My Unconventional Valentines Day

Ah yes. February 14th. Valentines Day. Its a day I kind of dread. While being single for the most part in my life is a massive plus (for my mental health, financially, and sanity), its the Day that mass media shames single people for the choices they have made. Right from mid to late January right until February 14th, they bombard messages faster than twenty intercontinental ballistic missiles raining down on Winnipeg on how you should celebrate it. Jewelers tell you to spend a small fortune on pieces of jewelry for your significant other. Wedding experts are telling you what lame romantic movies to watch. Floral companies are suggesting to go splurge on some lame roses to make you feel appreciated by your lover. Great make me feel even more jaded. Just great.

It’s these types of messages that make me, at times, and other folks in similar situations inferior. Seeing the images of couples on social media showing off where they went for the $150 dinner, the $500 ring the boyfriend/husband got for the girlfriend/wife and saying how much they love each other almost can make any single person’s head spin off their head.

I don’t deny the sincerity of what some couples do on this day, at the same time, all these visions of what love should seem often shallow, and fake. Commercialization at its best perhaps right along with Christmas time as devalued what this day is. Relationship expert Kat Robey in a 2018 interview said the marketing of Valentine’s Day, creating high expectations for people, is one reason why many people despise this Day.

Instead than being sucked into what mass media wants other single people and me this Day, I decided to flip the script and celebrate my own unconventional Valentine’s Day. Kind of my way of saying that classic line from the 1992 Rage Against The Machine song Killing in The Name of by telling mass media “***** you I won’t do what you tell me” on this day.

Tom Jackson Harvest Huron Concert Poster

Tom Jackson Huron Carole Christmas Concert Fundraiser for Winnipeg Harvest in a prior year.

So how did I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Let me tell you how many unique ways I spent this day that flew in the face of conventional wisdom.

For starters, one thing I did was I decided to purchase 12 Valentine’s Day cards before this day. With those cards, I decided to send messages of support and thanks to some of the non-profit organizations and charities I have supported. These types of organizations do the leg work to fight poverty, hunger, empower financially low-income citizens, protect our environment, and raise awareness on international development. I decided to write notes of encouragement to some non-profits. I wanted to celebrate my thanks to them for the work they do because its non-profits that do a lot of fantastic work to make a difference in our society, and quite frankly at times do not get the respect and love they should get. Most of the cards I had to send at least a week before February 14th to ensure it would get there by then.

Outside of sending cards, I celebrated the love fest by volunteering at Winnipeg Harvest in the morning and Siloam Mission in the afternoon. I helped out at Winnipeg Harvest in the Food sortation area. As I helped to sort food in the correct places, some special guests came by. Winnipeg Goldeyes staff and Goldie, the mascot, came by to show their love for Harvest by donating $2,500 to the organization’s work.

Goldie Valentines Day

Goldie Celebrates Valentines Day at Winnipeg Harvest

After spending about two or so hours at Harvest, I left for Siloam Mission to assist in serving lunch to its community members. I have only been volunteering at Siloam since Christmas 2019. In my short time volunteering there, I have had some very profound and touching moments at Siloam Mission. In January, I had a friendly conversation with a person during a Saturday night meal. As I was taking this person’s plate after dinner and I said thanks, this person said she was very appreciative of the volunteers at Siloam. I said, thanks. This person who has had a rough life said, “We are all survivors”, referring how those who walk through Siloam Mission and use their services are some of the most resourceful and battle-tested in the battle of life. That quote and that moment know will stick with me for the rest of my life. It’s those awe-inspiring moments that make you reflect what matters, and even in life’s just brutal times, things could be much worse. Those moments put things in perspective not only in my life but how in general, we really at times take for granted what we and how in an instant it can all be gone.

Before heading out to volunteer in the morning, I made three small donations to some charities that do some great work. While I am not the wealthiest person in the world (far from it), I do believe its important to share in whatever prosperity I have back to those organizations who do good work, and ensure we can be the best we can be as a society.

