PDA

View Full Version : Tough love is what Edmonton really needs--Richard Skermer



DebraW
29-03-2006, 09:26 AM
Tough love is what Edmonton really needs
Richard Skermer just the guy for the job
Scott McKeen
The Edmonton Journal

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Civic boosters, with painted-on smiles and practised patter, tell fanciful fibs about fortune and bliss in their hometowns.

I hate boosters. They insult our intelligence. Edmonton isn't a great city. Anyone who really cares for Edmonton knows it. The city has potential. But potential is like romantic love. Absent honest commitment, it fails.

Richard Skermer loves Edmonton. This city runs deep in him. Yet he is no civic booster. He sees the city for what it is and what it might become, if only.

Skermer is a big bear of a man with a high-revving mind and mouth. Such men can intimidate. Not Skermer. A brush with death years ago rubbed away some of the rough edges.

As a 21-year-old, surgeons tore apart and re-engineered his leg with steel. Skermer had the same cancer that killed Terry Fox.

Now, 15 years later, Skermer is cancer free, but in dire need of an overhaul.

"I need new bearings," he says, smiling and flexing his leg.

Yet he's in fine form today, except for the crutches.

We've long since finished the interview, but Skermer stays to chat for more than another hour.

He likes to talk. Especially about Edmonton.

His father was a pilot, and as a boy Skermer often travelled along to other destinations. He'd be asked where he was from. When he said Edmonton, the reaction was often one of patronizing bewilderment, or amusement.

Such things stick in the craw, as a personal insult. It's like people were saying: What kind of loser would choose to live in drab Edmonton?

Yet Skermer made that choice.

As a young man, he headed off with his IT expertise to work in big cities all over the U.S. But he eventually came home to live and get involved.

Skermer has a rare interest. An interest in the workings of this city, from its history and transportation planning, to the history of its transportation planning. Rare, because policy wonks tend to be part of government, or the political process.

Skermer works outside it and behind the scenes, mostly. I first met him at a staged public forum where boosters of the City Centre Airport preached to each other about the evils of consolidation at the International Airport.

Skermer eventually stood up to talk. He told the assembled, in so many words, they were out to lunch. The future -- Edmonton's future -- was at the International Airport, not the old Muni, said Skermer. It took guts. This was not an appreciative audience.

Like many of his generation, Skermer spends considerable time on the Internet. What he found there a few years back delighted him -- kinship. There were other people of his generation debating Edmonton's problems and potential.

They chatted online, then decided to meet in person. Out of those meetings a group formed, Promote Edmonton, with a basic belief that Edmonton was being ignored provincially and federally and needed to stand up for itself.

Promote Edmonton has worked quietly on a project that has just now come to fruition -- an online community of ideas called Connect 2 Edmonton. (www.connect2edmonton.ca).

"If you love Edmonton, you've come to the right place," says the C2E introduction page. Boosterism? Nope, says Skermer. The Internet forum is an exchange of ideas and debate. If there's some promotion in there, well, it's about time.

"But there will be lots of critics on the site," he says. "I'm one of them."

Skermer's first contribution to the forum was a rant about the "blight" that is Calgary Trail and Gateway Boulevard. Capital Ex gets dissed on the site. So does the "Berlin Wall" at the top of Hall D, the Shaw Conference Centre's new addition. Yet out of it all comes the sense that the online community is made up of people who really love this city.

The cancer scare left Skermer with a deep sense of deadline pragmatism. It's time, he says, Edmonton put some issues to bed. Time the region consolidated not just its air service, but itself, into one major city. Time Edmonton built a new southern bridge to downtown.

Disagree? Skermer hopes all manner of folk, locally and long distance, will join in the community and offer their opinions and ideas. He also hopes the message will get out that Edmonton is an active, lively and interesting place to work and live, with great restaurants, post-secondary schools, a vibrant arts scene and a spectacular river valley.

"We hope to spread the word that this is a fantastic city," says Skermer.

So that one day, some kid will get a bit more respect when they say: I'm from Edmonton.

[email protected]
© The Edmonton Journal 2006

Richard Skermer helped launch the website www.connect2Edmonton.ca
:D

Fell
29-03-2006, 10:39 AM
Thanks, djgirl, that was awesome. And props to RichardS!

