Explaining my Edmonton Experiment

A city is a city is a city. Supposedly. Cities all have politics and infrastructure and events and people, and cities of similar sizes have comparable restaurants, stores and opportunities. In theory, at least.

But when I decided it was time to leave Lloydminster (after taking a job there once I’d graduated), I had two choices: go back to Calgary, where I was born, raised and had a network of family and friends, or go back to Edmonton, where I had spent two summers in internship positions and had a little familiarity with the city.

Clearly, I chose Edmonton.

But even 13 months later (21 if you count the two summers), there is still a lot about this city I don’t know. Historical incidents and influential people may sound familiar to me, but the full context still needs to be explained. Google Maps is still my best friend, and not just because I’m directionally challenged. There are a lot of places in this city I don’t know.So this is my Experience: Edmonton project. Or my Edmonton Experiment. I offer both because the social media hashtag I plan to use, #ExpEdm, is open to a little interpretation.

Shortly after hatching this plan, Paula Simons at the Edmonton Journal challenged Edmontonians to go on a #yegquest — explore part of the city that they’ve never seen before. For me, sometimes that’s something as simple as trying to find a hairdresser.

As I’ve been working on this since late June (technically my one-year anniversary in the city) I had to think back to how I experienced this city when I first moved here three years ago for a summer internship. Moving back and forth has put me in a slightly weird position — even though I’m still a non-native Edmontonian, my experiences aren’t the same as three years ago. For instance, now my ears perk up when I hear the family name “Hole” and I am still totally in love with the river valley. I also now have a small group of friends to convince into coming to an event with me, instead of doing it on my own.

But I’m still really excited. I explore this city because I didn’t grow up here in a specific comfort zone. If there’s something that intrigues me halfway across the city, I’m going to get there. I’m also a little thrilled to discover that some of the experiences that I want to blog about (things that I did two or three summers ago) are things that friends born and raised here haven’t done.

So I think this might be good. It’s an experiment, right?