You know, I love my friend Kathleen over at Kikki Planet. She and I get along like a house on fire, two feisty redheads of a certain age and similar sense of humour.
The two of us tend to have some raucous good times on Twitter, often centred around provincial politics. At her website and her Huffington Post blog Kathleen publishes a top ten list of Twitter accounts in Edmonton, which I think is pretty awesome.
Last week though I noticed she'd mentioned me in a comment on the Huffington Post Alberta Facebook page, and when I went to read it I discovered she had suggested I should do the same for Fort McMurray. Initially I suppose I thought "hey, Kathleen, thanks for throwing me under the bus here!" because I knew once suggested it would become expected - but since I adore her completely (and because it's a damn fine idea) that feeling went away quickly.
And so for the last few days I have been scribbling on pieces of paper every time I thought of a name I wanted to include. I asked other locals on Twitter who they would suggest, mostly to see if their ideas were in alignment with what I already thought (and while generally they were there may be a few wild cards in here, too).
I don't pretend this is the definitive list of those in YMM who use Twitter - just that these are the ones I always read, who influence me, and who I would write down as suggestions for anyone wishing to understand Fort McMurray (or YMM as we call it on Twitter). And so I present to you the YMM Twitter Top Twelve of 2012 - and yes, there are twelve categories but more than twelve accounts, so deal with it.
I never was good at making decisions, people. These are in random order as I have chosen to not select one as the "top" account overall - there is just no way for me to do that because I happen to think these ones would all deserve top spot. And if you don't like it? Make your own damn list ;)
THESE ARE THE TWEEPS WHO MADE THE CUT. CONTINUE BELOW THE GALLERY TO SEE WHY.
The YMM Pundit
I know it's a bad sign that there is already a tie in the very first category but there is no way I could choose between these two. I rely on them both, and so I introduce to you @kyleharrietha and @jon_tupper.
These two are my go-to guys for everything YMM business, industry, and politics. Both have a keen interest in politics at every level, including federal, and both have a certain dry and sardonic sense of humour that amuses me deeply. If you want to know what is happening here in terms of the very fundamentals you need to follow Jon and Kyle. Added to their knowledge they are both damn fine men to have a beer with, and funny as hell in person, too. I enjoy their tweets, and their company, and they easily topped the YMM pundit list.
The YMM Pot Stirrer
We all know it. Every community has, and needs, someone who is unafraid to dive in, to stir the pot until the contents are nice and bubbly (and occasionally frothing over). The top account in this category in YMM can only belong to one person - @Toddske.
Toddske is one of those unafraid to dive into any battle, defending his opinion with vigour. And the great thing is you can back him up against a wall, knife to his throat (metaphorically speaking, of course) and he won't cry uncle. I've seen him argue for points way past their best-before date, and while I don't always agree with him I truly appreciate his ability to never waver (although if you can convince him he's wrong he will in fact admit it, another quality I appreciate - but the convincing is not easy, let me tell you). I will disclose that I consider Toddske family and he is a very close friend, but he would win this category easily even if I hated him. Maybe even more easily if I hated him, actually. He is a staunch defender of all YMM and so he is to me a winner in every sense.
The YMM Biz And/Or Facility
Using Twitter effectively for a business or facility can be tricky. It's a fine line to walk, because Twitter is designed to have a personal feel for interaction, but businesses and facilities need to keep it professional, too. In this category we have the top dog, and they are followed very closely by the runner up. Tops in this YMM Category? @macdonaldisland.
MacDonald Island does everything right on Twitter in my opinion. They tweet about their own events and activities, they retweet others who tweet about local events and activities, and they reply to the tweets others direct at them. That is huge, people, because taking the time to respond showcases the true interactive nature of Twitter, and engages the users. It allows people to bond to your business or facility. And while many think Twitter is easy it takes time, and responding to tweets, retweeting, and composing tweets doesn't just happen. It takes effort, and Mac Island makes the effort. Frankly I'm damn proud of the job they do in representing the Island, and the rest of YMM, to the Twitter world.
Runner up in this category is an account that is excellent at spreading the word about their role in this community. They aren't quite as interactive as Mac Island but they certainly deserve recognition because they are very good at ensuring the community knows what is going on within their walls. I present to you @keyanocollege.
To understand education in YMM one needs to follow Keyano College. It's really just that simple.
The YMM Youngbloods
There are those who likely think Twitter is the domain of the very young, but surprisingly I don't think that's true in YMM. Oh, lots of young residents use Twitter, but those who use it consistently and with significant impact aren't that common. I am presenting three in this category, in random order. They all made the list easily because people like them are the future of this community.
