Friday, 28 December 2007

A Christmas gift for Canadian workers?

The Canadian Labour Congress recently reported that Workers finally have a new law to protect their wages:

"December 14, 2007

OTTAWA – Canadian workers have finally won new legal protection for their wages and their pension contributions when their employer goes bankrupt. Bill C-12, a series of amendments to existing insolvency and wage protection laws, was approved by the Senate last night and received Royal Assent today. This was accomplished after an intensive three-year campaign by the Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliated unions to change bankruptcy laws that unfairly put workers last in line to get paid."

Monday, 17 December 2007

IWW Toronto - Next Meeting Saturday Jan.19th, 2008

Toronto IWW (Wobblies) Union an opportunity for Toronto workers who want to improve their working conditions

IWW is the union of choice for progressive enterprises that put workers at the centre of enterprise. As part of the Libra Co-op TorontotheBetter workers are IWW union members and part of the only unionized worker co-op in Toronto. To find out more anyone is welcome to join our monthly meetings. Find out about a worker friendly union, and maybe join us, hear about our Food Workers campaign and keep up with international Wobbly initiatives like the Starbuck's workers union.

Members meet the 3rd Saturday of each month usually.
NEXT MEETING is on January 19th, 2008 at 3pm, at 519 Church St.

Call 416-707-3509 for room number and other details.

And we want to hear from you - know any problem workplaces, or industries, that need
some activist attention, solidarity pickets, or research? Let us know by leaving a comment. We're particularly interested in the food industry, knowledge workers and occupational health and safety issues. And 2008 will be a big year, with the IWW Organizing Conference set for Toronto in April.

To be added to the IWW mailing list contact:

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Special Holiday Appeal from MSN

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As we send this Special Holiday Appeal to you, workers at the
Vaqueros Navarra blue jean factory in Tehuacan, Mexico are wondering
whether they will have a job and the hope of a better future when
they return from their holiday break.

Can you donate $50, $100, or $250 for apparel workers' rights?

For the past six months, these young women and men have been fighting
for a very simple objective - the right to be represented by a union
of their own free choice. For doing so, over a hundred of them have
been fired and many more have been pressured to sign resignation
letters. Those that remain were told the factory would be closed if
they failed to vote for a company-supported union.

Throughout their long and difficult struggle, MSN has been mobilizing
international support for the workers and for their right to be
represented by an independent union rather than an "official union"
endorsed by their employer.

On November 23, I was privileged to act as an official observer of
the union representation vote. Rather than voting by secret ballot,
the workers had to go one-by-one to a table where factory management
watched them as they publicly declared which union they supported.

Despite this blatantly undemocratic process, the workers, most of
whom are young, indigenous women, stood up to their employer and
voiced their support for the independent September 19 Union.

After celebrating this precedent-setting victory with our friends in
Tehuacan, we have had to turn our attention to the more difficult
task ahead of convincing the employer to accept and negotiate with
the new union, rather than closing the factory. Preserving this
fragile victory will require months more hard work.

But funding for this kind of concerted campaign work is drying up.
This year, for example, MSN's largest single funder in 2007 advised
us it could not continue to support our work because labour rights is
no longer one of its priority focuses. To carry out these vitally
important solidarity campaigns, we count on your support now more
than ever.

We know you may already be a regular contributor to MSN. If so, we're
asking you to make a special gift this holiday season - above and
beyond that contribution - to help workers who make our holiday gifts
win decent wages and working conditions.

Please consider making a generous holiday contribution and becoming a
sustaining monthly donor to MSN.

Yours truly; Lynda Yanz, Coordinator

P.S. Unlike charitable organizations that issue tax receipts, much of
our work is deemed "advocacy," and we are unable to provide a tax
receipt for your donation. This limit on our fundraising options
makes your donation all the more crucial. Please donate today.

The Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) is a labour and women's rights
organization that supports the efforts of workers in global supply
chains to win improved wages and working conditions and a better
quality of life. | (416) 532-5854 |
606 Shaw Street, Toronto, ON; M6G 3L6 Canada

TorontoTheBetter News from the Canadian Co-Operative Association

Three related items from the most recent Canadian Co-Operative Association News Brief:


David Labistour, presently Mountain Equipment Co-op’s senior
manager of buying and design, has been appointed CEO of Canada’s
leading outdoor retailer. This marks the first time in the organization’s 36-year history that the top job has been awarded internally. Mr. Labistour will assume the
CEO position at MEC on January 2, 2008.

Mr. Labistour has headed up MEC’s buying and design teams since
2003. He has spearheaded a product sustainability initiative aimed at
reducing the ecological footprint of MEC-brand products. Mr.
Labistour’s professional experience spans over 25 years working for
companies such as Adidas, Woolworths and Artizia.

Mr. Labistour will take over from Peter Robinson, who has led the
co-op since 2000 and is moving to the chief executive position at the
David Suzuki Foundation.


The Co-operators’ fleet of more than 400 vehicles will now follow
new guidelines in a move that is expected to improve fuel economy by
over 20 per cent without increasing cost. The PHH GreenFleet program
was developed to guide organizations through choosing more efficient
vehicles, upgrading vehicle maintenance programs and providing
additional training to drivers. All fleet vehicles The Co-operators
group of companies acquires will now meet its new fuel economy
requirements and help achieve its goal of significantly reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.


The Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op) has put together a
Co-op Holiday Guide to help Ontarians source all their holiday
needs through the co-op sector. The Holiday Gift Guide highlights
co-operative products available in Ontario (via retail or web

Ontario co-ops can still add their products or services to the
list. E-mail the details to

Several TorontoTheBetter businesses and partners are included in the guide: The Big Carrot, Come As You Are, Common Ground Co-operative, Fair Trade Clothing Co-op, La Siembra, and Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Belated Notice of Shopping Fair at Native Canadian Centre of Toronto

Cedar Basket Gift Shop is located with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto...


Saturday December 8/07; 11:00am to 3:00pm

Lots of great items for gifts or décor!

Loads of fun!

• Rummage Sale
• Food
• Penny Auction

I realize this reposting is too late, but don't let that stop from considering this Toronto First Nations Owned and Operated Store if you're looking for any gifts sometime soon...

Friday, 7 December 2007

Toronto Selected for IWW Organizing Conference!

The proposal by the Toronto branch of the Industrial Workers of the World to host the 2008 Organizing Conference has been approved.

The conference takes place in late March or early April. The next meeting of the Toronto IWW is December 15th.

More information to follow.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

TorontotheBetter encourages sale of art with social commentary

"An African Grandmother" drawn by Sallie Thayer of Colouration. The card was designed for one of the Ontario branches of WOMEN FOR AFRICAN GRANDMOTHERS, a group associated with the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

In the drawing, an African grandmother holds one of her many grandchildren -- all of whom are now being raised by her since her adult children have all died of HIV/AIDS.

The bowl at her side is empty and she is tired. She -- and her "children" -- need our help in order to survive.
However, like the tree behind her, she may be bowed, but she is still green, still unbroken -- still a strong African woman.

I entitled this one "We Shall Overcome, Someday" after the protest song of the 1960's. These are, obviously, three Burmese monks representing all the monks and people of Burma who started off with such hope for change this past fall. As we know, those hopes have been cruelly crushed.
The monks are carrying a banner which we can't see. We can imagine what it must say and how great their determination was in the beginning.
The background is a drawing from a battle in the Second World War -- war and oppression never change, the weapons just get more sophisticated!

If you are interested in seeing additional drawings of this type, go to my blog at

TorontoTheBetter businesses at Green Enterprise Holiday Sale Market Place

GET (Green Enterprise Toronto) has organized a Holiday Sale Market Place happening this Friday:

"Come & discover, meet & buy green and environmentally friendly services & products."

WHERE?: the Centre for Social Innovation; 215 Spadina Ave, Suite 400

WHEN?: Friday, December 7th, 2007; Lunchtime, 12-3 PM

Free Admission!!

In addition to GET, several TorontoTheBetter members & partners are participating:

Annarres natural Health
Dandelion Food & Herb
Fertile Ground Bookstore
Merchants of Green Coffee

Monday, 3 December 2007

MSN Seeks Your Advice in Cleaning up Apparel Industry

From the latest post on the Maquila Solidarity Network homepage:

"In 2007, our staff and our network fought on many fronts to hold international apparel brands accountable for the labour rights abuses in their supply chains. Some of them responded positively, and some of them lagged behind – severely. But all of them could use improvement. So MSN has assembled a list of New Years resolutions we think the apparel industry must make – and keep – in 2008.

