Much like a great novel, sometimes our lives can have an intriguing plot twist. This was the case for Herman Steuernagel about seven years ago, when he felt inspired to leave his hometown and an unfulfilling banking job.
Today, he’s a web designer by day, science fiction novelist by night, runner, cyclist and living life to the full. And where better to do all of those things than Penticton?
“It’s interesting how the choices we make decide where life will take us,” says Herman, reflecting on that pivotal time in his early 30s. “My dad had just passed away, one year after he retired, and I realized I didn’t want to work a job I didn’t like.”
So Herman left his banking career, where he was managing two banks and 30 people, and he and his wife Nettie packed up their lives in La Crete, Alberta, to move to Penticton. He started up his own web design company – and hasn’t looked back.
“We had vacationed here in the summers and liked Penticton and thought it was the best place within reason to move, still in Canada, so came here for sunshine and wine. I also road cycle and this is a great area for that so that was part of what brought us here.”
What do you do?
Herman works as a web designer, currently for Calgary-based XM Media, which merged with his former company, The Fourth Media. They specialize in building custom websites, search engine optimization and google ads for a wide variety of companies of all sizes.
Before his previous life as a banker, Herman was a reporter at the Northern Pioneer community newspaper – a natural fit after gaining an English degree from University of Calgary. While he soon discovered it was not his dream job, this education and experience no doubt carved the path for his other passion – writing novels.
Read his first novel
Herman’s first book, published in December 2020, is a young adult dystopian science fiction novel titled Lies the Guardians Tell. It’s the first book in a series, based on a futuristic story about a young woman who sets off on a journey to learn the truth about her world’s existence. The book can be purchased through online merchants and is already receiving rave reviews.
Herman says he has finished writing book two and has four others in mind for the series.
“What happens after that, we’ll see,” he says.
Strike it off the bucket list
What inspired Herman to start writing novels? The journey began in the summer of 2019 when he agreed to join his friends to train for a half marathon. Having never been a runner in the past, it was a lofty goal.
“I went from couch to half marathon in four months,” he said, and completed the Kelowna Half in a time that surprised everyone, including himself.
“I figured, if I can do this, I can do anything,” he added. “Novel writing was always on my bucket list and I didn’t think I had the time. But if I had the time and dedication to enter a race that I had never previously dreamed of doing, I knew I could accomplish something I’d always wanted to do.”
Next on the bucket list? Possibly training for a full marathon, once a foot injury heals. And once international travelling opens up again, he’d like to visit Machu Picchu and explore more of Europe.
What do you love about Penticton?
In the meantime, Herman is loving life in Penticton, where he has been for the past six years. He has raced the Penticton Grand Fondo a couple of times and enjoys all the recreational activities the city has to offer.
“I love the weather and I really enjoy the athletic events that come here. The scale and quantity of events that we get here has always astonished me,” he said.
Why do you love Cowork?
“It was pretty soon after I had moved to Penticton that I found Cowork. I was looking for a place to work that wasn’t at home or a coffee shop. I enjoy the variety of people who come through Cowork through such varied skills and backgrounds – it’s pretty incredible.”
Hails from …
“I was born in Stettler, Alberta, lived in that area until I was eight, and kept moving north until a little town five hours north of Grande Prairie called La Crete. Dad was a teacher, so he moved there for an opportunity.”
Come see me about …
“Self-publishing, web design and wine.”
Something you might not know about me
“That I was a branch manager at ATB Financial. I managed two branches and 30 staff.”
Editor’s note: And if you haven’t been paying attention, Herman has just written his second novel.
Road cycling, running, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, writing and reading. Be sure to pick up his first book: Lies the Guardians Tell.
Written by Katya Irwin
Just over a year ago, Cecilia Ratke packed up her car in North Carolina and headed in the direction of the Canadian border. Fresh out of college, the world was full of possibilities. Her plan? To hit the road, do some hiking and see where the journey would lead.
