Three emails for Calgary

  • December 5, 2012

First email:  Short, sweet to the point.  Here we go…

Yo, Nancy!

Date: March 20 and 21st in the Municipal building for a booth display.  Sure, it’s a little tongue in cheek, but considering 3 Things is a large part of the reason I’m there, if #3ThingsYYC is not represented I’d feel somewhat upset.  Deal?

Second email:  A little more meandering, actual substance and background explanation.  Still may not make sense in a #Dorkasaurus kind of way.  (“May?“  Just skip to the third one for actual substance.)

My Dearest Nancy, see what you get me dragged into?  Ooooh, how I long for the days of sitting on a couch, drinking a case of beer every night while the hockey game is on, pretending the world would get by just fine without me.  Now look what happened:  Hockey’s cancelled because I’m not watching it anymore, beer sales are in the toilet instead of just the beer itself, and I’m walking around my community pretending I’m making a difference.

Well, I’ll tell you, Missy, I was out at one of those “This is the City Bylaw and we’re coming to get Mr. Zaugg and drag him to the Municipal Building where he’ll be put on display for public humiliation” meetings.  Amongst topics explored were, “Stockade or chains for Mr. Zaugg?” and “Making Mr. Zaugg patrol the streets for doggie do-do,” but the one that caught my eye was “Mr. Zaugg needs to be confined to a very small area and talk to children in grades 4 - 7.“  After the tide turned against me in the first forum (chains chafe my sensitive skin too much) and not presently owning a dog (with my aversion to trying to generate my own doggie do-do), I decided I would be far better off just being confined to a small area over a day or two.  Okay, I missed the whole part about school aged children, but honestly, I have the mentality of a school aged child so I thought I’d fit right in.

In order to frighten the children as little as possible, I thought it grandly considered the best idea in the history of humanity to have a giant, green 3 on display so that as the be-trodden young waifs passed by wondering what crime they committed in order to be stuck with me for the briefest - yet ironically apparently never-ending - moment of their lives I could point and say, “I’m only in Grade 3 and next year I aspire to have a yellow 4.”

And that, dear soul, is why I come pleading to you for aide.

Third email:  We blend the facts and the background and possibly add a dash or two of truth.

Hi Nancy,

The city bylaw meeting happened in Albert Park / Radisson Heights Community Centre a few months back.  It was there that I met Dianne Lyle who is involved with the Safety Expo.  When she heard that I was reforming Blockwatch in our neighbourhood she thought it would fit in perfectly with the Safety Expo and asked me if I’d set up a booth.

I hummed and hawed over the idea.  I had a few concerns.  A) I’d only just officially started APRH Blockwatch as a group.  Up to that point it was essentially me doing whatever the heck I felt like doing and slapping a fancy label on it.  (Where “whatever the heck I felt like” meant picking up litter and being a Snow Angel.)  B)  As many others eloquently continue to remind me, Blockwatch as an organization is shut down in Calgary and I shouldn’t ought to call it that.  (Humbug, I say.  HUMBUG!  People know what “Blockwatch” is supposed to mean and I’m sticking with it.)  C) I’m worried that if it’s just me and through one of a million other means I disappear and stop working on a Blockwatch program, I don’t want the whole idea to be shot down as the work of a megalomaniac who couldn’t finish a job.  Granted, the first part would be fair, but I want to build a base someone else can run with after the fact so it doesn’t live and die on my effort alone.

I emailed Mary Ryan and the Marlborough Park Blockwatch (the group I’m modelling my group after) will help me out on content.  Hence it becomes much less about “APRH Blockwatch” and instead “Blockwatch groups in East Calgary.“  It has a little more staying power that way and I feel less concerned about blowing my own horn over a group that barely has it’s legs right now.

So that was concern A and concern C dealt with.  I still have this nagging concern about Rick Hanson walking by and saying, “Blockwatch?  Didn’t we shut them down already?  What the heck are my CLO’s doing behind my back?”

And THERE I am finally getting to the whole tie in.  Heather Whelan (@starbuckly) tweeted this little piece of libel and I threw back it was just part of my #3ThingsYYC and #BetterYYC (That’s another story for another email) and I realized that I had just solved my Problem B.

If we take the CFC’s stance that “Blockwatch” is going to roll into whatever initiative the community wants, then I have decided that APRH wants a program so similar to Blockwatch that we’re going to give it the same name in order to try to generate interest and participation.  The real difference is that if I’m director of this thing (and I am), it’s not going to be about neighbours spying and complaining about their neighbours but instead we’re going to bake in the idea that our every action is about neighbours helping neighbours first and foremost.  The most basic principle is that it’s about all of us getting out in our community and doing something good.  #BetterYYC meet #3ThingsYYC meet community without explicitly stating the hashtags.

Deep breath


My pitch is that my booth will be “Blockwatch and similar community groups.“  The new Blockwatch may come under many names, but ultimately they all are community-based and operated groups that encourage safety, cleanliness and neighbourliness.  If #3ThingsYYC is there, AWESOME – and I want your booth stuck beside mine.  If not, then #3ThingsYYC belongs as part of my presentation because it’s just another way of building community spirit by doing good for Calgary.

And literally, it’s a big portion of why I’m doing Blockwatch in the first place.

Make sense?

  - Mark