Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Mexican Network of Mining Affected People Tries to Extract a Response from Trudeau

From the blogger: https://miningwatch.ca/blog/2017/10/12/mexican-network-mining-affected-people-tries-extract-response-trudeau

Mexican Network of Mining Affected People Tries 

to Extract a

 Response from Trudeau

Leaflet | OSM Mapnik
Jen MooreLatin America Program Coordinator Jennifer Moore works to support communities, organizations, and networks in the region struggling with mining conflicts.
On the eve of Prime Minister Trudeau’s first official visit to Mexico, the Mexican Network of Mining Affected People (REMA by its initials in Spanish) has issued a communiqué to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to live up to his commitments and stop the devastation of Indigenous and campesino communities that has enabled Canadian mining companies to make big profits. Canadian investment in Mexico - the principal destination abroad for Canadian mining investment after the U.S. - is expanding precisely in the most deadly places for anyone to get by on a daily basis, let alone speak out in defence of their land and wellbeing. As the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement is uncertain and Trudeau seeks to shore up a bilateral relationship with Mexico, its time to put words into action and answer for lives and livelihoods destroyed or at risk around Canadian mine sites. 
Our English translation of the original communiqué follows. 

Canadian mining is dispossessing Indigenous peoples and campesino communities in Mexico

On the occasion of Justin Trudeau’s state visit to Mexico, the Mexican Network of Mining Affected People urges Canadian mining company invasion of Mexico to stop and withdraw 
October 11, 2017
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has presented himself on the international stage as a democrat, a supporter of human rights and freedoms, and committed to fulfilling the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although on this latter point it is important to mention that the government has taken a weak position, limiting its support for the declaration within the scope of the Canadian constitution, [1] which is not minor, particularly if Canada continues to refuse to ratify Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization and fails to respect the self-determination of Indigenous peoples in practice.
Trudeau’s visit to our country has been announced as an opportunity to strengthen commercial ties between Mexico and Canada, which is bad news for those peoples and communities who have been seriously affected by Canadian mining activities. Today, Canada has become the biggest source of foreign investment in mining around the world and in Mexico, to such an extent that 65% of foreign mining companies in Mexico are listed in Canada. For Canada, Mexico has become the second most important destination for Canadian mining investment abroad, after the U.S., such that 11.3% of Canadian mining assets are in Mexico.
The power that Canadian mining wields in Latin America has been openly and arbitrarily promoted by Canada’s entire diplomatic corp along the lines of its ‘economic diplomacy’ policy through its embassies. Like good colonialists, they continue to propagate racism and hatred toward Indigenous peoples and campesino communities when they encourage mining investment in an area such as Guerrero [2] - where there is tremendous Canadian mining investment -, and then issue alerts to Canadian tourists to avoid traveling to the same place, [3] given the violence and risks that people live with there.
The political and financial weight of Canadian mining companies and the government is a reality that has been used to influence the promotion of constitutional reforms, laws and regulations in the extractive sector to help facilitate foreign investment, as well as to weaken and deny redress for harms, tax payments, or any other condition that might affect company profits.
In Mexico, this has led to an unconstitutional legal framework that violates human rights because, among other things, it gives mining priority above all over activities, which despite being undertaken pretty much exclusively by private companies is also considered in the public interest. This has meant dispossession and forced displacement of legitimate landowners, who when they try to defend their rights, these are denied by the very same companies or through the structures of illegal armed groups or in collusion with diverse actors in the Mexican government.
Health harms, environmental contamination and destruction, criminalization of social protest, threats, harassment, smear campaigns, surveillance, arbitrary detentions and the assassination of defenders are the formula for progress and development that Canadian mining investment has brought to our country. To counteract its brutality, in the media and among the spheres of power, companies gloat about their corporate social responsibility, clean industry certification or safe cyanide use, or their adherence to absurd standards of “conflict free gold” that are supported and certified by organizations largely created by the very same corporate sector. To substantiate claims of dispossession, pillage, displacement and violence caused by Canadian mining companies, it is enough to visit the communities of Carrizalillo [4]and Nuevo Balsas [5] in Guerrero, Chalchihuites [6] and Mazapil [7]in Zacatecas, the northern highlands of Puebla, [8] Tetlama in Morelos, [9] or Sierrita de Galeana in Durango, [10] as well as Chicomuselo, Chiapas, [11] where Mariano Abarca was murdered for his opposition to a Canadian mining company, prior to which the Canadian embassy in Mexico was alerted to the risks he faced as they monitored the conflict.
The abuses of Canadian mining companies have been ongoing, repeated, and have violated human rights such as rights to territory, property, a safe environment, participation, consultation and consent, lawfulness and legal security. For example, we have seen the same company (Goldcorp) break the law repeatedly by purchasing collectively owned lands, first in Carrizalillo, Guerrero and then, three years later, in Mazapil, Zacatecas. Today in Mexico, Canadian companies are operating 65% or over 850 mining projects at different stages from exploration through to construction and extraction.
It is important to mention, Mr. Justin Trudeau, that the only thing that mining investment from your country has ensured for us is dispossession and the risk that thousands and thousands of communities and persons could lose their culture and identity as a result of destruction of their territory; the arrival of organized crime (whether or not companies are signed up to the bombastic conflict-free gold standard); as well as the escalation of violence, repression and criminalization of those who defend their territories and life.
In this context, REMA calls on the Canadian government to stop institutional and political support provided through your diplomatic apparatus to enable private Canadian companies to accumulate profits through dispossession. We also demand that you stop promoting policies and weak laws that legalize the activities of these mining companies, among them voluntary codes of conduct known as Corporate Social Responsibility, in place of mandatory compliance. Instead, corporate accountability is urgently needed to put a stop to the ongoing atrocities and illegalities that violate the human rights of Indigenous peoples and campesino communities.
In addition, beyond the positive accounts of the business sectors and government officials in defence of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it is important to mention that this pact has only helped to legalize dispossession, enabling more wealth to be accumulated by already wealthy sectors, as well as the gradual displacement of both products and local economies to stimulate a new form of accumulation and control, an increase in the deregulation of land ownership and dilution of protections over the public interest and public good, further enabling private pillage. In sum, the principal objective of NAFTA has been to disappear the countryside and campesino farmers.
Finally, Mr. Trudeau, we would like to remind you that well over a year ago, on April 26, 2016, various organizations including ours sent you a letter [12] in which we requested you to kindly bring your attention to the context of human rights violations of Canadian companies in Mexico and Latin America, just shortly after you had assumed your mandate as Prime Minister when you committed yourself and your party to support human rights. To date, we have never received a response to this letter, nor seen any concrete actions to better protect human rights.

