Thursday, 15 December 2016

Reading and Wrioting -TorontotheBetter's 2017 Movement of Movements Action calendar now available

READING AND WRIOTING - 2017 TorontotheBetter calendar- ativists' oublications, original art, quotations. A calendar for thinking activists.  [snapshot of featured images below]

                                                                                                                                                                                           – TorontotheBetter’s 2017 Movement of Movements Action Calendar                                                  *Now available from TorontotheBetter.                                                                                                                                                               All-Canadian publications and activists featured plus movement weblinks and quotations. The ideas that move are the ideas that matter.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ***** $15/ Order by email to *****.


Thursday, 8 December 2016

Green Worker Cooperatives' Co-op Academy Deadline: December 16h

The deadline for the Green Worker Cooperative Spring 2017 Co-op Academy is next week (Friday, December 16th). It's a free, 5-months long cooperative business boot camp designed to help teams (of at least two people) launch and grow their business as an environmentally-responsible worker cooperative. Help spread the word!

For more details, see here.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Programs and Resources for Jane and Finch

What most successful communities thrive on is a good upbringing. There are many Jane and Finch kids and teenagers who are willing to learn in school and want to lead successful lives when they get older. That's why I am raising awareness about programs like Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) and Respect in Schools Everywhere (RISE). SAVE is a U.S. program that originated in 1989 in Charlotte, Carolina (S.A.V.E., n.d). It was created by a group of students who wanted to commemorate their classmate who was killed trying to break up a fight at a party (S.A.V.E., n.d). Since its inception, SAVE has had youth public speakers advocate and lecture on conflict management, crime prevention and service projects all over America (S.A.V.E., n.d). Because it is led and delivered by students, SAVE has had a great impact on students lives in preventing youth violence and creating safer environments for students everywhere (S.A.V.E., n.d). Similarly, RISE is built upon the foundation that students should address violence and bullying in schools and has had major success in the Scarborough area (Porter, 2012). While one day workshops and seminars attempt to teach students about issues like gender and racial equality and criminality, it is a more meaningful experience when it is taught by fellow students and studies show that it has proven to be more effective (Porter, 2012). I think these programs would be great starting points to prevent more violence from happening in Jane and Finch and instill proper views unto the kids. Jane and Finch has a lot going for it being that it's so multicultural and that the children and adults have a strong sense of community. In addition, Jane and Finch could seriously benefit from more OW and health workers investing time into the neighborhood. It's not enough that we see people advocating for Jane and Finch online, but to have real hands on helpers involved in the community would seriously boost up the area's financial debt and mental health issues.

Thanks for reading,

Maury Cheskes

Porter, Catherine (2012) Toronto rise program has teens talking to peers about bullying. Retrieved November 19, 2016 from

S.A.V.E. (n.d.) Goals, vision & mission. Retrieved November 19, 2016 from

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Jane and Finch Success Stories

There are plenty of successful people who grew up in Jane and Finch. Actor, Lyriq Bent, singer Jully Black, choreographer Sergio Trujillo and recording artist Melanie Fiona.

Check out their stories at:

Women's Soccer in Canada

Women's soccer is growing in Canada and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has considered starting a Women's Franchise. To read more click

Jane and Finch Highrise Owner Found Guilty after 2015 Fire

After the case of a woman being killed in a high-rise fire in 2015, the building owner was just recently found guilty and fined $71, 000. Apparently, the apartment owner at 2850 Jane Street violated many fire regulations including a rigid stairwell door as well as zero emergency lighting. The woman's son and husband survived the fire after they were rescued by firefighters, but the mother died from fatal injuries. To watch the video and read more visit

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Why Soccer could Benefit Jane and Finch

Jane and Finch is known for a lot of things. It is an immigrant hot spot for black and Latino Canadians and it is a central haven for creativity. Jane and Finch has received a lot of negative attention for its housing difficulties, its high rate of crime and the sometimes unfair portrayal the media makes of it. Soccer on the other hand is becoming more global and receives positive media feedback year round when it comes to Fifa or MLS. It brings larger crowds out of any other sport and is steadily gaining even more momentum. With a world accepted sport, the youth in Jane and Finch could benefit from having an accessible playing field with designated times which in the long run will gain them more experience in a new game and ultimately encourage them to play in a more competitive setting. What people don't notice about the residents of Jane and Finch is their passion and positive outlook. Basketball is already very popular among the younger community and with adding another sport to their schedule, it would help promote a healthy, interactive activity to their environment which will resonate with the rest of Toronto. Jane and Finch can make any popular trend even better with the raw spirit and willful determination they all share. At the very least, it'll be good to kick some balls around. Give it a thought and write me back.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

