Make Something Small

Scott Francis Winder is a serial entrepreneur in Edmonton. He has started several companies, in several realms, and saves time for social and philanthropic initiatives. Today he is a principal in Sticks & Stones, a marketing agency. This week we met at one of the city’s fine new restaurants to talk about Make Something Edmonton.

It was a small, elegant, unpretentious restaurant on 124th Street.

Mr. Winder believes in the Broken Windows Theory: the sorts of things we don’t want in our city, crime and vandalism and littering and ugliness, begin with small acts. The theory, first published in 1982, is not only important for criminology.

The contrary of broken windows are freshly painted windows, adorned with art or flower boxes. The more beauty we see, the more joy we feel in our neighbourhoods, the more fun, more philanthropy, more creativity, has the opposite effect. We act and think differently about where we live and our role in keeping it beautiful, fun, caring, strange, profitable.

Last month, Mr. Winder published an article about retail space. For entrepreneurs with good ideas, 600 square feet might be a better first step that 2,000 square feet. It might encourage them to take the risk instead of merely talking about it. The restaurant we were in was small. It was memorable. Spaces and city policies that encourage, rather than get in the way of small spaces and small acts, have to be part of Make Something Edmonton.

When we talk about creating rather than simply consuming culture, we talk about small acts. There are fewer barriers, financial and psychological.

This is always obvious at the Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair, a sort of Edmonton-in-a-box.

The Royal Bison

The Royal Bison

If Make Something Edmonton is about anything, it is about making creators out of as many people as possible.

One thousand small projects across the city would be much more powerful than five massive ones. What’s your broken window? Go put flowers on it, in your own way. Mr. Winder wanted to remind us all that small acts, born out of our special talents, obsessions, skills, ideas and creativity, are the source of everything we’re most proud of in Edmonton. Even the big things, events, companies and initiatives started small, around kitchen tables just like yours.

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4 thoughts on “Make Something Small

  1. Small acts and projects are the signature of a unique place. It might be restating your point in my own words, but It just dawned on me! I also think it finally puts to words what I couldnt before when I try to explain what propelled the birth of my current project.

  2. The person who made Royal Bison moved away in part because he hit the ceiling of his profession here. This is the same story for many other creative ‘makers.’ Things can be made in Edmonton, but it’s often difficult to ‘make’ a fulfilling career in a creative industry (regardless of your talent).

    • He’s an illustrator. He works for publications. Montreal is a small market, at least for English language work. He sells prints through Etsy. Montreal may be closer to Toronto and New York, but its English language market is smaller than Edmonton’s. I’m not sure that was a ‘profession ceiling’ issue. But you’re right. Only a million people live here. Once it’s ready, you have to take your product to the world. This is what the people at Theatre Edmonton are talking about: this could be a great city to incubate marvellous work to take – when it’s ready – to larger theatre markets.

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