Stella Leventoyannis Harvey


Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success. —Henry Ford

I’m not competitive by nature. I don’t believe success comes because someone else fails. Pursuits where there are winners and losers are not for me. As a kid I wasn’t enamoured with competitive sports. I used to think this was because I was naturally awkward and clumsy, more a bookworm than a track and field star. While the later is true, I think I simply excluded myself from those activities because I didn’t like the fact that someone had to lose. Maybe I thought it would be me on the losing end, and I wanted no part of that feeling. I really don’t know.

I do know that even now when I watch sports, I find it hard to accept that only one team can win. I empathize for the defeated. I know what you’re thinking: what a wimp.

Don’t get me wrong. I am still focused, diligent, goal oriented and obsessive about everything I take on. No wallflower here. Ask anyone who has worked with me. Driven, I believe is how I’ve been described.

Fair enough. I think that’s an accurate portrayal of who I am. I don’t think you can succeed without drive.

But, I also believe in abundance. I believe there will always be enough for everyone. Enough success, enough applause. Enough.

This belief coupled with the fact that I’m a social being has drawn me to work with others. I like people. I say, and more importantly, live this. Who wants to pursue a goal or a dream by yourself when you can do it standing shoulder to shoulder with another person? For me, every success feels better shared.

To this end, I’ve been fortunate to be part of a team of volunteers who have organized a writers festival in Whistler since 2001 and a writer in residence program since 2007. In case you missed it, we all do this as volunteers. Think about what this means in terms of the hours we have all spent over the last thirteen years to put on one weekend of literary events, never mind all the other events we have organized throughout the years. We don’t punch a clock and we stopped counting our hours long ago.

Why do we do it? You’ll have to ask the other volunteers for their response. I can tell you, for me, I do it because of the shared vision of what we can make happen and I get a great deal of pleasure from toiling alongside others. I’m also as stubborn as they come. So there is no way I could allow financial and other adversity to get in the way of keeping an exceptional program going. 

And I believe this feeling is infectious. More volunteers join us each year, more professional writers clamour to be included in our program and more participants come to experience what a small group of literary enthusiasts came together to create in Whistler so long ago.

Our efforts have not only enriched our community, but it’s made us, as individuals better. We have learned from each other, grown together and thirteen years on, we’re still happily plugging away at our passion.

Interlocked Arms

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