#yeg turns ten

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the #yeg hashtag on Twitter. Here is the first #yeg tweet:

That’s probably the only time I have used #Edmonton! Ever since then, it has been nothing but #yeg. Here’s what I wrote about that tweet back in 2009:

“If I remember correctly, I found about the #yyc hashtag while I was in Calgary for BarCampCalgary2 on June 14th, 2008. I learned from @wintr that a few Calgarians had started using the hashtag to tweet about things related to their city. I thought it might be a good idea to do something similar here in Edmonton.”

Timing counts for a lot, and my Twitter story is no different. I was in the right place at the right time and joined Twitter early, on July 14, 2006. It was a fun and frustrating time (remember the fail whale) to be on Twitter. I convinced Sharon to join Twitter fairly early on, in October 2006. Her first tweet, fittingly, was about food. (Her second tweet the next day was an attempt to turn off Twitter, which at the time worked via text message).

Being one of the first people in the world on Twitter meant I was one of the few people to follow when others joined. It also probably meant I was just statistically more likely to be the one to post the first #yeg tweet, though looking back now it is kind of amazing to me that it took two years to do so. On the other hand, it wasn’t until August 2007 that Chris Messina suggested using the # symbol for groups on Twitter and posted the first hashtag in a tweet. Tagging was popular on the web already at that point but the word “hashtag” was new. Its use grew so much that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2014.

EdmontonTweetup
That’s me speaking at the first EdmontonTweetup in May 2008

On the fifth anniversary of the #yeg hashtag in 2013 I wrote:

“People from other cities often comment on how connected and tight-knit the online community in Edmonton seems to be, and I think the #yeg hashtag is really at the heart of that. We’ve used it to make new friends, to share the news, to raise money for important charitable causes, and for thousands of other interesting and important reasons.”

It didn’t take long for Edmonton’s Twitter community to grow beyond simply #yeg. Now people use all kinds of tags that start with #yeg like the ever-popular #yegfood. It used to surprise me to see #yeg used in places outside Twitter. Now, for better or worse, it’s part of the social fabric of our city.

Still, it wouldn’t be the hashtag (and community) it is today without all of the people that have worked to support and grow it over the years. Especially Brittney, Adam, Jerry, Tamara, Linda, and Kathleen, to name just a few.

Oh, and it’s pronounced y-egg not why-e-gee. 🙂

Here’s to the next ten years of #yeg!

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #301

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Carbon Copy Unveiling
Carbon Copy was unveiled recently in the Brewery District

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • About 75 people were laid off on June 14 from Rogers Media’s digital content & publishing team. Here’s a statement from Rogers Media on the layoffs: “We have reorganized our…structure to reflect the headwinds the industry is facing and make the business sustainable.”
  • Following in the footsteps of Postmedia, Global News is launching a new podcast called “This is Why” to delve “deeper into the stories that matter to Canadians.”
  • The Logic is a new Canadian subscription news outlet. “Information wants to be $300 a year — and it wants to be exclusive, high quality, and lower quantity,” reports Nieman Lab.
  • Concordia University is launching the Institute for Investigative Journalism, the first of its kind in Canada, to be headquartered in the Department of Journalism.
  • From Quartz: “Next year, for the first time, we’ll spend more time using the internet than watching TV.”
  • Based on a new report from PwC, the Wall Street Journal reports that “advertisers spent an estimated $313.9 million on podcast ads in 2017, an increase of 86% from about $169.1 million a year earlier”.
  • Did you enjoy the S-Town podcast? Well, get ready for the movie. Participant Media has acquired the rights and Spotlight‘s Tom McCarthy is in negotiations to direct.
  • Don’t worry, #mprraccoon reached the roof and was rescued. Think about everything this story tells us about the state of media right now!

Follow Edmonton media news using the hashtag #yegmedia and be sure to check out Mediagazer for the latest media news from elsewhere. You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here. If you have a tip or suggestion for future updates, let me know.

At Taproot Edmonton we’re working hard to ensure that local journalism has a future in our city. Join us to be part of the movement.

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Edmonton Notes for June 17, 2018

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Downtown Sunset

Upcoming Events

Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company
A new plaque in the Brewery District for the Edmonton Brewing & Malting Company building

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Recognizing child friendly businesses in Edmonton

Child Friendly Edmonton, a Council Initiative sponsored by Councillor Bev Esslinger, launched the new Child Friendly Business Recognition Program today at City Hall. The program “aims to promote businesses that are intentionally welcoming to children and their families.”