I think the healthiest — and hardest — thing we can do, and Richard is obviously leading the charge, is this honest and introspective review of ourself, as a city.

:!:

IanO
29-03-2006, 11:14 AM
good article...

RichardS
29-03-2006, 02:06 PM
Thanks for the props folks!

However, I must stress that C2E is the result of the work of several individuals that have volunteered hundreds of hours getting this thing off the ground. Folks from PROMOTE-Edmonton (http://www.promote-edmonton.com), a web development firm called PIVIT (http://www.pivit.ca), and folks from civic areas like the EEDC (http://www.edmonton.com), ERAA (http://www.edmontonairports.com), and others have volunteered their time and expertise/connections to make this a reality. I also must applaud the EEDC and ERAA for having the absolute courage to find us a place to put this up and know full well that this will talk about ALL aspects of Edmonton life - good and bad. The ERAA will get criticized. EEDC - they will hear the lumps too. These organizations provided server space and funding for the logo designs etc because the WANT to hear it all. They need to hear it, as the customer that never complains and just goes away...well...we never know why.

After this launch, anyone and everyone here is Joe/Jane Citizen. C2E is, under its constitution, a FULLY AUTONOMOUS body free to design and speak as we see fit.

I encourage those to make sure they read the forum rules however. The discussion and expressing of opinions is fully free, but do it articulately. If you have a gripe, say it and then explain why - and better yet, offer a solution! :)

Thanks everyone and HAPPY POSTING!

DanC
29-03-2006, 03:10 PM
Congratulations on a great accomplishment. I saw the beginning of Promote Edmonton and to see something come of it is great. Everyone who was involved from the beginning, I say, WELL DONE!

Sorry, I never came out to any meetings...

IanO
29-03-2006, 03:15 PM
Thanks for the props folks!

However, I must stress that C2E is the result of the work of several individuals that have volunteered hundreds of hours getting this thing off the ground. Folks from PROMOTE-Edmonton (http://www.promote-edmonton.com), a web development firm called PIVIT (http://www.pivit.ca), and folks from civic areas like the EEDC (http://www.edmonton.com), ERAA (http://www.edmontonairports.com), and others have volunteered their time and expertise/connections to make this a reality. I also must applaud the EEDC and ERAA for having the absolute courage to find us a place to put this up and know full well that this will talk about ALL aspects of Edmonton life - good and bad. The ERAA will get criticized. EEDC - they will hear the lumps too. These organizations provided server space and funding for the logo designs etc because the WANT to hear it all. They need to hear it, as the customer that never complains and just goes away...well...we never know why.

After this launch, anyone and everyone here is Joe/Jane Citizen. C2E is, under its constitution, a FULLY AUTONOMOUS body free to design and speak as we see fit.

I encourage those to make sure they read the forum rules however. The discussion and expressing of opinions is fully free, but do it articulately. If you have a gripe, say it and then explain why - and better yet, offer a solution! :)

Thanks everyone and HAPPY POSTING!


Indeed....many people and organizations were behind this site and ultimately should be thanked for creating something unqiue to Edmonton and many cities in general. This site will provide invaluable feedback on issues in Edmonton or about Edmonton which we can hopefully discuss to a level so that the appropriate hear about it and act on it.

...introspection is a good thing.

Speedyturtle
30-03-2006, 01:49 AM
Excellent article RichardS. It's guys like you who are turning this city around, great work.

TroyD
30-03-2006, 08:40 AM
I give a round of applause to everyone who directly and indirectly aided in the launching of C2E. We are already up to 146 members and I am sure it will begin to grow exponentialy. We have some great people on here from many industries: development, students, archtiecture, planning, IT, etc...

I think what makes this forum better is the vast, informed and educated opinions (rants or raves) that create a moment to develop Edmonton in a positive manner.

WAY TO GO EVERYONE.

ShermanT
30-03-2006, 01:11 PM
I give a round of applause to everyone who directly and indirectly aided in the launching of C2E. We are already up to 146 members and I am sure it will begin to grow exponentialy. We have some great people on here from many industries: development, students, archtiecture, planning, IT, etc...

I think what makes this forum better is the vast, informed and educated opinions (rants or raves) that create a moment to develop Edmonton in a positive manner.

