Filed under: Alberta, Arts, Calgary, Politics, Technology
On this exact day (January 3) of last year I wanted to take a look back at the previous year as viewed through the eyes of my blog. At the time I said 2009 “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.” As good as 2009 was for me, I feel safe in saying that 2010 surpassed it in almost every way. From the election, to starting a new column for Metro, to finishing up a good run with Lunchbox Theatre, to the birth of my daughter (not to mention the whole pregnancy) I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It was probably the best year of my life – if I can declare such a thing.
So I decided to do what I did a year ago and instead of selecting my favourite posts of 2010, why not not just let readers “select” the top posts of 2010 by highlighting the most popular posts on this blog during the year, and then give some background as to where the post came from?
Last year I included the top 15 posts. This year I thought I’d shorten up the list on an even… 13. So without further ado, the most popular djkelly.ca Blog posts of 2010:
13. What CivicCamp is doing for the 2010 Calgary Municipal Election
May 18, 2010
In this blog post I revealed CivicCamp’s plans – and it turns out mine – for the 2010 municipal election. I think it was the night before that the “Governance Cabin” met at Eau Claire Market to finalize the plan. I actually posted details on the CivicCamp blog and then wrote this post to give more info into the rationale for the plan and to give my own personal opinion (which I didn’t think was appropriate on the CivicCamp site). Shortly after this I actually stepped away from the Cabin while I considered running for alderman — a rule the members came up with the ensure CivicCamp stayed non-partisan and that eventually affected Paul Hughes, our new mayor Naheed Nenshi, and volunteer extraordinaire Cheri Macaulay, all cabin members who stepped away to work on campaigns instead. After I decided not to run I returned to help execute some of the plans laid out in this post.
I actually meant to write this post months earlier, but I eventually did it in mid-June. My hope was it would help the City determine what data sets people might be looking for. The eventual catalogue release however only included mapping data. So while numbers 1 and 5 were included in public catalogue, we’re still waiting for numbers 2, 3, 4 and 6 to make the mapping data actually useful. Until then, don’t expect the catalogue to be all that heavily used. (Number 7 isn’t really “open data” but my hope is our new mayor may actually try to make it happen. It’s not something administration can do unilaterally.)
11. What most needs doing?
August 3, 2010
It took me a long time to make my decision not to run for alderman. It was hard because so many people had signed up to help run a campaign. In the end I had to ask myself “what most needs doing?” and I outline my answer in this post. At the time I said, “I believe I don’t need to be on council to help improve Calgary in a meaningful way,” and “meaningful public engagement may be something [alderman] want to do, but it rarely is something they have time to do at the level I believe we need.” My goals were to “raise the level of discourse around the election” and “[have] people who believe in the kind of public engagement I believe in helping create more people who want to, and know how to, become engaged.” I think I help achieve this so successfully in 2010 that the day after the election I remember breaking down in tears because I was so proud of Calgarians and the role I was able to play. (It could have been the lack of sleep however.)
10. How open data came to be in Calgary
March 22, 2010
This post sat unfinished on my work computer desktop for months. When it first passed committee I decided to write up all the steps that were taken to make the open data policy a reality. On the occasion of it finally passing council I finished the post and put it up as documentation of the process – mainly so I wouldn’t forget, but so that others could see how easy (or hard) it is to get a policy from scratch approved.
9. Calgary, meet your new council
October 19, 2010
It was a pleasant surprise to see a post election blog post make it on to this list. Although it was only written the day after the election. While everyone else was focussed on who won and how they did it, I thought I’d take the opportunity to be the first to ponder how this new group might work together. Some of the predictions are coming true already, others might still – or not – time will tell.
8. 18 to 34 Year Olds, Social Media and the Calgary Election
August 17, 2010
This is probably the most frustrating piece I wrote this year. Often I find myself writing things in the hope that once I do, and expose the rationale behind something, the issue will be put to bed and not brought up again. I wrote this piece in response to political pundits (specifically political scientists who had no idea what they were talking about) about the myth of social media being only about young people and thus it wouldn’t have any impact on the election. Balderdash I cried! And even after I wrote it I had to scream the same thing over and over and over. Those poli sci profs sure like their narratives. Even when they have no basis in reality. And even when they’ve been proven wrong by an election. Then all they do is twist things around a little to show how they were right all along. Cheeky buggers. Duane Bratt still owes me that beer he promised on Global Television on election night.
