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Bad neighbours: Doug Ford’s comments on autistic youth group home show the dark side of NIMBY politics

While there were no reports of pitchforks and torches at last week’s Ward 2 community meeting the conversation between residents and Councillor Doug Ford amounted to nothing more than an angry mob chanting for them to get out.

The evil, awful threat to the neighbourhood so dangerous that Ford went beyond calling them bad neighbours to declare they they’ve “ruined” and “destroyed” the community?

Three challenged youths with autism.

The exclusionary politics of Doug Ford and Ward 2 residents is only the latest in a disturbing trend of selfish populism — and there is an important lesson to be learned here.

In the past three and a half years of Ford mayoral rule we’ve become accustomed to the chants of ME! ME! ME! defining political discourse. A small registration tax on vehicles to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for programs and infrastructure for the entire city? I can’t see how that directly benefits ME so I want it scrapped. Bike lanes along Jarvis? I have a misguided impression that this negatively impacts ME so I want them removed. New transit projects that serve a large portion of the city’s transit bound, low income service class residents? I don’t see how it helps ME so I want it cancelled. New subway stops? ME! ME! ME! I want them here by ME!

The attitude that your opinion is the best one and the right one is common enough in politics — rare is the politician willing to change their mind — but this attitude is sick evolution. The belief that one’s opinion is not only the best but also the only one that matters and should be heard is creeping out of Etobicoke backyards and into general discourse from both the right and the left.

Toronto has been gripped by an inability to compromise coupled with segments of the population terrified of change that doesn’t fit their own personal paradigm. The so-called Kensington Market Walmart, a big box development that would have been built beyond the fringes of the hipster neighbourhood enclave, was a perfect example of the same behaviour on the left. The screams of residents amounted to no more than those who opposed existing bike lanes. Only MY opinion of what makes a neighbourhood pretty and functional matters! Screw anyone who could benefit from a big shop on the outskirts of my area! No discussion! I’m right, the end!

The same crowd resurfaced after winning that battle to wage a war against a proposed Loblaws location at College and Spadina for fear it would hurt small businesses in the hip area more than regular brushes with city health inspectors could. Consumers, this group believes, don’t deserve the right to cheaper alternatives or even a choice of their own mind about where to shop for groceries.

Kathleen Wynne even bowed to the me-first-me-only crowd while unveiling a part of her pre-election transit plan: “I had said all along that funding has to be fair, I am not going to ask the people in North Bay to pay for transit in the GTA. That has never been part of our plan.”

Apparently in some grand misunderstanding of how a large regional government works the civics classes of North Bay never taught these folks that taxes from cities like Toronto help to pay for many a provincial service up there as much as their taxes could and should work towards better transit for Ontario’s cities.

Wynne was wrong to reinforce such ignorance as much as Karen Stintz and Adam Giambrone were wrong to reinforce this same model of us-versus-them over the Scarborough subway expansion debate.

It’s nauseating to listen to and frustrating the deal with. God forbid you find yourself stuck between these two polar camps of ideological intolerance.

The fruit of this attitude stoked is the hideous selfishness that came into full form at last week’s Ward 2 meeting, and while Doug Ford’s very public, raw, and crude views on the proper place of those born with disabilities (indoors and out of sight, just to be clear) are what make him the head of this beast it shouldn’t be forgotten that the arms, legs, body, and soul of this destructive creature come from the unbridled shortsightedness and selfish views of the neighbours who were tripping over each other to deliver their own damning rebuke of a group of children who, by all reasonable logic, should be treated with compassion and kindness even when we aren’t capable of giving the same to one another.

But reasonable logic has no place among the nastiest of the ME! ME! ME! crowd.

Take, for example, these teeming slices of humanity recorded from the meeting by the Etobicoke Guardian.

“This is not a place for mental people. This is a residential area. Why don’t you build a house out on a farm?”

“What do I say to my three kids under the age of seven when one of these kids freaks out?”

“This is a community for people, not for that.”

One thing is certain, the community has indeed been ruined. Not by a house for the incapacitated, as Doug Ford believes, but this community has rotted from the inside out with the virus of selfishness stripping the caring and compassion from the bone leaving behind the mouthy and pushy husk of a neighbourhood present at that meeting.

The news gets worse, the virus has already infected the city and provincial levels and has national and global aspirations.

