Edmonton Notes for January 22, 2017

Hoar frost and fog made for a very beautiful winter weekend here in Edmonton (minus the collisions I guess). I hope you had some time to enjoy it. Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Frozen Raspberries
Frozen Raspberries, photo by Dave Sutherland

Upcoming Events

Ice Castles Edmonton
Ice Castles Edmonton

DemoCamp Edmonton 34 – January 24, 2017

Edmonton’s 34th DemoCamp is coming up on Tuesday, January 24, 2017. DemoCamp is a great way to see what local entrepreneurs have been working on and to network with developers, creatives, and investors in Edmonton’s local tech scene. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.

DemoCamp Edmonton 14

DemoCamp Edmonton 34
WHEN: Tuesday, January 24 at 6:30pm
WHERE: CCIS 1-140, University of Albertamap
RSVP

Here’s a sneak peek at the line-up for Tuesday’s event (subject to change):

Augmented reality, an improvisation bot, and a platform for closing deals are just a few of the things you can expect to see in action. Should be a fun night! Experienced DemoCampers will know the event takes place in two parts – demos and networking. After the demos are finished at CCIS, join the crowd over at RATT (Room At The Top) on the 7th floor of the Students Union Building, to keep the conversation going.

To get a sense of what to expect, check out my recaps of previous DemoCamps here. If you can’t make it in person, you can follow along on Twitter with the #democampyeg hashtag or on Snapchat by following StartupEdmonton.

DemoCamp is just one of the many events organized by Startup Edmonton, an entrepreneurial campus and community hub. You can learn more in this video:

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 34!

Taproot Edmonton: An update to kickoff 2017

Happy New Year! Time for an update on where we’re at with Taproot Edmonton and our quest to build a sustainable future for local journalism in Edmonton and beyond.

Taproot Edmonton at Launch Party 7
Photo by Ampersand Grey

We’re closing in on eight months since we announced Taproot. We started with just an idea. We shared it and received valuable feedback. We refined the idea and made predictions about how to make it real. We started prototyping and learned what worked and what needed work. Then we launched and began iterating. Now we’re looking to grow. And on that note, we’re thrilled to start the year as an official entity: Taproot Publishing Inc.!

Getting to this point has been both challenging and rewarding! We’re grateful to everyone who has supported us along the way.

Growing our membership

Taproot members are our primary source of funding and curiosity, both of which are critical for great local stories to get published. We are approaching 100 members – big thanks to all of you! We’re committed to delivering an increasing amount of value to you in the year ahead, and we’re thrilled to have you along for the ride.

If you’d like to support us and share your own curiosity, becoming a member is quick and costs just $100/year or $10/month.

Publishing new stories

Thanks to the curiosity of our members and the hard work of our storytellers (who are also members), we have now published four stories and are preparing to publish our next before the end of the month.

Our November story was a rumination on what Edmontonians can do to make streets safer for those on foot. How to stop discounting pedestrian deaths was a collaborative effort between Karen, Jeff, Stephanie, and myself. We learned a lot through the production of that story and were happy with the response it received.

Our December story was a follow-up piece, taking into account some of the feedback and discussion that happened in the comments and on social media. Stephanie wrote about how a family longs for Vision Zero to live up to its promise. We were really happy to be able to share that important perspective.

We’ve got a bunch of stories in the hopper and we’re applying the lessons learned through publishing our first four to ensure we can ramp up our publication frequency. There’s certainly no shortage of great questions from our members that we’d like to explore!

Sharing our own story

Just after I posted my last update in October we participated in Startup Edmonton’s Launch Party 7. That was a great opportunity for us to refine our message and to tell our story to a whole new group of people. We spent the entire evening talking to curious people about Taproot and what we’re up to. It was great to hear encouragement, feedback, and constructive criticism.

Taproot Edmonton at Launch Party 7
Photo by Ampersand Grey

In November I travelled to Chicago for a holiday and while there attended the People-Powered Publishing Conference. The event took place just two days after the U.S. Presidential Election, which made for some interesting discussions about journalism. It was a great opportunity to share some of the journalistic innovation that is happening up here in Canada.

We have received quite a bit of media attention so far, which we’re happy about! To highlight just two, we were featured on journalism.co.uk which gave us great exposure abroad, and Karen spent some time talking about Taproot on Edmonton AM. We have started collecting all of the links on our website at Taproot in the News.

Ongoing curiosity

We have been thinking a lot about how we can better serve our members and play a bigger role in the future of local journalism. Our current approach works well for exploring some of the questions our members have asked, but as we found through working on the pedestrian deaths story, some questions are perhaps best explored over time. This requires a different, additional approach.

Here’s what Karen said in an interview with Story Board:

“How do you make it possible for somebody to follow an issue so closely that they can see stories that other people wouldn’t, that they have sources that other people don’t, that they can go deeper than someone just parachuting into an issue can?” she says. “I think that is probably, journalistically, one of the biggest things that we’ve got to figure out a way to fund.”

