Filed under: Alberta, Arts, Calgary, Marketing, Politics, Technology
As 2009 comes to a close I wanted to take a look back. It was a good year for me personally and I think this blog shows some of the highlights that come to my mind when I reminisce about the last year of the decade. I could simply select my favourite posts, but I decided why not not just let the readers “select” by highlighting the most popular posts on this blog for 2009.
So without further ado, the most popular djkelly.ca Blog posts of 2009:
14. What kind of bridge will $25 million get us?
May 22, 2009
This was my first blog post about the soon to be built Calatrava bridge. I decdided I would take a look at the design limitations given to Calatrava and try to predict what the bridge might look like. While, I was right about it not being white with soaring cables, I wasn’t even close to the guessing the Chinese finger trap design, which is much more ornate than I was expecting.
13. Conversing with Alberta politicians on Twitter
June 4, 2009
A useful post that should probably be updated given how many more Alberta politicians have joined since June!
12. New Ward Boundaries Demystified
February 21, 2009
A simple post created by laying the old ward boundary map with the new map that was being proposed by the chief electoral officer. (Showing off my Photoshop skills.) It turned out to be a post that proved it was sorely needed.
11. Loving or hating Calgary’s new bridge is not as easy as it sounds
July 29, 2009
This is probably one of my favourite posts of the year, as I went through what I observed to be each of the areas of complaint about the proposed Calatrava bridge and outlined which were fair game and which were not. It was my attempt at adding clarity to an issue extremely misunderstood by Calgarians. While it landed at number 11 on the most popular posts, I don’t think I was overly successful because people still complain about the price with little understanding of “why”. If you’re one of those folks, it might be worth a re-read.
The last blog post on the old blog template! It holds a special place for me for that reason, but most people probably just appreciated it for what it talked about – as outlined in the post title. This is the most proud I was of our council this year. They painted themselves into a terrible corner, but admitted their mistake and righted their wrong. I wish they would have done this more times during 2009.
9. Vanessa Porteous, ATP Artistic Director Designate
January 14, 2009
I am shocked an arts related post ranked so high on this list! (And it’s not even the highest one!) Is it because of the lack of local entertainment reporting resources? I think it might be, because non-Hollywood entertainment news tends to take a couple days to make it into the papers. Maybe I should take up Metro Calgary on their offer to blog about Calgary arts for them… It could prove to be a very successful blog that maybe long overdue.
8. Doug Elniski: how to do it right
June 24, 2009
This post – along with number 5, which I wrote a day earlier – simply outlined where things went wrong in MLA Doug Elniski’s mini-Twitter scandal. This particular post provided follow-up and greater context to comments I made in several media interviews on the subject. (You can say SO much more on a blog than in a media interview!)
7. University of Calgary cutting 200 jobs
July 14, 2009
Out of all the posts in this list I think this is the closet to “regretting” one as I come. Unlike all the other posts (save the honourable mention) this post was “breaking” news instead of my usual commentary on the news. I didn’t mean for it to be however! Here’s what happened: the UofC sent an email to all staff saying they were cutting 200 jobs. I heard about this and asked the individual if it was okay I mentioned it on Twitter. They said yes, because it was sent to all staff and thus obviously public info now. The problem was, UofC never sent a press release. So when I posted it on Twitter I was inundated with media requests for more information. The result was I had another source send me the text of the email and I posted it on this blog. That night the television and radio news lead with the story and it was front page news in the papers the next morning. I’m not sure if the lesson here is about the power of Twitter, or to always keep your communications department in the loop when making major announcements. Maybe both.
6. Progress and respect
November 30, 2009
In the aftermath of the first Reboot Alberta conference I summarize my thoughts on the participants themselves.
5. Doug Elniski: now just another walled off politician?
June 23, 2009
(See number 8 first.) This is the blog post that started it all. I’m not sure why no one else was talking about Doug Elniski’s comments in context of his use of social media. It still baffles me that people think social media is some sort of special entity instead of what it actually is: just another way to talk to people. It’s nothing special, but is highly effective. This post was also was popular enough to result in me being invited to talk about his comments on CBC Calgary’s The Calgary Eyeopener, CBC Edmonton’s Edmonton AM and for a feature article in the National Post.
