|48 weeks ago I read a theory that going for 50 coffees with people you’ve never met is the entrepreneur’s equivalent to the theory that doing anything for 10,000 hours will make you an expert on it. While I get the idea, 50 coffees is far easier than practicing something for ten years, and while I’m far from lazy I decided to set out on a fairly simple mission: over 50 weeks I’m inviting 50 interesting Vancouverites, most of whom I have never met before, to go for coffee. I’m using this as an exercise in networking for myself and for V.I.A. while also using it as a platform to introduce you to some people who are doing really cool stuff in the city you live in.
Meet Margot Long. One of the founding principals of PWL Partnership Landscape Architects, a woman with over 20 years of experience and a lot of acronyms on her CV (BCSLA FCSLA ASLA), she was our recent guide on a walking tour that I co-hosted in my neighbourhood, The Village on False Creek. In the 5 months I’ve been living in the Village Margot is one of the people I feel the most privileged to have met as she’s not only shared a wealth of knowledge about the planning of the area and the natural spaces with me but she’s extremely passionate about the wellbeing of the plants, grasses, water, trees and even the rocks down here. And she very well should be; she’s responsible for almost everything living (as well as a bunch of rocks, bricks, steel, etc) that has been placed in this once-barren industrial zone turned healthy community.
The way I first connected with her was by way of Belinda Chan from her office at PWL. Belinda had reached out a few months back regarding a photo that I had taken of Habitat Island in The Village and if her team might use it internally to show how low the tide gets there. Her team are the folks who designed most of the public spaces and landscapes in the Olympic Village as well as the shoreline restoration, and Margot has been at the helm of the project since its inception many years ago. I told Belinda it was fine if she used my photo, and when she asked if I needed any “additional information on the project” I dove at the opportunity to invite someone down to walk me through Habitat Island, the wetlands and the rest so that I could really get the inside scoop for my weekly feature… and my own personal curiosity. Margot was the ultimate person to meet with as she led the team and I’m so glad she joined me for coffee.
After grabbing coffee from Terra Breads we spent a great deal of time (hours!) walking through the entire Village. She explained to me how and why Habitat Island was built, how the site had been reclaimed after being contaminated, she explained what a “bio swale” is and showed me the one that goes for 2 blocks along Ontario (who knew?), showed me how and why the parking spots are all made out of brick and… and… and the amount of information and insight she gave me was so intense that I figured instead of barfing it all out into my regular weekly In The Village feature I would organize a free walking tour for anyone to attend. The wisdom she holds about this neighbourhood which I love, which continues to win design awards to this day, translated perfectly into a walking tour for about 20 people a few weeks back. If you heard about it and were interested but couldn’t make it, don’t fret! I hope to invite her back to the Village for another one in the coming months.
Stay tuned for just a couple more 50 Coffees!