We think there’s a real opportunity to tackle this challenge together with our members and we’ve started sharing some ideas with them. Stay tuned!

Sustainable local journalism

Exactly a year ago I was writing about the merger of the Journal & Sun newsrooms, a change that resulted in more than 30 people losing their jobs. We’ve seen more people either leave or be let go since then and I don’t think the end is in sight yet, to say nothing of the downsizing that has taken place at other local media organizations.

The business model that used to support local journalism is broken. The newspaper you used to know isn’t coming back. We are working to replace what is being lost with something that is sustainable and responsive to the community we serve.

How you can help

Want to help us grow Taproot Edmonton? Become a member. You’ll get access to the Story Garden where you can share your curiosity with us, you’ll get our weekly members-only newsletter, and you’ll be first in line to receive new benefits and take advantage of new products as we build them out. Your support will help us ensure that quality local journalism has a future in Edmonton.

If you’re not quite ready to become a member, then we’d love the opportunity to earn your support. Join our free mailing list to keep up-to-date on new stories and products. Invite us to speak at your meeting or event – we’d be happy to talk about media, journalism, and our vision. Or join us for coffee if that’s more your style. If you’d prefer to stay online, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Medium. Of course, you can always send us an email too.

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #236

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

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Sylvan Lake gets improved health care, photo by Premier of Alberta

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for January 15, 2017

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

High Level Bridge

Upcoming Events

Deep Freeze Festival 2016

Photo Tour: City of Edmonton offices in the Edmonton Tower

About a month ago I had the opportunity to tour the brand new City of Edmonton offices in the Edmonton Tower. The City is the largest tenant in the new building, leasing a total of 17 floors (with a 20 year lease). The goal is to consolidate a number of existing City offices into the new tower, which will house about 2,300 City employees when the move is complete later this year.

Our tour began on the sixth floor, which will be home to members of the Sustainable Development department. Robert Guenther, Project Director of the City’s Civic Accommodation Transformation, and Scott Varga, Workspace Design Lead, showed us around. They told us the project is on track to achieve the LEED Gold designation.

City offices in the new Edmonton Tower

As you might expect, the offices feature an open floorplan but have been organized into “neighbourhoods” to group colleagues together. Throughout each floor there are desks, shared desks or hotelling spaces, breakout rooms, meeting rooms of various sizes, and a variety of other types of workspaces. The walkways felt a little cramped at times, but the workstations themselves felt spacious and inviting.

City offices in the new Edmonton Tower

Employees are encouraged to work where and how they want to, and that includes in the large cafe space that is on each floor. It is intended to be more than just a kitchen, with movable furniture (they pointed out “things on casters” a few times during the tour) and tech amenities to facilitate meetings. The City refers to this varied way of working as “alternative work strategies” and they think it’ll help to attract and retain employees. At the same time, they expect about 90% of staff will work “similarly” to how they did in other offices.

City offices in the new Edmonton Tower

On the sixth floor we got to see a pretty neat drafting area, basically a large standing desk with storage underneath surrounded by whiteboards. Other floors might have something different in that location, something more suited to the work being done there.

City offices in the new Edmonton Tower

Every workstation features a sit-stand desk, which I think is amazing! The furniture all looks brand new but is mostly stuff the City already had, refurbished using recycled materials. About 40% of the furniture, including the walls of the cubicles, have been repurposed from elsewhere.

City offices in the new Edmonton Tower

Each floor features roughly 118 workstations and will be home to an average of 130 people. Every employee gets a locked cabinet for their stuff, but some employees will not have their own desks. Those employees will use the hotelling desks that are available, or the meeting spaces.

City offices in the new Edmonton Tower

There are about 25 meeting rooms on each floor, with the nicest conference rooms located on the exterior walls which means they feature lots of natural light. Speaking of light, all the light fixtures are LED and they’re dimmable. Smart monitoring systems will adjust the brightness of the lights depending on how bright it is outside. Other sensors monitor and automatically adjust air, heat, and other systems. The offices are climate controlled using “chilled beam radiant heating/cooling” in the ceiling, and apparently this is just the second office in Edmonton to use the technology (PCL’s headquarters is the other).

City offices in the new Edmonton Tower

There are a variety of breakout areas throughout each floor plus small meeting rooms called “now rooms”. One of the most interesting things about the office is that the walls are all component-based and can be taken down and moved in a couple of hours. That means that rooms are not 100% silent, but I went inside one and closed the door and had to strain to hear the folks outside. Additionally, the ceiling on each floor features a unique sound masking system that produces a sort of white noise that can be made louder or quieter as required.

City offices in the new Edmonton Tower

It was a bit harder to see all of the tech featured in the new offices, but it’s there, mostly behind-the-scenes like the smart sensor systems mentioned previously. Internet access is full gigabit, with increased wi-fi capacity compared to previous City offices. The building will also feature Open City Wi-Fi for guests. In an effort to continue reducing paper use, many meeting spaces feature Chrome boxes and the associated A/V to facilitate web meetings and document presentation.

