A fundraiser for the next generation: hot chefs, cool bEATS

Sharon and I are really looking forward to hot chefs, cool bEATS on Saturday evening! A celebration of Edmonton’s most creative restaurants, chefs, and food trucks, the event is a fundraiser to support Culinary Team Canada in their quest for gold at the Culinary Olympics in Germany this October. But it’s not the kind of fundraiser you’re thinking of. The dress code at hot chefs, cool bEATS is “street chic” rather than black tie!

Filistix, Drift, Transcend, Wild Tangerine, Elm Café, Bistecca, and Duchess are among the food trucks and restaurants that will be serving up delicious food throughout the evening. For drinks you can look forward to Alley Kat, Granville Island, and a bunch of wine. Interestingly there’s only one sit-down part of the event – a plated dessert created by Culinary Team Canada’s pastry chef to finish things off. Check out Sharon’s post for more information on what to expect at the event.

It wasn’t until we sat down with event co-chair Gurvinder Bhatia that I really took note of the event. And it wasn’t until he explained the philosophy behind it that I was sold:

“Too many events in the city are still geared towards the 50+ crowd. There are many young professional in the 25-45 age group that make good money, love food and wine, but don’t want to attend the same events that their parents attended. It is not only important to create events for this demographic, but to facilitate, encourage and foster philanthropy and community involvement for members of this group.”

That speaks to me. My experience with fundraisers thus far has been pretty typical – black tie, ten-seat table, five-course meal, silent auction, etc. Why not do something different? Why not encourage some creativity? More importantly, we really do need to foster philanthropy and community involvement in my demographic. Ever since Marty Forbes shared his concern that our city’s future leaders are not stepping up, I have been thinking and talking about “succession” and about how we can get nextgeners involved in building a better Edmonton. The answer is not always to create something new, but there’s certainly got to be room for that approach as well. In this case, I think a fresh take on the fundraiser is long overdue!

Tickets are not cheap at $150, but it is a fundraiser after all (and that includes all food and drink). In addition to supporting Culinary Team Canada, proceeds will support the High School Culinary Challenge which helps students wishing to pursue careers in the culinary industry. The deadline for tickets is noon on Friday – there will not be any tickets available at the door! You can buy yours online here.

The hashtag for the event is #hotchefs12. Hope to see you there!

Pecha Kucha Night: Edmonton #12

pkn12Edmonton’s twelfth Pecha Kucha Night was held last night at the historic Garneau Theatre in Old Strathcona. More than 500 people attended to see 10 presentations on a variety of topics, all delivered in the now familiar 20-slides-at-20-seconds-per-slide format. Most Pecha Kucha Nights in Edmonton have featured something unique, and last night the spotlight and red carpet outside the theatre welcomed attendees in style. The popcorn was free, the seats were comfy, and the energy in the room was infectious.

In order of appearance, these were the presenters at PKN12:

  1. Erin Monaghan, Blogger
  2. Ben Henderson, City Councillor
  3. Duncan Kinney, Polynerd
  4. Leroy Schultz, Photographer
  5. Stephen Visser & Dawn Lamothe, Yoga Lovers
  6. Joseph Ahorro, U2 Fan
  7. Michael Walters, Community Organizer
  8. Chris Falconer & Owen Petersen, Foodies
  9. Sue Huff, MLA Candidate
  10. Steve Sandor, Journalist

It takes guts to get up in front of such a large crowd, especially when you have a limited period of time and high expectations! I thought all of the presenters did a great job. All of them seemed to have fun too! Sharon remarked that PKN12 was probably in the middle of the pack in terms of presentations, and I agree.

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton 12

Erin kicked off the evening with her discussion of street fashion, drawing mainly on her experiences writing The Vestiary. I thought her approach, treating Edmonton as her “little sister”, added a nice touch of humor, even if the overall flow was at times difficult to follow. I love that Erin and others like her are doing something about the perception of Edmonton’s fashion scene! Duncan’s presentation was packed with information, and I thought he did a nice job of discussing what a credit union is and why you should consider one. Duncan recently organized the Local Money Summit and is running to be a director of Servus Credit Union. One of the more moving presentations of the evening was Leroy’s overview of Miguelito’s Little Green Car. It’s an amazing story really, he has taken this little green car all over the world and photographed it people from all walks of life. He wants to show that everyone is connected. Here is the photo he took of the audience with the little green car:

First up after the intermission was Joseph, who talked about his experiences travelling to U2 concerts all around the world. We’re not talking one or two concerns, we’re talking dozens, on four different continents! The human connection is what made the story interesting, that and Joseph’s occasional singing! Michael Walters spent his twenty slides talking about local food, and in particular, the northeast part of our city which is home to some of the best farmland in the country. He talked about The Great Potato Giveaway, and about the importance of building a local food hub. The next presentation featured foodies Chris and Owen who wore matching plaid shirts and aprons. Their high energy talk was focused on bread – the history of it, why bread is great, and even some science behind it. They finished with the quickest bread making I have ever seen! Sue was up next with an interesting talk on creative politics. It was a solid talk with some good ideas, but it just couldn’t match the energy of some of the other talks. The final presentation was all about why Edmonton needs an SCTV monument. Steven made the case and had some really interesting visuals (I like the one of Melonville). I can definitely get behind the notion that we should celebrate more than just our sports heroes, but I think we can do better than SCTV. I think the association between ‘Edmonton’ and ‘SCTV’ is incredibly low for the vast majority of people, and a monument isn’t going to change that. On the other hand, maybe I am just too young.

