In this alberta@noon column on CBC Radio One with host Donna McElligott I talk about the future of crime fighting. Specifically we discuss the saga of Sean Power and his stolen laptop. He had free tracking software that he used to see what the thief was doing and live-tweeted the entire event. His followers, friends and others solved the crime and even got the laptop back. All from 800 km away. And after the police wouldn’t help. What could this mean for the future of crime fighting? Welcome to the world of personal responsibility.
In this alberta@noon column on CBC Radio One with host Donna McElligott I talk about how reports of the internet fueled death of newspapers and magazines are greatly exaggerated. I talk about Avenue Magazine and their editorial panel, the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal’s use of online chats, journalists joining Twitter to create one on one relationships with readers and to report breaking news, Metro and National Post’s use of Foursquare for content delivery, and a few other examples too.
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!
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.
During a question and answer session the Progressive Party AGM on November 7, 2009 Premier Stelmach – reeling from recent bad press over everything from the oil and gas royalty framework, to Bill 44, to Bill 50, to H1N1 vaccinations – announced to Alberta what “the biggest challenge we’re facing as a government” is. The answer? The media. Specifically he said, “I really do feel that the policies we have are the right ones for Alberta, but it’s difficult to get it through the present media that’s available to us.”
Yes, I laughed too when I heard it. Surely the biggest challenge could not possibly be that mistakes were being made on each of these issues, but instead it must be that the media was pointing them out.
But let’s put that aside and just say for a moment, that the Premier is right. If this is so, how the heck do you get around the media to give your message directly to the people? This is something many different companies are trying to figure out so they can reach consumers of their product too. Just like the Government is lamenting they’d like to do.
A few decades – even a few years – ago this might have been a problem, but with the advancement and building popularity of social media tools such as Facebook, a portal directly to the people now exists. And Premier Stelmach could rightfully take his message to the streets by using this grand new tool and bypass the mainstream media’s web 1.0 model entirely.
Yes! Now they’re starting to get it. The tools DO exist for you to actually have a conversation with citizens directly. All you have to do is open up and start doing it. The solution is so simple, but would be a groundbreaking change to the people of Alberta! A Premier who actually talks with the people instead of at us! It would be a revolution if undertaken properly.
So I waited.
I would have thought the first step in a process like this would have been the Premier taking over his Twitter account himself and starting to use it to actually interact with citizens, instead of allowing staffers to push out nothing more than 20th century-style public relations talking points and boring photos of him shaking hands with people I don’t know at uber-structured press announcements. (Seriously, how am I supposed to identify with a man that is only presented in such a way? No wonder people think he’s boring.)
But instead I was saddened by the reaction simply being a ramp up in the Premier’s online presence. His Facebook page and Twitter account increased the volume of craptastic PR available to the public, while he started a new e-newsletter. And nothing actually changed.
However a little over a week ago, the Premier’s office announced something new: a program called AskEd. The concept is so simple, but long over due: citizens can ask the Premier questions via Twitter or YouTube and the Premier will respond. It’s foolproof!
Well, it looks like the fools are running the program.
For those that don’t know, here is how Twitter works:
- You say something via Twitter.
- When I’m online, I respond via Twitter.
Here’s how the fools have decided the AskEd program on Twitter will work:
- You ask the Premier a question – but only before December 4 – via Twitter.
- A third party will vet the questions and decide which ones might be answered.
- In about two weeks time check our website and see if he responded.
Wow. I’m going to go out on a limb and say maybe Premier Stelmach should stick with mainstream media, he’ll probably have better luck with it because it sure doesn’t look like he gets social media.
So I’ve done what any responsible citizen could do. I conformed. I’ve asked three questions via the AskEd program. They may look tongue in cheek but I’ve asked them in all seriousness. We’ll see if I ‘make the cut’.
The questions are: