Mayor Gregor Robertson brings together his own tale of how he has tried to use creativity in his life and career in his pursuit to make Vancouver one of the most livable and greenest cities in the world.

December 7, 2012 was a special edition of CreativeMornings/Vancouver as Mayor Gregor Robertson was our featured speaker—the first mayor to take of their politician’s hat and talk about creativity at any CM chapter worldwide. This was also the month we hosted our first “satellite” event in partnership with Likemind Vancouver with a live simulcast and realtime Q&A from a remote location.

Addressing the topic of creativity, Gregor told his personal story, from his youth as a drummer in a band that covered KISS tunes, his travels across the Pacific in a fixed up old sailboat, his journey through China where his famous relative Dr. Norman Bethune was a hero of the Communist Revolution, and how he switched careers from organic farmer to innovative juice empire co-founder. He shared how growing Happy Planet by driving around Vancouver’s neighbourhoods revealed his true passions and led him to politics.

With very little political agenda rhetoric in his presentation, Gregor brought together his own tale of how he has tried to use creativity in his life and career, and how he is using it more than ever in his pursuit to make Vancouver one of the most livable and greenest cities in the world, with a diverse economy, and where homelessness and housing affordability are forgotten problems of the past—problems solved through creativity. Gregors talk was candid, infused at times with humour and occasionally very serious, and never did it seem just like a politician speaking to party talking points, which was appreciated by the audience who engage him in a lively question and answer period.

A few notable comments by Gregor: On farming: “It was about constantly challenging ourselves to leapfrog out of the paradigm.” On problem solving: “Applying creativity has to be at the core of solving problems.” On creativity: “A big part of creativity is being open. You can either go with it, or stick to your current path.” On inspiration: “A lot of my inspiration comes from being in places that are full of life, like Stanley Park or among crowds at event like this.” On community involvement: “We can shape that change for maximum, positive outcomes if we use our creativity.” On how he made Happy Planet successful: “The only way to compete with the Cokes and Pepsis of this world is to be creative and hustle,” On growing Vancouver’s economy: “I made a goal for Vancouver that we really focus on growing our creative industries—it’s the creative economy that’s growing in leaps and bounds.” On homelessness: “The only way we will get hundreds of people off the street is by doing something different.” On politics: “Politics is our most direct way to create change, but very few of us get involved directly.”

About the speaker

In November 2011, Gregor Robertson was elected to a second term as Mayor of Vancouver. He was re-elected to continue building upon the accomplishments of his first three years in office—working to end street homelessness, addressing housing affordability, improving public transit, and making Vancouver the greenest city in the world.

Mayor Robertson is also a national advocate for urban issues as Chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus, focusing on public infrastructure, housing and transit.

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