Jordan Kallman, a lifelong culture builder, is a master of the delicate balance between economic expansion and creative expression. His belief in the artistry of gatherings, even when they go unnoticed, is a testament to his passion. He envisions a world where we recognize the profound role of friendships, relationships, and the joy of being together in our natural well-being. For him, life is an art, and true fulfillment lies in the harmony we find with others. 

portfolioyvr, Helen siwak, experiential entrepreneur, Jordan Kallman, Vancouver, bc, yvr

Jordan is a serial entrepreneur currently exploring artistic pursuits at the intersections of large-scale festivals, small-scale gatherings, virtual world-building and the psychology of living well. 

In his early 20s, Jordan was disheartened when  The Economist described Vancouver as “mind-numbingly boring.” For a fun-loving social gatherer who lives to create a joyous vibe, that statement cut deep. He passed around the article to friends while asking: “This simply couldn’t be true, could it?” 

The hurt continued when the label “No-Fun-Couver” stuck hard-and-fast, being bandied about by naysayers 
in the lead-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games

It was in that dire identity crisis that Jordan, along with a small group, stepped up to challenge the belief. They were not willing to let the city they loved so much settle for a simple and solitary “Thoreau-in-the-woods-walks-the-Seawall” brand. 

Fortunately, they were not alone. After the gold medal hockey game of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, the city exploded, finally showing the social energy potential that exists there. They carried that spirit forward, and their events have since become an integral part of the city’s cultural fabric, bringing people together, celebrating diversity, and showcasing the city’s creative spirit

In the succeeding decade, The Social Concierge, Jordan’s event design agency, would go on to launch and expand a range of cultural festivals that were truly one-of-a-kind, unique to his style. These have included an annual fashion-focused derby, the country’s single largest one-night dinner party, a grand harvest festival designed in the spirit of the legendary Oktoberfest, an architectural design showcase raising funds for charity, a cocktail-hopping trolley tour series, and an operatic, duelling sword fighting tournament.

Additionally, there was the annual carbon negative celebrations for Earth Day, a floral exhibition that reimagined the art of dance, a stadium-sized idea conference, and a summit meant to explore cutting-edge tactics that lead to a longer life.

Jordan’s and the team’s work has not only been recognized with numerous awards and honours, but it has also left an indelible mark on the city’s social fabric. The true measure of his success, however, lies in the personal connections forged at his festivals. Couples who met at his events and are now married with children often stop him on the street to express their gratitude. This profound impact on people’s lives is the ultimate testament to the power of Jordan’s work. 

portfolioyvr, Helen siwak, experiential entrepreneur, Jordan Kallman, Vancouver, bc, yvr

IN HIS WORDS

“It is now apparent that I have always been obsessed with solving problems, yet the epiphany itself came late. Only after a string of youthful life failures of the vanilla variety did I find myself on the other side of the world, standing in front of a massive music festival in the centre of one of the biggest cities in the Southern Hemisphere. I remember wondering, “Why doesn’t the place I come from express itself like this?” Instant problem requiring a solution. I was 20 years old. 

“Mom thought I would be a great dentist. When that failed, she pushed me to become a lawyer

“These were projections of her protective instincts, trying to steer me into a life of financial comfort and job security, something she never had as an incredibly creative spirit. Unfortunately for Mom, I picked up Dad’s sense of exploration and his fun-loving nature and ran in the other direction. The good news? Their combination of gifts has led to a wild story so far, even if Mom still does not really understand what I do for a living. 

“To be honest, I have a conflicted relationship with “business.” I was never the kid buying something for ten cents and trying to sell it for twenty. The incredible force of profit has never motivated me, even if I inherently understood it to be the foundational change agent of our times. 

“As a child, I was much more intrigued by the emotions I felt when invited to a fun-filled event at the neighbours, how it felt to break the rules with a friend, or the trauma of being excluded or forgotten. These emotional experiences as a young kid pushed me to seek a way to nurture the best of them in others. Looking back, I am fortunate to have had these anchor moments; they transformed me. 

