reader, but this was the first time that I had really been transfixed by the appearance of a book. It was this, after many windings and adventures, which eventually drew me toward book design and publishing, and led to Jan and I founding Barbarian Press in 1977.

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

The practising of techniques which allow me to use the tools of my craft properly, and the habits of familiarity implicit in the arrangement of materials and the knowledge of process, both contribute equally. I know of no rituals, beyond the civilities of a loving relationship. Pushkin, in Eugene Onegin, says (in a loose translation) that ‘Habit is sent from heaven to those who lack happiness’. I think that, in some sense, is true; but then if one is already happy in one’s work, there is no need of redress: habit becomes a pleasure in itself.Photo Credit: Tim McLaughlin

We are excited to announce our April speaker, Jay DeMerit who will be talking on the topic of Creativity and the Game

Jay DeMerit has one of the most unique success stories soccer has ever seen.

Undrafted in the MLS, Jay backpacked to Europe, slept on attic floors and climbed the English soccer pyramid from the 12th tier to become the captain of Watford FC in the English Premier League. He also represented the US Men’s National Team, playing every minute of his team’s games throughout the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In 2011, he signed on to became the Whitecaps FC’s inaugural MLS captain, a position he held until retirement in 2014.

Off the field, Jay has taken the stage at Tedx Vancouver, spoken at national conferences, and was the keynote speaker on “Grit” at the US Soccer Federation’s annual symposium. His story was the subject of “Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story,” a documentary released in 2011 after a successful Kickstarter campaign where the soccer community raised $223,000 to turn this story into a feature film.

Based on the ideals portrayed throughout the film, Jay and his wife, Olympic Gold Medalist skier Ashleigh McIvor, started the Rise & Shine Foundation and Captain Camps, which provides a 4-day leadership program for kids ages 13-18.

Jay also has a degree in Industrial Design, which he put to use founding Portmanteau Stereo Co., which repurposes old suitcases and BC wood as portable Bluetooth speakers and home audio systems.

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

I think creativity comes from a curiosity, a willingness to look at a situation, a need, or product and wonder why it is that way, and what can be done to make it better. Be it in my sporting in life or by earning a degree in product design, both have taught me this process.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

I find energy in people. The human connections that make us all unique, and trying to be a part of the social needs that connect us. Creativity is what is required to remain amongst those environments, I like to be right in the middle of that.

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

I think in any walk of life, the true foundation of how to achieve human successes are to drive from your truest self. Get to know yourself as soon as you can, by experiencing everything you can. The earlier you start to define what drives your human spirit and creative energy, the sooner you will find your successes.

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

Muhammad Ali or Salvador Dali.

What fact about you would surprise people?

I had a corneal transplant surgery in my eye, 6 months before I played in the World Cup.

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

When I was at University (17 years ago!), my professor made every one of us in class subscribe to Wired Magazine. It stays on the cusp of technology & design and gives us a real gateway to the future. It’s still the only magazine I buy when I’m at an airport.