Yesterday’s front page story in the Edmonton Journal suggests that Edmonton in 2010 is at a tipping point (forget for the moment that this almost certainly is not the first “tipping point” our city has faced). That this is the year in which we decide to be “a big, sprawling town or to move ahead as a city with real urban living.” And that if we don’t make the right choice, our “ambitious, educated and interesting 30-something professionals” will leave for greener pastures. Active Connect2Edmonton member Ian O’Donnell is featured in the story, and he says that the 30-somethings are getting restless.
Why does “getting restless” always have to mean leaving for Vancouver, Toronto, or Calgary? If you want to leave, I say: good luck! I’d rather have NextGen-ers in Edmonton who want to be a part of something great. NextGen-ers who don’t complain when they see something they don’t like, they go and do something about it. NextGen-ers who want to help transform Edmonton into a world class city.
We need people like William Buchkowsky and Nathan McQuay. They felt their options for connecting with other young business professionals in the city were limited, so they created Emerging Business Leaders. At least 50 people now meet regularly each month.
We need people like Raffaella Loro. She wanted a city government that was more open and accessible, so she championed the Transforming Edmonton blog to help make it happen. The blog is a fantastic complement to the City’s other online activities.
We need people like Dave Cournoyer, Justin Archer, and Michael Janz. They, along with many others, wanted to have a conversation about re-imagining government and citizenship in the age of participation. They brought ChangeCamp to Edmonton, an event attended by hundreds of Edmontonians in person and online.
We need people like Ken Bautista, Cary Williams, and Michael Brechtel. They are passionate about the creative economy in Edmonton, and recognized that strong creative and artistic communities are important for prosperous cities. They brought artsScene to Edmonton, an organization that connects young professionals with the arts, culture, and creative organizations of Edmonton.
We need people like Mark Donovan, Cam Linke, and Kevin Swan. All are very involved in the local tech scene with things like DemoCamp, and all have experience with technology startups. They recognized a lack of support for local startups, and have created Startup Edmonton to do something about it. The organization will help to ensure that next gen talent builds successful local companies that make it past the seed stage.
These are just a few of the incredible NextGen-ers making a difference in Edmonton. There are many others too, such as the members of Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40, and the members of Edmonton Next Gen (who have brought Pecha Kucha to Edmonton, among other things).
Downtown is an opportunity!
Much of the article focuses on downtown, in a negative way. I’m not going to try to convince you that we have an amazing downtown, because I agree that there’s a lot of room for improvement. But I see that as an opportunity, not as a problem. There are some incredible things on the horizon for downtown Edmonton, and increasingly it is a focus for organizations like EEDC. NextGen-ers need to educate themselves and then work to ensure our city’s decision makers follow through. Small efforts really can have a big impact – I think the City Centre Airport debate is proof of that.
We have the capacity in Edmonton to be world class. All we have to do is stop complaining and start creating.