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Giving Back: Resources to Help Edmonton’s Less Fortunate

Posted on December 16, 2016 by

Edmonton’s winters are often unforgiving (as has been more than clear these last couple of weeks with this extreme cold and wind), which puts the city’s less fortunate at even more of a disadvantage. According to Homeward Trust, Edmonton’s homeless population was at an estimated 1,752 in 2016, which is down 24% from 2014 but there is still a long way to go.

Thankfully, the warm hearts of Edmonton help make the season brighter for those people and especially around the holidays, there are a lot of ways to help out. The need for resources for homeless and disadvantaged people have been in the news a lot lately (Hope Mission having 24/7 beds or deaths given the cold weather). Here is a list of some resources to help fellow Edmontonians out this winter (and year-round!).

 

WHERE YOU CAN VOLUNTEER

Many of the city’s shelters and organizations wouldn’t be running without the countless hours volunteered by Edmontonians. As such, most of them are always looking for volunteers for a wide-range of positions (both year-round and seasonal around holiday events).

 

WHERE YOU CAN DONATE 

Most shelters and organizations in Edmonton that help at-risk populations also accept donations, but demand for food at Edmonton’s Food Bank has surged this year and the cold weather has left the shelves at the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society, in large part, empty. Both of these organizations work with other agencies in the city to provide resources to the homeless. So drop off food, clean out your closet, or make a monetary donation to these organizations!

 

OTHER WAYS TO HELP 

  • Call 2-1-1 if you see a homeless person in distress or are looking for information about other services. The people at 2-1-1 in Edmonton will get in touch with services and agencies in the city to help those at-risk. In case of an emergency, call 9-1-1.
  • Shovel your neighbour’s sidewalk! It’s a simple way to help out the elderly or people with mobility issues in your community. Check out programs here!
  • Research reputable organizations in the city to donate your money and time to. With our office located in downtown, panhandling is a common sight but EPS and the City ask people to consider donating money to the organizations in the city that help these at-risk people instead. We interviewed 104 Street’s community liaison with the EPS in 2015 about this.

There are a vast variety of organizations in the city that run year-round and this list is in no way exhaustive, but gives some great ideas of ways you can give back during the holiday season (Homeward Trust has a very comprehensive guide of shelters, centers, and organizations in Edmonton here). With cold weather seeming to be here to stay this time, don’t forget to open your heart and lend a hand to those who need it most!

Change isn’t the enemy.

Posted on April 15, 2016 by

They say that change is good, but let’s be honest with one another, it can also be downright terrifying. Change usually means you’re taking a risk. It means the outcome isn’t predictable. And it means you’re about to lose a little bit of control.

I’m a new girl in Edmonton. Actually, I’m a new girl to Canada. I hail from the land of the red, white, and blue. Marrying the love of my life brought me to Edmonton, but that decision also meant leaving my family, my friends, the familiar surroundings that I adored, and the place that I called home. So with that I pulled up my socks and took the biggest leap of faith my life has ever seen. And you know what? It’s turning out better than I ever could have imagined. I have an amazing job, a growing network of friends, my guest bedrooms are always full with visitors, and slowly but surely, it’s all starting to migrate towards a feeling of home.

I’ve learned many lessons along the way: of independence, of intuition, and of resiliency. But what I’ve really learned is how to be fearless, and you need a little bit of that in the advertising world. We’re constantly encouraging our clients to try new things, to break the mold, and to move away from the expected. So here’s my takeaway. I encourage everyone to see the reward beyond the risk, to be a little bold, and to be willing to be okay with the unknown. More than anything, I urge you to see opportunity through fear.

Because sometimes fearless means having fears and having doubts, but living in spite of those things by simply allowing them to build new beginnings.

5 Tips to Make Your Space More Creative

Posted on March 31, 2016 by

In my experience, by the time you look around and realize that your space may be hindering your creativity, the problem has probably been going on for a while. Everyone is different, but these 5 tips help me set up and maintain a space that helps me think and work creatively.

  1. Get a Plant

At home, I like to have small, low maintenance plants in corners and empty spaces. Being around something green and living helps me feel awake, and it helps me keep up my energy all day. If your desk or workspace doesn’t get enough light for a real plant, consider a nice photo of a plant of an earthy screensaver instead.