I do believe that volunteering and giving back to charity ranks up as one of the highest pinnacles you can reach as a person There is nothing like helping others become what they can, and increasing your self-worth. That’s something more than any box of chocolates, jewelry, or $100 bottle of wine from your significant other can achieve. After all, What says more about love than helping those less fortunate versus a bouquet of roses from your partner that you know you will toss away in the garbage bin two weeks later?

Finally, my unconventional day came to ahead by working and having the pleasure of dealing with some of the unique characters in the world. Just another day in the neighborhood of unrealism? I will leave it at that for a possible book idea. But the time spent at work with my co-workers as we sat around taking phone calls from these unique individuals with their complaints and

worked together to reach our daily goals.

Valentine’s day went well. I wanted to get something out of this day being a single person with no kids while not attempting to fall in into the trap of this day promoted by mainstream media. Through the unconventional Valentine’s Day acts of writing cards to non-profits, volunteering, and donating to charities, along with enjoying the company of co-workers listening to off the chart customer complaints, I felt a sense of self-love, respect, and understanding of myself. All three, which are often far short supply for everyone. For those who are in relationships, I find people usually try to please the other hard, and they will often fall severely short. I believe that if you are looking to find a love partner and get into a relationship, you need to have a look at yourself and love yourself first beforehand. Most relationship and self-help analysts would agree with this. It would help if you found joy first with yourself before even dare to attempt to find a partner. If you do that, I will guarantee you will be a much happier person.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

  • James 1:2-4

Random Thoughts, July 20, 2018

Welcome to my new daily column for my blog, called Random Thoughts. It will focus on daily musings and rumblings of everything and anything.

Random Thoughts July 20, 2018 photo

Photo by Adam Johnston

Now that the 2018 FIFA World Cup is now over, its time to do a brief reflection of the tournament. Regarding overall quality, and excitement, this ranks within the top three of all of the World Cups since I have been following soccer since 1998 (Tied with the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil for the top spot and  2002 in Korea/Japan, for third). This tournament had everything, from last-second winners, powerhouses sent packing (Germany), the emergence of old powers (Belgium, England), feisty workhorse teams (Croatia, new stars emerging (Mbappe).

The only problems I had were the Video Assisted Referee (VAR) and all my teams being knocked out. Nonetheless, it was worth all the time spent watching on my smartphone at work and hours of PVR recording. As for VAR, I think the bugs will be kicked out, and we should get used to those 9 minutes of stoppage time going forward.

Once again Europe dominated the tournament, with all four semi-finalists coming from the continent (France, Belgium, Croatia, England). The last time a Latin American team won the World Cup was in 2002 with Brazil. My sense on what I see from the skill set of countries who showed up to play like Belgium, and France, it may well be a very, long, long time before Latin America gets a hold of the World Cup Trophy, again. Going out on a limb and saying its going to be 2026 before we see a Latin American team in the final and outright win the World Cup.

Regarding the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup, the tournament is scheduled for November 21- December 18, 2018. A friend and I at work had this debate if the next World Cup will be the lowest rated in North America’s televised history, given that its right in the middle of NHL, NBA, NFL season, and near the tail end of the CFL with Grey Cup being played at this time. I could understand why the move was made to avoid the hot Qatari summer, and avoid conflict with the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. However, It will be interesting to see how it plays out, especially for Fox, who has the US broadcast rights with NFL games possibly conflicting with World Cup games. Could make for some tricky broadcast scheduling.

Next year, we begin the cycle of regional tournaments. Next year includes the 2019 Asian Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup, Copa America, and the African Cup of Nations. These tournaments could give some possible insight on who has the inside track moving towards the next round of World Cup qualifying, which will start as early as next year for some confederations (CONMEBOL).  Concerning South America, I am going out on a limb and saying Brazil honestly is the best South American team and should be the clear favorite, along with Uruguay in next years Copa America.

As for Euro 2020, France should be clear favorites. However, don’t be surprised if some of the major countries who were not in Russia this year (Netherlands, Italy) or those who were gone early (Germany) reach the semi finals. Just look back at Euro 2004 Netherlands reaching the semi-finals.

