Leading the Way: 2011 Youth Summit on Sustainable Transportation

This weekend at the Lister Conference Centre on the University of Alberta campus, about 56 youth from across the prairies and territories are gathered to learn about and discuss public transit and sustainable transportation. Leading the Way is the first regional summit to take place in Canada, other chapters of the Canadian Urban Transit Association will follow suit with their own events later this year.

LTW Youth SummitLTW Youth Summit

The conference kicked off last night with opening remarks from Charles Stolte, Manager of Edmonton Transit and Chair of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. He welcomed everyone and shared a few anecdotes from his many years of transit experience. We also heard from Kevin Joll, Manager of Red Deer Transit. He talked about the organizations Vision 2040, an initiative to define the role of public transit in Canada for a 30-year time horizon. He shared this video with us:

Next up was our keynote speaker, Edmonton City Councillor Don Iveson. He spoke about “making a difference” and shared some of his experiences with bringing the U-Pass to life. He had four main pieces of advice for delegates:

  • Make a strong argument.
  • Be patient.
  • Have fun.
  • Walk the talk.

He noted that it takes time for public transit projects to happen, so even if you make a strong argument you need to be patient. Having fun can help you be patient, and there’s no better way to destroy a strong argument than to not walk the talk!

LTW Youth Summit

His slides were fantastic, and contained lots of little nuggets:

  • “You come out ahead when you invest in public transit.”
  • If everyone around the world lived the way we do in Edmonton, we’d need about 4 planet Earths to sustain ourselves.
  • A bus with 12 people is a better investment than a Prius with 4 people. LRT, of course, is even better.

He closed with his popular video on transportation that uses Lego!

The rest of the evening was devoted to brainstorming on the six major questions posted to delegates. The questions align with Vision 2040, and by the end of the weekend each group is going to have a pitch ready to make in a Lion’s Lair competition. It should be interesting to see what everyone comes up with!

LTW Youth Summit

The conference runs all weekend, and includes tours of the D.L. MacDonald LRT Garage and the new LEED-certified Centennial Garage. There’s also going to be a dance party on a chartered LRT car! You can follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #LTWSummit. I’ll be posting photos of the event here.

Edmonton’s future leaders

Today in the Edmonton Sun, Marty Forbes asked where Edmonton’s future leaders are. I found the article via the edmontonian, and was happy to see that Jeff mentioned a few people in response. Here are the key excerpts from Marty’s article:

The one thing that vaults a city from good to great is its people, and over the past few months several great Edmontonians have served notice that they are retiring from their high-profile gigs here in town.

All are moving on soon and I wonder "who is going to fill their shoes?"

The part that scares me is that I’m not seeing a huge list of young dynamic people stepping in to fill many of the big jobs and needs in the community.

Now I’m sure the next generation of leaders are out there somewhere. I’d love to hear from you if you know such a dynamo so that we could start recognizing these folks in the media.

We need dreamers, builders, rule breakers, risk takers and leaders to take this city up yet another notch towards greatness. The mantle is officially being tossed.

I want to first point out that you don’t need to hold a “high-profile gig” to be a leader. Maybe that’s why Marty hasn’t heard of any upcoming leaders. The next generation generally doesn’t care for suits, invitation only events, old boys clubs, or any of the traditional places you’d find “leaders”. There are plenty of places to find them, however. Here’s a small list to get Marty and everyone else like him started:

I really don’t think the next generation of leaders is hard to find. There are lots of them, getting things done and working hard to make our city a better place in which to live. Here’s a list of the first 75 I could think of (in alphabetical order):

Alex Abboud, Trevor Anderson, Justin Archer, Jerry Aulenbach, Ken Bautista, Myron Belej, Tamison Bencz-Knight, Mark Bennett, Chris Bolivar, Nathan Box, Michael Brechtel, Will Buchkowsky, Brandy Burdeniuk, Marc Carnes, Stephani Carter, Ashley Casovan, Christine Causing, Reg Cheramy, Josh Classen, Dave Cournoyer, Xanthe Couture, Matthew Dance, Jas Darrah, Mark Donovan, Michael Donovan, Janaya Ellis, Cindy Fulton, Bretta Gerecke, Tad Hargrave, Elisse Heine, Chris Henderson, Scott Hennig, Alistair Henning, Christel Hyshka, Elaine Hyshka, Don Iveson, Todd Janes, Michael Janz, Sam Jenkins, Ryan Jespersen, Shafraaz Kaba, Alistair King, Duncan Kinney, Chris LaBossiere, Brittney LeBlanc, Cam Linke, Raffaella Loro, Shauna McConechy, Jess McMullin, Roberto Moreno, James Murgatroyd, Christian Nelson, Monique Nutter, Gregg Oldring, Jason Openo, Roland Pemberton, Darryl Plunkie, Jessie Radies, Adam Rozenhart, Zohreh Saher, Jeff Samsonow, Mari Sasano, Jordan Schroder, Amy Shostak, Gene Smith, Tamara Stecyk, Kevin Swan, Asia Szkudlarek, Daniel Tse, Zoe Todd, Brendan Van Alstine, Cary Williams, Marlon Wilson, Sharon Yeo, Mike Zouhri