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton 12

I think a lot of people in the audience really enjoyed Stephen and Dawn’s “presentation” but it didn’t work for me. Instead of a typical presentation, they did yoga on stage for the six minutes and forty seconds, with a different position for each slide. Obviously they worked very hard at the presentation, and as Michael Brechtel commented to me, it was executed perfectly, and for that I commend them. For me though, it wasn’t a Pecha Kucha talk. The voiceover was pre-recorded There was a third, unannounced presenter off to the side who provided the voiceover for each slide, and I found I wasn’t even listening to it because I was distracted/enthralled by the acrobatics on stage.

My favorite presentation of the evening (and Sharon’s favorite too) was Ben Henderson’s discussion on winter. He showed images from his trip to Oslo, Helsinki, and other winter cities in northern Europe. Ben was full of energy, full of passion for his subject, and I think he did a nice job of being serious and fun at the same time. I hope he made as much of an impression on everyone else as he did on me, and if you’re interested in learning more about the City’s WinterCity strategy, visit the website and also check out the IdeaScale site.

Twitter always plays a large role in Pecha Kucha. The #pkn12 hashtag was buzzing last night! Here are a few tweets from the evening that I thought were worth capturing:

Proceeds from the bar went to the food bank, and there were a bunch of great prize giveaways too. I seem to have pretty good luck with prizes at Pecha Kucha, because I was one of the winners! Once again the event was livestreamed by the Edmonton Journal. I didn’t see as much chatter about quality or connection issues, so hopefully it worked well for everyone. In case you missed it, you can watch the recorded video here.

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton 12Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton 12

Keep an eye on @EdmNextGen for details on the next Pecha Kucha Night, tentatively scheduled for June.

You can read about past Pecha Kucha Nights in Edmonton here.

Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2011

top 40 under 40The third annual Top 40 Under 40 list was unveiled this evening at the Winspear Centre. Avenue Edmonton has once again highlighted an amazing group of Edmontonians doing some really great things in our city.

“We are extremely proud to celebrate this accomplished, creative and insightful group of fellow citizens,” said Avenue publisher Orville Chubb. “They exemplify the best of Edmonton’s spirit.”

Here’s the Top 40 for 2011 and where you can find them online (in alphabetical order):

The eagle-eyed among you may notice that there are actually 41 names in the list. The editor’s note in the issue explains the reason for this, but essentially there was some communication issues – the top 40 are busy people after all! The average age this year is 34.1, up from 33.4 in 2009 but down slightly from 34.6 in 2010.

Top 40 Under 40 for 2011
Erica Viegas graces the cover

Top 40 Under 40 for 2011
Erica Viegas, Tina Thomas, and Kari Skelton

Top 40 Under 40 for 2011
Todd Babiak

Top 40 Under 40 for 2011
Karen McDonald

Top 40 Under 40 for 2011
Christine Causing

Top 40 Under 40 for 2011
Cam Linke

Some of the names on the list are new to me, and that’s great – I love learning about awesome Edmontonians! I feel fortunate to know some of the others quite well. Congratulations to all!

The November issue of Avenue Magazine will be on stands across the city as of October 29. Watch for nominations for the 2012 list to open in the spring.

My photos from tonight’s event are here. See also my posts about the Class of 2010 and Class of 2009.

Recap: Edmonton NextGen’s Up{date}

Tonight Edmonton NextGen hosted an event called Up{date} at the Art Gallery of Alberta. Here’s what it was all about:

Up{date} 2011 brings together city councillors and key civic leaders in a speed dating style format for you to directly ask how their visions for Edmonton’s future are coming to life a year since the election. First introduced in the 2010 municipal election, Candi{date} is a made-in-Edmonton NextGen event that connects Next Gen voters to election candidates. Candi{date} is a casual, informal and fun way for voters to meet candidates, find out who they are and what they stand for, and to ask the questions that matter to them.

I wrote about the second Candi{date} event here. I think it is great that NextGen is creating opportunities to connect with our civic leaders, so I was excited to check out Up{date}. I was disappointed in the turnout tonight though, with only 20 to 30 people in attendance. I’m equally disappointed that more of my peers don’t seem to take advantage of opportunities like this (though tonight there was stiff competition from the Crate & Barrel grand opening at Southgate, with catering by D’lish, that’s where Sharon was). Clearly there is work to be done!


Mayor Mandel came for a brief period, but Councillors Batty, Henderson, Iveson, Krushell, and Sohi were in attendance most of the evening. Also joining them was Edmonton’s Fire Chief Ken Block. Here are my notes from the discussions I had!

