Calgary has a fairly solidly established reputation as the oil capital of Canada.
Not unjustified. The city is rich in oil company headquarters and affiliated service companies. Each downturn in the oil economy bounces the city around harder than any other in Canada.
This downturn is no exception, but hopefully, this downturn can teach us a few things about preparing for the future.
Labels are for Cans
Not for dynamic cities that grow and change along with the people living there.
So should we continue to label Calgary as Oil Capital, or worse the Texas of Canada?
What are the risks to the city’s health and growth as energy stocks rise and fall if we don’t acknowledge the vibrancy of technology, art and culture that a city of over a million individuals generates?
Leveraging Oil to Spur Innovation
There’s no question that the rich returns from oil and gas projects have fuelled the growth of what has become quite a beautiful city. Unique development along the river, plans for innovative, energy efficient infrastructure, investments in public transit that have built an impressive LRT line for a city of such low density.
Is Calgary doing all it can with the boon from resources to fuel the next generation of technology? To leverage present technology to design a city for the future?
Science: Meet Art
Technology advances most quickly when it engages with imagination.
How many technological advances in computing have occurred because Gene Roddenberry dreamt them up for the iconic Star Trek: TNG series? His imagination spurred the creativity of a generation of technical wizards.
So how does Calgary stack up when it comes to melding the science of technology with the art of creation?
Engagement & Inspiration
My thoughts turn first of course to Beakerhead, a mashup of epic proportions that grows in popularity year after year.
During the 5 day long event, Beakerhead volunteers take over Calgary, both inside and out, designing games, events, exhibits and even models to spur thought and discussion.
From the site: “From citywide, pop-up engineered art galleries and flame-spitting, larger-than-life public art encounters to the entertaining science of … everything, there’s something for everyone!”
Beakerhead is an event that takes over the community once a year to spur engagement in science, engineering, technology and math, and requires an small army of volunteers to make it work.
In a city filled with engineers, geologists and scientists, and a growing cadre of artists, Calgary is fertile ground for these opportunities, and energy companies make up a large portion of necessary sponsorship.
Digital Alberta: Bringing Tech to Calgary
Beyond the web design or both websites, the premise of the CAMP Festival is quite inspiring, at least for the technological and innovative-minded.
From the website: CAMP presented by Digital Alberta, celebrates creative technology, art and design … to educate, challenge and inspire.
Each day is a technological adventure, filled with lectures and workshops to help people think beyond the boundaries of today’s tech.
I mean really, the web design itself is quite an adventure. I urge you to check it out!
Calgary: What’s Next?
So what do you think? Is Calgary well positioned to leverage its past for a richer future? Or is clinging to the ups and downs of oil and gas leaving us high and dry?
Let us know in the comments below!