7. Nuit Blanche Calgary update
June 16, 2010
This post might be artificially inflated on this list because it was emailed out to everyone who signed up at http://bit.ly/nuitblanchecalgary indicating they were interested. So it got about 100 extra visitors because of that. The post is a long overdue update on where things are at in the planning for a Nuit Blanche in Calgary. Something I’m long over due to do again… I’m excited at how the plans are shaping up. As I was then too.
6. Fun with Maps: Top 3 Calgary mayoral candidate vote share
October 28, 2010
David Johns deserves all the credit for this post. He made three great maps of how the three leading mayoral candidates did on election day. A post that obviously got lots of interest. Visual is better.
5. Comparing Budget 2010 to Budget 2009
February 9, 2010
In a year of municipal posts it’s nice to see a provincial one make it on to the list — let alone be written! This is a short post where I outline a nice easy way to compare the 2009 and 2010 ministry plans using Acrobat. It’s nice when the Alberta Government makes it this easy.
4. Loving or hating Calgary’s new bridge is not as easy as it sounds
July 29, 2009
In an odd twist this “oldie” was actually written in 2009. As a matter of fact, it was the 11th most popular post on my blog that year. Obviously in an election year as contentious as this one was it should be surprising that a post about a contentious issue would make it on this list, but I am surprised it is so high. I guess there are more people curious about why they are supposed to be so mad about that darn bridge than I thought.
3. If you want me to run for Alderman…
June 25, 2010
This post was probably the only one I’ve ever written that I passed by other people before putting up. It also received about twice as many unique visitors as #4. It’s probably the most important post I’ve ever written as I contemplated running for alderman. And people paid attention too: the post had the longest visit time of any I’ve written on this blog. The premise of the post was simple, I’ll do it if you are willing to help me win. Politics shouldn’t be about ego. I didn’t see why someone would announce they are running and then try to find people to help. That seems entirely backwards to me. In the end almost 100 people signed up to help me run a campaign, but I decided against it. See #11 on this list for why.
2. Calgary Municipal Election: 2010 will be a year of new faces
March 21, 2010
The top two posts on this list got more unique visits than anything else I’ve ever written. They both received about four times as many visitors as #3 on this list. (Which itself had twice as many as #4, so that’s saying something.) I’m not sure why this post got so many visits but it probably has something to do with how early in the year I wrote it. I don’t recommend making predictions seven months in advance, but this time it looks like it paid off and I was right: we did see “more turnover in one go round than many of us can remember,” with six new faces on council.
1. Who’s running for Calgary City Council in 2010?
April 3, 2010
Yes people were curious about who was running for council. From April until July I kept this blog post updated with the names of who had declared they were running for council. (Once CalgaryDemocracy.ca was up and running I decided to retire the post. It had served its purpose.) The post proved so popular that I eventually had to pin it to the main menu of my website. And even after I stopped updating it – and said I was stopping updating it – I still had people sending me tips and trying to get the list updated. If that didn’t prove Calgarians cared about the election I don’t know what would. (Aside from the voter turnout on the day of. Which also proved that.) It is the most popular post in my blog’s history.
I should have posted a Nuit Blanche update months ago, but there had been so much movement over that time things never felt settled enough that it made sense to post an update. With recent events however now seemed to be the best time to let everyone know what’s going on.
Here’s the whole story:
On December 9, 2009 I saw a tweet from a friend in Toronto saying Scotiabank Nuit Blanche was now accepting applications for the 2010 festival. I retweeted saying something like “why don’t we have this in #yyc?”. My tweet was then retweeted and echoed by about 10 Calgarians. I thought to myself, what does 10 retweets really mean? What sort of support does that translate to? And so I put together a Google Docs form asking people to provide their details if they “might be interested in helping plan or attending a Nuit Blanche in Calgary.”
