Sarah Arthurs at the Grotto Canyon in Alberta.

Grotto Canyon Pictographs and New Scoop YYC
-- Sarah Arthurs

Earlier this week I was hiking Grotto Canyon with my daughter. We stumbled upon … (literally slid upon, as the trail was a river of ice, not to be recommended without ice cleats!) some pictographs on the canyon wall … surprising, lovely to find. There were no interpretative signs or warnings that this ancient artifact, this story from travellers long ago still remained in this wild unassuming place.

Being caught up in the work of starting a news co-op, I had a sense of kinship with these unknown story tellers, possibly Hopi First Nations from (now) Arizona who, for whatever reason, travelled to a possibly equally icy, windy canyon and left these particular stories on the canyon walls.

Over the centuries, human communities have found ways to share information, stories and ideas. Tom Standage suggests in his book, Writing on the Wall, that the centralized “one way” of media that has been the norm during the formative years of many of us, is actually a historical blip. He explores, among other examples, how Ancient Roman letter writing, the arrival of the printing press and mid-17th century coffee houses (hubs of conversation about such topics as science, commerce, philosophy) were all part of more distributed media models. They represent a multi directional, generative way of talking to ourselves and tussling together with questions of meaning, knowledge, power and change.

As we see the remnants of a once pervasive newspaper industry tally the losses of closed papers and friends who are no longer colleagues, it seems like we are at the juncture of endings and beginnings in how media happens in our culture. New Scoop YYC (Calgary) is stepping into this ambiguous and emerging space with three offerings:

  • We are telling stories of what we want more of. We are actively seeking stories that reveal a Calgary that is thriving, sustainable and inclusive — driven by the courage and creativity of citizens and communities.
  • We are telling stories with a shifted chronology. Our stories focus on the present and the future. We are creating a large space for Calgarians to name and share their preferred futures.
  • New Scoop YYC has a different ownership and business model. We are a not-for-profit (NFP) multi-stakeholder co-op.
  1. Not-for-profit — no need to meet the financial agendas of absent shareholders
  2. Multi-stakeholder — individual and organizational members from Calgary, as well as the individuals who are doing the work (the worker members)
  3. Co-op — owned by members and governed democratically

For more information contact Sarah at, or to become a member visit our website. There are a number of opportunities at the end of February to join us on this journey.

  • For a friendly introduction come to a Potluck on February 25.
  • For an official pitch and introduction to our work and business model join us at the Dawn of a New Media 8:00 -10:00 a.m., Feb. 26.
  • To learn more about Generative Journalism join us for a training day 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Feb. 26.