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Can You Crowdsource a Culture? Edmonton Thinks You Can...
October 7, 2015

I wrote a blog a while ago about crowdfunding and explained some of the ins and outs, ups and downs of crowdfunding projects and designs. If you want a little refresher, it’s here.

 

What I didn’t include was a topical, local example of crowdfunding and how it’s being used in new and unique ways. So, to round it out, we’re heading back to Edmonton. 

 

Doing a quick scoot around the local business scene news, I came across an blog in the Edmonton Journal that led me to a site called Make Something Edmonton. The headline on the home page is “In Edmonton, we are what we make”.

 

Curious now, I headed to the About page (hint for your website- you need a good About page). It explained Make Something Edmonton in a video complete with predictable music and some overused rah-rah sentiments about the beauty and culture and resonance, etc. of Edmonton. 

 

So the video didn’t strike a chord, but the site did. After doing a quick perusal, I discovered a well-built site for local crowdsourcing of just about anything. There was a whole range of topics, events, art, music, movements and other projects. A diverse range of people submitted projects from a learn to code group to a group trying to find 30 of Edmonton’s most interesting people. The only rule was that it all had to be local.

 

I find these grassroot public engagement sites fascinating. It highlights the number of people that are out there who are truly passionate about what they do, outside of money or prestige or even commerce. They exist to make things better from their perspective.

 

I will admit that I do have a certain image of Edmonton that I should shake. I assume that sleepy government bureaucrats, aimless students, big oil money and university tenured professors proliferate. If Make Something Edmonton did nothing else, it really shook the foundation of my unjustified stereotypes. 

 

As always, there is a catch. You can tell me if it seems like a big one. The site is the brainchild of the City of Edmonton and much of the explanation of Make Something Edmonton revolved around denying that the initiative is an expensive and cynical rebranding effort. 

 

It’s a bit hard to overlook the strains of municipal interference in the whole deal. Despite their earnest efforts to come across as an organic movement without purpose besides defining a culture, there was an underlying flavour of marketese to the whole thing. Especially as there will be a final report submitted to Edmonton City Council. My little gremlin of skepticism is making growling noises.

 

However, the proposed projects, the overall look of the site and the capacity of Make Something Edmonton to become a real hub to find out what’s up in the city makes it intriguing. I encourage you to check it out. Even if it is a cynical rebranding effort, the project has some great features and may turn out something that the City of Edmonton can use to define themselves. 

 

Did you see the site? What did you think? Should I ignore my little gremlin of skepticism? Would you support something similar in your own community?

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