A few weeks later, she rolled into Penticton, where her parents had recently settled to be closer to family. She was also on the hunt for a job. While her degree is in Art History, she had also studied physics and math, and had a basic knowledge of coding. Turns out, it was the perfect recipe for a job with Big Bear Software as a Quality Assurance Analyst and Junior Web Developer.
The new role was a learning experience, but there’s no doubt Cecilia thrives on an intellectual challenge.
“I’m always interested in learning. I was one of those weird kids who liked school,” she jokes.
Today, Cecilia is one of the first faces you see through the windows in the morning, quietly glued to her screen testing software, writing guides or talking virtually with clients.
“In my job, I have a lot of freedom to learn new things and try things out. The testing itself, you have to get into the mind of whoever the user is. It takes thought and creativity trying to figure out all the loopholes,” she explains.
At 23, she may also be the youngest at Cowork. She appreciates the routine of being in a buzzy workplace, surrounded by people – “and all the plants.”
“I work so much better when I’m in an environment where other people are working,” she says. “It keeps me on track.”
When not at work, Cecilia might be seen playing a piano. Or hiking the hills around Penticton. Or experimenting with new baking recipes.
“I really enjoy baking – not decorating cakes – I hate decorating cakes. Baking, it’s like a scientific procedure and there’s some ingredients you can’t change because it will mess up the whole composition. I mainly like trying to make new things, combine flavours.”
And let’s not forget her newly discovered hobby.
“I’m really enjoying gardening. I’m terrible with houseplants because I always kill them. I name them and everything. They’re my babies, so it’s terribly upsetting. But this past summer, I’ve been learning from my grandmother, growing outdoors instead. We grew a bunch of vegetables and herbs and it was really satisfying to see them thrive.”
As for her piano playing, Cecilia is a classically trained pianist, lately working on expanding her repertoire.
“I’m keeping up on classical but trying to learn how to write and improvise,” she says, confessing it may be a while before she performs for crowds. “I’m super perfectionist so I run into a problem where I keep feeling it’s still not ready. I do think that it would be fun, eventually, to play for people.”
Cecilia grew up in Hickory, N.C., a small town in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. It’s an area with great hiking nearby. She moved to Georgia to attend the liberal arts college, Berry College. After that, she knew she was ready to move on from her hometown.
“It used to be the furniture-making capital of the world, but it isn’t anymore,” she says. “It’s close to the size of Penticton, but without being squeezed between the lakes and mountains so it’s more spread out. Here in Penticton, it’s fun to have this whole tourism industry because that didn’t exist in a manufacturing ghost town-type place. I do miss the landscape of tall trees and brick buildings though.”
What do you love most about Penticton?
“Probably the lakes. I like that I can walk and look at a lake – they’re really beautiful. It’s not that I didn’t grow up near beautiful places but the fact that everything is within walking distances, it’s pretty amazing. I can walk to the beach on my lunch break.”
Come see me about …
“Art history, baking, music and testing software.”
Something you might not know about me
“I’m a classically trained pianist.”
“Chocolate. I have a big sweet tooth.”
Playing piano, gardening, art and hiking – “I hope to do more of it.”
Written by Katya Irwin
Cowork's Community Manager and so, so much more.
Why should kids have all the fun? Ask Kim Palmer about her collection of fire truck LEGO. Or maybe about performing in a musical theatre group for adults. Or about her passion for figure skating and that time she crashed Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s 2010 Olympic gold medal party.
As Executive Director of the Okanagan School of the Arts, Kim is always exploring new creative programming – for all ages. She’s also a self-proclaimed adult fan of LEGO, known colloquially as an AFOL, and we get the sense that her LEGO collection may be the envy of most eight-year-olds.
“I’m slightly obsessed with fire trucks,” she confesses. “When I was a kid, my parents got me the LEGO fire station. When I started getting back into it about seven years ago, I dug it out, and then started buying new ones and antique ones. Now every time a new fire truck comes out, I have to get it.”
The process of building LEGO is “weirdly meditative,” she adds. “The whole world can go away and you can just sit there and concentrate on it.”