Canadian mining investment is destroying our country

Canadian mining companies violate human rights

We will fight for territories free of mining!

Mexican Network of Mining Affected People (REMA)







Sunday, 15 October 2017

Global economy requires new/old style labour solidarity - the message from"Confronting Global Capital" conference in Hamilton, Ontario

 
International solidarity among all workers was the clear message of the important "Confronting Global Capital" workshop held in Hamilton from October 12-14. After decades of neo-liberalism have battered workers in all sectors, from airports to universities and beyond the only way to  hang in is to hang together. Above Steve Tufts of York University introduces Dan Jannsen (seated) of the Toronto Airport Workers Council, an innovative multi-union body created as a united voice for workers at Toronto's Pearson Airport. Reaching out beyond organizational borders, the TAWC has already connected with similar workers in the Phillipines and Turkey. With members unionized by the Industrial Workers of  the World (the Wobblies) TorontotheBetter welcomes solidarity among workers as an important part of a better city for all. We here recognize Toronto Wobbly brother Paul Bocking for his workshop presentation about the impact of neo-liberalism on education workers.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Common Ground Co-op's 7th Annual Bowlathon Fundraiser

Common Ground Co-operative, the folks behind the social enterprises Lemon 7 Allsprice Cookery, The Coffee Sheds and CleanABLE are having their 7th Annual Bowlathon Fundraiser this month.

See their page on CandaHelps here for more information...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

School librarian takes on US president's spouse and gets famous


If ever two unlikely figures were made to share the limelight together it is Melania Trump  [no description or image required] and Massachusetts school librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro [no image available at this time], Both are unabashed seekers of fame, the first by a well known marriage and the second by rejecting a gift of books to her library from the first. The fittingly clownish figures that brought them together are Dr. Seuss's children's book characters like Cat in the Hat. The point here is that the Trump disease of self-promotion at all costs and irrespective of  minor dangers like nuclear conflagration are likely furthered, not impeded by acts like Soeiro's that champion her professional status rather than exposing the cynical do-gooder tokenism that motivates the Trump gang and their donations.          

