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Is journalism losing its purpose?

Reporters used to be local — a journalist would be assigned a neighbourhood or a beat, focusing all their energy on collecting information, finding sources, and writing stories that truly mattered to the community.

Now, the media is becoming nationalized. Global News, owned by Chorus Entertainment, will be laying off 70 employees across the country, including camera operators, reporters, anchors, and control room staff. As a result, local news from the Maritimes will now be broadcast out of Toronto. The local anchors have been let go.

“Fewer journalists will be out gathering news from every region from Vancouver to Halifax,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, the trade union for communications and media workers. “If the Maritime newscasts now come from Toronto – how can you still call that local news?”

Unifor blames lax rules set forth by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Last year, the commission softened requirements on local programming, no longer making it mandatory to have “feet on the street”.

Before this announcement, the Toronto Star announced the “suspension” of their internship program, which generally employed a number of journalism students and recent graduates in both summer and year-long contracts. The reason, they say, was purely financial. As a former intern in the Radio Room, (which luckily will still be operated by students), these kinds of jobs are critical to the professional development of young journalists. It is one of the few internships in which a student is expected to perform as a regular staff member, and gets paid to do so. Those kind of internships are few and far between.

It seems every few months more media jobs are being lost. What does this all mean? It means a grim future for journalism, in which the jobs are fewer and fewer, and those who are hired can’t expect any job security. It also means that local stories, stories that can only be told by having feet on the ground, will be lost.

What’s not lost on me is that the CBC’s frontrunner show The National is able to afford four anchors, but Global News can’t afford to have a single person broadcast out of the Maritimes. Reporters need to be able to have their feet on the ground and tell the stories that should be told, not being pushed to the brink with no resources and little compensation. It’s time for everyone to step up — the government, the media, and the public — to ensure that local, community journalism endures.

What is a boutique hotel?

I’m currently looking for hotels in New York and I saw this term “boutique hotel” listed. To me, a boutique is a small, independent shop often found in a quaint neighbourhood that sell handmade items you can’t find anywhere else.

A boutique hotel is similar in a fashion. It is not operated by a large chain or brand. Instead, it is independently owned that provides individualized and custom service. Most have less than 100 rooms, meaning the experience can be quite intimate. At the same time, boutique hotels usually have a lot of character. The building may have a theme that seeps into every room.

Don’t be fooled though. This doesn’t mean the hotel is tacky. Most boutique hotels are actually quite luxurious. Because they are smaller than the typical hotel, it means more care is taken in the decor. Designer furnishings and unique pieces of art are common in each room. The best part is that, unlike your typical hotel, no two rooms are alike. Some rooms may have a quirky sense of humour while others may have a warm and cozy ambiance.

Because of the size of boutique hotels, owners are usually able to find prime locations to build upon.. This can result in some truly breathtaking views.

Each room will also have some luxury, hand-made and unique items available for use, like organic soaps, bath pillows, or even a linen selection. Prepare to enjoy some locally-grown foods as well as some art by local artisans.

There are also a few different kinds of boutique hotels. Historic or country boutiques, for example, offer accommodations with rustic charm — think stone walls, big fireplaces, detailed wood carvings, and homemade comfort food.  These buildings often have some sort of historic significance and rooms are designed to feel homey, yet still rich in culture and comfort.

Urban boutique hotels are often found in a city’s centre and caters too younger travelers looking for a tech-savvy and comfortable place to stay. They are generally located in neighbourhoods with lots of culture and nightlife. The rooms themselves use Smart technology and there are common areas for people to mingle.

Then there are the luxury boutiques. The rooms in this accommodation use high-quality materials and exclusive designer furnishings. They may have infinity pools, skylights, or even spa services available. Luxury boutiques pride themselves on personalizing your vacation experience, and ensuring you have the most fine wining and dining available.

Check out these boutique hotels in Toronto: Thompson Hotel, Le Germain, or The Drake (Nook room featured in photo above).

Luxury boutique hotel Barcelona Duquesa de Cardon
Boutique Hotel Bali

How to travel solo like a local

It takes a lot for some people to become comfortable with themselves, much less travel alone. It’s a task that few can handle, but it is becoming increasingly convenient and popular for solo- travellers to find special deals on vacations. Some brands like Norwegian Cruise Lines offer top-class studio styled suites for their guests at a lower price. The ship designs the studios to have exclusive key card access and a studio complex lounge to mingle with other solo travellers, so you will never feel alone, unless you want to be. Here are some tips from Women’s Post on solo- travel and how to act like a local.