TorontotheBetter stands with Standing Rock at Toronto City Hall Dakota Access Pipeline protest on Nov.5,2016

Join with TorontotheBetter , Idle No More, Occupy Toronto and many others, in solidarity with North America's indigenous peoples to protest the Dakota Access and other pipeline projects that further threaten the common land and water that we all share. As one sign read at Saturday's Round Dance and demo "Protestors are Protectors".

For details information about the  Dakota Access pipeline project see:

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Charitable Status and Community Carnival

Heyo! This week I looked into the process of registering Cruyff Court Toronto with a charitable status and also looked into organizing a carnival for the Jane and Finch area. It would cost approximately $500-$1000 to organize a carnival around the Jane and Finch area to rally about better housing opportunities, better school supplies and new sports facilities. Additionally, I have sent out many emails to other registered charities that would potentially be interested in the Cruyff development such as the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and the Boys and Girls club. If you have any suggestions for a community carnival of things you'd like to see, let me know by commenting on the blog or contacting Tim Burns, the program coordinator at

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Red Panamericana Toronto welcomes George Brown College Community Worker placement students to our Cruyff Court Toronto project

Join Maury Cheskes and Devonte Ferguson as they share on our blog their experiences visiting our partners and events a part of our outreach programme. in the graphic attached here Maury visually expresses his excitement  exctement about the possibilities of our first in Canada Cruyff Court contribution to the soccer scene in Toronto.  Creativity will come in many forms to Cruyff Court Toronto.  

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Heyoo! This week, I visited the Toronto Azzuri Soccer club that was founded in 1968 and provides children with outdoor sports opportunities as well as life and skills mentorships. There I met with Peter Kovacs representing the club and he stressed that with better employment and educational opportunities, any impoverished neighbourhood can improve their image. I learned about Richard Asante who’s been around since TA’s conception and was born and raised in the Jane and Finch area. Asante went off to become the first draft pick of the Toronto FC and now has returned to Jane and Finch to teach at the Asante Soccer Academy affiliated with Toronto Azzuri. What I gathered from visiting the Azzuri organization was that soccer brings youth and adults together. Many people are passionate about the sport and willing to offer their time and focus in bringing it to Toronto. Help send out the message and make youth soccer more available to those in need. 
Hey, back to you with more news on TorontoTheBetter. Today I gave out pamphlets and cards about our special initiative to promote Fair Trade in countries like Africa and India and around the world. A 2015 study by Tulane University shows that over two million children are working in inhumane conditions in the cocoa region of West Africa for companies like the Hershey Factory. Furthermore, child workers in Assam, India have been subjected to labor on tea plantations without the use of proper protective gear. Fair trade international has contributed annual inspections, made changes to the Worker Protection Standard and has even provided schooling for kids during the day, but much still needs to be done to prevent further abuses. Fairtrade even goes as far as empowering the organic food movement in countries like Brazil, India and the Philippines. The prevailing outcome is food systems growing stronger with a strong emphasis on value and culture. For more information please visit
Aye there! If you didn't attend the Driftwood Festival this year you missed out. There was live music, health and safety handouts, an open basketball court plus dance and fresh food cooked right outside by local Jane and Finch residents. I was there on behalf of Cruyff Court Toronto. Cruyff Court Toronto named after the legendary soccer player seeks to build a soccer field in the Jane and Finch residence and it is open to all ages for people who have a love for the game. The purpose of this field is to provide a healthy outlook to the community while allowing local business entrepreneurs a chance to promote their ideas right around the corner to raise the community's social economy. I think Cruyff Court would largely support the Jane and Finch community. For starters, I asked a bunch of the residents there if they'd be interested and many told me that they only liked playing basketball. Adding a new sport to the area will bring new culture into the environment while also helping athletes develop their skills in a healthy team atmosphere. If you want to help, please make a donation at and help the Jane and Finch inhabitants bring a new game into their community!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Toronto's Urban Decay - kind-of