Uber forced to unionize - the beginninng of the end or the end of the beginning for one kind of "sharing economy" enterprise?

First they start up and make profits by evading labour standards that workers fought long and hard to gain, then their workers start to realize they're getting exploited, then...

See http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-seattle-uber-lyft-unionization-20151215-story.html for details and http://socialistproject.ca/leftstreamed/ls362.php for the real struggle
behind the struggle.
 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Free market U.S. government can't live with a little bit of competition from Bombardier


Passengers will be getting off Bombardier planes for good if they have to pay 200% extra thanks to a "Make Ammerica Great Again" ruling by the US.  
If there was still any willingness by fair minded observers to accept that competition was what so-called free market champions wanted, the U.S. Department of Commerce's recent imposition of a massive (+219%) trade levy on Canada's Bombardier should be the clincher [https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/27/punitive-export-tariff-placed-on-planes-made-in-northern-ireland.]. Just so happens that Bombardier is in competition with Boeing for similar global contracts of course and that the current resident of the White House has vowed to "make America great again" by rigging markets to create more local jobs. And if boosting the supposedly free market economy takes a little bit of market manipulation and trade barriers then so be it, goes the logic of big power realpolitik. Will the neo-liberal fantasists in Canada's government, who want, they repeat, to "balance economic  growth and nice things like the environment and health and safety standards, be willing to fight their "free market" U.S. allies on this? For the record bleats from Justin Trudeau, Bill Morneau and Chrystia Freeland will have no effect on the ally (aka competitor) they now intend to renegotiate a "better NAFTA" with. That unregulated markets favour ultimately only the already wealthy will once again be demonstrated as any reader of the world's most prominent economic statistician, Thomas Piketty, already knows.Time for Canada to stand up for fair trade and social economy. We're not holding our breath.               

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

"Pull Out all the Stops to Win Amazon HQ bid" says Toronto mayor John Tory ...ignoring Amazon's predatory business history


Or that's what the Toronto Star copy editor made of whatever Tory actually  said in the paper's Sept.8 issue. Words like "gigantic" and "leverage" ripple through the article along with the page 2 headlined "predictability and stability" (identified as Toronto's urban strength). That predictability and stability are the last words one would use to describe the megalomaniacal CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and the contradiction between Amazon values and those that made Toronto once one of North America's most "livable" cities seems to have eluded the Star writers in their eagerness to be seen as city boosters in these continuing neo-liberal times. Predatory capitalism and livable cities do not a happy matrriage make, however many jobs the former promises (and rarely delivers). Better enterprise that promises less quantity and more quality for citizens.      


Monday, 11 September 2017

Think Before you "Skip the Dishes" - you may be missing more than "hard labour"

It's a long time ago when family dinners went the way of extinct species, in that distant past before kids worked several part-times to  pay for school so they can to get a "real job", and before parents worked several jobs to put enough food on the table to give their kids enough nutrition to do the  several part-time jobs they did to get the real job that school was supposed to get them. Those multiple clauses reflect pretty well the degree of displacement from source of the dish-skipping process. In summary let us just note that It would be a sad downer if all this dish-skipping led to no job, or less job than the ancient species of dish doers did.

In fact it's so long ago that most North Americans did daily dishes it's surprising how long it's taken for services like Skip the Dishes (cooked food direct to your door without the waste of the cerebral and physical energy required by dish-making)  to show up. The issue is not so  much the disintegration of the family dinner (and of course the family, nuclear or other, with it). Nor is it necessarily one of quality, though it's hard to imagine quality being maintained when the food making is "outsourced." Quality aka "whole" food is now available, even if the recently Amazon acquired Whole Foods is less and less likely to be the provider and not just because it's too  expensive for the great majority of workers.  

The issue is what is the full impact of dish skipping on the dish skippers. Underlying the whole topic of dish-skipping is, predictably, economics. Those forced to dish-skip by the scant jobmarket will inevitably be less well fed. Dish skipping services are targeting those who don't have the money for decent restaurant food and who, therefore will be paying for cheaper food they know little or nothing about. In other words dish-skipping services are another form of disenfranchisement for the already disenfranchised. When we don't make our cultures, whether its through language or art or food they no longer do what culture us supposed to do - make us a home in the universe. And homelessness of any kind is bad for all it afflicts. A challenge for the many progressive food services in TorontotheBetter's directory, none of which are dishskippers, is to make quality food a personal option. We invite our visitors to check TorontotheBetter food services and let us know who, you think, iis doing the best job of re-patriating food for people.     

