To be in the media, a person needs to have a mix of detachment and passion. How does that work? You are passionate about telling stories, and you have to care deeply about your work, but you must keep a healthy emotional distance from the people you cover. You can write about a cause, but you can’t support a cause.
For Dez Melenka, it wasn’t enough to simply cover stories. When she returned to CTV from maternity leave, she wanted to approach journalism in a different way. She wanted to tell stories of people who were contributing to the community, who were making Edmonton… better. She collaborated with Mike Tighe, and their stories soon became some of the most popular parts of the newscasts.
But, when the station decided to try and puts Melenka back into the “general assignment reporter” beat, she took a package, instead. Tighe left, as well.
So, what next? Former mayor Stephen Mandel, the father of Tighe’s late wife, Dr. Rachel Mandel (who had battled lymphoma) had a building in a west-end industrial area that was being used for storage. Where some may have seen an awful warehouse filled with a noxious chemical smell, Melenka and Tighe sniffed an opportunity, and the Creative Hive was born.
“We had to empty our savings,” says Melenka. “No one was going to give two reporters a loan for anything.”
The idea was to do video production work and transform the warehouse into a co-working space. But, when they opened, no one showed. And then, local celebrity Carrie Doll launched her new podcast with an event in the Creative Hive’s open workspace, and an event space was born. Add to that a clothing line designed by Melenka’s sister, Lindsay, and the Creative Hive has become a lot more than a space. It’s a concept. It can be rented for events. The Creative Hive has supported charities like the Nina Haggerty Centre and 100 Kids Who Care. And Melenka and Tighe are optimistic that, once we all have COVID-19 in our rear-view mirrors, that the space will thrive.
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“We know we’re not going to get rich from this,” says Tighe. “If we can build a community, then we realize our dream.”