OK - it's Halloween, but you can't make this stuff up. The latest Goth cosmetics to hit the malls is labelled "UD" [website link withheld in protest].  Amounts to: "She's so attractive when she's made up like she's poor" (as long as she isn't really poor.) Of course if she was poor she could not afford to dress up like she's poor. It's beyond irony. Let's call it sick. Urban decay is real, homesless people, no affordable housing, clogged and deteriorating roadways. Urban decay is real, not fantasy and I 'm pretty sure the guy I recently saw eating thrown away restaurant food (hope that's what it was) from the sidewalk on Spadina did not need any make-up to show he was poor. How about Urban Desperate as UD's next "look". Just in time for the holiday...

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

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

A wonderful event celebrating one of Toronto's most dynamic neighbourhoods, featuring talent young and old from the diverse communities of Jane-Finch, music, food and neighbourliness. Once again TorontotheBetter is pleased to attend and introduce visitors to Cruyff Court Toronto, our planned first in Canada all-weather mini soccer facility - be among the first to sign up as Cuyff Court Toronto members. All are welcome and it's free.  
  Displaying DWMF save the date.jpg

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     

Monday, 15 August 2016

Fundraising campaign for STUDIO89''s Youth Led Community bistro

TorontotheBetter recently donated books to support Studio89's pioneering arts and culture bistro in Mississauga. See our directory listening for Studio89 at

Friday, 5 August 2016

Campaign for a Social Economy Commons - Here and Now, as the World Social Forum comes to Montreal,Canada.

The World Social Forum/[]/ForumSocial Mondial []  is now opening in Montreal with the slogan 
"Another world is needed, together it's possible"

The graphic below shows the the animating spirit behind the several previous social forums since the first in Brazil in 2001 -   
With the world more connected than ever before, the example of the Internet as a working global communications commons  and with the pursuit of narrow private interest more clearly counter productive than ever before, the time is more right than ever for economic systems based on partnership and collaboration. There are, of course, many such systems already in action, though largely "alternative" or subsidiary to mainstream economies governed by the the economic principle of rational self-interest.

The problem is that in the twenty first century self-interest is not so  rational. Contrary to a famous/infamous paper written by Garrett Hardin in 1968 it now appears to many that it is not the commons that is tragic but its "un-commons" counterpoint. Just as we cannot allow self-interest to ravage the environment we cannot allow economic inequalities to impoverish many for the benefit of a few. Things can't work that way any more. It is by collaborating and co-operating that the world has progressed to whatever degree of  peaceful coexistence we have been able to achivee, even if it took the lunacy of world wars to make the point to much of the world.      

The following may read as an argument for evolutionary change, but it's not. Few revolutionary changes of the kind the current economic system seems to require, especially after its latest breakdown in 2008, arise out of no pevous process; nor can they. Life, aka living things, don't work that way; what disruptive change arise from are multiple  processes that at some point converge in radical breakage. What we describe below is a key economic change process that is ncessary for the construction of  a genuinely social economy that serves all who live in it and by it. For the needed change to occur the private sector, still the largest economic sector in most developed mixed economies must change to practice sustainability, worker empowerment and community partnership (the values celebrated by TorontotheBetter since we started our directory in 2004), whether the agent of that change comes from within or without. And when it does it will do so not because it's right, or is forced to, but because to do so works better than the alternative.    
Historically, since the advent of the industrial age in the nineteenth century the reformist approach to remedy the destructive consequences of the market system has been largely through government regulation, such as occupational health and safety standards. That there are more revolutionary approaches, sometimes effective, but sometimes not, will be the subject of another post, as will the issue of Evolution becoming Revolution.

Though, after political struggle by workers and their unions, reform has achieved definite improvements in citizens’ lives, there is no guarantee of success and there is always resistance in the democratic process as regulations must be at least somewhat acceptable to the economic interests that will be regulated. Furthermore, most regulatory mechanisms in the liberal market democracies most common now in the developed world are reactive, not proactive; that is, harms are addressed only after they have been executed. 