Monday, 4 September 2017

This labour Day Polish workers show the way in the fight against Amazon

See this recent English post by solidarity NGO Razem [Together] about resistance by Amazon workers in Poland.[https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1435275606507618&id=1326358534065993]. Amazon is living up to its name and by its recent acquisition of fellow corporate giant Whole Foods it's literally swallowing up opposition. Say no to Amazon's unhealthy appetite for domination  

Saturday, 2 September 2017

A test case for progressive enterprise - the affordable Montreal optician

Recently Philippe Rochette a renegade Montreal optician (seen below in the comfortable home his profession has brought him) has become well-known for doing something markets are supposed to do, charge the lowest price for the goods sold, one that provides a fair price/affordability for the target buyers while covering costs (with profit, of course...) for the sellers.That Rochette's price for eyeglasses is widely less (- 90%) than the norm for the industry should, then, according to the fantasy of market theory mean that eventually all  opticians will soon charge this lower price. Stay tuned to see if it happens. There are too many problems with the theory to list them all here, but to start with we might ask why opticians have been charging so much in the past.

Of course, it is because they could and that is because opticians as a group  were happy with their gross profits. Now that somebody has broken ranks we have a test case for progressive, if not exactly social, enterprise (price is only one factor,  and arguably a subsidiary one, among social business criteria). But at least Rochette has identified a gap - affordable eyewear - which has prompted TorontotheBetter to explore other gaps in our social enterprise environment in Toronto. To check our current coverage look under the TorontotheBetter Product/Services listing here - http://www.torontothebetter.net/2tgbd-sh.html- and email what you find out to postmaster@torontothebetter.net. We have several food and travel listings but is there a socially responsible security firm or hairdresser out there? If so, we don't know about them...yet, As for opticians, after Rochette, let them prove  to us the rationality of markets by lowering their prices en masse.


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Papal endorsement of Social Economy...?!

Revolutionaries  of the past must be rolling in their graves. We live in extraordinary times when it takes a pope to say what most politicians, schooled in neo-liberal orthodoxy refuse to, which is that the liquid modernity of transient engagements and mobile, consumer motivated attachments is bad for our social health. Progressive sociologist Zygmunt Bauman coined the "liquid" descriptor to capture the essence of consumer society. By comparison, a social economy as advocated by Pope Francis, where human values are built in throughout the economy, appears the best economic option available to us.

A mixed, private/public economy where the state is used to deal with problems such as sickness, unemployment and inequality left by the a-social, and anti-social character of private industry, had been an evolving  compromise option since the Great Depression of the 1930's. Whittled away by 30 years of neo-liberalism we now find ourselves with reduced caretaker states and increasing privatization. The only way towards a more solid, "social" economy, as advocated by Bauman (and the Pope and other "postcapitalist" voices like Paul Mason) is to "socialize" industry, by building social values into industrial norms instead of taking short-term gains at the expense of long term pain, which has been the norm in mixed economies. TorontotheBetter encourages a strong state along with an increasingly commercial enterprise sector, by championing those enterprises that make the leap from pure profit-making. A comprehensive social economy requires an engaged state to address basic needs such as health and education in addition to a social enterprise sector that will prevent problems such as unhealthy workplaces and unemployment before they occur.

There need be no contradiction between private and public sectors provided the private sector embraces  social as well as financial goals. We are not there yet. Until we are we must, and will, work for ecnomic socialization. Geting there is something TorontotheBetter will continue to identify ideas for, by championing those in  Toronto that have made the jump. All economies are social, it's just that some are anti-social...       