Councillor Henderson

  • “Our long-term health depends on building a city that people want to live in, not one they have to live in.”
  • Unsurprisingly, his least favorite issue right now is the arena. He talked about the issues that people like to focus on – potholes, taxes – and said that “they are important, but they often get in the way of city building.” He made the point that “no one moves to a city because it has no potholes.”
  • He also spent some time talking about aboriginal issues in Edmonton, and the need to make progress. He mentioned Edmonton’s Urban Aboriginal Accord (PDF) and called it “an important document.” Another point he made was that we haven’t done a lot to recognize or celebrate that aspect of our city’s history.
  • On the topic of urban sprawl, he expressed concern that “maybe we don’t mean what we say.” He said that Council has said they want to stop urban sprawl, but have actually done little to achieve that.
  • When the discussion turned to crime, he mentioned that “putting more police on the street is just a band-aid solution” and that we need to focus on making changes for the future.

Councillor Krushell

  • On downtown: “it needs work.”
  • We talked quite a bit about the proposed Shaw Conference Centre expansion. Krushell was on the expansion committee that evaluated the business case. “I disagree with the Mayor on this one” she told us, explaining that her preference is to have the SCC expand into the river valley rather than across Jasper Avenue.
  • “We somehow haven’t figured out how to utilize our riverfront.”
  • We of course talked quite a lot about the City Centre Redevelopment. “When we say to young people, ‘don’t spread out and buy single family homes in the suburbs’, what product do we offer as an alternative?” She sees the ECCA lands as an opportunity to provide that alternative product.


Councillor Sohi

  • He started out with a couple of stories about his days as a bus driver with ETS. On his very first day, he was driving route 30 and on the 3rd or 4th stop the door wouldn’t close. He managed to get it closed but it kept happening! Ultimately he had to call control and they sent a a new bus, but it was a stressful start! “Be nice to the drivers!” he told us.
  • I asked him about the arena and if there was anything Council could have done differently. His response: “In hindsight we should have been in the driver’s seat rather than letting the Katz Group drive the process.”
  • Sohi said he believes Edmonton can become a centre of excellence when it comes to diversity, and he hopes to see more coverage of multicultural issues in our city. “We also can’t forget that we will soon have the largest aboriginal population.”
  • “I always look around at events like this and ask, ‘is Edmonton being represented?’”

Chief Block

  • “It’s an absolute honor to be the chief.”
  • He started at Fire Rescue Services in 1980, so he’s certainly a veteran!
  • Block mentioned he was particularly proud that Edmonton Fire Rescue was approved by The Commission on Fire Accreditation International as an accredited agency last year. “We were the 138th out of around 36,000 fire services across North America to get full accreditation, and just the 3rd in Canada.”
  • On a day-to-day basis, budgetary issues are one of the major challenges. He praised Council however, telling us that two additional stations are opening at the end of the year.
  • Fire Rescue Services responds to 34,000 events per year, about 65% of which are medical events. There are typically between 900 and 1300 fires per year, but there’s a lot of variation with regards to when and where.
  • I asked him about succession planning, and while noting that there are a large number of firefighters close to retirement, he did say they were having success with recruiting. “We see between 900 and 1400 applicants per year.” He explained that there’s not a lot of movement out of the department – firefighters generally remain firefighters for their entire careers.
  • Another long-term challenge he talked about was building codes and building materials. “There are almost no solid wood products anymore,” he told us, and explained that the newer combination products burn faster and hotter.
  • Arson accounts for roughly 30% of fires across Canada, and that’s no different in Edmonton, he said. “We’re trying to work closer with police, because there are very few convictions with arson.”
  • Another interesting point he made was about the need to serve the river valley. “The public is being invited to make use of the river valley more and more, and we need to be able to handle emergencies there.”
  • On getting information to citizens digitally: “That’s an area we need to improve upon.”


I enjoyed talking to Chief Block most tonight. It was great to connect with one of our civic leaders who isn’t always in the spotlight. I think it might be interesting to have similar events in the future with other less-visible civic leaders.

Kudos to NextGen for creating the opportunity – now we need to work on getting people to take advantage of it. If you haven’t already done so, check out Edmonton NextGen’s annual report for 2010. You can also subscribe to the NextGen newsletter to stay on top of events like Up{date}.

Pecha Kucha Night: Edmonton #11

pkn11Edmonton’s eleventh Pecha Kucha Night was held last night at the Myer Horowitz Theatre on the University of Alberta campus (if you’re new to Pecha Kucha, read this). More than 600 people attended the event which featured ten presentations on a variety of topics. As usual, attendees were asked if this was their first ever Pecha Kucha Night and most of the hands in the audience shot up. It’s great that Edmonton NextGen continues to reach new people, but I do wonder where everyone else has gone and if they ever come back!

