- From a tourism perspective, this experience has changed how I think of Saskatoon. I've always thought of it as the urban centre we go through on the way to Kamsack, my hometown in the east central part of the province. I couldn't imagine Saskatoon as a destination, a place to bring my family just for the fun of it. Thanks to the study tours, particularly the Meewasin Valley experience, I can easily imagine it now.
- The social media session to close out the final day was excellent. The room, packed to the gills with practitioners from both ends of the social media spectrum, was twittering with excitement as Mayors Jeff McConnell (@virdenmayor), Madeleine Redfern (@MayorMadeleine) and Brad Woodside (@BradWoodside) shared their thoughts on the subject. What was great about the discussion is that they each had a slightly different approach to integrating Twitter and Facebook into their communication practice, once in awhile taking a distinct alternate position, but doing so respectfully. It was fascinating to feel the undercurrent of resentment, frustration and bitterness in some of the delegates. This transition is still settling in for many.
- I wasn't going to stick around for the plenary session where we vote on a series of resolutions, but I'm glad I did. It was inspiring to see the passion and knowledge of the delegates who spoke up on a broad set of resolutions meant to influence government policy. It was also fun to watch the process of putting democracy into action.
- One of the high points of the FCM conference was the performance by the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble at the gala banquet on Sunday night. At our table, we were trying to identify the various cultures being represented in the outstanding choreography, as they were successfully celebrating the cultural mosaic that defines Saskatoon. The room of 2000 rose to their feet in unison as the ensemble seamlessly launched into a rousing rendition of O Canada. The hairs on the back of my neck were also standing up.
- It takes all kinds of people to make up a conference: young people, old people, happy people, grumpy people, all kinds of people people! I loved it. Conversations were easily and instantly started with the requisite question of "Where are you from?" quickly followed by "How big is your Council?" and "How are things going in (fill in the blank with the answer to the first question)?" From there the conversations went to amazing and interesting places. I particularly enjoyed connecting with Alberta colleagues and social media associates Deputy Mayor North Darling (Peace River) and Counciller Sean McIntyre (Sylvan Lake).
- Port Coquitlam CAO Barry Becker sat next to me on the recreation and leisure tours to the SaskTel and Shaw Centres. We hit it off right away and enjoyed a great conversation. As I was boarding the plane on Monday afternoon to head home, the seat next to me was empty, till Barry came along to fill it. The universe is so interesting. I'm still trying to figure out if there is a dotted line between Barry's family and mine, as there are some Beckers (I believe) on our family tree.
- Port Alberni Councillor Cindy Solda sat at our table during the gala banquet. As soon as she said where she was from I knew we had something in common - one of her colleagues, who passed away last year, was a former boss of mine from my CJAV radio days. From there we discovered that we were both avid thespians, and have a common history of producing concerts and special events. We were two peas in a pod sharing tale after tale, while an über-bearded Jay Semko (Northern Pikes) entertained from the stage.
- I had it in my head that I needed to bump into Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi during the convention. Even though we come from the same province and follow each other on social media, we hadn't had occasion to meet previously, and I needed to talk to him about something. One morning he was standing with a group of people chatting and it didn't feel like the right time to butt in, so I kept my distance. Not 30 minutes later he joined our group for the urban spaces walking tour of the downtown. Once again, the universe worked her magic and we were able to have a nice visit while admiring street lights, benches and poster boards.
- Twitter matters. Simply said, but a growing reality as more and more political leaders get on the social media train. It was great to connect, follow and be followed by colleagues from across the country. Thanks!
- I got a new iPhone the day I left for the conference. So, in between speakers and while traveling to various places on the study tours, I slowly began figuring out how to use it. I've always enjoyed seeing Instagram images that get posted on Facebook. So, I downloaded that free app and began capturing a few images of Saskatoon. These are a few of my favourites to close out this blog post.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
FCM Top 10
Now that the dust has settled on the whirlwind trip home from the FCM conference in Saskatoon, I'm back to my quotidian life in Fort McMurray. Sitting at my laptop in my study/walk-in closet with a soft cool breeze blowing in from the window, cracked open just enough to make wearing a bunny hug (Saskatchewan speak for hoodie) exactly perfect, I thought it would be fun to grab 10 things that jump out as outstanding memories of my experience back to the community of my early adult life. (I lived in the City of Bridges from 1985 to 1989)