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Reaching out from city to city: TorontotheBetter supports the Common House project in London and commons movements everywhere

 www.commonhouse.org.uk

We recently received an appeal from the Radical Librarians Collective to support an important  community initiative in London where the horrific Grenfell Tower block fire recently killed and severely injured hundreds of inner city tenants. In solidarity from another city TorontotheBetter calls  on all to inform their networks others about initiatives like London's Common House, described below, that build commons where people are connected to others for the common good.
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TorontotheBetter [www.torontothebebetter.net ] - building Toronto's social economy sine 2004
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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [RLC-DISCUSS] Fwd: [radicaleducationforum] Fwd: Save the Common House - Emergency Crowdfunder
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 19:00:54 +0100
From: Radical Librarians Collective
To: RLC-DISCUSS@JISCMAIL.AC.UK
From: "radicaleducationforum" (via radicaleducationforum Mailing List) <radicaleducationforum@lists.riseup.net>
Date: 22 July 2017 at 20:26:34 BST
To: radicaleducationforum <radicaleducationforum@lists.riseup.net>
Subject: [radicaleducationforum] Fwd: Save the Common House - Emergency Crowdfunder
Reply-To: radicaleducationforum@riseup.net
Dear all,

As you may or may not know our radical community space The Common House is under threat. The loss of a large grant that was making up the majority of our funding mean that we urgently need cash in order to keep the space open.

The Common House provides space to a number of amazing groups and continues to provide a place for peer support, political organising, creating and learning across radical communities in East London and beyond.

We think it's important to maintain this space and not be driven out to some inaccessible margins. Today we are launching an emergency crowdfunder to keep us going in the short term while we source more sustainable funding through grants and other means.


Please help us by spreading the word, sharing widely through your networks and contributing if you are able.

In love and solidarity,

Common House emergency fundraising crew
For more details visit radicaleducationforum.tumblr.com
To get in touch, please email radicaleducationforum@riseup.net
To unsubscribe from this list, go to https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/radicaleducationforum
 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

As Whole Foods Degrades Better Food Shopping Options Survive in the GTA

A supermarket with a good food mission - Mississauga's Goodness Me location continues the tradition of social commerce this Canadian enterprise started in downtown Hamilton in the 1980's.
 
  
As American natural foods giant Whole Foods (aka "whole pay cheque") disappears into the jaws of predator capitalist Amazon a different story can be found in less glamorous surroundings in the GTA. It is not the practice of TorontotheBetter to make recommendations among featured enterprises but as former "ethical" enterprise options erode an example of evolved commercial integrity in the GTA should not be ignored. Founded in downtown Hamilton over 20  years ago and now present in the Mississauga and several other locations in southern Ontario, fair trade enterprise Goodness Me! commits to creating "the healthiest offering possible" and acting with "integrity, respect, and sincerity" while working with its customers, staff and suppliers.       

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Musical instrument lending libraries in Toronto and other Ontario cities expand the "loaner-ship" social economy


Toronto is among several Canadian cities, most recently Kitchener-Waterloo, where as well as their traditional books and videos public library borrowers can find musical instruments for their playing and learning pleasure. This augments the tool libraries and non-profit carshare organizations that are growing fast as mainstream ownership economics makes less and less sense for more and more. The logical conclusion of this wave is a library of everything. Stay tuned to this space for more social economy news. Like our favourite music the social economy loan-not-own option is catchy, and catching on.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Middle Class...enough already

"Working class Americans [and Canadians] know they're working class. It's elites who want to pretend everybody is middle class" from "Sleeping Giant: How the Working Class Will Transform America" (2016) by Tamara Draut.

Perhaps we should be pleased that Canada's prime minister and other more or less populist politicians have re-discovered "class", although, of course, that is the reality we all live, for better or worse, every day. Having acknowledged this "good", however, the "bad" of today's talk about class is far worse. Instead of abolishing class division, which is in plain language a hierarchy of inequality, Trudeau and the Liberal  Party want to increase the middle class and to enrol in it the unfortunate others, re-conceived by them as "wannabemiddleclass". To the conceptual idiocy of this (Hello, Justin - there can be no middle class without the wretched excluded, now called wannabemiddleclass) Trudeau either willfully blinds himself (put your money on this option) or somehow missed it in his various life journeys (about as unlikely as him thinking he would  wind up as the primary school  teacher he once, temporarily, was). The reason for his "blindness" follows below. 