WAY TO GO EVERYONE.

Yes let us congratulate each other on getting up to this point. It is well deserved.

We must still remember that we are still young and that it is our actions that define us as a community. I wouldn't want C2E to be known as a place where great ideas and solutions are just talked about (although that is a great first step). It is the set of accomplishments that come from here that will make our voices louder. In fact, I would love to keep an archive of real world achievements C2E's community has been directly involved in. Let's hope the archive grows to an impressive size :)

WMelhem
30-03-2006, 02:01 PM
I pray that many o the things we discuss on here are taken and implimented to make our city better and realize itself to be all that it can be (cheap steal from the US marines)

murman
30-03-2006, 05:11 PM
Wow... a celebrity in our midst! :shock:

Seriously, Edmonton is and will be much better off with people like Richard around.

Now just don't do something stupid.. like lose him.

IanO
30-03-2006, 05:32 PM
Wow... a celebrity in our midst! :shock:

Seriously, Edmonton is and will be much better off with people like Richard around.

Now just don't do something stupid.. like lose him.


ha

WMelhem
30-03-2006, 08:29 PM
We all love you RichardS. Seriously this is a good thing. It get more people aware of what we are facing and how this city can and will move forward when people are willing to put in the effort.

DebraW
30-03-2006, 10:28 PM
Grace is doing something because it needs to be done and not worrying about getting credit for it. :idea:

Richard, take a much-deserved bow as this defines you. :!:

Yes, there were and are others involved in C2E and they all deserve thanks and praise as well, but you sir, stand above.

True grace, true vision, stay the course! Thank you. :D

ThomasH
31-03-2006, 12:31 AM
^ What everyone else said!

A job well done Richard, we're proud of you!

Speedyturtle
02-04-2006, 03:27 AM
I'm curious to know how many members we've gained since this article was printed in the newspaper.

Mock
02-04-2006, 03:43 AM
Around 50-60 new members. We were at 105 or so on the publish date.

RichardS
02-04-2006, 11:17 AM
I'll get the official stats, but Mock is not far off...

One thing that contributed to not having more adds is that to the non-web savvy folks, the sign up sheet appeared "buried" according to the feedback we received. Since then, our friends at PIVIT added a sign up icon that is highly visible - great addition IMO.

Also, to help add more users and promote further discussion, we need to spread the word. So, click on http://www.connect2edmonton.ca/images/spreadword_on.gif (http://www.connect2edmonton.ca/spreadword.asp?page=781) and share your passion! :)

ThomasH
03-04-2006, 02:26 AM
Hicks On Six Column

By GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN


THE FUTURE ISN'T FRIENDLY

A woman visited a psychic of some local repute.

Gazing at the cards laid out before her, the tarot reader delivered news. "There is no easy way to say this. Prepare yourself to be a widow. Your husband will soon die a violent death."

Visibly shaken, the woman stared at the psychic's lined face. She took a few deep breaths to compose herself.

She simply had to know. She met the tarot reader's gaze, steadied her voice, and asked: "Will I get away with it?"



- - -

THE KING IS DEAD

The silly old man.

What happened to the Ralph Klein with the unerring political instincts? The astute politician who talked so often of avoiding "under the dome-itis" disease, of staying connected with the people, ESPECIALLY the people of his own party?

Ralph could have gone out in glory at the end of last year's centennial, announced his retirement in 2006 and been given a hero's sendoff.

Instead, the silly old man couldn't let go of the glory and the power.

He forgot the most important humbling rule in life. That we are all replaceable. That the moment you pull your finger out of the water, it's as if your finger had never been there at all.

He had to be unceremoniously turfed, with an unbelievably low 55% approval rating Friday night at the party convention in Calgary. Anything below 70% would have meant his political career was over.

"We were all in shock," says one delegate when the vote was released, late Friday night. "Some were elated. Others were dismayed. But everybody was in shock."

It didn't help, says a younger delegate, that Ralph's big speech on Friday night was "terrible." And, the delegate says, there was great resentment at the Klein team's strong-arm tactics. "They basically button-holed everybody, and forced them to wear 'I support Klein' buttons. Who's going to turn them down? At the party youth meeting, Ralph walked right by the outstretched hand of the head of the PC Youth who had called for change. It was all about loyalty, not about the party and its future."