Be prepared

If you’re not in the mood to stand out as a tourist while on vacation, do your research and explore the country/countries you are visiting as a local. Try going to the popular bar around town or even make friends with a local and ask for tips on the area where you plan to explore. Most residents will have a list of places you should visit that may not be on a map.

Skip the tourist traps

Bus tours, boat tours, guided tours, pfft those are for amateurs. The best way to get to know the local streets is to walk around and take note of your own landmarks. There is no harm in renting a mode of transportation to make your way around town as well, A car can get you there faster and save you a lot of unnecessary tourist expenses and cheap souvenirs. Use your phone as your trusted GPS or simply make use of public transportation — most train and bus operators will be able to help you reach your destination.

Stay at a boutique hotel

Boutique hotels are so much fun compared to the big chain and brand named places that you’re used to . Staying at a boutique hotel may be more intimate and gives you a chance to interact with locals and the staff on site. As another option, you can also choose to stay at a local Air BnB or hostel.

Pick the right time to travel

Solo- travel can be overwhelming if you’re not ready for it, but one way to avoid the rush of the season is to travel…well, off-season. Don’t go for spring break or summer vacation. Instead, use your vacation days at a less peak time (like October-November, or April-May) and you will avoid so many lines and you get insight into the way locals live year round.

No schedules here

Don’t tie yourself down to a full schedule like you would on any regular vacation. The agenda is yours to fill with the memories of your choosing, It’s your own personal journey with no expectations or limitations. You can still see all the places and famous landmarks you want to see, but just on your own terms.

Know the lingo

If you are going to a country with a language that you are unfamiliar with, it may be time to dust off the old phrase book and use it while exploring your new temporary home. Eventually you will also find yourself picking up a few terms from the locals you interact with. I’m not saying enrol in language classes, but just make yourself aware of basic greetings and manners.

Enjoy these tips on traveling solo and blending in or check out Like a Local Guide, which offers insider tips and tours by real locals for hundreds of cities around the world.

Happy Journeys and let us know your travel tips and plans below !

Investment in greenhouses is an environmental win for Ontario

Eating local produce is not only much more delicious, but a healthier alternative for the environment as well.

Earlier this week, Ontario launched the Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative to fund $19 million into greenhouses to promote local and high quality produce in the province. The initiative will allow for the use of new and sustainable technologies and will encourage investments in greenhouse agriculture.

Ontario is the leader of greenhouses, currently contributing to over half of Canada’s greenhouse produce. The province is growing by 150 acres per year and continued investment in this form of agriculture has positive financial benefits for the future. Greenhouses are especially beneficial for sensitive crops that are susceptible to erratic weather patterns and a harsh climate — like the weather Ontario was subjected to this year. Continued investment in greenhouses allows Ontario to expand its local produce capacity and provide people with fresh, homegrown food.

Greenhouses are a sustainable and ‘green’ initiative because they allow carbon to be captured in a concentrated area with high density of green growth being grown inside of a structure. Greenhouses also open the doors for other innovative technologies such as solar-powered electricity and using recyclable materials to build (with the poly-tunnel as an example). Transporting produce locally also lowers carbon emissions because it doesn’t have to travel as far.

Overall, Ontario’s investment in greenhouses will benefit the green economy, provide more green jobs and the province will continue to be a national leader in promoting an environmentally-friendly agenda. By focusing heavily on innovation in the green sector, perhaps Canada stands a chance at actually meeting carbon targets in the future.

5 fall ciders to try from Toronto Cider Festival

If you are looking for a sweeter alternative to beer — and aren’t feeling a glass of wine —  a tasty cider could be the perfect fall solution

Ciders are normally made with fermented apples, but other fruits can be used as well.  With harvest season just around the corner, delicious and fresh ciders are available throughout Ontario. To find the best cider in the province, I attended Cider Fest on Saturday at Dundas Square and sampled some of the amazing featured beverages offered.

Here are my five favourite ciders:

  1. Spirit Tree Cider

Spirit Tree Cider was my favourite out of the ciders I tried. There were two different samples — a lavender cider and a hoppy cider. The cider with a hint of lavender was made with local apples. The floral taste the lavender added was surprisingly pleasant, making it one of the most creative ciders at the festival. The hoppy cider was also a rarity, with only a few hoppy ciders available. The hops was subtle yet apparent, and added a kick to the cider. The hoppy cider from Spirit Tree is the perfect beverage for someone who loves beer, but is in the mood for a cider that isn’t as sweet. At the cidery located in Caledon, Spirit Tree has 12 different ciders available, a bakery, and offers tours.

