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Posted on September 23, 2009
The World's Largest Ponzi Scheme

So, another week at CalgaryUrbanite, another revelation I have to share with everyone. Last week I mentioned how we are all driving the Oil Sands business whether we like developing them or not.  Well this week I drop an even bigger bombshell (We are entering the Fall sweeps season after all).  Forget the latest Ponzi-Scheme bust in Calgary, we are part of the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time.

The Ponzi scheme according to Wikipedia (so yes, there might be a few swear words vandalized into the definition) is:

A fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned.

So basically the first "investors" get massive returns on their "investment" by being given the money from the newest investors who are convinced that the whole thing is for real.  When the whole system implodes, the newer investors never get their investments back, and people's lives are destroyed.  We like to think we're smart enough that we will never be duped into such a scam, but the scary thing is, you and I just invested in one.

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Posted on September 19, 2009
Green Peace and the Oil Sands: Together At Last

Hey, so guess what I did today? I dug up some bitumen in the Fort McMurray Oil Sands. I've done it a bunch of times actually.  I had surgery to remove a wisdom tooth yesterday morning and I still did it!  You know, now that I think about it, I haven't even been north of Edmonton yet I've still managed to do it! You've done it too. I don't even know you, but I know you've done it. Greenpeace went up to Fort Mac to protest Oil Sands development, and you know what? They've dug up bitumen too.

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Posted on September 9, 2009
CrossIron Mills: A Fairy Tale

Alberta hasn't had a new shopping mall built in twenty years.  This isn't because Albertans hate shopping malls, quite the contrary, our malls are some of the most popular locations in the province.  The lack of new shopping malls in Alberta boils down to (like so many other things) making money.  Shopping malls are expensive to build and strip mall retail centers are considerably cheaper.  Sure, they lack roofs and you have to drive from one end to another just to get to all the stores, but the people will still come, enclosed mall or not.  Why?  Because with developers building poorly designed suburbs in search of a better bottom line and people looking to live in a house a little bigger than their means buying into them, these strip malls are often the only shopping available that is anywhere near.  Everyone wins, well, except your gas tank, and the environment.  But you get a quiet neighbourhood and the developers maximize their profits.

When I found out CrossIron Mills was defying the trend and being built as an enclosed shopping mall, I got excited.

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Posted on September 4, 2009
Save the Beat Niq

The Beat Niq needs your help.  They're in tough times financially and are kicking off a gala event to save their venue from going out of business.  I thoroughly you encourage yourself to go down there and help out. Gerry Hébert explains the event:

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Posted on August 21, 2009
Peace Bridge Conflict

So, I have set out to write the best post I have ever written.  No pressure or anything. Why?  Well, it's been an absolutely ridiculous amount of time since my last article here at CalgaryUrbanite, and although we have some other great contributors on the site, things have to been too slow around these parts for my liking.  So I need a stylish comeback.  Something with gusto.  Something with pizzaz.  Something with a lot of other pseudo-adjectives.  How am I going to do this? Well, I've compiled a list of everything I'd like to see from a comeback post.

Ironic title?  Check.
Tackling an issue that Calgarians seem opinionated about?  Check.
Being able to include a photograph I've randomly taken on my travels?  Check.
Having a completely irreverent opening paragraph?  Check.
Seriously, the most irreverent paragraph ever, probably enough to turn most people off reading this article?  Check.
Using the word irreverent?  Check.

Shall we get down to business?

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Posted on August 17, 2009
Bow River Flow

The Bow River flow is coming up, and it's up to Calgarians to make it a success. Come down to Memorial drive between 10th and 4th st for a party on the pavement. I unfortunately will be out of town and won't be able to make the event, but I hope those of you in town come down and have a good time.

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Posted on July 2, 2009, a guest post by Shannon Curry
Towers and Turnip: Commmunity Gardening in Calgary

A few weeks ago I took part in a unique gardening project. Volunteers with the Calgary Food Policy Council (CFPC) and other individuals like myself met downtown on the corner of 6th Ave and 3rd Street SW and proceeded to plant a vegetable garden in the flower beds.

What would have been space for ornamental flowers instead became space for food: squash, carrots, lettuce, beets, beans and more. Once the seeds we planted grow into hearty produce the CFPC will take it to the food bank, so their patrons can enjoy fresh, local produce, produced right in the heart of the city.

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Posted on July 2, 2009, a guest post by Cody Torgerson

As of July 1st, you will no longer need a license or insurance or registration for a power-assisted bicycle (a helmet is still required though). This is in effect for all power bicycles that have an 500 watt electric motor and have a top speed of 32 km/h.