Child Friendly Edmonton
Councillors Esslinger and Paquette spoke at today’s launch event

“We want to share this new program with the city and highlight the current successes of local businesses who have become more child-friendly,” said Councillor Esslinger in a news release. “With more than 20 per cent of the population being under 18, it’s very important that kids feel welcomed and included in their city.”

Based on input from Edmontonians, Child Friendly Edmonton identifies three keys to being a child friendly business:

  • Attitude “is the most important way to become child friendly. Patient, friendly and understanding service from staff who take the time to greet and welcome their younger customers is a major factor in how welcoming a business feels to children and their families. A smile is a great place to start.”
  • Amenities “are generally for the benefit of the adult(s) accompanying a child. Amenities are choices that businesses can make to improve the experience for adults with children. Some amenities like providing seating for children and washrooms that can be used by all genders to change diapers are considered ‘must- haves’ for child friendly businesses.”
  • Activities “help occupy children throughout their visit. Children that remain calm and content make their, as well as their adults’ experience at the business more enjoyable. Activities can be anything from providing a coloring sheet to creating an area specifically for children.”

Nine different child friendly businesses were showcased at the launch event today, but there are already more than 65 businesses that have been recognized under the program. I was thrilled to see that they are all listed in the Open Data Catalogue! There’s also a map view which shows they are nicely spread around the city.

Child Friendly Edmonton

If you know of a business that is child friendly, you can nominate them to the program online. If you have visited a child friendly business recently, there’s an online survey you can fill out to share your experience.

Child Friendly Edmonton’s vision is “a welcoming city for all young Edmontonians; children are listened to, respected, and valued for their thoughts and ideas.” The new program supports all four of Child Friendly Edmonton’s goals, as outlined in the Working Plan: engagement, accessible spaces, inclusive city, and “downtown demonstration project.”

That last one is to use downtown as “a demonstration site to explore and showcase an urban area which is welcoming and supportive to children and their families/caregivers.” Ian O’Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, spoke today about the DBA’s support for the program. “We want to improve the family-friendly nature of downtown and continue to work with our member businesses towards a downtown for everyone.”

Baby's first media event
Baby’s first media event

As a downtown resident with a new baby I’m obviously happy to see the push for child friendly spaces. But I know the outcome will benefit more than just families. Often the same considerations that make families feel more welcome apply to other demographics as well. This is well-illustrated in the similarities between strollers and wheelchairs, for instance.

You can learn more about Child Friendly Edmonton here and on social media using the #ChildFriendlyYEG hashtag.

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #300

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Alberta offering gender-inclusive ID documents 98927
Alberta offering gender-inclusive ID documents, photo by Premier of Alberta

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • Roger Millions has announced he is retiring from sports broadcasting “after 39 incredible years” to pursue the UCP nomination in Airdrie-East.
  • Postmedia is eliminating 52 positions in Calgary with the closure of its printing plant. Black Press Group Inc. will begin printing the Calgary Sun this summer (the Calgary Herald printing moved to TC Transcontinental Printing in 2013).
  • From The Walrus: Inside the Toronto Star’s Bold Plan to Save Itself. “The crisis in media, in other words, has evolved from being technological to existential, as a news darkness threatens to descend wherever metro dailies are snuffed out.”
  • Ryerson’s multimedia publication The Future of Local News “is the culmination of several years of academic research, complemented by a year of student journalism, an international conference, and a cross-Atlantic editorial collaboration focused specifically on the current and future state of local news around the world.” They’re also now publishing content on Medium.
  • Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, is giving $20 million to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, which will rename itself the “Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.” There’s a certain amount of irony in the news, given that Craiglist at least contributed to the decline of newspapers’ revenue. “When asked if his desire to give millions of dollars to the journalism school had sprung from a sense of guilt, Mr. Newmark said no.”
  • Postmedia has launched TheGrowthOp.com, a new website focused on the “quickly evolving world of cannabis.” The new site aims to “keep audiences informed and educated while working to normalize cannabis information from its long-time taboo and counter-culture status to its newly legitimized role in our communities.”

Follow Edmonton media news using the hashtag #yegmedia and be sure to check out Mediagazer for the latest media news from elsewhere. You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here. If you have a tip or suggestion for future updates, let me know.

