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August 2018

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Namaste India: Exploring South India

 

I was born an Indian, which meant that I was part of the most diverse country in the world. Thus, whenever life blessed me with an opportunity to travel around, I would jump straight into it. Up until this very day, I have always looked forward to holidays for a chance to pack my bag and go on an exploration. Having travelled to almost all the major cities, India taught me to appreciate even the simplest things in life.

Once during a two-month long vacation, I grabbed my tote bag and decided to explore the place that I called my hometown and its neighbouring state. The Indian culture is diverse, but the culture of Kerala is exquisite. Right from my childhood, I was brought up as a typical Indian lady, but this place left me smiling like a kid at a candy store every time I went out on a tour.

The busy streets were lined with buses, rickshaws, mini stores, and textiles shops that displayed mannequins clad in Sarees and Salwar (Indian traditional attire). The coconut-palm-adorned beaches at Trivandrum and lethargic backwater rides in Alappuzha can be equally calming and enthralling at the same time. Additionally, the Kathakali dance—a classical art form, the appetizing sadhya, elephant festivals, and snake-boat races kept me fascinated on my very first journey along the southern coastline.

While Kerala featured a typically tropical climate, Tamil Nadu was enveloped in a sacred aura. The journey through this state evoked my inner spirituality with its stunning temples and immense faith in Hinduism. I moved to Mamallapuram nestled in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. The super rock-cut shrines here taught me that there would be no other place in this world where even stones would tell a story. The backdrop of traditional Tamilian culture and sacred temples soon transformed to ostentatious churches and French seaside colonies at Pondicherry. After roaming around the city for a couple of days, and enjoying the delicious seafood, it was time for me to return back home.

Days passed by as I busied myself with the day-to-day responsibilities, all the while getting my bank account ready for my next trip. The freshness of living in my hometown kept me fascinated, and I was falling more and more in love with the traditional culture and practices. Though I became comfortable in my role as a content writer, I still wanted to go on an exploration so badly.

A year later, another two months of vacation came by and I decided to finish my exploration of South India. I caught the next train that left to Andhra Pradesh and landed at Hyderabad, which is now the capital of a newly formed State called Telangana. It was Holi, ‘Festival of Colours’ on the day I reached the place and a billion smiles welcomed me. By the time I found a place to stay, I was bathed in a myriad of colours. The more I stayed at Hyderabad, the more I wanted to explore but time was short and I had to move to the next place.

It was during my trip to Karnataka when I found my true love: Bangalore —my love offered a lot for me to see. The bars, the microbrewery, the endless fields of grapevines, and a city buzzing with life that was what Bangalore was all about. The city kept me enchanted with the well preserved colonial architectures, lush green parks, and green spaces. My relationship with Bangalore grew stronger as its true beauty unfurled in front of me through the various sightseeing tours. During my days there, I went for walks and jogs in the morning; something that I never even thought of doing back in my hometown.

My fairy-tale dreams were turned to reality by the Bangalore Palace which resembled the Windsor Castle in many ways. Before travelling back home, I bought a bottle of freshly brewed beer from a winery and boarded the bus. The wine kept me company during dull evenings reminding me of all the beautiful memories of Bangalore.

A couple of years later, whenever I am asked about the most exciting trip of my life, my mind always rushes back to those days that I spent exploring South India. I was an introvert my whole life and I still am, but this trip changed me and helped me do things on my own.

Amber Fairlie: born to do hair

 

Some people are lucky. They cultivate a passion in childhood and pursue that passion later in life. It’s commonly known as having a dream, and with perseverance and hard work, some can make their dream come true. Amber Fairlie is one of those lucky people who knew what they wanted very early on. Chief Stylist and Founder of The Manor, a boutique salon in Davisville in Midtown Toronto, Amber wanted to be a hairdresser as early as she can remember. One of her first childhood memories is of her cutting her one-year-old brother’s hair. As a little girl, she used to look at the covers of fashion and hairstyle magazines, and that alone would fuel her imagination to be the one featured in those magazines.

After high school, she went to study hairdressing, graduating with honours, got her first job at a glamorous Yorkville salon as an apprentice, then went on to open her own business in 2011. Her salon reflects Amber’s personality and positive outlook toward life and work.

