On Wednesday Feb 19th, another group of illuminating minds gathered to share their life stories at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre. The evening began innocently with a sweet story about Rosemary Conder who works with the BC SPCA, who is very passionate about animals. She has spent extended periods of time in Thailand to nurse and take care of rescue elephants. She shares the heart breaking statistics about animal abuse in exotic tourism. She described how these abuses happen at circuses around the world, and how young elephants are beaten as apart of their training. They are beaten so they can be tourists riding elephants or circus elephants, Once released they are shown to be extremely happy when they get to roam free in their sanctuary. Rosemary encourages the crowd to stay away from those tourist attractions in order to protect new generation of elephants going into slavery and abuse.
Dr. Kishor M Wasan, a very entertaining and funny professor from UBC who has dedicated his whole life to finding cures for neglected global diseases. He told us his story of how he fell in love with medicine, his big discovery, and desire to become a multimillionaire with his drug invention. Then after a chance meeting with a student, who informed him about obscure global diseases that claim countless lives in third world countries. He decided to let go of fortune in the pursuit of research. It’s so wonderful to witness his pure intentions, heart and compassion, and his selfless choices for the benefit of all.
Website: www.ngdi.ubc.ca and www.wasanlab.com
The renowned architect Bruno Freschi, who designed Science World, UBC Anthropology Museum, and many other iconic buildings that makes up the landscape that is Vancouver gave a speech about his personal manifesto. He talked about being a young boy growing up in Nelson, BC, thinking it’s the centre of the universe and having to spend a summer in bed due to a broken leg. This led to him to lots of reading and self reflection. Out of the many axioms he has collected and lives by, one really stuck out, “the higher you climb, the more bum you show” which got a huge laugh from the audience. A powerpoint presentation of his life’s work was being displayed as Bruno is speaking. It’s truly astounding the breadth of his work, spanning from residential, industrial, shopping malls and governmental architecture, many well known.
The illustrious Bruno Fresco was followed by the upbeat and optimistic Bal Arneson. A food network celebrity cook who lives in Coquitlam with her daughter. She told her personal story of growing up in a very poor, patriarchal family. She was sent to Canada for an arranged marriage at age 16, with a stern warning from her mother. She was not to come back to India unless she’s in a coffin. She eventually divorced and started her independent life with her daughter at age 20. Starting with her studies at VCC, and eventually graduating with a Masters from UBC. Step by step she pursued her passion with home Indian cooking, resulting in a cook book Later she started appearing on local TV, to eventually being invited to becoming a cook show host on the Food Network. She must have said “Whatever” 50 times in the 10 minute presentation. This was demonstrated when her PPT’s last slide didn’t show up, the whatever attitude will save your butt each and every time. She got a roaring standing ovation from the audience, and people just fell in love with this gutsy, talkative woman who’s fearless about what she loves. I can’t wait to see more of her!
Twitter: @balarneson Website: www.spicegoddess.com
After a saucy presentation from Bal, we see a well dressed ginger haired man step up to stage in the latest skinny tie. His name is Steve Rio, who began to reveal the big secret he harboured when he was 19. He started a band and blew through $10,000 within 6 weeks on 3 credit cards. For years, he lived with the tremendous guilt and didn’t deal with his debt, until when he was 26. Then, he was inspired to go on a bicycle trip from Vancouver to Mexico. With the help of internet, he stayed with people all along the coast to his final destination. He met all sorts of people along his journey, some just over a beer, some over a nights stay. He had plenty of time to clear his head and had the biggest epiphany in his life. Steve realized that everything is energy, the kindness and hospitality he received from all those strangers is an energy transfer, and so is money. He came back with a different perspective about his debt, he began telling family and friends about his experience and calling his debt his tuition. Incredibly, he got 10 times the work within a month of his return, and paid off his debt within six months. Steve says money is so connected to every fiber of our daily life, we must face money correctly and courageously. It is essential to have a positive attitude towards life and money which I found quite useful and inspirational.
Twitter: @steverio Website:www.briteweb.com
Next, we watched an intricate dance between Eric Beauchesne and Cindy Salgado. Cindy wore faceless mask as Crystal Pite, narrated the dance that is illustrating Shakespear’s Tempest. It was stimulating and emotional.
Twitter: @kiddpivot Website: www.kiddpivot.org
The next speaker was Shengtian Zheng, an artist and founder of www.yishu-online.com Yi Shu Magazine which chronicles the work of Chinese artists around the world. Shengtian showed us calligraphy on wax mater and oil, and how the temperal nature of the result was the feeling he wanted to express, in his most recent exhibitions.
Twitter: @yishujournal Website: www.yishu-online.com
The last speaker of the evening was a man in his early 40’s who could easily be mistaken for a 30 year old for his charismatic energy. Charles Montgomery is an award winning author for the book “Happy City” and seasoned journalist. His passion stems from studying the effect of physical structure on social well being of citizens especially in cities. When he ran the BMW Guggenheim Lab in New York, they experimented and proven that getting strangers to hug does indeed make people happier. He shares tales of how various cities have increased green space and parks. Also of the recent installation of “car free days” which all lead to an increase of overall wellbeing. He says as citizens, we have a right to claim our cities, as it’s a dynamic organism that is evolving. So we must claim our streets, and understand the interplay that happens between our physical space and our personal happiness.
Twitter: @thehappycity Website: www.thehappycity.com
Twitter: @GlobalCivic @Publicsalon
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf1r6NC_C2CLud5YIJe6SdQ (where you can watch past presentations)