They’re all passionate about different things, but together, they’re having a big impact on our city. And this is just a small list! I do my best to keep up on who’s doing what in Edmonton, but there are so many other communities that I have no connection with that are full of emerging leaders. There’s definitely no shortage of next generation leaders in Edmonton.

So Marty, I hope that gets you started. I look forward to you “recognizing these folks in the media”. And maybe next time you’ll match the effort they put in by doing more than simply asking your audience to do the work for you.

It’s impossible to make a list like this 100% complete – sorry if I missed you – so add your favorite up-and-coming leaders in the comments below (something that the Edmonton Sun article is sorely lacking). Thanks!

Restless in Edmonton? Stop complaining, start creating

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.

Edmonton Skyline

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.

You can read more reaction to the story in the comments and at Connect2Edmonton.

Twestival Local 2009 – September 10th in Edmonton

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re holding Twestival Local here in Edmonton next week (get your tickets here). After an online vote, it was decided that the local cause we’ll be supporting is the Youth Emergency Shelter Society. I’m very excited about this, and they are too! Here’s a brief into to YESS:

In 1978, a group of concerned individuals discovered a gap in our social services system. Essentially, there were no programs in place to assist homeless children between the ages of 16 and 18. In response to this lack of service, the group activated  the Youth Emergency Shelter Society (Y.E.S.S.) in September 1981, offering services in a reclaimed fire hall building on Whyte Avenue.

In 2004, based on extensive research into the challenges and issues faced by homeless youth in our community, Y.E.S.S. conducted a major  restructuring  of  all  programs. We  are  now  serving  youth  at risk more efficiently and effectively than ever!

And a little on why they need our help:

YESS relies on fundraising for more than 50% of our budget each year. We face the ongoing challenge of raising more money to provide services to Edmonton’s growing population of troubled teens. You are a critical part of our ability to continue to develop our programs.

For more, check out their Summer 2009 “Eye on Youth” newsletter in PDF.

Very soon, YESS is opening a new facility called the Armoury Youth Centre. They responded to the City’s RFP for the Connaught Armoury space just north of Whyte Avenue and were chosen as the organization whose proposed program would have the greatest positive impact on the community.

A couple weeks after Twestival, you can check out the new Armoury Youth Centre for yourself! Here are the details:

September 26 & 27

Pancake Breakfast from 8am to 10:30am
Tours from 9am to 4:30pm
Afternoon BBQ!

10310 85 Avenue
Edmonton, AB

You can download the grand opening invite in PDF here.

Twestival Local takes place on Thursday. Here are the details:

WHAT: Twestival Local 2009
WHEN: Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 6:00pm
WHERE: Original Joe’s Varsity Row, 8404 109 Street, Edmonton, AB (map)
WHY: To support the Youth Emergency Shelter Society

We’re asking for a minimum donation of $20, but feel free to donate more! You can get tickets online here. Please spread the word!

See you there!

Edmonton Next Gen WiFi Focus Group

edmonton next gen Unfortunately I am not going to be able to make it to this event (I’m going to San Antonio on Sunday) but I thought I’d mention it in case someone else wants to go and can fill me in later! Edmonton’s Next Gen organization is hosting a focus group on WiFi, to discuss the next steps in their initiatives for public wireless access in our city:

Now, Next Gen and the City’s IT branch are preparing a new report to City Council, which will give an update on the success of the pilot projects over the past year, and recommend next steps to take towards Next Gen’s vision. If you would like to take part in deciding what those next steps will be, please contact Megan Pilby at megan.pilby@edmonton.ca to RSVP for our upcoming session.

The deadline to RSVP is tomorrow at noon. The event takes place on Sunday, April 13th, from 1pm to 4pm. Location details will be given once you RSVP.