  1. Limit the Clutter

Sometimes a little clutter is unavoidable, but if you can keep it contained to files, folders, or a dedicated drawer, I find it’s easier to keep the rest of your space neat and open.

  1. Don’t Work Where You Eat

Working where I eat and eating where I work makes it hard for me to focus on one thing, especially when smells linger. Nothing gets me down creatively like the smell of stale Pad Thai.

  1. Don’t Work Where You Sleep

Working in my bedroom or bed makes me so sleepy, and it’s hard to get going when everything around me reminds me of naps and rest.

  1. Keep Personal Items On Display

Looking at things I like helps me to think about things I like and keeps my mood up. Making my space familiar and comfortable is really important for me to be as creative as I can be.

If you’re like me, your space has a lot to do with how you feel and how you think. I hope these tips help you create a space where you can think and work smarter.

Extra Tip: Lovely little plants like the one pictured with this post are available at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market!

Valentine’s Day in Edmonton

Posted on February 5, 2016 by

Well… it is that time of the year again. The inevitable month of February, when loving your significant other every day of the year means nothing unless Valentine’s Day is perfect. I am here to act as your new-age Cupid and bring you a variety of fun ideas to make this V-Day one for the books. Whether you have a significant other or not, I’ve got you covered. Here are my top ideas of things to do in and around Edmonton.

If you are meeting your Tinder match for the first time, I highly recommend a date in a public setting. A visit to the Humane Society will see how they act with animals; are they a cat person, a dog person, or a straight up sociopath? If you really want to see their competitive side, I would recommend checking out one of Edmonton’s local board game cafes, like The Hex Boardgame Cafe.

If the dates have gone great, but it is too soon to tell how serious the relationship will get (and you don’t want to spend too much money; tough economy, tough times — I get it), but you are ready to take that next step to get to know them better, I would suggest going to Rosie’s on Friday for a Karaoke night. You truly don’t know someone until you see them belt out their favourite hits. Want to see what makes them laugh? Check out Rapid Fire Theatre’s Improv.

Take things to the next level by going on a mini road trip to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary in Cochrane; a definite step up from the initial dates at the Humane Society.

For all my single people out there, have fun at the Axe Hole, attend one of Edmonton’s local brewery tours (like Yellowhead or Alley Kat), and go to Denizen Hall to play a variety of vintage arcade games.

Treat-yo-self and treat-yo-loved-ones.

6 Posts That I’ll Delete You Off Facebook For

Posted on January 29, 2016 by

As zag creative’s Social Media Specialist, needless to say, I spend a lot of time on social media and I love it. Endlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn isn’t a time-waster for me; it’s my job. And with the title of Specialist, I feel like I’m entitled to a rant or two about posts that irk me on Facebook. People use social media for different things and there is no right or wrong topic to post about, but some posts just really bother me and make me hover over the “Unfriend” button before realizing I’m not brave enough to actually go through with it.

If you do post one of the following types of post, don’t take it personally, these are just my opinions. If I had my way, everyone would only share cute pictures of dogs on Facebook.

  1. One like = one prayer. I get it. 99% of the time your great-aunt Barbara shares a post encouraging people to share, comment, or like it to support a cause or initiative, it’s because she’s well-meaning. If a post is doing a good job at spreading awareness or raising donations for a charity or event, that’s one thing. But posts that make you feel guilty for scrolling past, or say “Like if you agree, don’t like if you’re the worst person in the world”  have no place in my news feed. They remind me of those chain emails I’d get in junior high that would say “Forward this to 3 friends, or else you’ll never find true love and you’ll lose all of your toes.”
  2. Vague or attention seeking posts. Nothing bothers me quite like attention seeking and so when somebody makes a vague post like “On my way to the hospital” with no context, it doesn’t fly with me. If you have something to share, share it but if you make a post like that, chances are I’m not going to ask for further details.
  3. Offensive posts. Genuinely you’re allowed to share what you want on social media; that’s one of the things that makes online platforms great. It’s a place to share opinions, thoughts, and what matters to you — but there’s a limit and definitely such a things as being too opinionated and too offensive. Honestly, I get pleasure sometimes reading intense Facebook comment debates that go nowhere, but if you’re posting something just for the reason of being offensive, maybe think again.
  4. Anything with a minion on it. I haven’t seen Despicable Me, nor do I feel the need to, but even if that movie was the Pulp Fiction of our generation, there would still be absolutely no need to take a photo of a minion in an “adorable pose” and put it next to a quote that’s semi-relatable about Mondays being the woorrssstt but completely irrelevant to minions. Make it stop.
  5. Sharing a picture by screenshotting it. This one is a little more specific, but have you ever seen someone share a photo by taking a screenshot on an iPad or iPhone, and it’s obviously because the menu with the time is at the top? Facebook has a share button. Please use it.
  6. What 18th century poem are you? (or the like). Sure, it might be fun to see what celebrity you’d be if you were the other gender, but we do realize that these mean absolutely nothing, right? Having these as a distraction from all of the depressing, politically charged posts on Facebook is a nice break, but it goes too far when people take it way too seriously and say they always knew they were a triangle.

