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Tough love is what Edmonton really needs--Richard Skermer

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  • Tough love is what Edmonton really needs--Richard Skermer

    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

  • #2
    Re: Tough love is what Edmonton really needs--Richard Skerme

    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.

    Comment


    • #3
      good article...


      Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

      Comment


      • #4
        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, a web development firm called PIVIT, and folks from civic areas like the EEDC, ERAA, 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!
        President and CEO - Airshow.

        Comment


        • #5
          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...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by RichardS
            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, a web development firm called PIVIT, and folks from civic areas like the EEDC, ERAA, 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.


            Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

            Comment


            • #7
              Excellent article RichardS. It's guys like you who are turning this city around, great work.

              Comment


              • #8
                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.
                Thus the task is not so much to see what no-one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought that which everyone sees. - Schopenhauer

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TroyD
                  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
                  Time to grow up.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Wow... a celebrity in our midst!

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

                      Now just don't do something stupid.. like lose him.
                      [email protected][email protected]: the 5th Horseman of the Apocalypse

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by murman
                        Wow... a celebrity in our midst!

                        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


                        Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Richard S.: Thank you.

                            Grace is doing something because it needs to be done and not worrying about getting credit for it.

                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              ^ What everyone else said!

                              A job well done Richard, we're proud of you!
                              Edmonton first, everything else second.

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