"There was a great deal of crying when the result was announced. Then again, lots of people were pretty drunk. The leadership hopefuls' hospitality suites had been going full bore as soon as the voting was complete."

What this does mean, of course, is a full-bore ramping up of the leadership campaigns of the interested cabinet ministers. Dave Hancock and the recently departed Lyle Oberg and Ed Stelmach have a lot of catching up to do with Jim Dinning and Mark Norris.

The king is dead. Long live the new king ... let the fun of an open leadership campaign begin.

- - -

STEP UP TO THE DIABETES CHALLENGE

It is human nature to sit on our ever-spreading nether cheeks, scarfing potato chips and pop while watching TV.

But it is also human nature to rise to a challenge.

Media folks Carrie Doll and Daryl McIntyre of CTV Edmonton, myself and U of A Chancellor Eric Newell have taken up a challenge from the Alberta Diabetes Foundation and the U of A Physical Education Department.

For a week, we will not be adding blubber to our bellies.

We're committed to "Step Out" for diabetes research and prevention. Committed to walking, running, crawling or skipping 10,000 steps a day from Tuesday to the following Monday.

That's about a 45- to 60-minute walk, or an eight-kilometre run ... every day.

The goal is quite simple. It's time everybody realized that lack of exercise and being fat is an open invitation to developing diabetes. Step Out is a simple reminder of that very fact.

And it wouldn't be an awareness campaign without raising a few bucks. You can sign up as a participant and raise cash through pledges, or support Carrie, Darryl, Eric or myself at the Alberta Diabetes Foundation website, www.afdr.ab.ca.

Co-sponsoring the campaign is Flaman Fitness. Founder Frank Flaman is a walking, talking believer in the power of fitness to stop diabetes from happening in the first place.

Couch potatoes looking for motivation ... here's your chance.

- - -

BIDS, BIDS

- Speaking of the University of Alberta Chancellor Newell, Eric is chairing the U of A-led bid committee to bring the 2011 World Summer University Games, or Universiade, back to Edmonton. It was here in 1983.

Edmonton won the right to be the Canadian city going after the games. Now we have to persuade the Universiade federation that we're the best place in the world to stage those games.

Newell's committee submission goes before the international university sports federation in June, with a winner announced next January.

- Resting after Friday's formal bid presentation to Hockey Canada for the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship are committee co-chairs Lyle Best and Calgary counterpart Jim Peplinski.

In a cool first, Edmonton and Calgary have submitted a joint bid to co-host the World Junior tournament, which will be in Canada in 2009.

The case was made all the stronger with a rewarding of a junior hockey franchise (the main feeder league of young players to the NHL) to the Oilers, to start playing in Rexall Place at the start of the 2007-08 season.

- - -

TALKIN' ABOUT EDMONTON

Have a look at Connect2Edmonton (www.connect2edmonton.ca), the new "global community" website to "connect and collaborate with people all over the planet who share your passion for Edmonton."

So says a fella who has translated his enthusiasm for Edmonton into a lifelong career, Kenn Bur of Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.

Good idea, with a bunch of chat rooms on almost every subject about our town you can imagine.

I find "navigating" the site difficult. But it's a fine idea.

My only worry is that, as a quasi-government venture (a partnership of EEDC, Edmonton Airports, the chamber of commerce and the city), the website may fall victim to that killer of all great initiatives, committee-itis.

Then again, that's up to the people who participate.

DebraW
02-08-2007, 10:14 AM
I came across this thread while looking for something else...what a difference 17 months makes.

C2E now has 1689 members (as of August 02, 2007 10:00).

The record for users online is 146!

There are more than 50,000 articles posted.

There have been new registered members EVERYDAY!

There are 40 Guest Columns.

There has been one public forum and two informal meet and greets for members.

There has been one very successful contest (Great ideas…), another with the Snap Edmonton is underway, and it too is proving to be popular.

Countless differences (most unheralded but important nonetheless) have been made to the city because C2E members care enough to discuss, engage and connect to Edmonton!
:D

DebraW
02-08-2007, 10:28 AM
^ Forgot to mention C2E has members in 28 countries too!