In a recent interview, Amber talked about what it takes to make that dream come true and revealed her recipe for success. “Really there are no magic formulas to starting your own business” she said. However, she is a firm believer that in order to succeed in life, you need a great deal of education. She keeps up-to-date with hairstyle trends on a regular basis and she advises everyone who wants to start a career in this business to make the most out of their education.

I found her smart, disciplined, dedicated, and with the right dose of ambition—a woman who can inspire other female entrepreneurs who think of embarking on a journey that is challenging, but also rewarding, such as starting a business. As an entrepreneur, she states “You need to want to own a business as this involves a lot of work: attracting new staff; new clientele as well as ensuring that existing clients keep coming back.”

Her principal mentor is Ronnie Stan, Creative Director of Oribe, luxury hair care brand carried in her salon. “He is an international ambassador, travels the world, and encourages everyone to further their education, pushes to think outside the box, and be the best they can be.” She says that since the job itself is quite repetitive, it’s up to the individual’s ability to think differently and occasionally come up even with slight variations to their routine.

If Amber could go back in time, she would like to live in the 70s. She says that this era represents a pivotal point in hairstyling. Hair carried a strong political and social message, think of the Afro and punk styles. Also, Vidal Sassoon’s career as a hairstylist started in the 70s. He became famous for bringing back the famous geometric hair style called the Bob that became very popular among celebrities. Who can forget the iconic image of fashion designer Mary Quaint?

Hair is part of a person’s outward appearance, and as such has the potential to influence how one is perceived as well as how one feels about themselves. Amber knows that her work has a deep impact on the individual she shapes the hair of. She helps her clients feel beautiful and good about themselves and that alone makes her happy. She knows everyone is a gift to the world and with every shape she creates and every look she changes, she brings out that side of each individual. Amber knows that some clients are afraid of radical changes; therefore, although she likes to change the look, she is also mindful of her clients’ needs and customizes to those needs.”

Since she got into hairdressing, Amber has had numerous runways, photo shoots, fashion shows under her belt, and her portfolio keeps on growing. She is a very determined woman and nothing stands in the way between her and getting what she wants. She is a risk taker and always ready to take on a new challenge. Since she opened The Manor Salon, her goal is to inspire other hairdressers by making her salon a space where fellow stylists can develop their career.

If she had a superpower she would like to be a healer and help people feel better. But isn’t she already doing that?

Get back in shape in the fall

 

Fall is my favorite season to run for two reasons: cooler temperatures to do intensity workouts without overheating, and perfect season to get back in shape after taking time off in the summer. Every fall, I look forward to setting new goals whether it is to improve on a personal best or participate in a new event. It is also cross-country season, which is my favorite type of running because it is low key, inexpensive, offers challenging terrain, but more importantly brings me back to my childhood when I first started running in Quebec.

Fall is also a good time for those who want to learn how to run with clinics or clubs. Many of these run excellent programs to match your fitness level and challenge you as well. However, before launching into an exercise routine, visit your doctor. If you decide not to join a clinic, there are many online programs to choose from, but pick the proper running program to avoid overtraining or injury.

Here are my top 6 running tips to get you fall ready:

  1. Gear: Invest in sweat wicking fabrics, a light weight jacket, and long sleeve shirt. A vest is also ideal. Wear tights or capris. Dress for the weather conditions and wear reflective gear when there is less light. Dress in layers. I often wear a running cap to keep my head warm.
  2. Footwear: Visit a specialty running store to get them fitted properly. Trail runners are best for hitting the trails. I have two pairs of shoes to alternate my workouts in. For cross country, I wear trail shoes to keep me from slipping on rocks or loose gravel.
  3. Reward: When the weather is colder than usual, and you don’t feel like running, I find a good way to get me in the mood is to reward myself after a run with a hot drink. Otherwise, running with a friend will also keep you committed to working out. Once a week, I try to run with a friend to keep me motivated.
  4. Social: Join a running group to meet new friends and pick up running tips or advice.
  5. Hydration: Drink plenty of water even though it is cold, and follow a healthy diet. If you have any dietary concerns, ask a registered dietitian before you start running.
  6. Stretch: After your workout, stretch all your muscle groups. I do a cool-down after a hard training interval session then I stretch.

Fall is a good time to try some cross-country running, explore the trails, and improve your performance or get back into fitness after taking the summer off.