But you know how it is – if you don’t make priorities, things don’t get done. So we’d like your help in prioritizing these resolutions for the apparel industry. Please tell us which 3 resolutions should be the top priorities for the apparel industry in 2008."

Visit Help the Apparel Industry Start 2008 on Clean Footing for more information and to provide your feedback.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Consider Colouration for Christmas Cards

Colouration, a recent TorontoTheBetter member and partner, has a variety of hand designed greeting cards that are ideal for the holiday season. Contact Libra Information Services or Colouration by email for more information.

coffee tasting at java mama

Thought i would let you know about a seasonal coffee tasting at Java Mama \
1075 Bathurst street
on dec 15 and 16
from 2-5
serving up the rarest most expensive coffees obtainable globally  at
an affordable 5$ a cup
each cup hand dosered with 3 tablespoons of home roasted beans
i opened my shop in august of 2006 in the annex
i will serve up Kopi Lowak,Jacu Bird and C.O.E. (cup of
excellence)panama hacienda la gesha-the coffee served at Manic for $15
a cup recently
this is to thank my clients for their patronage and to also welcome
other home roasters to share in the bounty-i have home roasted now for
6 years
the kopi lowak -the monkey poo stuff-was sold last xmas at $1000 a
pound roasted at Pusiateri's- fyi...
you can call me from 1-7 every day but Tuesday at Java Mama
sincerely yours
Susan Oppenheim

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Fair Trade Clothing Co-op Provides Shirts for Dali Lama Visit

I received some good news concerning a TorontoTheBetter member today, via the Ontario Co-operative Association:


The Fair Trade Clothing Co-op recently sold 5,000 fairly traded shirts to the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario (CTAO).

These were distributed at the Rogers Centre for the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet's visit to Toronto. The CTAO was delighted to find a fair trade option within Toronto.

The shirts are made in El Salvador by a co-op of single mothers. The clothes are distributed within Canada by JustShirts Clothing Co-operative and bought by organizations like the Fair Trade Clothing Co-op, who are fighting for social justice and creating an alternative for socially conscious consumers.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

YWCA Boutique needs new retail space due to Condo Craziness

Condo camp craziness, an article in the Nov. 22. 2007 issue of Eye Weekly, is an excellent case study regarding what the real estate market is coming to...

I mention it here because, as a result of the redevelopment at 1 Bloor East, the YWCA of Greater Toronto International Boutique is looking for a new, affordable storefront location. Anybody have any ideas?

Monday, 26 November 2007

Mayan Struggles: Fair Trade vs. Free Trade (discussion on neoliberalism and alternatives)

Another relevant announcement from the The Centre for the Study of Education and Work:


Wednesday, November 28th; 7-9 p.m.
OISE - 252 Bloor Street West; 5th Floor, Room 5250

An interactive discussion on neoliberalism and alternatives, featuring Leocadio Juracan, Fair Trade coordinator and national representative, Campesino Committee of the Highlands - CCDA (a movement that defends the lands and culture of the Mayan peoples in Guatemala.

Presented by Latin America Solidarity Committee, Toronto, and U of T OPIRG. Sponsored by Cafe Justicia, endorsed by The International Secretariat for Human Development (York University), New Socialist Latin American Working Group.

See the Campesino Committee of the Highlands website for more information.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Help Renew Co-Operative Development Initiative

If you're a member or a supporter of co-operatives, you'll be interested in this blurb from a recent Co-operative News Digest:


Canada’s two national co-op associations have developed a proposal that will use
co-operatives as a way to meet many of today’s federal policy challenges. The
Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and Conseil Canadien de la Coopération (CCC) want to renew and expand their current Co-operative Development Initiative (CDI) partnership with the federal government, which is set to end on March 31, 2008.

CCA, CCO, and their partners (including On Co-op) are looking for
your support in helping get this important initiative renewed.

- For more information, visit Harness the Power of Co-operation.

Thursday, 22 November 2007



Directed by Aaraón Díaz Mendiburo, Mexico, 2007, 45 min.,
Spanish with English subtitles

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 23RD, 2007, 7 to 9PM

What happens when Ontario's Mexican migrant workers get back home­?

Meet Director Aaraón Díaz, Researcher Janet McLaughlin
(University of Toronto), and Kate Sheese (York
University) from Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW)

Migrantes portraits the experiences of various Mexican
migrant workers that come to Canada and the U.S.
through the SAWP/PTAT Seasonal Agricultural Workers
Program. Initiated in 1974, at least 12,980
Mexican migrant workers were registered in 2003, and
there has been a growing presence of women since 1989,
further transforming the reality of those who migrate
to work and of those who wait for them to return home.
The film focuses on the livelihood of peasant workers
from the Mexican town of Cuijingo who have worked in
greenhouses and farms near Ontario towns such as
Leamington, Simcoe, and St. Catharines, and how their
experiences weave around the common thread of
migration. The director, Aaraón Díaz, uses an old
metaphor of human beings as working bodies and of the
workers as a body; when the body gets sick, all the
members get sick, and therefore health is also a main
subject of the film. Migrantes shows the ways in which
migrant workers view themselves, their families, and
their work by telling us intimate stories and dreams
as well the costs and struggles of working abroad.
This film captures the audience and leaves the
audience wanting to join migrant workers for improved
labour conditions.

- (Daniella Jofré(PhD Student, University of Toronto, IWW and Libra Co-Op member)

Aaraón Díaz came from the Autonomous University of
Mexico to Canada this fall to work on his Master's
Degree in social work. For his thesis he decided to
study migrant workers in Canada and to this end
he made a film about them, Migrants: Those who Come
from Within. Aaraón Díaz is now working on his next
film which will deal with the living
conditions and the rights of the migrants in Canada.

Janet McLaughlin is a PhD candidate in Medical
Anthropology at the University of Toronto. She holds a
Master's Degree in Human Rights from the University of
Sussex, and has also been a research training
fellow at the Institute for Work and Health in
Toronto. Her doctoral research investigates Mexican
and Caribbean seasonal agricultural workers with a
focus in Ontario's Niagara region, and has involved
over three years of fieldwork in Canada, Mexico and
Jamaica. Her specific focus is on health and safety
issues among the workers, and evaluating their access
to workplace protections and support systems.

Janet and Aaraón have worked closely in Mexico and now
in Canada, and have been presenting the film and their
research findings together throughout Canada and in
Mexico. Throughout their research they have
also volunteered with migrant workers, providing them
with informational workshops and various support

Kate Sheese has been working with Justicia for Migrant
Workers since 2005. She is currently studying Women's
Health at York University and much of her involvement
in Justicia has been around issues of women's sexual,
reproductive, and mental health.

More info:,,,,



Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Winds of Change, Grounds of Hope! (Fair Trade Event at Alternative Grounds)

If you can, check out this event at Alternative Grounds Coffee House:


Wednesday, November 21st, 7-9 p.m.
Alternative Grounds Cafe, 333 Roncesvalles Ave.
(South of Howard Park)

Exploring Fair Trade & Sustainable Community Development in the
Dominican Republic.

Join us and Stefanie Hall from the Dominican
Canadian Community Development Group, and learn about grassroots and
community-led initiatives that are making a change for the better in
the lives of hundreds of small farmers and their families in the
Dominican Republic. DCCD participates in community-directed
development projects and leads visits to the DR as a way to build
strong relationships and solidarity across borders.

Fair Trade and organic Dominican coffee will be available for sampling and tasting!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Protest pending Canada-Colombia free trade deal

An appeal from the Maquila Solidarity Network:

Dear friends;

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is asking labour and solidarity
activists to take action to protest a pending free trade agreement
between Canada and Colombia.

MSN is passing along this appeal because we share the CLC's concern
that the Canadian government is negotiating more trade deals without
any substantial labour, social, human rights or environmental

In the case of Colombia, those protections are critical. The current
government is accused of corruption, links to paramilitary death
squads, drug traffickers, and state sanctioned impunity for crimes

The Canadian government has chosen to ignore this in the interests of
signing a trade deal. First announced in June of this year, the
Canadian government has put "free trade" negotiations with Colombia
on overdrive while keeping them away from public scrutiny. There are
some official expectations that a deal can be concluded by the end of
this month.

