People of Green Drinks: Tara Russell

Since we meet so many cool people at Green Drinks, we decided to start interviewing some of them. For this edition, we talked to Tara Russell, who we met at Green Drinks: Good Business. Originally from Vancouver, she’s a long-time lover of the outdoors and is currently putting that passion to work as a Conservation Assistant at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)

Our next event is Green Drinks: Green Economy on March 1. Hope to see you there!


Hi Tara! How long have you lived in Edmonton?

Three and a half years, and I love it!


Was this your first Green Drinks? If so, why did you decide to come? If not, how many have you been to?

It was my second! I went to my first Green Drinks not long after I had moved to Edmonton, and it is actually how I ended up in my current job. I met Alison Ronson, the executive director for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Northern Alberta Chapter (CPAWS). We went out for a coffee a week or so later, and I started volunteering for CPAWS. That was more than 2 years ago, and I am now a full time employee.

I love Green Drinks, the people are incredible and inspiring and it is a really phenomenal way to connect with our community.


What were you at Green Drinks to tell people about? (i.e. what’s your big idea / project / company / interest?)

This last time I was at Green Drinks was to tell the people about CPAWS and the work that we are doing. I get really excited about the way we go about achieving our conservation goals. CPAWS Northern Alberta works to protect Alberta’s wilderness and wildlife on public lands (60% of Alberta is publicly owned), and all of our work is science-based, and collaborative. CPAWS also strives to reach out to the Northern Alberta community and to educate the public on the threats facing our wilderness.

One of our big projects right now is our #loveyourheadwaters campaign. CPAWS, in collaboration with the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative, is working to protect the Bighorn Backcountry. The Bighorn Backcountry is home to the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River, and provides Edmonton with almost 90% of its drinking water, yet it is unprotected, and threatened by industry, and irresponsible recreation. We are going to change that!

My main project (because they are so cute and fuzzy) is working to help Alberta’s threatened boreal woodland caribou. We are at risk of losing the caribou here in Alberta in our lifetime if nothing changes in the way we use and manage our wild landscapes. Caribou are an iconic Canadian species (they are even on our quarter) as well as indicators of boreal forest health. But don’t worry, there is still time to save them!
Check out our caribou campaign page and read our publication, “Alberta’s Caribou: A Guide to Range Planning” to see CPAWS’ plan for their recovery.


Who’s the most interesting person you met at Green Drinks? (i.e. who should we interview next?)

Tad Hargrave! He was fascinating, and seemed to be involved in so many aspects of the Edmonton community, from working with the Local Good to performing with Rapid Fire Theatre.


What do you do for work right now?

CPAWS is the non-profit conservation organization I work for, and everyday we get to do amazing science-based work that furthers the protection of wilderness and wildlife in Alberta. As someone who loves to be outside and on an adventure, it is so incredible to get to work everyday to protect the wild spaces that I love. We are so fortunate to have amazing wilderness still left in Alberta, I hope that through our work we have the chance to keep it for the future.


Can you tell us one nerdy, quirky or interesting fact about yourself?

I have a vegetable garden plot in my neighbourhood community garden! I love it, and am learning a lot about growing my own food. My garden teaches me something new every year. This year I learned the value of staggering your planting, and what to do with 10 kilograms of green beans all at once.  


If you could instantly change one thing about Edmonton, or add something we don’t have, what would it be? Is there something you’ve seen in another city that you wish was in Edmonton?

I love Edmonton! It has an incredible river valley, cute and quirky neighbourhoods, a resiliency you are hard pressed to find elsewhere, and all sorts of hidden gems. However, I still meet people that live here that say they hate it, or meet people from elsewhere that do not understand why I like living here. I wish we could change the way that Edmonton is perceived. It is a fabulous city to live in, and filled with awesome people!  

