Despite everything I was told in advance, I wasn’t expecting to be surprised in Vancouver.
The fourth of our five fellowship conferences was held in Vancouver, the city where I’ve lived and worked for more than a decade. The excitement about coming to Vancouver was palpable among many of my fellow cohort members, some of whom had never been to Vancouver. And despite travelling just 2 blocks from my apartment to the hotel, I learned that no matter how much you think you know about your own city, an Action Canada conference in your hometown will show you something new.
We spent a Friday afternoon in early November visiting Discovery Parks, a hub for technology companies. We visited HootSuite, one of the world’s leading social media companies. And we capped it off with dinner at Sai Woo, a new restaurant in Chinatown.
The opportunity to hear my city described by others made the conference just as new and interesting as if it was in a city I’d never visited. The way that start-up investors used different words than I would to describe Vancouver’s economic opportunities. Employees of HootSuite speaking about their company, contrasting with how local media describe them. Even the bus trip to Chinatown was a new experience, as the driver took different routes and turns than how I would navigate the city on foot. The result was seeing the same buildings, the same landscapes but from different angles.
The city’s ability to change, to evolve, and the excitement among people who are trying to build something locally – all of it was on display at that afternoon. I’ve lived here for 14 years, but it was a good reminder that while we often seek out new opportunities and ideas from afar, there are plenty of layers to peel back right at home.
-Kevin Quinlan, ’15
photo credit: Kyle Lawrence