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 »

Storify: the #31DaysOfYEG Challenge 2016

Our annual #31DaysOfYEG challenge provides you with new ways to explore Edmonton. Photo illustration: Ally Whittaker & Arielle Demchuk.

Our annual #31DaysOfYEG challenge provides you with new ways to explore Edmonton. Photo illustration: Ally Whittaker & Arielle Demchuk.

Have you joined our #31DaysofYEG Challenge for 2016? If not, there’s still lots of time to join the fun!

If you’re looking for more inspiration to help you explore Edmonton and find its hidden gems, look no further. We’ve used Storify to create a summary of how other participants have been completing the challenges, and we’ll be updating it daily until the end of the month.

Read more »

Going beyond Sunshine Organic Farm’s market stall

In my home, we go through a lot of eggs.  Search “breakfast sandwich capital of Canada” online and the address to our downtown Edmonton apartment may be the suggested link. In our kitchen, good eggs are a necessity, not a luxury, which is how I first came to know one of the staple vendors of City Market Downtown, Sunshine Organic Farm.

Sunshine organic Farm in Alsike, AB. Photo: Elyse Williams

Sunshine Organic Farm are found weekly, year-round at the downtown farmers’ market. Photo: Elyse Williams

Open year-round, Ed and Sherry Horvath sell their organic, family-farm-raised beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs and sausages at the downtown farmers’ market. This winter, I contacted Sherry  to learn what it’s like to be a vendor at a winter market, hear some of the history of their farm, and get to know the family behind it all (you can read what I learned in this post!) During our incredibly lovely chat, Sherry generously invited me to visit them at Sunshine Organic Farm in Alsike that spring.
Read more »

The #31DaysOfYEG Challenge 2016

Are you looking for new ways to explore Edmonton and discover all the best things about this city? Take on the Local Good’s annual #31DaysofYEG Challenge for the month of July!

Our challenge?  Take some time this summer to go out of your way to engage in the city in new and different ways, and find some new favourite hidden gems. We have provided a list of 31 different ways — one for each day — for you to do just that.

You can do one challenge per day, or all 31 in one day, in numerical order or at random. The full list is posted below so you can complete the challenge in a way that works for you.

Share your experiences with us and with others on Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #31DaysofYEG, or by posting to our Facebook community forum. Remember to reference the number of the challenge you completed to help inspire other participants.

The #31DaysOfYEG challenge is back for another year! Photo: Ally Whittaker. Overlay: Arielle Demchuk.

The #31DaysOfYEG challenge is back for another year! Photo illustration: Ally Whittaker & Arielle Demchuk. 

Read more »

Sexy Men of YEG Calendar: Catching the Drift

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.

It’s a beautiful, sunny afternoon in Churchill Square, and the food trucks are lined up on 99 Street. I’m here to profile another of the businesses featured in the Sexy Men of YEG Calendar — this time it’s Drift Food Truck, featured in the 2015 calendar. Even though it’s past the lunchtime rush, there’s still a brisk business happening at the truck, and it will be a few minutes before I can speak to Kara Fenske, who, along with Nevin Fenske (a.k.a. Mr. June) owns and operates Drift. While I’m waiting, it’s time to eat!

Drift takes its place in Food Truck Alley, Churchill Square.  Photo: Erin Wallace

Drift takes its place in Food Truck Alley, Churchill Square. Photo: Cam Wallace

My trusty photographer-slash-husband and I decide to share the first item on the menu: the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich and, of course, a side of fries. The sandwich, topped with coleslaw and house pickles, looks good and tastes even better. The seasoning of the chicken is reminiscent of a pakora, and the flavour is balanced but not overwhelmed by the slaw and pickles. In my opinion, a food truck is defined by its fries, and Drift’s do not disappoint. They’re hand cut, nice and crispy, and disappear way too fast. And of course we have to try Drift’s own homemade ketchup, seasoned with ginger and cardamom.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Home Cut Fries.  Photo: Erin Wallace

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Home Cut Fries. Photo: Cam Wallace

After we eat, I am able to catch a few minutes with Kara. She and Nevin are starting to wind down from the lunch rush, but are still cheerful, friendly and energetic. With over 30 years of experience in the food industry between them, Kara and Nevin (both graduates of NAIT) have been operating Drift since they were inspired by the Portland, Ore., food truck industry back in 2011. They shop local whenever possible, and use environmentally friendly packaging. While Nevin got to represent Drift in the Sexy Men of YEG Calendar, both proprietors agree it was a good experience. Not only is the calendar supporting a worthwhile cause (the Edmonton Food Bank), “it’s great cross promotion,” says Nevin, as it brings attention to both the food bank and unique local businesses. Read more »

Collaborative spaces: Where to look for co-work space in Edmonton

Edmonton co-work space

The Mosaic Centre provides a welcoming environment to its co-work renters. Photo by David Dodge for Green Energy Futures.

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.

 So far in this series, I’ve explored spaces all over the city that emphasize collaboration and community. Most involve a variety of industries and influencers coming together under one roof, and nothing embodies this concept more than co-work spaces.

Geared towards freelancers, entrepreneurs and anyone else without a designated office space, co-work spaces have become a fixture in Edmonton since Startup Edmonton paved the way in 2009. Tenants love the flexibility, the connections with other workers and having a good reason to get out of the house. I asked the folks behind two popular co-work spaces about the unique value that they bring to the city. Read more »

Second Edmonton Resilience Festival strengthens community

When we talk about resilience, we are referring to the ability to adapt to change in a healthy and collective way. The second annual Edmonton Resilience Festival (April 29  – May 1, 2016) was a success, thanks to the Edmontonians who generously contributed a wealth of knowledge and skill sharing at Boyle Street Plaza.

The response we received to the skill-sharing workshops, conversation cafes, film screenings and a Community Connections Fair was overwhelmingly positive, and we increased both attendance numbers and ticket sales over 2015.

The goals of the Edmonton Resilience Festival are to foster a more resilient community, to inspire participants with creative ideas for relocalizing our economy and building self-sufficiency, and to share skills needed to transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. We don’t know what the future will bring, but we do know we have a strong community of people who care deeply for others, for our city and for a healthy future.

If you attended Edmonton Resilience Festival, please complete this short questionnaire before June 15th to help organizers learn from this year’s event and identify any issues we need to work on:

If you missed the festival or want to revisit it, check out our archived blog posts featuring some of the workshops, and our Storify:

Read more »