Top 10 Posts for 2014

It’s that time of year! According to WordPress, I posted 177 times this year. Here are the ten most viewed posts of 2014 on my blog:

  1. Your Guide to Summer Festivals & Events in Edmonton: 2014 Edition!
  2. Your Guide to Winter 2014/2015 Festivals & Events in Edmonton
  3. OneNote + OneDrive = Awesome
  4. Chasing the Northern Lights in Edmonton
  5. Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2014
  6. Edmonton’s High Level Bridge has lights…now what?
  7. Media Monday Edmonton: Update #111
  8. Edmonton Vaporware: The Arena District
  9. Downtown Edmonton’s Sobeys on 104 Street will close its doors on July 31
  10. Edmonton will officially join the skyscraper club with Stantec’s new tower

I didn’t do a version of this post last year for some reason, but you can check out the top ten posts from back in 2012 here.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing over the last year! All the best in 2015!

Ten Years of Blogging

I have now been writing at this address in some form or another for over ten years1. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that I started tinkering with blog engines. Other times it feels like I’ve been a blogger forever!

I like to say that I blog first for myself and second for everyone else, and that’s still true. Ten years doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it’s fascinating to read the crazy things that 20-year-old-me wrote. I really have changed quite a lot in that time! That said, it certainly is nice to have readers. Not only do you keep me motivated (and correct me when I get things wrong) you have also taught me an awful lot over the years. I have met so many people and learned so many things that I just don’t think I would have without this blog. I really appreciate all of the relationships and opportunities that writing here has afforded me!

Surface Pro & HTC Windows Phone 8X

Technology and the web have also changed quite dramatically in the time I have been writing here. There are lots of reasons that my posts have gotten longer over the years, but one big factor was Twitter. Before Twitter launched, I would occasionally write really short “status” entries here, like this one. Increasingly I have been producing content elsewhere, whether it is Tumblr, YouTube, or Instagram. Still, this blog has remained the glue that ties it all together.

I have mentioned this before, but it was around 2008 that my blog started to focus very heavily on local topics. It was September 2008 that I launched my Edmonton Notes series2, which is now one of the most popular features on the blog. If you’re looking through the archives, don’t be surprised if you find the first five years of this blog to be much more random than it is now!

Whether you’ve been reading for years or are new, thank you. Here’s to another ten years!

New Design

You may notice that I refreshed the look of the blog this week. I’ve been meaning to do so for a while now, and the anniversary was as good an excuse as any! My blog is now a fully responsive site, which should make for a better reading experience on your mobile devices. There’s a bit more room for content, and I’ve made the text bigger by default.

Curious to see what this blog looked like in the past? Thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can:

I’ll continue tweaking it, so please let me know if you have any feedback.

  1. I generally treat November 6, 2003 as the start of my blog because that’s the oldest post I was able to save when I moved to WordPress in 2008. I actually started blogging prior to that, but unfortunately all of those posts were lost. 

  2. Five years of Edmonton Notes, can you believe that?! My blog has been Edmonton-focused for about half of its existence. 

Top 10 Posts for 2012

Happy New Year! Here are the ten most viewed posts of 2012 on my blog:

  1. Your Guide to Summer Festivals & Events in Edmonton!
  2. The Past, Present, and Future of Food Truck Bylaws & Guidelines in Edmonton
  3. Edmonton’s City Market Downtown needs community representation
  4. Food, agriculture and the battle over Edmonton’s future growth
  5. Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2012
  6. Startup Edmonton announces a new home for creative innovation in the Mercer Warehouse
  7. Urban/Suburban Marketing in Edmonton: The suburbs are winning
  8. Media Monday Edmonton: Update #29
  9. It’s time to stop investing in Edmonton Stories
  10. 2012 Alberta Election: Social Media Highlights

Check out the lists for previous years too: 2011, 2010, and 2009.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing over the last year!

What’s happening in the Edmonton blogosphere?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a one-stop-shop for Edmonton blogs? Where you could see a list of all the blogs and maybe even see all of the latest posts too?

