Steven Cox: the Cause+Affect behind Vancouver Pecha Kucha
“I wrote down 'cause and effect' on a piece of paper,” says Cox. “But 'cause and effect' is just like action and reaction – so we changed it to 'cause and affect', which is action with a purpose.” VO's newest thing: Download the interview.
Their plan to live in London for just one year stretched into five, and their careers went into unexpected territory.
“The evolution had started,” Cox says.
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LINDA: I'm interested in your Winnipeg beginnings. It’s a mystery to a lot of us, that city. If you had to sum up Winnipeg to an alien, what would you say?
Well, Winnipeg has lots of beauty and lots of ugly. A very ugly core, a dead downtown -- classic dead downtown -- core. It also has some wonderful parks, gardens and neighborhoods as well.
L: When did it die?
S:I think it died in, like, 1910.
L: The neighbourhood never ...
S: At the turn of the century, Winnipeg was one of the hubs of North America. Trade was going east-west and it was gonna be the same size as Chicago. Then all that stopped, the air took over, people flew around Winnipeg, trade went north-south. Nobody cared anymore. It sort of hit a stall. It's basically the same size now as it was then. It's like 750,000 people.
L: Let’s talk about you. How many kids in your family?
S: Myself and my sister, she’s two years older.
L: You went to public schools?
S: Went to public schools, pretty normal. My mom was a teacher. She taught in high school and then moved into teaching special needs and troubled youth in high school.
L: What was the family “trademark”, in terms of what your family told you over and over? What is life? How did they explain the world to you?
S:They explained it by doing, not as much by telling. So I watched my parents, who had very strong morals and they believed very much in personal relationships. Both being teachers didn't sort of leave our home with an air of smartness. But as a teacher, you get a much more intimate knowledge of people and this sort of led us to have good relationships that were more informed than other kids.
L: No generation gap?
S: No. It made it harder to fool them.
L: What kind of kid were you?
S: I was a good kid. I was a very athletic kid, a big hockey player. In Winnipeg, it is impossible to grow up not playing hockey.
L: What happens if you don't?
S: In some ways, nobody knows who you are. You end up being the weird kid. You miss out on a friendship base as for a while, your entire social sphere was built around hockey.
L: So was yours?
S: Absolutely. As a kid, until I was about 15 and started to think that missing the junior high dance and other stuff for a hockey game was kind of dumb, because there were girls there. So then you start to question how much time you are spending on that, and the dreams of getting into the NHL start to seem a little bit ridiculous.
L: What did you do in the summer?
S: Everybody leaves Winnipeg in the summer, it’s a ghost town. We had a cottage on an island in Ontario on Lake of the Woods. The island was originally purchased by my great-grandfather and has been in the family ever since.
See, we kind of have a famous family history: My great-grandfather was a guy named Charles Gordon, who wrote books under the pen name Ralph Conner. He was, at the turn of century, one of the world’s best-selling authors and in turn one of the wealthier men in Canada. At the same time he was the founding minister at the United Church of Canada. Then he lost all his fortune during the times around the war and great depression. Lost it all. Many of his congregations had lost their money as well. He spent the next 10 to 20 years of his life trying to write more books to pay back people and keep many of his assets.
One of his treasures was their house in Winnipeg, now called Ralph Connor house, recently declared a Canadian Heritage Site, I believe. In it was a huge family with seven kids, staff and all the extras that came with wealth and that time.
L: Did they manage to hold on to that?
S: In the end, they lost everything but the island. We have maintained this wonderful island on Lake of the Woods. which has now been in the family for over 100 years.
L: That's where you spent summers. You went swimming?