First up we have my dear friend, and Twitter afficionado, @ashcakesquiggle.
She's a cute as a button transplanted Kiwi, but don't be fooled by that diminutive little frame if you meet her in person. Ash is a young force to be reckoned with both on and off Twitter, red haired, feisty, opinionated - yeah, sound like anyone you know? Yes, Ash is me twenty-some years ago. You've been warned, world. I'm not the only one of my kind in YMM. Follow her for her adventures, her love of YMM, and a dose of fresh air.
Next in the youngbloods we have two young men who I think are taking this town by storm. Both young professionals, both contenders in the last civic by-election, and both likely to become significant players in the future scene of YMM. Both are very active on Twitter, and both deserve to be heard. I present to you @tyranault and @mattyouens.
I feel pretty secure knowing the future of YMM will be in the hands of young people like Matt and Tyran. And I feel pretty confident that is where our future lies, too, because these guys are as likely to give up on their political aspirations as I am to give up on coffee and shoes.
The YMM Politicians
Speaking of politics next category sees our local politicians on Twitter. In this category we have one clear winner, with several deserving of mention. Local politicians have embraced Twitter with zeal, and for good reason. Twitter has to be one of the most effective ways to engage the public I've ever seen. I should know because it eats up a good portion of my free time. Tops in the politician category? The one, the only, and the honourable @mayormelissa.
Her Twitter bio really says it all. Mom, mayor, and lover of all things Wood Buffalo. She tweets, she retweets, she replies to residents, she directs tweets to those within the RMWB who can help solve issues - the woman is a Twitter powerhouse. I love that she uses Twitter so effectively. It shows a true desire to connect with this community.
We have some runners-up here, too. In the last provincial election the two individuals who went on to be elected MLA used Twitter to campaign, but since then they have continued to use Twitter to both disseminate information and interact with their constituents. I happen to have mad respect for them both as individuals, politicians, and residents of this region. And so I present to you @donaldkscott and @mikeallenmla.
Whether you agree with them politically or not if you want to understand provincial politics in YMM you need to follow Mike and Don. And you may be surprised to tweet at them and discover they tweet back, answering your questions or comments, or forwarding them on to those in the province who can assist you. They are fine examples of politicians who use Twitter to both campaign AND connect, and I am proud they belong to us.
The final mention is that category must go to funniest YMM politician on Twitter. RMWB councillor and all around funny politician is, of course, @orangelid.
A little obsessed with skiing, a strange little pre-occupation with trees (related to a failed role as a tree in an elementary school play I suspect) and a whole lot of fun Phil Meagher is funny as hell, and just one of those people you want to know. Sometimes I tell Phil he has no filter - which is what makes his Twitter account one of the most entertaining in YMM. He doesn't have a lot of followers, which is a shame, because those who don't follow him have no idea what they are missing.
The YMM Reporter
Since we are talking about politicians we should probably talk about the people who report the news, political and otherwise. This choice may come as a surprise to some as admittedly I have not always been sure that this individual and I got along as we are quite different. He's male, a credentialed journalist, and young, and I'm female, a non-credentialed journalist and...oh forget it, I'm not typing that. I present to you the YMM Twitter reporter of 2012 @vincemcdermott.
Active and interactive on Twitter, a dry sense of humour, and a damn fine journalist to boot. Vince deserves the readership he has, and he is the one I always read because he often points me to very interesting articles both from here and far further abroad. And in case he's ever wondered I like him, too ;)
The YMM Sports Guy
There is exactly one reason I know anything about local sports, and that is due to this guy's Twitter account. Through him I have learned about the Oil Barons, minor hockey, and he has reined me in on at least one occasion when I got my facts all wrong, too. My go-to sports guy in YMM? It has to be @tyler_king.
Tyler knows his Oil Barons, and he shares his knowledge very effectively on Twitter. He keeps me up to date on local sports, and frankly he's a super nice guy, too, open to questions and comments. And when you get him started on a topic other than sports, like politics or the plastic bag ban? Holy hannah this boy can argue. Come for his sports acumen, but stay for his wit and opinions.
The YMM News Source
Since we are talking reporters and sports guys I guess we need to discuss where we get our news from. Several local Twitter accounts handle this well, but there is one I always go to, and then three I often consult. My top go-to for news? Well, it's @mymcmurray.
