It’s the Company
by Stella Harvey
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Seneca
Typically we take a breath, maybe two. That laidback laziness should last at least three months. It never does. Planning begins almost immediately. I can’t outrun my obsessive-compulsive nature. The planner in me can’t change her spots.
Half the line-up of authors and publishers for the 2020 Whistler Writer Festival was selected by March. Then the world stopped. Our work stopped. The pandemic took hold. All plans went out the window just as the Whistler Writers Festival was entering its 19th year.
As many of you know the festival began modestly with a dream to provide educational opportunities for writers and thought-provoking reading events for readers, right here in Whistler. We’ve had many challenges over the years, but we’ve stuck it out because our audiences have told us they value what we provide.
In early June, we decided (but I went into this new world kicking and screaming) to redesign the festival to meet the COVID-19 challenge. We pivoted (a word I barely used in the past) to a virtual (a word I definitely never used) festival. Most of the authors we had already invited agreed; we completed our programming and released the new program in August.
In less than one week we will deliver the 2020 festival in a brand new world to an audience who will enjoy the festival from their own living rooms.
It’s been a journey.
To say I’m nervous would be an understatement. But in my state of anxiety I remember something I saw from a children’s book. It plays in my mind.
“Which is more important,” Big Panda asked, “the journey or the destination?”
“The company,” Tiny Dragon responded.
So on this Canadian Thanksgiving Day weekend with one week to go before our 2020 festival, I’d like to give thanks to the wonderful company I keep: Rebecca Wood Barrett, our absolutely fabulous festival manager and jack of all trades who figured out how to pivot (there’s that word again) successfully to an on-line platform, Ruth Burrows, our amazing website builder, Kristy Aleksich, Ali Terkelsen, Tim Smith and Rajan Das, our technical support wizards, Mary McDonald, Ali Vail, and Laura Newton, our social media experts, and Libby McKeever, our book review wrangler. I know the program will run smoothly because of your efforts.
To Dee Raffo, Mary MacDonald, Nicola Bentley, Farha Guerrero, Nicole Fitzgerald, and Paul Shore, thank you for reading the books of some of our featured authors and writing awesome book reviews.
Rebecca Wood Barrett also took the lead with the Authors in the Schools program, with the help of Libby McKeever. This program would not have gotten off the ground without Rebecca’s lead, Libby’s support and the commitment of the teachers and principals in the corridor over the past 8 years. I am grateful for the funding support of The Province of British Columbia, the Rotary Club of Whistler Millennial, the Community Foundation of Whistler, Libby McKeever and our own Whistler Writing Society for delivering this program.
To our much-appreciated volunteers: Prajakta Kharkar Nigam, Julia Aleynikova, Meredith Gardner, Lynn Duncan, K. Jane Watt, Kilmeny Jane Denny, Kristy Aleksich, Ali Terkelsen, Sara Leach and Dave Harvey, thank you so much. You are the backbone of this little festival that could and did.
I’d also like to thank all our guest authors, publishers and musicians who continued to blog about their experience with this year’s festival theme: listen, write, read, and connect. I know our audiences will love your performances!
The Whistler Writing Society is a non-profit charitable organization. Our budget is completely allocated to covering the costs of the annual Whistler Writers Festival, the Writer in Residence Program, and other literary events throughout the year, including the Authors in the Schools program and the Spring Reading Series. We could not do what we do without the generous support and vision of a number of investors, sponsors and supporters including: The Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Province of British Columbia, The Writers Union of Canada, The Canada Council for the Arts, The BC Arts Council, Arts Whistler, The Community Foundation of Whistler, Armchair Books, SFU Creative Writing Studio, BDO, Poets.ca, Blackcomb Liquor Store, Canadian Authors Association, Libby McKeever, Marquis, Purebread, RGF Integrated Wealth Management, Real Estate Association of Whistler, RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate, Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium, Tourism Whistler, Vision Pacific, Vivalogue, Whistler Creative, The Art Side by Sea to Sky Welding,
Whistler Public Library, Goodwin Studios, Whistler Creative, The Pique Newsmagazine, Whistler Blackcomb EpicPromise and Joern Rohde.
Last but not least, I’d like to thank our audience. Each year you come back in increasing numbers, applaud our efforts and provide valuable feedback and support. It’ll be a little different this year, but please know we have done our very best for you. In fact, you are the reason we do what we do.
I am grateful to keep such esteemed company.
See you all October 15 to 18th for our virtual (oh that word) festival.