Tag Archives: tar sands

Ten From the Tribe

Ten from the Tribe

Here are ten tweets that caught my eye within the last week… enjoy!

All I can say is “awesome” ] @rvthomas67 Tue Aug 10 2010 17:51:01 (MDT) via web Balding and rather pudgy community leader announces run for Council in Wood Buffalo. http://tinyurl.com/2g6532o#YMM

[ Very important to be open to all information – lessening the impact of the oil sands is a worthwhile goal – one that can be accomplished@abraaten 12:25 PM Aug 6th via web Reading: Canadian Oil Sands and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Facts in Perspective http://is.gd/e6kMq

[ Wasn’t sure if it was worth letting this twisted piece of propaganda rear its ugly head again, but if you haven’t seen it… @JDietz1 Wed Aug 11 2010 07:29:45 (MDT) via TweetDeck I get tht focus group reacted negtvly to Rethink AB, but I wnt to knw if tourism #s are actlly dwn. Much ado abt nthg? http://bit.ly/9kv3P3

That *is* a good way to celebrate…@McMurrayTourism Wed Aug 11 2010 10:32:25 (MDT) via Twitter for BlackBerry® Best way to celebrate the summer? Free Barbecue!! Aug 20 from 11 am – 2 pm at the Fort McMurray Tourism gazebo, 400 Sakitawaw.

[ Can honestly say this passed me by…@tarsandsnews Sat Aug 14 2010 14:27:49 (MDT) via twitterfeed About 100 protesters march 13 kilometres past Alberta oilsands sites – Winnipeg Free Press: About 100 protesters m… http://bit.ly/94F4Hb

[ This event actually took place yesterday… @WhenIts40Below Thu Aug 12 2010 13:49:21 (MDT) via twitterfeed Legal and Greenhouse Gas Implications of Canadian Oil Sands Development http://bit.ly/bub2oK

$100,000.00 is a pretty amazing goal... ] @FortMacToday Wed Aug 11 2010 14:42:01 (MDT) via twitterfeed Community groups raise funds for Pakistan flood victims http://bit.ly/a7qqPj

[What kind of oil CEO wouldn’t? If efforts are in place to try and produce oil sands responsibly, then it doesn’t help if it leaks into a stream, ahem, downstream…@KyleHarrietha Thu Aug 12 2010 17:45:02 (MDT) via TweetDeck “Enbridge CEO downplays long-term effects of spill”« Michigan Messenger – http://bit.ly/bca3NT #oilsands #oilspill#enbridge

Unfortunately this is not a big surprise to me. Looking forward to seeing how “Unwrapping the Research Conference” will address this topic. @Jon_Tupper 1:41 PM Aug 16th via web Shepell-Fgi study on addictions and family issues in Oil and Gas sector: http://bit.ly/bxYrL0 #ymm #rmwb #oilsands #oil

Not sure if Deborah is still looking for input, but it wouldn’t hurt to flick her a message. @OilsandsEditor 9:44 PM Aug 11th via UberTwitter Hello #ymm! Special magazine for the 15 anniversary of RMWB. What is ur fave thing to do? Photos next week. Let me know. #oilsands #ableg

CEMA Online – A Social Website?

CEMA Logo - property of CEMA

property of CEMA

On the 5th of August, the Cumulative Environmental Management Association released a new website – http://cemaonline.ca.

What’s CEMA you say? Well, their mission statement says:

“CEMA is a multi-stakeholder society that is a key advisor to the provincial and federal governments committed to respectful, inclusive dialogue to make recommendations to manage the cumulative environmental effects of regional development on air, land, water and biodiversity.”

After the website announcement, a few tweets flitted back and forth amongst the oil sands tribe, and then the very next day, Carol Christian of the Fort McMurray Today published an article entitled “Environmental agency embraces social media”.

Oil sands plus social media? You have my attention.

Continue reading

An Oil Sands Tribe: I Like It

Earlier today, Jeremy Dietz, a Calgary-based professional communicator, shed light on a recent trend. His post, Shifting Sands?, talks about the emergence of an Oil Sands Tribe –  an online community of people that are progressively  adding their voices to the oil sands / tar sands rhetoric. An online space that has been dominated by the anti-oil sands / anti-tar sands faction for a while now.

Jeremy Dietz

The first indication (at least to me) that this online debate was evolving beyond its lopsidedness was when I scanned through the comments on an NRDC anti-oil sands blog post. I was amazed to find that the vast majority of the people lending their voice to the debate were not NRDC supporters, but were pro-oil sands readers. Furthermore, these comments severely out-numbered those of the anti-oil sands online community.

I like this idea. I like this idea of an Oil Sands Tribe so much, that I wish I had posted about it first. Kudos Jeremy, kudos. Looks like we’ve both been reading some Godin.

I place myself in this camp, in this tribe. Yet as with all tribes, there are differences on the individual level. Some of us in the tribe try to use reason and facts to prove points, and some of us don’t. I prefer to think of myself as belonging in the former.

Those of us that rely on reasonable arguments are starting to have an impact, we are asking questions and probing lines of thought. This is needed.

Rational, intelligent debate is needed on issues of importance, and the oil sands are definitely important. They do after all impact the things that make the world go round: the economy, the environment, the transportation-slash-production-slash-everything- we-base-our-society-on sectors are all impacted by this industry, this community, this tribe.

So go read Jeremy’s post, and then come and interact with the tribe. You don’t have to share the same point of view – in fact, considering how complex the issue is, I can guarantee that you don’t. Heck, we don’t even all agree – it’s a complicated, multi-faceted topic, and informed discussion is a good thing.