With the World Cup over, despite the hot weather, I could feel fall slowly creeping in. Soon enough Winnipeggers will turn their thoughts to fall and the new 2018-19 NHL Winnipeg Jets season. Will they replicate their long run from last year or take a few steps back? Tough to say. Will say, this though, fans should expect nothing less over the next few years of at least making the playoffs every year. Not making at least the first round of the playoffs over the next three to five years should be considered a massive disappointment for Jets fans.

On another local sports note, having Valour FC apart of the Winnipeg pro sports family will add more spice to our city. Consider this, its entirely possible three to four pro sports teams will be playing all at once in their respective leagues in either spring or the fall. If that does not get you excited about having White out parties downtown or marches to the stadium for Valour FC’s games in 2019, who knows?

I have always appreciated the beauty of Assiniboine Park. Very scenic. A beautiful place to get away from the madness of this world. Should take a day away before winter comes.

On a final note, debating about using my vacation time to hop on a Greyhound bus in early fall to see some MLS out east while viewing the fantastic sites of the Great Lakes. It’s a shame that Greyhound will drop service in Western Canada. Although at times uncomfortable, and dealing with annoying cranky tots are a pain, taking trips on the Greyhound bus, have been some of the best times of my life. It allowed me to get away from things while finding that peace that you can’t get in the hustle and bustle of modern life.  Those long naps were priceless. The Greyhound bus represented much simpler times of the past.




The Art of the Global Climate Deal: Review- An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

Originally Posted on Salay Consulting & Social Media Services

Synopsis: Al Gore returns with an update to  2006’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (AIT). An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power provides solid climate science, and a unique backstage pass of how global climate change political deals are done.

**** out of 5 stars

Its been eleven years since Al Gore’s ground breaking documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. It was released to critical acclaim and won Best Documentary at the 2006 Academy Awards and was a box office success, as Al Gore brought the issue of global warming to the public forefront.

Fast Forward to 2017, and we get An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (AIS:TTP) Call it AIT 2.0. The movie provides a good mix of climate science, economics, and global politics, all wrapped in one basket. The documentary gives a backstage pass of high stakes climate policy poker at the maximum level, which provides extra documentary value for the viewer.

This is what sells AIS:TTP as a compelling well thought out documentary. AIS:TTP has a balanced mix of showing the science of climate change, and its effects and tying it into the recent clean technology trends.

The opening section has Gore taking a jaw dropping trip to Greenland to see the effects of climate change there, melting area ice glaciers. In one scene, you can see the glaciers, crumble faster than an imploded house, which you could have taken out of a 1980’s science fiction movie. However, this is happening now and not in some science fiction flick.

If that does not make you think something is wrong, the Gore’s slides showing the effects of climate change from extreme weather events will get you pondering why we are seeing more of these violent weather phenomena (ranging from dramatic floods in Louisiana to wildfires in Alberta). Gore gives you a “walk through the book of Revelations” as he genuinely puts it into perspective for the public to understand how we see climate change risks in 2017.

While AIS:TTP does show the severe risks society is facing with climate change, it also showcases the rapid rise of cleantech since the original film. I was pleased how there was a good discussion of how the economics of wind energy, electric vehicles, and especially solar power worked out since AIT. Gore hits the point home of how much the price of renewables has fallen, especially solar today (which has dropped from $77.00/watt forty years ago to around $0.55/watt)

This also plays a critical aspect behind the second point of why this documentary works: AIS:TTP gives you a front-row access to the challenges, and deals behind the Paris climate agreement and how renewable energy policy plays a significant role in this deal. I appreciated how the films show you, as a viewer, of not only how the dynamics of global politics play out in the 21st century, but also how technology is attempting to bridge the gap for infrastructure for developing countries, including India. Consider India ranked fourth in global carbon emissions in the world, and is a rapidly growing player in the global economy. This leads to the film dynamic of India arguing they need to advance their economy to improve their citizen’s lives. Even if it means using fossil fuels, as Gore works feverishly in the lead up and during the COP21 in Paris to find a way to get India on side in signing onto the Paris agreement. Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk do an excellent job of not letting any stone unturned in the behind the scenes political dealings, and the aftermath of the Paris climate agreement. It gives viewers in understanding the scope and scale of how political deals not only work, but the importance in an era of Trump and anti global sentiment, of why building global political capital is critical, especially in the 21st Century.