1. Power and income are different, though in class  societies closely related. The reason Trudeau wound up as prime minister, not as teacher, is that being middle class is about power, not income. And the habit of power - connections, language, style - cannot be bought; it is learned and lived from an early age. Everybody knows this, children  too (except Trudeau, it seems). Middle income auto workers are wage slaves and are not  middle class - that requires the  the authority that comes from having the power to make the big decisions in their organizations, most fundamentally the power to hire and fire.
2. To admit that income (e.g. a lottery win) will never make you middle class would amount to a recognition that middle class wannabes are fantasizing and can never achieve what they supposedly want, according to Trudeau.  That's why he can't, and won't, admit it; to do so would be to accept that this class society has winners and losers, something that makes some of the middle class uneasy. The comforting  myth of social mobility runs aground in the sea of social classes. Our sought and struggled for social economy must be based on recognition, respect and rewards for the working class, not just Trudeau's incessantly celebrated middle class peers. 



Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Ouishare opens in Paris on July 5 - Celebrate the Commons with TorontotheBetter (and the world)

If co-operativism brought democratic democratic participation to the industrial economy in the nineteenth century  then our globally connected knowledge economy  needs a new form of participation: the commons. The world has more goods than anybody could ever use but thousands starve and suffer for lack of basics like clean drinking water. Something is wrong. The only solution is to make less and give away more of what we have, to make them available to all. On July 5, join Torontothhebetter and the world in celebrating the commons economy at the global Ouishare conference:www.ouishare.net

                                            It's in Paris, but we are all  part of it. Join us.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

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

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

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

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





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Friday, 16 June 2017

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

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

Saturday, 10 June 2017

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












PLUS

 













= ???


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

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

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

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

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


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

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


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


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

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

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

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

Sunday, 28 May 2017

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



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

Friday, 26 May 2017

Congrats to Studio89 for May 24 better economy (minimal consumption) workshop



TorontotheBetter co-op members were pleased to join others at TorontotheBetter directory participant Studio 89's panel discussion, moderated by Jazzmine Lawton, on living "stuff-emancipated" (minimalist) lives. With 24/7 consumer advertising beamed at young and old alike everywhere in this still new-ish century, independent voices of resistance to consumer-mania are more important than ever as pathways to a better way of living and a more social economy. TorontotheBetter plans future events in partnership with the Studio and others of our many hundred strong progressive business sector.  
 For more information about Studio89 see the TorontotheBetter directory at  http://www.torontothebetter.net/2bS89.htm
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TorontotheBetter - building Toronto's social economy since 2004.
Our Toronto includes the GTA 

Monday, 22 May 2017

On gift boxes, little libraries and anti austerity movements - a new economy is coming?


Change takes a long time and lasting change rarely comes all at once, never without struggle. The appearance in recent years, particularly after the financial collapse of 2008, of alternative to mainstream economic forms, be they "sharing" or giving, or swapping, are signs of a groundswell of change in some attitudes, ideas and behaviours arising from the now pretty universally acknowledged inequality of our times. Gift boxes and little free libraries arise from the awareness of those who recognize more or less consciously the existence of a polar degree of inequality in today's society - Occupy's 1%-99% divide. That such initiatives are tiny gestures, rather than serious endeavours to prevent poverty does not diminish their significance as a symptom of unease in the population, specifically that portion of the population that are culturally prepared and experienced enough to make change if they wished to. Some portions of the middle class are barometers of the stresses felt much more savagely and regularly by the poor. It was the case in the previous millennium of world wars and revolutions and the pattern's consequences could repeat in the absence of hindsight.

Symptom recognition is a necessary preliminary for remedial action but symptom recognition is not solution. As a recent article in the Journal of Radical Librarianship pointed out, most free libraries appear in relatively affluent neighbourhoods. The same is likely true for "Gift Boxes" too. They represent a liberal response to the fact of radical inequality that lacks the muscle to turn back the force of right-wing populism fuelling further class-based economic warfare of the kind the US president has been engaged in. The only serious response that will produce change must be political and structural. So far the necessary political movement for economic equality has not emerged but the ground is shifting and while insufficient in themselves enough logs can make an economic fire that will, in the words of the poet, change things utterly.

Little free libraries and give boxes will solve little in themselves but they are clues to a future world, that other, better world that is possible and actual sometimes, somewheres.        

