Sunday, 28 April 2013

Housing and Homelessness in the GTA - PWYC Movie and discussion. Tuesday April 30, 2013

Tuesday April 30th - 7pm
OISE (252 Bloor St. W.) Room 2211
"Poverty and Homelessness in the GTA" PWYC movie and discussion

With Canada's Federal Government opposed to action on pretty much any social development front, and the media newsworthiness of these issues seemingly exhausted some time ago, housing and homelessness have dropped from many TV and cognitive screens recently. But poverty is still with us, and a place to live is still key to a decent life for all of us. In fact,as the cost of living in Toronto has continued to mount in recent years, poverty has expanded and deepened its reach. On Tuesday April 30th, with partners Peel Poverty Action Group, TorontotheBetter invites you to review the evidence and consider action for positive change in the form of coherent housing strategies and social ecocomy initiatives.

TorontotheBetter Learning and Development - building Toronto's Social Economy.
"Our Toronto includes the GTA"    
Please ask about our Alliance for Toronto''s  Social Economy. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What's a poor (notso) capitalist bank supposed to do? Time for a community financial alternative?

Many have rightly noted that as a profit-obsessed bank RBC's outsourcing adventures recently exposed at and in many other media sources, are just par for their chosen course. But this case appears to be a one of especially bad behaviour -  it's not just that RBC may have done the dirty on their Canadian staff, the imported replacement workers have reportedly been shafted too. Ingratitude thy name is RBC? The good news is that there are alternatives if such behaviour is making you unhappy with your bank. As a matter of principle, and with the added advantage of avoiding banks' more odoriferous behaviours, TorontotheBetter has always done its banking with a community credit union, Alterna, in Toronto. Credit unions are democratic, community owned co-operative institutions, so if you don't like what they're doing you have the right to do something about it. As locally controlled institutions whose purpose is member service, we bet there's one thing they'll never try - outsourcing their staff's jobs. For the many now rethinking their choice of RBC and other similar capitalist banks we suggest taking a look at credit unions.       

Monday, 8 April 2013

Microloans: the good, the bad and the ugly - a report on TorontotheBetter's screening of Micro-lending: a Critial Investigation

As part of our Rethinking Social Enterprise campaign to make social Toronto's enterprises more arffordable and  accessible for the 99% TorontotheBetter recently screened Tom Heinemann's "Micro-Debt: a Critical Investigation", an investigative movie about Nobel Peace prize winner  Mohammed Yunnus. Yunnus was the parent of the micro-loan idea, which promotes the use of small, in principle easily repayable, loans to the poor as a way of ending or at least alleviating their poverty. Many NGOs and agencies have since turned to micro-loans as a development strategy. Heinemann found the reality for many microloan receivers in Bangladesh was far different from Yunnus' rosy picture, with penurious interest rates and insistent lenders making their lives a misery, to the point of suicide in some cases. 

The TorontotheBetter audience  at our screening felt that Heinemann had been fair to Yunnus, notwithstanding the satirically Christ-like pose used for Yunnus in advertising for the movie. But for a variety of reasons the micro-loan hype exceeds, or contradicts, the benefits for many. Like many social enterprises, the micro-loan phenomenon began with generous motives, but for a number of reasons, whether it was Yunnus personal failings (fame and fortune got the better of him), or a wilful neglect of reality - a capitalist context characterized by predatory financial institutions, or simply the difficulty of operating a business when you're undeucated and dirt-poor, -  our audience was split about these - micro-lending needs serious modification and regulation before it could be generally adopted as a serious poverty alleviation approach. A more fundamental question perhaps is whether business can ever be a way out of traps the marketplace created in the first place.

To borrow a copy of the video contact TorontotheBetter at postmaster is a sad and cautionary tale. Several years after the movie was released Heinemann tells TorontotheBetter the Yunnus group refuses to speak to him.