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Posted on June 10, 2009, a guest post by Jason Ronald

Plan It Calgary recently released news they would build a bridge through Edworthy Park as part of their 40-year plan. The bridge would be constructed within the next 10 years and would see buses run down it every 10 minutes for 15 hours a day. In response to this, I emailed the city the following letter:

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Posted on June 3, 2009, a guest post by Jeremy Zhao
Don't let politics get in the way of a party

I attended the Lilac Festival and it was absolutely awesome. There was this one stall that sold books which you could only find in the depths of Mordor or something. We had Lee Richardson and the Conservative gang show me the glories of having a Tax Free Savings Account and I stole a free Alderman John Mar pencil.

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Posted on May 19, 2009
Green Drinks: Celebrate good times!

It's funny the impression you can have of the world around you when you spend more time making assumptions than actually discovering that world.  The phrase 'to assume makes an ass of you and me' couldn't be more true.  Assuming things has definitely made an ass out of me.  There, I admitted it, I'm an ass.  Or at least I was.  The assumption I used to make?  That Calgary has a shriveled, sorry excuse for an environmentally minded community.  Well, I'm happy to say that I'm wrong (another rare admittance I might add).

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Posted on April 28, 2009, a guest post by Tommy Mikalson

Officially or unofficially, May is Bike Month! So what better way to kick off the month by participating in Calgary's Bike to Work Day on Friday May 1st. (And hopefully it stops snowing by then!)

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Posted on April 24, 2009
The Memorial Drive Pedestrian Plan

It seems that it's way easier to stick to the status quo instead of challenging it.  But I don't like to trust people unwilling to challenge the status quo, the ones who frequently tell us to 'stay the course', because to stay the course would imply that the course we are on can't be improved.  Now, that isn't to say I'm up for change just for the sake of change, but when someone presents an idea that's forward thinking and refreshing, with little to no down side, I'm in full support.

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Posted on April 14, 2009, a guest post by Shannon Curry
Pushing Daisies: Death Goes Green

Death, my Buddhist teacher likes to remind me, is a natural part of life. This is true until you get buried or cremated. At that point the multi-billion dollar funeral industry takes over, providing the deceased with satin-lined wood coffins festooned with brass accents (for the discriminating loved one), cement gravestones, cement liners and a little eau de formaldehyde and other toxins to preserve the glow of the living.

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Posted on April 13, 2009
Politicians let me down again

With a name for this article like 'politicians let me down again' this may be an ongoing series, but yes, they have let me down again.  Now, I know it's tough for politicians, because they're not typically scientists or environmentalists, they're bureaucrats, and yet their job is to legislate over science and the environment.  That's exactly why I'm going to hold their feet to the fire, and why everyone else should too.  And honestly, politicans get an easy ride.  Sure, we all criticize them, but for every person like me attempting to hold them to a higher standard (in my case, by writing articles on a site they'll probably never read, sigh), there's about ten people who just don't care or follow what they do.  So for the most part, they're far too free to make decisions that may or may not lack the common sense from which a decision should be made.  The latest bone headed decision from Calgary's city council is seemingly minor, yet to me, that makes it all the more significant.  The unnecessary dependency on bottled water has reared it's ugly head again.

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Posted on April 7, 2009
This just in: Calgary has no culture

I think we've all said it before: Calgary has no culture.  I've been guilty of this before and sometimes I'm still guilty of it, but consecutive snow storms on the very precious weekends we get can make even the best of us a little jaded.  Sometimes it even feels good to say it, like it's a battle between you and the city and you're getting the upper hand.  Somehow, somewhere, someway, I realized I didn't get the upperhand cursing at Calgary.  Infact, I realized by saying Calgary has no culture, I was criticizing myself.  It's all of us together that make up Calgary's culture.  So what kind of culture do we have?

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Posted on March 26, 2009
In defense of Calgary Transit

There's probably two things you can talk to any Calgarian about to fit in.  The first is the weather.  You can fit in with any Calgarian talking about the weather because you can make statements and get an expected response back, like they were an old friend.  "Man, this winter just never ends" usually yields a "No kidding".  It feels good to know what a stranger in the elevator or at the checkout will most likely say... it's like you get them.  You suddenly have confidence talking to members of the opposite sex that you never had before because you know they'll appreciate your anecdote about how the weather sucks here (getting to a new line of conversation after the weather is the tricky part, and I wish all CalgaryUrbanite readers good luck in your romantic endeavours). 

The other sure fire line of conversation on which Calgarians relate is of course, our public transit.

