Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

From caring comes courage.” Lao Tzu

I spent the month of September with my father in his home, the home I grew up in. His lawn was a green we rarely see in Calgary in the autumn. After a hot summer everything is usually parched. But this year it hadn’t been hot.

I felt compelled to keep it green and tidy so when the leaves began to tumble, I was out, every day, sometimes several times a day, raking, and picking up. I cursed each windstorm. At some point, I wondered why. Okay, I know I’m obsessive about a lot of things, but this seemed ridiculous even for me. Yes, it’s my parents’ garden and they loved it. They were the ones who taught me to care, taught me to be brave. My obsessive behaviour is simply a by-product and I am so much luckier for it.

When the day closes today so will the 18th annual Whistler Writers Festival. The effort to put on such an event is enormous. But I’ve come to realize that anything is possible with courage and when you’re surrounded with so many people of like mind who are prepared to role up their sleeves and help in any way they can. This is what caring is about.

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 this community.

But steadily this thing we created has grown and taken shape. Fans of the literary arts bought and continue to buy tickets, others provide the necessary financial support and still others, the unsung heroes of all of this, continue to put up with me, coming up with ideas and initiatives I wouldn’t have begun to imagine. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you. So here’s to those behind the scene folks: Rebecca Wood Barrett, our absolutely fabulous festival manager, Claire Piech, our PR person whiz kid, Ruth Burrows, our awesome collateral and website builder, Mary McDonald and Ali Vail, our social media wing people, Libby McKeever, our book review wrangler, Mieke Prummel, our volunteer coordinator, and Laura Walker, our administrative powerhouse. Thank you so much for all your hard work. We did it! 

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 7 years. Schools from Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, and Mount Currie are given class sets of our featured authors’ books. The students read the books and the authors give presentations to inspire students to write and tell their own stories. I am grateful for the funding support of The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, The Province of British Columbia, the Rotary Club of Whistler Millennial, the Community Foundation of Whistler, Libby McKeever and our own Whistler Writing Society.

To our ever increasing and much appreciated volunteers, thank you. They include: Yulia Aleynikova, Gail Banning, Nicola Bentley, Marianne Binion, Deborah Bordignon, Myrna Bush, Rosemary Cook, John Corrigan, Anne Crowley, Lily Diamond, Katherine Fawcett, Elyse Feaver, Meredith Gardner, Lisa Hartley, Kate Heskett, Christine Jennings, Linda Jones, Susan Knoll, Jinny Ladner, Sara Leach, Mary MacDonald, Suzanne Malone, Libby McKeever, Karen McLeod, Sue Oakey Baker, Lumi Okuda, Mieke Prummel, Jane Reid, Isla Robertson, Donna Savage, Frank Savage, Tim Smith, Sidney Hamilton Sponer, Cristiana Spooner, Dawn Titus, Alli Vail, Deborah Wade, Valerie Whiffen, Samantha Wilson, Colin Wood, Maggie Wood and Rebecca Wood Barrett.

I’d also like to thank all of our guest authors who continued to blog about their experience with this year’s festival theme: discourse and who performed and spoke about their work so generously and eloquently. Our audiences keep coming back every year because of the authors, their incredible performances and their wonderful, wonderful books. And I don’t want to forget the musicians who provided such a wonderful contrasting backdrop to all our reading events. Thanks so much. 

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 American Friends of Whistler, Access Copyright, The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, The Community Foundation of Whistler, Alberta Foundation of the Arts, Anne Townley, Armchair Books, Audain Art Museum, BDO, Blackcomb Liquor Store, Burnt Stew, Canadian Authors Association, Elements Film Festival, Goodwin Studios, Healthy Hooch Kombucha, Libby McKeever, Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Island Blue Bookprinting, Joern Rohde, Marquis, Nesters Grocery, Pasta Lupino, Penguin Random House Canada, PSAV, Purebread, RGF Integrated Wealth Management, Real Estate Association of Whistler, RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate, Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium, Slopeside Spa Supply, Stonebridge at Whistler, The Self Publishing Agency, The Grocery Store, Tourism Whistler, Vision Pacific, Vivalogue, Whistler Creative, Whistler Metal Works, Whistler Public Library.

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. We strive to do our very best for you. In fact, you are the reason we do what we do. Thank you.

Even when my head spins with all the work that it takes to put on this festival, I realise I’m not alone in this dream. Your care and commitment to what we do buoys me again and again.

And now we begin planning for 2020. I can’t believe I just typed those words. But we have 365 glorious days. It seems like a luxury to have so much time ahead of us, but the festival will be back in no time. Mark your calendars, October 15-18, 2020. 

Thanks again for all the support. I appreciate it.

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