Kim also helps coordinate the BrickCan convention in Vancouver and is interested in starting up a group here in Penticton: LEGO-pogo, anyone?
As seen at Cowork
Kim runs the office for the Okanagan School of the Arts, now based at Cowork, formerly stationed at the Shatford Centre. She’s also the morning face at the front desk, greeting visitors and managing the tunes.
She speaks with vigour about OSA programming, which includes a life drawing group, painting, sketching, calligraphy classes – “and, eventually, a musical theatre group.” Delivery has adapted amidst the pandemic, with a mix of virtual and in-person classes where participants can spread out.
And she’s revived by the energy at Cowork, surrounded by people who love their work.
“There’s an energy and feeling of enthusiasm because most of the people who are here are doing the work or project that they really want to do. It’s really energizing,” she says.
Back in time
Kim grew up in rural Ontario, surrounded by farmland. The closest town was a 15-minute drive away called Forest. But this didn’t stop her from being busy. She figure skated six days a week, sang in choirs, worked for the school paper, and later taught swimming and coached skating.
She moved to Kingston to attend Queens University, where she completed a degree in English language and literature, “minoring in pipe band,” she jokes. In case you’re wondering, she played tenor drums and symbols.
“Nice and noisy – just the way I like it.”
Kim’s career took some jaunts, starting in retail, bankruptcy and call centres in North Bay. She moved to Vancouver in 2003, with jobs ranging from Canadian Red Cross to environmental consulting and then architecture and mining consulting. She worked briefly as a social media manager for Cherry Velvet, a local fashion brand, before – quite suddenly – moving to Penticton.
Moving to Penticton
One day, during musical theatre group in Vancouver, Kim met Pascal. Together, they performed in musicals and travelled around taking in skating competitions.
It should be said, these weren’t your usual musicals. Picture mashed-up scripts with different performances combined into one colourful, magical show. For example, Priscilla, Queen of the Damned. Or a superhero show with an alien invasion. Each was presented as a full production, complete with choreography, singing and costumes.
A skating competition brought the pair to Penticton one fall. They started coming up each summer, and something about floating down the channel inspired Pascal to file for a work transfer. It came through, and within two months, they arrived in Penticton (February 2019).
“I love a lot about Penticton. It wasn’t just the channel, although that’s a big one. And it wasn’t just the wine. Vancouver, as with any big city, can get very impersonal and we very much felt that from the time we were visiting, there’s an openness and friendliness here that we really appreciate.”
Recently, they started the Broadway Chorus of the Okanagan, which they’ve named Showtime Community Theatre. They’re prepared to remount musical theatre shows here, but COVID has put that on the back burner. She has also joined the Glengarry Skating Club.
What comes next? Whatever it is, you can expect it will be bright, creative and outrageously fun.
The City of Penticton is currently reviewing feedback to make a decision on whether or not to install dedicated bike lanes along a proposed lake to lake route, part of which falls within the downtown core.
As owners and operators of Cowork Penticton we believe that the value of safe cycling routes will improve the livability of our city and improve the future prospects for all businesses.
We wrote to council explaining this and have published our letter below.
If you agree, please write your own letter and email it email@example.com.
To whom it may concern,
Cowork Penticton is in full support of the Downtown Bike Lanes in the proposed Lake to Lake route.
Our membership/customer base is made up of a very high proportion of avid cyclists of all kinds: commuters, leisure, trail and downhill, road and competitive. They regularly fill our internal bike rack. Some cyclists trailer their children to school or daycare, others head out for lunchtime rides.
Cycling to and from work, is incredibly important to the entrepreneurial, freelance and remote working business people who use our building every day. Our members ride their bikes to Cowork and use it as a home base for the day. From there they walk to do a lot of business in the downtown core. Cyclists are strong and loyal customers. Throughout the Downtown core, the City should be encouraging bike commuting for employees and visitors alike.
Safe access through the centre of the downtown is critical to following through on Penticton's messaging as a city that celebrates cycling culture. Bikes need to be removed from sidewalks and given a safe and protected laneway. If a bike lane is not conveniently located, the problem is not solved.