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Posted on March 19, 2009, a guest post by Shannon Curry
I'm Greener Than You Are

I'm Greener Than You Are: The Perils Of Feeling Not Good Enough Because You're Not Green Enough

Last fall I went on a trip to Hawaii. I’d always wanted to go there and it was pretty much everything I had hoped for: sun, ocean, beach, beautiful vistas, great food, great people and all around pure indulgence. When I got back I was chatting about the trip with a friend who is one of Calgary’s most active activists. Slowly my happiness with the trip turned a bit sour, and I realized I was feeling guilty for emitting all those CO2 molecules during my many flights (seven in total there, between islands and back). I wasn't there for business purposes, or to plant trees or save turtles; it was just a vacation for my own pleasure and benefit. Green guilt loomed large.

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Posted on March 9, 2009
No one said this would be easy!

Sometimes making the right decisions to help out the environment can be easy.  Sometimes it's tough.

A couple weeks ago, I posted a review of the Beat Niq criticizing the practice of only providing bottled water.  Gerry Hebert, artistic director at Beat Niq responded about why their hand is forced on the issue. I appreciate him being forth coming with explaining the concerns and challenges the Beat Niq faces in providing their entertainment while maintaining some level of profitability.  It's easy to forget about the real challenges businesses face when we see practices that don't fit in with our ideal world.

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Posted on February 25, 2009, a guest post by Diana Tokalic

Despite the media attention, reading the books and the articles, learning about it in school and having a best friend who is truly an environmentalist at heart, I am guilty of being a consumption-holic.  I am conscious of the fact that a) I already have a lot of stuff and b) I don’t need anything else but I still find myself buying a lot of items that I justify with these reasons:

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Posted on February 21, 2009
Shopping without Plastic

...Plastic bags that is.  I still very much need my debit & credit cards to go grocery shopping.

As you may or may not know, city council has been looking at the possibility of banning plastic bags at store check outs.  Now we all know why plastic bags are bad: they don't degrade for hundreds and hundreds of years, except their chemicals photo degrade and leech into the eco system and ultimately our food chain; 4 to 5 trillion bags are used each year filling our landfills and our oceans (and in many places they fill the streets); they require oil to be produced only to be thrown away; all that bad stuff.  If you didn't know why plastic bags are bad, now you're up to speed.  I'm here to talk about a possible future without plastic bags.

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Posted on February 12, 2009, a guest post by Kurt Archer

Often in conversation you may hear comments about growing water shortages, or the fact that bottled water is no better than tap water.  Of course both of these are true, however the depth of this situation is far graver than we imagine it to be. What seems to miss the media’s attention is the massive protests that are led in against water giants like Nestle, Coca-Cola, Suez, Vivendi and others. All over the world, water privatization is on the increase, and at what cost?

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Posted on February 11, 2009
Beat Niq

So, if you haven't heard of the Beat Niq, it's a jazz club located on 811 - 1 St SW, and without question it's a pretty awesome place to go to.  It's nice and cozy.  The food is alright (it's attached to the Pic Niq restaurant above), but you're not there for the food.  You're there for the music, and it's good, not that I know the first thing about jazz music, but when I've been to the Beat Niq, it's been nothing but enjoyable.  So, all's good with the Beat Niq right?  Well, there is something that makes me have a love/hate relationship with the place.

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Posted on February 6, 2009
Imagine voting everyday

Imagine voting everyday.  Terrible thought isn't it?  Well I hate to break it to you, but that is exactly what we are doing, except for maybe those lazy Sundays where even rolling out of bed seems like an insurmountable challenge.  But before I start thinking about the weekend, I have to finish this article as it's something I've discussed a bunch lately but never put the pen to the page on, er, keyboard to the (web)page.  We vote every single day.  It's like a federal election every 24 hours, except with higher turnout.  Allow me to explain...

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Posted on February 2, 2009

I'm going to do a couple of shameless plugs for a couple of websites that are definitely worthy of your time.  You've probably heard of these sites, but if you haven't, I'm here to help spread the word, because they should be common knowledge for every Calgarian.

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Posted on February 1, 2009

So, what is CalgaryUrbanite?

Well, good question.  On any given weekday, I often find myself beelining it from the office straight home.  I know I'm not the only doing this, because every day I'll be sandwiched in with the thousands of other cars also trying to make their way back home.  It's on this daily commute that I usually get thinking, what is this city's culture?  I know there's a lot more to this city than just work & profits, oilsands & resource development.  Like a lot of people I know, I can find it frustratingly hard sometimes to find the real pulse of the city.  But the truth is there's a lot going on in Calgary and lots of great people, and we're hoping to feature a lot of them here.  Although we live in the heart of the oil economy, there's lots of us here who care about the environment, care about sustainable living, and care about making our city a better place.

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