The Pulse: Sept. 15, 2022

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  • 22°C: Mainly sunny. Hazy. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 22. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Royal Purple: Until Sept. 18, the High Level Bridge will be lit royal purple in memory of Queen Elizabeth II. (details)

A book nook miniature of a street with people seated outside restaurants

Big interest in the world of miniatures as show and sale returns

By Brett McKay

The Miniature Enthusiasts of Edmonton (MEE) are hosting their annual show and sale in person on Sept. 18 after two years of running the event digitally.

It will be a relief to return to a live set-up, welcoming devoted miniaturists from across the region to mingle and show off their creations, said MEE workshop coordinator Tina MacDonald. The club's adaptation to online meetups and workshops is here to stay, however.

"The pandemic has actually been quite good for our club," said MacDonald. "We had a very smooth transition from face-to-face into Zoom. And we've never looked back."

Being something of a tech geek, MacDonald said she quickly transitioned her local Edmonton group's meetings and workshops online. Before long, the group was picking up new members in Calgary, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and other far-off places.

"We've expanded to include all these new people," MacDonald said of the members choosing to keep the online format going. "If we go back to in-person, they all end up dropping out of the club."

Dawn Rogal is one of those far-flung members. Her interest in miniatures grew out of her art practice of stitching three-dimensional pieces from felt, fabric, and found objects. One custom order required her to make an owl and a handful of accompanying tiny books and records. With the commission completed, Rogal kept working on making the books smaller, until her micro-library was large enough to require a shelf and eventually a doll house to store it all.

"As luck would have it, I was visiting a local hobby shop here in Saskatoon and spied a dollhouse that the proprietor was wiring for a local miniaturist. A few phone calls later, and I was on weekly Zoom meetings with several like-minded individuals across Western Canada," Rogal said.

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Headlines: Sept. 15, 2022

By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • Members of Civic Service Union 52, which represents administrative workers at the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Public Library, rallied in Churchill Square to call for pay increases in advance of contract negotiations. The union, which represents around half of unionized workers at the city, says its members haven't seen a wage increase in three years.
  • Dwayne's Home, the abandoned transitional housing complex at the corner of 102 Street and 100 Avenue, has been on fire 18 times this year, most recently the early morning of Sept. 13. Property owner ProCura has appealed a recent order to increase its security after investigations by the city's Community Property Safety Team (CPST) concluded the property is "a significant risk to the public." ProCura has also applied for a demolition permit, which the city is reviewing. Coun. Anne Stevenson said fire services has been monitoring the property closely and that the city's recent rezoning of the site allows for a new multi-unit residential building up to six storeys. "The best case scenario is that this property is redeveloped into an active, vibrant space, and I really want that to happen as soon as possible," she said.
  • The province decided there will be no public holiday for Queen Elizabeth II's funeral on Monday, Sept. 19, instead declaring a "day of mourning." An outdoor ceremony will take place at the legislature starting at 10am, which will also be livestreamed. Edmonton Public Schools said it will observe a moment of silence when the ceremony starts.
  • Erick Ambtman, vice chair of the Edmonton Police Commission, has been elected to the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Police Governance for a two-year term.
  • A piece by Matthew James Weigel called The Magpie and the Buffalo Treaty has been unveiled at the EPCOR ambient air quality monitoring station in Gold Bar Park. It depicts what used to be a symbiotic relationship between the two species, Weigel told Windspeaker. "And now, of course, buffalo do not cross the river here at this place like they have … The magpies are here waiting for the buffalo to return," he said. "I feel there's definitely a connection there with the magpies remembering and maintaining their presence here, waiting for the buffalo."
  • Damien Starrett, a man convicted of killing his infant son, was given a three-month sentence reduction partly because a judged ruled he was the "victim of state misconduct" at the Edmonton Remand Centre. Unnamed guards had told Starrett to kill himself, incited violence against him, and took other actions the judge ruled to be in "gross violation of their duty to protect all prisoners." Criminal defence attorney Shawn King said he hears on a "regular basis" from clients about abuse, including physical assault, at the Remand and other facilities but that it's hard to prove in court.
  • The Edmonton Elks have signed quarterback Taylor Cornelius to a two-year extension through to 2024. Born in Texas and seasoned at Oklahoma State, Taylor is a "young up-and-coming quarterback" who is "trending in the right direction," according the team's assistant general manager.
  • The Edmonton Pro Rodeo is happening at the Edmonton EXPO Centre on Sept. 23 and 24, run by Explore Edmonton and the Indigenous-owned company C5 Rodeo. The event is a qualifier for the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer from Nov. 2-6.
  • Albertans over the age of 18 can start booking their bivalent COVID-19 booster shots beginning Sept. 21, with vaccinations beginning the same day. To be eligible, you must have received all primary vaccinations and gotten your last shot five or more months ago.
Taproot Edmonton's Bloom podcast, brought to you by Innovate Edmonton

Founder aims to shorten 'trough of sorrow' for others

By Karen Unland

Episode 29 of Bloom features an interview with Sheldon Zhang about his exit from Yardly, the lawn-care and snow-removal company he and co-founder Terry Song started in 2015.

When he quit his engineering job to work full-time on Yardly, he had high expectations, he said. But he soon realized it was going to be very difficult to scale this kind of business to the size they originally had in mind.

"We started to learn some of the limitations with the industry, with the way seasonality works, how things are different from each city," he said. "It's never going to pan out to the size of business that we originally anticipated."

They restructured Yardly to "run more like a business, less like a tech startup," he said. "And we became significantly more profitable in Year 6. We just wish that we could have made some of the changes earlier on."

No one can go back in time to apply such lessons. But Zhang is looking forward to helping other early-stage founders "shorten the trough of sorrow" through a side project called Zalis Ventures, before he leaps back into startup mode in the fintech space.

"It's not just about building fancy tech and getting lots of investment, and growth at all costs," he said. "When you accept the fact that every startup is essentially a business, and you have to run it a certain way to operate sustainably, all of a sudden, a lot of things became very easy for us. I wish that I had learned that earlier."

The Sept. 15 episode also takes a look at the next cohort for the Community Safety and Wellness Accelerator, kudos for Growing Greener Innovations and Copperstone Technologies, and attention for Scam Detector.