Timely, accurate, and bold - hey, they broke the Great Kitchen Fan Scandal of 2012, an event that turned into one of my most entertaining days on Twitter ever (and likely enlightened several local businesses on how to NOT handle a Twitter account and how to lose business). The gang at My McMurray - Tyler, Ferne, et al, do a terrific job, and they should be damn proud of themselves. You guys are my go-to for news, and I bet I am not alone.
All three of these news outlets significantly bumped up their Twitter game in 2012, and it shows. If you want to know what's happening news-wise in YMM these three are must follows.
The YMM Scribblers
Just like every community we have those among us in YMM who write, scribbling away furiously about everything and nothing. I have a tie in this category, because these two are both everything that is best about YMM and best about people in general. They have no idea because I've never told them but I read everything they write from tweets to blog posts to newspaper columns. I present to you @kevinpthornton and @murphyverna.
Kevin writes tweets that make me laugh (like his puns, which are, in a word, terrible), and Verna has written ones that make me cry (particularly after her husband was injured by a drunk driver in YMM). These two share a love of the written word and YMM, and they are both writers of note in my mind.
The YMM Non-Profit Organization
This category was very easy, because the person behind this account could give lessons in running social media for non-profit organizations. They are everything a non-profit Twitter account should be - active, interactive, engaging, and focused on and dedicated to their cause. I proudly present to you @fmspca.
In a very short time this account was taken from few followers to a very respectable number today, and I can guarantee they raised the profile of the SPCA in this community. I suspect they have been responsible for many adoptions, and I think they deserve great credit because one of the challenges for non-profits is advertising. Non-profits often have very small budgets for advertising because they need to reserve their funds for the actual work they do, and so embracing free social media is essential. The YMM SPCA is a shining example of how to do this, and do it well.
I do have a runner-up in this category, as they do a remarkable job on Twitter as well, and they are close to my heart. I present @centreofhopeymm.
The Centre of Hope is a daytime drop-in facility for the homeless in YMM. Their Twitter account is active and engaging, and not only educates but encourages understanding of the nature of homelessness in our community. For a full understanding of our community and some of the issues we face one must follow them, too.
The YMM Funny Guy/Girl
This category was so easy it was laughable. Both of these make me snort on a regular basis. Both have made me spew coffee out my nose in the mornings, and on occasion wine in the evenings. Both are devastatingly funny. I give to you @nolan_h and @juliaebennett.
Nolan is a local radio show host and writer, so he gets lots of exposure to some "interesting" people. I won't share with you what he thanks his parents for every day (I do encourage you to ask!) but I will share that recently someone referred to him as a "retart", so if you encounter him on Twitter make sure you call him that. He loves it. As for Julia, well, she is one of the funniest people on my Twitter feed and I follow over 1600 people. She's local, she's hilarious, I've never met her (although her and I in a room together with some booze would likely be mayhem), and she has a ridiculously small number of followers given how damn funny she is. She's like this little hidden gem of hilarity that I now share with you. These two show that YMM can, in fact, be funny, and not all biz, all the time.
The YMM Community Connection
This category was perhaps the easiest of all, because there was a very clear winner. This individual connects the community with his tweets, whether they are about civic matters, local events, or things happening in the place where he happens to be employed. He is connected with the community, and through his connection he connects others. I present to you @rvthomas67.
Russell is a must follow for YMM because he simply connects the dots, brings community members together, and knows what is happening. He is perhaps the most dedicated individual on Twitter, faithfully Tweeting not only what he is doing but what others are doing, busily retweeting news and local events and information. And so I conclude this list with him, although if you are just starting to follow YMM people on Twitter he is where you might wish to begin.
Well, there you go. I did say this wasn't a definitive list, but it is an exhaustive list, as frankly I am exhausted after compiling it. I'd like to thank Kathleen of Kikki Planet for throwing down the gauntlet (and throwing me under the bus - you owe me a bottle of wine, woman). Compiling this list was more work than I anticipated, but it was a labour of love, too. You see I happen to love this place - this YMM community - and I truly enjoyed thinking about those who make the Twitter microcosmic community flow inside our larger community in Fort McMurray. And Twitter is like a microcosm, too, a little slice of life in YMM, just like this little blog has always been intended to be. I want to thank everyone in YMM both on and off Twitter for making this place always a joy to write about, and for making it so damn easy to be proud to call this my home. And with that I conclude the YMM Twitter Top Twelve of 2012. I think I'm gonna go take a nap - right after I call Kathleen to demand my wine.