Seth Rogen’s rocket: sound advice from a comedy star

I am on the platform waiting for the train home and after the ritual ding-dong sound that comes before an announcement, I hear “Hello TTC customers! Seth Rogen here, fellow Canadian and public transit user. I always hold the door for my mother because she raised me right, but holding a subway door for her would get me in trouble. I don’t need the hassle or the delay, so leave the doors alone!” This is one of the 13 messages being aired by the TTC to remind riders that there is an etiquette even when taking the bus or train.

After the successful experiment to utilize Seth Rogen’s voice in Vancouver by TransLink to give tips on transit riding etiquette and courtesy, it’s time for Torontonians to be entertained and educated while using the TTC. As Rogen himself announced on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon “Toronto got in on the action as well. They got jealous.”

Since the beginning of August, TTC riders have been entertained by Rogen’s hilarious friendly scolding announcements like, don’t clip your nails, don’t eat your dinner on the train and other gross enough bad habits. Yes, apparently people do it enough to require such reminders. So, let’s see how effective this experiment will be in helping “create decorum” as Rogen puts it.

In a public statement, Toronto Mayor John Tory’s comment on the move is an “example of how we’re moving the TTC forward in new and innovative ways.”

Although some TTC customers would had expressed a preference for someone morel local, such as Drake or Mike Myers, Rogen with his voice and the unique laugh, and more importantly as a fellow Canadian, he is a fitting choice and close enough to my backyard! And he grew up taking the public transport, he cares about better manners displayed in public and he is not getting paid for it.

On the website, the TTC “thanks Seth for his time and generosity in this fun and unique project. We also thank our customers for doing their part in making riding the TTC a more positive experience for everyone.”

Did ambition hurt Smart Track?

A group of colleagues and I set up the Transit Alliance back in 2011 to educate the public on the need for dedicated transit funding and transit development. We believed that transit development was suffering because politicians used it to garner votes, but few bothered delivering on their promises. Our goal at the Alliance was to keep transit development in the public eye, so politicians couldn’t slink away from it. By keeping the level of discussion around transit constant, the public would demand development. We started the discussion on dedicated transit funding, we worked on building support on the use of tolls, and we advocated on the need to build the Relief Subway Line.

As I look back over our work, I realize that our biggest challenges came from politicians who tried to use transit as a stepping stone to power. Politicians, who created controversy over what and where transit lines should be built, were actually delaying the development of transit across Toronto. For example the Eglinton West subway line broke ground in 1994, but was cancelled with the tunnel filled in by Premier Mike Harris in 1995, to the horror of transit development experts around the world.

Political candidates (desperate for power) continually throw out transit plans that will garner the most votes. But transit is a complex issue and planning it properly to meet with population and density growth should be left to educated experts not campaign teams. Unfortunately, in Toronto few politicians listen to the experts.

In 2014 Mayor John Tory came out with a transit plan that was put together by some of the best transit experts in North America. Their focus was to create a transit plan that would help not just Toronto, but the entire region. And knowing the political road blocks likely to happen along the way, my guess is that they created a plan that asked for much more than what is essential, as politicians and public servants would invariably widdle down the plan over time. Mayor Tory’s Smart Track plan lived up to its name and was a smart plan for the entire region. Tory pointed out that the Relief Line was the highest priority subway line, but he also knew that the connections that moved people across the region were key to a strong transit network.

What many don’t realize is that politicians rely on public servants to deliver on their plans. Mayor Tory relied on his former chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat to figure out how to deliver Smart Track efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to do it and seemed to have stalled the process. I’ve grown to admire and respect Mayor Tory. But I know him well enough to know that he would never point this out.

Today I learned that Jennifer Keesmaat, former chief planner, is now blaming Mayor Tory for her failure to deliver Smart Track. Her lack of willingness to take responsibility for her failures is shameful. But to blame Mayor Tory for her lack of success makes me wonder if she might have actually worked to hold it back? As chief planner, she could have added multiple layers of red tape, she could have delayed every aspect of the planning process around Smart Track and undermined the entire project.

I remember a dinner the Transit Alliance hosted with Jennifer Keesmaat as our guest of honour back in 2015 when she was Toronto’s chief planner. Keesmaat spoke about how great the Smart Track plan was and how it would help relieve gridlock in and out of the city. After dinner, I suggested that she should go into politics, that she might gain a lot of support. Her response – “Why do you think I’m here?”

