Karen Unland

Karen is the co-founder of Taproot Edmonton.

Stories, sidebars, and posts

A note about Speaking Artistically

At the request of Bottom Line Productions, we have taken down Episode 13 of Speaking Artistically, our podcast about arts in Edmonton.  

Removing published work is a drastic step, so we feel we owe you an explanation.  

We launched Speaking Artistically last November, a few months after launching our Arts Roundup. It was hosted and produced by Bottom Line Productions, and published by Taproot.  

It’s not typical for us to work with companies in this way. Usually, we pay contributors to produce things for us. This was an exchange of value — Bottom Line would produce the podcast, on which it would promote our Arts Roundup, and we would publish the podcast on our platform and draw attention to it on Taproot’s channels.  

We understood the hosts would sometimes talk about shows that Bottom Line was promoting, but not exclusively. The show was meant to be a conversation among people who are immersed in local arts, talking about what’s on or coming up, and that’s what it was.  

Bottom Line has run into a situation where something said on the podcast has landed it in trouble with a client. And so they have asked us to take the episode down. “The intentions of our comments could have been misconstrued and for that we apologize,” writes Darka Tarnawsky, President of Bottom Line Productions. 

We have reluctantly agreed to do so. This demonstrates, however, that the unusual arrangement we made with Bottom Line is not going to work. Our first allegiance has to be to the listener.  

Speaking Artistically will be on hiatus until we decide whether to find new hosts or cease publishing it altogether. We do thank Bottom Line Productions for the opportunity to experiment, and we wish them well.

Meet our Regional Roundup curator

Before this year comes to an end, we’d like to introduce you to Stephen Cook, who has been doing a great job of curating our relatively new Regional Roundup

Since taking the roundup over from Taproot co-founder Mack Male in October, Stephen has been keeping a close eye on what’s going on, economically and otherwise, in the 15 municipalities that make up the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.  

Stephen Cook, our Regional Roundup curator.

It’s a lot to keep track of, but Stephen uses his journalism chops to pull it off every week. A recent graduate of the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University, he has written for the Edmonton Journal, The Canadian Press, and The Globe and Mail, covering such topics as municipal affairs, provincial politics, crime, court, and international human rights. He currently works at CBC Edmonton.  

We launched the Regional Roundup in August with a title sponsorship from Edmonton Global. Every Wednesday, it brings together the headlines and happenings in Beaumont, Bon Accord, Devon, Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Gibbons, Leduc, Leduc County, Morinville, Parkland County, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Strathcona County, and Sturgeon County, with a view to informing the region about itself so the players can more easily work together. 

We’re thrilled to have Stephen on our roster of roundup curators who pay attention to what’s going on and distill it to its essence to make sure you are informed. Here’s the whole crew: 

  • Arts — Fawnda Mithrush 
  • Business — Paul Cashman 
  • City Council — Mack Male 
  • Food — Sharon Yeo 
  • Health Innovation — Catherine Griwkowsky 
  • Media — Linda Hoang 
  • Music — Emily Rendell-Watson 
  • Regional — Stephen Cook 
  • Tech — Mack Male 

Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an edition. You can get up to two of these roundups for free if you join as a Taproot Reader.  

If you become a Taproot Member, you can get as many roundups as you like, along with other perks. Plus you’ll be helping us pay for high-calibre local journalism from our curators and the freelancers we commission for original stories. We’re building what comes next — join us.

Taproot joins first Edmonton cohort of ATB X

We’ve been sitting on some news for the past few weeks, and now it can be revealed — we’ve been selected for the first Edmonton cohort of the ATB X business accelerator program! 

Since Mack and I started talking about Taproot in 2016, we’ve known we wouldn’t succeed without building a sustainable business to support the local journalism we seek to do. So many media startups have failed because their founders have not focused enough on the money side. We knew we had to avoid that trap. 

Mack and Karen will be learning how to strengthen Taproot at ATB X over the next 11 weeks.

Keeping an eye on the bottom line is necessary but not sufficient for building what comes next in local journalism. Lots of smart people are working on this problem, but no one has completely figured out how to ensure we can afford to pay enough people to pay attention to our community, not only as well as local newsrooms used to, but better. There’s no map — we have to find our own way. 

We’ve gone pretty far on our own. This was very much a side project when we started; now it is Mack’s full-time job, and I contribute as much as I can while running the Alberta Podcast Network (another adventure in local media, because that’s what I do). Along the way, we have diversified our revenue streams and listened hard to our members, sponsors and customers to build a new way forward. We are on a path we could not have imagined when we began, and we think it’s going to take us where we need to go.  

Enter ATB X, a support program for startup companies that helps entrepreneurs like us level up, through expert advice and peer mentorship. There’s no equity or funding involved; this is really about making sure we have the skills to make Taproot strong enough to achieve its full potential. 

Photo by Kathryn McKenzie

We’ll be joined by a fascinating variety of local businesses:  

We look forward to learning from these teams, and to sharing what we know to help them, too. 

Thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way, whether you’ve become a member or shared our stories or sponsored a roundup or given us a chance to spread the word. You’ve invested confidence in us; we’re looking forward to paying dividends. 

