If there was ever a time for outside-the-box thinking, it must be now — this era of isolation, uncertainty and feeling distinctly boxed in.
The annual community forum VANtalks has featured local creative thinkers, innovators and storytellers on one night in May for the past four years at downtown Vancouver’s Kiggins Theater. But this time around, VANtalks creators have been forced to rethink their approach to the event.
“We’re stuck in the reality of the present moment and we’re pivoting,” said organizer Kevin Hiebert. He contemplated postponing the annual spring event until fall, then settled on going ahead with a virtual event in early June that’s still as timely as possible — focusing sharply on the coronavirus pandemic and how local folks are dealing with it.
“We’ll be hearing some great stories of hope and resilience. Big and small stories, people taking actions to respond and take care of one another,” he said. “And also acknowledging that there are some folks going through really hard times, going through despair.”
Because that’s reality now, stories of despair will be part of the event too, he said.
“We would also like to hear about stories of front-line health workers or those holding the pain of this time in a unique way,” the VANtalks website says.
After pivoting and postponing, Hiebert has set the fifth annual VANtalks event for 7 p.m. June 11. The deadline to apply to be a speaker, by uploading a video version of your talk to the VANtalks website, is the end of day May 23.
The event will be held via a Zoom video conference June 11, Hiebert said. Details are still being worked out, so visit the VANtalks website for updates, links and suggested donations. Tickets to attend last year’s VANtalks were $18, Hiebert said, but this year VANtalks will take donations to pass on to a community cause that’s COVID-related. People who participate in the event will be able to weigh in on where the money goes, he said.
Hiebert said he’s hoping the event can spread insight and create compassion between people with different politics or who are coping with different pandemic problems.
“I hope we can provide some ability to understand the plights of different people and different groups at different economic levels,” he said.