At Taproot Edmonton we’re working hard to ensure that local journalism has a future in our city. Join us to be part of the movement.

Thanks for reading! Want to support my blog? Buy me a coffee!

Edmonton Notes for June 10, 2018

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • The Edmonton Pride Parade was very well attended yesterday even with a bit of rain! The parade was interrupted briefly by protestors demanding that police and military be prohibited from marching in future parades. Organizers agreed and have banned them from future parades “until the community feels that they have taken the necessary steps for all community members to feel safe with their presence.” Though many think of the Pride Parade as a big party nowadays, it has always been about activism and political struggle. It started in 1980 and “many people who took part wore paper bags on their heads because they were afraid of losing their jobs.”
  • The Province introduced changes to support transgender and gender-diverse Albertans this week by enabling all Albertans “to choose Female, Male or “X” on their driver’s licences, ID cards and vital statistics records, such as birth certificates and death certificates.”
  • Ward 11 Councillor Mike Nickel announced this week he is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination in Edmonton-South. “I want to go some place where I can keep pushing that agenda, where we are going to measure what we are going to do. I want results,” he said.
  • Edmonton will be launching a pilot project in October with the Pacific Western Group of Companies to test electric autonomous vehicles manufactured by EasyMile (Calgary is doing one in September). “The pilot will give Edmontonians the opportunity to ride in the autonomous vehicle and provide feedback to the City of Edmonton.”
  • Councillors Sarah Hamilton and Bev Esslinger wrote an opinion column in the Edmonton Journal arguing for the implementation of the GBA+ program, “an internationally recognized analytical tool used to examine how the diverse needs of citizens are served by policies, programs, services and initiatives.”
  • Here’s the latest on the City of Edmonton’s harassment investigations from Elise Stolte: “Since November, when Edmonton was forced to hire an external company to take complaints and investigate them, more than 400 of the city’s 14,000 employees called with allegations. Sixty of those required a formal investigation.”
  • It’s official: FC Edmonton will play in the Canadian Premier League when it debuts next spring. “FC Edmonton is owned and operated by the Fath Group headed up by Tom and Dave Fath. Jay Ball will lead operations of FC Edmonton as General Manager.” The club has also introduced a new brand identity with updated colors and a new crest.
  • City Council decided this week not to go ahead with the proposed moratorium on raves. Instead, they’ll receive a report in October on harm reduction strategies and other safety plans.
  • A new report suggests around 1,100 intersections need upgrades to support smart technology. It could cost $150 million to upgrade them all.
  • The City of Edmonton has partnered with IFTTT for a new light installation at City Hall that translates air quality data into colour. “The light installation uses open-source code first developed by the City of Louisville. Jan Mußenbrock, an Edmonton developer with BetaCityYEG, used IFTTT to turn code into a bridge between Wi-Fi light bulbs and the Province of Alberta’s air quality health index data. The index is updated every five minutes.”
  • Liz Nicholls has all the details on the 31st annual Sterling Awards nominations. The awards will be presented on June 25.
  • Nearly 600 bicycles have already been stolen this year, so police are reminding cyclists “to take the time to ensure their bikes are properly locked up.” Last year, 2,171 bikes were stolen.
  • Edmonton will study what other cities are doing to get rid of plastic straws and facilitate other plastic-reduction strategies. Councillor Henderson says “there’s an awful lot that still goes into landfill and there’s an awful lot that still goes into our water stream.” We did a story on plastic waste at Taproot back in September.
  • Bill 10: An Act to Enable Clean Energy Improvements passed 3rd reading this week. “The City of Edmonton advocated for this tool since 2011,” tweeted Mike Mellross, Program Manager of Energy Transition at the City of Edmonton.
  • “That’s right, sometimes in Edmonton we order you to wear a fanny pack,” tweets Jana Pruden. Haha!
  • As of Thursday, only 4,000 tickets were left for the 2018 Grey Cup taking place here in Edmonton.
  • For more recent headlines, check out ShareEdmonton.