This presentation by Toronto Cycling breaks down the positive impact of bike lanes very simply, and further highlights the fact that retail owners greatly overestimate the number of driving customers and underestimate the number of cycling customers.
In another study, bike lanes are shown to improve business conditions on the routes, as seen in this study of 14 corridors in 6 cities, released April 2020: " Essentially, adding improvements like bike lanes largely boosted business and employment in the retail and food service sectors."
Failure to install safe cycling routes in the Downtown core will ultimately harm all businesses in our City
I would like to reiterate that Cowork Penticton is in full support of the Downtown Bike Lanes in the proposed Lake to Lake route.
Nicholas & Jennifer Vincent
Founders and Owners
Cowork Penticton - Better.Together.
Written by Katya Irwin
Meet David Warriner
When David Warriner was 11 years old, his parents did something that would forever change the trajectory of his life. Recognizing his natural skill at learning French in school, they booked a trip to Paris – and placed a guide book in his hands.
Tasked with navigating their way around the city, it was David’s first taste of translating from French to English. And something stuck.
Thirty years later, he’s racking his bookshelf with books he has translated by French and French-Canadian authors. The freelance literary translator has penned everything from toddler’s board books to graphic novels, reimagined classic fairy tales and – his passion – crime fiction.
As he types away at his keyboard from his office space at Cowork Penticton, stories are being brought to life for a universal audience of English readers. Tales of crimes and mysteries unfold. The quirky personalities of characters are exposed. Windows into far-away worlds are unveiled.
The art of translating
Good translators are not born overnight, David admits. It’s a niche profession, having honed his skills after more than 15 years’ experience in commercial translation before turning his hand to the literary craft.
“It’s not just about plugging words onto a page,” David explains. “The mark of a good translation is for readers to not even suspect it’s a translation. We strive to make sure it reads as naturally as if English were the author’s first language. We have a duty to the author, the publisher and the reader to deliver the same feelings and emotions that book conjures up in the original language.”
“There’s always an aspect of the translator’s voice that comes through in every book and every text,” he added. “That’s because language is a tool. Like a sculptor would sculpt wood, literary translation is an art, so the style comes out in translation. As a translator, you’re writing somebody else’s story in your own words, and as a result you become a co-author of the story yourself.”
Born in Yorkshire, England, David went to Oxford from 1996 to 2000, earning a degree in French and German. While teaching English in Quebec, he met his wife Sarah. They ended up moving to Victoria in 2010, where David worked for the Ministry of Education as a translator. He soon made the leap to being his own boss, and was freelancing full time by the time they moved to Penticton in 2016 with their now 10-year-old daughter Avery.
Yet, the life of a translator is notoriously invisible. Ultimately, it’s the author who’s the star of the show. Also, translating is a solitary process.
“Cowork gets me out of the house in the morning. It’s nice when you’re not staring at the same four walls all day long,” says David. “It helps me shift gears between home and work – and I like the social aspect of working in an office with other like-minded freelancers and creative professionals. I feel part of a community and it builds more structure into my workday.”
Well, he’s clearly doing something right. Recently, David’s translation of Quebec author Roxanne Bouchard’s literary mystery We Were the Salt of the Sea was shortlisted for an award deemed the ‘Oscars of translation’ in the U.K. In fact, he claimed runner-up for the 2019 Scott Moncrieff Prize, awarded by the U.K. Society of Authors.
“The book really resonated with me – not just the crime aspect, but also the nautical flavour and the sheer poetry of the writing. It’s a beautiful book. It’s as much of a love story and an ode to sea as it’s a crime fiction novel, so it really checked a lot of boxes for me,” said David.
“To receive runner-up for my first full-length literary translation was a real honour.”
Look up his books
You’ll find many of these books at the Penticton Library. You can also purchase them on Amazon or at major chains including Indigo/Coles. Tip: Blackwells in the U.K. offers free shipping and Canadian pricing. Also, if you don’t see the books on the shelf, don’t be afraid to ask the librarian to order it in!