4. The #AskEd Accountablity Window ends tomorrow
December 3, 2009
Just like number 5 this was me talking about Alberta politicians and their failures with social media tools – although this time Mastermaq got the press coverage a week later
3. How to fix Ed’s communications problems
December 14, 2009
After number 4 I felt like I had to address the Premier’s communications problems appropriately. It’s bizarre how he’s lost the media and the public so thoroughly by a simple failure to communicate. He’s our premier and I want to see him, and thus us, succeed. This is my attempt to throw the premier a bone. We’ll see if he and his team take my advice or if they continue to fumble their way through 2010.
2. Look out Alberta, you’re about to get “rebooted”: First Impressions
November 28, 2009
I honestly think the Reboot Alberta movement – along with the Wildrose Alliance’s rise – is the single most important thing to happen in Alberta politics since the creation of the Progressive Conservative party. This post outlines my initial thoughts after the first day of the conference. The fact so many people read it gives me hope that Reboot Alberta is on the right track in their discussions. You can expect more thoughts from me on this movement in the very near future.
Yes, an arts story made it to number one on the list! And for such a short blog post?! The people spoke.
Honourable Mention: “Open Government” coming to Calgary?
July 21, 2009
Usually you expect to see an honourable mention at the bottom of the list, but I think this one deserves to be at the top of the list. July 21 had more people visit my website that any other day in it’s history. By a LONG SHOT – almost twice as many as any other day. There was only one post written around that period of time, and it was written on that very day. I think what happened was the main URL of this site was circulated and shared rather than the actual URL of this paticular post. Therefore I don’t have accurate numbers on exactly how many people visited this particular story, but the numbers are just so overwhelming I had to include it.
I wrote this post during the morning hours in a business centre of a hotel in Portland, Oregon. I had been given permission from Ald. Pincott and Ald. Ceci to announce the open data notice of motion the day before it became public when the council agenda was released. People from all over North American immediately sat up and took notice and did so by reading this post. Amazing. Look for a lot more on outcome of this notice of motion in early 2010.
I have seen the City of Calgary screw up before but never in such a spectacular fashion.
Last week I heard about a new City art program that sounded pretty cool to me. In response to comments from Shaw Millennium Park users that the park was dull and didn’t provide the kind of urban energy you might expect in a skate park, the City decided to let the complainers do the fixing.
In a press release sent out on Friday, August 21 the City announced, “Shaw Millennium Park was built for and dedicated to Calgary’s youth who often tell us it’s drab and boring. We’re providing young urban artists a chance to work with an acclaimed professional artist to visually animate this space.” In short the City gave the users the paint and pointed them in the direction of a wall on the Landmark building to unveil their masterpieces.
More amazingly the local youth would be “under the guidance of internationally acclaimed urban artist The Kid Belo.” What a great idea and opportunity for Calgary’s kids!
What could go wrong, right? After all the press release continues on to say, “The urban artists will be visually identified as authorized to create this work” and “a peer review process will be facilitated by The City so that only the best work will be allowed to stay. The Kid Belo will work with the young artists to ensure all artwork is appropriate for the space.”
Apparently The City and The Kid Belo must have fell asleep at some point because Shaw Millennium Park was completely trashed in just two days. (See Michael Platt’s article in the Calgary Sun for all the details on what went wrong.)
As the press release says, “artwork will only be permitted in a certain area of the park. Anything outside that area will be considered graffiti and vandalism.”
Well it looks like there is A LOT of vandalism then. Just take a look at the Sun picture from the interior of the men’s room! I wonder if any of the paint ended up on the correct wall?
The behaviour of the perpetrators is simply despicable. They were given an opportunity and they wasted it. And for what? To be seen as punk-asses by the rest of the city? Way to ruin it for everybody.
Not to mention the outcome of this project just gives “art” a bad name. The ramifications of which could be felt through public perception and funding for years to come.
Normally I would say a project like this is a fantastic idea. Calgary needs to look at ways of empowering citizens to improve our lot and make our home a better place. But where were the controls? Surely the City knew something like this COULD happen. They even said addressed it in the press release. So where was the supervision? Did they just leave the paint in the park for anyone to use? Clearly the perpetrators were not “visually identified as authorized to create this work”.
With so much going so spectacularly wrong the question becomes who’s at fault? (We already know who’s going to foot the bill. That’d be you and me. But I’d suggest the cleanup comes out of the budget of the offending department’s budget. You break it; you bought it.)
