Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Get Blog With A Little Help From My Friends

It all began a few weeks ago when I started giving some serious thought to this blog. You might think I always give it serious thought, and I do, but usually in terms of the content and the writing, not how it looks. One day, though, I signed on and looked at the page - and I didn't like what I saw. Drab colours. A photo of Fort Mac in our worst season, the one known as "brown", when everything seems a shade of that colour. It looked lifeless, colourless, without character - and all the things that this community is not. Fort Mac is so full of life and colour and character, and the old blog design didn't reflect that at all - and I wasn't happy.

You see, when I began this blog I figured about a dozen people would read it, and half of them would be my family. I never, not for a moment, expected I would gain any sort of local readership, let alone a national and international one. I never dreamed it would lead to new friendships, paid work writing, and new opportunities of the sort I could have never imagined. And yet this little blog did exactly that, and I decided it needed some TLC. It needed some love. And it needed a redesign.

So, I put out a plea on Twitter, asking if anyone could design a logo for McMurray Musings. I couldn't pay a lot - in fact, I was hoping for free, since this blog makes no money (I will not advertise on the blog or allow it to be sponsored - would you put ads on YOUR baby?). At times it has in fact cost me money to write, buying tickets to events or other things in order to write about them (although I am incredibly grateful that now I am routinely invited to events as media or as a guest, allowing me to keep the blog's financial books relatively balanced). And my plea on Twitter was answered.

There were a couple of comedic answers (you know who you are!) that responded with lovely but pretty unusable crayon drawings. And then Tara Abraham replied, and I knew I had found the person I was looking for. Tara grew up here, but is now attending college on the east coast. She offered to design a logo, free of charge, and her only request was that it could appear in her portfolio. She said she could use the experience, and I needed a new logo - so we quickly moved ahead. I sent her some of the ideas I liked, and she came up with this:

I loved it the second I saw it. Clean, streamlined, green, perfect. The circles, not really having any huge meaning but in my mind tied to the concept of community. The green, reflective of our forests and our northern lights. Simple. And stunning to me.

But then I needed a new photo, too. I like to take photographs, but I am not a photographer. I'm a writer. I was talking to a photographer the other day and she quipped that she is too busy taking photos to keep a blog - and I replied that I am too busy blogging to take photos. So, I put that out there, too, but on Facebook - I needed a photograph that reflected Fort McMurray. A photo that showed who we are, in all our quirkiness. And my friend Matt, someone I met through writing this blog, sent me this:

If you don't recognize it that is the Casselman-Lush Skateboard Park downtown at Borealis Park. Now, I've written about Borealis Park a few times in this blog, about the skate park, about the Justin Slade Youth Foundation that can be found at Borealis, and about an incident in the park almost a year ago that crystallized why I want this city to be a better place - the murder of two young men. Borealis Park has become a place where I often go when I need to sit and think about something I am writing about, or when I am struggling with my feelings on something. It has become a touchstone in my life in this city, and in this blog. The northern lights, of course, are quintessentially northern Canadian. They dance above us year round, and this past summer were perhaps brighter and more vibrant than I've ever seen them in my decade here. So, when Matt sent me this photo I was dumbstruck - because it drew it all together, tied up all those loose ends. The dichotomy between our urban environment and the world of nature. How we are both city and wilderness, how we are both light and dark, and how we are beautiful at both ends of the pendulum swing, our most urban and our most natural. I knew it was the photo for the blog, and Matt so kindly, so generously, allowed me to use it.

So, with my terribly inadequate skills I began the blog redesign, and quickly realized I was in far too deep for my pathetic abilities. It wasn't going right at all, and I was growing panicky. I posted on Facebook and I guess my desperation was obvious - because Matt was there, and offered his help. And when I not only said yes but asked if he would take over - just redesign it entirely because I was lost - he said yes, and then spent hours working on it. And he made it perfect. He made it completely what I envisioned. He took my little blog and made it beautiful (and incidentally this is like handing over your newborn baby or the keys to your new BMW, so you know I must trust Matt implicitly).

I think what I love most about this new look, though, is that it was a collaborative Fort McMurray effort. A young woman who grew up here designed the logo, and a man who also grew up here (and still lives here) provided the photo and the redesign. And then there is me, the one who thought this blog would never really amount to much but completely underestimated the potential and opportunity in this community. I needed help, I asked for it - and people from Fort Mac answered, just as I've come to know they always will. There is something very special about this community and the people you find in it, and that's really, in the end, why I write this blog at all.

So, people, welcome to the NEW McMurray Musings. Different logo, different design, same writer (sorry about that, but I'm not going anywhere). I'm thinking about exploring some new territory with the blog, too, so I'm hoping you'll stick around for some new adventures. Until then, though, I hope you just enjoy the new look - and I hope you love it as much as I do!

My sincere thanks to
Tara Abraham
for designing the beautiful new logo
and to
for both the photo 
and rescuing a blogger in distress! :)


  1. Very nice Theresa!!!

  2. Love the new design and the logo. Congrats! All the best~ Cupcations :)

  3. Looks great, awesome to hear people from the community lent their expertise!