It was a little over five years ago that I posted about this notion of a directory of Edmonton blogs. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

“I have started tagging blogs at with the tag edmontonblogs. This is really more of an “in the meantime” kind of activity, because as Pete points out, an actual directory website would be much more useful. Maybe I’ll build it one of these days.”

I finally built it.

A couple weeks ago I launched the latest release of ShareEdmonton. With the new version you can browse local blogs, see an always-updated collection of new blog posts, and you can search more than 10,000 posts written by local bloggers.

While my tagging of local blogs at delicious didn’t last long, my desire for a directory of Edmonton blogs never diminished. Over the years I collected local blogs and subscribed to them in Google Reader. That worked fairly well for me, but it didn’t help anyone else. A couple of years ago the idea of a directory came up again, and Reg, myself, and few others started looking at the problem. That project eventually fizzled, but I think it helped the Edmonton Journal launch its community blogs page, an idea championed by Karen Unland. While that page was a step in the right direction, it included a very limited number of blogs and was often broken (the latest update seems to have fixed the issues with broken or incorrect links).

There was a lot of false starts along the way, and far more challenges to overcome than I would have anticipated, but I’m very happy with the new release of ShareEdmonton. Is it a perfect, 100% complete, one-stop-shop for Edmonton blogs? Of course not. But it will help you keep up-to-date with a large number of Edmonton bloggers, and with your help it’ll get even better over time.

User Stories

For the initial release I wanted to make it easy to see the latest blog posts, and to browse recently updated blogs. Most blogs are updated relatively infrequently, and I didn’t want you to have to sift through those just to see what’s new. That’s a big part of the reason why there’s an emphasis placed on how recent something is in the UI.

Here are some of the scenarios this release addresses, expressed in the form of user stories:

  • As a user, I want a “home page” for all the blog-related functionality, so that I can remember a single URL (
  • As a user, I want to see the most recently updated blogs, with a title and photo (if one exists) for each blog.
  • As a user, I want to see the most recently updated blogs by tag or category (such as food).
  • As a user, I want to see the most recent blog posts, with a title, description, and photo (if one exists) for each post.
  • As a user, I want to see the most recent blog posts for a specific blog (such as mine).
  • As a user, I want to see the most recent blog posts for a specific blog tag or category (such as food). This is any post from a blog that has been categorized as a “food” blog. So if Sharon wrote a post about politics, it would show up here.
  • As a user, I want to see the most recent blog posts for a specific tag or category (such as food). This is any post tagged by the blogger as a “food” post. So if I wrote a post about food and tagged it appropriately, it would show up here.
  • As a user, I want to search all blog posts (for a query such as food).
  • As a user, I want to see all blog posts by day for the last week, with a headline and source for each.
  • As a user, I want to add a new blog to ShareEdmonton.

I come up with new user stories all the time, and I welcome any feedback and/or suggestions that you might have!

Aggregation & Curation

I followed that post back in 2007 with a list of blog posts talking about Edmonton. My aggregation & curation was fairly ad hoc back then, but now I write my Edmonton Notes every Sunday and Media Monday Edmonton every Monday. I try to include blog posts in those, but it definitely takes effort to keep on top of what everyone has written. I keep track of things I find during the week, and I do a quick scan at the end of week to find what I missed. Others post similar entries: Sharon does Food Notes, Karen does her Edmonton New Media Roundup, The Unknown Studio does the Edmonton Blog Watch, etc. These are all really useful and people love them, but they do take work.

There’s a big difference between aggregation (gathering and perhaps indexing) and curation (sorting, categorizing, analyzing, presenting). When the bloggers I mentioned above write their list posts, they’re doing both activities. My hope is that with ShareEdmonton’s new blog functionality they can focus more on the curation part, which is where they really add value. I think “show me all the latest posts from Edmonton bloggers” is a task for software, and “tell me which are important and why” is primarily a task for people. But you need the former before you can do the latter.

