The Top 10 Things I Loved About Working for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and Why You Should Apply for My Job…

Michael Janz, Marketing Director, EFCL - Photo c/o Metro Edmonton

For the past three and half years I have been privileged to have one of the coolest jobs in Edmonton.

As many of you know, in addition to being the Ward F Edmonton Public School Trustee, I’ve been employed as the Marketing Director for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL).

Sadly, as of August 31st 2012, I will be leaving the EFCL.

If you are looking for purposeful, flexible work that has you doing real projects to make our city better, I urge you to apply for this job.

I’ve been paid to encourage neighbours getting to know their neighbours and to increase building their capacity to make cool things happen in their neighbourhoods. It’s an extrovert’s dream job! Pinch me, right?

My role included teaching volunteers skills, connecting them with services, planning events and parties, and much more. I’ve had a fantastic team of coworkers, a switched-on EFCL board team, and the opportunity to work with thousands of volunteers from every neighbourhood in Edmonton.

For someone who wasn’t born in Edmonton, this job has made me feel like I know the city inside-out, and that I’ve lived here since the 1911 construction of the High Level Bridge.

What’s next for me? After much deliberation with my wife, we’ve made the decision that it’s time for me to pursue graduate school on a full-time basis, increase my focus on my EPSB Trustee duties, keep up my volunteering (Edmonton Public Library Board and University of Alberta Alumni Council) and, in the spring, get ready for school board re-election – October 23rd, 2013. If there is time, I might pursue some consulting work, and if the right project comes along, I’m always looking for ways to get involved.

So can I preach it like I feel it?

In no particular order, here are my TOP TEN favorite memories of working for Edmonton Community Leagues…

1. Co-creating Community League Day with the EFCL team:

“Hey guys! What if we hosted a block party or festival in every Edmonton neighbourhood on the same day? What if we did it every year on the third Saturday of September?”

That’s how Community League Day was born. 90 Leagues participated the first year. 100 the second. This year over 110 are expected to participate. If the popularity keeps growing, a decade from now Community League Day will be one of Edmonton’s marquis events like the Fringe of the Heritage Festival.

I visited a dozen events each year and was honored to have helped organize such a crazy festival — including our ridiculous media stunts like the Worlds Largest Quilt or the City Council Croquet Game!

2. Working with partner organizations who support Edmonton:

The numerous partner organizations I’ve had the privilege of working with have been amazing. Sponsorship and partnerships were a key part of my role and I couldn’t have met an easier, more like-minded group to work with.

I owe a special shout-out to the good folks at the Office of Great Neighbourhoods and Community Services, especially Stephane Labonne and Kathy Barnhart who have helped us launch a few really innovative initiatives.

Our corporate partners really stepped up. It’s been a pleasure working with Jon Hall with the Edmonton Real Estate Board, Cheryl Kaziuk with Servus Credit Union, Jason Bossert with FPB, and the whole Edmonton Examiner team. These folks really know how important it is to build strong relationships with Edmonton neighbourhoods.

Within the non-profit sector, I’d like to throw a big thank you to Leslie Evans and the team at the Federation of Calgary Communities, Russ Dahms at the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations and Karen Lynch at Volunteer Alberta for their mentorship and guidance.

3. The Edmonton Next Gen Committee and the Edmonton Community Challenge:

From the first gathering at Orange Hall, to allowing me speak at Pecha Kucha night #5 to the Edmonton Community Challenge 2010, 2011 and the (ongoing) 2012, it’s been a riot!

On behalf of marketing people and non-profits everywhere, thanks for always pushing our events through your fantastic newsletter.

The City of Edmonton Next Generation team has been a fantastic help in our efforts to recruit more “Under 40” year old Edmontonians to community leagues. The whole team has been amazing, in particular Tegan, Sherman, Michelle, and Christine have been fantastic and I really appreciate your help and energy.

4. The New Kids On Your Block Outreach Parties of May 2012:

My job couldn’t have been cooler! I was paid to throw parties with local musicians and DJs, food, Alley Kat beer, and entertainment in order to recruit more young adults to community leagues.

