Make Something Edmonton moves forward with 8 recommendations

Today the Mayor’s Task Force on Image and Reputation submitted its final report to Executive Committee. The task force is better known by its adopted name, Make Something Edmonton. In summarizing the work that has been done thus far and recommending next steps, the report draws the task force to a close and marks the start of Make Something Edmonton as a more official thing. Exactly what that thing is however, must still be determined.

Here are the recommendations outlined in the report (which you can download here):

  1. Adopt Edmonton’s Brand
  2. Open the Make Something Edmonton Office
  3. Preserve and Maintain the Citizen-Driven Focus
  4. Recognize and Reward Excellence: The Builders Prize
  5. Promote a “Make Something” Culture
  6. Appoint a Make Something Edmonton “Champion”
  7. Implement an Image and Reputation Strategy
  8. Create and Activate Ambassador & Mentor Networks

Some of these recommendations are obvious while others are a little more interesting.

The first recommendation would see “Make Something Edmonton” become Edmonton’s “brand platform”, the foundation for an image and reputation strategy. This doesn’t necessarily mean that “Make Something Edmonton” replaces “City of Champions” as some have suggested, but it does assert that the story behind MSE is our brand.

The second recommendation calls for the creation of an organization similar in structure to the Edmonton Arts Council, perhaps operating under the umbrella of EEDC. The purpose of the office would be “to develop the words, the tools, and the expertise” to help existing organizations and Edmontonians in general to launch new businesses, promote events and initiatives, and attract others to our city. It would guide the brand. The third recommendation is obvious and somewhat related, calling for an advisory council with representatives from a broad range of sectors.

The fourth recommendation is to create The Builders Prize, an annual cash prize to recognize MSE projects. “$30,000 will be awarded to one outstanding and completed Make Something Edmonton project. The recipient of the $30,000 prize will then award four $5,000 Catalyst Prizes to other Make Something Edmonton projects in progress.” I love the twist there – the grand prize winner must award the smaller prizes.

The fifth recommendation is again fairly obvious, and also probably the most difficult to action. Some suggestions include offering a MSE award as part of the Awards of Excellence, and embedding “What are you making? How can we help?” on City of Edmonton business cards.

I’m perhaps most excited to see the sixth recommendation, which calls for a “champion” to operate out of the City Manager’s office. This person’s job would be something like an ombudsperson for MSE. They would help navigate City of Edmonton bylaws and rules, and would work to streamline things for future makers. City Manager Simon Farbrother has endorsed this idea.

The seventh recommendation is really for the organization created out of recommendation #2 and its to implement a strategy and communications plan. As a result of this you should see the brand story and image appear throughout communications from all of Edmonton’s prominent organizations, businesses and institutions.

The final recommendation is really something the task force has already been doing. The idea is to create “an informal training program” to go out and tell the MSE story to anyone who will listen. An addition would be the mentor network, made up of people who have already made and built things in Edmonton, to help new makers get their own ideas off the ground.

The report concludes with:

This is only the beginning of Make Something Edmonton. The first phase of our work was to discover the Edmonton Story and to activate it with early adopters. Now we begin to actively find – to use marketing parlance – the “early majority.”

It also promised a new website and advertising campaign to launch this fall.

I feel like the report and recommendations address many of the concerns I raised in my post from July. Executive Committee this morning decided to request that a funding package be put forward as part of the budget in order to move these recommendations forward. I think this is an initiative that deserves ongoing support from the City of Edmonton, even if it ultimately lives with EEDC or elsewhere, and I am optimistic that Council feels the same way.

Kudos to everyone involved with Make Something Edmonton on progressing to this point!