In order of appearance, these were the presenters at PKN11:

  1. Jeremy Derksen, Adventure Writer
  2. Chris Samuel, Lawyer/ Starcraft Enthusiast
  3. Ryan Saunders, PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering and Co-Founder of ABCampusTec
  4. David Papp, Technology Advisor
  5. Darren Wagner, PhD Student, University of York
  6. Wendy Caplan & Wade Kelly, Educators
  7. Larry Retzlaff, Senior Planner, City of Edmonton
  8. Joshua Le, Business Student, University of Alberta
  9. Jeff Senger & Paul Cabaj, Co-Founders of SPARK
  10. Karen Unland, Journalism Educator and Consultant

The range of topics certainly seemed a lot broader than at PKNs past, with everything from Starcraft to Raw Denim. Generally I think the themed evenings work better, though I suppose there are hits and misses with both approaches. Last night had its share of both.

Pecha Kucha 11 - 27-Edit

Jeremy Derksen kicked things off with a bold statement, saying “Edmonton is a great place to have an adventure.” He argued for the consideration of urban adventure as we build the Edmonton of the future, and pointed out that risk can be healthy. I loved that he touched on graffiti – provide a legitimate space for it, and I think you get rewarded. Chris Samuel was up next with his introduction to Starcraft and the world of competitive gameplay as a sport. He taught us that there are official leagues, commentators, heroes, and everything else that you might expect with other professional sports. His highly entertaining presentation probably had the most tweeted phrase of the evening, apparently adlibbed on the fly: “Nerds come in all shapes and sizes.” Ryan Saunders gave a nice introduction to ABCampusTec, though the presentation was basically just a commercial for the organization. I really wanted to like David Papp’s presentation – he did a phenomenal job of bringing energy and passion to the stage – but I personally found it difficult to get past the fact that he was basically saying “look at how much traffic my site got” for 20 slides. I was also looking for the social media experiment, but it never came. Darren Wagner closed out the first half of the show with perhaps the most controversial presentation of the evening, a look at “nature’s naughty bits” though it was more of a historical look at how human societies have displayed genitalia.

Pecha Kucha 11 - 137 Pecha Kucha 11 - 172 Pecha Kucha 11 - 218 Pecha Kucha 11 - 275 Pecha Kucha 11 - 296

In a change from past events, door prizes were given out right before the break (Sharon suggested it may have been so that the winners were more likely to still be in attendance). If the opening presentations didn’t entertain you, Ryan Jespersen most certainly did. He was responsible for handing out the prizes, but of course, he had fun with it. He’s totally at home with a microphone in his hand – there’s a reason this has become his segment at PKN. I think @squiish said it best: “Ryan, you made door prizes pleasurable for the losers too.”

Pecha Kucha 11 - 360

While the Myer Horowitz is a great venue, it doesn’t work so well for drinks. That’s a picture of the one and only one bar at the break. If you were patient enough to get a drink, my guess is that you didn’t have time to drink it before the second half started up again! It was great to see two local beers on offer though, Alley Kat and Wild Rose.

Pecha Kucha Night 11

First up after the break was the duo of Wendy Caplan and Wade Kelly. As soon as they started their presentation – “4000 friends and 140 characters: Redefining our Social Lexicon” – I tweeted that I didn’t want to be preached at about Twitter and how it doesn’t bring people together. While their presentation was an interesting recap of long-forgotten behaviors (like taking film to the store and waiting weeks for it to be developed) I thought it was probably delivered at the wrong event. A large number of people in the audience met and became friends precisely thanks to the new tools and technologies Wendy and Wade were questioning. Larry Retzlaff was up next, to talk about Transit Oriented Development and the guidelines the City is currently developing. Important topic that I hope more Edmontonians get engaged with, and as far as awareness goes I suppose the presentation was a success, but when we’ve had outstanding TOD-as-LEGO presentations in the past, it sort of missed the mark. Joshua Le’s presentation on raw denim was interesting and educational, though it was somewhat similar to David’s – a recap of how far and wide word of his project spread. Jeff Senger and Paul Cabaj were up next, to talk about cooperatives. I learned that 2012 is the International Year of Cooperatives, but unfortunately I didn’t take much else away from the presentation. Karen Unland had the final presentation of the evening, a passionate discussion of what journalism needs now. I thought she did a great job of balancing humor and seriousness to get her message across.

Pecha Kucha 11 - 408 Pecha Kucha 11 - 449 Pecha Kucha 11 - 481 Pecha Kucha 11 - 522 Pecha Kucha 11 - 565

The crowd favorite of the evening was probably Chris Samuel’s really unique presentation on Starcraft. I know I’m curious about the viewing parties that are held at local bars! It seems as though each PKN usually has a particularly memorable quote or phrase. With PKNX, it was “magpie town”. I think Karen’s quote (she had lots of great ones) was probably the winner last night: “French kiss change. Hump change’s leg!” Those were probably my two favorite presentations, though I quite enjoyed Jeremy Derksen’s as well.

