City employee maps way for families to interact while keeping their distance

Karen Parker saw a window of opportunity. 

“I was looking for ways to keep my children occupied, but also for something we could do together as a family,” Parker said. 

“I noticed a lot of communities were promoting window decorating as a way children and families could stay busy and interact with their neighbours in a safe way,” she said. “It was a creative outlet for stir-crazy kids, and adults, and gave families something to look for as they went on walks for some fresh air.” 

In her spare time, Parker, a program manager with the City’s Open City and Technology Branch, combined her business skills with some of the artwork out there to create the new Edmonton Window Art Map

The map makes it easy for people to plan “window walk” routes. Just click on a location near you to find the windows decorated with messages and art. Like the Garneau peacock…

An example of window art in Garneau

… with the signature message from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw: “We will get through this together. Even if we are far apart.”

An inspiring quote in the Garneau window

It’s easy for window artists to add their creations and expand the real-like gallery. Just hit the green button.

Mother of invention 
Parker is no stranger to keeping her own three children on the go. She sets an active-transportation example, biking to work and taking them on walks and toboggan runs. When the schools closed temporarily, so did the opportunities for school-based extracurricular activities and social time with classmates. 

As one of many parents required to work from home in the COVID-19 pandemic, Parker saw the challenge up close. She used her data storytelling talents to bring the map to life. 

Map making tracks
The map is taking off. Every day, more points of interest are added. Local radio stations have interviewed Parker to get the story out there.

The fact that people are getting excited about it is a reminder that any kind of art connects us to each other,” Parker said. 

People are encouraged to tag photos from their walks on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with the hashtag #YEGWindowArt.

Aquarium, Ritchie. photo courtesy Sarah Hoyles

Editor’s note: The pic at the top of the post shows Parker’s children enjoying some window art in Old Strathcona.