Next Vancouver speaker

Amanda Lewis (online)

More info

• CMVan | Biophilia | Zoom • part of a series on Biophilia

We are so thrilled to present next month’s exiting speaker Amanda Lewis. Join us online.


Amanda Lewis helps writers build their body of work. She is currently Editorial Director at Page Two, a publishing house in Vancouver that collaborates with individuals and organizations around the world to produce quality non-fiction and children’s books. Previously, she was Editor and Associate Managing Editor at the Knopf Random Canada Publishing Group at Penguin Random House Canada in Toronto for eight years. She has worked with authors including Naomi Klein, Gary Barwin, John Vaillant, Michael Bungay Stanier, and Kate Harris, and edited posthumous collections by Jane Jacobs and Carol Shields. Amanda is also co-founder and Literary Director of The Reading Line, a unique literary festival on two wheels. A writer herself, Amanda is currently working on her debut book, a memoir about searching for the largest trees in British Columbia. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Amanda now lives in the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. You can learn more at


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

I believe that life is inherently creative, and our task is to maintain flow and openness. I work in a creative field—publishing—so I am constantly coming up with fresh ideas and innovative systems, in tandem with our team at Page Two and our authors. Lately I’ve been focusing my creative energies on simplifying my life and work. Early in the pandemic, I listened to a talk by writer Elizabeth Gilbert, who said she sometimes asks herself, “How would this look if it were easier?” That creative problem-solving usually presents a cleaner narrative and less stress overall.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?

In routine. I find that my best ideas come when my day is organized, and my mind is free to wander between the tasks and appointments.

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

To coin a phrase: Just do it. The creative energy that inspires you is often the energy that will help you finish a task, regardless of whether you identify as a “starter” or a “finisher.” There’s a principle in coaching that the first problem that’s identified is often not the real problem, but when it comes to creative thinking, I believe “First thought, best thought.” Don’t overthink it, just get it done.

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

The late Oliver Sacks is my go-to inspiration for balancing personal creative work alongside a day job—in his case, as a busy neurologist who was devoted to his patients. I admire him for his work ethic as much as his commitment to personal pursuits (like studying ferns) and physical fitness (he swam every day, frequently in the ocean). He was a true eccentric, in the best possible sense, and I think we’d be treated to a wide-ranging, illuminating conversation and a Q&A delivered with kindness and curiosity.

What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?

That it was worth trying. And even if I don’t use the material in that form, I can repurpose the idea or material elsewhere. I learn and figure out what I’m trying to say through doing it, especially when it comes to writing. Some people outline first, but I draft and then organize the material. As Joan Didion said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

What’s your one guilty creative indulgence?

No such thing. I don’t apply guilt to something that gives me pleasure.

What are you reading these days?

A stack of library books, by authors including Samantha Irby, Jonathan Safran Foer, Richard Feynman, Sheri Fink, Jerry Saltz, Roger Deakin…I always read a bunch of books at once. Plus the books I’m currently editing, which are mostly business and self-help.

What fact about you would surprise people?

I have a near-complete collection of my orthodontic appliances and dental models.

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?

I help writers figure out what they’re saying, and then help them say it in the clearest and most engaging way possible.

What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?

How to use a rotary sander. Not complicated. 

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

My recurring dream is opening doors to empty rooms. I always wake up feeling spacious and free. I hope I always have that dream.

What myths about creativity would you like to set straight? 

That only certain people are creative, that it’s innate, and that you need to go to art school or get an MFA to be creative. Bullshit.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?

Anne Collins, publisher at Penguin Random House Canada. She taught me to work hard and dig deeper and demand more of authors, while also being kind and sending them a gift when they need a boost, oftentimes a bottle of booze.

What are you proudest of in your life?

Rising to the rank of Editorial Director and working in publishing for 12 years, when it’s notoriously hard to land and keep an editing job.

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

My paternal grandmother. I’d ask for her secrets in maintaining a home and stretching a budget. I adore homemaking. 

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

Deliver my Creative Mornings talk early so I don’t obsess over it.

Where was the last place you travelled?