Do we blame the vandals entirely? Does The Kid Belo deserve some of the blame? Regardless I’d suggest the City is going to have to shoulder the responsibility on this one and admit the program clearly had a massive hole in it and was beyond poorly planned. Whoever was in charge of the program needs to step up, take the blame, and publicly apologize for allowing a beautiful iconic park to be so thoroughly destroyed.
Sadly, today much more than just a park was destroyed.
PS – In an unrelated note congratulations to Rachael Seupersad for her appointment yesterday as the City of Calgary’s Superintendent, Public Art. I hope her department isn’t in charge of this program, because if it is, she may have the shortest tenure for a City employee of all time.
Twitter has proved to be a pretty powerful tool for democratic engagement. The Bill 44 debate cemented that belief because MLAs were having conversations on Twitter with constituents well into the night as the live debate in the Legislature continued.
I think the argument put forward by Ian Bushfield over on his blog “Terahertz” regarding the seemingly futile nature of the debate – his post is titled “Get over it: Social Media is not going to change the world” – is a good one. Twitter and social media are just tools; you still have to have a strong message that is convincing. Same as always.
But I don’t want to debate the pros and cons of social media here. Instead I just wanted to create a list of Alberta politicians on Twitter. Step one in creating a strong message – for whatever your issue or political sway is – is to listen. So I invite you to listen and then converse with the following folks. Hopefully this will create even greater understanding among us all moving forward.
This kind of direct access to politicians is something new that we should all take advantage of. I know I’ve had some great conversations with these individuals and I hope you do too.
Most of these accounts are updated regularly and are operated by the politician themselves, although the odd one is manned by a staffer. Which certainly lessens it’s impact and usefulness. No Twitter user is looking for regurgitated press releases. This is something the politicians will learn over time if they REALLY do want to be engaged with constituents. (Basically if they care. Or rather, have the time to care.)
I’ll update this post as more Alberta politicians join Twitter, but if you know of someone I missed please DM me on my Twitter or add it to the comments of the post, and I’ll update the list. Thanks in advance!
When I first heard about Calgary’s two “designer” bridges I was skeptical but excited. If there is one thing ALL Calgarian’s agree on it’s that our city needs to be more lively and attractive. “Iconic” architecture is something we are seriously lacking currently.
One of these bridges is set to be placed just off the western tip of Prince’s Island Park connecting Sunnyside to the downtown near the helicopter pad. This bridge will be paid for by the City of Calgary. The second bridge – I believe to be paid for by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation – links Bridgeland and the new Rivers district (East Village) while touching the western tip of St. George’s Island where the Zoo sits.
Here we are about six months after Spanish designer Santiago Calatrava’s name was first mentioned and all the hubbub in the news about the cost being double what it would take to build a regular bridge. Much of the rhetoric still is about the cost. I’m over that. What’s done is done. And the price isn’t as outrageous as it was made out to be. (I’d like to see someone try to build a bridge over the Bow River for $2 million!)
Instead I find my mind wandering to what kind of an “iconic” bridge we’re going to get.
The City has seen the initial drawings for the first bridge and they say they will release them to the public before the end of May. (I haven’t seen them as of this writing.)
But this is the first I’m hearing about the limitations being imposed on the bridge and I’m a little worried the bridge might not be as ostentatious as we had hoped for $25 million. First off, because of the helicopter pad the height of the bridge is limited. “Don’t expect towers and cables,” Mac Logan, the he city’s director of transportation infrastructure says in this Calgary Herald article from May 4. (BTW, I’m not sure how a pedestrian bridge is “transportation infrastructure, but I digress.)
Cables and towers are Calatrava’s trademark though.
So what will we get? Perhaps something closer to the bridge pictured below that Calatrava designed to span Venice’s Grand Canal. A bridge that has been hit with major criticism because critics charge it doesn’t fit in with Venice’s existing architecture (something Calgary doesn’t have to worry about) and four times over budget (something Calgarian’s would certainly NOT allow given all the latest shenanigans at City Hall in the past couple of years). All this despite Calatrava himself calling the crossing “my most beautiful bridge.”
Personally I’ve got my fingers crossed it will be an amazing piece of architecture none-the-less. Something so amazing the critics have no choice but to swallow their pride and be admit it will be an attraction for locals and tourists for decades to come. But right now, looking at the reality of it all, I’m not convinced yet.