Want to learn more about the Northern Alberta chapter of CPAWS? Check out and connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Click here to get your Green Drinks tickets

People of Green Drinks: Darren Proulx

Since we meet so many cool people at Green Drinks, we decided to start interviewing some of them. In this instalment, we talked to Darren Proulx, who was at our last event, Green Drinks: Good Business. He’s a passionate urbanist, who studies how we can make cities better for everyone, regardless of how they choose to get around, through his work at Slow Streets.

Our next event is Green Drinks: Habitat on February 1. If you’re interested in what Darren has to say in this interview, then our Habitat theme is right up your alley. Hope to see you there! 


Hi Darren! How long have you lived in Edmonton?

I was born and raised in Edmonton. I lived here for 24 years and moved away to Calgary for work for 2 years, then Vancouver for a Masters in Urban Studies and work for 4 years. I recently returned to Edmonton.


Was Good Business your first Green Drinks? If so, why did you decide to come? If not, how many have you been to?

I have been to two Green Drinks. I came because I wanted to meet passionate people doing great things to improve the city and this seemed like a good place to do so. I was not let down.


What were you at Green Drinks to tell people about? (i.e. what’s your big idea / project / interest?)

I am extremely passionate about building great cities for people regardless of how they get around. Edmonton is a city that was originally built very walkable around a street car system, but after the 1950s planners started redesigning the city around moving large volumes of vehicles through quickly. Redesigning the city around the car included removing curbside trees, shrinking sidewalks and replacing fine grain retail businesses with parking lots. This was all to the detriment of the comfort and safety of people walking, cycling or using transit. If you want people to choose to walk, cycle or use transit you have to make it inviting. When we design cities around cars everyone loses, including people who drive; when you design cities around people everyone wins, including people who drive. You cannot design cities that move vehicles through quickly and still have a great city for people with a great sidewalk or public space environment. Through Slow Streets, I conduct observational research to show how people use and react to street designs, public spaces, and the built form, and use this to recommend design solutions.


Who’s the most interesting person you met at Green Drinks? (i.e. who should we interview next?)

I met Daria Nordell who is the director of the U of A Student Design Association. She seems to be up to some interesting initiatives, when I was chatting with her she was planning a design show downtown.


What do you do for work right now?

I’m a Transit Planning Engineer with the City of Edmonton


Can you tell us one nerdy, quirky or interesting fact about yourself?

I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. As part of 6 years of training I had to break two bricks with my hand, do wall kicks, flying side kicks, and cat rolls over five people!


If you could instantly change one thing about Edmonton, or add something we don’t have, what would it be? Is there something you’ve seen in another city that you wish was in Edmonton?

I would like to see the city move towards an evidence-based Lighter, Quicker and Cost Effective (LQC) or tactical urbanism approach to city building. Often cities tend to treat transportation and congestion as a hard science like chemistry with absolute results however, since it is ultimately people who are driving cars, transportation is more of a social science. This means that congestion is not an absolute given, and the transportation results you get are the direct result of transportation and land use policies and decisions.

An LQC approach is more concerned about achieving and measuring results right now, using cost-effective materials rather than guessing and waiting years for funding. Cities of all sizes and climates (yes, including ones with cold winters) like Calgary, Chicago, Seattle, New York City, Macon and Nashville all demonstrate that it is feasible to implement projects such as protected bike lanes, parking to parklets conversions, street redesigns, pavement to plaza conversions, food truck pods and temporary public space activators and measure the impact through rigorous data collection and analysis. Edmonton has certainly been making great strides towards a quicker, lighter implementation approach with patios, cycling parking corrals, parklets and the new minimum grid of protected cycling lanes downtown. These projects allow people to use and experience new designs and make a more informed decision rather than relying on one-dimensional drawings or abstract concepts if they have never seen it before. Improvement still needs to be done on analyzing the impacts of design changes. How can you determine if you are generating the best return on public investments from a street design change without analyzing the impacts to businesses and user behaviours?

Want to learn more about Darren? Check out and connect with him on Twitter.

