Friday, 27 January 2017

Check out this video about the corporate crimes behind your consumer goods

                                     Danger - Know More about some of the best known brands.


Book Review - Against "On the Move with Uber", Chapter 4 of What's Yours Is Mine:Against the Sharing Economy" by Tom Slee

Tom Slee, a self-acknowledged resident of Kitchener-Waterloo has written a book. It’s called “What’s Yours Is Mine” and  the subtitle is “Against the Sharing Economy.” In case his position on the Sharing Economy is not yet clear, let's clarify: he’s against it. Still, he is locally aware enough to note that co-operative carshare Community Carshare was founded in Kitchaner in 1998. But this reference features as a mere link to the bigger fish he has to fry, such as Uber and Zipcar which, Slee notes, “brought a new ambition to the [carsharing] space" [p.51]. Coupled with his description of co-operative carshares as “around for some time” it seems the fact that some carshares are non-profit co-operatives and some, as he notes, are for-profit, is peripheral to his larger purpose and co-operative carshares are even, perhaps, one gathers, a little dated. 

It would be unfair to Slee,whose gaze in the text is much wider than carshares, especially given the relative recentness of the development, to point out that Community Carshare has by now spread to several Ontario cities including Hamiton, London and Guelph among others. Thus, lack of ambition is at this point hardly a justifiable carshare characterization. Furthermore, carshare co-op Modo, in Vancouver, predated Commmunity Carshare and has been operating successfully since 1997. The point is that non-profit co-operative carshares work, are growing and are different from the Ubers and Zipcars of this world that are the automobile game that Slee rightly hunts, at least in part.

A complete assessment of Slee’s ambitious and timely work exceeds the horizon of this review but the main point here is this: there is a philosophical and political difference between non-profit co-operative organizations, be they carshares or anything else, and for-profit corporate entities like Uber and Zipcar. The former value community and non-exploitation, the latter: money and profit, as the purpose of their activity. The one builds social solidarity, the other is part of the mainstream capitalist economy where exchange assets (aka money) are the goal. This is a crucial difference that Slee passes over without comment in his apparent haste to diss "carsharing", be it real or reductively semantic. 

At which point this reviewer must declare his own strings attached, as a co-founder of TorontotheBetter, a worker co-op and Toronto's original online social economy hub, and a long time member of Community Carshare (once on its board). But when one’s own “interest” is, as in a non-profit, in NOT having  a financial interest then perhaps this represents an effective “divestment”  of the kind a certain U.S. president refuses to make. 

In ending I invite Tom Slee to meet us at Community  Carshare in Kitchener to learn more about how non-profit co-operative carsharing differs from the so-called “Sharing Economy” trend that he rightly critiques in this important text. At the same time we encourage him to ponder some of the many new principled economic alternatives available, and growing, particularly after the latest breakdown of the mainstream neo-liberal marketplace in 2008. To echo the still important and valid sentiment of the 2001 World Social Forum “another world is possible”. And in enterprises like Community Carshare, it is real, not merely possible.                
               Reviewed by TorontotheBetter'sTaodhg [Tim] Burns
 By the way,  if you want to buy the book that is the subject of this review send an email to with Sleebook as the Subject  

Monday, 16 January 2017

"Urban Decay" - the latest in cosmetics revisited


Many North American teenagers go through a period when they think nobody takes you seriously, even if your parents are spending money spoiling you, and there's not much you're good at yet, but at least on a good day you can gross out people you know and, if it's a really good day, adults, preferably parents. Now in your local mall new cosmetic brand Urban Decay seems to get this. What they don't yet seem to get is the real urban decay, the physical effects, that the cosmetics can represent for wearers' bodies. And let's not even get into the issue of the complexions of the homeless forced to live on the street. Homelessness is not good for your health, full stop, let alone your skin. Urban decay is a sign of the times, in more ways than one. If you are looking for cosmetics make sure they're ​harmless, like the ones available from new TorontotheBetter directory enterprise Consonant Skin Care

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Our top blog posts of 2016

What were the most viewed TorontotheBetter blogposts in 2016?
1. Street Children of Nepal - documentary video premiere - March 16
2. Rana Plaza remembered - April 27
3. TorontotheBetter at the Driftwood multicultural Festival in the Jane-Finch Neighbourhood. September 18.
Check them all out here at
Our Toronto is local and global.

Share like a library - a new economic model

TorontotheBetter is pleased to welcome library championing activist site Shareable ( as a philosophical fellow-traveler in the struggle for a new economic order. Stay tuned for future posts about sharing models, the good, the bad and the ugly.