Taproot joins Covering Climate Now

We are proud to be among more than 170 news outlets participating in Covering Climate Now, a worldwide project to strengthen the media’s focus on the climate crisis.

Like our fellow participants in this effort pulled together by the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation, we have committed to running a week’s worth of climate coverage leading up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23.

There are 17 Canadian participants, including The Sprawl, a fellow Canadian Journalism Innovator.

Ongoing disasters tend not to get the concerted attention that sudden ones do, and this effort is meant to address that weakness in how we tend to inform people about what’s going on. We know there’s a lot going on locally on this file, and we feel we can perform a valuable service by putting it together in one place.

Taproot’s coverage kicks off with a discussion with climate-change communicator Chris Gusen on the Speaking Municipally podcast. Chris will go on to curate a climate change section in each of our roundups throughout the week of Sept. 16. Then he plans to pull all the threads together at the end of the week.

Chris Gusen
Chris Gusen at Green Drinks, photo by Troy Pavlek

If you already subscribe to our roundups, watch for Chris’s contributions, and feel free to share the newsletters and the podcast on social media. If you don’t, now is a good time to signal your interest in this topic and our effort to better inform our community. Sign up today.

Introducing the Regional Roundup

The Edmonton Metropolitan Region is made up of 15 municipalities that — ideally — work together to compete on the global stage. It helps if all of us know what’s going on with our neighbours and partners, so we’ve started a Regional Roundup to keep everyone up-to-date.

Thanks to the support of Edmonton Global, we’re able to put together a weekly summary of the headlines and happenings in the region. That includes what’s going on with the metro region itself, as well as news from Beaumont, Bon Accord, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Gibbons, Leduc, Leduc County, Morinville, Parkland County, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County and, of course, Edmonton.

Edmonton Metropolitan Region via Edmonton Global

We published our first two editions on Aug. 14 and Aug. 21, and we’ll put out a new one every Wednesday. It’s curated by Mack Male, co-founder of Taproot and the curatorial force behind the Tech Roundup and the Council Roundup.

You may have noticed some of our roundups are sponsored by specific entities. That is the case for the Regional Roundup (sponsored by Edmonton Global), the Health Innovation Roundup (sponsored by Health City), and the Arts Roundup (sponsored by the Edmonton Arts Council).

These sponsors have provided enough funding to allow us to launch and maintain a roundup. Think of them as underwriters — they have made the roundup possible. They don’t exercise any control over the content. If you want to support the creation of a roundup or underwrite one of our existing ones, get in touch at hello@taprootedmonton.ca.

Our roundups are also supported by a number of “cultivators” who contribute funds to make it possible for Taproot to pay sustained attention to a file. If that’s of interest, we’d love to hear from you.

Meet our new Business Roundup curator

Edmonton's skyline under construction, by Kurt Bauschardt

We are excited to bring veteran journalist Paul Cashman on board to curate the Business Roundup.

Paul Cashman, our new Business Roundup curator.

Paul brings a wealth of valuable experience. He was a reporter and editor at the Edmonton Journal for 33 years, and served as the business editor for much of that time. After he left the Journal in 2012, he worked in communications for industry associations representing homebuilders and heavy construction. And now we get to share his talent for spotting news and conveying it efficiently in our weekly wrap of what’s happening in Edmonton’s business scene.

We launched the Business Roundup on March 29 to keep track of the companies, entrepreneurs, employees, investors, leaders and others shaping Edmonton’s economy. Mack is happy to hand the reins over to someone of Paul’s stature, and this will give him more time to focus on building our own business here at Taproot.

The Business Roundup comes out every Friday, and Paul’s first edition will be published Aug. 16.

We’re proud of our growing roster of roundup curators who are working hard to keep you informed about what’s going on in Edmonton:

  • Arts — Fawnda Mithrush
  • Business — Paul Cashman
  • City Council — Mack Male
  • Food — Sharon Yeo
  • Health Innovation — Catherine Griwkowsky
  • Media — Linda Hoang
  • Music — Emily Rendell-Watson
  • Regional – Mack Male
  • Tech — Mack Male

Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an edition. You can get up to two of these roundups for free if you join as a Taproot Reader.

If you become a Taproot Member, you can get as many roundups as you like, along with other perks. Plus you’ll be helping us pay for high-calibre local journalism from our curators and the freelancers we commission for original stories. We’re building what comes next — join us.

Introducing the Arts Roundup

Talus Dome

Every Thursday, we’ll publish a newsletter gathering up the headlines and happenings in theatre, dance, the visual arts, the literary arts and other local creative endeavours that catch our attention.

The arts scene in Edmonton is vibrant, multifaceted and a little under-covered. So we’re thrilled to take a step towards filling the gap with our new Arts Roundup.

Fawnda Mithrush, our new Arts Roundup curator.

We published our inaugural edition on Aug. 1. Starting this week, the Arts Roundup will be curated by Fawnda Mithrush, a former editor at the departed SEE Magazine, current executive director of LitFest, and co-host of the award-winning podcast I Don’t Get It. We’re thrilled to have Fawnda on board to share her knowledge, experience, and passion for the arts.