In striving for the perfect quiet yard at the expense of excluding those most needing and deserving of a community’s compassion these folks did a fine job of destroying their own community long before the Griffin Centre ever opened its doors.

 

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

WATCH: This man spent three years travelling the world — and taking selfies

The selfie is derided as everything from the ultimate symbol of selfish millennial to the modern day equivalent of scrawling “Joe was here” under a library desk. But when you’ve devoted three years of your life to travelling the world and visiting exotic locales what better way is there to show off your accomplishments than taking selfie videos with a GoPro on a stick?

That’s exactly how Alex Chacon documented his three year journey by motorcycle to hundreds of different countries, now compiled in one three minute video that is gaining plenty of hits on YouTube.

Check out more of Chacon’s adventures at Modern Motorcycle Diaries.

Besides searing jealously that someone has a life blessed enough to spend that much time traveling the world, what do you think — is this finally an acceptable form of the selfie?

Nintendo rejects gay lifestyle in new immersive game and thinks this is how to not make a social commentary

Nintendo’s new 3DS game Tomodachi Life is an experience in life immersion that let’s players interact virtually, build a virtual life, and even fall in virtual love and get virtually married. There’s just one catch, the game won’t let you be virtually gay.

Tomodachi Life, expected in stores on June 6 and already available in Japan, is the international version of the hit Japan-only title Tomodachi Collection where users create Miis (these are cartoonish avatars that are build to resemble players) whose personalities are customised to reflect that of players as they live together and interact on an island. They gameplay is similar to Animal Crossing, another Nintendo series, in that everyday and realistic tasks are the focus, although in this title users act as human-ish Miis instead of cartoonish animals.

The portion of the game where users can fall in love and even get married, however, is strictly straight only, and Nintendo fans aren’t happy.

Diehard Nintendo fan and gay man Tye Marini was so shocked at the exclusion of gay relationships from the game that he started he hashtag #Miiquality to get the word out about the glaring omission.

Even more shocking was Nintendo’s outdated and misinformed reaction:

“Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of Tomodachi Life,” Nintendo reps said in a statement to BuzzFeed in which they confirmed that they will not be adding same sex coupling as a feature of the game before the Western release. “The relationship options in the game represent a whimsical and playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation. We are a games company first and foremost and our main objective is to create games and consoles for players to enjoy.”

The most troubling part of the statement is the belief that by summarily ignoring a section of the population they are somehow avoiding making a social commentary on the status of homosexual people and gay rights when the exact opposite is true. The omission of gay people from Tomodachi Life is a statement and social commentary heard loud and clear — in the idealized world of Nintendo gay people simply don’t exist, and if they don’t exist their problems aren’t real problems.

The WiiU platform is tanking sales-wise and is hemorrhaging money for the Japanese company.

Time has their eyes on the pulse of the WiiU system ready to pronounce it dead at any time, not that far-fetched when you take into account that the company has been in a two year sales slump and has lost $228 million this year with an additional $358 million last year.

The system has failed to replicate the success of last generation’s Wii, a console that went after the demographic of casual gamers and families. Unsurprisingly, casual gamers don’t appear to have the same sense of brand loyalty that Nintendo cultivated in the ’80s and ’90s with state of the art graphics and big third party titles.

Video games are ready to accept gay players and characters — and they have been for quite some time.

Since the first gay character in video game history appeared in 1986’s Moonmist there has been no shortage of gay characters and storylines in mainstream gaming, including unflinching support for gay characters and players in the massively popular Fable series and a playable bisexual main character in Grand Theft Auto V, one of the fastest and best selling titles of all time. Nintendo could do well to take a page out of the competition’s playbook to highlight and include gay characters and players in their titles to help turn around their slow crawl towards financial failure and cultural irrelevance.

A brief history of LGBT characters in gaming:

Here are some highlights in gay gaming from the past few decades.

1986

The first gay character appears in Moonmist, a text based adventure that features a lesbian lead jilted over her ex-girlfriend marrying a man.

1988

Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 2 features Birdo, a character that has been criticized for exploiting misunderstanding of trans people by casting a pink dinosaur who “thinks he is a girl” as a villain. Nintendo has since gone back and forth on Birdo’s gender being male, female, or indeterminate. Plenty of LGBT gamers have seized on Birdo as a symbol for queer gaming in spite of criticism, although Nintendo has remained largely mum on the matter.

1989

In Capcom’s Final Fight the character Poison was again borne out of swapping the character’s gender late in development and frequent changed over the years, although now she is largely acknowledged as a trans woman within the mythology of the series.

