When country music star Brett Kissel's microphone failed during Game 3 of the Oilers's Western Conference semifinal game against the Anaheim Ducks this spring, thousands of orange-clad fans stepped in to deliver an a cappella rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The sound of the sellout crowd throwing rivalry aside to belt out the American national anthem made waves across the hockey world and left Edmontonians bursting with pride, including former politician and long-time resident Sue Huff.
"I thought that was a really great moment for Edmonton," she says.
Huff, who now runs a non-profit organization called Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta (EDSNA), was so inspired by the moment that she hopes to recreate it — this time bringing together not only hockey fans, but Edmontonians from all walks of life.
As part of a submission to The Edmonton Project, Huff proposes holding a large-scale sing-along event at Rogers Place. Her submission envisions choirs, school groups, seniors, police officers, business owners, politicians, YESS youth, Boyle Street residents, Aboriginal leaders, and congregations of all denominations singing in unison to promote a message of unity, tolerance and love.
"People are feeling more and more divided," says Huff. "It's creating a lot of hurt and a lot of harm. What we need are reminders that there's actually only one race: the human race; that we are connected and that we all belong."
In addition to promoting this message to Canadians and the world, the event, which she calls Edmonton Sings With One Voice, would serve to connect people through the act of signing together. Recent studies have found that group singing releases oxytocin, a hormone that enhances the feelings of trust and bonding.
"You literally have a wash of chemical love that washes over your brain when you sing with other people," says Huff.
To commemorate the event, Huff proposes commissioning a piece of art for the Ice District public plaza, located across the street from Rogers Place. The artwork would serve as a permanent reminder that racism and intolerance have no place in Edmonton.
"I don’t think we’ve had one idea of a Connor McDavid statue."
Huff's idea is one of many that have been submitted over the past six weeks to the Edmonton Project, a city-wide brainstorming platform that will result in a permanent installation somewhere in the city. Launched in August, the community-driven initiative is searching for an idea that will help tell Edmonton's story.
Founding partner Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson says he is impressed by the ideas the Edmonton Project has received so far.
“We’re getting ideas that are better, that are more inspiring and that are more defining of this place and of its people than we would have anticipated," he says. "I don’t think we’ve had one idea of a Connor McDavid statue."
Though the Edmonton Project will result in something of permanence in the built environment, those behind the initiative want to see Edmontonians push past statues, monuments and plazas to create something unique.
Hansen-Carlson encourages everyone to submit: "Almost every Edmontonian has an idea living somewhere in their brain to make this place better."
With less than two weeks to submit an idea — submissions close on Oct. 20 — we've rounded up four more ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Shalene Hanson sees Edmonton as a leader in agricultural innovation and sustainability. Her proposal involves the creation of an urban farm that would serve to educate the public on eco-friendly systems like vermicomposting, acquaponics and vertical growing. Her submission includes plans for a main farmhouse containing an admission desk, a rooftop greenhouse and a bistro; outdoor and indoor gardens; and livestock, such as ducks, bees and dairy goats. She hopes the farm would become an attraction and would like to see it built in a central area along the river valley.
Long-time resident Don Hansen believes Edmonton's greatest attributes are the river valley and the city's downtown skyline. He is proposing outfitting downtown buildings with LED lights and lasers that would light up in time with music for 10 to 20 minutes every night during the summer months. This light show could be viewed from the south side of the river or on the pedestrian bridges near the downtown core. Speakers would be placed strategically in viewing areas. Hansen got the idea while he was in Hong Kong several years ago and witnessed a similar display.
The Big E
Nick Yatco wants to take the success of the eight-foot E, currently housed in front of the Downtown Business Association on Jasper Avenue, and multiply it by about eight times to create a 60-foot downtown tower in the shape of an E. Given that his original idea comes with a significant price tag, Yatco also submitted a plan B: use LED lights to light up an existing tower with the letter E.
Developing the River Valley
Gloria Barrigan, like many other submitters, would like to see enhancements to the city's river valley, including a boardwalk to accommodate water sports, boating, eateries and shops.
Once the submission period ends, ideas will be shortlisted by a panel of five influential Edmontonians. The top 10 ideas be refined with the help of design, construction and engineering experts and presented to the Idea Den panel during a live pitching event in January.
Do you have an idea for the Edmonton Project? Submit it here.