Heroes of Toronto

Every year a Toronto blog looks at the heroes of the past year. For 2010 they have a great collection of people both individuals and groups that made Toronto a better place in 2010.

This year has been cruel to independent booksellers, and for much of 2010, it looked as though the Toronto Women’s Bookstore was doomed to the same bleak fate as its comrade in biblio-cool, This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, which closed its doors in July. After a desperate community request for support in December 2009 was followed by a “so close, but so far away” update in February, it seemed as though the store might be gone for good when it closed “for renovations” in May.

But, as it turned out, the renovation notice wasn’t a stall. The TWB had been sold, and its new owner—former staffer Victoria Moreno—came equipped with visions of reinvention and repair, including the addition of an in-store cafe (with Wi-Fi!), a nice outdoor garden space with seating, a revamped website to increase online sales, and the establishment of community-building social nights and customer purchase tracking to aid in personalized recommendations. Under its new management, the former not-for-profit would also start operations as a traditional for-profit business.

Torontoist’s collection of heroes.

Active Praise for Passive House

We spend lots of money heating and cooling buildings when we can be designing buildings to naturally regulate their temperatures. This form of heating is known as passive heating (or cooling) because it requires no outside input to work.

Old buildings generally do this and were designed with environmental regulation in mind, today we are seeing a resurgence of smart building.

The Passive House concept, which is well established in Europe, is now getting a foothold in the U.S. with a method that promises overall energy savings of about 70 percent overall and a 90 percent lower heating load without on-site solar power.
While the U.S. Green Building’s Council’s LEED certification touches on energy, water, materials, and location, Passive House, which started in Germany as Passivhaus, brings rigorous requirements focused entirely on building energy efficiency. Because of that focus on lowering building energy demand, some say it yields better performance than LEED on efficiency.

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No Fast Food Day (Eat Real Food)

Some people find fast food to be rather delicious despite the lack of nutrition that it provides. If you’re one of those people today is a good excuse to try something new as today is No Fast Food Day!

This December 17th marks the first No Fast Food Day (Eat Real Day), a day to consider the social, environmental, labour, health and animal impacts of eating processed and pre-cooked fast foods.

By signing this, you commit to skipping chain fast foods on December 17th, and replacing them with something nutritious from your local store, market or restaurant. Make it fun and enjoyable. It doesn’t have to cost more either.

We have a broken food system. Let’s do something about it, and start a discussion. Let’s get the economy and our government to act for health.
…And see how the alternatives tastes.

Check out there Facebook page.

Show your commitment to no fast food here.

Finland Forests Forever

Finland has vowed to protect some of its forests, which is obviously awesome.

“Greenpeace, reindeer herders and Saami organizations carried out a historical joint campaign, and industrial logging has now been pushed out of the most important forest areas in Finland,” said Matti Liimatainen Greenpeace Nordic forest campaigner. “Reindeer herding is an important employer in the Saami’s homeland. Protecting the forests not only helps the Saami protect their livelihood, but also prevents the loss of biodiversity and animals, insects and fungi that have disappeared with other European forest ecosystems.”

“We are very satisfied with the result.”

The campaign included massive protests and demonstrations in Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy against the Finnish paper industry. Court cases were also filed by the Saami reindeer herders against logging in Finland, resulting in a ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee which compelled the Finnish government to cease logging in some of the disputed areas. In 2006, the Finnish paper company StoraEnso stopped purchasing wood from the disputed areas, reducing logging.

Read the rest of the article.

Fun things are good things!

Things are better when they’re fun! The Fun Theory (thefuntheory.com) has been busy promoting good things by making them more fun.

[Thefuntheory.com] is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

They’ve posted a bunch of youtube videos of everything from the aforementioned taking the stairs and putting garbage in proper bins, to obeying the speed limit.

Further proof that good things = fun things!

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