Looking to build your brain - four cerebral Vancouver events

Each year many people sit down at their desks or in their living rooms with pen to paper, laptop under fingertips or maybe chalk to board to resolve to be….smarter, fitter, healthier, a better person. The list goes on.

This year I’m resolving to focus on eating more local food (more on that later) and learning more. If, like me, you’re looking to build your grey matter but don’t want to sign up for a course or the pay tuition then you’re in the right city. Vancouver’s morning and night life offer plenty of events meant to nurture both your social and cerebral life. After all we are home to the upcoming, sold out Ted2014 Conference.


Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver - Born in Tokyo in 2003 as a way for designers to share their ideas, Pecha Kucha is sort of like speed-dating for your brain. Each presenter shares 20 slides at no more than 20 seconds each. At the end of their six minute and forty second presentation, the next presenter is up. Wildly popular, Pecha Kucha is held in 547 cities worldwide and hosted by local advertising and social engagement darlingsCause + Affect. The next Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver takes place January 30 at the Vogue Theatre. Vibe: hip, casual, beer-consumption encouraged. Cost: $15

Creative Mornings - Similar to Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver, Creative Mornings are the brainchild of folks from elsewhere., namely Tina Roth Eisenberg of New York City. Creative mornings are meant to celebrate a city’s particular creative talent and flavour and usually includes coffee and breakfast snacks. Creative mornings start at 8:30 a.m. include a 15-20 minute lecture by guest speakers and then a 20 minute group discussion. The audience is generally off to work by 10:00 a.m., neurone firing. Past Creative Morning Vancouver speakers restauranteur Mark Brand, mixed media artist and photographer Rachael Ashe and all-round-creative guy Jeff Hamada. Vibe: caffeinated, interactive, bright lights. Cost: Free

Public Salons - Held three-four times per year, the public salons are an opportunity for Vanouverites to put on their public policy hat and learn about economic, policy and social issues. Started by former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan as intimate 10-person, over-dinner type discussions, Public Salons were converted to larger scale events in memory of Sullivan’s good friend and battler-of-wits Prof. Abraham Rogatnick. The next Public Salon is February 19th at the Vancouver Playhouse and features speakers like urbanist Charles Montgomery, elephant caregiver Rosemary Conder and modern Chinese art critic Shentian Zheng. Vibe: debate club light, business casual, issue-digging. Cost: $20

Vancouver Institute –  The Vancouver Institute began offering free public lectures in 1916 as a way to build bridges between Vancouver citizens and the University of British Columbia community. All speakers contribute their thoughts free of charge and and out-of-town guests are brought in with the help of donations.

More of a traditional academic lecture, the institute tackles a variety of arts, humanities and science topics. Lecturers at the weekly talk series this year include: Dr. Wade Davis on The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena and Nass or Mr. Bob Rennie on Why collect art? Who cares? The Vancouver Institute is a membership based organization and those wishing to support future lectures can pay smallish membership fees. Lectures are always free and usually held in Lecture Hall No. 2 in the Woodward Instructional Resources Centre. The next lecture series starts January 18. Vibe: enquiring minds want to know, multi-generational, academic. Cost: Free

Photo Credit: Flickr/Ned Tobin


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