Who would you get if you bundled together a childhood Trek-fan, a keen mind for computers, a thirst for psychology and artificial intelligence? Jose Barrios - a wildly curious young man from Mexico with a vision to study psychology in "the warmest part of Canada." During his studies Barrios' aptitude caught the attention of one particular psych professor, now his biggest advocate, when partway through Barrios began exploring computer programming. The software Jose produced gave researchers the ability to connect with patients online from home and skip scheduling, bureaucratic, liability and transport issues to location based labs which took days. An approximate seven experiments per month were increased to 700. Amazingly Barrios has helped researchers of autism at UVIC collect what could be the world’s largest repository of data on autism. Since, multiple major universities have started using his invaluable software. It’s apparent to Jose now, that much of the anonymous information captured could be cross-pollinated for advances in artificial intelligence.
The new Victoria band Thieves were formed recently by singer/songwriter Adam Kittredge (Jets Overhead) and his wife/lead vocalist Antonia Freybe-Smith (Jets Overhead). “In music there is an element of thievery (a litany of meanings) - music can steal your heart, your mind, your time.” Driven to always be creating new music and with the help of several talented local musicians, Kittredge decided to hit the studio and turn-out what’s likely to be an eight song album due out this fall following the Thieves first single. With experienced core members Hugh Mackie (Quoia, keyboards), Sam Weber (Jets Overhead, electric guitar), and Marshall Wildman (Hawk and Steel, drums) Thieves enter the marketplace as Band of the Month on The ZONE @ 91-3FM with their single “Never Meant to Know“ (Co-Produced by Kittredge and Howie Beck, Toronto). The melodic, alternative and original sound from Thieves will be a hit that appeals to a wide audience. The energy of Thieves stems from young fresh blood and easy-going musicians who are excited to play live any chance they get.
Rarely do the inspiring words of our youth meet an audience, however Victoria’s Youth Poet Laureate, Morgan Purvis, hopes to change that. Having won her first writing competition in grade three, she later participated in high school poetry slams and now creates original art installations combining words with mixed mediums. Morgan believes poetry allows us to speak about the most controversial subjects in a "beautiful way, so that people can acutely hear what we have to say.” For Morgan topics percolate in her head for months. Eventually, they spill out in a quiet moment of writing covering such topics as living in today’s innate world of relationships as a young woman, mental health and her love of food. Morgan was only one out of thirty applicants competing for the city title, which is an independently sponsored program this year by Reliance Properties. Through Morgan’s year-long reign, under mentorship with Jeremy Loveday and some official duties, it's clear to her these valuable programs for youth should receive greater awareness and funding by the city’s local government.
Mike Vardy once worked in big-box environments which lack many of the freedoms we desire such as time with family, with less need-to-dos and daily tasks. So instead, Vardy decided to "stop doing productive and start being productive." He began learning how to be productive at running his own business. Addressing the subject of productivity with a contradictory tone in his first blog, Eventualism, he caught the attention of David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. Since then, Mike has contributed to popular sites like Lifehacker, 99u, The Huffington Post, and many more. Now a published author and accomplished international speaker, his core topics include time, email, calendar, and idea management with transferable skills relating to the busy lives and budgets of stay-at-home parents and CEOs alike. Comic relief of superheroes and pro-wrestling drama are his personal grounding triggers used to successfully live out his dream of public speaking (TEDxVictoria, creativeLIVE, and South by Southwest) and helps thousands to find more quality time.
Fuelled by music both Peter Mol and Jason Zerbin were individually lead through life’s obstacle course until crossing paths in 2008. Jason’s writing connected with Peter (though in another band) and an immediate professional bond formed. Five years later their songs have had air play all across Canada and parts of the USA. Licensing their music happened unexpectedly. It was catchy and extended “beyond them” to advertising in a trailer for ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’, new Coffee Mate commercials, and other things. In today’s market, royalties are a mechanism for sustaining their living and furthering connections. Country, mixed alternative-mainstream Pop, Indie and Folky influences are apparent in Zerbin’s earlier songs - “In Your Arms,” “Hear Me,” and “New Earth” which became their most popular. While perfecting their up-coming album and performing all the instruments in the recording, they invited mixing expertise Dave Pensado, who’s worked on Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson’s albums, to pull together their proudest work to date. Selected as band of the month by The ZONE @ 91-3FM, listen to hear more!