Doctoring the results: bias against female students unmasked

Many women in Japan have recently discovered what they suspected all along that their dream of becoming doctors was shattered by the decision of several prestigious medical schools across the country that rigged their entry exam papers. These were marked down to stop them from pursuing a career in the medical field and ensure that more men than women were enrolled. The scandal, first uncovered at the Tokyo Medical University, quickly extended to other medical schools.

Last week the school admitted that the practice has been customary for more than ten years. Tetsuo Yukioka, Director of Tokyo Medical University in a press conference stated “We deeply apologize for having inconvenienced and caused people pain with such a serious scandal […] Society is changing rapidly and we need to respond to that and any organization that fails to recognize women will grow weak. And we fail to contribute to society.” He also stated that he was not aware of the rigging and that he was never involved.

The news came to light during an investigation regarding the son of an education ministry official and how he was allegedly admitted in order for the school to obtain research funds. Both the bureaucrat and the former head of the school were charged with bribery. The revelations have generated such a wide echo around the world to prompt the education ministry to order an investigation at many medical schools across Japan. Following this outbreak, the Education Ministry asked many medical schools to provide six years-worth of data on the genders and ages of all applicants.

The Tokyo Medical University kept the female student population at 30 percent, due to concerns about female doctors’ leaving their career following pregnancy and to take care of their children. The message is clear: since women will eventually quit their jobs to start a family, there is no point bothering with education! Let’s let the men do the heavy lifting.

In Japan women are massively underrepresented in politics, certain professions including medicine, and as company executives, accounting for more than 40% of the workforce. According to a 2017 World Economic Forum survey, Japan ranked as 114th in a list of 144 countries for gender equality. The lack of female doctors positions Japan well behind other advanced countries. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in 2015 Japan had 21 percent of female doctors against the OECD average of 45 percent.

That Japanese companies are more likely to promote men than women was known; however, the malpractice carried nowadays by educational institutions of denying female applicants entry in one of the most advanced economies in the world carries a very powerful weight. When it comes to equal opportunities, some societies are way behind.

Interestingly enough, a Japanese Internet portal Joy.net conducted a survey of Japanese female doctors, asking for their opinion on Tokyo Medical University’s test score manipulation, and found their responses rather surprising as they expressed understanding as to why the score was rigged. In other words, if even women justify the reason behind the rigging, that demonstrates that acceptance of gender inequality is so deeply ingrained in the female psyche that women do not fully embrace the concept of being on par with men; or to put it bluntly they have come to accept dishonesty and discrimination.

Furthermore, if it is true that women are more likely to quit their jobs after they get married and have children, then it is time for their male counterparts to take their share of childrearing responsibilities and for the Japanese society to create a work environment where it’s easier for female doctors to return to the workforce after maternity leave. In other words, it is time to start a discussion nationwide about putting in place a gender balanced policy in all professions across the country.

Staying strong on the Danforth

 

Like many Torontonians, I went to the Taste of the Danforth festival over the weekend. This year was a special celebration as it marks the festival’s 25th anniversary festival and it’s also taking place just three weeks after a deadly shooting on Danforth Avenue where two people were killed and 13 injured.  The Taste of the Danforth carried a message to stay stronger together to heal and show resilience as the Danforth and as a city. The spontaneous memorial, which was set up at the Alexander the Great Parkette after the tragedy, was moved to accommodate the Celebrity Stage. There visitors could pay their respects to the people who lost their life that night and the 13 that were injured.

The festival has typically attracted 1.5 million visitors each year. However, this year, it was predicted to host record numbers. On Friday night Prime Minister Trudeau and Mayor Tory opened the festival taking a moment of silence to remember that night and the victims including the two young women, Reese Fallon and Julianna Kosiz. T-shirts and buttons were sold saying #DanforthStrong and #TorontoStrongTogether. The proceeds will go to the Toronto Foundation set up to support the families of the victims. A benefit concert took place at the Danforth Music Hall where Billy Talent performed among other bands.

Many security prevention measures were in place this year. Security guards and police officers were on duty, garbage trucks were placed at major intersections, and street litter bins were sealed. It’s a sad reality we are all forced to face as a community to have to anticipate the next evil plan.

The festival featured three stages with live entertainment with Greek music and dancers as well as other cultural dances from around the world with teachers giving 15-minute dance lessons.