While AIS:TTP is very strong, the only down point of this film was at times it felt like an update, rather than something new. AIS:TTP does a good job on updating info about the science, risks related to climate change, and the economic benefits of falling cleantech prices. That is what any good updates should do, is provide the public with the most up to date information for them to make educated decisions on the main issues which will affect their livelihoods.

That is what you I guess you should expect from sequels to documentaries: Good solid updated information, but nothing earth shattering. This is why its hard for sequels to documentaries to be wildly successful. That lies part of the challenge why AIS:TTP has not done so well, compared to the original, where AIT made $50 USD million. This film will not even come close to making what the original did.

Another reason why AIS:TTP has been lackluster at the box office has been Paramount Pictures having it in limited release for opening weekend, then only adding a few theatres the week after. In Winnipeg, it did not open up on August 4th, but rather the next week August 11th. There has been disappointment amongst environmentalists on the lackadaisical promotional strategy by Paramount Pictures.

Third, and the primary reason why AIS:TTP has not done as well is that there are much more options in distributing and seeing films. Although in 2006, when AIT came out the Internet was around, there were not as many streaming options as there is in 2017. Today, in an age of Netflix, there are so many ways to distribute a film, including digital download, Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming services. Factor in going to see a movie cost around $10.00 and you wonder if it’s not just  AIS:TTP, but documentaries in general, which could be more suited for these different distribution platforms, and achieve a high reach of engaged viewers. Look for example the critically acclaimed documentary, Sons of Ben, which focuses on the rise the soccer supporters group, which played a critical role in landing the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer. It gained critical acclaim while reaching a wide audience amongst both the soccer community and public.

Despite these challenges, AIS:TTP is a definite must-see in a year of weak movies (Besides Dunkirk). A likely Best Documentary contender at Academy Awards time. Go see This film. Not only to be inspired by the rise of the sustainability revolution through the sharp price drops in renewable energy, not only for the updates on the increased risks of climate change towards society, but go see it for the most important part: Go to it for The Art of The Global Climate Deal. This will be the invaluable lesson you will get, and ensure we strive to limit the worst impacts of climate change, while we help developing nations leap-frog past their dirty fossil fuel infrastructure.


Electric Vehicles Are Reaching Their “iPhone” Moment in 2017

Originally from Salay Consulting & Social Media Services

When the history books come to pass on 2017, one will look on this year as to where electric vehicles (EV’s) had its “iPhone moment.”

A decade ago, Apple released its revolutionary product. Although smartphones were around before, the iPhone helped change a lot of things. It helped changed how smartphones, and eventually the public warmed to mobile computing. It helped create new spillover industries while flipping old ones upside down.


Image Credit via Pixabay. Under Public Domain via Creative Commons.

Three factors are contributing this year to why EV’s are reaching that watershed or “iPhone” moment.

EV’s are becoming More Affordable as Battery Prices Plummet: The first shipments of Tesla’s Model 3 have now begun to hit the streets. Initially showcased last year, Elon Musk’s company took 373,000 in reservations as of March 2017. What is so special about this car? It’s Tesla’s first EV into the affordable mass consumer market at $35,000 USD a piece. One of the criticisms with EV’s was the initial excessive costs for consumers.

However, declining lithium-ion battery prices are now making it more affordable to mass produce EV’s, along with Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

With batteries coming less costly, EV’s are nearing a tipping point where they are near cost competitive with combustible engine vehicles. A recent report underlines this. By 2025, all new vehicles will be electric. It’s especially important to know given the Paris climate agreement requires all participants keep CO2 levels well below 2C while aiming for 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.  Transportation alone creates 23% of all carbon emissions, according to the World Bank. Thus, creating affordable, clean tech transportation options at the mass consumer level is essential in cutting carbon emissions out from transportation.

While other companies, including Nissan, Chevy already produce EV’s. Tesla has had critical acclaim with its prior other models, including the Model S. Just like how the iPhone 10 years ago was synonymous with smartphones.