(I said “primarily a task for people” above because increasingly we’ll see software doing curation too! I plan to add different ways to browse blog posts to ShareEdmonton, and one example might be a list of the most commented on posts of the week. That’s an algorithmic way of sorting and presenting, which is curation.)


You know me, I love statistics. I couldn’t do this post without at least one graph! So here you go, blogs by platform currently indexed at ShareEdmonton:

Blogs by Platform

As expected, most blogs are based on WordPress. It’ll be interesting to see if this changes over time!

Add Your Blog!

There are nearly 150 blogs currently being aggregated and indexed at ShareEdmonton, but I know that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll continue adding blogs myself, but you can help by submitting your own blog or someone else’s here.

Media Monday Edmonton: BT Bloggers Week

I had the pleasure of kicking off BT Bloggers Week bright and early this morning on Breakfast Television! Every day this week a different blogger will be in the studio with Ryan Jespersen, Bridget Ryan, and the rest of the BT Edmonton crew. This is actually the second time I have done this – the first was back in August 2010. I’m very happy to see that it has been expanded to a full week this time!

Here’s the lineup for the week:

Monday through Friday, you’ll meet six of Edmonton’s most influential online commentators – MasterMaq, daveberta, KikkiPlanet, Kevin Kossowan and The Unknown Studio tandem of Adam Rozenhart and Scott C. Bourgeois. We’ll learn what prompted these bloggers to get started in the first place, what issues they see as most important to Edmonton, how they see blogs differing from other forms of media and a whole lot more (prompted by your tweets, facebook and email feedback).

I usually start my day fairly early, but not 6am which is when I arrived at the studio this morning! The show was underway by that time of course, but they were on a break and I was able to get setup at the blogger table.

Bloggers Week on BT Edmonton!
Bridget on the couch!

I feel like I had a lot of screen-time, which was great. We covered a lot of ground! You can see the three bigger segments here:

  • Segment #1 – we talk about the City Centre Redevelopment, my Edmonton notes, and when I choose to share an opinion
  • Segment #2 – we cover What the Truck?! and some of my favorite blogs
  • Segment #3 – I share some thoughts on how media is changing

Bloggers Week on BT Edmonton!
Ryan doing a segment on WISEST

Bridget was in studio for a while, but actually spent most of the morning out at the Valley Zoo (segment 1, segment 2). It was a little surreal to be talking to her one minute, and then to look up at the monitor and see her learning about armadillos the next! I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Bridget on-location in the past, so I know she brings all the energy of the show with her wherever she goes. Still, it must be tiring to be travelling all over the place!

Bloggers Week on BT Edmonton!
The computers used to show things on screen

There’s no question that Ryan is an engaging, high-energy guy, but he’s definitely more than just a pretty face on your TV screen! What you don’t often get to see is how hard he works behind-the-scenes. In between segments, Ryan is busy setting up the next shot, preparing visuals, clarifying information, and much more. He’s constantly buzzing! It was an absolute pleasure to see him in action today.

Bloggers Week on BT Edmonton!
With Ryan Jespersen on the BT Edmonton couch!

Thanks to Ryan, Bridget, and the entire BT Edmonton crew for having me on the show this morning. Everyone made me feel very welcome and comfortable and that made the three hours absolutely fly by. It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see how the rest of Bloggers Week unfolds!

You can see more photos from the morning here.

Top 10 Posts for 2011

As I have done for the last couple of years, I thought I’d post a list of the ten most viewed posts of the year on my blog. You can see the 2010 list here, and the 2009 list here.

Here are the top ten individual posts from 2011 by views:

  1. Daily Deals in Edmonton
  2. What the Truck?! Edmonton’s Food Truck Extravaganza
  3. Edmonton’s Homicide Rate: How much has changed in 30 years?
  4. Homicide Rates in Canada: Statistics & Trends
  5. Your Guide to Summer Festivals & Events in Edmonton!
  6. More than just email: Google Apps goes live at the University of Alberta
  7. Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2011
  8. Edmonton Transit (ETS) now offers schedule information via SMS text messaging
  9. Timeraiser Edmonton 3 and WestJet Giveaway!
  10. The City of Edmonton is failing at public involvement

Thanks for reading and commenting over the last year!

the edmontonian: statistics

When I received the email from Jeff & Sally informing me that the edmontonian would soon be ending, I was shocked. I didn’t see it coming. Yesterday was the final day, and I’m still sad about it! I know they’ll be back at some point, but the edmontonian itself is no more. I’m glad I got to interview the duo about the decision, but I also wanted to do a tribute post of sorts. Fortunately, I knew right away what it should be – statistics!

