Let's celebrate Whistler in 2014 

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As we end 2013 and look into 2014 it is worth pausing to think about this community that we call home.

Certainly there has been some serious whining in the last few weeks about the lack of snow, but we can put up with that, even laugh about it, when we put it into perspective — there will be lots of pow days in the future.

We have had losses that we have all felt, personally and as a community — lives taken too early in any number of natural and tragic accidents in the last year.

Each time the community has pulled together to help those left behind and to push for change where needed — the on-going meetings between Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and officials with the Ministry of Transportation and others following the fatal October logging truck incident in Whistler, and the fatal Highway 99 accident last month, speak to that.

But we are more than the sum of how we deal with tragedy and tough times — though Whistler really does understand at a cellular level that we are all better for helping each other.

Whistler boasts the most amazing cross-section of talented, creative, hard working, inspirational and eclectic people anywhere — I'll just wait for the email calling that blanket statement into question. Bring it on!

Looking for examples? OK, how about our favourite Whistlerite Mike Douglas? Bump into him on the street and he is the mild-mannered dad sharing an adventure with his kids. Or maybe you met him through the Chamber of Commerce's Spirit program?

In the real world of Whistler he is affectionately known as the "Godfather of freeskiing." He is credited with helping to create the first ever twin tip ski, which eventually became the Salomon 1080. Today you'll find him creating the massively popular web series Salomon Freeski TV with his company Switchback Entertainment.

Did you know an entire industry, not to mention new Olympic disciplines, have grown out of this creative way of sliding on snow? But the best thing about him is he will always take time to talk with Whistler's kids — the next generation of creative thinkers and problem-solvers.

There are any number of amazing local and world-famous athletes who call Whistler home — so many it's hard not to take them for granted. But we shouldn't. They bring a depth of character to our hometown that cannot be imitated. It makes us authentic. And there will be future generations more of them thanks to Whistler's official community plan, which clearly upholds the ideal of working to make the resort affordable for us to call home.

And no matter the grumblings in town about the Olympic legacy of the Whistler Sliding Centre and the ski jumps at the Callaghan we will see top-level athletes come out of having those facilities, I have not doubt. Already Reid Watts, 14, has been named to Canada's junior national luge team — the first male athlete from B.C. to ever be selected to the squad.

But it is not all about sports. Whistler now boasts an arts scene that is about to burst out of its bubble. We have visual, sculpture, mixed media, dance, song and so much more.

Recently The Vibe Dance Centre put on its annual winter show and the most overheard remark from those not familiar with Heather and Jeremy Thom's company was that the show was good enough to put on the stage in Vancouver.

It's true.

Heather has decades of experience. As competitive dance and studio instructor for Whistler's previous studio, Soul Funktion, the team won frequently. Before that she choreographed for stage shows, including Michael Jackson's 30th anniversary production as well as many others. And here she is settled in our community.

But wait, that is not all, no, that is not all.

What about the totally incredible people who are not only great community partners, but also challenge us to look outside our own little box? There are many in this category, as there are in those above — too many to list — but all of them deserve a nod.

Take, for example, Playground Builders and Bikes for Humanity — they really do make us all better. Playground Builders, which averages 20 playgrounds a year in the world's toughest regions was founded by Whistler resident Keith Reynolds in 2007, with some help from his friends. To date it has built 145 playgrounds (www.playgroundbuilders.org).

Truly, truly amazing.

Bikes for Humanity (www.b4h-whistler.org) was started by Whistlerites Pat and Brenda Montani, and now has 50 chapters world wide sending bikes we don't want anymore to places in the world, like Africa where they will make a difference. They are used to get goods to market, for nurses to get to countryside clinics — something that we are just discarding is changing lives.

Since 2005, over 60,000 bikes have been sent to Angola, Namibia, Uganda and South Africa.

I can't even imagine the good deeds done by our community that we know nothing about. I can't imagine the amazing experiences and life-lessons that members of our community have had. But I would love to know, because I would love to share them with others who live here, especially our children.

Let's pat ourselves on our collective back Whistler, as we head into 2014 and celebrate our amazing people and accomplishments.

Happy New Year.



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