Creative Mornings Presents Pamela Goldsmith-Jones on June 2013

Former mayor of West Vancouver Pamela Goldsmith-Jones came to speak at Friday's CreativeMornings about the environment, women in power, and the mistake of making assumptions.

CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types started by Tina Roth Eiesenberg (swiss-miss.com) in NYC and is now in nearly 50 cities around the world.

VANCOUVER —Former mayor of West Vancouver Pamela Goldsmith-Jones came to speak at Friday's CreativeMornings about the environment, women in power, and the mistake of making assumptions.

We all know the phrase "fear of the unknown." Instead, Goldsmith-Jones told the audience, "we should have fear of the known." She explained that we know global warming is happening, we know that women's equality is still an issue, we know that health in Aboriginal communities is poor. We should be afraid of these known things, she said.

While mayor of West Vancouver, Goldsmith-Jones tackled all of these hard issues. One of the stories she told was about getting a piece of environmental legislation passed. In order to get people on board, she had to position the issue in a unique way. Her angle was that the seawall on Ambleside needed replacing in order to protect nearby residential properties, and the seawall itself, from damage due to the forces of nature. But what the replacement was really all about was saving the wild salmon that travels through the area every year. When she went to the UN to accept the Global Green Cities Award in 2011, people she met there were shocked to know that the salmon were the driving force behind the project.

Changing perceptions is par for the course for Goldsmith-Jones. She spoke about how people tend to make assumptions about what a politician looks like: typically an older caucasian male. She said, "something changes in people's minds when you become a politician," and that they expect you to look or act a certain way. As an attractive female, Goldsmith-Jones often got mistaken for "the mayor's assistant" or "the mayor's wife." But people's perceptions didn't bother her, she said.

To this end, she posed nude as part of a protest campaign to save Eagle Ridge Bluffs from destruction, got rid of advisory committees in the municipal government in favour of citizen-driven working groups, and was one of the most popular mayors the municipality has had. "There's only one way to be successful - be yourself," she said.