Companies are Going All In on EV’s: 2017 is also the breaking point where companies are making plans to slam the brakes on fossil fuel based vehicles.

Volvo recently announced by 2019 they will cease to make combustion engine vehicles, and manufacture only EV’s or hybrids. This is the silver bullet car manufacturers need to go all-electric. In 2007, Apple entering the smartphone market with the iPhone helped lure other companies, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Nokia, and Chinese tech companies to get into the smartphone game, providing more consumer choice. Smartphone costs also came crashing down to insanely low levels. It’s now possible to get a smartphone for $32 (compared to $499 or $599 US in 2007 for an iPhone). While it’s highly unlikely anyone will see an EV for $32 in their lifetime, it’s entirely possible as more entrants flood the market, prices will drop to make EV’s even more affordable for Main Street.


Global Policy: You can also thank public policy makers around the world around the globe for helping contribute to EV’s watershed moment happening now.

While Trump dumped the Paris accord, other countries are strengthening their ties by supporting cleantech. France recently announced earlier this week by 2040. They will be eliminating the sale of all petrol fuelled based vehicles. Last year, Germany vowed to do the same by 2030. Policy makers are helping to shift towards cleaner vehicles, which adds another layer towards EV’s becoming a real force.

Thomas Friedman’s 2016 book Thank You For Being Late discussed how in 2007 was the watershed moment for many key technologies, ranging from cloud computing storage, solar energy, and smartphones.  Ten years later, thanks to declining lithium-ion battery prices, companies moving towards just electric cars, and supporting legislation, are helping EV’s have their “iPhone moment.”

So what you think? Has electric vehicles reached their watershed moment this year? You can reach me on Twitter at @adamjohnstonwpg, or by email at

Thank You Tragically Hip, Thank You

This Saturday will be a historic night for Canadians, as one of Canada’s greatest rock bands in our generation will play for the last time.

The Tragically Hip will take center stage at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Windsor, Ontario, and in front of a national audience on CBC.

Last May, lead singer Gord Downie announced he had terminal brain cancer, which shocked Canadians. As a tribute, the Tragically Hip announced they would do a Canadian-only tour during this summer to support their newest album, Man Machine Poem.


The Tragically Hip Performs at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver in 2006 by Radiobread via Flickr. Some Rights Reserved


For thirty-two years, The Hip have enthralled Canadian music fans for over a generation. I remember listening to some of their songs, back in high school at Miles Mac, to counteract for all the pop songs at the time. They offered something unique. I could not pinpoint it at the time (but later I would understand what it was they offered).  I had the opportunity to see them back at the 2000 War Child concert at the Forks here in Winnipeg (along with Chantal Kreviazuk). They performed some of their world-class hits including Ahead By a Century. They put on a sublime show that day. It was that day, I figured out how good they were, and perhaps one of Canada’s best-kept musical secrets. The Hip were rock enough to deliver a knockout punch, yet had lyrics to their songs that would make you think about life.

But perhaps the best thing outside of their music was the Hip represented Canada very well. Gord was a big fan of hockey. The Hip also rattled the chains of social justice, when needed. By writing about the injustice of David Milgaard in Wheat Kings, to advocating on environmental issues.

Take it all in this Saturday. Whether you are at home, watching on a big screen at a local event, or listening on your smartphone. You won’t see the Tragically Hip ever again. Then again in today’s age, you will never see a band like The Hip, period. With rap, pop, and even country dominating our music scene, good current rock in 2016 is virtually gone. Factor in globalization where anyone can tap into other genres of music from other parts of the world and it’s nearly impossible a band (Outside of Rush) like The Tragically Hip will ever grace Canadian music as they have.

A piece of music dies on August 20th. A part of Canada dies on August 20th. A piece of generational art dies August 20th.  Let’s celebrate what The Hip has done for Canada. Let’s not treat this as a funeral but as a celebration. A celebration of one of Canada’s best rock bands ever (besides Rush, and Matthew Good Band in the 1990’s). Soak it in. Laugh, cry. There will not be one dry eye from coast to coast Saturday, August 20th.