At a point during Ari Hershberg’s university studies, a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s biography and his philosophy of living a full life through the five senses, put Ari into a tail spin of voracious reading. Hershbergs’s most immediate interest was discovering more about living well, eating healthy and having good physical and mental wellness. He made it his goal to read a book a week. Ari’s background in marketing and profiling high level speaker talent came with him to Victoria after several years abroad. He was compelled to find a way to showcase more of Victoria’s unique qualities by observing what the city was currently in need of. With a surplus of knowledge, and passion to help educate others on the fascinating writings of authors living well, Ari knocked on endless doors to gain support for creating the city’s first Gluten-Free, Health and Wellness Festival. After successfully bringing in well known author of Wheat Belly, Dr. Davis, and 43 vendors, this year they are knocking on his door. A plethora of new workshops and information awaits!
Singer songwriter, Robbie Aylesworth headed west after bidding farewell to the comforts of ‘small town life’ and a close circle of hockey friends to do what he knew he was meant to do. His family had encouraged Robbie throughout his life to play music, yet his community's music scene was non-existent. Within the last few years, Robbie intently sat down determined to find somewhere (London, Toronto, etc.) with a vibrant connection. He chose traveling Australia and was inspired to enrol in an audio engineering program upon his return. Still wanting to pursue performing he auditioned at Berklee and planned a mini-WestCoast tour where friends and family had a welcoming impromptu jam session in Victoria. Robbie immediately saw kinship and the bond among musicians he had searched for. Aylesworth made 'the move’ based on that gut feeling, self-funded his new life, and, now, Robbie has arrived! He’s releasing his first EP, is showcased as Band of the Month on the ZONE @91.3 and again at VicFest 2014 - a testament to his commitment and talent.
Farming allowed Dan Ferguson to create a living close to home, carry on a family tradition, and overall improve his quality of life. Achieving his goal of operating one of Vancouver Island’s most successful organic farms (on very marginal land and soils) in the Agricultural Land Reserve and to be part of community is his definition of success. Yet, he did something else extraordinary at his personal expense. Dan defended the right for all British Columbians to farm (zoned farmland), which he hopes sets a new precedent so no one else in BC is forced to defend the natural sounds emanating from their farm animals. Leading by example is his nature and he is protecting this valuable resource for future agrarians and the land to be used as intended. Ferguson has shone a light on the disservice that higher levels of government are providing for the agricultural community in general. Behind the scenes, Dan has many active roles in the agricultural community in Cowichan Valley and is changing the world, one taste at a time.
Jill Van-Gyn Carr, pursuing a Masters in Human Security and Peacebuilding at Royal Roads, is about to set off to Acholiland, Uganda, a region recovering from twenty years of conflict. As part of her program she is conducting major research in community inclusion in the region’s developing oil sector. She hopes to bridge the gap between the on-the-ground successes of grassroots micro re-building solutions and broader policy at the civil society and governance level. As a trained first aid instructor at Alert First Aid, Jill identified a gap in her own community: individuals who frequent shelters and harm reductions sites often do not seek help when first aid is needed resulting in infection, prolonged injury and even death. As a result she developed a volunteer program to teach these individuals how to perform peer-to-peer first aid. She hopes to adapt this program for communities in Uganda. Her drive is to find the connections in compassion and facilitating self-determination for those who society often forgets.
Born athletic powerhouse Adam Drummond made the BC football Juniors in his twenties, but to sustain a living and make time for family it meant a different kind of commitment. For Adam the gym felt purposeless, he thrives on direction. In 2006, a friend turned him on to the Highland Games; Adam appreciated the strong man competition aspect. Drummond’s first clinic was with five time World Champ Ryan Vierra. A combination of throwing, disciplines (his favourite the Scottish Hammer), and the great people sealed the deal for Drummond. Adam connected with Carl, his first training partner, and Ray Siochowicz, the current Athletic Director, to found V.I.S.T.A. Today, Craigflower Manor is their permanent training ground. In North America, only the Top Open Class athletes are invited to compete in Games with purses and Adam has received special invitations already. As our local pro Adam competes at the coming Highland Games in Victoria and he plans to bring the muscle and adrenaline to throw it home! Next, The Icelandic Games.