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Changing the view at the mayor's office

Nancy Wilhelm-Morden knows community expectations are high



There's a new view from the mayor's office.

The mayor's L-shape desk, once wedged into a corner of the office facing the clinical green walls, is now on the far side of the room facing outwards.

It offers Nancy Wilhelm-Morden a view out of the windows at the hall, out into the community at large, while she settles down to the business of mayor.

The added bonus is that staff members or councillors can come into her office and easily pull up a chair on the other side of her desk to discuss business.

Looking outwards while working within.

She was surprised to learn that former mayor Ken Melamed's desk faced inwards on purpose — Feng shui — the Chinese system widely used to place furniture propitiously.

"I want to be facing outwards," says the mayor, happy to talk about the changes she's made to the office since being sworn-in almost four months ago.

In that time she has created an intimate and elegant space that gives more insight into the woman who swept into power in November's election.

It feels warm and welcoming. But with the mayor's personal stamp in every corner, there is little doubt that this is her domain, where she is in charge.

The walls have been changed from green — again chosen by the former mayor because it's a colour that builds consensus, something that became more and more difficult as his second term wore on — to a muted brown.

On the back wall two striking pieces of art set the tone — calm and confident.

The larger piece is an imposing 76 inches by 34 inches called 'August' — big towering trees that convey a sense of serenity. The smaller piece is 'Woodland.'

The artist is a personal favourite and local — Tassila Elizabeth Speer, known as 'Tass'.

Some of Speer's work hangs at Race and Co. a five-minute walk away. It's the mayor's other home away from home where she is still actively taking on cases as a personal injury lawyer.

Wilhelm-Morden plans to rotate the artwork in her office, showcasing local artists every six months or so. It's no secret that she's an advocate of local arts and culture, taking a seat on the board of the Whistler Arts Council in June.

These particular pieces are on loan.

"Mind you, I like those pieces so much, it'll be really hard to let them go," she muses, gazing upon her back wall.

It's not the only homage to local artists in her room — her cardholder is hand-made, picked up at the Made in Whistler Artisan Market, which runs throughout the winter at the Westin Resort and Spa. Another hand-made paper flowerpot sits at the working table in her office. It's next to a little dish of chocolates to tempt any wayward staffer or councillor.

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