Last month was the 6th edition of Interesting Vancouver. Also the first one I’ve attended in person rather than in spirit and video for a while. It was brilliant and more than worth the journey home.
When I started Interesting Vancouver one aspect was a little different than other editions in London, NY, Portland and others. Vancouver had a hidden agenda beyond a fun bit of learning and thinking – that agenda being to give the city a little genuine confidence into what it is through who Vancouverites are and what they do.
It is too easy and a bit lazy to define a place by what it isn’t, the typical Vancouver approach. It is braver and healthier in the long term to actually define what it is. Often people like to say Vancouver is too young to really know what it’s all about. What rubbish. The culture of a city is what people do each and every day, for real, individually, most too busy doing what they do to see it as anything bigger than themselves.
As a fourth generation Vancouverite I can assure you without any doubt Vancouver has a very clear and firm culture – just one that it isn’t confident enough to state and too often relies on “me too” statements of comparison or meaningless terminology like “world class”.
I like to think each year Interesting Vancouver is, after removing many layers of veneer, tourism sloganeering and pedantic cliches, an authentic statement and definition of the city’s culture at that moment. The current venue of the Museum of Vancouver is brilliantly ideal in this regard.
Although there isn’t a theme or focus to each year, one organically emerges. In my interpretation there was a theme of independence that emerged through all the talks this year. Independence meaning identifying for one’s own self who they are and what makes them distinctive through what they do. Independence in opinion and confidence in making a life for an independent point of view that might not fly somewhere else. At least that’s what it was to me.
This year also marked an evolution in the organisation and structure of the event to protect what IV is and does so that it can endure. I joined forces with Mark Busse in a formal partnership to perpetuate all the good stuff Interesting Vancouver is as a night while developing other areas and formats to extend the mission of Interesting Vancouver. We both think Interesting Vancouver can be a helpful and generous force for Vancouver in the decades to come.
In the coming years Mark will be leading the charge on the annual event while I focus on IV’s long term mission and projects. The ambition isn't to grow, increase frequency or become a stadium tour, rather express itself in different ways in carefully chosen contexts for IV that extend from what the annual night is.
We have some awesome volunteers who seem to have loads of fun, which is the point as nobody needs another job or yet another place to promote themselves. More co-conspirators are always welcome and I look forward to working with them all again next year. It will be even more fun, more relaxed and I won’t even wear tweed, promise.
Illustration: Krisit Wakelin
Photos: Trevor Jansen