City offices in the new Edmonton Tower

The outside of the Edmonton Tower features the revised, sans-serif City of Edmonton logo on the east and west sides of the building. Though it is often referred to as “the City tower” or something along those lines, it is officially just called “Edmonton Tower”.

Edmonton Tower

There’s nothing on the south side (which features the distinctive curve) but the north side is home to a large 4K screen that will be used for art and messaging (not ads), as captured in this photo by Jeff Wallace:

Ice District - Flag Wavin'

The City’s move to the tower began on November 4, and every two weeks or so another group of employees move in. The City expects the move to be complete this summer. They are upgrading Century Place, where some staff will remain, and Chancery Hall is also expected to remain in use by City staff for the time being.

Over the next couple of months you can expect new public art on the main floor of the Edmonton Tower. Next month, the brand new Edmonton Service Centre will open on the second floor, providing a one-stop shop for City services like transit, permits, and licenses.

You can see more photos of the workspace here. For more on the importance of office design, see this PDF report featuring the Civic Accommodation Transformation project.

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #235

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Alberta families benefit from carbon levy rebate 25961
Alberta families benefit from carbon levy rebate, photo by Premier of Alberta

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • Medium announced some big changes last week. They’re eliminating 50 jobs and are changing the business model, with Ev Williams writing that “it’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet.”
  • Interesting to hear about Postmedia IO, a new initiative “focused on expanding innovation capabilities, growing business-to-business (B2B) product strategy, and evolving the company’s digital possibilities for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).”
  • Norway is going to be the first country to start switching off its FM radio network. “Sixty-six per cent of Norwegians oppose switching off FM, with just 17 per cent in favour and the rest undecided, according to an opinion poll published by the daily Dagbladet last month.”
  • The Washington Post is creating an eight-person “rapid-response investigative team that will work closely with all departments in the newsroom.” The team will consist of five reporters, an assignment editor, “a database reporter”, and “a graphics reporter”.
  • Is “fake news” now a tainted term?

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for January 8, 2017

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • The City mailed property assessment notices this week and most properties will see “a modest decrease” in value due to the slowing economy. “Overall, the City’s total taxable assessed value decreased slightly from $172.3 billion in 2016 to $170.3 billion in 2017.” A typical single-family, detatched home decreased by 2.7% while the typical condo decreased by 2.3%.
  • St. Albert mayor Nolan Crouse announced this week he is not planning to run again in October. “It has been said that one should leave the stage while the crowd is still clapping and while I am not certain if indeed the crowd is still clapping, I know it is my time to leave this stage.”
  • Have a Christmas tree to get rid of? The City is collecting natural trees starting on Tuesday, January 10. They’ll be picked up for recycling within three weeks. If you live in an apartment or condo, you can take your tree by January 30 to an Eco Station or Recycling Depot. “In 2016, more than 12,000 trees weighing 137 tonnes were collected for recycling.”
  • The latest “throw it at the wall to see if it sticks” move by Northlands is a longshot proposal to build a new horse racing centre near the Edmonton International Airport, despite saying last year it would get out of the business.
  • ETS fares are increasing an average of 3% starting in February. AISH, U-Pass, and Route 747 fares are not changing, but monthly adult passes are increasing $2.75 to $94.25. “ETS operates 929 buses, 97 DATS vehicles and 94 Light Rail Transit vehicles on more than 200 routes and delivered over 87 million transit trips in 2016.”
  • Edmonton’s new creative lighting pilot project will see the exterior of the World Trade Centre brightened in the coming months. The program provides up to $50,000 in matching funding and is intended “to support exterior creative lighting that enhances and highlights the visual presence of Edmonton’s historic resources, adding to our sense of place, identity and pride.”
  • Sharon posted her 2016 review of food in Edmonton this week, Epicureous in Edmonton.
  • The Edmonton Arts Council is hiring an artist-in-residence to work in Edmonton’s cemetaries. The deadline to apply is February 1.
  • Gordon Kent has a good roundup of the ongoing development you can expect to see around town in 2017.
  • Edmontonian Stefan Rzadzinski is looking to compete in the Race of Champions, which takes place in Miami later this month. You can vote for him to represent North America here! He’s currently got a big lead. You can learn more here.
  • Elise reports that the Mill Creek Daylighting project could have major benefits for the local fish population.
  • Whoa, wait a minute, an active NHL hockey player actually misses Edmonton?!
  • For more recent headlines, check out ShareEdmonton.

Ice District - Flag Wavin'
Ice District – Flag Wavin’, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

Alberta Legislature Grounds
Alberta Legislature Grounds

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #234

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Happy New Year 2017

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! I’ve had a nice blogging break over the holidays, but I’m ready to get back into it.

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Happy New Year 2017

Upcoming Events

Alberta Legislature Grounds