The plan started with our love of Edmonton. Nathan grew up here and I came as soon as I could, and we both consider it home. We want other people around us to enjoy Edmonton too. We want to hear less complaining and more enjoying!
So, last winter while we were living in Alberta Avenue, we started to embrace one of the “difficult parts” of loving Edmonton – enjoying winter. We started to make ice sculptures and we would light them up and put them on our deck. We went to a few winter festivals and volunteered at Deep Freeze. We started walking more, even when it was really cold out. All these minor things really helped to make us appreciate winter more.
Then, Nathan went away to urban planning grad school. He started doing research on winter cities and sharing that research with me. When he came home for about a month we went to every possible winter activity we could find. We celebrated the winter solstice and Lucia, a winter holiday from Scandanavia, even though we’re not Scandanavian. We drank warm winter drinks and went snowshoeing. By the end of the winter, we were a little sad to see it go.
At the end of this summer, I started feeling an excitment build. I was ready for a new season. Edmonton also has great springs, summers, and falls, but I was really ready for winter.
When the first snow fell, I started making a list. I wrote down as many fun things we planned to do this winter as I could think of. I decorated it with snowflakes and icicles, then, as all good artwork deserves, I stuck it on our fridge.
Then Todd Babiuk starting talking about making something in Edmonton, and the City released its Winter City Strategy and we got really excited! And we started talking to our friends, family, and coworkers about it.
We keep adding to the list, but more importantly, we keep talking about it. Our goal is to help the people in our lives enjoy winter and enjoy their time in Edmonton. I don’t think we can really change the global perception of Edmonton, but that’s not our goal, and I don’t even know if I really care about that. I just want the people I spend my time with, my community, to embrace where we live and have fun!
Here’s our ever evolving and expanding list:
- make ice lanterns for our friends and neighbours
- build snowmen and snowwomen in the front yard on the busy road
- go skiing in the river valley
- decorate our deck with lights
- celebrate winter holidays from other cultures
- go tobagganing – Mill Woods, Gallagher Park
- go skating – Legislature, Hawrelak, City Hall, Community Leagues
- create eco-friendly snow paint (out of fruit? traditional dyes?)
- enjoy hot drinks regularly, including glogg
- avoid complaining about the weather
- walk everywhere! Even when it’s really cold!
- go to light-up events – Legislature, Churchill Square, Museum
- read winter stories
- take pictures and post them on social media
- eat maple syrup on snow
- go snowshoeing – Fort Edmonton, River Valley
- drive around to look at lights
- sing carols, accompanied by instruments, off of our friend’s balcony
- wear colourful scarves and nice winter clothes
- use winter-friendly terms
- go on the Mill Creek Advenutre Walk
- go to Candy Cane Lane
- make crock pot meals
- sit in hot tubs outdoors
- visit the mountains
- make snow cones and snow cream
- go to Silver Skate, but actually skate this year!
- celebrate Festivus
- watch winter movies
- subscribe to Aurora Watch and make sure to watch them!
- make snow angels in the front yard
- build a snow fort on the vacant lot beside our house
- feed the birds
- make giant messages in the snow
- celebrate Ukranian Christmas
- have fires – in fireplaces and outdoors
- countdown to solstice
- make a weather calendar and track what the weather has been like
- create winter sculptures, like ice mandalas.
- make winter crafts
- bake and decorate cookies
Some of these things are little and easy to do, while others are more of a challenge, but I’ve noticed “Project Best Winter Ever” is working already. People see the list on the fridge and start talking about what we should do this winter. My friends had ideas of what should be added to the list and even made some of the ideas way better! People at work have started call me out if I complain about the weather. All it takes is a little mind shift and plans to have fun! That’s not so hard.
I hope that you will join us!