The Arts Roundup grew out of previous experiments with the #YEGFringe Daily Digest in 2017 and the Fringe Roundup in 2018, both of which helped us refine the idea of creating an ongoing way to satisfy readers’ curiosity about a topic. Thanks to a title sponsorship from the Edmonton Arts Council, we can now share what’s going on in local arts year-round.

The Arts Roundup makes a great companion to the Music Roundup, curated by Emily Rendell-Watson and published on Thursdays as well. You can get up to two roundups for free if you join us as a Taproot Reader; if you want to be even more well-rounded, become a Taproot Member, which affords you other perks, including access to as many roundups as you like.

Downtown farmers’ market to 104th Street: I can’t quit you!

City Market in The Quarters
The Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market on May 18, 2019, opening day for its new location at 97th Street and 103rd Street. (Photo by Mack Male)

It looks like the downtown farmers’ market may not be moving off of 104th Street entirely.

We reported in March that the Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market would be moving to the old GWG building on 97th Street, where it would have a permanent, year-round presence and be open on Saturdays and Sundays. The market did in fact open there last weekend, setting up outside of the building, as the inside was not ready yet.

But now the market has decided to return to 104th Street on Saturdays, starting on June 15, except on days when construction makes that impossible, indicates an email from the City of Edmonton’s Civic Events and Festivals department, obtained by Taproot.

“After discussion with the Edmonton Downtown Farmer’s Market (EDFM), they have decided to return to 104 St on Saturdays starting on June 15th,” the email says. “The only exception to operation this summer will be if construction impacts arise, in which case the EDFM will be notified on the Monday before the market. On those Saturdays, EDFM vendors will return to their new location. We hope the businesses on 104 St, area residents, and Edmontonians will continue to enjoy vibrant Saturday’s on 104 Street!”

In a follow-up email, City spokesperson Amber Medynski told Taproot that while the prior agreement between the City of Edmonton and the EDFM for 104th Street was cancelled in December “due to anticipated construction restrictions in the area,” those have since decreased and EDFM was given the opportunity to return.

“The plan is for the Downtown Farmers Market to also take place at their new, permanent location at the GWG building on Sundays, but now they will also operate on 104 Street, between Jasper Avenue and 102 Avenue, as well as on 102 Avenue between 103 St and 104 St on Saturdays. The only difference is that the amount of space available in the area each week week may change based on the needs of construction,” said Medynski.

EDFM spokesperson Dan Young confirmed the decision to return to 104th Street was due to the availability of the space. “It’s easy to pick up and move tents to a certain extent,” Young says. “So we thought, ‘Well, we’ll come back and we’ll do what we can to program that street and get it going.

“Part of the other reason, too, is that our building on 103rd Avenue is not ready for occupancy,” he continues. “We thought it would be ready sooner, but it’s not. So we thought we might as well try to split the markets.”

Young says the EDFM will operate the market in both locations for 2019, and will review it with the City again next year.

Kirsta Franke of Wild Heart Collective, which organizes the 124th Street Grand Market, had been in talks to start a new, smaller market on 104th Street between Jasper and 102nd avenues.

“Grand Markets Edmonton has been working on a centrally located Saturday Market option that would extend into the holiday season for some time now,” she told Taproot. “With the news of Downtown Market relocating, our group was approached by local vendors as well as concerned downtown business stakeholders to provide an alternate level of programming for 104 Street.”

She said the well-being and success of local vendors and businesses is her organization’s first priority. “With this surprising news, we will continue to work with stakeholders to provide complementary programming downtown.”

Young confirmed that they were aware through some of their vendors that there was another group interested in running a market on 104th Street. When asked if this played a role in the EDFM’s decision to return to 104th, Young was noncommittal. “I think there’s always some advantages of having a couple of markets [downtown],” he said. “We like to view ourselves as the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market.”

“I think competition is good,” he said, in response to whether he thinks there shouldn’t be another market downtown. “We think that that will settle out over time.”

The market’s first day at the Quarters location seemed to be a success, with lots of people turning up at the new location on Saturday, the first day of the market’s outdoor season.

“All the comments we’ve got from the vendors on Saturday is that they did very well,” said Young. “They didn’t do quite as good as they did on opening day on 104. But for a brand new market and a brand new area they were very happy.”

Chris Buyze, president of the Downtown Edmonton Community League, called for collaboration. “We hope area residents, businesses, farmer’s market, City of Edmonton, and other stakeholders will work together to coordinate programming on 104 Street this season,” he said. “We believe we can all work together to balance the needs of 104 Street and programming, with future construction challenges.”

With files from Mel Priestley and Mack Male

Taproot tends to stay away from breaking news, but we know from the reaction to our first story on the market that you’re interested, so we wanted to share what we know. Mel Priestley, who wrote our initial story, is working on a follow-up piece about the economics of multi-day markets in Edmonton. Stay tuned for that.

Stay on top of local food news by subscribing to our weekly Food Roundup, written by Sharon Yeo of Only Here for the Food.

You can help us pay attention to such matters by becoming a Taproot Member. Just $10 a month or $100 a year helps us compensate our writers and cover our community.