It must be something in the water, or maybe for some, the snow, that has drawn such a variety of intriguing and inspiring people to the Kootenay Mountains. The snow-white peaks and rich green valleys seem to act as garden beds for all sorts of human greenery to spring up. The lack of significant employment opportunities ensures that people aren’t here for a job, they are here because they love it, and they are willing to give their all to make it work. Somehow, they all seem to do it with a smile on their face and friendly greetings when they pass on the street. The community accepts all different types of people and lifestyles, so loggers and miners stroll beside artists, farmers, scientists, and athletes.
Kootenay Inspired offers its readers the opportunity to delve into the passion, inspiration, and wisdom of twelve amazing people who have made their lives in the Kootenays. Each chapter presents the life story of one individual, focusing on their foundational experiences and delving into the question, ‘How has this person created an inspiring life?’ The people featured include successful entrepreneurs, artists, outdoor enthusiasts, activists, farmers, community builders, teachers, nurses, and more. Many have surmounted huge challenges, and learned from them, often turning them into fuel for their creative fires. They are people who have followed their hearts and their passions to create beautiful lives, often improving the lives of others along the way.
Reading Kootenay Inspired offers you a chance to learn from the experiences of these great people, gain new perspectives, and learn new approaches to life. You’ll discover new ideas and become more aware of your own ingrained ways of thinking. You may even discover a new mentor. Taking on the wisdom and passion of the people featured while learning from their philosophies and foundational experiences can’t help but move your life towards the passionate and rewarding adventure that it can be.
The pages are brought to life with beautiful images taken primarily by brilliant local photographers Louis Bockner and another photographer who prefers to remain anonymous. Erica Breau, Dave Heath, and Ricardo Hubbs also contributed wonderful photos.
My motivation to write Kootenay Inspired grew slowly over about 15 years of hitchhiking around Canada and around the world. Climbing into a stranger’s car and talking with them for twenty minutes or three days was enlightening. Each interaction and each ride was always different. I met people from all walks of life and had countless memorable, heartfelt discussions. I tried to learn from each person, or share a connection so that we might both benefit. Over the course of many years, I met hundreds of people this way. Our conversations influenced who I am and added to my understanding of the world.
In 2008, I moved to the Kootenays, settling in Nelson. I soon began meeting people, often by hitchhiking to Whitewater Ski Hill. I was impressed by the interesting, friendly and inspiring people I met, and by the lives that they led. I wanted to get to know them. I wanted to learn their stories and I wanted to share what I had discovered.
My university degree consists of a strange assortment of geography, psychology, and writing courses. It never really made a lot of sense until a man told me, “It’s so you can write about crazy places.” Then, after reading a wonderful book of multiple short biographies, Hope in Shadows by Brad Cran and Gillian Jerome, it all came together, and Kootenay Inspired began its journey.
I started by asking just about anyone I met, ‘Who in the Kootenays inspires you?’ I asked hundreds of people, and the list of names grew quickly. I then selected people who I felt represented the diverse range of backgrounds and experience that exist in the Kootenays and contacted them. I was delighted to find that most people were willing to give their time and share their stories. I talked to people about their deepest motivations, strategies, successes, failures, challenges, formative experiences and much more. Through the writing process, I then distilled the most valuable aspects of each interview and sewed it all together into a flowing story.
Eight years later the book, Kootenay Inspired, has finally come to fruition. It is the culmination of countless hours of my own work and help from many other writers, editors, and photographers who share a passion for learning from the lives of others.
Learning from people’s life stories has profoundly enhanced my life, and has given me a deeper understanding of the world and the people in it, the challenges that we face, and how we can solve them. I have a new set of mentors who, through their stories, influence me every day to do better, enjoy more, and help change the world. I’m very excited for you to meet them.
The goal of Kootenay Inspired has always been to inspire people to live great lives. Recognizing that inspiration can only take you so far without action and resources, I am donating fifty percent of proceeds to local charities that empower and enable people to live well. It is my hope that those who benefit from these donations will go on to inspire others themselves, adding to the momentum of our Kootenay community, and propelling more people towards inspired, actualized lives. It is this movement that you, the reader, are now a part of.
Thank you for your support. Enjoy!
- Paul Saso