To protest the signing of a trade agreement with Colombia that
contains no substantial social, environmental and human rights
protections, please go to:

Aylwin Lo |
Information and communications officer

Maquila Solidarity Network

Monday, 12 November 2007

TorontoTheBetter Businesses Participate in Conversation about Worker Co-operatives

'A Potential Toronto' wrap party immediately afterwards, with DJs
Dorian and Dorian.

Thursday, 15 November 2007; 7:30 - 9:30pm
Toronto Free Gallery; 660 Queen St. East
(west of Broadview and east of the Don Valley Parkway)

Music, cereal, a vibrator, a website, and a cup of coffee: these are
just a few essentials that can be bought in Toronto at a worker
co-operative - a worker-owned and democratically controlled
organization that makes or sells a good or service. Supporting a
worker co-op is supporting an alternative economy.

What worker co-ops exist in Toronto? How are worker co-ops different
from traditional workplaces? To what extent does this alternative
business model escape, subvert, or resist capitalist conventions of
competition, hierarchy, and growth? What potentials do worker co-ops
offer as an alternative way to reorganize work life?

Join us for a conversation guided by these questions. J.J. McMurtry,
a social theorist with an interest in co-operativism, will open the
conversation. Participating, will be guests from The Big Carrot, Come
As You Are
, Blocks Recording Club, Anarres, and Planet Bean.

We invite anyone involved in or curious about the local co-op
movement and alternative ways of organizing working life, to join us
to talk about their experience, community, challenges and hopes
regarding workers' co-operatives as alternative economies - and how
it might fit into a potential Toronto.

Initiated by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry (TSCI)
More info:

Friday, 9 November 2007

Through the Eyes of Diversity: Reproductive and Sexual Health in Canada (forum and informaton fair with TorontoTheBetter door prizes)

We invite you and friends to join Canadians for Choice for an in-depth forum and information fair on how diversity influences access to sexual health services:

When: Saturday, 24 November 2007; 1-5 PM

Where: University of Toronto, Medical Sciences Building, ROOM 2158
1 King's College Circle; Toronto, ON

We would also like to thank Come As You Are, Good For Her and Toronto Women's Bookstore for providing door prizes.

For more details, visit the post about the event.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Fourteen Songs about Sex and Human Dignity by newest TorontoTheBetter member

Welcome to TorontoTheBetter's newest member - The Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra - hope it's not too late to mention their next performance:

The Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra
Thursday November 8 @ Clinton's (693 Bloor St. West)
9:00 p.m.
$8 / $5

Fourteen songs about sex and human dignity.

Original deviant lieder and derangements of music by Brian Eno, New Order, Kurt Weill, Wire, as well as new interpretations of profound musical obscurities. Aggressive minimalism at its finest, performed with flair by Toronto's most adventurous musical anomaly.

The very special opening act for this performance will be the remarkable Marco DeFelice (voice, guitar, piano, percussion via loop pedals).

How do you get there? Clinton's is a block east of Christie Station on the TTC, on the south side of Bloor St.

Visit their site for the map and/or other upcoming performances.

Regent Park Film Festival & Urban Health Seminar

Two events this week that may be of interest:

Regent Park 5th Annual Film Festival Launch

Wednesday, November 7, 2007; 5:00 pm
Nelson Mandela Public school, 440 Shuter St.

For more info:;


CUHI Spotlight on Urban Health Seminar Series: "Community-Based Participatory Research using Arts: Homeless Women, Housing and Social Support"

Thursday, November 8, 2007; 1:15 pm - 2:45 pm
Bahen Centre, University of Toronto: 40 St. George Street, Room B024


Thursday, 1 November 2007

The Gap faces challenges living up to its ethical image

According to an October 28th, 2007 Observer article by Dan McDougall, Child sweatshop shame threatens Gap's ethical image and may cause a withdrawal of clothing ordered for Christmas:

"an undercover Observer investigation in the back streets of New Delhi, reveal a tragic consequence of the West's demand for cheap clothing. It exposes how, despite Gap's rigorous social audit systems launched in 2004 to weed out child labour in its production processes, the system is being abused by unscrupulous subcontractors. The result is that children, in this case working in conditions close to slavery, appear to still be making some of its clothes."

Wednesday, 24 October 2007


Yet another repost from the folks at the Centre for the Study of Education and Work:

CBTU 11TH ANNUAL DINNER AND DANCE: “Pushing the Equity Agenda Politically”

Saturday, November 10, 2007
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Reception and Cocktails)
7:00 p.m. (Dinner)
Individual Tickets: $60.00
Table of 8: $480.00

1158 Aerowood Drive
Mississauga, ON

Keynote speaker: Terry Melvin, AFL/CIO New York Secretary-Treasurer,
CBTU Region 1 Director

For more information or to register, contact:

Margaret Law
Ontario Federation of Labour
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 202, Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8
Tel: (416) 443-7656 – Fax: (416) 441-0722 – Email:

Monday, 22 October 2007

Environ Mental #6

Environ Mental #6
Alter Eco Newsletter
October 17th, 2007

Halloween is fast approaching! A scary reminder that time, along with the leaves, flies.

Since the last newsletter in January we have been quietly and not so quietly, developing the art and music.

On May 3/07 I played ***live*** at the Lakeview Lunch, 1132 Dundas St W, @ Ossington, a genuine 40’s diner and almost in it’s original condition – like me! It is an open mic organised by Maria Kastaan, a genuine singer-songwriter and an original Yorkville denizen. I got to play all the songs on the CD in 2 sets.

I was feeling alright.
I coulda played all night.
But my pickin hand
Had a case of stage fright.

Down at the Lakeview Lunch

Came off well but room for improvement. All enjoyed it and were very supportive. More on that in the near future.

Also launched the new music website, "This Old Guitar". It can be accessed from the main Alter Eco website. It is still under construction, but has pics and other content. Check it out!

The BIG story, of which we are extremely pleased and honoured, is that we have been asked to be part of an advisory council at the Recycling Council of Ontario, for matters relating to the arts. This is the first year that they have expanded their Awards categories to the arts.

From their website:
The Recycling Council of Ontario is a not-for-profit organization committed to minimizing society's impact on the environment by eliminating waste. RCO's mission is to inform and educate all members of society about the generation of waste, the avoidance of waste, the more efficient use of resources and the benefits and/or consequences of these activities. Since its inception in 1978, RCO has actively assisted municipalities, corporations, other organisations and individuals in reducing their waste.”

And bigger and more exciting yet is that we have been nominated for an Award to be presented at their Gala Event Thursday, Oct 18th. So by the time you read this history will have unfolded as it should!

Upcoming shows we are doing are the Planet in Focus International Environmental Film and Video Festival, Community Eco Exchange
Saturday, October 27th & Sunday, October 28th, 11:00am – 5:00pm, Innis College (2 Sussex Avenue, in the University of Toronto) - Free Admission

Also on Thursday, November 29th, 10am – 5pm, we are doing the CBC Christmas Crafts Sale. It is located in the CBC Atrium at 250 Front St W. – Free Admission

We look forward to seeing you there and in the mean time hope you are all well and too busy to be scared and check the art website for the results of tomorrow night!!

Cheers as always,

StrikeBike production starts today

The following update regarding production of the StrikeBike came to our attention through the people at Ztangi Press:

Hamburg, 15th of October 2007:

Strike-Bike Production starts on Monday the 22nd of October at 6:30 a.m.!

Finally, on 22nd of October the bicycle factory in Nordhausen start up
operation again. From 6:30 a.m. the "Strike-Bike" will be produced fully
self-managed and without bosses. The 1800 bicycles will be produced and
delivered to the customer in the beginning of november.

People who are interested in a „Strike-Bike" but didn't get one of the 1800,
have from now on the possibility to put their name down in a
Reservierungsliste on the webpage

Media representatives from press, radio and television are welcome. We
strongly ask for notices in advance. Due to the public interest
accreditations are needed.

There will be present: the collegues from "Bikes-in-Nordhausen e.V." as well
as members of the FAU, of the Café Libertad Collective and other unions from
other countries.

Please notify yourself timely by Fax:

»Bikes – in – Nordhausen e.V.«
Freiherr-vom-Stein-Str. 31 – 99734 Nordhausen
Tel. 03631 – 622 124 – Fax: 03631 – 622 170
eMail: fahrradwerk (ät)

For further informations about the campaign of the FAU-„Strike

Folkert Mohrhof
- mobile *0179-4863252* and ...
respectively monday till friday from 10 am till 3 pm:
*+49 40 - 20 90 68 96*
presse (ät)

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Toronto IWW (Wobblies) Union an opportunity for Toronto workers who want to improve their working conditions

IWW is the union of choice for progressive enterprises that put workers at the centre of enterprise. As part of the Libra Co-op TorontotheBetter workers are IWW union members and part of the only unionized worker co-op in Toronto. To find out more anyone is welcome to join our monthly meetings. Find out about a worker friendly union, and maybe join us, hear about our Food Workers campaign and keep up with international Wobbly initiatives like the Starbuck's workers union.