I love social media for the value it gives with creating community and having authentic conversation. Don’t take this post as “Rules” for social media because I get that everyone uses it differently, but be weary if you are friends with me on Facebook, that I might be judging you a little bit the next time I see a post with a minion on it.

Hashtag’s Excellent Adventure

Posted on January 22, 2016 by

It takes a lot of work to be a Hedgehog, especially here at zag. They gave me the title of Director of Human Resources so there is a lot of human stuff I have to do. As part of my role, I have to let these humans pick me up, give me baths, clip my nails (I DO NOT like that) and in return, I let them hang out at their desks with me, cuddle me and show me off to more humans that come by to see me. Occasionally I show them my softer side.

Sure, I put on a show. I like to play shy and nervous. I like to play “ball” and I also like to play “who can snort the loudest”. My favorite games though are “who can sleep the longest” and “cactus”. I usually win.

For a really special treat, I like to pee on them.

On the weekends, I usually hang out with Hannah but she had some things going on last weekend so I just hung out at the office. I got a little ambitious so I thought I would clean up my pen, pushing my blankets and papers to one side. Well hot diggity, what do you know? Maybe I should get a license for these guns. Turns out I’m SuperHedgie. I was able to push open the door of my pen and lo and behold – Giddy up! I was out!

I should have worn my Hedgeometer because I sure put some miles on that day during my excellent adventure.

Those humans are sure thoughtful. Stephan left some lunch on the ground for me to partake. Kara had some papers for me to roll in. Matt left a Red Bull for me to try. Hannah left her shoe for me to nuzzle and take a nap in. Marilee shared her chips with me. Kat lent her fancy pen to me. Elliott shared his headphones and killer tunes. Ashley left me a nice big glass of water. Megan’s phone cord was fun to slide down on. Emily’s glass desk was fun to smear my nose on. Ronda’s family pictures were sure cute to look at and Alyson’s dog bed was some comfortable. Trina’s snack jar is now empty. Oh, and I got nothing but the warmest welcome after my trek to Calgary to visit Jamie.

Phew. I think it’s time to play “who can sleep the longest” again.

(Oh, and special thanks to Ronda for helping me put my thoughts to paper)

Making the Alberta Fast Growth 50 List – A Partner’s Perspective

Posted on January 11, 2016 by

Alberta Venture magazine’s Fast Growth 50 list of companies is an exciting list to be on. It’s a reminder of the hard work that has been put into the business and all of those that have contributed to the success of zag creative. There’s the partners, the staff, the clients, the suppliers and there’s also those people who support the partners, the staff, the clients and suppliers. That’s a lot of people who should be proud of the roles they played.

Making the list is something I am proud of as a partner and as an individual who works hard in and on the business every day.

Making the list is also a reminder that we need to continue working hard to do great things. The work is never over. I for one strive to be better tomorrow than I was today.

 

2015: The Hits

Posted on December 30, 2015 by

The end of another year means looking back at what made 2015 rad. We’re counting down 15 top hits of 2015 from the 15 of us at zag creative!

Alyson

Going to Dubai was for sure big on my list for 2015 as well as joining the Make-A-Wish board.

Ashley

My 2015 highlight was getting married to the love of my life. 