I just landed in the Edmonton airport and had to head to the Air Canada lounge to share my thoughts on our flight from Calgary. You’re probably thinking this is going to be a post about business travellers on our flight. While I could go on and on about high speed rail versus the 38 minute turbo-prop trip, I won’t. This post is about our specific flight.
There are four of us travelling from Calgary to Orlando. Which actually means there are four of us travelling from Calgary to Edmonton. Then Edmonton to Denver, and finally Denver to Orlando. I’m not sure how this proved to be the most direct flight but that’s what Expedia gave us. I do however have to question how Calgary to Denver via Edmonton is the most direct flight. Wouldn’t it make more sense to go in the other direction? Not to mention I would expect more Calgary business people head to Denver than Edmonton business people. I may be wrong on that. Certainly I’m not a flight scheduling professional so I’ll just wonder instead…
Our flight got off to a slightly rocky start when the four of us were split up at security in Calgary into three different lines. All three of my fellow travellers made it to their metal detector before I did. For some reason I was in a line that had only one security guard who could allow a bag through the scanner. And that one guy was busy being the only guy who could sort through bags that came through the scanner. After a 8 minute delay (I timed it) it was finally my turn.
I pulled my liquds from my bag (I hate checking bags and we’re only go for four days) and put them in the bin with my cell, wallet, etc. The security guard was not impressed my liquids bag contained deodarant and a toothbrush as well. Nor was he impressed my sunblock was outside the ziplock bag. He proceeded to remove the non-liquids and dump the liquds all over the bin. (I’m still confused how this fit with the “put all liquids in one bag” rule). Not to mention I didn’t like him touching my toothbrush. Whatever though. After getting through the metal detector and reassembling my liquids into my bag I met up with two of my companions – who by this point have been clear of security for 15 minutes. But where was my wife? No one knew. Including Heather who was in line with her.
Heather and Jeanna headed to the lounge to get some reading material and I went on the search for my wife. Not at the gate. Not at either magazine stand. Where could she be? I returned to the gate and got a phone call from her. Apparently her epi-pen was being considered a liquid and had to be put inside her ziplock bag. Remember how mine was just dumped all over the bin? No luck for Chris. She was kicked out of security and sent back out into the airport to find a larger ziplock bag. So she would be allowed to care a lifesaving item. She’s travelled exenstively and had problems with the needle portion of the epi-pen before, but never the liquid part. None-the-less she finally joined us and we boarded our Dash-8 to Edmonton.
This part isn’t really a complaint but it did stand out to me as odd.
Our flight attendant was a jolly woman in her forties. She introduced herself as “D – which is short for Delightful”. Not my cup of tea but: okay. She then proceeded to reveal two things about herself in her preamble to the safety speech. “To answer the two questions most everyone has about me before you’ve asked them: No, I am not from Australia. I’m from London England. And to answer your second question: I have never worked for WestJet. Just because I’m happy doesn’t mean I had to have worked for WestJet. Happy people can work for Air Canada too. I know you’re used to us all being [insert grumpy sound] but I’m happy.” This was greated with a round of applause.
But my pleasure with our flight attendant was somwhat short lived. As she was serving drinks up the aisle I noticed on the back of her ID badge/lanyard she had a photo of a shirtless male model-type. I couldn’t help but think to myself how unprofessional this was. Not that I care if she is into shirtless chiseled men – I suspected as much. I just didn’t think she needed to carry it around her neck while she represented her company.
After passing us our drinks and moving onto the row if front of us is where the story started to come out….
The row in front of us was made up of flight attendants from a company called Sunview (or somethign like that). They all got to talking about where they’re from etc and after a moment or two the Air Canada flight attendant grabbed her lanyard, turned it around and showed the shirtless man to the row, proudly proclaiming “Can you believe this is mine?”
What? The photo? We guessed.
No the man. She went on to explain for the next 10 minutes – while the others waited for their garbage to be collected – that the man was her husband. He is spanish and from Santiago, Chile. He lives there, she last was there in January. She went on and on. He makes $10 a week, which after getting married she promptly informed him $5 of it was hers now. Perhaps the most revealing part of her tale was that he is 21 and this is scandalous. Probably because her son is 5 months older than her husband.
Thanks for sharing. Could you take the garbage from Christine? She’s been holding it for 20 minutes.
Where does Air Canada find these people?!
On the Denver flight I’m putting my earphones in and starting to read Richard Florida’s Canadian edition of “Who’s Your City?”. That’s the only way to avoid the weirdos.