• Looking Back on 2016

    2016 was a year of milestones for Tall Order Communications. Some of those milestones manifested as new projects; others were more subtle but no less potent reminders of greater responsibility and ‘growing up’ as a business.

    Tin Box Digital Communications and Tall Order wrapped up our project with the Royal Alberta Museum in January. We still have to wait another year before we can see the fruits of our labours in 3D. The museum is scheduled to reopen in December, 2017.

    Travel dotted the spring months. My first trip of the year was to the 2016 Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna. As my blog post on that event mentioned, I was surprised at how challenging that weekend was, as I felt the weight of the responsibility that the judges carry.

    In March, I attended the 2016 Intelligent Content Conference in Las Vegas, NV. I took advantage of the travel to reconnect with an former client and always friend of mine who worked with me on the San Bernardino County Hall of Geological Wonders in 2005-2008. The new exhibit is still not complete, which speaks to the challenges of museum funding during economic upheaval.

    In March I also decided to respond to the Food Bloggers of Canada call for speakers, and was invited to co-present at the October conference alongside Claire Tansey, former food editor of Chatelaine. I was simultaneously excited and terrified that I was going to be giving a conference session to food bloggers—especially considering how terrible I am at keeping my blog post updated!

    April saw me in Invermere, BC for the Slow Food Canada Summit. It was inspiring to be surrounded by producers and chefs that care about food security as much as I do. We also secured a spot for Slow Food Saskatoon’s delegate to Terra Madre while I was at the summit. We were pleased to send Glenda Abbott, Visitor Services Manager at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. She has established a traditional food garden as part of her work at Wanuskewin. She fit right into the the Indigenous Terra Madre activities and will continue to be part of that movement in the future.

    Right before the Slow Food Summit I was in Maple Creek to start up an interpretive project at Fort Walsh National Historic Site. I was delighted to be working with an old colleague and friend from AldrichPears Associates, and to serve the creation of a new exhibit at one of Saskatchewan’s signature destinations.

    My friends and colleagues Jane Caulfield of Tin Box Digital Content and Melanie Greenaway of DoubleDare Design took a research trip to Winnipeg and Montréal to visit the Museum of Human Rights, the Manitoba Children’s Museum, Pointe-a-Callière and the Biodome.

    We fell in love with the Manitoba Children’s Museum, and made our way through seven floors of difficult and heavy content and conceptual architecture (nicknamed “modern brutalism” by Melanie). Probably the most memorable moment of our time in Winnipeg, however, was dinner at Segovia. Fantastic wine and tapas!

    We were excited to discover we were going to be in Montréal for Museums Day; however, that turned out to work against us, because lineups were unmanageable due to free admissions at the museum campus. We eschewed the lineups at the Biodome and spent some time at the botanical garden instead. The following day, we spent some time downtown and enjoyed a visit to the McCord Museum, as well as a clichéd museum collection of mummies and taxidermy in old wood and lead glass cases at the Redpath Museum at McGill. It was as if we’d traveled in a museum design time-machine between the McCord and the Redpath.

    I had also applied and been accepted to attend a Project Exponential dinner in New York City, which just so happened to take place on my last day in Montréal. Attending one of these dinners had been on my list of goals for 2016, so when I saw the announcement for a date that worked for me, I went for it. When I was accepted, it only required me to change my flight home to a short flight to NYC from Montréal, and then to fly home the next day.

    I didn’t know what to expect from the event, and while I met some fascinating people, with whom I will likely be in touch in the future, such as Michelle Welsch, founder of Project Exponential, Phil O’Brien, the founder of W42ST Magazine, an arts magazine about Hell’s Kitchen, and Carolina Sandretto, an Italian photographer, originally from Turin, Italy, now living in SoHo.

    But the lesson that followed me home that evening was not one of expanding into wider realms through international contacts. It was that I live exactly where I’m meant to, with the person I am meant to live with, doing exactly what I am meant to do.

    Everyone at the dinner was intelligent, successful and doing interesting and important work, and at the same time, many were moving to new homes, still looking for life partners, or considering a career change. I came home from that trip with a renewed appreciation for Saskatoon, my partner, and the fact that I have been doing what I love and am good at for most of my life. So simple, and yet so empowering.

    It was on my flight back from New York City that I reviewed my schedule for June and realized how intense that month was going to be. That intensity continued right until the end of November. I had several deadlines in June, for several science writing pieces, including the Ag West Biotech Industry Overview for their Annual Report, the Genome Prairie Annual Report, Fort Walsh interpretive design, which we had started in April, and a proposal for web content strategy for the Government of Saskatchewan.

    The Content Strategy project turned out to be my big win of the year: the largest contract I’ve won to date, with the option to renew for three years. I have been working my way through content migrations for multiple government ministries since then.

    I also began a new role as a Change Management Communications Specialist for PotashCorp on June 2. That role continued part time until the end of this year. The role validated my sense that change management is part of all of the projects that I am involved in. It was also great to work with some of my favourite colleagues from Solvera Solutions.

    The remainder of the year passed by in a blur of work and deadlines, punctuated by a trip to Santa Cruz where I attended the Shakti Rising All Tribes Leadership retreat (life changing, to say the least) and the America’s Masters Games, where my team won gold in our age class for indoor volleyball.

    The last three months saw less travel, except for my trip to the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. My presentation was a success, and I met an important ally in Claire Tansey. I mark that experience as another milestone toward my long term goal to do more public speaking.

    Several weekends in October, November and December were taken up with foodie events. Slow Food Saskatoon hosted a whole animal butchery demonstration and dinner at a local farm-gate lamb producer’s farm. Gold Medal Plates took place on the same weekend.

    I helped out at a big potato fry-up for our community garden wrap up party, and then a few weeks later Slow Food Saskatoon celebrated Terra Madre Day by partnering with CHEP Good Food to do a Good Food Box competition, making a delicious free lunch out of the ingredients provided in CHEP’s Good Food Box and local Sunshine Box.

    Overall 2016 was a full and productive year. While there’s always room for improvement, it feels as if more of the same, with some fine tuning, is in order. I want to win more projects with my favourite colleagues, and continue to expand my public speaking repertoire while serving new and return clients in tackling their content challenges.

    My theme for 2017 is Integration, and I look forward to continuing to blur the lines between my work, family and personal and spiritual development, so that every moment is as infused with joy and purpose as every other.

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