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Edmonton – Room for Big Ideas

Super Saturday indeed… Edmonton you rocked my world yesterday. Being downtown was an inspiration for anyone craving ideas, diversity, community and that “happy vibe” which makes good-cities great.

Lately I have been quite thirsty for some inspiration. Without new ideas and mental exercise I get cranky, bored, and if you ask my immediate family and friends, transform into an intolerable prick. Well luckily for me, and those close to me, the organizers of TEDx Edmonton caught me and opened a fire-hose of inspiration at me… bloating me with new ideas, words, sights and an appreciation for our local art scene.

It can’t be overstated. These amazing organizers, the founders and visionaries behind Startup Edmonton, should be taking a well-deserved bow. Ken Bautista, Sam Jenkins, Cam Linke, and Tiffany Linke-Boyko…. Thank you.

Ideas are interesting. They hold special powers which can be purposed, re-purposed and activated.

  • Ideas are fun to share, helping bring communities and constituencies together
  • Ideas can be the feedstock for entrepreneurs to commercialize
  • Ideas can entertain – words, music, design, dance
  • Ideas can dissolve intolerance and foster equality
  • Ideas can save lives

I think when it comes to ideas and idea people; Edmonton seems to be punching well above its weight-class.

This made me think about our image as a City, which is a topic I tend to think a lot about. For whatever reason, on the image front, Edmonton suffers from a slight inferiority complex. Amongst ourselves, we are proud and knowing. Confident. But ask us to project that image, to sell our community to the World and we mumble at best. Afraid to stand-up and sing our praises, as if there is a big-mouthed bully standing above us, laughing and embarrassing us back into our place. (The bully might wear a cowboy hat). Well…. If I may be so bold… fuck ‘em.

It’s time that we grab the common themes of this community and come up with a brand. Spread our image by selling what we are. Big thinkers. Idea People: who see the value in our Diversity, the value in our University, the value in our Eclectic Nature, the value in our sense of Community, the value in our Local Businesses… and on and on.

Edmonton – Room for Big Ideas

This I came up with in 5 minutes after yesterday’s inspiration between TEDx and the Pride Parade. It makes me think of three things that I feel makes Edmonton great:

  • Tolerance and diversity
  • Vision, innovation and growth
  • Wide open spaces, as part of our lifestyle (River Valley, Churchill square, etc)

I have no idea if it would stand-up to a room of focus groups, or highly paid marketing consultants. But I know it’s authentic and consistent with our community. That’s the key. Whatever we choose as a brand, we need it to be able to fit us. If Austin can leverage Keep Austin Weird, into a globally recognized brand, celebrating its local business, art, music and fertile minds… surely we can come up with something that reflects our nature. Maybe it’s our tolerance for new ideas…. or maybe it’s our richness of community, but hell we need to pick something!

It’s time to start putting this together. Start moving forward. Start our storytelling.

SIDE NOTE: two entire other topics, which are related, and I will find time to write about:

-       How “Capital X, Klondike Days, whatever we call that piece of rotting summer fair shitneeds to DIE. It needs to be replaced, and re-issued in a way that celebrates our brand. Take it away from Northland and give it to a group with some vision.

-       How Edmonton has room for one more summer “festival”, a summer-long series of IDEA Events, with global thinkers coming to Edmonton from very specific areas. Who knows, maybe innovation in heart-health, public accounting, fiction writing, homelessness, open-data… pick any theme… imagine 8 of these per summer, one for every week, where our City sponsors a nobel-prize type award and the travel costs for speakers. (props to my friend Peter Silverstone, EEDC Board Chair, for this idea, which I feel dearly needs exploring)

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