Other thoughts: I think NextGen might have set a record last night for starting so close to the advertised time! The Edmonton Journal once again livestreamed the event, but a number of technical issues made it a less than smooth experience for viewers. This PKN was the first in Edmonton to be held at a venue that has already been used – PKN5 was at the Myer Horowitz back in October 2009. The event featured music by DJ Blue Jay and a visual art showcase presented by Timeraiser, coming up on October 15. There’s a great collection of photos by Dave DeGagné, the event’s official photographer, here. You can see my much crappier ones here.

Pecha Kucha 11 - 606

NextGen is currently planning Pecha Kucha Night 12 for February. Keep an eye on @EdmNextGen for updates!

Pecha Kucha Night: Edmonton #10 (PKNX)

Last night was Edmonton’s tenth Pecha Kucha Night, a completely sold out event held at the Alberta Aviation Museum. It was the second straight to sell-out in advance of the doors opening, and judging by the number of hands that went up when our hosts asked how many people had never been to a Pecha Kucha Night before, the event’s reach continues to expand. PKNX focused on downtown:

With the redevelopment of the City Centre Airport lands on the horizon, PKNX explores the potential for a Do-It-Yourself Downtown and features presenters exploring the architectural, social, environmental and cultural potential for our urban core in the 20 slides x 20 sec per slide format made popular world-wide by Klein Dytham Architecture.

I saw a few comments on Twitter asking why the event was held on the City Centre Airport lands if the focus was on downtown, but that’s exactly the kind of controversy that Edmonton NextGen was going for. And without question the redevelopment of the ECCA lands will have a big impact on downtown. I just wish NextGen had gone all-in and made Ryan Jespersen’s suggestion a reality – his idea was to setup a stage on the closed runway! How cool would that have been, presenting with the runway lights all around you?!

Being the tenth iteration of Pecha Kucha Night in Edmonton, last night was a bit of a milestone so NextGen setup posters from all the previous events (you can see my previous recaps here). It was probably interesting for people new to PKN to see, and even for someone like myself who has been to every single one, it was good to look back.


In order of appearance, these were the presenters at PKNX:

  1. Michael Strong, Urban Planner
  2. Shafraaz Kaba, Architect
  3. Tom Sutherland, Architect
  4. Myron Belej, Urban Planner
  5. Ron Gilbertson, CEO of EEDC
  6. Chelsea Boos, Designer
  7. Mike Weinmaster, Botanical Artist
  8. Ian O’Donnell, Downtown Community Guy
  9. Doug Carlyle, Landscape Architect
  10. Tai Ziola & Craig Dorward, Intern Architects
  11. Mack Male, Edmonton Blogger
  12. Todd Babiak, Writer, Hustler

Our hosts for the evening were Ryan Stark and Brian Murray, and they embraced the location dressing up as airmen! I thought they did a much better job of just having fun on stage last night. At the break they did a flight attendant routine to direct people to the washrooms and bar, it was pretty funny!


I sensed a bit of nervousness among the presenters last night, but having been up on stage myself I can totally understand why. The venue was great, but it was also really daunting to be able to see all 400 people seated in front of you. Some talks had more energy than others, and overall there was a nice flow to the evening.


The night got off to a strong start with Mike’s presentation on downtown. He’s the man that really brought Pecha Kucha to Edmonton, so it was cool to see him up on stage. I didn’t care much for Tom’s talk on the Capital City Downtown Plan. It’s important for people to know about, definitely, but I’m not sure it made for the best PKN presentation. Chelsea presented a visual diary of Edmonton’s urban culture, a really thoughtful and beautifully worded talk. Mike joined us all the way from Vancouver to talk about greening Edmonton. He shared some of his experiences covering buildings with vertical greenery. Ian’s concept, that “downtown should be a big patio”, was intriguing though it didn’t translate on stage as well as it could have. He’s right though, who doesn’t love patios and beer? Doug talked about some of the aspects of Paris that make it such a desirable city, and I like that touched on the potential for West Rossdale in here in Edmonton. Tai and Craig had some great concept visuals in their presentation which focused on the potential for urban farming.

I really enjoyed Ron’s talk, and based on the laughter in the audience I think others did as well. He issued a warning that the changes we always talk about for downtown will dramatically change the character of downtown. The 25 cent movies, easy access to parking, and alleys for selling non-prescription drugs will all disappear! He had some excellent visuals too.

Three of us made our third Pecha Kucha appearance last night. Shafraaz talked about the One Planet Living proposal he was a part of for transforming the City Centre Airport. Myron delivered an excellent tongue-in-cheek talk about the history of plans for downtown and how they haven’t panned out (kind of akin to this post I did back in February). And I made my second-straight PKN appearance to talk about the Alley of Light project.

Without a doubt Todd stole the show last night. He was the correct choice to close out the evening, as he delivered a really strong, high energy talk on interventions. I would argue he had the most memorable moments of the evening. One slide showed a before and after of a wall. The before featured some beautiful artwork on the wall, while the after had the wall blank with some inappropriate graffiti scribbled on top: “This wall used to have art, now it has cocks!” He called Edmonton a “magpie town” and implored everyone to say it loudly and proudly! Finally, one statement he made about his interventions project really stuck with me: “I should have asked people to DO something, then email me.”