November, 2007 meeting is at 3pm, Saturday Nov.17th at 519 Church St.

Call 416-707-3509 for room number and other details.

To be added to the IWW mailing list contact:

Thursday, 18 October 2007

TorontoTheBetter members co-sponsor/work with Green Carpet Series' Evening of Green Cuisine

AutoShare is co-sponsoring and Meaghan Orlanski is working at the Green Carpet Series' Evening of Green Cuisine.

The event takes place Tuesday, May 16, 2006 at the St. Lawrence North Market, 92 Front Street East, and tickets are $40.

It looks like a great event; check out there webpage for more details.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

GreenDeals Daily

GreenDeals Daily (formerly helps consumers find and share economical ways of reducing everyday environmental impacts. Check it out!

Oh and they also have a blog.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Fair Trade Coffee at Wal-Mart (Sam's Club)

The following full-text New York Times article about the increasing availability of fair trade coffee through mainstream sources came to us from the GLOBAL-SOUTH mailing list:

October 2, 2007, New York Tiimes
Fair Trade in Bloom

VARGINHA, Brazil: Rafael de Paiva was skeptical at first. If he wanted a
"fair trade" certification for his coffee crop, the Brazilian farmer would
have to adhere to a long list of rules on pesticides, farming techniques,
recycling and other matters. He even had to show that his children were
enrolled in school.

"I thought, 'This is difficult,'" recalled the humble farmer. But the 20
percent premium he recently received for his first fair trade harvest made
the effort worthwhile, Mr. Paiva said, adding, it "helped us create a
decent living."

More farmers are likely to receive such offers, as importers and retailers
rush to meet a growing demand from consumers and activists to adhere to
stricter environmental and social standards.

Mr. Paiva's beans will be in the store-brand coffee sold by Sam's Club,
the warehouse chain of Wal-Mart Stores, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's and Starbucks, which already sell some fair trade coffee.

"We see a real momentum now with big companies and institutions switching
to fair trade," said Paul Rice, president and chief executive of TransFair
USA, the only independent fair trade certifier in the United States.

The International Fair Trade Association, an umbrella group of
organizations in more than 70 countries, defines fair trade as reflecting
"concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of
marginalized small producers" and does "not maximize profit at their

According to Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, a group of
fair trade certifiers, consumers spent approximately $2.2 billion on
certified products in 2006, a 42 percent increase over the previous year,
benefiting over seven million people in developing countries.

Like consumer awareness of organic products a decade ago, fair trade
awareness is growing. In 2006, 27 percent of Americans said they were
aware of the certification, up from 12 percent in 2004, according to a
study by the New-York based National Coffee Association.

Fair trade products that have experienced the biggest jump in demand
include coffee, cocoa and cotton, according to the Fairtrade Labelling

Dozens of other products, including tea, pineapples, wine and flowers, are
certified by organizations that visit farmers to verify that they are
meeting the many criteria that bar, among other things, the use of child
labor and harmful chemicals.

There is no governmental standard for fair trade certification, the same
situation as with "organic" until a few years ago. Some fair trade produce
also carries the organic label, but most does not. One important
difference is the focus of the labels: organic refers to how food is
cultivated, while fair trade is primarily concerned with the condition of
the farmer and his laborers.

Big chains are marketing fair trade coffee to varying degrees. All the
espresso served at the 5,400 Dunkin' Donuts stores in the United States,
for example, is fair trade. All McDonald's stores in New England sell only
fair trade coffee. And in 2006, Starbucks bought 50 percent more fair
trade coffee than in 2005.

Fair trade produce remains a minuscule percentage of world trade, but it
is growing. Only 3.3 percent of coffee sold in the United States in 2006
was certified fair trade, but that was more than eight times the level in
2001, according to TransFair USA.

Although Sam's Club already sells seven fair trade imports, including
coffee, this will be the first time it has put its Member's Mark label on
a fair trade product, which Mr. Rice of TransFair called "a statement of
their commitment to fair trade."

He added, "The impact in terms of volume and the impact in terms of the
farmers and their families is quite dramatic."

Michael Ellgass, the director of house brands for Sam's Club, said the
company could afford to pay fair trade's premium because it has reduced
the number of middlemen.

Coffee usually passes from farmers through roasters, packers, traders,
shippers and warehouses before arriving in stores. But Sam's Club will buy
shelf-ready merchandise directly from Café Bom Dia, the roaster here in
Brazil's lush coffee country.

"We are cutting a number of steps out of the process by working directly
with the farmer," Mr. Ellgass said.

Some critics of fair trade say that working with thousands of small
farmers makes strict adherence to fair trade rules difficult.

Others argue that fair trade coffee is as exploitive as the conventional
kind, especially in countries that produce the highest-quality beans -
like Colombia, Ethiopia and Guatemala. Fair trade farmers there are barely
paid more than their counterparts in Brazil, though their crops become
gourmet brands, selling for a hefty markup, said Geoff Watts, vice
president for coffee at Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea, a coffee

But in Brazil, a nation with little top-grade coffee, the partnership
between small producers and big retailers is a better blend, Mr. Watts

Fair trade coffee farmers in Brazil are paid at least $1.29 a pound,
compared with the current market rate of roughly $1.05 per pound, said
Sydney Marques de Paiva, president of Café Bom Dia.

Most coffee farmers are organized into cooperatives, and some of that
premium finances community projects like schools or potable water.

Like most of his cooperative's 3,000-odd members - and three-quarters of
coffee growers worldwide - Mr. Paiva, the coffee farmer (no relation to
Mr. Marques de Paiva), farms less than 25 acres of land. He produces
around 200 132-pound sacks for the co-op, with 70 percent of that sold as
fair trade to Café Bom Dia.

The company would buy more if there were more of a market for fair trade
coffee, it said.

The fair trade crop brought Mr. Paiva about 258 reais ($139) a sack,
compared with about 230 reais for the sacks that were not fair trade. For
the latest crop, that meant an additional 3,920 reais ($2,116) for him, a
huge sum here in the impoverished mountains of Minas.

"It's been great for us," Mr. Paiva said with a huge, toothless grin. "I
call the people from the co-op my family now."

Mr. Ellgass, the Sam's Club executive, said the chain hoped to expand its
fair trade goods.

So do Brazil's farmers. "Everybody is doing their best to come up to
standard so we can sell our coffee as fair trade," said Conceição Peres da
Costa, one of the co-op's growers. "Everybody wants to earn as much as he

Support the Clean Clothes Campaign -- Write a letter today!

A campaign alert from the Maquila Solidarity Network:

Re: Support the Clean Clothes Campaign -- Write a letter today!

Legal action is being used by a company producing garments in India
to silence labour rights organizations in India and the Netherlands
who are speaking out about severe worker rights violations in
factories producing jeans for companies including G-Star, Armani,
RaRe, Guess, Gap and Mexx.

On September 26, 2007, the local court in Bangalore, India issued
arrest warrants against seven staff members of the European Clean
Clothes Campaign and the India Committee of the Netherlands.
Notwithstanding international pressure, Fibre & Fabrics International
and its 100% subsidiary Jeans Knits Pvt. Ltd (FFI/JKPL) is refusing
to engage with union and local labour rights organizations and stop
legal action.

Instead of working with local organizations to improve labour
conditions and labour relations, the jeans supplier is trying to stop
labour rights groups from distributing information on the situation
at FFI/JKPL and has filed restraining orders and libel lawsuits to
silence them. The worker rights advocates are committed to pursuing
justice for the women and men who stitch our jeans, but support is
needed in the face of the huge legal campaign mounted by FFI/JKPL.

How you can help
Contact brands and factory owners to tell them "Enough is
enough". You can send letters directly from the CCC website at:

Maquila Solidarity Network / Ethical Trading Action Group
606 Shaw Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 3L6
416-532-8584 (phone) | 416-532-7688 (fax)

Saturday, 29 September 2007


JOB POSTING: Inquality Researcher

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is seeking a Researcher
for its Inequality Project. The position involves a combination of
research and writing, data and policy analysis, and communications
work. The Researcher will undertake a variety of short- and long-term
research projects related to the Inequality Project. We are looking
for an individual of exceptional skill, energy and commitment to be
part of this unique groundbreaking project.