Click here to get your Green Drinks tickets

People of Green Drinks: Lindsey Locke

Since we meet so many cool people at Green Drinks, we decided to start interviewing some of them. To start off, we talked to the multitalented and always fascinating Lindsey Locke after our last event, Green Drinks: Good Business. Next up is Green Drinks: Habitat on February 1. Hope to see you there! 


Hi Lindsey! How long have you lived in Edmonton?

I have lived in Edmonton since October 2014, so just over two years!


Was Good Business your first Green Drinks? If so, why did you decide to come? If not, how many have you been to?

My very first Green Drinks was in the spring of 2015… I believe it was about local food! I went because, as a newcomer to Edmonton, I wanted to meet new people who enjoyed community-minded initiatives. I’ll be honest, I initially thought there were going to be green smoothies!


What were you at Green Drinks to tell people about? 

When I first attended Green Drinks, I was eager to tell people about a couple of things happening in Edmonton:

The Vegans & Vegetarians of Alberta. We organize and put on events throughout the year to showcase plant-based lifestyles, including Veganuary, March Meat-Out, and Vegtoberfest. A highlight each year is the day that they get to take over the Sip ‘n Savour tent at Taste of Edmonton, where there have been cook-offs, kids activities, and mini-markets. I believe that there are important aspects of a vegan & vegetarian lifestyle that prove to be more sustainable and easier on the environment, which ties into Green Drinks quite nicely!

Change of Clothes. It’s an Edmonton-based (for now) initiative that brings light to ethical, sustainable fashion. I recall the Green Drinks that was called “Greening Out Your Closet”, where I experienced a clothing swap for the first time and brainstormed part of Change of Clothes with Flatter:Me Belts’ Claire Theaker-Brown. It was amazing how an activity so fun and simple could be so sustainable. A few aspects of this particular Green Drinks inspired some of the activities at Change of Clothes (ie. clothes swap, speakers). We had our first event in June of 2015 and our second event in April of 2016. We hope to have our third event sometime soon, ideally showcasing the ethical fashion documentary, The True Cost.

Flash-forward to now and you will notice that my vision has changed since the beginning…
In December 2016, I became a 200HR Yoga Teacher. Over the holidays, I organized an event called “Flow for the SPCA,” where venues provided their space at no charge and all classes were by donation. With the help of the community, I was able to raise over $400 for the Medicine Hat SPCA. I hope to return to Green Drinks in the future, pitching various yoga fundraiser ideas. Stay tuned!


Who’s the most interesting person you met at the last Green Drinks? (i.e. who should we interview next?)

Kurtis Ewanchuk is a pretty interesting fella! I haven’t talked with him much outside of Green Drinks, but he is a notable character who knows a thing or two about permaculture!


What do you do for work right now?

I have a few things going on right now, actually! I do freelance photography, writing, and social media under Lindsey Catherine Photo + Media, I am an aspiring yoga teacher under Lindsey Catherine Yoga, and I work full-time as a marketer/writer (this is currently in a transition period, so I can’t tell you much else about that right now!)


Can you tell us one nerdy, quirky or interesting fact about yourself?

I am currently taking some DJ lessons through Night Vision! I love to learn new skills whenever possible, and this is a great way to keep the creativity flowing! I’m not sure what I will end up doing with it, but I’m having a blast along the way… Yoga DJ maybe?!


If you could instantly change one thing about Edmonton, or add something we don’t have, what would it be? Is there something you’ve seen in another city that you wish was in Edmonton?

If I could instantly change one thing about Edmonton, it would be to have more efficient ways to get from point A to B. I used to live in Calgary and I found that there were so many main routes (ie. Memorial, Crowfoot), which made driving around the city a breeze. As well, it would be nice to see more designated bike routes along the main roads to make for easier commuting. It seems as though I hear horror stories every week or so from my biking friends (especially in the summertime). I feel most confident biking on the sidewalk, but I understand that’s discouraged by the authorities.