The most common piece of feedback I heard after the presentations were done was along the lines of “I’m glad you and Todd went last”. I think people appreciated the fact that we talked about actually doing something, as you could argue that the other presentations, while inspirational, were more about ideas and plans than execution.


Pecha Kucha is always a hot topic on Twitter, and last night was no different. The #pknx hashtag was busy! Since midnight on June 17, more than 900 tweets have been posted about PKNX. Here are your top ten #pknx tweeters:

  1. britl
  2. gscratch
  3. TamaraStecyk
  4. lancetay
  5. DavidPapp
  6. SavageTiner
  7. EdmNextGen
  8. AvenueEdmonton
  9. CaryWilliams
  10. kevinlovestech

Here’s a word cloud of #pknx tweets from that same time period (with #pknx, #yeg, and RT removed):

As with PKN9, last night’s presentations were live-streamed by the Edmonton Journal – you can watch the archived video here.

Once again, Graphos was responsible for the visual design of PKNX. I really love the red X. Graphos really took it to the next level this time, creating an entire physical installation for the poster (you can watch the making of here). It was setup at the museum last night, so we snagged a photo:


The next Pecha Kucha Night in Edmonton, PKN11, is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 14 at the University of Alberta (in conjunction with Alumni Week). Keep an eye on @EdmNextGen for updates.

I received some really great feedback on my “I ❤ #yegdt” t-shirt. I had it made at Bang-On Edmonton specifically for last night’s event (I can now wear it to any number of downtown-related events). There were some pretty intense prize last night as well, including a Molson beer fridge! Presenting sponsor BT Edmonton gave away an iPod touch that I won (actually it was Sharon’s ticket). I went up and told Ryan to redraw for it – I’m the last person to need yet another electronic device! To make up for it, he plugged both my site and What the Truck?! – thanks Ryan!

Thanks to Edmonton Next Gen for another great event, to all of the volunteers for making it happen, and to everyone who attended or watched online! You can see the rest of my photos from last night here.

June is Next Gen Month in Edmonton

Last night at the Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton’s NextGen relaunched its website and brand and, along with partners in the “little-n” next gen community, launched Next Gen Month. I think the situation here in Edmonton is rather unique – local next gen organizations are actively working together to make Edmonton a better place. There’s collaboration, rather than competition. Edmonton’s NextGen committee has done some great work recently to get all of the organizations connected and meeting regularly, and I think is starting to see itself more as a hub. That doesn’t mean that NextGen will stop pursuing its own events and initiatives, but there’s a growing awareness that one organization simply can’t represent the entire next gen community.

Next Gen Month Launch Next Gen Month Launch

The big news from last night is that June is going to be Next Gen Month in Edmonton. The idea came about as organizers in the next gen community realized there’s a lot of stuff happening next month. Mayor Stephen Mandel and Councillor Don Iveson were in attendance last night to make the official proclamation:

Whereas, the City of Edmonton is dedicated to supporting young, passionate, community-minded individuals who are taking the future into their own hands by creating a city that attracts and gives voice to the next generation of Edmontonians;

And whereas, through events, leadership and professional development opportunities, next generation organizations are working together to foster young leaders and help provide critical input as the city continues to grow;

And whereas, the City of Edmonton recognizes the efforts of next gen organizations who are actively working to connect people, places, community and ideas together;

And whereas, all Edmontonians are encouraged to participate in activities hosted by next gen organizations through the month of June;

Therefore, I, Mayor Stephen Mandel, do hereby proclaim June 2011, as “Next Gen Month” in Edmonton, Alberta’s capital city.

Next Gen Month Launch

As you can see, Edmonton’s NextGen now has a new, colorful logo. It was designed by Darren Tonn, Ryan Kelly, and Dennis Lenarduzzi of the Ad Club of Edmonton. They shared some of the design elements and rationale behind the new logo at last night’s event. It wasn’t immediately apparent to me, but if you focus on the blue lines you should see an “unfinished e”, designed to represent the fact that NextGen is still building in Edmonton. I think it does a much better job of conveying what NextGen is all about. You can see their presentation on the logo here.

Next Gen Month Launch Next Gen Month Launch

The new logo is featured prominently on NextGen’s new website. Credit for the new site goes to Ashley Casovan, Devin Serink, Lisa Hagen, and Greg Crossfield, who all worked really hard to bring their vision to life. The site features a much-improved Committee page, a photo gallery, a news feed with blog posts from partners, an event calendar, and more. I had a hand in that last one – the event calendar and list of upcoming events is powered by ShareEdmonton! There’s obviously room for improvement, but the new site is a solid platform for the committee to build upon.

Next Gen Month Launch

I’m encouraged by the things our next gen community is working on, and by the fact that we’re all working together. There’s a lot of work still be done, but I think we’re heading in the right direction. It seems that hyperbole abounds whenever one talks about the next gen community, but I really do think that we can make a difference here in Edmonton!