Premier Notley celebrates Edmonton Pride 98948a
Premier Notley celebrates Edmonton Pride, photo by Premier of Alberta

Upcoming Events

2018 City Hall School Citizenship Fair
2018 City Hall School Citizenship Fair

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Media Monday Edmonton: Update #299

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Mayor Don Iveson
Mayor Don Iveson does the media scrum at the State of the City

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • In a new report, the CRTC recommends that ISPs and foreign streaming services should contribute to media funding in the same way that cable providers do.
  • The Hidden Costs of Losing Your City’s Newspaper: “Without investigative daily reporters around to call bullshit on city hall, three years after a newspaper closes, that city or county’s municipal bond offering yields increased on average by 5.5 basis points, while bond yields in the secondary market increased by 6.4 basis points—statistically significant effects.”
  • The Wall Street Journal reports on The Athletic, which says it now has more than 100,000 subscribers and 150 employees. “The Athletic has shown flexibility around its paywall in attempts to hire big-name writers.”
  • Plex, a popular service for managing and streaming media, has added support for podcasts. “Podcasts are also a great fit for the media platform we’ve built here at Plex, which is probably why people have asked us to add them for years.”
  • New data from Chartbeat suggests that “the number of mobile readers visiting news sites directly has surpassed the number visiting from Facebook.”

Follow Edmonton media news using the hashtag #yegmedia and be sure to check out Mediagazer for the latest media news from elsewhere. You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here. If you have a tip or suggestion for future updates, let me know.

At Taproot Edmonton we’re working hard to ensure that local journalism has a future in our city. Join us to be part of the movement.

Thanks for reading! Want to support my blog? Buy me a coffee!

Edmonton Notes for June 3, 2018

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Jasper & 96
Jasper & 96, photo by Kurt Bauschardt

Upcoming Events

104 Avenue
104 Avenue

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Roundhouse coworking space is now open inside MacEwan University’s Allard Hall

MacEwan University’s new coworking space Roundhouse held its grand opening celebration this afternoon inside Allard Hall. In addition to facilitating collaboration among students, faculty, staff, and alumni, the space is open to the broader community of local entrepreneurs, volunteers, and other “changemakers”, as Roundhouse calls them. “We’re a coworking space that is focused on building a community of changemakers through innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Amor Provins, senior manager at Roundhouse. “Together with MacEwan University’s Social Innovation Institute, we’ll be working to empower people and make a positive impact in our world.”

Roundhouse Grand Opening

Special guests at today’s event included Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education, who made everyone laugh with his train-related “Dad jokes”, thanking the organizers “for choo-choo-choosing him to open the space” and noting it “will lay tracks for the next generation.” Scott McKeen, City Councillor for Ward 6, and Elder Francis Whiskeyjack both brought remarks as well.

Attendees learned about the Roundhouse name and logo, both of which have significance. “When excavating the site for what is now Allard Hall (where we will be located), a train roundhouse was unearthed.” It serves as a metaphor for going in a new direction. The logo is a 13-sided shape called a triskaidecagon. “This number, that is so often perceived as unlucky, is also of significance in Indigenous cultures.” It is meant to represent Indigenous talking circles, because “at Roundhouse we believe a life-changing idea can come from anyone.”

MacEwan University’s Social Innovation Institute “provides leadership and support towards fostering a culture of social innovation, engaging MacEwan students in initiatives and opportunities that have impact locally, regionally and globally.” Founding director Leo Wong said “as a downtown university, we focus on creating meaningful relationships with our neighbours to improve the economic and social vibrancy of our city, as well as being an environmental steward.”

Allard Hall

Roundhouse is located in the southeast corner of Allard Hall, the newest building MacEwan’s campus. It looks as you might expect a modern coworking space to look, with clean lines, bright accent colors, and plenty of natural light.

Roundhouse Grand Opening

Roundhouse offers a Community Membership for $40/month that includes access to the common areas and all of its perks, including WiFi, the kitchen, special rates on programs and events, and of course coffee & tea “to fuel the magic.” Programs include office hour consulting sessions, mentorship opportunities, and workshops to build new skills.

The space includes plenty of meeting rooms, from small spaces for 2-4 people, all the way up to large conference rooms that can accommodate 20 people. The rooms can be rented by the community, and members have access to them for a certain number of hours per month.

Roundhouse Grand Opening

Hot desks can be rented starting at $80/month and dedicated desks rent for $400/month.

Roundhouse Grand Opening

They also offer private offices starting at $700/month for up to 4 people.

Roundhouse Grand Opening

There is lots of flexible seating scattered around the space, including some giant bean bags that are waiting to be put into use!