1994

SNES platformer Earthbound features the character Tony who is, according to the game’s creator, subtly attracted to his best friend Jeff.

1995

Square’s SNES RPG Chrono Trigger features yet another trans villain, Flea, who appears wearing a wig and women’s clothes while being marked as a male in the gameplay and making remarks like “Male or female, what difference does it make? Power is beautiful, and I’ve got the power.”

2001

In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty two bisexual characters are revealed to have had an affair, although the point is not dwelled on as much as it is simply acknowledged as a part of the overall plot.

Since the early 2000s there have been dozens of LGBT characers portrayed in console and handheld gaming, although there have been a sparse few in Nintendo titles aside from a couple trans villains who are casually ridiculed. Check out a complete list of gay characters in video games here.

 

What do you think, should Nintendo introduce more gay characters or allow gay relationships in their player driven games?

WATCH: This short doc will make you see Parkdale completely differently

When you think Parkdale, the image of green space might not be the first one that pops into your mind. It might be something more akin to the guy at the corner of Queen and Lansdowne who wears a fur coat in the summer and tries to sell you cartons of smokes.

But there is something alluring about Parkdale: a place where movers, shakers, artists, and the artfully minded all converge on bistros and patios throughout the warmer months. The folks in the Parkdale BIA have teamed up with the TD Green Streets Project to make the most possible out of the neighbourhood.

The program helps to create jobs for people in Parkdale who might otherwise not have one while keeping the streets beautiful.

Check out the documentary and let us know what you think of Parkdale’s green spaces.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

 

Check out:

The ULTIMATE Parkdale patio guide!

Here are 12 examples of white people twerking on Vine

Maybe because Miley twerked at the VMAs and drew the ire of every true twerker out there, or perhaps just because it is Friday and we ran out of real things to write about sometime on Wednesday, here is a compilation of 12 Vines featuring white folks trying to get ratchet and failing pretty miserably in most cases.

1. Dorm room twerk team.

That girl isn’t even in heels. Someone get a drag queen in there to show them how to do a wall mount ASAP.

 

2. Barn yard twerk team.

Square dances sure have changed since our days in the 4H club.

3. Outside, barefoot, at night twerk team

The crickets in the backyard are laying down a sick beat, better twerk it.

4.Princess bedroom twerk team

“Move the stuffed animals over, let’s practice twerking!”

5. Maroon 5 solo twerk

While I’m not sure what constitutes appropriate music for twerking, I’m pretty sure Maroon 5 is not it.

6. Twerkin’ Grandma

Where ‘being hip’ and ‘needing a hip replacement’ intersect.

7. Twerking white boy

He’s actually not doing so bad. Not bad at all. Keep twerkin’ white boy.

8. White boy twerk team.

Damn, the white boys on Vine have this down. Twerking in basketball shorts works for my eyes.

9. School yard mega twerk team (twerkquake)

Rememeber when kids played hopscotch?

10. Gas pedal twerk duo

If this gym class has a unit on twerking I at least hope it comes after the sex ed unit.

11. Twerk trio drop

No! You’re gonna leave footprints on the wall! Your father *just* refinished this basement!

12. Basement twerk gang featuring Urkel

Once more the boys outshone the girls, but outshining the boys was Urkel, and outshining Urkel was the giant shining floodlight in this serial killer cellar.

 

 

 

Check out:

18 Vines from the #StormTO Toronto flood

18 signs you are 25 in Toronto

 

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Women of the week: Diana Dickson

For Diana Dickson the itch to keep looking onwards and upwards may have been planted early on. Born to European parents in Toronto her childhood was rife with trips abroad, making Dickson a self-described Europhile from the start. Perhaps her bold career viewpoints are stemmed from her exposure to the world at such a young age — or perhaps Dickson’s natural ambition, intelligence, and attitude comprise the lynchpin to her success.

The owner of the staging, design, and decorating firm Diana Dickson Design in Toronto, Ontario. “My knowledge base in visual arts, art direction, and design combined with a practical, innovative working style offers a proven method for transforming problem properties into highly desirable ones.”

Art, design, innovation — three key ingredients in this recipe for success. And, of course, one other: Dickson herself.

“I am artsy, intuitive and gutsy,” says Dickson when asked what three words could describe herself and her career. “I often venture where angels fear to tread because basically I’m adventurous and trust myself.”

