Opinion » Editorial

Welcome to Whistler, where cheese is expensive, but dreams are priceless

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Opinion pieces—like this editorial—can occasionally be hard to write.

Sometimes it's challenging to come up with a topic you feel particularly passionate about it. Other times (ahem, shoulder season), there is maybe not a lot going on.

To that end, when faced with writing an opinion piece this time of year, I've resorted more times than I care to admit to listing all the ways Whistler will surprise our seasonal newcomers.

"Welcome to Whistler! Cheese is expensive, housing sucks, jobs are yours for the picking, passing out on the Village Stroll isn't cute."

You know, the kind of wise insights you would expect from a seventh-season veteran (who still sucks at skiing).

This year, I'd like to put a fresh spin on that old advice for the newest members of our community—whether they only stay for a season, or intend to stay for a season, then wake up to find it's seven years later and Whistler has gobbled up their 20s like it's sale-price cheese from Nesters. (Don't worry, at least you'll have a dog, storage locker full of gear and a sick toque collection to show for it.)

This insight is gleaned from watching my co-worker Brandon Barrett's play A Whistler Vacation last Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Maury Young Arts Centre. Brandon co-wrote the production with local Ira Pettle and produced it as part of the Whistler Writers Festival.

It was an entertaining theatre production steeped in Whistler in-jokes and brimming with heart-warming lessons.

Driving home that night, I was struck by the realization that part of the appeal of Whistler that no one really talks about is how easily you can pursue whatever passion you might secretly be harbouring—and actually make it happen.

Yes, you might be limited in career pursuits in Whistler, but if you've always had a dream of acting, playwriting or just being part of a production, for example, we're your town.

While Brandon is clearly a trained writer, he hadn't done any acting before moving to Whistler nearly the exact same time as me in 2012. Fast forward seven years and he's deeply entrenched in the small, but mighty theatre scene.

By his own assessment, that probably wouldn't have happened in a city where actors have been to theatre school and the competition is stiff.

The same holds true for our visual arts scene. Arts Whistler is constantly hosting callouts for artists to participate in its nearly month exhibits at The Gallery. While you'll need a certain level of talent to make the cut, there are plenty of opportunities to take workshops and keep improving until you do.

Likewise, I've interviewed many musicians who were new to town and decided to hit up the growing number of open mic nights (they have them at The Crystal Lounge, Cranked, and Black's Pub, to name just a few). Before you know it, I'm dutifully adding their names to Pique's events listings on a weekly basis.

There's also the Whistler Music Search—the finals for which are Thursday, Oct. 24 at The Crystal—which hosts newbies (and sometimes more established acts too) in a friendly competition every year.

So, dear seasonal newcomers, this is my advice to you: widen the scope of what you think you can achieve during your time in Whistler. Logging a certain number of days on the mountain or improving your ski/snowboard skills are a given.

What other creative dream have you secretly thought about while in your home city, where you were too afraid to fail in front of familiar faces?

Now is the time to give it a try and Whistler is the place to do it.

Have a safe and happy season!

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