Roundhouse Grand Opening

It’s a functional space, with a print room, kitchen, lots of power outlets, and all of the typical amenities you’d expect. But it’s also a fun space, with features like these pedal-powered charging stations!

Roundhouse Grand Opening

Learn more about Roundhouse here, and be sure to follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Roundhouse is celebrating its Launch Week with a number of “thought-provoking speakers, workshops, and community events” so there are plenty of opportunities to check out the space.

You can see more photos from the grand opening here.

The way to get a recession in Edmonton

John Rose, Chief Economist at the City of Edmonton, started his presentation at the Edmonton Real Estate Forum earlier this month with a bit of humor. “There are two kinds of forecasts,” he told the packed room. “Lucky and wrong!” He finished it on a much more serious note, saying “the way to get a recession in Edmonton is to have the provincial government make cuts.”

Edmonton Real Estate Forum

The general message from Rose was that because Edmonton’s economy is more diversified than Calgary’s or the rest of Alberta, we have handled the downturn better than those locations. “Lethbridge might be the only other jurisdiction that is less reliant on energy than Edmonton,” he said. But, there are reasons to be less optimistic about future growth.

Our unemployment rate went up during the economic downturn “primarily because our labour force grew faster than we could generate jobs,” Rose said, pointing to the increase in migration from other regions that fared worse. It has since gone down to 6.6% but that’s not necessarily a good thing. “The unemployment rate in Edmonton has been going down for exactly the wrong reason,” Rose said. Over 11,000 people have left the labour force in the last 12 months. “Nearly all the job gains we saw in 2017 have been eliminated in the first quarter” of 2018, Rose said. “Education, manufacturing, health care, and professional services have all gained jobs,” he said, while “trade, retail, public administration, transportation, and warehousing have all lost jobs” in the Edmonton area.

public sector employment

As the above chart shows, Edmonton’s public sector workers, which includes those in government, health, and education, make up about 25% of our workforce. The data hasn’t been updated yet for more recent years, but based on data from the 2016 census as well as the provincial Labour Force Statistics report for April 2018, I believe the trend holds.

You can see that the public sector makes up a larger part of Edmonton’s workforce compared with Calgary or the rest of the province. Which means that cuts to public administration, health care, or education hit Edmonton harder than the rest of the province.

So what’s a likely reason the government would need to make cuts? Though Edmonton may be diversifying away from oil, Alberta as a whole is still dependent.

Rose spoke for a while about the price of oil, and it’s impact on the province. “While we have seen North American and Global oil prices accelerate,” he said, “it is only recently that we have seen any benefit from that in Alberta.” He explained the difference between the Brent (the global benchmark price), WTI (the North American benchmark price), and WCS (the Alberta benchmark price), and noted the price discount we’re experiencing “due to export capacity constraints.”

WTI vs WCS

“We are now producing more oil than we can move due to limited capacity,” he said, “which is why the pipelines are so important.” Rose said he was shocked at the speed with which energy companies began to cut back due to the decline in oil prices a few years ago, in contrast with Ontario where he spent most of his career. There he said the economy is “much more like an ocean liner, it’s slow to turn.”

WTI vs WCS

“Oil production in North America is at record levels,” Rose said, “and given our inability to move product out of Alberta, there’s a real risk of oil prices continuing to decline, which would put the provincial government in an even worse position.” That could force it to look to cut costs, which could have a very negative impact on Edmonton’s economy.

Provided that doesn’t happen, Rose expects Edmonton’s economy to do quite well. He expects the unemployment rate to continue to drift downward over the year. “Population growth will continue but at a slower rate,” he said. Vacancy rates at about 7% have driven rental rates down, and thanks to a potential overbuild of single family homes in 2015, “there might be too much inventory”, helping to keep prices in check. “Low inflation will boost real incomes for Edmonton residents as average weekly wages are rising again,” he said.

Rose forecasts that Edmonton and the region “will grow more rapidly than Alberta and Canada” through 2023. Let’s hope he’s lucky, not wrong.

The two oil-related charts above come from Alberta Energy. Canada is the fourth largest producer and third largest exporter of oil in the world, with the oil sands accounting for 62% of Canada’s oil production, according to Natural Resources Canada. There’s more on Alberta’s energy industry at the National Energy Board.