And now after yet another mainstream economic collapse in 2008 more and more are looking for economic systems that avoid the recession/depression problems by which  market economies have been plagued throughout history. Such approaches are diverse and no one method has triumphed, the lesson of biodiversity can be a guide and a  general commitment to benefit for all our creed. We call this the social economy way.  

Since prevention is always better than cure arguably a better way of achieving benefits for citizens is to get organizations to do the right thing before they get habituated to bad ones.  this is where the still largely subsidiary and “alternative” social economy of organizations dedicated to social benefits through their economic activities is so important. They serve as a model for society as a whole by demonstrating that enterprises embodying, for example, workplace democracy, sustainable business practice and/or community collaboration. There are many examples of such enterprises, who, of course, differ in their emphases but make the general point that enterprise can coexist with social benefit. And it is to celebrate and promote such that TorontotheBetter was created. Our network of enterprises has grown from single digits in 2004 to several hundred now.

Our challenge now is to work to make what is commonly conceived as an “alternative” to standard business practice the norm. And since private enterprise is still the biggest sector in the economy it is here where the most benefits for workers and society can be achieved. This is why we have created the Alliance for Toronto’ Social Economy [ATSE].   It is free and open, and we invite membership and donations of any kind to the campaign. To join send an email to with ATSE in the subject line. A social economy means a better Toronto and a better Toronto is better for all. it is true tht a campaign by stealth to infuse private ownership with public goals is less satisfactory than comprehensive replacement the perfect should notbe the enemy of the good, which, as now, when the mainstream falters, will win more converts  on the road to the  primary goal: an economy that works for all, not just a few.                

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Towards a better world through jobs with meaning

Recent horrors in which young people take out their frustrations through violence against unknown others underline the importance of what Victor Frankl called Man’s Search for Meaning. Offered a future reduced in the mainstream to making, selling and buying consumer goods, many of them worthless,  and a race for the jobs so required  it should come as no surprise if some pursue seemingly more “meaningful” vocations, including religious apotheosis. Is it farfetched to believe that economic lives grounded on serious social benefuts might reduce somewhat a sense of emptiness in contrast to which religious fundamentalism seems both more important and responsible.  A social economy, with jobs built on values could do something to alleviate the growing sense of meaninglessness engendered by consumer lives. And yes, there is more to mass shootings than the bad jobs of perpetrators, but no-one should ignore the effect of perceived meaninglessness on the its subjects.    

Sunday, 5 June 2016

A Really Really Important Free "Market" in Toronto's west end

As yet small, but gowing... TorontotheBetter is pleased to welcome the Reallly Really Free Market [RRFM} at Campbell Park near Lansdowne and Bloor to Toronto's growing social economy commons. On Saturday June 3, TorontotheBetter colleagues contributed books and magazines and in return found some interesting clothing. Fed up with mainstream getting and spending? As well  as social enterprises there are now no-money options like RRFM. More and more are rejecting the Austerity mindsset that has plagued economies worldwide for over 20 years. Another economy is possible! Join us and our allies to build it.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

NOW Toronto, the "Trading Economy" and the New Commons - The Post-Occupy economy:Part 2

Perhaps in part as moral sanctification for its own ad-crowded "FREE NEWSPAPER" model, now almost universal in  the industry, Toronto's NOW Magazine, ever in search of a cool trend, in its May 26 2016 issue devoted its front page to what it calls the new trading economy. For all the compromises NOW, as a news magazine, must engage in in 2016, this recognition of emergent, let's call them "para-capitalist" economic trends  is important. A sizable portion of the population in all countries is now made up of 20-something  millenials with the baggage of high expectations, stay-in-school parental messaging and precarious employment. Ignoring the independent demographic variable of a large baby-boom generation dominating jobs still, the reality behind what is a substantive economic transformation, albeit a still "alternative" and largely sub-cultural one, is global economic inequality. The 2008 financial meltdown, its subsequent reactive Occcupy movement and lingering eocnomic inertia are evidence of the base behind the sociocultural superstructure TorontotheBetter and NOW are highlighting.