New Kid On The Block – Alberta Is Energy

Alberta Is Energy logo, courtesy of AlbertaIsEnergy.ca

property of AlbertaIsEnergy.ca

You know what? This post was originally going to break down the new Alberta is Energy website… I was going to go through the site and comment on all the sections, what this particular area had to offer, what this one says… But I took a look at all of my notes and stopped. I stopped because I was, on the whole, disappointed.

Instead, I have provided a screencast of the site which you can find at the bottom of this post.

It’s My Own Fault

But perhaps I have no one to blame but myself. Maybe I am not the audience Alberta is Energy is trying to reach… when I took all of 10.3 seconds to quickly see the site on the 6th, I saw three things:

  1. A flashy site with lots of smiling people
  2. A green “Energy” within the site logo
  3. Social media buttons (Facebook and Twitter etc.)

In my mind I had built up my vision of what this site would (or should) be. And, when I started digging around, I found I was wrong.

What It Is

Alberta Is Energy web site

screen shot

AlbertaIsEnergy.ca is a brand new online resource (launched on April 6th, 2010) brought to us by a collection of energy industry partners and does not appear to be directly supported by the Alberta government.

It seems to be a place for people to come and see how amazing energy in Alberta is. To see how the economy in Alberta is reliant on energy, to see how many people make their living through energy and to see how many spinoff industries are supported by energy.

It is also set up to be a forum where we Albertans (and presumably others) can discuss how much we love our province and the impact that energy has on us.

I agree with all of the above.

What It Isn’t

It isn’t a response to our biggest critics. It doesn’t address responsible energy development. It doesn’t try to bring a balanced point of view on the oil sands, an industry that has been described as “the most destructive project on earth.” There’s an Action Centre, but I’m not sure what “action” I’m supposed to take… Based on the content of this site, am I supposed to take action against all those who think Alberta is *not* about energy? I don’t think there are many people out there who would argue.

(perhaps it shouldn’t be a response to our critics at all… there are other industry-driven attempts to put the record straight out there after all.)

It isn’t a platform for open dialogue. There is an attempt to embed social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, and there is a forum for you to see “what other Albertans have to say about their province and their sector. This is the place to discuss our past and present, and shape our future.” But I’m not sure how effective these attempts will be.

A Public Sphere – Sign Up, But Be Careful What You Say

Let’s look at the forum first, an area that I have a few questions about. The first question, why do I have to create an account to post – why can I not use my Twitter or Facebook account to sign in? Social media sites have bent over backwards with publicly available APIs to allow easy posting across the web.

Make it easy and people will be more likely to post. Who wants to remember another username and password? Another benefit for this is that whenever I post to AlbertaIsEnergy.ca under @MyOilSands, I automatically tweet about the post and potentially drive my followers to the site. That’s a good thing. (The service MusicHy.pe has embraced this method – just see how easy it is to sign in to their site.)

Another question I have revolves around the 551 words within the Terms and Conditions of the forum. I can fully understand why the lawyers made an argument for such an agreement, and I can also understand that industry execs are scared to do anything without their lawyers, but it does nothing to encourage open dialogue. Something like this will scare off many digital enthusiasts to other communities that rely on self-regulation for control. If the goal is to have frank discussions… well, it’s not going to happen here.

There’s a lot of language in the T&C that are scary enough, take a read if you’d like, but one that jumps out at me is this: “…otherwise in violation of any International or United States Federal law.” What about Canadian law? Don’t we rate at least a mention? (there’s probably a reason – like the forum software/service is actually based out of the States etc. and the T&C are taken from their service. But that’s just a shot in the dark.)

Social Media

Social Media Watercolours - courtesy of mfinleydesigns

courtesy of mfinleydesigns

There’s an attempt to embrace social media here, and I love it. I do.

I love the idea of industry engaging in two-way communications with the public. This is what we need. However, the site and its respective social media cousins are new and are missing content. I’m positive the folks behind the scenes will no doubt be making improvements to their Facebook and Twitter accounts (like adding a URL to their @AlbertaIsEnergy account). But, as mentioned before, they should completely integrate social media into the login/forum process for it to be effective.

There’s a YouTube account linked to the site, with one lonely video of a pumpjack. Alas, the expensive-looking “Alberta is Energy” video in the Video Centre is not on YouTube, so I can’t comment on or rate the video. I would love to be able to point out how many Fort Mac shots there were in the clip (Sawridge, OSDC, Shell on Franklin/Hardin etc.)… so I’m looking forward to accessing and interacting with more content in the future.

(Here’s nice little article from Fast Company regarding, “The Five P’s of Social Media–Where Do You Start?”, which gives a rundown on effectively using social media.)

It’s Not Easy Being (Orange &) Green

And what do I think of the colour scheme used on the site? Well, aside from thinking NDP, the use of green in the logo and throughout the site is an interesting choice. I love both colours, orange and green are great, and I can see why they chose them.

The sprinkles of green though… well, lot’s of organizations are jumping on using green in their advertising and public relations campaigns. Is it greenwashing? Not sure. Would I feel better if there was more information of responsible energy practices in Alberta? Yes. Perhaps they have such information (like water use and reclamation) waiting in the wings – the site has after all, only been active for less than a week.

So What Was I Expecting?

Dirty Oil - courtesy of ItzaFineDay

courtesy of ItzaFineDay

Let me make one thing clear: both industry and government have lost control of Alberta’s brand – particularly around the energy sector (read: tar sands). Opponents to the oil sands have done an effective job at getting their message across to the world. And their message? It’s simple and clear: oil sands = dirty oil.

As production and income levels from the oil sands continue to rise, so too does the reliance of Alberta’s economy on “unconventional oil”. A target on the oil sands is a target on Alberta.

This is the message we need to counter. And this is what I am still looking for.

Alberta Is Energy Screencast