I hope that these events inspire many more neighbourhood folk festivals, parties, and community gardens in future!

5. The staff and board members of the EFCL:

I’ve appreciated the collaboration and support of the EFCL Board and Staff team, especially Allan Bolstad who has been an amazing mentor and friend. We’ve shared so many lunches, and at every opportunity I’ve tried to soak up as much of his political and journalistic lectures– plus we’ve had many laughs along the way.

And I’ll really miss the team! Every single initiative on this list was done collaboratively. No matter the project, all hands were available to help.

Valerie is a communications wizard. Linda is a money magician. Andrea is the captain of conflict resolution. Bev takes living local to heart. Shahriyar lives the cultural outreach and integration gospel. Joanne is the office mother who never misses an opportunity to remind me what’s important in life: good wine and a happy wife.

What a wonderful workplace!

6. Never the same day twice! Other-duties-as-required:

One of the highlights of the non-profit sector is the do-it-yourself attitude. We know that we have a lot to do, but little money to do it with.

“Can you find us a new neon sign? Can you find us a few talented summer students? Do you want to go for a midnight ride with the Mill Woods Community Patrol? Can you teach these workshops? Build a parade float? Apply for grants? Write articles? Can you help us develop a multi-million dollar fundraising strategy for our centenial projects?”

The EFCL has its hands in everything in Edmonton. If you are keen, it’s a tremendous learning opportunity.

7. Three years of the Heritage Festival:

Jack Little and his volunteers throw a heck of a party!

Organizing a community league presence at the Heritage Festival was an amazing chance to get out of the office. Footballs! Volunteers! It’s community league rush week! Not only did we sign up thousands of new emails for our e-news newsletter, we spread the word to everyone in the park about the cool things Edmonton neighbourhoods are doing!

8. Organizing the Community League Tradeshow:

Having the opportunity to organize and execute the EFCL Tradeshow 2010 and 2011 was a great opporunity to connect our volunteers with amazing businesses and services that they needed. For those of you looking to learn and grow, you won’t want to miss the Leagues Alive 2012 Conference and Tradeshow coming up on November 3rd.

9. Strategic planning, the Living Local Campaign and the 2011 Living Local Summit:

What should Edmonton look like in 20 years? What will neighbourhoods look like? How can we revitalize our communities, promote active transportation and reduce traffic? How can we develop great neighbourhoods where  people feel good about where they live?

These questions and many others fueled the construction of the EFCL Business Plan and the organization of the October 2011 Living Local Summit. Having the opportunity to work and think long-term about the direction of our communities– and then take tangible steps to make that vision a reality, was an incredibly rewarding experience.

10. The friendly people of Edmonton:

In a mere 4 years, I’ve met over 3000 hard-working Edmontonians from over 154 neighbourhoods. They selflessly chip away planning events, publishing newsletters, and making life better for their neighbours. Their labours make their communities stronger and safer for years to come.

Almost everyone I meet had some involvement at some point with their own local community league. Maybe it was coaching a sports team. Maybe it was as an attendee at a party. There is truly something special about the legacy of volunteerism in Edmonton that is happening all around us in our own neighbourhoods.

As Ron Kuban’s book recorded, Edmonton is a city of urban villages and no two neighbourhoods are alike! Edmonton Stories recently did a feature on the EFCL and community leagues captured here:


It’s been such a special opportunity, both for my personal and professional development. As you can tell, I remain passionate about the work and the organization.

The job description will be posted this week on www.efcl.org.

Check it out, and please pass it along to exceptional candidates in your network.

Employment Opportunity

Director of Marketing

Job Description:

The primary responsibility of the marketing director will be to help raise funds for EFCL programs and operations.  The director will also be asked to help with development of the EFCL market brand, promotions and updates to the business plan. Finally, the individual will be invited to take part and help manage other EFCL programs, depending on the interests and abilities of the candidate.