** How far we have come: with Canada's out of time former prime minister Stephen Harper, and now, thankfully, out of place, it is worth noting that TorontotheBetter began online in 2004 in an era of triumphalist neo-liberalism to make the point that economic models based on solidarity values, rather than "rational" individual self-interest, were both realistic and real. In 2016 the whole edifice of neoliberalism is under theoretical onslaught and some of its outlying stuctures are crumbling. Multiple collective forms, be they co-operatives, "benefit corporations" or online exchange fora, germinate and grow, accelerated by the key technological catalyst that is the World Wide Web. What is emerging is what TorontotheBetter sees as a new commons in which, as in the medieval version all "commoners" can contribute and beneft. That the venerable public library, as rightly featured in Carla Gillis' "Sharing Is Caring" section in Now, can vanguard this new economy is only one startling trend likely unnoticed by many in Canada's political and economic elites. In fact it was possibly prescient that one of  Toronto's municipal Ford clan took on public libraries as a threat to his Toronto. To point out that TorontotheBetter itself came from a co-operative with many of its occuppational roots in libraries could be seen as rubbing it in, but sometimes there is no alternative.              

All "new's" are usually of course "old's" too, and the barter, gift, and no-money behaviours of many of today's young (motivated, as in all  previous versons of the phenomenon by necessity), as cited in Now's article appeared in the multiple depressions, including the Great one of the last century. So there is a fair amount of same old in this new, but the whole here is in fact greater than  the parts. Together these trends point to a societal evolution that is puttting practical flesh to  what has been up until recently a preserve of conceptual futurists. This is the evolution from the private property dominated economy empowered by the land enclosures of the late 18th century to a post-private economy model, in which collective ownership is understood by increasing numbers, irrespective of their ideogical launch position, as more productive than its now increasingly outmoded, because narrow, predecessor. This is what Paul  Mason in an important recent overview published in 2015 calls "Post-capitalism" [to be reviewed in this space in future weeks]. Copies of his book may be purchased from TorontotheBetter for a respectable discount from the $31.50 list price - by emailing with "postcapitaism" in the subject line..

NOTE TO READERS: We are not fiully beyond old style trading yet, though at our discretion we will accept goods and/or ideas as well as money in this case. For the  record TorontotheBetter's book sales division offers discounts comparable to Amazon, but unlike that, yes "amazon" we are a locally based unionized worker co-op, so your feel good/do good factor should be higher than if you succumb to Amazon.                        

Friday, 20 May 2016

On Uber: How sharing is "the sharing economy"? - The Post-Occupy economy:Part 1

With the last most serious for a long, long time collapse of the mainstream economy in 2008, from which societies around the world have still not recovered, a whole set of alternative economic models once again (few of these are genuinely new) have been judged worthy of public discussion and in some cases behaviourally implemented. One such change idea addresses that most iconic pillar of North American adulthood: the privately owned, and used, car. 

In 2016 carsharing" has become an increasingly prominent fact of life in many cties. The young, in particular, for a variety of reasons including financial (limited budgets) and cultural (the relative unimportance to many millennials of cars compared to smartphones), are making personal automobile ownership a deferred option rather than an adolescent rite/right. In the meantime young professionals, and many others in inner cities, where car ownership is increasingly fraught, are exploring alternatives. Biking has returned as a viable personal travel mode for some. Sharing cars is another. And there we find two versions - what we may call "sharing cars" (e.g. Uber) and carsharing as in Community Carshare, Kitchener based Ontrario's first, in 1998, Commun-Auto, the equivalent in Quebec, and many others around the world.   
Image result for carsharing

The Uber taxi application has recently been prominent in injecting this  topic into media attention. But Uber is being increasingly referred to as an example of the so-called "sharing economy" that has emerged since the Great Recession of 2008. It can  be argued that Uber is an example of a less wasteful economy, since data show that most private automobiles spend most of their time idle in parking lots or garages and even when driven cover less than 2 kilometers per trip. Why not make cars available to others at times when it would otherwise be idle?  

Well, if environmental concerns are key priorities at this time, then it may be that the car does more social good by being driven less, not more. And since Uber drivers are being paid for driving then arguably the Uber application adds to pollution by motivating more use.  For the same reason the use of the word "sharing" to describe Uber, is, if not consciously misleading, then definitely inaccurate. What is happening with Uber is in fact private care rental, not sharing at all, and therefore Uber represents nothing new or progressive in addressing our polluted and individualistic North American culture.