Did you know?
At a typical rate of 2,000 words a day, it can take a solid two to three months to translate a novel. That’s before the editing process even starts!
There have been dozens of English translations from the Ancient Greek of Homer’s The Odyssey since the 16th century, but the first and only woman to translate this classic text (so far) was Emily Wilson, in 2017.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina have also been translated from Russian into English multiple times. Husband and wife translator duo Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have translated both.
Some famous literary translations:
Fun fact! Pinocchio, written by Italian Carlo Collodi, was translated into 260 languages.
It’s the people we meet and places we go that fill our lives with meaning.
“Life is a journey. You go with the flow,” says Sukh Kaile, a lawyer and lifelong learner whose studies and travels have led him around the world. “You never know who you’re going to meet and where – and you learn from everyone along the way.”
These are values Sukh holds true. Born in northern India’s state of Punjab, Sukh – full name Sukhdarshan Singh Kaile – now lives in Penticton with his wife Amandeep Rai and their two-year-old twins (Ariyan and Mehnaaz).
He operates as a sole practitioner providing legal services throughout the South Okanagan, practicing business law, real estate conveyance, wills and estates, and immigration. Among his other skills, Sukh is fluent in three languages including Punjabi and Hindi.
At the office
Sukh has based his business out of Cowork Penticton for the past year.
“Here at Cowork, you get an opportunity to meet new people from different fields and it’s a good way to network,” he says.
Cowork offers a place to meet clients or work quietly after hours, providing the flexibility that life of a busy dad of two often requires. It’s Sukh’s hard-working drive and cheerful persona that keeps clients coming back.
“I’m always happy to help, available and willing to accommodate,” he says. “Working on your own, I have more flexibility, can work on evenings and weekends. What makes me happy is if I can help people and to make them smile.”
Sukh grew up in a city called Moga in the state of Punjab, India, which he says is – in many ways – comparable to Kelowna. It is largely agricultural, home to many colleges, well-connected by transit and home to a popular market for used cars and agricultural equipment on weekends.
He studied law and also worked as a lawyer in India, a common-law country, before gaining his master’s in business law from De Montfort Law School in Leicester, U.K., and returned to India to work as a lawyer. He met his wife in India, where they wed, and he was soon moving countries again – this time to Penticton, where Amandeep was living with her family.
But in order to work in Canada, Sukh had to upgrade his studies with a number of exams, and he took courses at UBC and UVic Law School. He completed his PLTC (Professional Legal Training Course) and Articling in 2017. He Articled at Summerland’s Avery Law Office. He says he’s thankful to his parents and inlaws for their support throughout this entire process.
Patience is a virtue
Sukh is a firm believer that good things come to those who wait. Meeting his wife, moving to Canada, finding a local law firm to do his articling and then achieving his licence to practice law in B.C. – these things all required persistence and a healthy dose of patience, says Sukh, now age 36.
“When you have patience, things come along, and when it’s the right time, it happens,” he says.
Written by Katya Irwin
Meet Catherine Scott-Taggart
Catherine Scott-Taggart could tell you a thing or two about wine. It’s not just about tastings – although, that’s certainly part of it. She’s one of those deeply knowledgeable types who studied horticulture and plant physiology, received intense winemaking training in Australia and has since been working in the industry.
Today, she works out of Cowork Penticton, helming the Canadian customer support office for software company Process2Wine, which specializes in – you guessed it – vineyard and winery production management. Process2Wine is based in Bordeaux, France, and is used by companies worldwide.
Catherine grew up near Montreal and is thankful now for her bilingual education, which has proved essential for this job. After leaving Australia, she worked in Ontario for a while before moving to Penticton with her husband Jason James, a winemaker, in 2005.
When they arrived, they found a rental house downtown, which suited the couple and their dog – a Border Collie cross, now 16 years old – just fine. But that year, right during the middle of harvest, the owners decided to sell the home. To make a long story short, the couple purchased the house and have lived there happily ever since.
