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.
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.