Daman Beatty is the founder of Surrey604.com, an online magazine and media channel that promotes the region via words, images, video and Social Media. We sat down with Daman for a closer look at the man behind the website…
Tourism Surrey: How long have you been a part of the Surrey community?
Daman Beatty: “I’ve lived in Surrey since 2010, but my wife Fatima was born and raised here. Her South Asian family emigrated from Fiji back in the 1960s and set down roots. They quickly embraced and adopted me into their family and culture, so I’ve been on an accelerated plan. Having come from an almost completely monocultural place back East, I have learned a great deal about their culture, and many others since moving here.”
TS: What do you love about being a part of Surrey?
DB: “I grew up in small town New Brunswick, where everybody knows your name. There was a great sense of community. I am amazed that despite the overwhelming size of Surrey as a city, what a sense of community we have here too. It feels like a small town! It is something I haven’t experienced since leaving the Maritimes. Surrey’s people share a bond; we’ve struggled for identity. In the past, people have been bashful about residing here, but that is changing. Change is happening fast and we feel a great sense of pride. This city has awakened. Big things are coming.”
TS: What’s the most valuable thing that Surrey provides you?
DB: “For Surrey604 it provides a ton of great content! But for me personally, it is my home. It provides me with a sense of belonging, friends, and family. Having moved from Yaletown in Vancouver to Surrey’s City Centre, the cost of living is literally half! I have always loved to travel, and experience new things. Surrey has it all. I don’t even need to leave home to experience worldwide diversity and culture, not to mention food. If you want to experience Surrey’s diversity at its grandest, drop by the Fusion Fest next summer. You’ll be blown away! I travel a lot, but am always excited to return home to Surrey.”
TS: What’s the most valuable thing you provide Surrey?
DB: “Surrey604.com – Surrey’s Online Media Channel is a project we began almost three years ago to amplify that sense of civic pride. As an independent, grassroots media outlet, we have video journalists, actors, photographers, writers and media personalities covering the bright and beautiful people, places and ideas of our great city. There are so many exciting things to talk about here. Through social media we connect our community. We’re still trail blazing and we’re having a blast!”
TS: What made you choose Surrey for your endeavors?
DB: “Fatima and I chose to buy property here because it is the smartest place to invest. The city is booming. When we moved here, it was so obvious that great things were coming, the new library, hospital, city hall, new towers. I bought a ton of Surrey-related domain names. Some good ones too! I wanted in on the action and was inspired to create something that would tap into this boom. We couldn’t believe the positive response when we launched Surrey604. It was obvious that people here were ready for something truly their own, not imported from Vancouver.”
TS: How does Surrey inspire you?
DB: “Where I am truly lucky, is that Fatima shares my passion for Surrey604. We’ve built it together. That is a major key to our success! Since starting Surrey604, we have met so many wonderful people, and experienced so many great things. It has been a wild ride. Everyone we work with becomes a friend, and neighbor, and our network keeps growing. We’re heavily driven through social media. Within the first two months of operating, I connected with a guy born to be part of our team. He was at Party for the Planet 2012, tweeting pictures, covering the event on his own. We met in front of the stage, screaming to hear each other over blaring music. His name was Esmir Milavic, an immigrant and journalist from Bosnia. He joined Surrey604 on the spot. Now we’re like brothers and spend holidays together.”
TS: What’s changed about Surrey in the last 10 years?
DB: “Surrey has grown beyond a bedroom community, and is poised to become a major independent city, standing on its own. We’ll surpass Vancouver’s population in a few short years.”
TS: What do you picture Surrey looking like in the next ten years?
DB:“You’ll see Surrey develop into a thriving downtown, a beautiful city with modern, futuristic architecture to match our city’s slogan. We’ll stand on our own and make a name for ourselves. Crime will go down, our reputation will shine and we’ll take great pride in where we live and what we have accomplished. People will look at us and see a true success story. I think beyond 10 or 20 years there will be a total transformation and further beautification. In particular, along the Fraser River here, you’ll see something like Granville Island emerge, which itself, just 40 years ago was all industrial land. We have so much potential, it’s so exciting to be part of this!”
TS: Tell us something about you that not many people know.
DB: “I had a speech impediment until I was about 9 or 10 years old. I couldn’t pronounce my R’s, so they sounded like W’s. When I said “Smurf” it sounded like “Smewwf” or my sister’s name “Margaret” sounded like Maw-gwit. It was embarrassing. The school hired a speech therapist who’d interrupt my classes, and they’d announce, “Oh Daman, time for your speech therapy” right in front of everyone. Horrible. I quit the therapy and chose to overcome it on my own. Which thankfully I did! I guess it taught me I can be successful on my own, and I like to think outside the box. It is so liberating to have creative freedom. That’s the nice thing about Surrey604; it is our own media outlet. We can do whatever we want. There are no limits. We’ve got some great things in store and an incredible team to make it happen!”
TS: Anything else you would like to share?
DB: “Surrey604 is always looking for creative contributors. Give us a shout if you’re interested in joining this exciting experiment of ours, and sharing your own Surrey voice!”