UforChange: Culture for a Better World

UforChange is all about using art and culture to make the world a better place! They focus on St. Jamestown in Toronto and have had great success engaging their community through participating in art projects that make the neighbourhood more welcoming and a great place to be.

UFORCHANGE: Creative Culture,Better World from Mad Ruk Entertainment on Vimeo.

At the core of the program is a unique methodology: an exploration of arts and life skills that is both participant guided and founded in experiential learning. UforChange provides a six month, structured and intensive arts, culture and life skills program for youth, followed by another 9 months of participant selected projects, fully facilitated by staff and volunteers. Our methodology has demonstrated proven results for youth by helping them to make friends, build skills, find confidence, formulate and follow through on a plan for their future, all while developing a stronger sense of community, belonging and pride.

Jon Bon Jovi Starts a PWYC Restaurant to Help People

Jon Bon Jovi has opened a restaurant that uses the pay what you can (PWYC) system to help Americans who are unable to purchase the most basic of necessitates: food.

Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen from JBJ Soul Kitchen on Vimeo.

BoingBoing sums it up:

Soul Kitchen is a new restaurant opened in Red Bank, New Jersey, by Jon Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea. The establishment offers a “pay what you can afford” payment model, and serves wholesome, gourmet food made with fresh ingredients grown in the restaurant’s garden, and other local produce.

On the website, they explain that Soul Kitchen is “A community restaurant with no prices on the menu; customers donate to pay for their meal. If you are unable to donate you may do volunteer work in exchange for your family’s meal.”

Toronto Bans Shark Fins

Toronto has joined other cities around the world in banning the consumption and commercialization of shark fins. The vote was almost unanimous with only three people in council (including the worst mayor Toronto has seen) supporting the killing of sharks for soup. Everyone else on council knew better and supported the ban.

Eric from WildAid sends in the following:

“Toronto’s action is a huge victory in the global fight against an illegal shark fin trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Rob Sinclair, Executive Director of WildAid Canada, who has been at the forefront of this campaign for the past five months.

Fins from up to 73 million sharks are used every year to make shark fin soup and related food products. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice – captured at sea and hauled on deck, the sharks are often still alive while their fins are sliced off. Because shark meat is not considered as valuable as the fins, the maimed animals are tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that 1/3 of the world’s shark species are threatened with extinction, with certain species experiencing declines up to 90%.

While the practice of shark finning is illegal in North America, current laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. Therefore, fins are being imported into North America from countries with few or even no shark protections in place.

Bans passed recently in California, Hawaii, Oregon and the state of Washington as well as the Ontario cities of Mississauga, and Brantford.

Guest Post: Review of an Artobiography

After reading Tina Collen’s book Storm of the I: An Artobiography
(Art Review Press, 2009), I am left with a delightful and very real sense of the value of simplicity.

Collen’s creative memoir takes us from her childhood and youth in New York and her relationship with her family, to her life in Aspen with her husband and two sons, to her move to California as a bourgeoning graphic artist, to her ultimate return to Colorado in the 1990s. Throughout, we are consciously aware of her ongoing search for ‘home’ in the conceptual, if not always literal, sense.

This self-proclaimed “new genre of literature” is exactly that: using her background as an artist and graphic designer, Collen seamlessly incorporates her artwork with the more traditional textual narrative. And it is the blending of these forms that makes the story so compelling. Far from being a woe-is-me linear memoir of one person’s unhappy childhood and disastrous relationship with her father, Storm of the i introduces us to the textures – in some cases quite literally – of one person’s life. Darkness is balanced with light, comedy with tragedy, youthful exuberance with the thoughtfulness of maturity, family with individualism.

This holistic approach to memoir – writing about one’s history and integrating the physical trappings of that history – has an added bonus: at no point throughout the book are we as readers asked to feel sorry for the author. Collen’s relationship with her father was upsetting, but her love for Barry and her two sons, Mark and Andy, is palpable. Collen has experienced heartache and frustration but also great beauty and success. At times she may be fragile and uncertain but she has also spearheaded new ideas with confidence and strength. Collen presents herself as a very real person, full of contradiction and complexity, and her honesty is refreshing.

Storm of the i redefines interactive media for anyone convinced it is an exclusively digital phenomenon. The book is formulated as a kind of ‘new media’, presenting a multi-faceted story in an emotive way that is personally meaningful for the reader. Similar in style and content to Nick Bantock’s Griffin & Sabine and Morning Star trilogies (Chronicle Books, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003), we come away feeling that we know Tina. As she tells her story, pieces of poetry, photos of old school projects, and dialogue focus the readers’ sentiments in a pleasingly organic way. It is easy to imagine her Fleurotica creations adorning my own walls at home.

Collen writes: “And sometimes in the morning [when living in California], I’d catch a glimpse of porpoises playing in the surf and marvel at the grace of simplicity” (p.123). We have all felt such moments of perfect clarity – ephemeral and very precious – and yearn for more, but will not risk losing their wondrous nature by seeking them out.

Collen’s book is a frank appraisal of both the world around her and the world in her own head. The book’s final resolution, singularly exemplifies how right ‘letting go’ can sometimes be. If spring cleaning helps clear the mind, Storm of the i forwards the soul.

Meggie Macdonald is a literary agent based in Toronto and a guest reviewer for thingsaregood.com. Her professional and personal taste tends towards the hopeful, creative and downright happy sentiments of the people around her.

It’s Possible to Increase Your IQ

Yes, we’ve seen that you can increase your IQ before but isn’t it always a nice reminder that it’s possible? I think so!

Yet another study has been released that has demonstrable ways that anybody can increase their IQ. I think it’s also worth noting that IQ has a measurement is not the best way for people to compare their true smarts.

The take-home points from this research? This study is relevant because they discovered:

1. Fluid intelligence is trainable.

2. The training and subsequent gains are dose-dependent—meaning, the more you train, the more you gain.

3. Anyone can increase their cognitive ability, no matter what your starting point is.

4. The effect can be gained by training on tasks that don’t resemble the test questions.

Read more at Scientific American.

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