Who wants to be Mayor?

Who wants to be mayor?  A whole bunch of people!

Take the time to find out why these folks are running, and what they’re proposing for Toronto.

[Each photo links to their website. Listed alphabetically by first name]

GoldkindSoknackiLee Continue reading

Birthday picnic ~ $40 for 40

PICNIC
Forty days from now, I’m turning 40.

If you’d like to help me celebrate, please put aside one dollar each day between now and then, and join me for a potluck picnic at Trinity Bellwoods Park!

The donations will be split among these local all-star organisations: Social Planning Toronto   •   SOY   •   Urban Alliance on Race Relations   •   Unlock Democracy   •   Women in Toronto Politics   •   Toronto Environmental Alliance   •   Gerstein Centre  •  Cycle Toronto  •  Art Starts  •  Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance

The picnic is on October 5th, at 2pm, in Trinity Bellwoods Park.  We’ll be in the south end of the park.  Look for blue balloons.  : )

RSVP on Facebook

thank you!
xo


painting by Liam Rainsford.  Check out his amazing video showing how he painted it.

If a billboard falls in a forest….. (Part 2)

[note: this is cross-posted from spacing magazine]

Five weeks ago, I wrote the first installment of this saga which I described at the time as a “shocking tale of procedural inertia, bureaucratic confusion, and a broken democracy.”

I have some updates to share on this story, updates that provide a glimmer of hope while at the same time illustrating how deep the systemic problems at City Hall are.

I’ll get the good news out of the way first: The city’s Sign Unit has agreed to “re-open the investigation” into these signs. City staff are actively exploring whether the billboards are legal or not, and they are helping guide me through the entire process.

Now, the bad news: Continue reading

Our Transit Agency Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Endangering Drivers

[note: this is cross-posted from Torontoist]

Photo by Seekdes from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Metrolinx, the provincial agency responsible for developing transportation in and around Toronto, is by definition in charge of helping us all move around more effectively. Which is why it is particularly crazy—a special kind of ridiculous—that the people who are supposed to be the caretakers of our travel want to allow eight massive commercial digital billboards, at four separate locations, along the 401 and 427.

While all levels of government are making efforts to reduce driver distraction, the Metrolinx plan actually aims to increase distraction—and make money off that distraction, to boot. Continue reading

Driven to Distraction: The Absurdity of Roadside Digital Billboards

[note: this is cross-posted from Huffington Post]

Lung Cancer and automobile accidents are two of the leading causes of avoidable deaths in North America. In response, all levels of governments have introduced legislation, fines and public education programs designed to minimize risk and save lives.

Anyone over the age of 30 remembers a time when restaurants and airplanes were filled with cigarette smoke. But starting in the 1980s, regulations to reduce second-hand smoke exposure were slowly introduced eventually banning smoking in bars, hospitals, airports, workplaces, etc.

To increase road safety we have speed traps, photo radar, traffic calming measures, breathalyzers, stronger penalties for street racing, etc. More recently, the focus has shifted to reducing driver distraction. After all, most accidents are not caused by alcohol or speeding, but by distracted drivers. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that even a two second distraction “significantly increases individual crash risk.” Every year, governments across North America are bringing in new legislation and increased fines related to driver distractions.

There is no way to measure the precise impact of these initiatives, but there is little doubt that they have collectively saved thousand of lives. Public acceptance and support of these measures is nearly universal. At this point, it would be laughable to suggest that we re-introduce smoking in restaurants, or that we should allow people to text while they drive.

But there is one exception, one glaring anomaly that contradicts all other measures and efforts that have been made to save lives on our roads. That anomaly is roadside billboards. And in particular, digital billboards.

Continue reading

I’d like you to meet my son, and his two amazing moms.

chile_smaller

I’m turning 40 this year, celebrating four decades of adventure, exploration, creating, learning, growing, loving and being loved.

I’ve had the privilege of participating in countless community projects, political movements and artistic collaborations. But the most special collaboration I’ve ever participated in began ten years ago – and I’ve never mentioned it publicly, until today.

In 2004, two of my friends – Patty Barerra and Gabe Thirlwall – asked if I would help them make a baby. It was the most amazing thing anyone had ever asked of me.

Most commitments in life come with an escape clause. You can join a group, and later decide to leave. You can accept a job, and then quit. Deep friendships can slowly fade. And even marriages, allegedly the ultimate act of commitment, have an escape mechanism which we all know is used frequently. But to be asked by someone to participate in the act of creating a child… this was truly sacred. Patty and Gabe were inviting me on a journey that we would share till our last breaths, together, inextricably connected as a family. It was perhaps the deepest expression of faith and confidence in who I am, that I had ever felt.

It took about two seconds for me to decide. The answer was yes. I love children enormously. They brighten my life more than any other source of joy. I was also attracted to the challenge of being part of a non-traditional family in a world that encourages conformity in so many ways. And I have tremendous amounts of respect for both Patty & Gabe. The faith and trust that they were investing in me, was entirely reciprocal.

They were both surprised at how quickly I accepted the proposal. They told me to think about it further. A week passed, and they asked me again. My answer was the same, without hesitation.

Santiago was born in February, 2005. He’s turning ten years old next year. I love him more than anything. I’ve spent a decade watching in awe as he’s grown. I’m so proud to be his dad, and to be a part of Patty & Gabe’s family.

santiago and moms

But some of my own friends still don’t know about him, and most of my extended family doesn’t know either! I’d like to explain why, and also explain why I want to suddenly share it with you now. Continue reading

Ottawa unveils new design for development signs

[note: this is cross-posted on the spacing wire]

Ottawa_New_sign
We often lament the lack of citizen engagement in our cities. But the blame shouldn’t be directed solely at residents, but rather at the municipal bureaucracies that often make it difficult for citizens to become engaged or informed.

A great example is our public development notices. Their purpose is allegedly to inform citizens and solicit participation, but they accomplish neither. They are designed so poorly, and filled with so much alienating jargon, they only serve to further disengage and alienate the average person.

Continue reading