My Canada, 28/150: Creative mornings and vessels for visions

Sometimes you need a creative kick to discover new creativity.

I’ve had several good punts from Creative Mornings, a monthly free event in Toronto where there’s coffee, treats and a guest who speaks to a theme.

There are 164 Creative Mornings chapters around the world, from Aarhus to Zurich. Vancouver’s chapter was the 9th to launch and Toronto followed shortly thereafter at No. 16. Canada also has chapters  in Ottawa, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, Trois Rivières, Calgary and, most recently, Lac Mégantic. Themes chosen for 2016 were Language, Ethics, Change, Risk Reality, Love, Broken, Weird, Magic, Transparency, Fantasy and Sound.

Without Creative Mornings, I might never have found spoken word poet Britta Badour, who goes by Britta B., who spoke to the theme “Broken.” Her bio describes her as an “artist, spoken word poet, public speaker, special events host, mentor and arts educator.” Born and raised in Kingston, she now lives in Regent Park in Toronto and her poems twist from funny to angry, from strong to vulnerable.

I learned about Nobu Adilman, Daveed Goldman and Choir! Choir! Choir! long before they recorded a video of their choral version of Space Oddity, shortly after David Bowie’s death. The video went viral and caught the attention of producers of the Bowie tribute at Carnegie Hall in New York, and the choir’s arrangement closed the evening. A June 2016 video from Toronto’s Luminato Festival, where Adilman and Goldman led 1,500 singers on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, has more than five million You Tube views. Thanks to Creative Mornings, I can say, I knew them when

How else might I have discovered the rainbow-haired stylist and designer Tiffany Pratt or the comedian/performer/dancer, Nicky Nesrallah, who has built a booming business offering “Beyography” classes – exercise / dance classes based on the choreography from Beyoncé videos. We’ve learned about ways creativity is being nurtured in some of Toronto’s disadvantaged neighbourhoods, from the Regent Park Music School to Food Share’s School Grown, a youth employment program focused on schoolyard farming.

The morning also includes time for networking and 30-second pitches to the crowd: whether you are looking to collaborate, to hire, or to launch a new project, you know that everyone you are talking to is capable of getting somewhere at 8:30 a.m.

Toronto’s Creative Mornings has the happy problem that more people want to attend their events than they can accommodate so entrance is now by lottery: you sign up and find out a few days before the event if you’re on the list. Volunteers run everything and expenses are covered by corporate donations – the crowd leans to young and hipster, often working as designers or in high tech industries.

Especially when you talk about dreaming
I am a vessel
for visions.

So writes Britta B, at the start of her recent poem, “Superpowers”. There are many “vessels for visions” among the creative thinkers and makers in Toronto and around the world. It’s great to have a chance to reach beyond the creators I’ve known and followed for years to learn about a new, diverse generation of visions, and dreams.

Photo: Chris Moorehead

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