Fundraising Duties:

a)     Help raise funds for the EFCL’s 100th Anniversary Project, a $2 million (plus or minus) upgrade to Hawrelak Park.

b)    Solicitation of vendors and management of annual EFCL trade show.

c)     Solicitation of sponsors and management of annual Community League Day promotion.

d)    Solicitation of EFCL sponsorships and management of existing accounts.

e)     Apply for grants from various orders of government and foundations.

Knowledge and Experience:

a)     Fundraising experience, including government grants, corporate sponsorships, designing donor recognition programs.

b)    Proven success in relationship building, excellent interpersonal, written and oral communication skills.

c)     Computer proficiency using MS Office Applications (Word, Excel, Power Point, Outlook).

d)    Positive, enthusiastic attitude and an ability to work independently and as part of a team.

e)     Understanding of non-profit environment and community league system.

f)     Valid driver’s license.

Salary/Hours of Work:

– $45,000 per year, plus benefits and performance based incentives.

– Flexible work hours/75 bi-weekly.

Closing Date:

Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.

How to Apply:

Please send covering letter, resume and the names of three references to Allan Bolstad, Executive Director, Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, at allan.bolstad@efcl.org


For more information, check out: www.efcl.org

Interested in design, schools, or urbanism? Come to San Diego this February!

I’m excited to share that I will be attending the NEW PARTNERS FOR SMART GROWTH Conference in February 2012 in San Diego. If you have the time or interest, please consider registering.

No EPSB dollars are being spent on this initiative. I will be attending for professional development (I still work 3 days a week as the Marketing Director for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues) and to build upon the work I’ve been doing on our Living Local Campaign.

Every aspect of our life is impacted by the choices we make in designing and building our city. Do we want lower taxes, healthy citizens, less pollution and communities full of rich social interactions (smart growth) OR higher tax increases to pay for inefficient growth, more roads, greater auto-dependency, air and water pollution, school closures, unhealthy children, social alienation, and the “donut effect decay” that comes with more urban sprawl?

In Edmonton, Do we want the young families back in healthy, complete, communities thus revitalizing mature neighbourhoods or are we going to continue to offer a majority of the supply outside of the Henday? And if we are serious about growing “up and not out” what are some of the major barriers we need to overcome? If you didn’t see the session Councillor Don Iveson and I held that year, check out the community feedback)

This conference is targeted at a broad range of issues; design planning, public education, LRT, heathy communities, schools, transportation planning, and much more! The delegates come from a plethora of backgrounds, both elected and non-elected, from communities across North America.

As your Public School Trustee I will be looking for special opportunities to learn more about delivering top-notch public education while addressing the unique challenges that come with our urban setting. Design and planning issues, school placement, student transportation, and many of the conference sessions have huge implications on the decisions we make at the school board. I’ll be soaking up the learning opportunities!

Spread the word and if you can swing a conference this year in your professional or personal development, there are many worse places to be than San Diego in February!

You can view 10 years of past conference presentations (video and powerpoint) by clicking here: http://www.newpartners.org/2011/past_conferences.html

Putting Schools on the Map: Linking Transit Oriented Development, Families, and schools: http://www.newpartners.org/2011/docs/presentations/thurs/NP11_Vincent.pdf

“Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities.” ‘NSTEP, and student health in the summer media

Do you know how many sugar cubes are in one “Big Gulp?”    Answer at the end of the post.

Did you hear about this kid? CJ is a 10 year old fitness guru.

Healthy schools, healthy communities…

When I think back to high school, I know I was in the best shape of my life, and I know the school environment played a significant role in reinforcing healthy living and healthy eating.

I’m pleased to say that wellness is one of our five district priorities #4: promote health and wellness for all students and staff.

Health and Wellness is a topic I hope to be writing more about over the next few months, especially as the subject of my next Ward Gathering will he “Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities.” (The last Ward Gathering was on attracting more families to our neighbourhoods. Click here to read the summary.)

Details are unfolding but this event will likely be in the south portion of our ward in November, and will be a joint gathering with Trustee Ripley who represents the neighbourhoods south of us. With so many events going on in the city, we want to make these gatherings as effective and efficient for all of our community and school leaders!

