Meshwest Edmonton

Meshwest
Meshwest in Edmonton

Yesterday I attended the Meshwest conference in Edmonton. Meshwest is a uniquely Canadian tech conference, birthed out of the Mesh conference in Toronto.

I think it’s a great conference, with a great concept. It’s biggest challenge is that most folks in Edmonton didn’t know about it, or understand what it was about, or who it was for.

What the hell is Mesh?

Mike McDerment, one of the organizers, compared Mesh to the TED talks: find the most interesting Canadians involved in technology and put them on stage. However, instead of delivering a keynote speech, the speakers are made accessible to the audience, who can start asking questions almost immediately. A moderator kicks things off with interview questions, but the best “Mesh moments” occur when the audience interacts with the speaker directly (or asks questions via Twitter). While a panel isn’t as dramatic as a keynote talk, the interaction between the host, the speaker and the audience is much more valuable.

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If you’re from Edmonton, you’ll remember Happy Pop soda

Happy Pop soda bottle Edmonton, Alberta, 1983
Happy Pop bottle, circa 1983. Image courtesy of the collection of C.A. Weide. http://ca-yd.com

Happy Pop was a huge part of my childhood. Like many others in the Edmonton area, my family would go and pick up a crate of the brightly colored sodas every month or so.

The odd thing about cultural artifacts from the 80’s: you can’t find them on the internet! Search “Happy Pop” in Google Images and you’ll get pictures of Lanvin purses; but no shots of a Happy Pop soda bottle.

I’d searched everywhere; until one day I found Chris Weides’ website.  Chris, who is from the USA, has a huge collection of pop bottles.  I saw that he had a Happy Pop bottle in his collection and asked him if he could send it to me.

So here they are, the only photos I could find of Happy Pop on the internet!

Update: I just found a copy of the Happy Pop logo on Canada’s Trademark Database.

James Jones rocks CTV

James Jones dancing on CTV So You Thin You Can DanceMy friend Gregg mentioned to me yesterday that he saw a young guy on “So You Think You Can Dance Canada?” that I might know.

In 1999, my friends Adrian, Garner and I ran a drop-in hip hop club in Edmonton’s city center. It was called the “First Element Hip Hop Club.” We started with any empty church hall, a PA system, and the desire to create a place for kids to come and break, scratch, and freestyle.

Well, I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but word spread and soon we had 20-30 people coming every week. We taught basic breakin’ moves to whoever showed up, but we also had some really incredible dancers show up.

James Jones was one of those guys. He was one of the handful of kids that showed up from north east Edmonton. And he is an unbelievable bboy.

Well, on September 18th, 2008 he appeared on “So You Think You Can Dance” and charmed the judges. He’s off to Toronto for the competition. It was really cool for me to watch the clip; he’s got a great spirit.

Watch his audition on CTV here.

More info on First Element

I just found this on an old VHS tape, and converted it to digital.

In 1999, my friends Adrian, Garner and I ran the “First Element” club in Edmonton’s city center.

It ended up being a “meeting place” for many of e-town’s hip-hop heads.

Folks you might recognize:

Curtis Santiago (formerly of the Hi-Phoniqs):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_Santiago

James Jones (So You Think You Can Dance):
http://www.facebook.com/bboyjj

Short Top (MC & DJ in Edmonton’s Hip Hop community)
http://www.reverbnation.com/shortop