“Once I had acquired amateur control of my creative force, it quickly drove me to a hellish pace of pursuit. I paved my social way through university by building big, 50-passenger party buses on the cheap and running nightly tours to licensed establishments. At the time, I was taking a full load of college courses, scoring top grades, working a few nights a week in hospitality, and running this big crew of promoters, hosts, and bus drivers

“Yet, the interesting anecdote during this time was not my frantic schedule.

“I still do not really know how I convinced the regulators and insurance agents that our 50-passenger rolling festivals on wheels were a good idea. I remember those days and cringe slightly. 

“My love for the City of Vancouver knows no bounds. I remember playing hooky from work on a bright summer July day because I wanted to be near the stadium to decide who would host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The euphoria of the realization, the glow of the crowd roaring from within the stadium, gave me such hope for the culture of my place. My city would host one of the biggest celebrations on the planet, and it seemed like anything was possible. 

“It is with this spirit that I invested heavy effort in projects and endeavours that would bring a greater sense of place to Vancouver. I spent years with the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee, grew TEDxVancouver into a stadium-sized idea showcase for our region, and launched The Social Concierge with the intention of making the city’s social environment more fun-loving and vibrant. I am proud of the small impact I was able to create and the outcome of each of the projects I led and was a part of. 

“Vancouver still has a long way to go.

“I yearn for the day that I meet someone from another part of the world who describes their visit to our city as something more than “a very beautiful place.” One day, someone out there who knows nothing about my journey will say about their visit, “Vancouver is such a fun place,” and I will feel whole. 

“For the past 15 years, I have co-led at The Social Concierge. We think of ourselves as a “House of Gathering,” which is essentially a creative studio that builds and launches experiential projects at the frontiers of culture. Many of our ideas, started here in Vancouver, have gone on to other cities to great success. Our past is measured by the depth and variety of the social endeavours we imagined into reality, much like an artist’s body of work. We also take on select client projects that allow us to experiment in some novel way. 

“For the past four years, since the virtualization trends of the pandemic really accelerated, we have been experimenting with how we gather digitally. We launched a metaverse music company and now sell thousands of avatar wearable boomboxes within the biggest video game on the planet. Culture-building in virtual space is a unique challenge that we need to recognize will only grow in importance in the cycles to come. 

“Generally speaking, I am always embedded in interesting social networks, clubs, and communities. I am continuously seeking a vantage point from which to view the coming waves of how we like to spend our time together. Right now, health and wellness have never been more culturally prominent, and so many promising new social experiences are coming online to support those desires. I am right there in the mix with so many groups inspired to champion this future. 

“There has been no bigger change to my creative path than the pandemic. For a painter, it would be the equivalent of colour being pulled out of the world. 

“For a sculptor, gravity doubling. For a fashion designer, as though the world became a nudist colony. Almost overnight, I was legally not allowed to gather in public. This immediately forced the loss of a true purpose outlet. While grieving, I needed to reinvent my craft on the fly, dealing with the constantly changing laws of nature. Now four years removed, I only recently grasped how our collective desires have changed.  

“I like to say, ‘Suffering peaks just before the break of awe.’ This huge challenge forced me to transform myself personally and with our studio. I was pushed to the frontier of our virtual lives and have now established a presence. It has also challenged me to memorialize our effort with Vancouver culture-building, officially ending many long-standing projects and handing them to others. I am destined for new problems of togetherness, a fresh cycle of creative pursuit

Dawn, my wife, has been a constant presence for nearly 20 years. Without her quiet encouragement and ongoing healing, this transformation or my meagre successes would not have been possible. I am deeply grateful for our soulful bond. 

“I have had many, many moments over the years that I consider pivotal to deepening my belief that I am here to bring others together. Just before the onset of the pandemic, Dawn and I hosted our wedding soul ceremony in the middle of the Black Rock Desert. We built a giant wooden love letter cathedral and collected two thousand expressions of love from strangers before holding our ceremony in front of it. That experience brought fifty of the most adventurous friends from our life together to build and celebrate, and it became one of my life’s most emotional moments. 

