Thursday, 23 May 2013


Our wonderful Edmonton mayor, Stephen Mandel, is a grandpa and retiring. I so get him.

Sure, most folks will think he has accomplished a great deal for our city, but I really think a significant thing he has done is make government appear to be a place where people who want to make our collective life together work for all of us, without sacrificing his mortal soul. He shared this with all his city councillors. Heck, my heart aches for the citizens of Toronto and Montreal. Mayor Mandel deserves the reward of quality grandpa-time – he earned it.

I believe we often get the government we deserve and that citizenship is first a responsibility. As a person who has voted in every election I was eligible for, I feel I can speak about the things that happen in government that I like and don’t like. Yes, I “held my nose” and voted PC provincially recently (a first time for everything). The experience that tipped the scale for me was hearing Alison Redford live and in person. Do I have some misgivings about that vote, oh yeah, but after collecting information about all the alternatives, I weighed my choices and exercised my franchise.

I am doing a small contract for the Community Standards Branch of the City of Edmonton in support of their comprehensive resource for Grade 6 called Make a Better City. If all the voters of Edmonton were exposed to these “lessons”, our city would be an even Better place to live. I am happy, and just a little proud, to help move the next generation of Edmontonians along the path of active democracy; an attitude of participation not “us against them”.

I will be using all the tools at my disposal to decide about my choice for councillor and mayor. This thing called the internet can make this easier. During the last year, I got to meet the Edmonton Journal photo-journalist, Ryan Jackson. He takes story-telling to a new level with his use of computers and images. Just for fun, go have coffee with the campaigning provincial partyleaders.

One lesson from the Plaka in Athens: democracy is best practiced in conversation.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Holy Temporal Anomaly – where does the time go?

I have been itching to write a post on this blog for the last couple of weeks and when I come to finally start, I discover I have not added a thing since Aug. 2012. When I read that last post, it seems like it was just yesterday.

Don’t get me started on where that time has gone.

What I am excited about these days is how much good stuff just keeps happening in the universe of Edmonton’s Inquiring Minds. Applications were up all around and 2013-14 looks like another great year.
In my little corner over at the Edmonton Journal, EJ School hosted 6 weeks of remarkable learning and lots of that learning was mine. In spite of (or maybe because of) the constant, unrelenting pace of change in the world of journalism, EJ School combined the opportunity to develop the tools of media literacy with exploration of the business of journalism in an engaging environment surrounded by history, current events and the downtown world of work. Together with the great teachers and the students who came with them, I got to explore downtown Edmonton and the Jasper Ave “retro-fit”, observe the sports department through the NHL lock-out, dig into the history of many downtown buildings, check out the view from the Castle Rock offices high up in Manulife Place, stand next to the Pulitzer Prize won years ago by the Edmonton Journal, view a thought provoking photo exhibit titled Inclusion & Exclusion at Enterprise Square, watch an epic curling match at the Brier, discover the spirit of service to others at the Marion Centre and celebrate the 100th birthday of the Edmonton Public Library.

I also got to know some of the journalists at the Edmonton Journal. Monday, every week the class on site was treated to a tour by Karen Unland, orchestrator of the innovative project called Capital Ideas. Then Karen would demonstrate good interview techniques on some staffer. Tuesday and Friday mornings during an activity that came to prove itself a classic for understanding the basic skills of observation and interview and metaphorically titled “Fly on the Wall”, small groups of students spend ½ hour in some working area of the building. Crime desk, the morning editors' meeting, advertising, marketing, front desk, security, publisher’s office, Block 1912, linotype machine, Capital Ideas and the occasional journalist’s desk became perfect practice locations for students. Then the process of the small groups sharing what they discovered helped everyone understand the nature of distilling and refining interesting information to communicate to others. Friday, after the editors' meeting Barb Wilkinson would drop by to explain the process of designing a front page for the print version and the class would get its writing assignment to create their own class front page.

Some afternoons were spent sketching in the Atrium or mining the wealth of riches inside Malcolm Mayes’ editorial cartoons.  At least once a week an opportunity was devoted to a more in depth interview with a staffer. Learning about the skills of storytelling in photography from Ryan Jackson, the insatiable curiosity that powers Paula Simons, the unusual route to crime reporting taken by Jana Pruden or the memorable sports events covered by Curtis Stock proved to be inspiration for page after page of student notes in their reporter style journals. For me, hearing Paula recount the story of Morris “Two Gun” Cohen reminded me that often truth can be more astounding than fiction.

I am already incredibly excited about a new group of teachers and the classes coming in 2013-14.

Holy Temporal Anomaly.