In two days 150 people had signed up.
Suddenly I was faced with a reality: that’s a pretty good critical mass, but what’s the next step to make a Nuit Blanche in Calgary a reality?
I thought about it and realized with my contacts in the arts I could at the very least get the right people in the room to talk about it. And with 200 people (where the list ended at after about five days) we knew there were people who wanted it in our City.
So that week in December I met with two people from Calgary Arts Development and pitched them the idea. And then I met with five people from the Calgary Downtown Association. And then a few others I know in corporate community investment, and even Michael Green from the High Performance Rodeo. Everyone said the same thing: it’s a great idea and we should make it happen.
Obviously I couldn’t do it on my own – not to mention I didn’t have any interest in organizing a festival – but buoyed by the 200 names on the list I felt I should at least see it through. As luck would have it toward the end of my meeting with CADA, Karen Ball mentioned that I should talk to a friend of hers. He had mentioned to her before that he thought Calgary should have a Nuit Blanche, but – I’m paraphrasing her words – he didn’t know the kind of people needed to make it happen. But she thought he and I would counter balance each other because I knew the people and he knew Nuit Blanche. He knew it so well in fact, because he had curated a zone at the Toronto Nuit Blanche for two years.
Email introductions were exchanged and a few days later I was sitting in the Auburn Saloon with a pint of Grasshopper in my hand across from Wayne Baerwaldt – a complete stranger. We chatted a little bit about our backgrounds: me in arts marketing, him the curator and director of the Illingworth Kerr Gallery at the Alberta College of Art and Design, before quickly getting to the point of our meeting. I must have talked for 10 or 15 minutes straight, laying out everything I knew about making Nuit Blanche in Calgary a reality, everything I learned from the half dozen or so meetings I had the week previous. When I was finally out of breath, Wayne asked one or two simple questions, which, if I remember correctly, I answered surprisingly succinctly, and then he said “okay, let’s do it.” I was taken aback by how easy it was to get him on board, but I did nothing more than put my hand out to shake his. I had a partner.
And a partner who is knowledgeable too. A month or so after that we had a tour of Stephen Avenue with Janet Jessiman, the manager of Stephen Ave from CDA, Karen Ball from CADA, David Down, senior architect with the City of Calgary, and Paula Dozois, a prof from MRU and a friend of Wayne’s. Following our hour and a half tour, it was decided that Stephen Ave was the place and the festival should probably run from City Hall to Bankers’ Hall with two major installations per block. Ideas for big brought in installations were exchanged, as were ideas for smaller projects undertaken by local artists. (That’s not to say some of the big installations won’t be done by local groups however.)
Things were getting real and it was time to become real. In order to apply for funding we needed to become an official not-for-profit society and we needed five directors to do that. Wayne approached Paula, and we also added Rita Mckeough and Diana Sherlock, both instructors from ACAD. We had our first meeting at Paula’s house on April 24 and the paperwork was filed by lawyer Tyler Shandro (who was one of the original ‘re-tweeters’), arriving in Edmonton on May 11.
Last week it became official as the Certificate of Incorporation from the Alberta government landed in my inbox.
We are moving forward with a target of September 2011 for the first Nuit Blanche Calgary.
Grants are about to be applied for, but in our first VERY rough budget we estimate it will take $300,000 in cash to make the kind of splash we think a first year needs to have. Potential sponsors will be approached soon. The plan is being developed. Identifying our needs at the same time as applying for funding.
Wayne has already had meetings with Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in Toronto about ways that we might be able to work together, and he’s just returned from Berlin where he spoke with organizers of their Nuit Blanche.
We’re serious about making this happen – even if I’ll need to take a step back soon lest I be suddenly “organizing a festival” like I said back in December that didn’t want to do. But we’ll need your help soon to make it all a reality!
So if you haven’t done so already please fill out this form: http://bit.ly/nuitblanchecalgary. It’s still the original form that started it all.
And please share the link with your friends!