For background information, you can read the NextGen report on WiFi (PDF). To learn more about Edmonton’s Next Gen, check out the website.

Thoughts on the MySpace Presidential Primary

Post ImageTechCrunch posted yesterday that MySpace is going to be holding a presidential primary on January 1st and 2nd, 2008, which is before any of the official state primaries. Every member will be asked to vote for their favorite candidate. Michael Arrington makes a good point about why this should be done on Facebook instead:

Facebook’s user accounts are each tied to an email address or cell phone, resulting in far fewer fake or duplicate accounts. Given the low quality of the MySpace user base (multiple accounts, no identity check, etc.) it would be relatively easy for a campaign to create a significant number of fake accounts to stuff the ballot box in their favor. Facebook can also tie their users to U.S. residency much easier than MySpace.

I would add another reason: Facebook is not owned by News Corporation! Not that I would expect Facebook to be completely impartial, but more so than the owner of Fox News.

I don’t think anyone is going to take the results very seriously, but I like the idea regardless. Anything that might make politics more relevant to the younger generations is worth trying. So far Barack Obama has a massive lead in terms of the number of friends he has, but expect the other candidates to catch up.

Read: TechCrunch

Edmonton Public Library "Adventure" Ads

Post ImageIf you live in Edmonton, and listen to the radio occasionally, you may have heard the new ads for the Edmonton Public Library. If you haven’t, fear not, because I am going to summarize them anyway:

There are two young guys trying to skateboard, when one says to the other “I am not cut out for this.” The two are then faced with a problem – what to do? One guy suggests the adventure of a lifetime with dragons and all sorts of other things. The other guy thinks hes crazy. Then the first guy says all of it is possible at the public library. And the two go on their merry way, to slay dragons in their imaginations no doubt.

Now when I heard the commercial, I couldn’t help but laugh. No one I know gets all excited about taking an “adventure” to the public library. I get what they are saying, but I can’t see it working with young people. Maybe I’m just “too cool” but I think their marketing team took the wrong approach with the latest ads.

The goal is clearly to try and bring young people into the library. Instead of some hokey ad about an adventure, why not highlight the aspects of the library that appeal to young people? Things like public computers, excellent study and workspaces, a Second Cup built right in (for the downtown location at least), power outlets for your laptop, and wireless Internet (do they have this?). Okay so I can’t think of as many characteristics that would appeal to young people as I thought, but I am sure they are there. Thing is, I haven’t been to the library in so long, I don’t know what they are.

Do you agree with me? What else about the library would you highlight?

Read: EPL

Ring Tones

Post ImageRing tones seem to be everywhere these days. You can’t buy a cell phone without seeing customizable ring tones as a selling feature, and chances are you can’t watch five minutes of MuchMusic without seeing a commercial for something related to ring tones. I personally don’t understand why the idea of changing your ring tone is so enticing – then again, I usually have my phone set to vibrate. Maybe I can get custom vibrations? Like a variation in the length or something. Anyway, I digress.

David Carr wrote a piece for the New York Times yesterday in which he explained that today’s youth are accustomed to getting things for free. They download music and movies, and would rather record a TV show using a VCR than plunk down some cash for a TiVo or similar device. The only form of media youth spend money on seems to be ring tones:

Earlier this month at the Web 2.0 conference, John Battelle, an author of a book on search and one of the organizers of the conference, empaneled a group of teenage consumers that he assembled (at no charge, by placing an ad on Craigslist). They dutifully admitted that they did not pay for music or news or video, but most said they still spent $40 to $60 a month on media.

So what medium finally cracked the code on youthful intransigence?

Ring tones, available for now only from their wireless providers.

Have ring tones really cracked the code? Hardly! The only reason we don’t see teenagers (and anyone else for that matter) swapping ring tones like they swap music is because the entire process is too difficult. It’s easy to share a song, download and play it, and even transfer it to a mobile device. Most people somewhat familiar with computers can figure it out (and as Rick points out, young kids are savvy enough to use BitTorrent for their swapping). Ring tones are a different story though! It’s not clear how you create a ring tone, let alone share it with your friends so they can install it on their phones too.

As soon as someone makes it dead easy to create and share ring tones (and the tool or service reaches a critical mass of eyeballs), the market for ring tones will be history. Does anyone really think that a ring tone is worth $1.99? I certainly don’t. Especially not after Apple et al. have convinced me that a song is worth just 99 cents!

Read: New York Times