The following statistics cover the edmontonian from the very first post on June 15, 2009 up to but not including the announcement on August 29, 2011.

  • Number of posts: 1572
  • Number of words written: 532,595
  • Number of comments: 3865

That works out to an average of 2.8 posts per day. Here’s what the breakdown looks like per month:

As you can see they posted slightly more at the beginning and then settled into a steady rhythm. The most posts came in July 2009 (perhaps due to the airport debate) while the fewest came in December 2009. The monthly average was 58.2 posts.

Here’s the breakdown by time of day:

Most entries were posted between 10am and 12pm, with another spike between 3pm and 4pm. A significant number of the edmontonian’s posts were headlines, which Jeff often posted mid-morning, so the graph doesn’t really surprise me. This word cloud shows you just how much of a fixture the headlines were at the edmontonian:

That was generated by including all 1572 post titles. If you remove those two words, you get this word cloud:

I didn’t realize how prominently the time of year was featured until I went through this exercise. It shows up in the tags as well. Very interesting! The average length of a post title was 29 characters or 5 words, with the longest being 30 words (fittingly that post was among the shortest for content, containing only images). This one was also quite long at 28 words.

One of my favorite things about the edmontonian was their willingness to link to other stuff. They linked a lot. In total, they posted 17,416 unique links! Of those, 2217 were links to their own stuff. A significant chunk of the rest went to local media. Here are the domains they linked to more than 100 times:

  • (3170)
  • (2217)
  • (1551)
  • (983)
  • (768)
  • (587)
  • (457)
  • (349)
  • (345)
  • (342)
  • (297)
  • (272)
  • (266)
  • (241)
  • (238)
  • (224)
  • (204)
  • (196)
  • (191)
  • (181)
  • (168)
  • (121)
  • (110)

The average length of a post at the edmontonian was 2109 characters or 399 words. The longest was 2135 words. Here’s what a word cloud of all the post content looks like:

All Edmonton, all the time.

Without a doubt, the edmontonian was good at generating a discussion about the things happening in our city. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of that discussion probably took place off the blog (they’ve posted more than 8500 tweets) but I’m still impressed by the number of comments they amassed (an average of 2.5 per post). I would have loved their numbers during my first three years of blogging! This post had the most comments at 96.

These statistics are interesting, but of course they don’t reflect all the passion and hard work that Jeff & Sally have put into the edmontonian over the past three years. They’ve set the bar high for local blogs!

Media Monday Edmonton: the edmontonian goes out on top

As I mentioned last week, this Friday will be the final day for popular local blog the edmontonian. Editors Jeff Samsonow and Sally Poulsen have decided to move on to new things, and they assure us that “this is not a sad decision” for them. I think it’s safe to say that it has been a sad decision for the rest of us though, as the recent outpouring of support for the duo has shown! I had lots of questions about the decision so I’m glad Jeff & Sally agreed to an interview, which we conducted via email.

In the inaugural post back on June 15, 2009, Sally wrote: “Jeff and I have some pretty grand ambitions for this bad boy, and we couldn’t be more excited to get the ball rolling.” Looking back now, Jeff thinks they met those ambitions. “I know we wanted to have a conversation with people about Edmonton, we wanted to highlight interesting and fun people, businesses, and stories, to raise the level of discourse in a "news" site’s comments section, and create our own content.” Sally agreed, and expanded on his thoughts. “I do think we were both surprised that it grew legs as quickly as it did, and that because we’d never really had any goals beyond "make ourselves laugh," "initiate a conversation," and "make news easier to understand," I think we may have lost sight of where we were going once or twice.” They feel that the edmontonian achieved its goals however, and that’s part of the reason it is shutting down.