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Closing Words

Thank you readers and friends for tuning in and reading my blog posts this year. I learned a lot these past few terms about self motivation and finding the necessary assets to complete tasks. These tasks include making flyers, sending out emails to respective clients, and writing about hot topics in our community. My supervisor, Tim McGraw was very helpful in meeting with me to discuss assignments and how I could improve the quality of my work with a disciplined work ethic. I notably observed the importance of utilizing the assets already available to you like the library, FedEx Stores and home supplies when starting your own campaign or project in Toronto. Cruyff Court Toronto is expanding rapidly so make sure to check out our website at https://redpanamericanatoronto.wordpress.com/

Thank you. More pics on the way!

M.C.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Canada is Back??? Climate Change Wishing and Climate Change Acting

Well, from climate change-denying to "sunny" statements about the inseparability of economic and environmental well-being is progress of a kind. But a detached observer might wonder about the practical difference between climate deniers and wishful thinkers. With an economy, like Canada's, that is largely built on fossil fuel extraction the leap to carbon neutrality will not be pain-free or quick. Better to face up.

To buoy up any flagging spirits it's important to recognize important measures where they do exist.
A recent article from For A Better World magazine
called "Sustainable Public Procurement: An Understated and Effective Way to Grow Fair Trade" identifies several Canadian public institutions committed to sourcing fair trade supplies. Read it and encourage similar action in your region. We all have  a role to play in creating a fairer economy, individuals, organizations and industry. To find the TorontotheBetter enterprise where you can get your own free copy of the magazine/article mentioned above email postmaster@TorontotheBetter.net with Procurement in the subject line.

TorontotheBetter [www.TorontotheBetter.net] - supporting Toronto's social economy since 2004.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Public or private? - a real storm in tough economic times

 Western governments, led by neo-liberal leaders of all stripes since at least the 1980's have reduced expenditures in real  terms by cutting taxes, while axing some services and charging for others. As a result supporters of the public good, which no political party can be guaranteed to serve, are faced with a dilemma: agitate for public action to address human need, or act independently. This is a dilemma as old as modern government and did not exist in medieval times, when peasants' revolts against high handed aritocrats were the only option.

A recent and revealing example in this 21st century age of the "Great Recession"  is the storm over an apparently teacup sized issue is the hot debate in some media about "little free libraries," as raised by a Toronto native, Jane Schmidt. Should those with the resources to do so create such book oases in areas already, even if inadequately, served by public libraries, or should they agitate for more of them in under-served areas that need them? The debate, framed as such is answered by posing it. Of course we should do both;how could one stop them? In the dirty 1930's should the soup  kitchen providers have argued against the New Deal? Of course not, and they didn't. The long run is not the short run and as far as we know Keynes was right: in the long run we'll all be dead.

The strategic question metaphorically buried in these little book boxes is a serious one that must be part of any progressive action. what  to do for the best for the most. Best to pull the drowning out of the water, yes, whether it's food  for the mid or the body, but make sure you have a plan to prevent further drownings. In history well meaning governments have been changed or have been corrupted. We can't ignore the need to do something when they're not available. Like now.         

Monday, 1 May 2017

Copyright and the economy - from the Creative Commons summit - Day 3


There was much food for thought (and action) in the session on copyright and trade agreements on the summit's last day. Ostensibly, trade agreements like NAFTA and CETA and the many others that have been  signed by Canada and other nations in recent years are designed to remove tariff and other barriers to exchange in the interests of cheaper products and so more efficient trade..A naïve observer might wonder then why one  key barrier to exchange, copyright law, continues to exist in most "developed" countries.

So-called free trade agreements, the Creative Commons workshop was told, generally ignore the issue of intellectual property. While Creative Commons groups in several of the countries represented at the conference work for the abolition of copyright protections on the grounds that it is not just or fair to remove important knowledge from the many in the world who, for reasons of poverty, location and skill (often all three) are unable to benefit from what in many cases can be life and death determining. There have been several instances in recent years of lifesaving drugs that are held hostage, through high pricing, by pharmaceutical companies, much of whose research and many of whose researchers, have been supported by public funds. 

The obvious concluding opinion of the audience, if not yet of their national governments, was, in the interests of the many, to abolish copyright protection as a whole and institute a default creative commons. Fair use extensions and exceptions to copyright are not enough. The health and wellbeing of too many around the world are at stake. Is copyright not an enemy of a truly social economy?  

For those looking for altrenatives to Copyright an increasing number of alternative content licenses are now available at www.creativecommons.org including CopyLeft and Sharealike. There is life in commons, beyond private property, both for real estate and for knowledge.