Doing the Whistler juggle — work, family and fun in the 21st Century 

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"The one who moves a mountain begins by carrying small stones."

- Confucius

I always laugh when people describe Whistlerites as "laid-back." I mean who's kidding whom here? Unless you have an independent source of income, there's nothing remotely laid-back about trying to get a toehold in this community. Whether it's the three jobs you juggled as a newcomer just so you could afford a season's pass and a new snowboard, or the financial contortions you now have to undertake just to keep your business solvent and your kids in university, well, making a go of it in this valley can defeat all but the most determined.

That's not to say it isn't a fun place to live. As we all know, the Whistler corridor is a pleasure palace for the outdoor-sports minded. And many locals are indeed masters of their environment — skiers, riders, runners, climbers, paddlers — who settled here to pursue their passions. But mastering such sports takes up inordinate amounts of time and energy too. I mean you don't get good at these activities by sitting around and talking about how good you are.

So laid-back? I don't think so. Outgoing. Energetic. Spirited. Robust. Enthusiastic. For sure. But placid? Passive? Uh-uh. And I guess that's my point here. Argue all you will, you know, but Whistler residents are unique. They're risk-takers with a sense of humour, mountain people with one eye to the sea. They're irreverent innovators, strong-willed, outspoken and a little bit alternative. Confident too. Did I already mention busy?

Peggy Vogler laughs when I bring up the "b" word. The mother of three teenagers, the longtime Whistlerite is keeping more balls in the air these days than a Cirque du Soleil juggler. You see, half the week she's in Vancouver running the cosy Kits café she inherited from her father, the rest she's working at the Whistler Waldorf School that she helped launch 12 years ago.

But she says she wouldn't have it any other way. "I really like being involved with things that I feel passionate about," she explains. "I like the challenge of it, you know. The feeling that I'm helping." Still, it's not like she's taking the easy path...

As we learned last week, Vogler was one of three Whistler moms who decided in 1999 to launch an alternative school based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. Although the cards were heavily stacked against them, the trio quickly attracted other Whistler families to Steiner's holistic approach to teaching. And a critical mass was established.

It was when the school moved to Spruce Grove Park in 2002, says Peggy, that its true identity emerged. "We prepared the site, put in all the services, and assembled the portables... all in six weeks," she continues. 'It was amazing! Hundreds of volunteer hours..."

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