I wondered what surprised them most about the experience of creating and maintaining the edmontonian. “How seriously people took us as a news outlet was a bit of a shock,” Sally said, noting that people would call with stories and invite them to events. “That has always struck me as funny.” For Jeff, it was “the amount of stuff we’ve done.” With more than 1500 items posted to the site, they’ve certainly had a busy three years. “It reinforced for me that Edmonton is full of good stories,” Jeff said. “And it said that passion, from anyone, is what’s going to create content. A paycheck won’t crank out post after post about the city, it’s going to come from individuals who want to tell stories and explore their community.”

One of the things I have always loved about the edmontonian is the humorous side of the blog. Sure I love reading Jeff’s more serious commentaries, but the funny stuff really made it unique, in my opinion. I asked them if there was anything that they tried that bombed, and Sally wrote: “There was that time we tried to keep the municipal airport open. That didn’t really work out like we’d hoped.” Thinking about posts that made me laugh, I asked who will write about abandoned couches now? Jeff says to tweet him if you have couch photos to share! “Seriously, make sure you @ me on your couch photos.”

I asked Jeff & Sally to offer some advice to other Edmontonians who might want to start a blog. “Life is incredibly short,” Sally said. “Just go for it.” She also suggested that you “be for something instead of against.” Jeff noted that it’s really simple to get started. “The great thing about the Internet, and all of its many blogging, video, audio, and photo tools is that no story has to go untold.” He too says to just get started. “Buy your domain, install WordPress, and start documenting your version of Edmonton.” Jeff would welcome new voices to the local blogosphere and beyond. “There are so many great stories in a city Edmonton’s size, and so many different takes on everything, that there’s plenty of room for more media presence.”

Not that what Jeff & Sally have accomplished is easy. It takes a lot of time and effort. I wondered what the hardest part of creating and maintaining the site was. “I would say finding the time to get to events and talk to people for full stories, so it wasn’t always daily Headlines posts,” Jeff replied. With full-time jobs, doing interviews during the traditional 9-5 schedule wasn’t always possible. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated about the fact that we’d be writing this stuff on off hours, putting in all this time and energy, and then see people who made their living as reporters "borrow" our ideas,” Sally added.

Given my interest in digital archiving, I wanted to know if the site would just disappear on Friday or if it would remain online. “It will live where it is,” Sally assured me. “We can’t promise forever and ever, because it costs money to keep it there, but for the foreseeable future.” Jeff says they’ve just renewed the hosting for another year, so you’ve got time to take screenshots if you want!

There have been lots of sad tweets, comments, and messages about the decision to shut the site down, and I wondered what Jeff & Sally thought about that. “I had expected some reaction,” Jeff said, “but I wasn’t ready for the amount of conversation, the number of people that seemed to genuinely be sad to see us go. It was way more than I was ready for, and I choked up a couple of times.” Sally agreed. “I think we knew how passionate we were about the edmontonian, but it was the first time that I ever thought, wow, maybe people do know how much we care.”

Sally and Jeff - the edmontonian arrives!
Photo by Brittney Le Blanc

So what’s next for the duo? They’ve always struck me as the kind of people who are happiest when they are creating something. Like the TV show. “It was a stupid amount of work, and very much our love letter to the city,” Sally said. While confirming that they have “a couple of half-baked ideas” in the works, Sally wouldn’t share any clues. “I plan on taking many naps, and also we’re buying a couch. So that’s pretty exciting.” Perhaps thinking ahead, Jeff said that “choosing the next project out of our hat of ideas will actually be the next big step.” He was also careful to set the right expectations, however. “I’d hate to say "we’re building Edmonton’s largest pancake" and disappoint folks if that wasn’t the next project we actually undertook.” Sally chimed in with her trademark wit: “So, to review, we’re building Edmonton’s largest pancake. And buying a couch.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to take a bite while sitting on that couch. Best wishes to Jeff & Sally in whatever they decide to pursue, and thank you for three wonderful years of Edmonton stories!