Want to learn more about Lindsey Locke? Her websites are and She’s on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and she posts about yoga on Facebook and Instagram too.

Lindsey Locke

Storify: Green Drinks Edmonton celebrates Good Business

Attendees networking at Green Drinks Edmonton: Good Business. Photo: Laurice Block.

Attendees networking at Green Drinks Edmonton: Good Business. Photo: Laurice Block.

On November 2nd, 2016, Green Drinks Edmonton: Good Business featured local businesses that set an example for others through sustainable and ethical practices, making and sourcing products locally, or being good community members:

Read more »

Storify: Cash Mob Edmonton’s Coffee Week 2016 Tour

Cash Mob Edmonton Coffee Tour 2016. Photo: Advantage Photography.

Cash Mob Edmonton Coffee Tour 2016. Photo: Advantage Photography.

For YEG Coffee Week 2016, Cash Mob Edmonton organized a tour of downtown’s vibrant local coffee scene:

  • Coffee Bureau explained the unique equipment they use to pull their espressos, how their building helps them tell their story and what makes their bean (locally roasted Ace Coffee) truly unique in Canada’s coffee world.
  • Earth’s General Store told us about their new Nitro coffee (coffee infused with nitrogen), their roasting process and their passion for ethically sourced beans.
  • Transcend Cafe told us about their incredible journey over the past decade in sourcing and bringing unique and sustainable coffee to Edmonton. 
  • Lock Stock Coffee gave us a taste of their century-old, Italy-roasted coffee bean and their house-made pastries, and explained how they transform from a bar to a cafe every day.
  • District Cafe and Bakery went from a hidden gem to a downtown hotspot in just over two years. Now, the freshly renovated shop features a full brunch menu, beer taps and room for dozens to stop in for their daily cup.

Read on for a Storify summary of the tour, then hop over to the Cash Mob Edmonton Facebook group for more photos taken on the tour, and announcements of future Cash Mobs!

Read more »

Signs of the Times at the Neon Sign Museum

As you walk along 104 Street on a pleasant summer evening, you wouldn’t expect to encounter a museum. But a block south of the new arena, affixed to the side of a nondescript building, the Neon Sign Museum has been growing since 2002. Brought into being through a partnership between the City of Edmonton, the Alberta Sign Association, Telus, the Downtown Business Association and The Places, the museum is resurrecting pieces of the city’s past; it’s a way to hang on to our history in the face of a rapidly-changing city.

One of the oldest signs on display is also the most eye-catching. Large and rectangular, with flashing yellow lights around its edge, the Pantages Theatre sign hasn’t moved far from its original location on Jasper Avenue. Read more »

Collaborative Spaces: Co-working for makers in Edmonton

co-working for makers

MINBID’s gallery in Vacancy Hall. Photo courtesy of Marcus Coldeway.

This is a city where creativity and community go hand in hand. In this series, I’m exploring the local businesses and spaces whose collaborative natures make them more than the sum of their parts.

After exploring the world of co-work office spaces in my last post, I decided to turn my attention to co-working spaces aimed specifically at makers. Creative people have long been sharing space to help cover costs and build community and the idea is expanding. Here in Edmonton, Harcout House has been a longtime resource for artists and the much newer Vacancy Hall provides similar support to makers of all kinds.

I spoke with several tenants in shared spaces about the community and connection that they find in these spaces. These include Edmund Haakonson, artist and tenant at Harcourt House since 1996, Justin Falconer of Sink or Swim and Edmonton in a Box, Vacancy Hall tenant since November 2015, Marcus Coldeway of MINBID, Vacancy Hall tenant since February 2016, and Erinn Trebaczkiewicz of Shop the Skinny, Vacancy Hall tenant since August 2016.

What made you decide to become a studio tenant?

Edmund: In the spring of 1996 I was sharing a studio space downtown with another artist. A fight erupted over the studio and how I was “allowed” to use it, I lost that fight and was forced to move out. I was without a studio for 3 months when a space at Harcourt House became available. Moving my studio to Harcourt House turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Justin: I just really love the space, building, and atmosphere. So many great tenants and a great location in the exciting development of downtown. Such a good place to be headquartered.