I think it’s fair to say that it was “the usual crowd” in attendance last night. For a launch event, I think that’s okay, but it’s definitely a challenge the next gen community will need to address moving forward. With somewhere around 265,000 Edmontonians in the target demographic (18-40) there’s a lot of people that we haven’t yet connected with. On that note, check out the event calendar, get involved, and tell a friend!

You can see more photos from last night’s event here.

Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2010

The second annual Top 40 Under 40 list was unveiled tonight at the Art Gallery of Alberta at a very well-attended event. In a city that could use a little more self-congratulation, I think it’s great that Avenue Edmonton is recognizing the efforts of such a diverse and interesting group of Edmontonians:

Each year, Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40 recognizes the individuals in Greater Edmonton who are leading the city through this period of growth and change. Aside from being under 40, there is no common denominator defining them. Their focus may be on hospitality, humanitarianism or health; they are environmentalists and entrepreneurs, educators and entertainers, lawyers and fundraisers and more. Some don’t even have professions — just passions that become successful ventures, and in turn, raise the city’s profile. We recognize them individually because each one succeeds and leads in his or her field, but we celebrate them collectively because together they enrich our city.

You can read all about the Top 40 Under 40 here. There was a little discussion tonight about whether or not the average age of the list had gone up, and it has, but only slightly – from 33.4 in 2009 to 34.6 in 2010.

2010 Edmonton Top 40 Under 40

The lovely Tegan Martin-Drysdale is on the cover of the November issue. Here’s where to find her and the other Top 40 members online (in alphabetical order):

You can follow all the people on Twitter here.

I thought the event tonight ran very smoothly! It was still full of people, but there was more room to move this year. Here are some photos from the evening:

2010 Edmonton Top 40 Under 40
Chris Bolivar, Michael Brechtel, Chris LaBossiere

2010 Edmonton Top 40 Under 40
The crowd gathering to celebrate!

2010 Edmonton Top 40 Under 40
Amanda Woodward receives her award.

2010 Edmonton Top 40 Under 40
Chris LaBossiere with Don, Greg, and Jill.

2010 Edmonton Top 40 Under 40
Dave Cournoyer celebrates with Kyla!

2010 Edmonton Top 40 Under 40

Congratulations to everyone who made the list this year!

You can read my post about last year’s list here. You can see the rest of my photos here.

Recap: Edmonton Next Gen’s Candi{date} :: north of the river

Edmonton Next Gen held its second Candi{date} forum this evening, this time for candidates in Wards 1 through 7. Organized in conjunction with interVivos and the MacEwan Students’ Association, the event provided young people the opportunity to sit down with candidates for 20-minute mini-dates. The first Candi{date} event was poorly attended, but tonight’s event was much more lively. Most of the candidates were in attendance and their tables generally seemed busy throughout the evening.

I decided to focus on Ward 6 candidates, since that is the ward I live in. I managed to sit down with each of them, except for Jane Batty. Here are my thoughts on the candidates I talked to:

  • I started with Thomas Roberts. He seemed unprepared, both in terms of his campaign (he had some excuse about not having materials) and in terms of his knowledge. Thomas brought up the airport, as an example of the current city council not listening to citizens. He cited business as the core reason to keep it open, but could not express why and I don’t think he really knows anything about the airport. He thought all the businesses had already moved away from the ECCA. He also thought Port Alberta was called “Port Edmonton” and that it involved the ECCA. We talked about transit as well, and he expressed his belief that the U-Pass is too expensive and should be opt in. He couldn’t tell us how much the U-Pass costs, and he did not have a strategy for making the program viable if it were opt-in. I asked him why he wanted to run for council, and he said the airport was a big issue, and there was another one…that he read in the paper not long ago…that he couldn’t remember. Frankly, I couldn’t wait for our time to be up.
  • My next stop was with James Johnson, one of the younger candidates running for office. He seemed relaxed and did a good job of answering questions, even if he lacked enthusiasm. I asked him where he sees Edmonton in twenty years, and he said “with the same boundaries we have now.” He seems to understand that a more compact urban form could help our city run more efficiently, but unfortunately, his policies don’t align with that vision. He supports the ECCA, again claiming we’ll lose business without it. I asked him what he’d do to ensure we attract new business when it closes, and he didn’t have a strategy. James has concerns with the Stony Plain LRT and referred to transit in general as a “social service”. He did acknowledge that having everyone drive is not the solution. We also touched on EXPO, something James is opposed to due to cost. I thought James was a pretty personable guy, but I disagree with his ideas about how to move Edmonton forward, and I got the impression that he’d have a lot of learning to do.
  • My third stop was at Lee Permann’s table. He was very friendly, and actually, I’d say my conversation with him was the most enjoyable of the evening. I had to start by asking him about his lawn signs, which have councillor spelled “councelor”. He blamed it on the printer, but didn’t have a reason for why he didn’t print new signs. He had a sense of humor about it though, suggesting it might get people to notice him. He lives in Westmount, and talked a lot about increasing the number of people living in the ward. He thinks downtown (I’m assuming he means Downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods together) could support another 100,000 people in the next 20 years. I’m not sure that is realistic, but I do like that he views downtown revitalization as a function of the number of people living there. He also talked about the need for infrastructure. I asked him why he wanted to run for council and he said that he felt the current council was too closely aligned with big business, but did not elaborate. Lee seems like a good guy, but I don’t think city council is for him.
  • Next up for me was Brian Kapitza. He clearly knows a thing or two about how the city works, and seems to have spent some time learning about other places in the world too. Almost as soon as we sat down he launched into his two core issues: neighbourhood renewal & empowerment, and curbing urban sprawl through property tax reform. I think his idea for property tax reform (basically you pay based on the services your land can use, rather than the value of the land) makes a lot of sense but would be difficult to get consensus on. Likewise I think his plan to give community leagues the power to veto planning and development issues in their neighbourhoods would be difficult to implement. I guess someone needs to start these discussions, but I wonder what else he’d do if elected. I really felt as though I was being lectured to when Brian talked, but I am happy to see a candidate with some experience, a vision for Edmonton’s future, and some concrete strategies to start working toward that vision.
  • My last stop was at Cris Basualdo’s table. We spent our time talking about Cris’ two major issues: creating a vibrant downtown (she includes the surrounding neighbourhoods) with more residents, and dealing with community safety. It’s a little odd to talk about how unsafe the ward is in one breath and then to start talking about bringing in more families in the next, but that’s how it went. Like Lee Permann, Cris thinks the key to creating a vibrant downtown is to get more people living there. I think she exaggerates the crime problems facing ward six, and did not share any specifics on how she’d go about improving the situation. Cris wants to take a firm stance against undesirable activities such as needle use, but did not indicate where users would go (no mention of safe injection sites, etc). I thought Cris was really friendly, and she certainly has passion for what she believes, but I don’t think she’s ready for city council.


