Monday, 17 October 2016

TorontotheBetter's George Brown Community Worker placement student visits 2016 Driftwood multicultural festival

Another vibrant Driftwood festival in on Sept.24, 2016, Thanks to partner Driftwood Community Centre's Tamasha for the invite and placement student Maury Cheskes for the pictures.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Ontario's Nestle fiasco

ONTARIO...>Image result for WATER>...NESTLE
    Pure Life, Vittel, S,Pellegrino, Perrier... Take a close look at the brand name on the label of your next bottle of drinking water. All the above names spell one thing: their producer is none other than Nestle and you may have heard about them recently. It may be you've just paid for something that as a citizen of Ontario is rightfully yours anyway. In our current long period of austerity and government withdrawal from economic responsibilities from at least the 1980's it comes as no surprise that governments continue to sell off public assets and/or rent them for prices that the market, the neo-liberal criterion for all things bright and beautiful, would reject. The Ontario government's recent virtual give away of key water resources at Aberfoyle, near Guelph, Ontario to beverage giant Nestle is a shock only because of the scale of its public generosity to private interests.Is it too much to expect that the benefits of Canada's resources best serve social, rather than private, good as a real social economy requires they should?  

The reality of another gutless public regime withdrawing from its duty to best protect our common heritage is depressingly at one with mainstream policy by many western political parties in these times of self-imposed austerity. If nothing else, the virtual give-away of Ontario water to Nestle should ignite long shell-shocked public indignation and awaken a move to "repatriate" our common resources from the marketplace. Maintaining our waterways free of pollution is key, but ensuring our birthrights serve the long-term public interest is fundamental to a progressive politics dedicated to the common good.                    

Back to the future: the commons as economic model for the @1st century

Many have heard of the commons as a quaint medieval practice where communities (peasants and landowners) alike revolved around an area of common ground where economic interests were mutually served. This model was intended to be put to the intellectual torch by the now infamous "Tragedy of the Commons" paper by Garrett Hardin in 1968. But, as we often say a funny thing happened on the way to the garbage bin of history: with the failure of both the top-down statist economic model in 1989 and of the "free" market  model (once again) in 2008, a remarkable  thing has happened; growing and respectful attention is being paid to the no longer quaint idea of the commons. And as part of this conceptual journey a  route is opening for social economics as a comprehensive economic model rather than a subsidiary alternative. In addition to traditional commons models, new forms are emerging, making for a kind of commons rebirth. Below TorontotheBetter is pleased to review the emerging trend and to welcome comment.  

The term social economy has become popular in recent years as a phrase that conveniently opposes economic models narrowly focused on finance and "rational" self-interest. And in this it has been successful as a rallying cry for all those who see economic activity as a tool of human, and so social benefit. At the end of the 20th century, with the two economic models  (exclusively market-directed and  hierarchically state directed) that had dominated since the birth of the modern age,  having demonstrated fatal weaknesses, social economy  became a kind of grab-bag of alternatives, ranging  from barter, co-operation and gift  economies, which each played emancipatory roles in a neo-liberal environment, but were, at root, philosophically and practically distinct, thus suggesting a mixed economy – a state controlled market - as the necessary best of an imperfect bunch.

But what has emerged in recent years is a new respect for a more primary and ancient model of economics for people and planet: the commons. The commons is, in its purest form of air, water and land, as it existed for millennia before enclosures, is, arguably, the original economic model, where a  group partakes  freely in the world’s natural wealth, while respecting the rights of all others to  do so too and so protecting the group  resource at the same time as partaking in it. The commons way is found in the difference between using and using up. Our self-interest is in protecting what we have, not exhausting it. The environmental movement was the first to make this point politically, but other groups, from gender-to  geographical  and cultural groups are increasingly seeing the wisdom of  this and understanding their common destiny as “commoners”.

As a number of recent books have noted, many ancient commons have survived  the privatization and enclosure frenzy of the industrial age. But what is really interesting at the beginning of the 21st century is that new, what we can call “super-natural” commons are emerging. The most important of these has been, the virtual common that is the Internet.  The exciting possibility is that the universally celebrated virtual commons that is the Internet can be a force for the “re-commoning” of original physical commons that have been privatized. Why is this already happening?  Because more and more have understood that privatization, enclosure and alienation have been producing more and more social waste and destruction, of  the environment and the  people who live by or on it, as ultimately we all do.                        


Friday, 30 September 2016

Showing like a pro - the Future of Football [aka Soccer] at Toronto's Jane-Finch Neighbourhood

Cruyff Court Toronto talked to, and played with (photo) , audience members at Driftwood Community Centre's Multicultural Festival on Sept. 24th and signed up many as prospective Cruyff Court followers. The fair trade soccer ball in the photo was raffled and will be presented to  the winner at Driftwood next week. 

"Cruyff Court Toronto - bringing the people's game closer to the people"

Sunday, 18 September 2016

TorontotheBetter at the Annual Driftwood Multicultural Festival on Sept.24th (11am-4pm) in Driftwood Community Ctr. - 4401 Jane St.

Pleased to meet so many at another great Driftwood multicultural festival on Saturday. We heard lots of interest from community members about Cruyff Court Toronto, our first in Canada all-weather mini soccer facility and introduced Maury Cheskes, our new placement student from the George Brown College Community Worker programme.

Displaying DWMF save the date.jpg

Friday, 2 September 2016

Mainstreaming the Social Economy

It's time for the "alternative" economy to become the standard one, for the 21st century to be one of wholescale enterprise transformation. If the last 10 years of social economics have taught us anything it is that there is no contradiction between treating workers, the environment and the community well and business viability. Rather the opposite, we would say. Business must take less old-style profit, but the rest of us, and ultimately the the enterprises themselves, will benefit from fairly treated and so committed workers, sustainable operations and community resourcefulness. Stay tuned to this blog for more on our campaign for a social economy.

Casino Jobs the best option for Rexdale?

Ignoring the obvious dangers of gambling in a longtime low income and low job environment the proponents of a Casino for Rexdale in North-West Toronto echo the "any job is good" refrain of several politicians who, with the exception of the thankfully defeated Stephen Harper will remain un-named here. And if there are no alternatives it is understandable if anything looks goood. It is to widen economic and recreational options for the area that Red Panamericana Toronto, Toronto's non-profit partnership with the Hispanic Development Council plans a unique first in Canada soccer facility - "Cruyff Court Toronto" - near the Jane-Finch neighbourhood. To learn more and to make a personal contribution of any kind check out the Red Panamericana blog at