Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hey EPSB I have an idea!

I am the proud owner of a kiddo about to embark on her first foray into the weird and wonderful world of public school.  Ah yes, in mere weeks she will be headed to kindergarten.  So I have a few ideas for the folks at Edmonton Public, as well as Alberta Ed.

1. The Kindergarten Application Process
 Did you know that we are only allowed to submit ONE application to any public school of our choice?  If our child does not get in, they are automatically enrolled in their catchment school.  Now this is all good and well as I’m sure the EPSB will claim that all public schools in Edmonton are equal, but that’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow when some catchment schools offer alternative programming while others do not.  So basically, if I lose the lottery, my kid can’t learn a second language.  Lames.  How hard would it be to allow parents to apply to a variety of schools and then require them to make a decision earlier to allow for some rejigging?  Surely there’s some algorithm that could solve this.  Bueller?  Bueller?

2. The Have's and the Have-nots 
I was chatting with a friend whose daughter is also slated to start K in the fall.  She was telling me that she was very impressed by her local school for a number of reasons, but it was one reason in particular that has me all worked up.  Apparently, the students at this school, let's call it School A, send fruit over to say School B, to ya know, help the less fortunate.  I believe that everyone's heart is in the right place here, but the delivery, well let's just say the delivery needs some work.  From their website:

 "Fruit for a friend is a local citizenship project for [School A], initiated in 2007.   This program is designed to provide breakfast to children who would not necessarily receive it at home, and is greatly appreciated by the students, parents and staff of [School B]."

So the [] were from me.  Did you catch that?  Cause apparently EPSB has no problem branding their schools as haves vs have-nots.  But, you see I do.  It’s the same thinking that got us all to believe that the whole nation of Ethiopia was starving in the 80s.  Peeps are still surprised to find food at the Ethiopian tent at Heritage Days!  These very same kids are going to meet up in Jr high someday on the basketball court and things are gonna get ugly.  How about some anonymity here people?  For the CHILDREN.  FIX THIS.

3. Schools as the centre of the community
So my third “idea” is kind of at odds with my first one.  I am lamenting the loss of schools as the centre of a community.  Back in the day, there was no real choice in where you went to school.  You just went to where you could walk to.  And all the neighbourhood kids did too.  And it was fine.  But, ya know, things change.  My daughter will not be attending her neighbourhood school.  You see, we would like her to learn a second language.  But I don’t see why she can’t participate in extra-curricular activities at her local school? Why can’t she be on the local school’s track team? Or in the band? Is this a logistical problem?  Capacity?  Liability?  Again, I feel a simple algorithm could solve this.  And as a parent, it would give me an opportunity to connect with my neighbourhood.  No brainer.

Now, coincidentally, in my quest to become mayor one day, I recently had the pleasure of spending an evening with my ward's Edmonton Public School Board Trustee, Leslie Cleary.  Now truth be told, I really had no idea about what a School Board Trustee actually does but I seized the opportunity (sorry Leslie!) to raise some of my ideas with someone who may actually be in a position to do something about it.  What a concept! 

If you’ve got something to say, I encourage you to contact your trustee.  You’d be surprised at how open their door is.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An open letter to the Organizers of The Edmonton Heritage Festival

I would like to start off by congratulating you on yet another stellar event.  This festival ranks at the top of my list of things to do in Edmonton, and your continued efforts to improve upon it, year after year do not go unnoticed.  It was great to see Colombia and Brazil come out with such a bang on the first go!  As a person of mixed-heritage, I love this opportunity to celebrate diversity.  My family and I are there for all three days gorging on the sights, sounds and foods on display.  With over 80 distinct cultures participating it surely must be the largest celebration of multiculturalism in the world.  You prove that the Canadian ideal of a peaceful, multicultural society is not only possible, but is a reality.  You should be proud of what you have built.

It is precisely because I have such respect for the work that you do, that I find your silence on the recent controversy surrounding the judges for the event, perplexing.  What seemed to start out as a simple observation on the part of some attendees, spiraled into a vitriolic attack on those who noticed, those who were asked to judge and those who weighed in on the issue.  I suppose we have social media to thank for that.  But your silence on the matter served to, in my opinion, exacerbate the problem.  You left your “celebrities” high and dry to defend themselves for a decision I can only assume was made by you.  Some apologized.  Some freaked out.  And some made comments that could be seen as demeaning to visible minorities.  They should not have been put into the position to comment.  But you should.

I feel it fitting that you offer an explanation to the public outlining your selection criteria.  I would also like to know if you feel there is any merit to the controversy and if so, how you will handle it moving forward.  I feel strongly that Edmontonians from every corner are awaiting your response.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hey Warner Bros. I have an idea!

So today I went to see SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL.  I should probably mention here that I never go to the movies so don't think that my great idea is to become a movie reviewer.  It's not.

