Blind Enthusiasm and Small Breweries’ Success Report for Vue Weekly

Dish-LiquorProducers-Jan25.jpgThis week for Vue Weekly, I checked in with Greg Zeschuk, founder of Blind Enthusiasm Brewery (and co-founder of BioWare) to see how business is going under relatively new government supports.

Beer-brewing newcomer Blind Enthusiasm Brewery opened shop almost half a year ago, and owner Greg Zeschuk says business is going well. That’s thanks in part to financial boons offered by the provincial government.

“Brewing in Alberta is thriving, with more breweries and distilleries opening their doors or growing their businesses,” Premier Rachel Notley said in a release this month. Read more

While researching, I found that nearly 85 per cent of Canadian beer sales come from domestic brewers. When small local businesses like Blind Enthusiasm Brewery are empowered to thrive, that stat doesn’t seem so crazy.

‘Chasing the Kind Rhythm’ Feature for MacEwan University’s The Scavenger


Macewan University’s The Scavenger magazine ran my feature profile of Edmonton’s 2016-17 Youth Poet Laureate today. Nasra Adem is an inspiring artist, and I’m so happy to share part of her story.

On this hot summer day, Nasra Adem gazes out at the 600 demonstrators packed against a precautionary police line at the steps of the Alberta Legislature, and puts her body where her poetry is. Wearing a traditional orange-and-green African dress that hangs past her ankles, and a matching headdress that temporarily tames the frizz of her thick black hair, she looks out from the podium into the faces of the crowd, and finds sympathetic eyes staring back.

This August rally has formed under an “End Racism in Canada” banner. It is, in part, a reaction to the alt-right extremists who had  marched in the streets of Charlottesville, Va., two weeks before, and, in part, a denunciation of the myth that racism doesn’t exist in Edmonton. Adem leaped – as she often does – at the chance to present her work for an important cause. Not necessarily as 2017’s Edmonton Youth Poet Laureate, but as an affected voice trying to change the world for the better.

Some days, she changes the young, urging them to embrace love and question what they see. Some nights, she changes the old, chipping away at their hardened views from a place of vulnerability. And sometimes, she is blocked by a seething lie that has poked at the Canadian psyche as long as she can remember. Read more

Special thanks to several writers who helped me workshop the story over at Flat Worms Writing Studio. And be sure to check out 13 other stories in The Scavenger about the fringes of Edmonton culture.

High Level Lit Salon #2 Preview for Vue Weekly


Jennifer Cockrall-King/ Curtis Trent Photography

I previewed the second High Level Lit Salon this week for Vue Weekly, and the lineup looks as spectacular and as diverse as the first.

Four local writers will converge at The Mercury Room on Wednesday to discuss their work on a non-fiction anthology reflecting on Canada’s 150th birthday from an Edmonton perspective.

High Level Lit: Musings on YEG for Canada’s Sesquicentennial will feature essays and poetry from 12 local authors and be published as a special issue of Eighteen Bridges Magazine this October. The project is organized by the Edmonton Community Foundation in tandem with LitFest Alberta. 

The High Level Lit Salon Series spotlights the anthology’s contributors with a live event, and the second salon will feature food culture writer Jennifer Cockrall-King, former Edmonton poet laureate  Anna Marie Sewell, and local playwright Darrin Hagen. Malcom “Minister Faust” Azania also returns to host the event, after he read excerpts of his anthology contribution at the first salon on Mar. 1. He says the anthology focuses mostly on the Canadian settler perspective. Read more

The Salon Series and High Level Lit: Musings on YEG for Canada’s Sesquicentennial anthology aim to acknowledge that Canada 150 isn’t a celebration for all Canadians. The perspectives of each writer reflect that, and I can’t wait to learn more

Needles Twirling: Edmonton Knitting Circle Feature for the Nook

Knitting Circle (10 of 11)

As part of the Nook, a startup Edmonton hobbyist website I helped run this semester, I wrote a deep dive on three Edmonton women and their knitting circle.

In through the front, and a wrap around the back. That’s the repetitious trajectory of it. The yarn ebbs and flows, weaving in and out of itself, guided by years of trial and error and two methodically twirling needles held by calm hands. And for some Edmonton hobbyists, it’s one of the best parts of their week.

Moving to a big city from a smaller community can be challenging in a number of ways. So to help curate their social life and fill their free time with fulfilling sense of productivity, three women that now call Edmonton home joined with their friends and formed a knitting circle.

Katherine McFatridge, Katia Reid, and Angela Johnston, come together every seven days to talk about their week and coach each other on their latest knitted creations. And They’ve been doing so for almost a decade. Read more

It was a joy hearing the three self-described introverts open up to me about how important knitting is in their lives. And more broadly speaking, making similar discoveries with the Nook over the last few months was a fun experience.

Edmonton Brothers’ Home-Brew Mead Hobby Feature for the Nook

Kade and Levi Bilton Mead Feature Photos (4 of 14)

I’m contributing to a small pilot website featuring hobbies that Edmontonians practice. This week, the Nook published my long read about two brothers brewing mead in their kitchen.

When university students Levi and Kade Bilton felt the woes of summer boredom creeping up on them, they decided to look beyond the liquor store to get a buzz.

Levi, 25, and Kade, 20, grew up in Innisfail, Alta. before moving to Edmonton for school. Now Levi studies law at the University of Alberta while his little brother Kade studies engineering on the same campus.

Even though school is back in session for the men, the hobby that hooked them in the summer is still keeping them busy through the winter: Home-brew mead. Read more

Watching the science-minded brothers as they worked was a really fun experience for me and the team. It was so compelling that home-brewing my own mead has now been added to my bucket list.

Edmonton’s Struggle with its Secondary Sports Feature for The Griff in October


Edmonton’s got a mixed record when it comes to attending its smaller professional sports teams. I broke down the complex issues back in October for The Griff magazine.

Kyle Brodziak of the Edmonton Road Runners had the greatest wrist shot of all-time — or so my 12-year-old self would tell you. Caught in the midst of the NHL lockout during the ’04-’05 season, I was exposed to great athletes in person for the first time in my life. My jaw dropped and I tugged at my friends’ Road Runner hoodies every time Raffi Torres laid a big hit. Those hoodies were $20. The tickets to Rexall Place were free via a promotion with my minor hockey team.

And the arena was only half-full. Read more

There are so many interesting things to do in our city, so while writing this feature I found it interesting to consider why Edmontonians don’t widely patronize the little guys in the sports world — whether they’re winning, or not.

Monster Pro Wrestling Profile for Vue Weekly Last September


This week, I’m fleshing out my clips directory with some older freelance work I completed in the last six months.

Here’s a profile of the Edmonton’s Monster Pro Wrestling that I wrote and shot for Vue Weekly in September.

Only a handful of active independent Canadian wrestling promotions can say they’ve been going strong for 14 years with no signs of slowing. Edmonton’s Monster Pro Wrestling, founded by Sean “Massive Damage” Dunster in 2002, just crested that milestone. Read more

Dunster and his team run a truly entertaining monthly docket of fights. You can find out more about all their upcoming events on the Monster Pro Wrestling Facebook page, Twitter, and website. The promotion has a big event coming up this Saturday at 7pm. Tickets are $20 in advance, and $25 at the door at The Ranch Roadhouse.