This Friday is CreativeMornings/Vancouver, a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types at Gastown’s W2 Media Cafe. I’ve gone a few times in the past and I’ll be going again this Friday. The speaker this month is Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
I wasn’t originally planning to write a blog post about this, but then I remembered that I know a lot of people in Vancouver’s creative community who have never been before, who I think would greatly benefit from attending.
While it’s been a few months since I last attended a CreativeMornings/Vancouver, I wanted to write a quick and dirty outline to give you a sense of what actually goes on.
First, CreativeMornings/Vancouver happens on the first Friday of every month. It’s super popular and tickets sell out almost immediately, so you have to act fast if you want to attend. Fortunately, it’s completely free to attend, but they only release tickets on the Monday before the event, so you have to plan accordingly to secure your free ticket.
Want to attend? Great! Watch their Eventbrite page and it’ll instruct you on how to RSVP. Hope that you’re quick enough (or lucky enough if they’re using the ticket lottery system) to get a ticket. With your reserved ticket, you simply show up to the W2 Media Cafe (a short walk from the Stadium Skytrain Station) at 8am on Friday morning all groggy and blurry-eyed, and Bob’s your uncle!
When you first arrive, you line-up with all the other attendees inside the Woodwards building outside the doors of the W2 Media Cafe. It’s obvious. Go to the table and fill out a name tag and answer the ice-breaker question next to your name. Then, linger around and say hi to your Twitter pals and other familiar faces. Introduce yourself to strangers. Be sure to smile at the volunteer photographers taking pictures of you and don’t do what I did, arriving looking like I rolled out of bed, my hair still wet from the shower because those will be the photos they tag on Facebook.
Now here’s a nice perk for getting up so early and committing to attending: free breakfast. That’s right! Every month a local company sponsors CreativeMornings/Vancouver, and part of that sponsorship entails that every attendee gets a free breakfast made fresh that morning at the cafe. Breakfast items in the past have included veggie or meat egg dishes, an assortment of delicious muffins and baked goods, oatmeal with toppings, and coffee. (Bring your own coffee mug!) The food is great and the volunteers coordinating this are fantastic!
With one arm holding your plate of breakfast and the other arm balancing your cup of coffee, you carefully maneuver down the flight of stairs into what feels like a cement bunker, but you turn the corner and realize that here in the basement of the cafe is a mini lecture hall all set up with a professional lighting system, a sound system, a podium, photographers and aisles of seats. Find a seat – any will do – and introduce yourself to the people around you. Eat your breakfast while it’s still convenient to do so.
Eventually the organizer of CreativeMornings/Vancouver, Mark Busse, comes up on stage to introduce the event (we’re here to connect and create an inclusive creative community in Vancouver, people!), the sponsor (who supplied the breakfast and supports creativity in Vancouver), the volunteers (who work crazy hard, with whom this just couldn’t happen), and the star of the show, the guest speaker.
The guest speaker can be anyone in Vancouver’s creative community. In the past I’ve listened to singer Bif Naked, artist/designer/filmmaker Sergio Toporek, and writer/communications strategist/facilitator Amanda Gibbs. Other speakers have included celebrity restaurateur Vikram Vij, and Vancouver Is Awesome founder Bob Kronbauer. Also, if you have an idea for a future guest speaker, you can nominate somebody. You can even recommend a sponsor.
The speaker then goes on stage with or without visuals and tells their story. These presentations can be inspirational. Others can make you think or challenge your perceptions. The one thing they don’t do is self-promote, which is refreshing. The presentations last about 20 minutes so it never feels too long. Then, Mark comes back on stage and insists that everyone introduce ourselves to the people we’re sitting next to. It’s also at this time that we’re encouraged to brainstorm thought-provoking questions to ask the speaker for the Q&A period.
After a short brainstorm with our neighbours, we reunite as a whole and audience members volunteer to ask their question to the speaker. It turns into a Q&A period until 10am, in which the speaker and Mark bid us adieu, we all say goodbye, and you either linger around to chat with anyone else who sticks around, or you head off to work, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, with a little bit more fire in your creative soul than you had when you first walked in.