Skills and Qualifications:

The position requires a strong background in data and policy analysis
in the areas of income distribution, labour markets and/or social and
economic policy. Candidates must be able to demonstrate research
experience in this area, with a strong (graduate level) academic
background in a relevant field of study. Other skills include:

· background in quantitative methods and statistics;
· strong computer skills;
· excellent written and oral communication skills,
including public speaking; experience, popular/accessible as well as
academic writing skills; experience giving media interviews is an
· demonstrated ability to work effectively, both
independently and as part of a team, in an environment that is
frequently working to deadlines with quick turnaround;
· fluency in French is an asset.

Job Duties and Responsibilities include:

· work collaboratively with the Inequality Team to develop
and/or undertake in-depth original research;
· research and write policy briefs, research papers, and
· write articles and opinion pieces for newspapers, the
CCPA Monitor, a regular blog, and other publications;
· monitor and analyze federal and provincial public policy
and trends with respect to income inequality;
· provide information and comment to media (press, radio
and TV interviews);
· prepare materials for and undertake public speaking
engagements about income inequality;
· provide support for project coordination and fundraising

This position may be at the researcher or senior researcher level,
depending on the applicant. Salary will be commensurate with

Application Deadline: October 15, 2007

Inquire and/or send applications to:
Trish Hennessy
Director, Inequality Project
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
2 Carlton Street, Suite 1001
Toronto Ontario
M5B 1J3
Tel: 416-263-9896

Friday, 28 September 2007

Ascendant Copper Shut Down In Ecuador

This report came to us through the Global-South mailing list...

MiningWatch Canada reports that Ecuador Government Shuts Down Ascendant Copper's Junin Project:

Canadian junior mining company Ascendant Copper Corporation’s ambitions to develop a major copper mine in the Intag region of northwestern Ecuador were dealt a serious blow on September 25, 2007, when restrictions on the company’s activities in the area turned into a total prohibition."

OCFU General Manager at Brunswick Theatre

According to No ordinary Joe: Ethiopian coffee co-op founder aims for hearts and mugs of those who like a little justice with their java, a recent NOW Magazine article by Wayne Roberts, Tadesse Meskela, the general manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union spoke to standing room-only crowd at the September 14th screening of Black Gold at the Brunswick Theatre.

It's an informative and inspiring read; I was especially pleased to read that Starbucks has honoured its earlier pledge regarding the trademarking of Ethiopian coffee:

"A major victory came this spring when Starbucks gave up on its insolent effort to trademark the Ethiopian name of Sidamo beans and agreed to return to Ethiopia the right to license its own name and add brand-building value to the people who developed coffee a millennium a"

Strike Bike: Worker-Occupied Factory Seeks Orders To Resume Production

The following press release regarding the Strike Bike campaign came to us through the Industrial Workers of the World listserv:

Staff of occupied bicycle factory in the Thuringian Nordhausen take up production in self-management again

The 135 colleagues of the bicycle factory Bike Systems GmbH in the Thuringian Nordhausen, who keep the factory occupied since 10th of July 2007, decided to resume the production of bicycles in self-management. For this aim 1,800 binding orders on bicycles must be received till 2nd of October. So the collegues are working together with the anarcho-syndicalist union FAU (Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter-Union – Free Workers-Union), which formed for this campaign the internetpage

Since more than two month the staff keep the factory in the south of Harz Mountains in three shifts occupied. They want to prevent the definite dismantling and sale of the factory. The file for bankruptcy from 10th of august is against long odds: The factory is exploited and ran down, the hall was emptied except for the coating line. The staff receives unemployment compensation and hopes for a new concept and a new investor.

The „Strike Bike“ - Solidarity-Bikes from Nordhausen

In the time of occupation and in the wake of discussions during the visits of solidary people, the colleagues of the factory developed the idea to initially take up the production in self-management for a short time. Because it's not the point to only prevent the evacuation of the last machines and to wait for a new investor, the idea of an own ”Strike-Bike“ meet with more and more response. Now the opportunity arises to show the ability to develop an own concept and to self-manage production and distribution.

If it goes well to collect 1,800 advance orders for the bicycles produced in self-direction, we spread solidary ideas and bolster the colleagues in similar situations, not to let themselves easily being restructured to zero. By whomsoever!

The staff gets assistancy by the solidary members of anarcho-syndicalist union Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter-Union (Free workers-union), which will become active in whole germany to spread the knowledge of the struggle of the bycicle-workers and to support the sale of the „Strike-Bike“.

More Informations can be received at:

For background informations and history of the occupation

To get in contact with the staff and to take orders

»Bikes in Nordhausen e.V.«
c/o. André Kegel,
Bruno-Kunze-Str. 39 - 99734 Nordhausen
Telefon: 03631 - 622 124 and 03631 - 403 591
Fax: 03631 - 622 170
eMail: fahrradwerk (ät)

For further informations about the campaign of the FAU-„Strike Bike“-Solidaritygroup:

Folkert Mohrhof
- mobile 0179-4863252 and ...
respectively monday till friday from 10 am till 3 pm:
+49 40 - 20 90 68 96

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Expo looking for Eco-Friendly Women's Health Product/Service Providers

The 12th annual Women's Health Matters Forum and Expo will take place in Toronto on January 18th and 19th, 2008. The theme this year is linking environmental impacts with women’s health issues.

If you sell eco-friendly products or services related to women’s health and well-being, you will want to consider exhibiting at this year's expo. To register as an exhibitor, contact Julia Von Flotow at

Friday, 14 September 2007

Co-operators CEO leads Co-op Conference Keynote Session

The Ontario Co-operative Association's 7th Annual Co-op Conference and Gala will be held October 16th and 17th, 2007 at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario.

The Conference is being organized as a "green" event, so they are encouraging interested people to view the information and to register electronically in order to save paper.

Of special note to us at TorontoTheBetter is the fact the Kathy Bardswick, CEO of Co-operators (one of our sponsoring partners) is leading the Keynote Session: Building Up, Moving Forward.

Also, other sponsors of the conference include Iler Campbell and the Ontario Natural Food Co-op.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Green Enterprise Toronto invites you to GET Smart! Tuesdays

This arrived in my inbox today, so I'm reposting it here:


The GET Network Director presents the fascinating story of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and Green Enterprise Toronto.

Learn more about the movement that we are part of, enjoy a short BALLE video and refreshments, and meet other local green entrepreneurs.

Tuesday September 11th, 7 pm
At the Centre for Social Innovation
215 Spadina Avenue, suite 120, Toronto

In the fall of 2005 Chris began working with the Centre for Social Innovation and a group of local leaders in the social economy such as Margie Zeidler (CEO UrbanSpace Property Group), Alice Klein (CEO NOW Toronto), Tonya Surman (Centre for Social Innovation), Wayne Roberts (Toronto Food Policy Council), Rose Kudlac (PostCarbon Toronto), Brian Milani (York University Business and Environment Program) and Rob Grand (Grassroots Environmental Products, Coalition for a Green Economy). GET is based on the model of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). Since the end of June last year when we began to accept members, GET has rapidly emerged as an effective network to help local independent businesses, customers and communities to think local and green.

Find out more about what makes GET tick and hear about the fascinating stories and people behind the BALLE movement. To show some examples of future possibilites, we'll see a short video from Sustainable Connection in Bellingham, Washington, one of the leaders of BALLE. Chris will also introduce some of the great new GET projects and events that we are planning.

The day before this event, Chris will just be returning from Canada's great gathering of values-driven entrepreneurs, the Social Venture Institute on Cortez Island, B.C. Chris will bring inspiration and resources from SVI to you.

The cost for this event is $10 for GET members & $15 for non-members. There will be a prize draw at the end of the event for something useful and beautiful from MEC. The program will include plenty of time for networking and discussion.

Space is limited! Please RVSP by email to

This month’s event is sponsored by The Centre for Social Innovation.

GET Smart! outreach partners include Coalition for a Green Economy, Eneract, Enterprise Toronto, Smart Growth Network, Grassroots Environmental Products, Foodshare, Local Flavour Plus, NOW Magazine, Phoenix Community Works Foundation, Transformative Learning Centre, Universarium, ZeroFootprint, and

GET Smart! starts again in September on the 2nd Tuesday of every month from 7 pm to 9 pm at Green Enterprise Toronto at 215 Spadina Avenue. See for a map.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Edible Toronto launching free quarterly magazine


In September, Gail Oliver's Edible Toronto will launch a new, free quarterly magazine to connect consumers with local growers and producers, food artisans and chefs, farmers' markets and food

Look for it in restaurants, hotels, and shops!

