Just Keep Making Something, Edmonton

Make Something Edmonton,” he says, and that’s all he needs to say to get people taking action

It’s an initiative started by author Todd Babiak, and the thing has taken on a life of its own. It seems every single day I see someone else from Edmonton talking about what that means to them, and then putting something into action based on that idea, or demonstrating how their actions are, currently, accomplishing that very thing.

So, why even talk about what Edmonton should be or could be or wants to be or why people should give a shit about life in a northern town?

The whole thing is, to me, a great way for the people of the city of Edmonton to find out more about the people who are already making things around them.

Does it lead to a sense of identity that isn’t already in place? Maybe, and that may be because it shows people that they are not alone in their desire to be better in the place where they are. It gives creators a chance to know more about what else is being created around them. I’m not sure it has anything to do with the place, but speaks more to the attitude of the individuals in that place.

I’m not sure a place can ever be summed up in a tagline, nor should it be, in the same way that a company can never be summed up in a tagline.

A tagline is just the thing that creates enough interest to read through to the rest of the story.

So, then, the issue seems to be the question, and the question is, “What is the story of Edmonton?”

For me, the best parts of Edmonton have never been about what is there, but rather who is there. While no one city has an attitude that is shared by an entire population, my favourite part of Edmonton has always been the fact that conversations I have had with people about things we might do have always led to the actual doing of the thing, as opposed to just talking about it and then passing out in a heap of exhaustive, lofty ideals that never see the light of day.

Of course, having some money kicking around to make things happen never hurts.

Perhaps the greatest part of the Fringe Festival in Edmonton is that it gives artists a license to fail. This sounds somewhat counterintuitive to the means by which success might be achieved, and may even sound like an excuse for occasionally wearisome programs, but you’ll find the best content at a venue like this is created by people who are unafraid to have their ideas fail. When you’re not afraid to fail, you can try new things, find out what works, and in that process one might even come across ideas that might never have seen the light of day without that permission.

This should extend far past the arts and lead to innovation in every industry, with the idea firmly entrenched in a city’s psyche that the arts are, in fact, an industry like any other. And to remember that it’s an industry that opens the doors to a life that is far more interesting and creative than one devoid of unimpeded creation.

I would never be able to do what I do without having failed, and sometimes spectacularly, many, many times.

There’s nothing more important than following through. A great idea is nothing but bullshit until someone puts that idea together into a plan of action, and then actually takes action to attempt to create something.

And failure is always an option. It’s not learning from that failure that should be taken off the table.

The great part about Edmonton, to me, is not that people may or may not “Make Something Edmonton,” but that the people there are constantly creating, innovating, and attempting new things.

Whether or not that leads to a municipal identity, I’m not sure. But, what I am sure of is that Edmonton is already making something, and is built, like most cities, on the idea that if enough people make something, the entire populace has the opportunity to thrive.

The mantra where I live, in Montreal, appears to be – at least for the moment — “Give us something,” which is completely out of step with the idea that this place was built upon.

That said, there are many, many people here in Montreal creating amazing art through just about every medium in existence. Somehow, this drive to create does not seem to translate to innovation in other fields.

All cities require the opportunity for its citizens to get something, but the process of how they do that will best be served by allowing those citizens to be great, to innovate and create, and exchange their best ideas for the best ideas of someone else, which results in real, sustainable commerce.

So, Edmontonians, despite the fact that I’m being somewhat semantic (and I am, admittedly, anti-semantic), and not quite following the line or reasoning behind the statement “Make Something Edmonton,” feel free to just continue making something, and don’t worry about whether or not it is “Edmonton.” This is the real path to continuing to maintain a city that already has an identity, like it or not, that screams, “We Make Things!” or perhaps even more appropriately, “We Make Things Happen.”

Which should be exactly enough to give people a reason to find out more about what makes Edmonton, and its people, so very compelling. Just keep making something, and it will continue to be Edmonton.

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