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Alta states

Doti Niedermayer: Substance Over Structure



Note: Pique publisher Kathy Barnett was a role model for young professional women everywhere — but particularly here in Whistler. A highly-skilled business exec — yet one whose heart was full of compassion and good will — Barnett successfully navigated the corridors of power here without ever losing her sense of humour or her vision. Kathy loved Whistler. And she loved Whistlerites. Though her death has rent a huge hole in the social fabric of this community, her life should be celebrated for all the richness it brought us. Indeed, Kathy embodied much of what is most exciting and progressive about the strong-willed women of Sea-to-Sky country. This story is dedicated to her.

World Class? Don’t even mention those two words to Doti Niedermayer – unless of course you want to see her roll her eyes. “For years, I’ve listened to people in this province say ‘we want to be world class’,” declares the tough-talking executive director of the Whistler Arts Council. “And that drives me nuts! Why? Because I find that those two words have become meaningless. World class doesn’t mean building more stuff. It’s about style and substance — creating a unique identity for yourself that distinguishes you from the commonplace.”

She sighs. “It’s a real challenge to get people to understand this concept,” says Niedermayer. “But it all comes down to one thing: there’s a huge difference between ‘world class’ and ‘merely expensive’.” Then she laughs, a throaty, textured laugh that hints at a fully engaged life. “For example, when I go to Paris, it’s not to visit the Eiffel Tower. It’s to bask in that distinctive culture that only Paris can offer. It’s the people, their culture, their art. Yes, some of the streets are dirty. And yes, some buildings stink of urine and garbage. But that’s Paris. It’s a living city with a heart and a soul. And that’s what makes the place so appealing!”

It’s a subject, says Niedermayer, that should be addressed more often at Whistler. “Don’t get me started,” she says, with a slightly hard-edged gleam in her eye. “I could go on all day about our misplaced priorities.” And then she decides to change tacks.

“Aspiring to a healthy lifestyle — physically, psychologically, spiritually even — means giving certain things up,” she says. ‘And that’s a reality our community really has to get its head around. You can’t have it all! You have to decide what’s important in life — and then you have to live with the consequences of your decisions.”