But if Uber is not the answer to anything there is another option that is genuinely creative and proigressive. It's called "carsharing" and it is growing dramatically in Ontario and elsewhere since it emerged as a non-profit co-operative in Kitchener-Waterloo in 1998. Carsharing requires a community group who commit to using a number of in common cars in their neighbourhood on a more or less occasional basis. They pay a membership fee and adopt a governance model for managing the fleet. Some of these enterprises are for-profit, others, like Community Carshare, are not. Some, again like  Community Carshare, are co-operatives, and some, like Autoshare in Toronto, are not. Some, like the now worldwide Zipcars, are corporate for profit businesses, others are not. What they have in common is the provision of car use convenience at a time when traditional models of private ownership are more and more challenged. What potential users should reflect on before becoming carsharers is what form of carsharing contributes to a better society for all. At least one of the primary original  benefits of carsharing has is to reduce the number of cars on our roads, and thus to reduce the toll in injury, death and pollution that accompany car  use. But there are  others, like community development, social solidarity, respect and conservation,

Based on the values they represent, TorontotheBetter has invited some, but not all, area car sharing organizations, to join us since early in our existence, 10 years ago. Most 21st century lives require car use from time to time, Carsharing, has at least made the way we use the car an open question for a increasing numbers of citizens. 

PLEASE NOTE: in the interests of full disclosure the writer of this post was formerly a member of the board of People's Car, now Community Carshare, of which he is a member, but currently has no position in , or derives any financial benefit, thereby. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Rana Plaza Disaster Remembered - global day of action on May 3. But does Toronto care?

3 years ago hundreds of Bangladeshi garment workers were killed or injured when the factory they worked at collapsed on top of them. Canadian organizations were contractors with the Rana Plaza factory. 3 Years have passed since then, but it's worth asking if life has improved for garment workers in Bangladesh and elsewhere. The answer, unfortunately, is not very much. And although many cities around the world will participate in a global day of action on May 3rd so far Toronto is not among them, it seems. To  demand change join the Demand Safe Factories Now! campaign at any H&M store near you.See  to get involved. In solidarity with garment and all workers everywhere TorontotheBetter calls for more than concern and ritual regrets. The still new Canadian government and others globally must act where previous administrations have not.


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

"From Schizophrenia to Wellness" [Social Determinants of Mental Health - Part 1] - Saturday April 30, 2pm at Trinity St. Paul's (427 Bloor St. West)

Social economy proponents like TorontotheBetter largely concern ourselves with the nitty-gritty of the workplace (or lack of one) but as humans we are composites, i.e. bodies and the minds that think in them. The suicides that inevitably happen when jobs are lost and the spate of stress related illnesses that our increasingly controlling corporate workplaces seem to generate, are evidence, if more is needed, of the psychological impact of work, and on work. TorontotheBetter begins its exploration of this increasingly acknowledgesd determinant of health with a presentation by a "survivor" of the mental health system in Toronto and the GTA. Malvern reared Jaamaican-Canadian Paul Pakeman will tell his story of how he found a literal menu for wellness through factors that, in his words, the psychiatric establishment disavows.      

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Jobs, Meaningful Jobs, No Jobs - March 22 Insight TV discussion

An important discussion broke out on the Newcomers and Refugees segment of Rogers TV Insight programme, featuring a contribution by TorontotheBetter spokesman Taodhg [Tim] Burns about  the social economy and its potential for what Insight moderator Ranjit Khatkur appropriately termed "meaningful jobs." The valid point made by one Insight panel member was that immigrants and refugees in particular (but perhaps anybody) needing a job, is not too concerned with whether the job they may get is "meaningful", as long as it helps them to put food on the table.

Against this there will  be no objection from most, if not all, social economy proponents, I suspect. Nobody is counselling job seekers to wait until they can find a "social economy" job before they work. But,though practical, the question implicitly concedes our main argument for the social economy when it comes to jobs, which is, that, most, if not all, workers, GIVEN THE CHOICE, would, and do, prefer to work in jobs that fulfil whatever they consider to be a worthwhile purpose (above and beyond survival, that is, however undeniably worthwhile it is). In the case of TorontotheBetter this mean jobs that incorporate worker decision-making, environmental conservation and/or community partnership.The problem, then, is not that meaningful work is an extra "frill" over and above the "real" purpose of work:  money to live on. No, the problem is that not enough jobs in the present economy incorporate what we call here a broader social purpose.