‘NSTEP: Nutrition, Students, Teachers Exercising with Parents

A few weeks ago I had the chance to take in a joint presentation to Alberta Health, Edmonton Public Schools and Edmonton Catholic Schools representatives from the N’STEP program. ‘NSTEP and other programs like it are simple, practical, and can not just improve the lives of students, but can also help bring healthy living home for the whole family!

To learn more about ‘Nstep, check out this video and their website:

Healthy Schools in the Media:

Considerable discussion has been happening in the letters section of the journal about childhood obesity.

Nationally, the student health issue has been attracting some concern and is seen by many as a proactive investment to keep our health care costs down.

Ontario report examines new and better ways to improve health care system while ensuring accessibility and affordability; urges government to expand or introduce mandatory nutrition and physical education programs for students in grades 1 to 12.

Also in the Globe & Mail:  Why aren’t our kids out playing?


Locally, check out these letters for two different points of view about the role of the school in the wellness of our community:



Got feedback? Please leave a comment below!

What do you think about the importance of health and wellness in our school system?

What partnerships do you think should be emphasized between Alberta Health Services and our school system?

How can our communities do more to support health and wellness?

What can we do to reclaim our public spaces and encourage citizens of all ages to just get out there and play?

– –

Oh and that Big Gulp? 53. 53 Cubes of Sugar. The good folks at  ‘Nstep taught me that. Yikes.

Recap: Conversation with Mayor’s Task Force on Community Revitalization

July 13th Meeting of the Mayor's Task Force on Community Revitalization

Last night I attended the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Revitalization meeting at Mckernan Hall. For a meeting on a hot July evening, the meeting was very well attended with 37 chairs being filled by my rough count. It was a reminder to the committee members and myself that the mature neighbourhoods and communities are still very concerned about what might happen to their schools and interested in helping revitalize and re-energize their communities. Official feedback was tabulated with each group tabulating priorities and I believe all of this information was presented to the Community Revitalization Task Force.

For information on the community league input, see the May Workshop Notes (click here) and an EFCL article summarizing the input from several meetings (click here) .

The discussion was wide-ranging from municipal collaboration to crime prevention to provincial underfunding.

I was impressed with the diversity of community voices that came from all quadrants of the city. There was an energy in the room and a commitment to building the kind of vibrant Edmonton that I want to live and raise my children and grandchildren in. This kind of long-term, collaborative thinking must be fostered and encouraged!

Supporting Safe Speed Limits and Edmonton Public Schools

Make way for ducklings and slow down in residential areas!

If we can’t safely get our kids and families to school, we can’t teach them.

At the Wednesday April 26th, 2011 Board Meeting my board colleagues voted unanimously to support the advocacy initiatives of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and the Edmonton Catholic School Board to call for clear and safe speed limits in Edmonton Neighbourhoods.

I was not present at this meeting as I was at the Alberta Library Conference (I am also a trustee with the Edmonton Public Library and this conference is a major professional development opportunity and a chance to do some of my own homework on school library initiatives.) As an advocate for safe, healthy, and active transportation, I was thrilled to see my colleagues add their voices to the chorus of citizens pushing for safer neighbourhoods.

To learn more about the traffic safety initiatives from the EFCL, visit: http://www.efcl.org/NEWS/tabid/145/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/121/EFCL-Endorses-Traffic-Safety-Initiatives.aspx

Safe speed limits do not only improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and children at play, but they also make our roads safer for other drivers, especially in uncertain conditions. Many of our neighbourhood roads were not built for the same speeds as our  collectors!

With the gorgeous spring weather and the melt (finally!) of the snow, there has been a big bump in auto accidents. A few weeks ago my fiancee was struck by a truck in a pedestrian crosswalk on 101st and Whyte Ave. Her story is here and in her words she luckily sustained no life-threatening injuries. Most disturbing was the ER Nurse who told me that she was the 7th pedestrian who had been hit that day and it was only 3:00 in the afternoon!