Thank you Tragically Hip, Thank You for the memories.


The Case for the #CanPL in #Winnipeg

My last post on the Canadian Premier League, I discussed key factors in making the Canadian Premier League a viable and firm professional sports option. This time, I look at my hometown of Winnipeg, and why the Canadian Premier League would fit perfectly like a goalkeeper’s glove this time around if all the ingredients are in place at  a possible 2018 kickoff.

A city of approximately 718,000 (793,000 in the greater metropolitan area (GMA) ), Winnipeg has grown since its population of 627,400 (677,000 GMA) when the old Canadian Soccer League played its final season in 1992.

So why now? Why would professional soccer work this time in Winnipeg, compared to 1992?

Let’s look at some factors.

The first is Winnipeggers understand soccer more now and have been supportive of big games when played here. Over 28,000 showed up in May of 2014 for an international friendly between the Canadian and United States women’s soccer team. Meanwhile, the FIFA Women’s World Cup was a huge success here, attracting large audiences during June 2015.


FIFA World Cup 2015 US Australia

US vs. Australia at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg June 8, 2015. Via Adam Johnston Instagram


Another case for a successful Canadian pro soccer team in Winnipeg: the possible backing of two heavy hitters: The Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and True North Sports and Entertainment (TNSE) (who own the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets), according to Canadian soccer blogger Duane Rollins. While I question the management decision of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, at times with their football operations, having a playable field with Investors Group Field is critical for the new Canadian Premier League team. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Football Club get much-needed dates, outside of Manitoba Bisons football, Winnipeg Rifles, and the odd concert. Factor in around an additional 7-10 games yearly at 2,500-4,500 Average per Canadian Premier League game (estimation) gives some modest financial muscle for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. While it would be nice to sell out Investors Group Field for a Canadian Premier League game, in the beginning, having a healthy crowd to the games is critical in encouraging Winnipeggers in coming out.

If TNSE is involved, it will add some marketing oomph to a brand new team. Ever since the Winnipeg Jets have returned to Winnipeg since 2011, True North’s branding of the team has been remarkable. They are worth $350 million US and have increased their market value by 20% since they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010-2011. You can’t go anywhere in Winnipeg without knowing what the Jets logo is. With TNSE scheduled to open up a downtown square, similar to Toronto’s Maple Leaf Square, having a soccer team to broaden its sports empire and attracting a larger demographic of Winnipeg sports fans would not hurt given the changing demographics of Canadian sports.

However, to ensure the future success of pro soccer in Winnipeg, some things will have to be addressed.

First, as I have previously on this blog and social media, you need a supporters club. I won’t go too much into that as I have discussed it and made a hard case for it. You just can’t attract suburban soccer moms from bedroom communities like West St. Paul.

My second point is the need to get our local media to embrace fully the possibilities of what a Canadian Premier League can do for Winnipeg. While Winnipeg has produced some of the most well-known soccer media personalities in Canada (Bobby McMahon with his work with Fox Sports World and Rogers Sportsnet, to Jerrad Peters from the Winnipeg Free Press), the challenge is going to ensure the club has a mainstream media presence amongst a rabid hockey town. Having dedicated reporters from both the Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Sun would help. Winnipeg’s sports radio station TSN 1290, by going after radio broadcast rights along with a weekly phone in should engage Winnipeg Canadian Premier League supporters.  Local television rights would be useless, considering if there is a national broadcaster showing all Canadian Premier League games.

But perhaps one last challenge is let’s face it; Winnipeggers are cheap. We are cheaper than cheap. Winnipeggers want a bargain. We flock to places like Dollarama, Dollar Tree, and Giant Tiger searching for deals (try going to the Dollarama at Portage and Donald daily). If Canadian Premier League ticket prices are affordable (For example 11 games for Ottawa Fury fall season tickets are as low as $96.00 for the supporters group section; $137.39 for the regular adult section), then that’s a bonus to get extra butts in the seats between May through October.

It’s not going to be a slam dunk. But this not 1992. It’s 2016. Lots changed. Demographics, the Internet, and globalization have helped spread “The Beautiful Game,” across Canada and here in Winnipeg.