The Taste of the Danforth is a festival celebrating food, Canada’s multiculturalism and the Danforth’s Greek heritage—200,000 residents of the GTA are of Greek ancestry, the third largest Hellenic community outside of Greece. Here everyone has the opportunity to experience being ‘Greek for the Day’, eating chicken souvlaki, gyro sandwiches, and spanakopita.  Let’s not forget the smashing a plate in typical Greek tradition! Apparently, there are many legends that go around about this custom, one being why wash your dishes when you can break them? My favourite legend has it that the voluntary breaking of a plate is a form of controlled loss, and helps the person who breaks the plate in dealing with the death of a loved one. This is quite fitting and cathartic given this year’s circumstances.  So, as a Greek for a day, I ate chicken souvlaki, smashed a plate, and then shouted ‘Opa’!

Trade off? Canada’s delicate balance between trade and ethics

Canada and Saudi Arabia are in the middle of a diplomatic spat that is threatening the relationship between both countries including in the area of trade. How did we get to this point?

Whilst Saudi Arabia was praised in 2018 for giving women the right to drive, there is still a lot to do to bring the country up-to-speed on women’s rights policy. From the time they are born, women are forced to live under male guardianship. The first guardian is her father, even her brother, her uncle, or her son, then if she marries it’s her husband. It’s her guardian’s role at any given point in her life to grant her permission to do things like go to school, travel, work or get married. Although the guardianship rule is not a written law, it’s has been customary practice in the country for hundreds of years. Those in favour of the system state that guardianship offers women protection and love and see it as a form of duty, those against it state that guardianship is plain slavery. Over the last few years, a movement started that has resulted in the signing of a petition by thousands of people to end male guardianship.

Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who came to power in June 2017, by giving women the right to drive, positioned himself as a young modernizer. The whole world applauded the change, seeing it as a sign of a new policy direction. However, besides that, he has shown no intention to improve women’s rights and general human rights policy; in fact, he is proving to be just as cruel and intolerant as his predecessors through repression of religious minorities and public floggings.

The woman at the centre of the current political storm with Canada, is Samar Badawi, a young woman who has devoted her life to improving women’s rights in her country. Her fight started when her father wanted to stop her from marrying the man she loved which resulted in her arrest. Samar was at the forefront in the driving campaign which earned women the right to drive early 2018. Following winning the International Women of Courage Award in 2012, given by the U.S. State Department, for championing women’s rights, she was first banned from leaving the country in 2014, then arrested in 2016. Her brother is blogger Raif Badawi who was arrested in 2012 for condemning the government of Saudi. His wife and children live in Quebec and became Canadian citizens.

Samar’s activism continued and when she and her fellow activist Nassima al-Sadah were  arrested again, Canada’s response led to the current spat. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry tweeted “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.” As a reaction or as some would call it an overreaction, the Saudis withdrew their ambassador, removed the Canadian ambassador, suspended flights to and from Canada, recalled Saudi students studying in Canada, barred the import of Canadian wheat, and suspended all new trade deals. The message from the Saudi’s is loud and clear and when it comes to human rights, they don’t want to be told off. Relationships with other countries are strictly business.

As the spat continued, in a statement this week Prime Minister Trudeau said “As the minister has said and as we will repeat, Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights.” Thus, Canada has made its ethical position clear even though it has already come at some cost. Meanwhile other major trading partners of both Canada and Saudi Arabia have remained relatively quiet.

The buck starts here!

 

Many People may have complained about the lack of details in Doug Ford’s campaign platform; however, one thing is certain, Doug Ford is planning to keep his promises. One of the key promises of his election campaign, “buck-a-beer” will be kept starting August 27 just before Labour Day weekend. The plan is to lower the minimum price of a can or a bottle of beer with an alcohol volume below 5.6 percent to $1 from $1.25. The announcement was made this week, conveniently before Civic Holiday weekend when Premier Ford didn’t forget to wish everyone a “responsible” long weekend “with your beverage of choice”. Being responsible does not always go hand in hand with alcohol. A spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) who fear cheaper beer sends the wrong message, stated that “increased consumption can in turn lead to increase alcohol related problems, including impaired driving.”

Of course, the buck-a-beer approach is not new to Ontario. In 2008, the Liberal government scraped it to increase the minimum price claiming “social responsibility”. With the costs of making beer going up and an increase in the provincial and federal taxes, brewers could not afford to sell their product at the minimum price.