Traffic calming measures and safe speed limits have been a major push from the community leagues in our ward. While the LRT has succeed in getting hundreds of vehicles off of the road, traffic has inadvertently run-off via other channels not intended to receive such a high volume of traffic. There are a few cases where there has been more pressure such as 106th Street between 51st and 76th and 76th Ave in Belgravia.

If you would like to learn more about how you can integrate safe and healthy transportation for the students of your school, check out SHAPE: http://www.shapeab.com/Links.asp They have an excellent collection of resources that I have condensed and shared here:

Shape Alberta Links

Active & Safe Routes Promotional Materials

Promotional products that with support Walk to School programs are available for purchase at this unique Canadian web store. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Canadian Active & Safe Routes to School programs.


Active Edmonton

Active Edmonton is an exciting new initiative promoting physical activity to all Edmonton residents.


Active Kids Edmonton

Active Kids Edmonton encourages children and youth to be more active! It provides great ideas to get active in Edmonton.


Active Living

The Alberta Be Fit for Life Network is comprised of nine regional centres focuses on providing services, programs and resources to promote the health benefits of active living and physical activity. Schools, communities and workplaces are welcome to access these services


Alberta Block Parent Association

The Alberta Block Parent Association Website


Alberta Centre for Active Living

The Alberta Centre for Active living works with practitioners, organizations, and communities to improve the health and quality of life of Albertans through physical activity.


Alberta Coalition for Healthy School Communities

The ACHSC is a network of individuals commited to promoting and fostering healthy school communities through comprehensive school healthy approaches


Alberta Health Services (Calgary)

A Student Pedometer Resource


Alberta Learning

The Daily Physical Activity Initiative Website


Alberta Transportation Traffic Saftety Initiative

Walk the talk, Alberta Transportation’s child safety program, provides a variety of resources including curriculm booklets, brochures, stickers, pencils, etc. that promote pedestrian, bus, and bicycle safety. The manuals are suited to classroom teaching or school use. The Child Traffic Safety Resource guide for Educators, Parents and Community is a curriculm guide that is recommended by Alberta Education


AMA School Safety Patrol

The Alberta Motor Association funds and coordinates the AMA School Safety Patrols. Each year approximately 17 000 Grade 5 and 6 students patrol school crosswalks to keep their fellow students safe while crossing the street


Canadian Active & Safe Routes to School Partnership

The Canadian Active & Safe Routes to School Partnership is a national group working to increase the number of school-aged children who travel to school using active, sustainable and safe modes of transportation.


Canadian Cycling Association

The Canadian Cycling Association’s CAN-BIKE program is a series of courses on all aspects of cycling safely and enjoyably on the road. The orientation is toward recreational and utilitarian use of the bicycle rather than toward competition. Courses for all cyclists of all ages. There are now more cyclists than ever before in Canada and the fastest growing segments of the cycling community are teens and adults. More than 45% of the Canadian population rides bicycles. That includes 90% of 5-to-14 year olds. 2/3 of adults, more than 14 million, ride a bicycle. Teenagers and adults seek fitness, enjoyment and adventure, as well as low cost means of transportation


Carbon Busters

Carbonbusters is a dynamic, innovative company with international reach whose goal is to reduce the ecological and carbon footprint of institutional buildings through self-funding energry effieciency and enviromental education programs


Environmental Scan of Active Transportation

In 2009, the Alberta Centre for Active Living partnered with SHAPE to conductan environmental scan of active transportation programs in Alberta schools. This was done through an electronic survey and focus groups. This report highlights some of the key findings and provides recommendations.


Ever Active Schools Program

The Ever Active Schools (EAS) program, in partnership with Alberta School communities, contributes to the development of children and youth by fostering social and physical enviroments that support healthy active lifestyles. This membership-paid programs is supported by the Health Physical Education of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. EAS recognizes and rewards schools that focus on physical activity and well being in their school communities. EAS also provides resources to critically reflect and measure current practices, policies and enviroments.


Got Wheels? Get a Helmet!

