Fifteen Minutes With West Vancouver Mayor (And Design Buff) Pamela Goldsmith-Jones

June 9, 2011.

photo: Claudette Carracedo

The next Pecha Kucha Night will revolve around the theme of Modernist architecture on the West Coast. The good folks at Cause + Affect have gathered an impressive line-up of speakers from varying backgrounds to share their stories about how our immediate geography has separated us from our colleagues down South with globally influential work that continues to define us to this day.  One of those speakers will be West Vancouver’s Mayor, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (a very smart choice).

Born and raised in West Vancouver, Pam (her worship?) is intimately familiar with some of the most amazing examples of West Coast Modernist architecture in BC and has an affinity for the natural settings that have inspired the style.  She’s a very busy woman,  but we were lucky enough to catch up with her…

Three things about Lower Caulfield that make you want to live there: Close to the beach, it’s like living in a park, great neighbours.

Architectural style that you most identify with: Cottage – of any era, any style, any country.

Three words that describe the vibe of your current living space: Simple, light-filled, 1927.

Favourite example of West Coast Modernist architecture in your neighbourhood? Actually, it’s the neighbourhood itself – very natural, designed by the early 20th century visionary, Frances Caulfeild, who put the public realm first.

What do you think it is about the spirit of the West Coast that fuels such distinctive architecture: The overwhelming force and beauty of our natural setting and living simply and openly in that context.

A secret about West Vancouver in the summer: It’s really quiet.

What inspires you? New ideas and contradictory ideas that can co-exist.

Describe your favourite photograph: There’s a good one my mother took when I was 1, on the stone steps in our backyard. I am holding a doll upside-down on my lap and frowning. I didn’t like playing with dolls. Plus, my frown line did stay just like my mother said it would.

Default drink: Tea or white wine.

When you can’t sleep: That’s every day. I don’t really sleep.

One thing you’d like to change about West Vancouver: I’d like to see more of a fun, connected, social feel in Ambleside – for everyone.

One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: All people should have a place to sleep.

Favourite place to see live music: Guilt & Co in Gastown. You can dance, play a game, have a drink and scout local art. Plus, they don’t let me talk my way to the front of the line – good going!

Cheap place for dinner: Our deck with my husband’s catch of the day.

Book you’re reading: All the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner. Sort of a dated theme, and delicious language and attitude.

Last place travelled: Last week – Clearwater Beach, Florida, to speak at the Alliance for Innovation (in local government) Conference. US towns are really struggling with a failing economy.

Community event or festival that you look forward to every year: The civic party The District of West Vancouver hosts each fall to celebrate hundreds of volunteers. The energy is amazing.

Three features most critical to your ideal living space: books, candles, unbleached cotton.

Best bar stool in the city: Any day now it’ll be at a wine bar on the West Van waterfront. Or, failing that, anywhere when I am early and can read or write a letter.

Dumbest purchase ever: A red leather jacket I was talked into. I’m just not that cool.

The view from your favourite window: The ocean, and what the weather and the tides are doing.

Last art show that really blew you away: I love small spaces – Coupland’s studio and his new QR paintings….makes me want to make a quilt.

Talent you wish you possessed: Being able to sing well.

The trend you wish you never followed, but did: Stirrup pants.

Musical instrument you long to master: The piano.

Sport you gave up: Running.

Local person you admire most: Artist Gordon Smith.

Best concert experience ever: Mark Knopfler, Berkeley High, Berkeley, California. Wow.

Best place (within an hour of the city) to get in touch with your wild side: On our boat, anywhere in Howe Sound.

Animal you most identify with: I’m not cat crazy, but I love their independence or that they’ll curl up in your lap – two wonderful ways to be.

The dish you’re proud of: I guess I’ve been making the same Caesar salad for 35 years. My mother got the recipe from the chef at The Roof, Hotel Vancouver in the 70’s.

Thing you miss most about home when you’re on the road: The staggering beauty of Vancouver.

Two places you like to take out of town visitors in order to show off your city: For a picnic on a cliff or on the beach and to any one of several great restaurants or bars in Gastown these days.

The first three things you do every morning: Check my Blackberry, have a cup of coffee, read.

Favourite book as a child: Harold and The Purple Crayon.

Favourite line: “and he came up thinking fast.”

Album that first made you love music: It must be listening to Harry Belafonte with my little sister on our carry-around record player (listen).

What are you listening to as you answer these questions? David Gray. Full Steam Ahead which is a problem at our house – everyone else is sick of it (listen).

Pecha Kucha: West Coast Modernism |  Thur, June 23 | Doors 6pm Start 7pm | Vogue Theatre | $15 and selling like hotcakes!



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