A few questions sprung to mind as I heard the news. Is a 25-cent reduction significant to beer aficionados? How is it even possible to produce good quality beer at a cheaper cost? Why show so much care for consumers’ pockets and none for the brewers who will have to somehow lower production costs while still keeping the potion potable? Premier Ford claims that “for too long beer consumers have been forced to pay inflated prices for beer in order to increase the profits of big corporations. We’re going to allow price competition for beer and this will save consumers money.” He also claims that buck-a-beer will increase the competition in the beer market. Maybe the program will appeal to those brewers that are willing to sacrifice quality for the sake of more sales. Whereas small brewers have already stated that they will not embrace the plan as too costly, large companies will benefit from the program as with a wide range of products they will be able to make a cheaper one at the minimum price and still make a bit of profit.

The Government has stated that this initiative will not cost taxpayers anything; it is all on the brewers’ shoulders to carry the weight of the price reduction. The plan is totally voluntary and to participating brewers, the Ontario government will offer “non-financial incentives” such as prime spots in LCBO stores, free ads in flyers and magazine among the rewards. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park, said that these incentives will come at a cost to the province as these LCBO promotions “have monetary value”.

What’s more, the buck-a-beer benefit to the people sits in stark contrast with the news of the scraping of the basic income project. Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod stated that it is too expensive. The basic income pilot started in 2017 and was being tested over a period of three years to help make a difference in the lives of people on low income. Unlike the buck-a-beer plan, the promise that Ford made to support people on basic incomes is not being kept.

Who are your heros?

This past weekend the Death Race was held in Grand Cache Alberta.  For those who might not have heard of this sport, I share the description from the organizers website:  “racers have come to the Canadian Rockies to cheat Death in one of the world’s toughest ultramarathons. The 125 km course begins and ends on a 4200-foot plateau, passes over three mountain summits, and not only includes over 17,000 feet of elevation change but a major river crossing at the spectacular Hell’s Gate canyon at the confluence of the Smoky and Sulphur Rivers.”  I don’t pretend to be an avid fan of ultramarathons, but I am in awe of those who consider challenging themselves in this way. I was drawn to follow this year’s race as I was cheering on a friend and her fiancée who completed the task in just over 23 hours and earned the admirable position of 149th and 150th finishing spots of 271 solo runners who started the race and 174 who finished it (results from https://www.canadiandeathrace.com/). My sincere congratulations go to these incredible people who challenge not only their bodies but also their minds when faced with such a daunting task.

There is another group of people I am admiring this weekend, equally determined but often overlooked when considering heroic measures, the independent artist crafter. Today in Bronte, Ontario, the 53rd annual Art in the Park event was hosted by the Oakville Art Society and the venue boasted over 175 vendors with a wide variety of wares: pottery, painting, metalwork, jewellery, mosaics and photography. These brave artist crafters set up in tents in scorching weather (40 degrees with the humidex) and 5 hours into the event the thunderstorm hit. I managed to take in the event before the storm and I was impressed by the enthusiasm and professionalism of most of the vendors – from the not yet graduated Sheridan student to the veteran artists who worked hard to greet passersby and engage in conversations. It is possible to predict the successful ones – they make an effort to connect, to develop a rapport with individual patrons because they know it will help to ensure future sales. The life of the artist/crafter is not for the faint of heart. Undaunted by competition from the mass produced market, many artist crafters frequent the art show circuit; piling their wares into a vehicle and setting up shop in a variety of locations over the course of “the season” (typically March to late November). The neighbourhood art show draws a very different crowd from the art gallery. From the family groups on an outing to the serious collectors who are looking for a bargain, the art show offers the chance to connect directly with artists crafters and is less intimidating than a formal gallery. It is a time honoured tradition and the practice exists in countries all over the world; from Le marché de la creation in Paris, France to the Santo Spirito Artisan Market (Mercato Artigianale) in Florence, Italy, to the Vancouver Summer Night Markets. By supporting these markets, I invest in the cultural life of my community and I endorse the handmade movement, simple actions which can challenge the status quo of the mass produced market. Watch for innovative companies like Canvas and Cave who recognise the need to support artist crafters as a way to rebuild communities.

Who are your heros? For me it is those who challenge our ideas of what is expected and remind us that great things can be accomplished by ordinary people with determination.