“But the incredible part for me is that the emotional letting was a shared experience. I will never forget one tearful admission as the sun set before us, “Jordan, that ceremony was more emotional than the birth of our twins.” 

“It is that culmination of collective feeling that I hope to create time and time again before time runs out. Each time that vibe strikes, I think to myself, “There is no better feeling in the world.

“What separates my pursuit of purpose from the mundane and pushes my business to the next level is the desire to operate as a creative studio rather than a business. Over the last 20 years of entrepreneurship, I have realized that I am not a ruthless, win-at-all-costs profiteer, which many business people are when you peel back enough of their layers. What drives my meaning is the approach to creating a body of work that has an impact on others that I can be proud of. 

“I remember when David Podmore, then President of Concert Properties and Chairman of B.C. Pavilion Corporation opened doors for me at the highest echelons of the Vancouver industry. David is a real-estate icon and has been instrumental in shaping Vancouver’s growth over the last thirty-five years. He believed in a very youthful me, with zero incentive or reason to do so, and for that, I am deeply grateful. I will never forget his advice: “Jordan, there is no location in the world better positioned to take advantage of its opportunities over the next 50 years. Stay, build, and be part of this place”. It was very inspiring.

portfolioyvr, Helen siwak, experiential entrepreneur, Jordan Kallman, Vancouver, bc, yvr

“I am constantly inspired by the arts and those who can communicate their expression for the future in simple, almost reductive ways.” 

“Nouveau Realist Yves Klein, the incomparable light artist James Turrell, and poet David Whyte come to mind. Recently, I have collected work by 
Jack Butcher and Jalil Wahdatehagh, a duo who are the ultimate constraints-based internet artists of our time. Jim Denevan, the land artist behind the hugely popular ‘Outstanding in the Field’ event series, inspires me, as does Walter Green and his ‘Say it Now’ movement, which advocates in telling those who affected you most in life what they mean to you right now.

“I believe in positive long-term relationships, bringing those who mean the most to me closest and forever: Dawn, my wife; my mother and father; my long-time creative studio partner, Tyson Villeneuve; and my dedicated and vast group of friends who support the truest sense of who I am. These people deserve to be seen for their belief in me. 

“I am in transition; I recently took the left fork in the road and am evolving from entrepreneur to artist. This transformation may take some time to find its destination, and for once in my life, I am at peace with a slower race

“As someone who had dedicated his life to bringing people together, the pandemic immediately caused me to lose entrepreneurial momentum, economic prosperity, and my personal identity. It meant reinvention at the most intimate level, an evolution that continues to unfold today. 

“Every pandemic in history has brought about significant cultural change. During the height of ours, I asked myself, “What is the one thing that will never again look the same?” To me, the answer was abundant. Life will never again be analog, only exponentially virtual.

“During the pandemic, the last bastions of our defences against technology fell, and it invaded every nook of our existence. 

“We became one with the machine, and aspects of our lives I never thought were digitizable are now being connected to the mainframe. This worries and excites me; the tension between my desire to embrace analog humanity while attaining virtual modernity is only growing. 

“I am exploring gathering art that helps us navigate our ever-virtualizing modern-day social lives. I estimate that a third of my casual friendships and get-togethers are now permanently ported into DM group threads. This fact does not make me unhappy or disturbed in the slightest, and I worry that I should be. 

“Ultimately, we all need to better understand what a healthy virtual social life is without losing our IRL friendships, an area you can expect more from me on. 

“I also have a far-off dream to open a museum of gathering art. What might civilization look like if our creative canvases recorded the beauty of collective oneness? What if we idolized those who brought us together? 

“I believe there is a future coming where we all have the extra time and the deep desire to live more socially, and that vision will need artists and creators to bring it to life.”

Author Profile

Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, PORTFOLIOY.YVR Business & Entrepreneurs Magazine, and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at helen@ecoluxluv.com.
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