Monday, 20 August 2007

Anarres Natural Health Inaugural Newsletter

This is the first Anarres Natural Health monthly newsletter. If you would like to join, please reply with the words join. Be well! Tracey TieF

1. Workshop August 21st and Open House August 28th

2. Specials for August - September 2007

3. Introductory Offer Items at Anarres Natural Health Clinic

4. Bonus article: Aromatherapy 101

1. Workshop August 21st and Open House August 28th

NEW!!! Tuesday Workshops at Anarres Natural Health Clinic

What: Learn a Reflexology Foot Massage
When: Tuesday August 21, 2007, 6 - 9 pm
Where: College & Ossington

How can something that feels SO good, be so GOOD for you? Reflexology stimulates the the whole body through the feet! You'll learn a Thai style warm up massage, and an Eastern reflexology foot massage routine. You'll learn why it works, and experience giving and receiving the massage. You'll learn how to protect yourself from infections by sanitizing the feet with essential oils, and create a custom oil blend that will benefit you from head to toe. You'll come away with a skill that can serve you for a lifetime and a foot powder or oil blended just for you!

$30 for 3 hours. Register with a friend for $20 each!
SPACE IS LIMITED. RSVP to register 416.535.9620 or

Anarres first workshops on August 14, were sold out and a lot of fun! Classes are limited to six participants so that everyone gets a semi private lesson experience. There's fruit, veggies and dip to snack on, and, as always, a choice of cool crystal water or refreshing tea.

What: Open House: Ask a Certified Natural Health Practitioner
When: Tuesday August 28, 2007, 6 - 9 pm
Where: College & Ossington

What IS a Certified Natural Health Practitioner and what do they do? You can take a "tour" of Anarres Natural Health Clinic, and ask about the modalities I use in my practice including: wholistic and aesthetic aromatherapy, reflexology, chair massage, Qi Drop therapy, Qi stone massage, polarity therapy, Reiki, Chakra therapy, wholistic health counselling. Ask any question you like! Relax with a seated massage $10 for 10 minutes. Peruse the book collection. Shop for gift or custom aromatherapy items. Enjoy a tea or a crystal water, and a refreshing snack with relaxed informal discussion. Bring a friend!

Drop In, by donation. For address and other info 416.535.9620 or

2. Specials for August - September 2007

FREE 30 minute consultation for every first appointment. Come in just for the consultation (I am a Natural Health Consultant, after all!) or enjoy a treatment with the first half hour free. That's a $30 value either way!

Thermos: Cycle, walk or transit to Anarres Clinic and receive a free stainless steel mini thermos! Just ask!

Referrals: Refer a friend and you will both get 10% off any Anarres product or service.

3. Introductory Offer Items at Anarres Natural Health Clinic

If you haven't been to Anarres Natural Health Clinic, then you haven't seen the dozens of exquisite, safe and ethically produced aromatherapy-related products I have selected to stock for sale at Anarres. Even if you've been to Anarres, you may have missed some of these items. I have decided to let you know about them, and the introductory prices I am offering them at. If you find the same product anywhere else for less (including shipping and handling, of course) I will sell it to you at the lowest price and give you a free gift to boot!


Anarres Natural Health sells vegetable wax candles. Paraffin is a petroleum by-product, burning sooty and quickly. Vegetable wax candles burn clean and last twice as long, making them an excellent value that not only protects your indoor air, but may clean it!

See the exquisite dripless Palm Wax Tapers sold at the Anarres Clinic:
4 x 9" (23 cm) tapers per box, burn time: 8-10 hours! $11

See the locally made Scents Alive 100% Vegewax candles sold at Anarres Clinic:
Essential oil scented votives in a dozen scented blends. Box of 6 for $14
Unscented tea lights. Box of 20 for $13.

Aromatherapy Diffusers:

Ceramic essential oil evaporator with tea light and 3 x 1 ml. vials of essential oils of your choice. Only $10!

Terra Cotta Pendants: wear your essential oils!
<< >>

These beautiful clay pendants are made by a Canadian aromatherapist and her potter family. One drop on your pendant will let you smell the world through rose scented noses, or whatever essential oil you like, for hours! Several dozen designs available including zodiac, runes, footprints, leaves, flowers and Zen elementals. Pendant with 3 * 1 ml vials of essential oils of your choice is $12, or painted pendant with 3 * 1 ml vials for $15.

Nature Clean Products sold at Anarres Natural Health:

It is important to me that my clients enjoy a petro chemical free life, so I offer Nature Clean products as a convenience and as a high quality, affordable alternative to harmful bath, body and household cleaning products. Nature Clean products are made locally, are cruelty-free, biodegradable, SLS-free, septic-safe and are all Environmental Choice products.

The following bulk products are sold for $1 per 100 ml in your own container or one of ours, new or reused:
All Purpose Cleaning Lotion for all your household cleaning from sinks to counters to toilets!
Pure Soap for bath, body, hands, whatever!

The following bulk products are sold for $.50 per 100 ml in your own container or one of ours, new or reused:
Pet Stain & Odour Remover just spray and walk away!
Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

Also for sale at Anarres are:
Laundry Stain Remover 700 ml / 24 oz $5
All Natural Laundry Powder 2 kg / 4.4 lb or 33 loads $10
Oxygen Bleach 700g / 1.5 lb $9

Or order directly any Nature Clean product through me and save 25%!
Shop Non Toxic for Nature Clean's home, cleaning and hygiene needs:
Link Url:

Custom Anarres Products:

Most clients come in for custom perfumes, creams or lotions.
Did you know that I am also happy to create custom blended liquid soaps, cleansers, bath and body washes, shampoos and conditioners?
$5 per 340 ml pump bottle gets you a custom blend including goodies to moisturize or tone, according to your needs, plus an essential oil blend suited to your skin or hair.


This wonder supplement cleanser is made from volcanic rock. In a nutshell, zeolite safely yet powerfully detoxifies the body by attaching to and shedding harmful heavy metals and unhealthy, abnormal cells.

Liquid Zeolite Activated Cellular Liquid Zeolite in Humic $21 or 2 for $40

Essential Oils:

A variety of uniquely packaged therapeutic grade essential oils for your home use, with suggested bends and uses:
Each essential oil 15 ml $10 Two for $18 Five for $40 and 10 for $70!!!
<< >>

4. Bonus article - Aromatherapy 101

Aromatherapy 101: Find the essential oils that work for you
A workshop by Tracey TieF, Anarres Natural Health

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils, plant resins, hydrosols and oil infusions for the healing of the mind, body and spirit.

An essential oil is the fragrant, volatile liquid extracted or distilled from a single plant source. Musk and ambergris are the two essential oils of the perfume industry that are of animal origin, and are not used in aromatherapy. Absolutes are essential oils produced by chemical extraction. Traces of solvent may remain; therefore, absolutes should never be taken internally. Examples of absolutes are jasmine and rose. Resinoids are produced by distillation and/or chemical extraction from the healing gum that extrudes from an opening in the bark of a tree or bush. Examples of resinoids are myrrh, frankincense and benzoin.

The pharmaceutical, food, and perfume industries are the main consumers of essential oils. Natural means present in, or produced by nature, or not artificial. Pure means having a uniform composition, free from adulterants and impurities.

All essential oils are inherently antibacterial. Most, but not all, essential oils are antiviral and some are also anti-fungal. Essential oils can be described as cytophylactic, or biotic, as opposed to antibiotic, which means that the oils strengthen the living tissue without the usual side effects.

The properties of essential oils are:
~ They are highly volatile and evaporate quickly.
~ They are non-greasy.
~ They mix well with carrier or fixed oils.
~ They do not mix with water, but mix with alcohol.
~ They are liquid, with some exceptions.
~ They are absorbed into the skin.