Top 10 Posts for 2010

Last year I posted a list of the top ten Edmonton posts written in 2009 on my blog by views and counts. I figured I’d do the same this year, with the top posts written in 2010.

Here are the top ten individual posts by views:

  1. Why Edmonton’s Teatro La Quindicina and actor Jeff Haslam will never get my business again
  2. Who’s behind Envision Edmonton?
  3. Alberta Budget 2010 website – security through obscurity
  4. Edmonton Neighbourhood Census Data
  5. Edmonton’s future leaders
  6. Open Data and Municipal Election Results
  7. Sneak Peek at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton
  8. Edmonton Election 2010: Final Mayoral Forum Recap
  9. Edmonton’s Hot to Huddle 2010 Grey Cup Festival Kick-off!
  10. Edmonton City Centre Airport Design Competition Finalists

Of course, many people read via RSS or by simply visiting the home page which means its nearly impossible to know which post was actually the most read. That list is probably fairly close though.

Here are the top ten posts by comments. As expected, there is quite a bit of overlap:

  1. Who’s behind Envision Edmonton?
  2. Why Edmonton’s Teatro La Quindicina and actor Jeff Haslam will never get my business again
  3. Timeraiser returns to Edmonton with a WestJet giveaway!
  4. Sneak Peek at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton
  5. Edmonton’s future leaders
  6. Edmonton Public Schools & Open Data
  7. Edmonton Neighbourhood Census Data
  8. Pecha Kucha Night: Edmonton #6
  9. Start offering bus service to EIA from Century Park!
  10. Alberta Budget 2010 website – security through obscurity

Thank you for reading and commenting this year! I’m looking forward to 2011.

An impressive collection of local stories: 30 Days of Edmonton

For the last month, I’ve been following along as Amanda Dunlop has profiled one local business each day on her blog. She called it 30 Days of Edmonton, and it is an impressive collection of local stories. Each entry contains a brief interview with the business owner and some wonderful photos, which is no surprise given that Amanda is the primary photographer behind Lightside Photography. I liked the series so much that I asked Amanda for an interview (over coffee at Credo, which she profiled on day 15).

Amanda Dunlop

Born and raised in Edmonton, Amanda’s story is similar to many others – it took leaving to see other parts of the world to truly appreciate what we have here in Edmonton. And as she learned more about the city, her appreciation grew. Amanda worked in the Edmonton Journal’s ad department for a time, but it wasn’t her passion. She has been a photographer for more than five years, and just last fall took the plunge and made it her full-time gig.

I asked Amanda where the idea for the blog series came from, and she said it all started with a conversation. Her friend and fellow photographer Matt Ramage was setting up his business in Saskatoon, and the two discussed ways for a new business to get noticed. The idea of photographing local businesses grew from there, and Amanda ran with it (Matt may do a Saskatoon version still). She realized that the series could be a “fun and casual” way to spread the word about local establishments, and to share why she chooses to shop local.

Though she started with a “cheat sheet” of canned questions, Amanda told me they quickly evolved as she realized that some worked and some didn’t, depending on the business. She had been to most of the places she profiled at least once before, but there were some new ones, and she always made a point of asking the business owners she talked to for their favorite places. Good thing too – Amanda started with just three businesses lined up!

Amanda had three questions that I was always eager to see the responses to. Here are a few examples.

Did you grow up in Edmonton, or are you a transplant? If so, what brought you here? What keeps you here?

I never had any intentions of staying…I don’t think most people who grow up here do. I was thinking of moving to Toronto and then this opportunity came up where I was working here and was able to purchase the business from the current owner. So I went for it and I’ve really grown to appreciate Edmonton a lot more. Traveling to other cities has also made me appreciate what Edmonton has.
– Jessica, Nokomis Clothing, Day 2

I consider Edmonton my home and we just wanted to come home. It’s got some pros and cons. It’s quiet and less pretentious than a lot of cities, yet the people are good and they tend to be a little more adventuresome and quite trendy. On the other hand it’s a little hard to get some nicer things here like fresh seafood and fresh produce, etc.
– Dennis, Chocolate Exquisite, Day 11

This street is Edmonton’s idea of what downtown revitalization should look like. The people are just so supportive as well and when people start talking you really see it in the amount of business that comes in.