The major stress levels being reported in today's workplace are leading to sickness and disability at least in part because so many jobs lack satisfactory meaning to those performing them, particularly when they are working more hours to stay in the same economic place..Would we say that workers rejecting jobs that ignore their human rights, or health and safety, are being too fussy? Of course not. The same should  be true for jobs with social meaning. It is precisely the relative lack of such jobs that makes our call for a social economy in which all jobs have a social meaning beyond, but not as opposed to, financial remuneration, so important. 

To make it easier for workers to  find work that speaks not just to their pocketbook but their values is what prompts Torontothebetter's call to universalize social purpose in the workplace. All work is social, though sadly much of it (company names withheld here) is "anti-social", so the whole economy should be a genuine social economy. More social enterprises and their more fulfilled workers will mean more healthy and financially satisfied workers. 

As has been the case throughout modern history, benefits have never been given to workers freely. We must fight for them. And as workers have done, and continue to, fight for workplace health and safety, which more, though by no means all, now have, we must fight  for work that has meaning. Join TorontotheBetter in this struggle by becoming a member of our Alliance for Toronto's Social Economy [ATSE]. Send return email to with ATSE in the subject line to express your interest. We will be in touch about our plans.                                           

Monday, 21 March 2016

On co-ops, social enterprises and the like

TorontotheBetter is the programme of a worker co-op called Libra. We conduct our financial operations through a credit union, a financial co-operative, and we obtain goods and services from a number of other consumer co-operatives. So, we like co-ops. Their basic principle of democratic ownership and control and their history of successful business is a lesson to all enterprises that ignore issues of worker and/or customer participation. But when we started TorontotheBetter back in 2004 we refused to limit our governing directory inclusion criterion to one social economic ownership form, even if that form was one we admired and encourage others to emulate, We dd this for two reasons: 1) many worthy socio-economic ends, such as renewable energy, can be achieved without a co-operative structure of any kind and 2) there are many forms of collective operation and ownership that can achieve similar aims as co-operation without adopting its legal structure. Hence to exclude the latter would mean excluding many social businesses that citizens of Toronto can benefit from greatly. We chose to ignore, too, the inevitably somewhat passive culture of co-ops that seems inseparable from what is otherwise a virtue of co-ops, their defining voluntarism. To include the maximum potential social and economic change in the enterprises we feature then, we must, and so do, let a thousand flowers bloom.We should not let  the  perfect be the enemy of the good.  

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

GTA documentary Premiere - "Street Children of Nepal"

* In association with Studio89 [] and Youth Troopers for Global Awareness  []*

TorontotheBetter presents a PWYC GTA premiere

7PM – Saturday May 21,2016
                                                                          – at Studio89, a TorontotheBetter Fair Trade partner
located at 1065 Canadian Place Unit 104, Mississauaga [near Tomken and Eglinton] . "our Toronto includes the GTA"


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Our Top 5 Blog posts of 2015

Ranked by traffic to ourTorontotheBetter's Blog [with publication date bracketed]
1. Whose Sports? Our Sports [Announcement of TorontotheBetter's plan to build Canada's first Cruyff Court soccer facility in the North-West section of the City, near the Jane-Finch neighbbourhood. [Jan.26,2015]
2.. Direct Action Economics. Notice of screening of documentary film Can We Do it Ourselves?  [Oct.8,2015]
3. Transforming Lives at the Homeless World Cup (invitation to TorontotheBetter's screening of Homeless World Cup video [Sept.28,2015]
4. Building the Economy from the Ground Up - lead story from For a Better World Magazine (magazine available free from TorontotheBetter  [Feb.14,2015])
5.. A New Economics for the New Millennium: Review of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century [May 8, 2015]

All these posts are searchable by title on our Blog and can be borrowed by request to

Sunday, 21 February 2016

WomanACT's Soul of a Warrior Awards: March 8, 2016

WomanAct says:

"Join us for a fun evening to celebrate International Women's Day, honour the recipients of WomanACT's Soul of a Warrior Awards who are transforming the lives of women and children in Toronto and to raise essential funds for the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto (WomanACT)."

