Since I wrote about a Make Something Edmonton campaign, as a way to celebrate, discover, and enunciate Edmonton’s identity, provocative readers have asked: how the hell would it work? You can’t just ask for ideas. That’s all you’ll get. We don’t have a salaried army of people out there shepherding ideas to reality, at least not in any focused way. How does a busy citizen with a job or a family Make Something Edmonton?
The first answer is: you’re already doing it. First of all, you’re reading a nerdy post about Edmonton’s story. You’ve started a company, you’re working in the public sector, you’re a student or a blogger or a playwright or a plumber who volunteers at the community league. If all you do is talk about Edmonton in a different way, and share some of those stunning pictures of the Northern Lights, you’re contributing.
If you have the courage to make something, Edmonton is your city.
So what can a regular person do, today? What are you making?
When the trams in Strasbourg arrive at a station, a recording comes on. This happens in public transit all over the world: a robot voice says the name of the station. But in Strasbourg, when you approach a station — say, Place Broglie — a short bit of music will play. The music is different at each station.
It is not good music. There is a “dude with a synthesizer” quality about it.
What is the Edmonton version of this?
We commission local musicians to create eight-second signature songs for each station. A classical music composer like John Estacio could create something for Churchill Station, as it’s across from the Winspear Centre. Tommy Banks, who has a performance history in the core, could write one for Bay or Corona. The Northern Cree Singers could make the Century Park stop. Colleen Brown could do Central. Corb Lund and Mitchmatic and Shout Out Out Out Out and Ann Vriend and the Be Arthurs and Christian Hansen and the Autistics are other suspects. It isn’t my decision. All of the above were taken from suggestions on Twitter: that is, from Edmontonians.
If I were to tell Edmontonians who the musicians ought to be, it wouldn’t work. We would need 15 songs for the moment. Soon, when the NAIT line is finished, 18. We’ll find a way to include you in the selection process. Not everyone is on Twitter.
John Mahon, executive director of the Edmonton Arts Council and a fine musician himself, suggested eight second songs instead of five or ten seconds. Again, Edmonton being Edmonton, he offered to help immediately. We refined the idea and presented it to Edmonton Transit. There’s the question of finding money and recording the songs and working out a quality control system, so they sound marvellous. But it’s not a maybe thing. It’s going to happen.
I should say friends from Toronto and Vancouver contacted me about the idea, when they saw it on Twitter. By the end of the conversations, they were more or less sure it couldn’t happen in their cities: too controversial, too much bureaucracy.
What if we had fifty Make Something Edmonton projects? Not simply in the arts realm but in every realm? Attached to a story about Edmonton that happens to be true?