The main chemical groups present in essential oils are:
Acids are anti inflammatory and are found in very small quantities.
Alcohols are anti-septic, anti-viral, uplifting and warming except for linalol.
Aldehydes smell strongest, are anti-fungal, calming to the nervous system, stimulant to the circulation and have possible sensitizing action.
Esters are antispasmodic, fungicidal and balancing to the nervous system.
Ketones are powerful, sedative, reduce temperatures and break up mucous.
Oxides expel mucous. Eucalyptol or 1,8 cineole is found in essential oils.
Lactones suppress prostaglandin production, and are photosensitizing, sedative anti-inflammatory expectorant and anti-catarrhal.
Phenols are powerful antiseptics with analgesic & anti-infectious properties.
Terpenes: Monoterpenes are aggressive to skin, useful as air antiseptics and for skin hygiene. Sesquiterpenes are anti-inflammatory, calming and slightly hypotensive. Monoterpinols are antiviral, immunostimulant and are suitable for longer term use. Deterpinols have hormone-like properties.

A bit of history: Aromatherapy is a branch of herbalism that goes back to the times of Homo Sapiens Neanderthal. In the late 19th and early 20th century, synthetic versions of essential oils were produced easily and cheaply. "Modern" chemotherapy-style medicine was born, replacing and de-legitimizing traditional physical (osteopathy, chiropractic, cranial sacral) and phyto (aromatherapy, herbalism, folk medicine) therapies.

In 1928, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse published Aromatherapie, in which he (re?)discovers that antiseptic properties of whole essential oils are more effective than when their constituents are used separately. In W.W.II , Dr. Jean de Valnet, author of The Practice of Aromatherapy, treated battle wounds and long-term psychiatric patients with essential oils, diet and herbs and won medical acceptance for aromatherapy in France.

In the 1950s, Marguerite Maury, a biochemist, developed wholistic aromatherapy, devising a special massage technique for the application of essential oils, and employing an individual prescription, choosing essences according to the physical and emotional progress of her patients. Maury, the "Mother" of wholistic aromatherapy, wrote The Secrets of Life and Youth. In 1977, Robert B. Tisserand published The Art of Aromatherapy, the first aromatherapy book published in English, and many monographs on essential oil safety. Shirley Price, a leading contemporary aromatherapist, school founder and author, was trained through Maury's school in England. My own teacher, Jan Benham, founder of aromatherapy in Canada and director of the School of Holistic Studies was herself trained, and subsequently taught at The Shirley Price Professional Aromatherapy College in England.

Today, aromatherapy is practiced as:
1) Wholistic Aromatherapy (hands on, nutrition, focus on body, mind & spirit)
2) Medical-Clinical Aromatherapy (essential oils administered internally)
3) Aesthetic Aromatherapy (skin, focus on cosmetics)

Essential oils are used:
Through injection by European medical doctors.
Orally, most commonly by European doctors, but it is considered safe to ingest common fruits (such as lemon) and mints (such as peppermint) with food in the stomach.
Through the skin via massage, baths, compresses, ointments, lotions, carrier oils or creams.
Through smell, via the olfactory/limbic system, using atomizers, burners etc.

Essential oils should be stored:
~ in dark bottles, preferably amber coloured, to prevent exposure to light
~ with exposure to as little air as possible
~ in tightly sealed containers to prevent evaporation
~ in glass or metal, NOT plastic
~ away from fire, as essential oils are volatile
~ unmixed, as mixed oils may spoil within 3 months
~ with a drop of Vitamin E oil if mixed, as a preservative
~ in a cool, dark place

An essential oil is likely of therapeutic quality if:
~ It is listed with its botanical or Latin name.
~ The country of origin is disclosed.
~ The bottle is amber or blue coloured.
~ It is not listed as standardized or deterpenated, synthesized or adulterated by additions of other essential oils or other constituents.

When purchasing essential oils, keep in mind that:
~ They should be listed with their botanical, or Latin, name.
~ They should be listed with their country of origin.
~ They should be sold in amber, blue or opaque glass phials.
~ They should be listed as aromatherapy or therapeutic grade oils.

Some Aromatherapy and Perfumery Terminology
Top, Middle and Base notes are categories of essential oils that have been traditionally used in perfumery and been adopted for Aromatherapy.

Top Notes are fast acting, quick to evaporate, stimulating and uplifting.
Examples of Top Notes are: *basil *bergamot *clary sage *caraway *coriander *eucalyptus *grapefruit *lemon *lemongrass *lime *mandarin *niaouli *orange *petitgrain *sage *tangerine *tea tree *thyme

Middle Notes are moderately volatile, affect the physical body, the metabolism, menstrual cycle, digestion, the "doing" self. Examples of Middle Notes are: *black pepper *chamomile *cypress *fennel *geranium *hyssop *juniper *lavender *marjoram *peppermint *pine needle *rosemary *savory

Base Notes are slowest to evaporate, sedating and relaxing, bind top notes and blends, last longer in the body, and work slowly. Examples of Base Notes are: *benzoin *cedarwood *clove *frankincense *ginger *jasmine *myrrh *neroli *nutmeg *origanum *patchouli *rose otto *sandalwood *ylang ylang

A Bit Of Morphology of Essential Oils:
Morphology classifies of essential oils based on shared anatomical features.
Leaves are specific to the respiratory system. Ex basil, eucalyptus, mints
Flowers are specific to the nervous system, good emotional support, etheric.
Grasses are highly antiseptic, especially when airborne. Ex lemongrass
Herbs include clary sage, origanum, marjoram, palmarosa, patchouli, thyme
Resins are specific to skin conditions, calming redness. Ex benzoin
Woods are specific to the urinary tract, endocrine functioning, centering.
Zests (Peels) are uplifting & refreshing, general detoxifiers. Ex bergamot
Rhizomes are warming, grounding, centering. Ex ginger, nard
Needles & Twigs are specific to the respiratory system. Ex tea tree
Fruits are specific to the central nervous system, sedatives, hypnotics.
Roots are specific to the stomach and digestive organs. Ex ginger
Seeds include black pepper, caraway, coriander, fennel, juniper, nutmeg

Recommended Books:

The ONE book that teaches Wholistic Aromatherapy as a system with a good list of essential oils and their uses:

Price, Shirley, Practical Aromatherapy: how to use essential oils to restore health and vitality. Thorsons, 1983.

Recipes that are safe and that really work, from ingredients that are safe and available. Purchase ingredients and books at The Aroma Shoppe, 1968 Queen Street East - #2, Toronto, Ontario M4L 1H8, Tel: 416.698.5850

Benham, Jan, The Creamy Craft of Cosmetic Making with essential oils and their friends, The Aroma Shoppe, 1996.

Benham, Jan, The Baby Boomers Beauty Bible, The Aroma Shoppe, 2004.

Natural handmade ethical affordable gifts?
Consider Anarres Natural Health Gift Certificates for massages and spa treatments or give one of a kind creams, lotions, massage oils, aromatherapy kits, bath truffles, bath salts, shampoos and conditioners.
Contact: - <<>>

Friday, 17 August 2007

Bulk Purchase Solar Energy Opportunity for Downtown Toronto Residents

The Downtown West Solar Energy Project has been getting a lot of mentions in the community newspapers recently. Here's the introduction from their website:

"The Downtown West Solar Energy Project is a group of volunteers who have, over the last year, organized a bulk purchase of solar energy systems for downtown homes. The electricity generated by solar electric systems will be sold to the Province for 43 cents per kilowatt-hour under the new Standard Offer Contract program. The hot water from solar water heating systems will be used in each household."

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Parkdale Tree Tour 22nd August 2007

This arrived in my inbox, and it seems to have a good little tie-tin with community development and local food:


WHAT: Parkdale Tree Tour
WHEN: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 at 7:30pm
WHERE: Masaryk-Cowan Community Recreation Centre, 220 Cowan Ave, front entrance
WHO: LEAF, Greenest City

Beginning in the beautiful and bountiful HOPE community garden, the
tour will profile the efforts of Greenest City’s Youth Squad to
grow organic food locally while strengthening community ties in their
neighbourhood. We will also visit an historic pear tree likely planted
by a farmer over 150 years ago, and giant century-old elms that
inspired a local street name. Participants will learn easy ways to
start a downtown vegetable garden and grow the urban forest in their
own neighbourhoods.

Pre-registration is not required but we would love it if you did!
Register at For more information contact
LEAF at 416-413-9244 Information is also
available at

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

GlobalAware Showcases Artists Reclaiming Public Space and Fighting for Social Justice

A message from Hayley Watson of Global Aware:

On Thursday August 16th at the Rivoli Bar and Restaurant, GlobalAware Independent Media Organization is bringing street art and social justice together. take YOUR space! art exhibition and concert is featuring works by artists who engage with social justice not just on the canvas but in public space.