Now I generally don't like going for 5 reasons:
1. Movie theatres are cold. Like sub-zero.  My huzzie and I almost froze to death watching that Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  The irony is not lost on me.
2.  There's loud, and then there's just being an asshole.
3. This magna cum laude HD/3D thing makes me feel like I can see the people acting.  Suddenly you're all  "Hey I have that same IKEA lamp in my apartment!"
4. (Related to #3) Every once in a while I see a bug in the shot and I'm like "Damn, they have FLIES on KRYPTON???
5. The bump on the headrest, like on an airplane, is in EXACTLY the wrong spot.  Double chins yo.  (I don't really blame movies for this one.  More my gene pool).

My huzzie on the other hand is a super fan.  In fact he's one of those people that goes to movies by himself in the middle of the day.  He thinks it's Don Draper.  I think it's Archie Bunker.  Whatevs.  But, ya know, on occasion (so he doesn't leave me for those dreamy pre-teens wooing him with acne), I indulge him.  Today was one of those days.

As usual I was being my annoying self.  I wore a sweater.  I carried a blanket.  I brought a a thermos full of tea.  Some rhubarb cake.  I was trying to miss the previews. 


Anyways, it was awesome.  Here's what I liked:
1.  The guy really looks like #Superman.  Like A SUPER MAN.  This helped with problem #1 above.
2.  I'm really digging this whole "Superheros are just like you and me" trend.  OF COURSE he needs a special suit!! All his people clothes were being destroyed dammit!  Someone cc The Hulk!   
The Hulk could really use a suit.
3.  The whole thing looked like it was shot through an #Instagram filter.
4.  It was deep.

But, here's what I didn't like:
1. Do we really need 43 minutes of 143 to be of Superman punching people who aren't really hurt by Superman punches?  How about 27 minutes of people shooting bullets at people not harmed by being shot?  Sigh.
2. There was a 4 year old sitting next to me.  Really??? (see above).
3. #2 through 4 above above.

So I had an idea!  When they release these blockbusters, why don't they release a sort of SUPERMAN: MAN OF REALLY HARD BUT NOT AS HARD AS STEEL version!.  Like same movie, just lite.  Quieter.  Gentler.  Warmer.  Shorter.  (But maybe more shorties!) NAILED IT!

Or would it only be me and YOUR MOM there?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Edmonton's Philly Cheesesteak?

So I spend quite a bit of time in Vancouver.  And I'm always struck by how often I feel the need to apologize for choosing the City of Champions as my home.  Convos usually go something like this:

Me: Hi nice to meet you!

Vancouverites: Oh hey.  Ya we were just having a convo about the many ways to prepare nutritional yeast.

Me: What's nutritional yeast?

Vancouverites:  Oh right.  You're from Ed-Mon-Ton.  Yawn.

It's Ehmintin bitches! And I'm sick of feeling this pity.  It's a great town but tis true at times I wish I had more handy examples of why I have chosen this place as my home.  So I have come up with an #ideas4yeg.

I want to have a cooking contest that brings all of #yeg 's top chefs (and one lucky NAIT culinary arts student) together to create a signature dish for E-town.  Think Philly Cheesesteak or Montreal smoked meat!

The contest (which could be set up as a charity event) allows top chefs to prepare an entree and have local celebrity judges vote for the winners.  The top 3 would then be available for sale at say Taste of Edmonton or Heritage days (or maybe all the summer festivals), and #yeg citizens can vote for the one they want to see named E-town's signature dish.  The dish can be officially crowned by the Mayor and the winning chef gets accolades galore.  Hopefully it prompts other local restaurants to try to create their own versions.  If it works, then maybe 10 years from now my convos in Vancouver could be more like:

Me: Hey I'm from Edmonton.

Vancouverites:  Awesome.  You know I'm really craving me some Etown [insert name here].

Me: Just had some yesterday sucka!

If you like this idea, please consider voting for me at #ideas4yeg

So what's the big idea???!!?

So if you know me, none of this will come as a surprise.  I have a lot of big ideas.  Like A LOT.  And like BIG.  There is no pattern or area of expertise.  And they're not very well thought out.  And they often come to me while under the influence.  But they're HUGE!

I used to dream of one day having a job where my title was something awesome like Chief Visionary Officer.  Somebody rich and probably eccentric would pay me big dollas to come up with big ideas.  And I'd come through for them.

Now I have started to become more realistic.  Such a job doesn't exist.  And if it does, entry-level salary is likely well beneath my salary expectations.  So alas, I have decided to blog about them.  I invite commentary more in terms of suggestions on where to turn with these ideas.  Or like some procedural feedback.  Less, "hey good for you you're S-M-R-T" and more like: "that's already been done".  Who knows, maybe we'll strike gold together!