How a small number of people are celebrating the cultural landscape of our city, one breakfast at a time.

by Megan Sheldon

As seen in Vancouver Weekly, February 17th 2013

CreativeMornings Vancouver at W2 with Treana Peake / Photo Credit – Trevor Jansen

With the recent announcement that TED, the global cultural conference series, is moving to Vancouver, new eyes are upon us and it is more important than ever to come together and celebrate our creativity, innovation and community.

In 2012, Vancouver Foundation did a study in Metro Vancouver called Connections and Engagements. Shortly after, they came out with a report that states that “those in the 25-34 year-old age group feel more isolated and alone in the community.” That report upset a lot of people, including Mark Busse, founder of CreativeMornings/Vancouver.

“What bugs me about Vancouver is that everyone loves to talk about how awesome it is here, because of the natural landscape and the multiculturalism, yet those same people complain about how the city is betraying the arts and culture scene without any real idea what goes into it,” says Mark. “I’ve been one of those people, complaining and sitting around waiting, and then I realized I had to do something about it. I got involved and now I try and inspire others to do the same.”

Perhaps there is a feeling of isolation in our city of glass. With nicknames like “No Fun City” and “Raincouver”, who can blame us. But is it true? Are we a city without a cultural soul, or are we just too polite to take credit for the cultural energy brewing just beneath the surface?

“Most people don’t understand the complexity of the quilt that is our cultural landscape. If you break down who the citizens are that make up Metro Vancouver, it suddenly starts to make sense. There are a ton of factors that feed into our cultural scene,” reflects Mark Busse in a recent conversation I had with him.

In 2011, Mark Busse, Managing Director of Industrial Brand, was invited to speak at CreativeMornings/New York. CreativeMornings started in New York in 2009 and has since expanded to 44 independently, locally run chapters across the globe. Shortly after his presentation, Mark was invited to launched Canada’s first CreativeMornings chapter right here in Vancouver.

CreativeMornings/Vancouver (#CMVan) is a free monthly morning breakfast lecture series that does just what the Vancouver Foundation study identified as missing in Vancouver – it connects and engages people from diverse communities. Each month, a different creative professional shares insights, opinions, processes and ideas in relationship to creativity. They then encourage each of the 200 audience members to interact and start conversations that will hopefully continue long after they leave the event. Did I mention there is a free, hot breakfast for all to enjoy?

Every month, this coveted event sells out in a matter of minutes. Yet they are soon to be without a home. For the past year, CMVan has been operating out of Woodwards W2. They recently received notice that W2 will be closing at the end of the month, leaving Mark and his team to find a new location for one of Vancouver’s most celebrated cultural events.

“It is easy to moan about the closure of W2 and the Waldorf, but what we need to realize is that Vancouver will never be awesome until we change our attitude and start recognizing and celebrating what we do have,” expresses Mark.

In response to the Vancouver Foundation survey, Mark goes on to comment, “It’s dangerous to have reports like Connect/Engage out there. If that becomes the brand of Vancouver, we are in trouble. We have to find other ways to start conversations and inspire people to get involved. CreativeMornings is an opportunity for us to stop complaining and do something. Show up. That is what we are telling people. Get in the room and talk to the person next to you.”

CreativeMornings is a celebration of creativity – it attracts some of the most clever and creative people in Vancouver and celebrates their ideas.

“There are a lot of people who have a vested interest in seeing us succeed. We won’t fail, but we also have to hold onto what makes us unique. One issue Vancouver faces is a lack of cultural spaces, especially those that hold 200-300 people, which is what we need.”

The intimate setting of CMVan is something that sets this event apart, not to mention the free meal. Many people believe the intimacy CreativeMornings fosters comes from the simple act of sharing food as well as the strong encouragement to talk to one another.

CreativeMornings provides people with a quick and deep introduction into someone’s world, and hopes to inspire people to leave with new ideas around what creativity is and how it can be used to better the community. Mark’s objective now is to reach more and more people and encourage conversations about creativity and inspiration.

“We are the culture. If we want more arts and culture events we have to demand it, spend the money, and show up. We seem to expect others to do it for us, and that just isn’t working.”

Vancouver is slowly being recognized as a global hub for creativity and innovation. Now if only we could stand up and shout it from our own mountain tops, maybe, just maybe we could convince ourselves that there is creative energy flowing throughout our city, and there is plenty of fun to be had.