Marcus: MINBID Art Auctions had been doing pop up art auctions in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver since Aug 2013. We had reached the point where we required a full time space to deal with the capacity and logistics of selling art year round. Marcus Coldeway (me), team leader and visionary of MINBID saw the pop up rental studios in Vacancy Hall as the future for MINBID. Vacancy Hall is a “super space” for us in the sense that it allows us to own and pay for a small footprint but get access to all that the Mercer Warehouse has to offer, including Vacancy Hall. This means being able to host our events and art auctions but also being directly connected to one of the, if not “the hottest” building for startups and entrepreneurs in YEGDT and possibly in all of Alberta. 

Erinn: With The Skinny starting out originally as just an online shop, I was finding many local Edmontonians reaching out and asking to pop by my house for local pickup to save on shipping costs (which I could totally understand), however with that increasing to pop-by’s every day I noticed a need for a local spot and Vacancy Hall was the perfect fit for that! It also allows me to showcase new items before putting them online (a bonus for my locals!) and for the tradition shopper to pop in and see the items in person. It has increased my local sales immensely, both online and in shop. Read more »

Sexy Men of YEG calendar: Permaculture and Pure Mangalitsas

This is part of a series profiling the businesses involved in the Sexy Men of YEG Food calendars, which feature photos of local coffee roasters, and food truck and restaurant owners. The proceeds from the calendar, now in its second year, benefit the Edmonton Food Bank.

As a born-and-raised city kid, I had certain expectations about pigs and pig farms — a barn, some pigs, maybe some chickens? Pretty straightforward. But my assumptions were about to be seriously and impressively challenged when I met with Tyler Parker, Mr. July 2016 , to talk about Mangalitsas, the unusual breed of pigs he raises. 

After a little bit of confusion on the country roads, my little group (myself, my husband-slash-photographer and my adventure-loving sister-in-law) pulled into the driveway of the farm. It was not what I expected — there was no huge, industrial barn, for one thing. We were greeted at first by a friendly farm dog, and then by Malorie Aubé, Tyler’s wife. While Tyler was featured in the Sexy Men of YEG Calendar, he was busy working on fencing, so Malorie took some time to meet with us. We were invited into Malorie and Tyler’s home to talk about their farm, the family and the Mangalitsas. Read more »

Lifelong Sabor duo builds YEG restaurant empire

Crystal Carwin Lee (@crystalcarwin) loves food, so she is working her way through the best places to eat or drink in Edmonton. Profiles will be posted on TLG, and you can find her review of SABOR Restaurant on her own blog.

Co-owners Chef Lino Oliveira and Christian Mena at Sabor. <em>Photo: Jamie Tweedy.</em>

Co-owners Chef Lino Oliveira and Christian Mena at Sabor. Photo courtesy Jamie Tweedy

When SABOR Restaurant opened its doors in 2008, I had been working downtown for about a year. For the life of me, I cannot recall what previously stood in its place on the boardwalk of 103 Street and 102 Avenue. SABOR has ingrained itself so strongly within the community that it feels like it has existed in that space for a much longer period of time. 

That, to me, is a sign that co-owners Christian Mena and chef Lino Oliveira have done their due diligence and really carved out their niche in this city. The duo has created a memorable fusion of Portuguese, Iberian and Mediterranean flavours with a focus on seafood made right. Marry the food with the intimate atmosphere and live music (occasionally at the courtesy of Christian) every Wednesday to Sunday, and SABOR becomes a top destination to relax and unwind with friends and loved ones for an evening.

After going to the restaurant as a patron for a number of years, I finally had a chance to learn more about the pair who make SABOR run smoothly day-to-day. From our conversation, Christian’s and Lino’s passionate answers clearly convey nothing but love for what they do.

Read more »