– Geoff, Credo Coffee, Day 15

Why is it that people are so hesitant about shopping local? Why do you think Edmonton is so “Big Box” in general?

I think Canadians are sometimes unsure of who they are and they’re not as proud of local product as much as say someone from Italy. A lot of people just don’t know what amazing quality we have right here.
– Karen, C’est Sera, Day 12

I think it’s harder and it’s an unknown. When you walk into a mall all of the stores look pretty much the same. When you walk into a local independent you never know what it’s going to be like. I think it can be a little scary. So that can be a negative thing if you want the same thing all the time, but if you want variety small independents are what you want.
– Jessie, The Blue Pear, Day 14

The city has become a mall and big box dependent culture, partly due to the near collapse of downtown. It seems that once you’ve lost your downtown, you may have lost your city. Edmonton is also a car oriented city. Because of this people tend to not shop in their local communities. Independent shops are often an overlooked part of what makes a unique community.
– James, Stylus, Day 24

If you could see one thing change here what would it be?

What my husband and I have been trying to do is to go to a butcher and get our meat, and then go to a baker and get our bread, and so on. I’d just like to see a section of the city created where you can do that with a little more ease. I guess I would like to see it become a little more European and walkable.
– Rychelle, Red Ribbon, Day 9

I guess I am seeing the change with what has been happening downtown. We’re becoming more community oriented and less big box and you don’t have to drive as much. I guess I’d just like to see us move a little further towards what we see in Europe. I think people want to feel involved in their community and that’s what we need.
– Chad, deVine Wine and Spirits, Day 13

I’d like to see people complain less…it’s one thing that drives me crazy here. I would consider Edmonton in general to have one of the best standards of living in the country. It’s just unfortunate that many of the people who live here seem to be so unhappy with it. There’s just a disproportionate amount of people that just seem to be looking for something to complain about even when this is a really great city.
– Jay, Happy Harbor Comics, Day 20

Not every business answered every question, but I still think it’s fascinating that so many different small business owners in Edmonton had such similar answers to those three important questions. Most felt that Edmonton doesn’t get the credit it deserves, that shopping local is often overlooked even though it really makes communities unique, and quite a few cited transportation and becoming “more European” as key things they’d like to see change. I also really loved Jake’s answer on Day 6 about what he’d like to see change:

The drab colours…imagine if no one here was allowed to paint their house white or brown. Things would be so much more colourful here in the winter.

That’s an idea I could get behind! The “smartie pack” houses (as we called them) in Inuvik were unique and anything but boring.

I asked Amanda if there were any businesses she would have liked to have profiled but didn’t, and she said “definitely”. She quickly realized there were far more businesses than one could cover in just 30 days! Amanda said she wished she had been able to do a few more “boy stores” like pubs or a maybe even a paintball place.

Amanda Dunlop

Amanda told me she has “a newfound respect for reporters and writers” – she discovered the series was much more time consuming to produce than she had originally anticipated! She estimates she spent two to three hours on every post, and that was on top of her regular obligations, of course. It was rewarding however, and she’d like to continue it – but less intensively, perhaps one or two profiles per month.

I had a great conversation with Amanda, and was happy that the passion for local she shared on the blog came through in person too. She was wearing a top designed by Edmonton’s own Fridget Apparel, and admitted she was “devastated” by the news that Nokomis was closing. “If I was having a bad week I’d go to Nokomis and buy a dress,” she told me. Amanda’s other local favorites include Blue Plate Diner (which she profiled on day 27), and Red Ribbon (which she profiled on day 9). “We need the dynamic that local business brings to the community.”

The final entry in the series will be posted tomorrow. I encourage you to read through all of the profiles.

Well done Amanda, and thanks for the chat!