Friday, May 30, 2014

Being Edmontonian

Edmonton is a different place than it was a few years ago. I’m not sure what about a recent visit to Credo that sparked this thought but this time I noticed it. On this rainy Sunday there was a palpable confidence and enthusiasm in the air. I’m sure it’s been there for awhile but it finally hit me.

This got me thinking about what being an Edmontonian really means. I’m a born and raised one (ok…I grew up in St. Albert but come on, I’m an Edmontonian) so I think I have a pretty good perspective on the concept. Go back ten, or even five, years ago and being an Edmontonian meant being reluctant and unsure. Reluctant to speak too loudly about your home even when you liked it. Unsure about what being from here meant. But it’s changing.

Now people are defining for themselves what being an Edmontonian is and are taking every opportunity to create their own stories. Each story might include different amounts of new restaurant sampling, trail hiking or event hopping but it’s the cumulative effect of these stories that’s changing the face of this city. Citizens see this as their home.

Being a citizen of a city as opposed to just living in it, or having a home rather than just an address, means embracing it all. Much like you take and love all about your significant other, faults included, you do the same as a citizen. Life as an Edmontonian now is about embracing the whole and being ecstatic about the good.

To me it’s the internal dialogue between citizens that’s changed the most. The label of ‘Edmontonian’ feels cozy. People young and old are engaging with this city in their own ways which is generating a confidence and sense of home I’m not sure has existed since the punch above our weight times of the 1970s. Confidence is tricky to measure but you feel it on the streets, in the cafés, in the boardrooms, on social media and in conversation. It’s there and it’s growing.

It doesn’t mean all 1.2 million of us are enamoured with everything here. It does though mean that we’ll accept the bad and work at improving it because there’s so darn much good going on. As people create their own stories of living here they recognize they like, no love, being Edmontonian. And for many in this city, that’s new.

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