2015 FIFA Women’s Worl Cup Pre-Game Ecuador Vs. Japan June 16, 2015 at Investors Group Field Winnipeg, Manitoba. By Adam Johnston via Instagram


Let me know what you think. Do you think pro soccer can succeed this time in Winnipeg? Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or by email at




The Social Media/Smart Grid Nexus


When you think of social media, your initial thoughts come to posting a link on Facebook, trying to connect with a potential employer on LinkedIn, or tweeting about the latest Major League Soccer game on Twitter.

The second aspect of social media networks most people think about is leveraging marketing opportunities to sell products and services online.

What you may not think about social media is its potential to enhance smart grid capabilities to improve efficiency, accuracy, and maximize the customer experience.


Social Media by Giulia Forsythe via Flickr. Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved

In simple terms, smart grids utilize Internet-based technology to provide two-way communication between devices and the utility, according to the US Department of Energy. Components of the smart grid include smart meters, sensors which transfer data to the service, and web-based energy management systems.

While the current grid system was excellent in providing energy management for the 20th century, which used fossil fuels, today’s energy system in 2016 is a lot more complicated than of prior regimes.

Blackouts in recent history, changes in technological habits, along with increased extreme weather risks due to climate change have strengthened the need to implement smart grids.

Currently, we are seeing smart grid projects seen all over the world, including projects in Austin Texas, and in Germany, to improve energy costs and emissions. Elements of the smart grid are being implemented in wind, and solar farms, and utility power plants in better managing energy systems.

Smart grid global market value is expected to reach $400 billion US by 2020, according to GreenTech Media. The World Economic Forum called for in 2015 a $7.5 US trillion investment within the next 25 years in improving our global grid system to meet our current energy challenges, while mitigating climate change risks.

Early in the 2000’s author Jeremy Rifkin predicted the implementation of a smart grid. His 2002 book The Hydrogen Economy, he argued that end users would use similar smart technologies and principles which helped propel the World Wide Web in the 1990’s to plug and play their fuel cells into localized Hydrogen Energy Web’s (HEW). Rifkin also notes this would help decentralize the energy system, as consumers would be able to share clean energy with each other.

While his initial prediction did not necessarily come to pass about the hydrogen economy, his ideas have flourished about a World Wide Web of Energy through the Smart Grid and the Internet of Things. He added further context in his 2014 book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society. Rifkin discusses the three broad components of the Internet of Things: A communications Internet, an energy Internet, and a logistics Internet.

Based on Rifkin’s analysis, the communications Internet through social media can play a role in easing the energy Internet through smart grid implementation.

Social media analytics can provide massive amounts of data in tracking where extreme weather events affect power outages.

Meanwhile, many companies are using social media to create a universal smart grid experience for customers.



Smart Grid by IBM Research via Flickr. Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved


Oracale’s Opower, creates social energy software for utilities to enhance a client’s smart grid experience. Opower’s software runs on both computer and mobile apps (tablets and smartphones, which allows a customer to get real-time data on how much energy consume while providing suggestions on how they can cut their use. Utilities who have used Opower’s public service customers have created 11 terra-watt hours in energy savings (TWh), with 3TWh, coming in the past year alone.

Meanwhile, expect further social networking and smart grid integration into the future as dynamics shift from baby boomers towards millennials. A recent study suggested millennials are demanding a mix of more smart technologies, renewables, and social media be implemented by utilities, as they become the biggest consumer demographic.

I would expect the next few years to provide some disruptive, exciting development for utilities, as they look to make Generation Y happy, lower their carbon footprint, and create a plug and play consumer energy experience.

Social media is much more than snapping a photo on Instagram, or uploading a video on YouTube. Mashable said it best in 2011:

As the smart grid continues to reach more American homes, it truly will form a nationwide social network unlike anything ever was seen.

SnapGrid Perhaps?

What do you think of social networking merging with smart grid technologies? Is this a good thing? How can clean tech, renewable energy analysts and social media marketers collaborate here? What challenges do they face?

Let me know. Drop me a line on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+. You can also email me at