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.
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.
A few months ago I wrote to ask Calgarians to wait until the design of the new Santiago Calatrava bridge was released before deciding if the $22 million price tag was worth it. The design was supposed to be released by the end of May, then the big day was scheduled for August 6, before yesterday’s surprise release of the images. A bumpy wait, but now that they are out Calgarians are able to have their full say. (Click here to view the design on CBC’s website where many are giving their comments.)
It appears as though price is no longer the only contentious part of this bridge however. In addition to releasing the artist renderings yesterday, the Mayor announced on Friday that the bridge is meant to honour the Canadian Armed Forces. Then this past Monday he emerged from a closed door Council meeting to announce the bridge will be named the “Peace Bridge”.
So by my count that now gives Calgarians four different things to complain about when discussing the bridge:
- The cost.
- The spin.
- The name.
- The design.
And so it begins. The newsrooms, the editorials, the twittersphere, and the blogs have all become sounding boards of confused fury. People are being lumped in as either “for” or “against” the bridge. But as you can see from the list above there must be nuances not being explored. So I break it all down thusly:
1. The cost.
Con: This bridge is costing more than any other pedestrian bridge in Calgary’s history. Given the current state of the economy, reasoning suggests the large amount of cash resources could have been better spent elsewhere, on something Calgary has a demand for. I have not seen any data suggesting that what Calgary really needs right now more than anything else is a pedestrian bridge just west of Prince’s Island.
Pro: You can’t build a bridge for much less than this. The rumour we could have done it for $2 million simply is not true. It is also important to note the City of Calgary is not paying for this bridge out of their property tax revenues. The money for the bridge is coming from the Provincial Government as part of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding. As such, there are a number of “strings” attached to the agreement that mean Council can’t do much with the money except build a bridge. (Remember the Bronconnier/Stelmach public battle of about a year ago? This is what that was about. Bronco wanted to be able to spend the money on other more pressing civic needs. He lost this part of the argument.) Because the money is unexpected and limited to only this use, it stands to reason that you might as well build a better bridge than you normally would have rather than giving the money back. (You’ll hear more from me in the future about provincial/municipal funding issues. It is this kind of messed up relationship that illustrates why we need a new deal for cities.)
2. The spin.
Con: The number one reason why Bronconnier is so happy to honour our troops with this bridge is to help deflect some of the public criticism over the other three items on this list. It’s hard to argue with this. Even though the Mayor says this was the plan all the way along, it is news to just about ever observer. Including many – if not the vast majority of – council members. It smacks of using our troops as a political shield. Just about the lowest tactic I can think of.
Pro: Bronconnier may be telling the truth – we don’t know for sure. And either way naming the bridge in honour of the Canadian Armed Forces is a great idea, given the bridge’s proximity to Memorial Drive and the re-vamp that is underway there – also in honour of our troops. Most everyone thinks this is a good plan; however we must be wary that accusing the Mayor of political gamesmanship does not mean the accuser things this is not a worthy group to honour in this manner.
3. The name.
Pro: “Peace Bridge” is an appropriate name given that the bridge will be in honour of our troops. Peace is what they stand for. The name is also symbolic of Calgary and Canada as well as the joining of two shores.
Con: It is such a good name we already thought of it 82 years ago when we named the Niagara bridge that joins Canada to the United States at Fort Erie/Buffalo. Don’t our troops deserve to be honoured in a manner not already reserved in Canada for a different group? Couldn’t we be just a little bit more creative in the name we chose to honour them? I’m sure they’d be much happier not having to share a name with a much more famous bridge. It seems like the least we could do.
4. The design.
Pro: Calgary needs more iconic and unique architecture. The city is one of the most creative places in Canada – and I would argue the entire world. However the city has been mostly built during “boom” cycles, meaning getting a building up as quickly as possible had to be the number one goal. This kind of accelerated program doesn’t allow much time for the design process to create new engineering marvels. When Santiago Calatrava was commissioned to design this bridge it was because he had a history of unique designs that people the world over talk about. This design is unlike any bridge Calgary has, and is unlike any bridge anywhere else in the world. It is uniquely Calgarian and has the potential to quickly become a local treasure.
(We’ve known for months the bridge wasn’t going to be a standard Caltrava-esque design because of the limitations created by having a helipad so close. So if you expected the high towers and cables give your head a shake and get over it.)
Con: As Don Braid said in his recent post: Parisians didn’t love the Eiffel Tower when it was first designed either. They felt it was ugly and inappropriate given the scale and design of the rest of their city. So far I have heard Calgary’s new bridge design referred to as a Chinese finger trap, a blunt, a futuristic tunnel, a candy stick, a ribbed condom, and a drinking straw. (The design has only been out for about 18 hours so I’m sure there will be more to come or some I’ve missed.) What do these descriptions all have in common? It makes it sound like people don’t like the design. But I’m not buying that. I think this is people simply trying to make sense of what it is they are looking at. And that’s a good thing. Just like with the Eiffel Tower, iconic architecture is rarely immediately embraced the way the status quo is. Hopefully once is all said and done they decide they do like it.
So there you have it. All the pro and con arguments summed up. If you think I missed anything please let me know. I hope this will be able to help us frame the argument for or against the bridge with a little more nuance.
Or at the very least get to the point of accepting it a little quicker. Because I think it’s pretty cool Calgary has something so different, finally. (Even though I think it is a lot to pay, but we had little choice on what to do with that money so I’m happy with our choice. I also think naming the bridge in honour of our troops is a great idea, even though the Mayor’s political spin was terribly executed and the resulting name was unoriginal. Hopefully you understand my nuanced opinion on the bridge a little better given everything that came above in this post. If not, at least I tried.)
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.