  1. Shiny Apple Cider

My second favourite was the Shiny Apple Cider, made in Niagara on the Lake. This cider is gluten-free and vegan, using potato rinds instead of pork rinds during processing. Shiny Apple Cider is seven per cent alcohol, higher than many other ciders. It had a crisp taste, and it tasted like it had very little preservatives. It was sweet, but there was distinct quality in the taste. Shiny Apple Cider has two cider options — Shiny Apple Cider and Shiny Red Apple Cider — and is made by Small Talk Vineyard Wines.

  1. Angry Orchard

This sweet and light cider is from Walden, New York in the Hudson Valley, was not as sweet as Shiny Apple Cider and had a light bubbly taste. It still retained an apple taste though, but the bubbly quality made it seem more like a sweet wine than a beer.  Angry Orchard has over 10 ciders and provides a variety of seasonal tastes, ranging from adding cinnamon to ginger while retaining the true apple taste of the region. Definitely try Angry Orchard a cider.

  1. Thornbury Village Cider

The Thornbury Village Cider is sour and has a closer taste to a champagne. It is a perfect option for someone who loves wine, but is looking to branch out into other taste palettes. The cider is also highly carbonated, which varies in different ciders. The beverage is from Thornbury, and also boasts being gluten-free and vegan. The cidery is located along the shores of Georgian Bay and is a beautiful site for a tour.

  1. Forbidden Dry Cider

The final contender for best five ciders is the Forbidden Dry Cider, a beverage made by the Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery. This cider is very similar to wine, and is typical for dry ciders. If you like tart drinks then Forbidden is for you. The winery is located near Meaford, Ont., which is close to Georgian Bay.

The weather may be getting cooler, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy patio season with a good cold brew. Throw on a jacket and a light scarf and enjoy the changing of the leaves. For those who don’t enjoy hoppy beers or tart wines, a cider is the perfect option. These are just five recommendations, but there are dozens to try, each with different flavours and fruit notes. Be a bit adventurous and try these local ciders this fall.

 

What is your favourite cider? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Cooling down this summer with homemade popsicles

A hot summer day with kids is excruciating, especially when everyone is hot and crabby. But there is a solution for moms and dads everywhere — homemade popsicles!

I ventured to the store with my daughter and grabbed a popsicle mould. We made it back home despite the intense heat wave and started making our delicious cool treat. Mix all the ingredients together with a blender by adding an avocado, a can of coconut milk, half a cup of coconut flakes, and 3-6 tbsp sugar depending on your preference for sweetness. Once the ingredients are smooth, pour them into the popsicle mould and freeze until solid. Affordable popsicle moulds can be purchased at the dollar store. These popsicles are full of fibre, protein and iron, and are delicious!

[Other options for homemade popsicles include] AWK TRANSITION. REMEMBER ARTICLES AREN’T LISTS.

If you are looking for something a little less traditional, try this gourmet twist on a strawberry popsicle by adding basil, or oranges for a citrus treat. If you are craving a pina colada on the beach, pineapple chunks blended with coconut milk and flakes makes a delicious popsicle. Most fruits and vegetables will taste delectable if blended with coconut milk and sugar once blended, though it is generally recommended to stay away from peaches because they don’t freeze well.

Acai berry coconut popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.
Acai berry coconut popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.

Nathalie Hernandez, owner of an artisan vegan ice pop company called Santopop, has a few tips. “Use fresh ingredients, the best raw materials means best pops. Also, get local fruits and respect the seasonality, it always tastes better,” Hernandez says. She also supports local farmers, and also handpick the ripest fruits, which helps you to use less sugar when blending the ingredients together.

Mango yangmei berry popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.
Mango yangmei berry popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.

I plan on making homemade popsicles weekly throughout the summer will be trying different handpicked fruits and vegetables from the farmers market. This will help my daughter get excited about picking out healthy foods, and she can help me blend all the ingredients together. By having healthy popsicles in the freezer, my daughter can avoid sugary ice pops and get a nutrition kick from a refreshing treat instead.

Give it a try and let Women’s Post know in the comments below know which fruits and vegetables are your favourite for homemade popsicles!