See the WomanAct's Soul of a Warrior Awards event page for details...

Monday, 15 February 2016

The Internet and the Social Economy Commons

In 2016 electronic information is a basic necessity of life, not a frill, and everybody needs access to it affordably and quickly. It can save lives and has done. Like the long dwindling. and multiply violated, commons of air and water the Internet now has a status as the world's largest commons, built as a public resource and available to all to utilise largely as they choose. The many without their own technology who crowd to public libraries for access are proof of the need. In principle, the Internet is a commons of need as well as capacity. This is not to ignore the various cultural and economic constraints that apply to it, what we may call the social determinants of  knowledge, but nonetheless the Internet, through the Web, is the closest thing we now have to the original commons, the medieval village green where all could freely gather and communicate. By his support for Bell Canada's appeal of a ruling in support for greater high-sped Internet access Mayor John Tory shows his true colours, perhaps, opting for corporate dominance. Lacking a public investment in high-speed Internet more actors are the best alternative for the many  without the financial capacity to fund their own high-speed access.  Kudos to Toronto City Council for rejecting Tory's position .  Time for broad commitment to support the Internet Commons as the growing Open Access movement has done. Let's make the Internet commons a truly social economy commons. For everybody.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Sport grows in popularity as workplace control declines?

Though professional sport has been with us for a long time its rise to saturation prominence in daily life and the media has been a long time coming. And that this comes at a time when, if obesity rates are anything to go by, more and more everywhere are watching more and doing less deserves maybe a few moments of reflection, not even the fourteen minutes of exercise being relentlessly promoted on TV by one of the many new get fit quick gadgets. The attraction,as argued by a recent book [National Pastime by Stefan Szymanski] on football (aka soccer), the world's most popular professional game, may well be that as our lives get more controlled, sports is one of the few areas left where a degree  of surprise is still available for free.

The "degree of"  here is important given the  rampant fixing of games like tennis recently reported. But the modest surprises provided by sport -  modest because the  same bunch of  teams usually win, and lose [classsic example, Toronto's own remarkably unsuccessful Maple Leaf hockey team] - should  serve as a wake-up call about arguably the only truly sustaining source of excitement and fulfilment in life: self-determination. And given that most of us in 2016 spend much, if not most, of our time at work, that means workplace determination. The number  of  workplaces in North America with serious worker participation, let alone worker control, especially as rates of unionization have been dropping  for over 30  years, is very small. Unless participation grows, the need for vicarious control and distraction through sport is likely to become more addictive  and, like most addictions, ultimately self-defeating as need grows and benefits tank.                      

Sunday, 24 January 2016

TorontotheBetter recognizes Duca Credit Union for support to Goodwill Industries' workers

Duca Credit Union Ltd.
Congratulations to DUCA Credit Union, a community based social  enterprise, like the many in TorontotheBetter's online  directory at (see under banking or finance), for a donation announced by CEO Richard Senechal [] to redress some of the the lost wages of Goodwill workers whose Toronto locations closed their doors on January 16. For workers like Goodwill's, victimized by corporate actions, emergency help like DUCA's in this case, is critical to their short-term well-being. But beyond emergencies we believe the long term prosperity of Toronto workers and all citizens will be best served by social economy enterprises dedicated to social benefit, not only in what they do but how they do it.   


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The myth of a-social "Free" markets exposed in new book by Cambridge University economist Ha-joon Chang

"Free-market economists have told  us that active (or intrusive, as they put it) governments are bad for economic growth. However, contrary to common perception virtually all of today's rich countries used government intervention to  get rich..." p.261 in Chang's 2010 book "23 Things  They Don't Tell  You About Capitalism". More about Chang's contrarian and witty (a witty economist!) book along with our other social  economy news will follow soon in the first TorontotheBetter Bulletin of 2016. Like all books referenced in this space Chang's book  is available for purchase from TorontotheBetter at a discounted price. And we are unionized too, unlike the obese Amazon.