Head injuries are the #1 cause of serious injury and death to kids on wheels. This year we have chosen “Got Wheels? Get a Helmet!” as our theme for Safe Kids Week 2010. While Canada has come a long way in the development and implementation of helmet standards, practices and laws, there is still a lot more that can be done to keep kids safe. To do your part in promoting helmet use, register for Safe Kids Week 2010 today !


Moving and Choosing

Moving and Choosing (Southeastern Alberta) is a community based coalition promoting healthy growth and development and the prevention of child and adolescent obesity. Key objectives target building healthy school environments and improving access to high quality curriculum education in nutrition and physical activity. Community partnerships link schools and families to programs which promote active living and increase food security.


School Health, Alberta Health services


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Board Will Seek Public Input Regarding Proposed New School Year Calendar for 2012-13

At last night’s Board meeting, the Board of Trustees voted to get public input regarding a proposed change in the school year calendar year that could see students starting school the Monday before Labour Day with an additional break in November.

Many members of the Board expressed they had been hearing from constituents that were both in favour and against the idea including some who proposed new ideas such as extending the spring break. “We’re open to new ideas and this decision allows us to explore our options that would best serve students and their families,” said Dave Colburn, Chair of the Board of Trustees. It is expected that a recommendation summarizing public input will go to the Board by fall of 2011 when a decision will be made about the 2012-13 school year calendar.

The Board also approved an important motion to join the advocacy efforts of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and Edmonton Catholic School Board to advocate for lower speed limits in residential areas. “Lowering speed limits will create a safer environment for not just our children but the community.” said Colburn.

The Board also reviewed preliminary budget for 2011-12 which shows a proposed balanced budget despite a $14 million dollar reduction in revenues. The preliminary budget focuses on minimizing impacts on students by having the bulk of the reductions achieved through efficiencies and budget reductions in central services. The preliminary budget will now go to schools and central services who will plan for the year ahead and Administration will bring forward the roll-up of proposed expenditure/staffing plans to the Board in May 2011. Further information about these agenda items are posted on the Board of Trustees section of Edmonton Public Schools’ website (www.epsb.ca).

Community Revitalization Task Force and Edmonton Public Schools

The launch of the Mayor’s task force on Community Revitalization is a positive step in the right direction for our city, and on a personal note, has reinforced to me one of the reasons why I wanted to run for trustee in the first place. One of my biggest frustrations during the last round of school closures was the “siloization” of different jurisdictions and the lack of cooperation that might help prevent future school closures in future. Both school boards, the city, and the province have representation on this committee.

To have the city come forward in such a significant way is a major acknowledgement that we need to start treating school closures as a city-wide problem and not just a school board decision. As we know that the impacts of closure reach beyond just the parents of school age children, this is an encouraging  moment to see such a diverse cross-section of representation on this Task Force.

During the election, I frequently said that we were asking the wrong question (which schools to close instead of how do we keep more schools open) It sounds like this group is working towards asking the right questions and taking a comprehensive, collaborative approach. We need to attract more families away from the new houses and back into the core where we already have existing services and amenities. Let’s be fiscally and environmentally sustainable and embrace the infrastructure we already have paid for.

Here is a link to the story: http://www.inews880.com/Channels/Reg/LocalNews/story.aspx?ID=1358953 (and photo credit too, by the way)

But how bold will this task force be able to be?

Small changes to programs or marketing won’t be enough to keep our schools open. We need transformative change when it comes to our future urban development. I hope that the committee presents comprehensive findings on revitalization that can be applied city-wide. Is the future planned sprawl of our city conducive to vibrant communities throughout the city? With the new city growth plan has Edmonton continuing to sprawl with a 3:1 ratio on new developments compared to infill in existing areas, how can we ever hope to stop school closures or revitalize mature neighbourhoods if our families are fleeing to the suburbs?

Where will our families live in 5 years? In 10 years? In 40 years?

The issues of family-friendly infill development, increasing the amount of families who live in our mature neighborhoods and initiatives designed to foster aging in the right place are just a few of the community-led pushes coming from Edmonton non-profits and community organizations. I hope this new task force consults the great work already being done in our city. I remain optimistic about the task force and look forward to the findings.