“I adore Penticton,” says Catherine. “It’s stunningly beautiful and I like the size of the town. It’s really walkable and I like the feel of it, with the cute WW2 buildings, and the Farmer’s Market is wonderful.”
While wine is (fabulous) work, music is passion. Catherine is humble about her musical skills, although she’s clearly highly skilled.
She plays clarinet and saxophone, and plays in three community bands: clarinet in the Penticton Concert Band & Valley Winds Woodwind Quintet and alto sax in the South Okanagan Big Band.
In fact, Catherine studied music at McGill University, but a highly competitive atmosphere zapped the joy out of pursuing music as a profession.
Catherine was born in Wimbledon, U.K., and immigrated to Canada in 1967, her family settling in Montreal. After her musical stint McGill, she earned degrees in horticulture & plant physiology, followed by a post-graduate winemaking program at the University of South Australia in Adelaide.
“That was intense winemaking. The educational standards are really high. We worked hard but had a lot of fun,” she recalls.
She and her husband moved to Penticton in 2005, both working at wineries, before she shifted gears to her latest position in 2014.
These days, when not out walking the dog or playing instruments, she enjoys cooking and trying different meals from local restaurants.
“The food here is amazing. The restaurants are just great, unfortunately,” she jokes. “With all the makers, the Farmers Market, the active music and arts scene, and the friendly community, I feel very lucky to have ended up in this fantastic town.”
Written by Katya Irwin
Meet Diane Jones
She works odd hours, hunches closely over her laptop, taking occasional short, quiet, shuffling walks around the office or the block to un-cramp her body – and, perhaps, her imagination.
At 81, Diane Jones is so far the oldest member at Cowork Penticton. A mother of five, grandmother of 11, and great grandmother of nine, she’s been tapping away at her computer as a resident desker for more than three years. A retired ESL teacher, she taught at Vancouver Community College for 30 years before retiring in 2001. But since, she’s been pursuing a dream – and perhaps getting printed revenge on her mother – by writing books.
“There’s been a buried writer in me for years,” says Diane, identifying herself as a hardcore grammarian. “My mother was a writer. She’d keep me home from school just to tell me a story she was working on.”
In addition to writing, Diane can speak four languages, including Russian, French and Spanish, and has studied many others, including Hebrew, Latin, Welsh, Spanish and – ahem – German (you might want to ask her about that one!). Fun facts: She can also read braille by eye (upside down and backwards) and count to 100 in Cantonese.
She honed her Russian-speaking skills in the 1970s while living in Vancouver. She and her family would simply walk up the gangplank of visiting Russian cargo ships at the harbour, striking up conversations with the crew. Before long, sailors would call her house when they were in town, often requesting a high-skilled match of chess with her son.
Diane and her husband, Frank, moved to Penticton in 2016, and almost immediately, she discovered Cowork Penticton, thanks to her daughter, Catherine, an editor, who was dropping in for hotdesking.
Diane started by writing a book titled The House of Secrets. She completed the novel and received encouraging feedback from an editor, but a corrupt USB file has temporarily sidelined the project.
Diane has also published numerous articles, including one short story, Fire, in an anthology titled Pilgrim’s Proof in the 2014 edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul – Touched by an Angel. She’s now writing her autobiography for her children and grandchildren, which she is writing in decades rather than chapters (now progressing into her 7th decade). She also has a ghost story in the works.
When asked what she considers her greatest success so far, Diane paused, smiled and replied: “I’ve got a terrific family, married 64 years, same guy.” She’s proud of her three decades spent teaching ESL to immigrants. She not only taught them English, but she helped them write their resumes and practice for interviews – essential steps for transitioning into their new lives in Canada.
As for Cowork, it’s a place where Diane can focus on her writing.
“If you write at home, you don’t get any writing done.” There are too many distractions, she says, like a retired husband. ”I work here so I won’t kill my husband,” she says with a laugh… proving coworking memberships can save lives.