*Too sappy for work? Meh. No regrets. 

Elliott

My biggest highlight was finally dedicating myself to becoming vegetarian. It was something I had considered doing years ago and finally made an integral part of my lifestyle in 2015. #goanimals

Emily

Skydiving with my brother was without a doubt my highlight of 2015. Nothing can top jumping out of a plane from 14,000 feet! #ultimatebondingexperience

Hannah

We got new paper swatches and printing samples in the office this year, so that was pretty great! #justartdirectorthings

Hashtag

Not only did I get adopted by the zag creative family, but they also offered me a job as Director of Human Resources. I’ve loved being able to help resolve office drama and offer advice where needed, while being cuddled up in the sleeve of a t-shirt.

Jamie

I had the opportunity to work on a number of exciting projects with our talented team and celebrate wins on a number of projects I didn’t work on! I also had another 365 days of being a mom, which is a daily highlight for me.

Kara

In 2015, I’m thankful to be able to continue to work at such an awesome company with a group of amazing people!

Katrina

One of my biggest accomplishments in 2015 was moving into the Strategy department at zag full-time. I am so grateful for the diverse team of truly amazing people I get to work with every day.

Marilee

Looking back on 2015, the biggest hits of my year were getting engaged and buying a house!

Matt

One of my highlights from 2015 was in August when I went to see Of Monsters and Men at a casino in Calgary and being part Icelandic, I was set on meeting the band. After the show, my friends and I were drinking in the casino and found three of the band members hanging out. After pretending to be very chill and chatting with them, I proceeded to have a full-on panic attack on the floor next to a VLT. This year was also great because somehow I survived the last two terms of my degree and met this awesome family of beautiful people at zag.

Megan

This year I’m really excited to have successfully graduated Design Studies at MacEwan University and to be actually working as a graphic designer at zag!

Ronda

One of the biggest highlights for me this year is moving downtown.  My husband and I became empty-nesters when we made the big move to come off of an acreage in Sherwood Park into a downtown condo.  What I love most about it, is how much easier it made our lives. I have never lived where I worked and to be 5 mins to the office is a novelty I’ve never had before but one that I can’t believe how much I enjoy. Our lives have been downtown for a long time and to be closer to zag, our friends and our social life is absolutely incredible. We love it so much!

Stephan

My biggest highlight of 2015 was starting my amazing new job at zag, buying a house, and meeting my girlfriend Alexis.

Trina

Returning to work after kid #2, managing to keep them alive AND get my work done!

In Keeping with Tradition

Posted on December 23, 2015 by

The holidays are a time for traditions and everyone has different ones. We asked our zag team to share their most special Christmas tradition and here’s what they had to say! Regardless of how you celebrate, on behalf of us all, we hope your holidays are filled with happiness and good cheer.

Alyson

Watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the original – LOVE THAT MOVIE.

Ashley

As long as I can remember, my family and I have always eaten chocolate donuts (special shout-out to the Entenmann’s company) on Christmas morning as a pre-breakfast breakfast.  

Elliott

My favourite holiday tradition is the annual decorating of the Christmas tree. Not only does it signify that the holidays are officially upon us, but atop our tree is not an angel, nor a star, but a figurine of Batman, which further propels the awesomeness of the holidays. #theknightbeforexmas

Emily

My favourite Christmas tradition is changing into my new pair of PJs I receive the night of Christmas Eve. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of putting on loose PJs after eating a huge meal #foodbaby 

Hannah

When I was growing up,  getting new and comfy pyjamas on Christmas Eve was always a highlight to making the night warm and relaxing.

Jamie

When I was a kid my mom made a special breakfast for Christmas morning, which of course we said we hated as kids mainly because we had to eat before we were allowed to open presents. I now make the same breakfast for my family, except it goes in the oven while we open presents and we eat later.

Kara

My favourite holiday tradition is watching my mom scramble to prepare our stockings… on Christmas morning. Not a year goes by where she doesn’t wait until the last minute to assemble everything.

Katrina

Every Boxing Day, my sister, mom, and I hit up West Edmonton Mall like the lawless, hell-bent freaks we are. The deals aren’t great, and someone always cries, but it’s the only tradition we’ve kept up over the years.