For some artists, such as featured artist Dan Bergeron, this includes tampering with billboards so that they reflect topical political messages. Others such as Specter incorporate messages into the existing landscape of Toronto through sculpture. Others are simple acts, such as manipulating IPod ad’s in the work of Joel Black Beatty. Whatever the work may be, it reflects what the artists and GlobalAware feel is the growing resistance to mass consumer culture in Canada.

GlobalAware runs media workshops in high schools and universities in Ontario, in addition to an info shop and art gallery in Kensington Market. However the arts collective decided it was time to engage the community as well as fulfill their mandate to make alternative media and viewpoints available to a wide variety of people. “This art exhibition is our way to show a large amount of people that activism has many facets,” says GlobalAware student intern Hayley Watson “including art and public expression.”

In addition to the exhibition there will be also be live performances by Lila Rose, Sara Marlowe, Muhammad Ali, and Stacy Berenson. All are artists who work on various social justice campaigns around the city, such as the War Resistors movement, and other social and environmental issues.

take YOUR space! will start at 7pm on Thursday August 16th. There is no charge for the event, and the works will be available for sale through silent auction. Media are welcome to this event. For all media inquiries please contact Hayley Watson.


Hayley Watson

GlobalAware Public Relations and Communications Assistant

416 575 5293

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Global fair trade sales continue to increase, with products introduced into major Canadian chains

According to the Fairtrade Labelling Organization, worldwide sales of fair trade products rose by a third in 2005 (with an 47% increase in Canada) and by 40% in 2006 with the following note regarding Canadian markets:

"During 2006, new Fairtrade Certified Coffee, Tea, Sugar, and Cocoa Products were introduced into the major Canadian grocery chains, including Costco, Loblaws, and Sobey’s. Via Rail, Canada’s national rail service, brought Fairtrade Certified coast to coast with its commitment to serve exclusively Fair Trade Certified coffee."

Sunday, 12 August 2007

New fair trade organic spot open in The Junction

- New fair trade organic cafe open in The Junction
The revitalised Junction area continues to grow as a place to talk and eat and see and "actify". TorontotheBetter visitors dropped into Reba's Cafe at 3289 Dundas West recently for a pleasant coffee and croissant on a sunny Saturday. Cosy spot, cool art exhibition and a nice feel all round. Not far from Runnymede and across Dundas from Cheri diNovo's constituency office. Arlene's the barista and Reba's her dog.

Citizen's Income Toronto meeting in September


Thursday, September 20th , 2007; 6 to 8 PM

519 Church Street, The East Room

A Citizen's Income (CI) is 'an unconditional, non-withdrawable incomepayable to each individual as a right of citizenship. Our special guest presenter will be Rob Rainer, executive director of the National Anti-Poverty Organisation.

Admission by donation. Light refreshments.

NOTE: The website we were given for further information ([]) does not appear to be working. You can also check out the temporary home of Citizen's Income Toronto here or the home page of the London, England-based Citizen's Income Trust here for more information.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Good Catch quoted regarding responsible consumption

An article in the August 2007 issue of the Parkdale Liberty Community Newspaper - "But it's organics!" by Roxanne Bielskis - comments that buying organic, local and fair trade can be difficult, but points out that several Toronto businesses are making it easier.

The article name checks three TorontoTheBetter businesses - Alternative Grounds, Foodshare, Good Catch - and provides some positive perspective courtesy of the propreiter of Good Catch:

"Jola Sobolak of Good Catch General Store also sympathizes with the reality of a low or rixed income. Although her shop offers products that all have slightly higher price points than their IGA equivalents, she offers a different take on responsible consumption than more middle-class purveyors of "health foods" (a term she specifically avoids due to its elitist connections) might.

'It's key to do what you can,' she says, even if your budget is small. Buying all organic groceries may not be possible, but you can use your budget for local or organic foods that are packed with nutrients, like vegetables with high water content, berries and foods high in good fats. ' you shouldn't bet yourself up when you can't afford more than that.


Sobolak points out that North Americans in general subscribe to the alarmingly false logic that since we can't do everything we might as well just do nothing about our problems."

Wednesday, 8 August 2007


Another reposting from the good folks at the Centre for the Study of Education and Work:


The Salvador Action Network (CELSAN) is asking you to take action
in responseto the worrying and highly suspicious assassination of a
union activist, Miguel Angel Vásquez Argueta, in El Salvador on 17 July
only two weeks after the union he represented, the Electrical Sector
Workers' Union (STSEL), endorsed and participated in the peaceful
protest against water privatization in Suchitoto that the Salvadorean
police broke-up violently.

The most recent example of state repression of peaceful dissent and
social movement organization in El Salvador that has culminated in
the charging of 13 peaceful anti-water-privatization protesters with
"terrorism" is but a growing and troubling trend in El Salvador. In
the past year, several social movement and political opposition
activists have been beaten by police, arrested, and murdered
execution-style by "unknown assailants". The memories of the brutal
state terror of the 1970s and 80s that these incidents conjure are

Take Action!

Please send an email of protest to the Toronto Consul's email

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Founding Meetings of the Fair Trade Association of Canada

The following news came to us via TransFair Canada:

A preliminary discussion about the formation of the Fair Trade Association
of Canada (FTAC) was held June 3, 2007, during the Canadian Student Fair
Trade Network
's 2007 International Symposium in Saskatoon.

FTAC's steering committee is pleased to invite you to participate in the
next developmental meeting of the Association to be held in Montréal,
October 18 - 20, 2007 at l'Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

The June meeting was directional, not decisional. During the meeting,
approximately 25 different Fair Trade organizations discussed the general
purpose, mission, and broad organizational goals of the FTAC. Through a
consensus-building process the direction given to the FTAC was to become
an organization with representational capacity, a networking hub and
centre for resources, as well as a tool for creating national solidarity
within the movement and with other movements.

At the October meeting we will discuss the organizational, membership, and
funding structures. We aim to have direction for the Association on these
topics by the end of the conference. Look forward to a time to network and
connect with important industry partners, enjoy great Fair Trade and
locally produced goods, and become a part of history as a contributor to
the formation of the Fair Trade Association of Canada.

If you think you will attend the October meeting, please RSVP to by September 4. An official registration form will be
emailed to those that RSVP. The deadline for official registration is
September 17. The registration fee of $50 will help cover logistical costs
(technician, translators, equipment for translation).

Please note that the direction given to the FTAC at the June meeting was
to become an association of associations. While individuals not
representing a Fair Trade organization or business are welcome to
participate in the October meeting, individual delegates are not eligible
to vote. Voting will occur on a one vote per association basis.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Leslieville community opposes Wal-Mart development

"Expropriation would solve Leslieville Wal-Mart hassle," a front page article by Duncan McAllister in the August 2007 Bulletin: Toronto's Downtown Newspaper reports:

"The city must expropriate the Eastern Ave. site proposed for a retail complex, say Friends of Leslieville, a new group started to combat Wal-Mart's plans. At a strategy session held July 11 at Ralph Thornton Centre, worried Leslieville residents met with Ward 30 Councilor Paula Fletcher to brainstorm and devise a plan of action to defeat the unpopular Smart Centre proposal for 629, 633 and 675 Eastern Ave.


The group has asked city council to expropriate the site and design an employment campus that supports the local economy and requested the province to stop the Ontario Municipal Board hearing and issue a Minister's Zoning Order.


In addition to environmental and traffic concerns, the issue here is jobs. Wal-Mart creates hundreds of mainly part-time, low-wage jobs in the communities they serve. "We need jobs that encourage and support young people and opportunities that offer training and internships for our community," says the Leslieville group."

The full article is not available online, but you can the the related editorial here.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Americans for Chavez praises Gildan Activewear

Americans for Chavez is giving Gildan Activewear some good press:

"The story of Canada-based Gildan Activewear - - is an example of a company that was convinced, through a very comprehensive global campaign, to adopt worker friendly policies in its Latin American production facilities and deserves recognition for doing so."

See Gildan Activewear - A successful worker's campaign for details.

Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry Call for Collaboration

A message from the Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry:

"A Potential Toronto is underway: pods are forming, research isunfolding, experiments are happening. For more information on APotential Toronto.

Join us at our next Open Assembly to learn more and become involved.

Tuesday, 31 July - 6:30 to 8:30
Alterna Room (large boardroom on 4th floor)
Centre for Social Innovation
215 Spadina Ave, Suite 120

We will be looking at examples of counter-cartography that have beenpoints of inspiration. Bring yours to share over a potluck dinner.

Newcomers are always welcome!