Since we’re in a pandemic, not very far! I was fortunate to go to Japan in December 2019 to hike the Kumano Kodo, a UNESCO world heritage site. I can’t wait to return to Japan to complete more pilgrimage routes. These days, I stay close to home in East Vancouver, or visit my family on Vancouver Island and Gabriola Island. I feel most comfortable when near the ocean; inland, I go a little squirrely.

What music are you listening to these days?

Let’s see, my 10 most recent downloads are:

  1. Jeff Russo, Fargo series soundtrack (I love the drums in “Wrench and Numbers”)
  2. A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Forest Bathing (their most recent album, one of my fave bands) 
  3. Idris Muhammad, Power of Soul (the Beastie Boys sample his song “Loran’s Dance”)
  4. Simon and Garfukenl, Essentials (what can I say? Classic, perfect for moody PNW fall)
  5. Van Morrison, Essentials (high kicks and bell bottoms, baby!)
  6. Lenny Kravitz, “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” (Let’s! Clean! The! House!)
  7. Midlife, Automatic (my friend Kate recommended this album and I’ve been meaning to listen to it when I exercise…next time I exercise)
  8. Easy Star All-Stars, Dub Side of the Moon (they do excellent reggae/ska/dub covers of classic albums; I adore their covers of Radiohead songs)
  9. Toots and the Maytals, Essentials (RIP Toots!)
  10. Gordon Hempton, “The Ocean Is a Drum” (sound tracker Hempton recorded the sound of waves rolling in off the Pacific, using a mic in a naturally hollowed Sitka spruce log on the shore, which has excellent resonance) 

Where is your favourite place to escape?

In my mind, to a favourite rock on Hornby Island, BC.

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

Meditation, keeping a schedule outside my work hours, Pomodoros (20-minute work bursts), exercise commitments/challenges, long walks, coffee and dark chocolate every morning, starting work early in the morning and not getting dressed until I have to.

When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?

Take a walk and then give myself 20 minutes to work on a task, just riffing on paper. Or chat with friends about the blocks. Creative blocks are building blocks.

If you had fifteen extra minutes each day, what would you do with them?


What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?

If we start from a grounded place and take deeper breaths, we’ll go further.

What object would you put in a time capsule that best represents who you are today?

Dark chocolate wouldn’t survive the time capsule, so I’d say my yellow kettle, since I use it several times a day for coffee and tea.

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

Two films: Beautiful Losers and Cameraperson.


CMVan is looking for a our next presenting partner to support our Dec event.

Email if you or your organization wants to help us with our mission to build connections and capacity of Vancouver’s creative community! (at Vancouver - Unceeded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territory)

We are so exited to bring to the virtual stage David Whyte as our next speaker. Join us.

David Whyte is a poet, author, speaker and organizational thinker.

Poet David Whyte grew up with a strong, imaginative influence from his Irish mother among the hills and valleys of his father’s Yorkshire. He now makes his home in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

The author of nine books of poetry and four books of prose, David Whyte holds a degree in Marine Zoology, honorary degrees from Neumann College and Royal Roads University, and has traveled extensively, including living and working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands and leading anthropological and natural history expeditions in the Andes, Amazon and Himalaya. He brings this wealth of experience to his poetry, lectures and workshops.

His life as a poet has created a readership and listenership in three normally mutually exclusive areas: the literate world of readings that most poets inhabit, the psychological and theological worlds of philosophical enquiry and the world of vocation, work and organizational leadership.

An Associate Fellow at Said Business School at the University of Oxford, he is one of the few poets to take his perspectives on creativity into the field of organizational development, where he works with many European, American and international companies.

In organizational settings, using poetry and thoughtful commentary, he illustrates how we can foster qualities of courage and engagement; qualities needed if we are to respond to today’s call for increased creativity and adaptability in the workplace. He brings a unique and important contribution to our understanding of the nature of individual and organizational change, particularly through his unique perspectives on Conversational Leadership.

Join us for our speaker next month as we welcome Shauna Sylvester to our virtual stage.

Shauna Sylvester - Social entrepreneur, facilitator, commentator, and educator

Service to community, to friends and family has always been at the core of Shauna Sylvester’s life. Her resume reads like a great novel, filled with intrigue from overseas stints in conflict zones to the Vancouver “girl next door” who sidestepped becoming a nun to found several non-profits and eventually run for mayor.

