Sunday, 18 June 2017

TorontotheBetter Welcomes the North American Indigenous Games to Toronto - July 16-23

 A first for Toronto and a plus for this city. so much to learn and participate in with first nations friends and neighbours.  See http://www.naigcouncil.com for details.

Advocating for minds and bodies in the Greater Toronto Peel Region - On June 21 support the new video project of the Peel Poverty Action Group

Making a video about mental health in Peel was suggested at Peel Poverty Action Group (PPAG) recently.
It would be something like PPAG's homeless video Spaces and Places: Uncovering Homelessness in the Region of Peel, about 15 mins, to be taken to community organizations by someone with lived experience. As currently envisaged, the video will deal with Peel issues, be made in Peel with local people, and be shown here.
Interested so far:  Andre Lyn (who worked on the homeless video), Laura Guerrero and Mayo Hawco of Bramalea Community Health Centre (BCHC), and me for PPAG.
BCHC would like to show the video to men in bars.
Any organization or individual who has ideas about a video — what issues need to be in it, how can the ideas be presented, who will take the video to audiences and speak knowledgeably about it — is invited.
Meeting to take place in the cafeteria at the Regional Building, 7120 Hurontario, (just north of Derry) at 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 21.                                                                                                  
For more info call  905-826-5041 and see www.ppag.wordpress.com
For more on poverty in Peel see this video: 





-- 
____________________________________________

Friday, 16 June 2017

Tool Libraries pave the Way to a New Economy - report from the Toronto Lending Library Symposium

Library, (tool and others) representatives from around the world came to Toronto on Saturday June 11. And for all the differences between Honolulu Hawaii, Edinburgh Scotland, Kitchener Ontario, Oregon, U.S., Hanover Germany and our very own Toronto they spoke with one voice: the library is an economic tool that more and more see and use as a solution for tough economic times. Why? In a planet that is rapidly being exhausted loaning what we have int the lending library is a way to conserve the environment when owning more stuff does not. More and more young people get it and are talking about minimalism, a rejection of consumer spending that suits their limited pocket books and their millennial environmental awareness. TorontotheBetter salutes this planetary advance guard.  Is consumerism dead? No. But it's on its death legs. We wish it a speedy end.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

What's Pizza Got to Do With IT? - sports stars and endorsements












PLUS

 













= ???


There was a time when star professional athletes had a short life and few. or no, guaranteed earnings when they had to stop playing. With million dollar contracts commonplace for elite sportspeople it aint so now. So why are athletes like Lebron James, who would never lack for food even if he never got another paycheque, hustling things like pizza (Blaze Pizza), or, as in a previous sponsorship, hamburger (for McDonalds). Unlikely hamburger or pizza were the recommended healthy food for a long athletic life. Why compound your money slavery when you're already thoroughly enslaved to the sport? Sure there are the foundations some have set up, but which tail is waging which dog here? And why?       

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

New economy activists - please join us at Toronto's June 9 Lending Library Symposium

TorontotheBetter welcomes other activist library organizations engaged in our struggle for a new economy that works for all. For details see http://torontosymposium2017.weebly.com.

Congrats to the Toronto Tool Library and their IRBE partners contributing to loanership in Toronto


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Loanership vs. Ownership - towards sustainable economics through commons "ownership"


Author Peter Barnes is a proponent of the world's commons [plural]. To make his point that there is much (in fact arguably all) of our world that is just given and so not any individual's or group's property he entitled one of his books "Who Owns the Sky?" Obviously to ask the question this way is to answer it: nobody. Barnes concludes that it is for this reason (non-ownership) that we have been so profligate with nature since the industrial revolution. What was once seemingly infinite is now becoming scarce and finite, with species disappearing and glaciers melting.


As a businessperson Barnes' solution to this problem is to charge for the "use"/ misuse of the sky, something akin to a carbon tax on atmospheric use/pollution. Whatever the logistical difficulties this is an appealing suggestion. But it is inadequate to its ambition because it essentially risks reducing essentials like the sky to tradeable commodities and thus fails what we may call the philosophical test. The sky is not a commodity; if we think it is we can trade it away. A better answer and one that imposes a barrier on misuse is that the sky, indeed the whole universe is a common trust. As such exchange is an inappropriate way of regulating its use. Neither the use-, nor the exchange-, value of the sky or rivers or forests can, or should be, quantified. A better model for their economic role is that of the commons. Once intentionally  allocated to the garage-bin of history by "non-commoners" the commons is back in popular discourse for a good reason: the fragility of our eco-system. A better economic concept for our "use" of the common earth than that of the commodity the loan. The world and all therein must be seen as a temporary loan which, as in a library it is. It is our responsibility to return it as un-reduced as possible.

In fact the largely informal social contract of the loan/trust is the key concept that has historically restrained us from destroying what we cannot live without. Inscribed in indigenous beliefs it was rejected by western economics. Time to re-learn it, if indeed there still is time. We have to learn to loan more and restrain the habit of ownership that was normalized when the agricultural commons were enclosed in the 18th century. If what is in the world is becoming scarce then, as Barnes and Nobel prize-winner Elinor Ostrom understood, the commons model of universal group ownership must be championed if we are to survive as a species. And to achieve this we must loan more and own less, in that ownership is a form of separation of something that is integral - the earth.

Extending commons of various forms is the challenge of the 21st century. Unless we do this we are doomed, socially and existentially. We must loan or, in the term used by libraries we must circulate what we have instead of consuming it. In so doing we will be closer to nature as circulation is what nature does. And before the predictable response of "get real" to this principle is heard the reality is that in fact the new economics is already happening in several places, including Mondragon and Chiappas, and with the library model being extended in recent years to knowledge (influenced by the success of the Internet) and material items like seeds, cars, bikes and tools. Will it be long before we are impressing our neighbours by how much we loan rather than how much we own. For survival's sake it must be sooner rather than later.

As for Barnes' book you can buy it from our worker co-op (much better than corporate predator Amazon) . But much better than owning of course is borrowing it from your local branch of the Toronto Public Library.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

With NAFTA to be re-negotiated remember Canadian farmer hero Percy Schmeiser



Back at the beginning of the new millennium Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser had the guts to take on corporate giant Monsanto about their allegation of patent infringement; his crops grew with Monsanto fertlizer accidentally blown onto his farm, for which Monsanto took him to court. Schmeiser fought the case and lost in Canada's Supreme Court but stood out as a model for all who value political independence and GMO-free agriculture.Worth remembering as Canada is set to embark on another bout of the sovereignty forfeiture called NAFTA. For details see:
https://www.democracynow.org/2010/9/17/percy_schmeiser_vs_monsanto_the_story