I tweeted earlier that the evening was both eye opening and depressing. The speed-dating format is a fantastic way to meet the candidates, and to find out more about them. It’s also a format that prevents candidates from hiding behind platform points or big issues. You can fairly quickly figure out which candidates know that they’re talking about, which candidates would likely be team players, and which candidates have a vision for Edmonton beyond fixing potholes. The depressing part is that I left most tables underwhelmed and unimpressed.

I’ve mentioned the learning curve a few times. I think it takes guts to throw your hat into the ring to run for office, but I also feel you should be prepared for it, and I want a councillor that can hit the ground running. Obviously there’s a learning curve for anyone new to council, but there is a whole ton of knowledge about how the city works that you can learn before getting into office. That doesn’t mean no new ideas, it just means being prepared to do the job well. I think we’ve got some momentum as a city, and I’d like to see us capitalize on that.


I thought NextGen did a great job with Candi{date} and I’d love to see them do it again. I can only imagine that candidates would want to do more of these events as well. Daryl Bonar told me about his experience at the first Candi{date} and said it was a great way to meet lots of people in a short amount of time, far more than you’re likely to have a meaningful conversation with door-knocking. It would be great to see similar events for school board candidates as well.

Thanks NextGen (and partners) for a unique way to meet my candidates! You can see a few more photos from the evening here.

Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2009

Avenue Edmonton’s first annual Top 40 Under 40 will appear in the November issue of the magazine, available at various locations around the city. Here’s what it’s all about:

When trying to imagine the future of Edmonton, one has to picture the future faces that will shape it. These faces are of urban planners mapping the new city, community workers enhancing our quality of life, entrepreneurs enriching the local economy and artists sending our brand out to the world. In Avenue’s inaugural Top 40 Under 40, we seek to honour the brightest and most talented individuals under the age of 40 who are excelling in their careers, giving back to the community and raising the city’s profile. They are the generation of today making a better future for the people of tomorrow.

I’m truly honored to be part of such a fantastic group of Edmontonians. Last night’s event (at Sabor Divino) was lots of fun, and I met some great people. It was a little cramped though, and a little loud. That means next year’s will be even better! Here are some photos:

This is the image that appears for my page online. The one in the magazine is different, but I really like both. I think 3TEN Photography did an amazing job with all the photos!

Avenue Top 40 Under 40 Edmonton

Major congrats to Cary Williams, who is featured on the cover of the issue. Such a great choice, and it’s a great photo too! You can read his article here.

Avenue Top 40 Under 40 EdmontonAvenue Top 40 Under 40 Edmonton

Thanks to Sharon for taking photos last night!

Avenue Top 40 Under 40 EdmontonAvenue Top 40 Under 40 Edmonton

The Top 40 Under 40 list is important, not because the people on the list are looking for recognition, but because it helps to remind us that there are lots of incredibly passionate people working to make Edmonton a better place to live.

The issue comes out November 1st (it’ll likely start appearing around the city this weekend). You can follow Avenue Edmonton on Twitter.

I also want to pass along my congratulations to the Top 40 Under 40 for Calgary!