Monday, August 06, 2007

Some Thoughts after the Heritage Festival in Edmonton

So, today we spent 5 hours walking around Hawrelak Park in Edmonton at the annual Heritage Festival. It was a wonderful afternoon for a number of reasons.

1. 75 ethnic groups had displays including crafts and artifacts, food booths and cultural performances. Living in the Phoenix area where 70% of the people are white, 25% Hispanic and 5% "other", it was wonderful to see so many people with different colors, music, languages, traditions and experiences. Our family misses that kind of cultural diversity.

2. There was virtually no commercialism at the event. There were only a couple of businesses that had booths (in out of the way places). So unlike a festival we attended in Colorado Springs in June that was essentially businesses trying to sell you stuff -- even though the event was billed as a city wide celebration. This was an event celebrating the cultural heritages of the people of Edmonton. Wonderful!

3. There was virtually no garbage around. People used the garbage cans. They recycled drink containers. Each booth had people volunteering to pick up garbage that may have dropped. The park was clean -- and there were over 50,000 people there!

4. No cars were allowed. The city provided transportation to the park. The only mode of transportation other than city buses or walking to the festival were bicycles -- and there was a bike park available that was supervised.

5. There were only a few police officers around. Apparently you don't need police when 50,000 people come to celebrate each other's heritage!

6. The event was FREE! The only "admission" was a suggested donation to the city food bank.

7. The weather was just right -- about +25 (mid-70's for Americans).

All around a great day at a great event.

Random Thoughts from Edmonton, Canada

Well, I haven't posted for a long time even though LOTS of stuff has been going through my head. But now, I am on holidays in Edmonton, Canada visiting my parents and I have a bit of time. So who knows, there may be a few posts coming -- some may even be interesting!

So yesterday morning we attended Central Baptist Church in Edmonton. Central was founded around 1900 by immigrants from Europe. It has a rich history -- at times quite innovative -- at times very conservative. The last few years have been innovative ones. I spent many years at Central when I was growing up. Even as late as 1972 the German language service had 450 people in it, while the English service barely hit 100.

So, yesterday morning I am sitting in the 9:15 service with about 200 people. The average age of those attending that that service was probably 70. The "satellite" service in the gymn had an average age of about 30. So here I am, singing hymns and listening to quite a boring sermon, yet I am in the middle of innovation. Here is why I say that.

The sermon portion of this service was being broadcast to the "satellite" service in the gymn. Not only that, it was also being broadcast live on the internet. In addition, another church, about 20 minutes away was also watching the sermon live via the internet. Really quite good -- considering that the "live" service had only about 25 people in it under the age of 60 and probably 100 people in it over the age of 70.

This may not sound revolutionary to you, but knowing the history of this church, and the people who are the primary financial supporters, this is all quite amazing.

Sometimes those of us who think we are innovative aren't -- and some of those who we think are boring, dull and anything but progressive -- are much more interested in trying new things in new ways. God is at work in lots of ways -- some we agree with, and some we don't.

Good thing I (or anyone of you reading this) are not God.