Those who know her well will tell you that you can’t describe Shauna in conventional terms. While she is a Professor of Professional Practice and the Executive Director of Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, she isn’t an academic. She rejects the ivory tower and works to bring the university into community and the community into the university.

Shauna started out in high school as a peace activist, worked overseas in Bolivia, Ecuador and Indonesia and then shifted her focus in her late twenties to create the kind of work she thought was needed in the world. She then went on to launch and lead five initiatives (IMPACS - the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society, Canada’s World, Carbon Talks, Renewable Cities, and the SFU Public Square) while raising kids and caring for elderly parents. She has also served on corporate and non-profit boards along the way - from Vancity, Vancity Capital Corp., Mountain Equipment Cooperative, to the Voluntary Sector Initiative and Tamarack Institute.

Shauna’s feels most at home when she is convening difficult conversations. She is an award-winning facilitator who has designed and hosted hundreds of dialogues related to transportation, housing, land-use planning, democracy, climate change and human rights. She has a passion for cities, a hard-wire commitment to justice and a capacity to create abundance where others see scarcity.

We are thrilled to introduce Wade Davis as our next speaker in September. Join us!

Wade Davis - Explorer, Anthropologist, Author,
Photographer, and Professor

Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, Wade Davis is currently Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Author of 22 books, including One River, The Wayfinders and Into the Silence, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

In 2018 he became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia. His latest book, Magdalena: River of Dreams, published by Knopf Canada in September, is available to pre-order online now from the Indigo or Amazon websites or from your favourite local bookstore. Copies will be in stores and the audiobook, featuring Wade reading, will both be available on September 15th.


How do you define creativity and apply it in your life and career?
Creativity is the consequence of action, not its motivation

Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?
Mambeando and sitting at my desk

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

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

Where was the last place you travelled?

What books made a difference in your life and why?
The work of Gary Snyder, Lawrence Durrell, Eduardo Galeano

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?
I’m a storyteller

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?
Learning what words can do

What are you proudest of in your life?
Being a good father

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

Hello creative people!

What fun we had on Friday listening to gorgeous live music performed by Cassidy Waring, followed by a vulnerable and engaging talk and conversation with David Vertesi. Thanks again to our friends at MGA | Michael Green Architecture for making the event possible. If you missed the event, we’ll be posting the video here in a few days.

As always, we invited members of the CMVan community to share some upcoming events that we thought you would appreciate knowing about:


Self-guided cycling and walking routes of Vancouver’s best public art with new route and prizes every week!.

Info and registration at


The talented singer songwriter Desirée Dawson is among a select group of Vancouverites performing as part of the Mainland Concert Series on Side Door.

Info and tickets at

PREWORK PLAYSHOPS (Aug 10, 17, 23, 31)

Join master facilitator Sue Biely and a small group to kick off our Mondays in August with 30 minutes of creative play before we pretend to ‘adult’ for the rest of the week. By donation with proceeds supporting Story Money Impact.

Info and tickets at


SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs is a proud partner in focus of the A Weed By Any Other Name Spotlight, including the Opening Gala film Pier Kids!

Info and tickets at 


Learn about VMF’s curation process with Lead Curator Drew Young, Graffiti Curator Scott Sueme and 2020 Guest Curators, Krystal Paraboo and Sierra Tasi Baker. Proudly co-produced by CMVan.

Info and tickets at


No agenda. No speakers. No uncomfortable networking. Just coffee and conversation with a bunch of really nice people. Join us and see for yourself.

Information at


SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs is proud to partner with VLAFF on their upcoming festival that encourages dialogue among cultures, and explores and celebrates the art of contemporary Latin American and Latin-Canadian filmmaking.

Info and tickets at


In September, CMVan is honoured to host world renowned explorer, anthropologist, author, photographer, and professor Wade Davis who will share his personal reflections about creativity through the lens of the theme ‘spectrum’.

Info and registration at


Join poet educator Christine Bissonnette for an 8 week poetry writing workshop series designed for teens aged 16–18.

Info and registration at


A free one-day consulting session to help Vancouver brands get back to business. Applications open for volunteer industry professionals!

Info and application at

Hoping to see you at these fun events or at a future CMVan talk!

Your friends, the CreativeMornings/Vancouver Team