With her heart drawn to art and music from an early age and a passion that has never waned it is little wonder that she has been married to a professional photographer for 24 years. The couple has two children, a son who is 23 and a daughter who is 21.

For Dickson, like many women, starting a family and raising her children didn’t come without its own share of career choices. “I think women are still faced with the struggle of juggling family life and their career aspirations. I left a great job in advertising to raise my kids because at that point in my life my kids were the most important thing to me and I really wanted to focus on them. I was adopted myself, and an only child, so it was very important for me to do the family thing above all else.”

The decision to take time to start a family didn’t come without a price, however. “I knew I would have to change gears and forge a new career for myself that could combine my talents with my need to be flexible and available for my kids,” she says, a move which has made Dickson dynamic and focused.

“That wasn’t easy,” she explains. “But it started with freelance work as a garden designer and eventually came to include the whole domestic sphere, indoors and out.”

Her womanhood — and motherhood — may have made influenced her career path, but at the same time her perspective as a woman in business has given her a more unique outlook. “I do think that my perspective as a woman has guided me in my career,” she explains. “I believe in the importance of the softer side of life and of beauty and order in one’s surroundings.” Softness, beauty, and order have long been in the female sphere of influence, says Dickson, who draws from these concepts regularly in her design and home setting work.

“There’s also a nurturing quality to what I do. I listen to what people need and want, and I try to deliver because I want to see them happy. I love transforming things for the better. But I really take the time to understand my clients.”

“The yin-yang thing really works for me,” says Dickson, but don’t think she’s afraid of shouting out in the name of girl power. “I’m not afraid of pumping up the feminine energy because the world really needs it.”

Her nurturing quality also seems to extend to her chosen projects. “At the moment, I’m focusing on projects that turn dysfunctional spaces into ones that work,” says Dickson. “Simplifying complexity.”

But for a woman as involved as Dickson there is always something to do. Currently working on a series of paintings centered around bromeliad flowers in her free time, she also serves as Chair on the board of the non-profit Gallery 1313 art gallery in Toronto’s west end that focuses on new and emerging art. “I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting work!”

For Diana Dickson though, the art is always behind everything she does. “I’m moving more towards the concept of art and how it can transform one’s surroundings.”

In the painting of Diana’s life there are still many more brushstrokes to come.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

 

Newsflash: April 21, 2014

Gay student to have his case heard, Air Canada drops suit cases and it is heard, and the case against a senator will have to wait until he’s out of rehab to be heard.

 

Ontario student and young gay rights activist Christopher Karas will be having his case heard in front of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal after his complaints that his Mississauga French Catholic school interfered with his plans to set up a Gay-Straight Alliance and that he experienced homophobia through the school’s teachings and the lessons he was made to experience. We’ve interviewed Karas before and we will be keeping a close eye on this story as it develops.

After a video of baggage handlers throwing and dropping luggage from great heights went viral on YouTube with over a million hits it’s looking like the two fellas in question might be losing their jobs. Air Canada has apologized for the uncomfortable situation, but has yet to announce plans to fix any of the million other ways that flying is incredibly uncomfortable.

Troubled (and suspended) Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau is now heading to rehab. See, sometimes all it takes is being arrested a few times, being caught with drugs, and a good solid decade of allegations of sexual inappropriateness — also known as hitting rock bottom and dragging along it for the better part of your political career — to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Terry Richardson denies new allegations that he offered to trade Vogue spot to a model for sex

Photographer Terry Richardson is coming under fire after new allegations surfaced over the weekend that he had attempted to give a model a Vogue photoshoot in exchange for sex over Facebook messages.

The model, Emma J. Appleton, tweeted a screengrab of the offending message from her now defunct Twitter account with the caption “Um what” underneath it.

Richardson is notable for having photographed many celebrities and directing Miley Cyrus’ video for Wrecking Ball

terry 2

 

 

About any future Vogue shoots? “We have no plans to work with him in the future,” says U.S. Vogue communications director Hildy Kuryk, although Richardson has shot for French Vogue as recently as February of this year.

Richardson’s people immediately contacted BuzzFeed to denounce the image as a “fake” in keeping with Richardson’s vague denials of other inappropriate behavior.

terry3

Appleton later deleted her Twitter account after assuring BuzzFeed that her account of the events was true.

 

What do you think about Terry Richardson’s alleged sexually inappropriate behaviour with models?