CreativeMornings Ottawa Event Experience

“We bring together people [...] and inspire change in neighborhoods and cities around the world.”

CreativeMornings is a global, monthly, free breakfast and lecture series, consisted of local ‘chapters’ around the world run entirely by passionate volunteers; I volunteered in the Ottawa chapter with the team led by our Host, Maxine. I joined the core team in 2016, starting out with day-off set-up, take-down, and warming up our attendees at the events. Eventually I started to give more input into planning each event, and make an effort to improve our event experiences.

Crafting the event experience


Acknowledging that the day-off event is our core ‘product’, we started using user-centred design tools to help us discover insights and facilitate conversations about how to improve the event experience for our attendees. Using this design thinking deck, I facilitated a few workshops with the event’s co-organizers and some attendees.

The team came up with 2 journey maps based on 2 personas.

They also sketch-stormed very creative and amazing solutions. I wrote up a short summary of the results of the workshops, then communicated to the larger team. These ideas are to be implemented in 2019.

Before the design thinking initiative, we focused more on the idea of positive disruptions: activities that engage and inspire our attendees. With my co-designer Laura Vo, we brainstorm stand-alone activities based on each month’s theme, discuss with the core team, and then we execute the ideas.

Often our objectives for these activities are to put a smile on people’s faces, or spark an inspiration in their minds, or help them make conversations effortlessly with a total stranger. We know we’ve done our jobs when more and more attendees show up, people share moments from the event on social media, and they have a good time. We work hard to grow a creative community where we support each others, and enrich the creative landscape of Ottawa.

Event Activity Highlights

August 2017 / Genius

Explore your musical genius

We created a lo-fi experience with the paper turntables powered by Arduinos, that let attendees channel their inner genius DJs. Inspired by Ottawa renounced DJ / speaker this month, Kwende Kefenste, and using this Instructable tutorial, Laura programmed the Arduinos, and I made paper turntables that uses homemade conductive ink.

May 2017 / 5-year anniversary

CreativeMornings Ottawa Interactive Timeline

Knowing our venue for the event at Hub Ottawa has two SMART projectors, I made an interactive timeline showcasing our events up until that date. This piece was a celebration of the hardwork people at CreativeMornings Ottawa had put into, and retrospective of how far we've come.

June Timeline

On the left is a video demo of the interaction. You can also interact with an HTML prototype of the timeline in the link below.

HTML Prototype

April 2017 / Beyond

Overcoming mental hurdles of performance

To inspire attendees to achieve beyond their perceived limits, we created a deceptively-difficult-to-lift ‘1 ton’ barbell for them to lift and take pictures with. We encourage them to show the world, that difficult-seeming things are not always what they seem, and that their actually ability is beyond their pre-conceived notions.

March 2017 / Taboo

Anti-shaming and shedding taboos

We wrote a jar of truth-or-dares to push the boundaries on social and cultural taboos. In addition, we encouraged them to anonymously share 'confessions' prompted by the truth-or-dares questions, in the 'confession booth' (comfy chair + sensory deprivation helmet + voice changer). The voice-altered confessions were then to be shared online and push the attendees out of their comfort zone.

Inspiration from CreativeMornings Summit

I had the great opportunity to attend the 2016 CreativeMornings Summit in Austin, Texas. It was a 3-day open conference gathered with creative leaders around the world, mixed with workshops by local creatives, ending with a CreativeMornings Austin event. The whole summit was a best possible CreativeMornings experience in and of itself. I experienced first-hand what passion, dedication, creativity, and love can create. It was a truly eye-opening example of what a total-volunteer run community can make happen. After being greatly inspired by the summit, the Ottawa core team and I really started doing our best to deliver the most authentic event experiences for our local community, and contribute back to the larger global community.