Marilee

There is nothing quite like coming home from the Christmas Eve Service to a big table of meat, cheese and chocolate fondue surrounded by delicious appetizers. This is a family tradition that I never want to let go of. I feel like it is perfect because it kicks off Christmas and helps me to stretch my tummy for a week of overeating.

Matt

Every year, sometime around my Christmas, my mom usually makes us all sit-down and watch the 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” on VHS. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, I usually always cry when George Bailey comes home.

Megan

I really love the holidays and all holiday-related activities. At some point during the season I make sure to make a massive mug of hot chocolate, sit down with the Christmas tree lights on, and listen to the entire Boney M. Christmas Album.

Ronda

On Christmas morning when we were small kids, we would be up at 5am jumping on my parents bed, squealing with glee and proclaiming that “Santa had come!  Santa had come!” My dad would grumpily try to send us back to bed (which never worked) and because he was in charge of handing out the Christmas presents, we tried desperately to get him on duty ASAP. Thus, the game would begin. Without exception, he first had to get a coffee, read the paper, go to the bathroom or whatever stall tactic he could come up with. I just remember climbing out of our skins with excitement and it was torture every year having to wait for him. We still laugh at that today as one of our fondest memories. Today we, as the parents, bounce on all of our adult children’s beds on Christmas morning proclaiming that it’s time to wake up! Wait a second, somehow the tables have turned or could it be that some things never change?

Stephan

My favourite holiday tradition is getting together with my friends and going carolling on Boxing Day. A big group of us rent a bus and go around the city getting food, drinks and donations at every house we visit. 

Trina

When I was a kid (and still to this day) my parents always made us a “drink” for gift opening that consisted of Kahlua and milk. When we were younger it was more milk than anything but as we get older it gets stronger and it just isn’t Christmas if we don’t have one.

Dashing Through the Gift List

Posted on December 10, 2015 by

I love shopping. I love gifts. I love Christmas. I love shopping for gifts at Christmas! So, just in time for the holiday season, I am sharing with you some of my holiday tips and tricks for checking off everyone on your list, regardless of if they have been naughty or nice.

  1. Write down everyone on your list that you need to buy for. I keep my list on my phone so I always have it on hand. Avoid the last minute trip to 7-11 on Christmas Day to pick up a gift card for your long lost cousin that you just found out is coming for Christmas this year. I add/edit my list throughout the full year so when someone casually says they would like something, I write it down. It definitely makes Christmas a little easier and people will be surprised that you remembered exactly what they wanted without asking.
  2. Shop online. Around Christmas, tons of suppliers offer free shipping so take advantage! If there is a minimum spend to apply for free shipping, look at your list and see if you can check more people off at one retailer. Beware of the USD if you are shopping at stores in the States – it will be quite a surprise when you look at your credit card bill. Trust me, I made the mistake this year already.
  3. Whenever you find yourself at a store whether it a full mall or just the grocery store, pull out your list quickly to see if there is anything you can quickly pick up to cross someone off. You are already out and about so you might as well make it a productive trip.
  4. If you save money on a gift, don’t feel pressured to spend more money to make up for the savings. That totally defeats the purpose of savings.
  5. If you have a tricky someone on your list and the best option is a gift card – pair it with something small and thoughtful as that instantly makes it a more personal gift. Don’t stress out about the small something – think their favorite chocolate bar, a mini bottle of booze, or a pair of cozy socks, etc.
  6. Shop in small quick batches when you have time here and there. Drop by the mall on the way home from work or at lunch to pick something up. When driving by a store that you know you need to stop at and you are early for your next event, zip in quickly rather than drive by. Not only does this make Christmas less stressful, it balances out your spending so you don’t take a huge hit in one weekend.
  7. As you complete gifts, cross them off your list or mark them as completed on your phone. This is also a great place to keep track of what you bought and how much money you spent. It keeps everything in one spot and is always up to date.

Lastly, if you have no idea what to buy or where to even start, might I suggest my go-to-gift-buying locations – Winners/HomeSense, Chapters/Indigo & Rafters. They have so many unique gifts at these stores and you are sure to find the perfect gift or at the very least, you will be inspired and walk away knowing exactly what to get.

Happy Shopping!

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