Preserved Stories Blog

Massive North York tree has been silent witness to regional history – May 16, 2015 Toronto Star

A May 16, 2015 Toronto Star article is entitled: “Massive North York tree has been silent witness to regional history: Amateur historian fears majestic red oak – possibly dating back to 1765 – could be chopped down by new homeowner.”

The opening paragraphs read:

Edith George stands next to the trunk the grand red oak of Weston in 2006. Source: May 16, 2015 Toronto Star article, referred to at the post you are now reading.

Edith George stands next to the trunk the grand red oak of Weston in 2006. Source: May 16, 2015 Toronto Star article, referred to at the post you are now reading.

“She wrote emails, left messages and when she finally got me, burst into tears over the phone, overwrought about this particular red oak.

“Now, I’m a tree-hugger. But this woman is a tree-nut, I thought.

“Until, I stepped under its massive, ancient outstretched limbs.

“This is not a tree. It’s a cathedral.

“Its gnarled trunk stretches 24 metres — so high, my neck crimped. Its girthy midsection would take four people to encircle — almost five metres around.

“Touching its rutted bark, I felt like I had slipped into a black-and-white pioneer photo — the ones capturing lumberjacks with floppy hats and crosscut hand saws.

“This red oak is even older than that, though. Three arborists estimated it was born around 1765 — almost 100 years before confederation.”

[End of excerpt]

 

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As a retired teacher, I do not support the current labour disruptions organized by Ontario teachers

As a retired teacher, I do not support the strikes and work disruptions by Ontario teachers.

Here is my take on things.

Governance issues at the Toronto District School Board

The larger context we are dealing with is being addressed, at one level, by an expert panel that is leading Toronto District School Board consultations, as noted in a March 16, 2015 Ministry of Education Backgrounder:

Expert panel to lead TDSB consultations

The panel is addressing governance issues at the TDSB. Among the panelists is Shirley Hoy, whose profile in the above-noted Backgrounder is outlined as follows:

“Ms. Hoy started her career in municipal public service in 1980 with the former Metro Toronto government, where she held various positions, including general manager of administration/corporate secretary, at Exhibition Place, and executive director in the Metro Chairman’s Office.

“Between 1991 to the end of 1995, Ms. Hoy worked in the Ontario government as assistant deputy minister in three ministries – Ontario Women’s Directorate, Ministry of Community & Social Services, and the joint position of ADM of operations, and CEO of the Ontario Housing Corporation, in the Ministry of Housing. In 1996, she returned to Metro Toronto, as the commissioner of community services. Following amalgamation, Ms. Hoy was appointed the commissioner of community and neighbourhood services department, and from 2001 to 2008 she served a city manager for the City of Toronto.

“From 2009 to January 2014, Ms. Hoy completed a five-year term with the Toronto Lands Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Toronto District School Board, responsible for managing and disposing of surplus school properties.

“With respect to community and volunteer activities, Ms. Hoy is currently vice-chair of the Governing Council of University of Toronto, and a member of the board of trustees of United Way Toronto. In the last five years, she has also served on the board of the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation, and the board of regents of Victoria University, U of T.”

[End of Backgrounder profile]

Previous posts regarding Toronto District School Board

My take on governance issues at the TDSB I have outlined at previous posts.

Click here to access previous posts about TDSB >

Most certainly, I do not wish to engage in broad generalizations. Some of the work being done by the TDSB and other boards across Ontario is exemplary. I’m a strong supporter of the work that TDSB Trustee Pamela Gough is doing, in the City of Toronto Ward in which I live. In my view, Trustee Gough is a dedicated elected official, whose work on behalf of the community is exemplary and outstanding, as evidenced, by way of example, in her assistance in ensuring that Parkview School, located close to where I live, remains in public hands.

That said, some of the work done by the TDSB has been abysmal, as recent posts (see link above) outline, and much work is required with reference to governance issues at the TDSB to get things working better than has been the case in recent years.

Total Institutions

A basic argument, that many people have advanced, is that individuals in positions of authority, within school boards such as the Toronto board, work their way up through a closed system – a kind of parallel universe that is separate from the larger universe that surrounds it – and make decisions that do not make a lot of sense. The problem is that such systems display features of what the Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman has described as Total Institutions.

Such an institution has characteristics of organizations such as the Canadian military, with the attendant problems involving abuse by individuals who hold senior positions within a strongly hierarchical chain of command. A good overview of the necessity to have outside organizations step in to deal with problems within strongly hierarchical chain-of-command structures, such as the command structure of the TDSB, is provided by the following article:

A May 15, 2015 CBC The Current article is entitled: “Former Canadian soldier says complaints of sexual harassment ignored.”

Feminist parties

Creative ways are emerging to address the broader societal issues that underline urgent problems of the nature outlined in the above-noted article. An article that offers an outline of better ways of doing things, within the broader context of political decision-making, within any society, is this one:

A May 6, 2015 openDemocracy.com article is entitled: “The feminist parties redefining Scandinavian politics.”

CBC Metro Morning interview with former education minister

I’n not a supporter of Janet Ecker’s general orientation to reality. However, I agree strongly with comments that she made at a May 7, 2015 Metro Morning interview.

A May 7, 2015 Metro Morning podcast is entitled: “Janet Ecker, teachers unions & government: Janet Ecker a former education minister says it’s time for the union to recognize reality and look at taking a deal because they are the ones who have historically held up labour negotiations.”

A key point that Ecker makes in the interview is that teachers who work their way up through the ranks of teachers unions in Ontario have a pretty blinkered view of the larger economic and political context in which teachers operate. She also notes that teachers’ salaries have in not that long a period of time seen a twenty-five percent increase, as subsequent fact-checking by Metro Morning has confirmed.

I have learned a few things after the time that I retired from teaching

I do not have an expectation that governance issues at the TDSB can be adequately addressed by the governance structure that is currently in place.

I do not have an expectation that, generally speaking, teachers who head teachers unions in Ontario would have the capacity to comprehend the point that I am making in this post. My point is as follows:

As a retired teacher, I am blessed with having an adequate teacher’s pension. The pension enables me to engage extensively in volunteer work, and to build up a small business, that I otherwise would not have been able to do.

In the years since I retired from teaching, I’ve also had the time to learn something about how my local community, and the wider provincial community, works at the political and economic level. I have a view of things that I would not possibly have been able to attain, in my particular role as a teacher, during the years when my focus was on teaching my classes, doing teaching-related paperwork, meeting with parents, and taking on all of the responsibilities that being a public school teacher entails.

I do not imply that my experience is the only kind of experience that is available to all teachers; I am certain there are exceptions to my own experience, but I also believe that my own experience is not unusual.

Teaching is important work. It’s my hope that my students, from those years, have learned a few things from my own efforts as a teacher. Beyond question, I have learned many things of tremendous value, during the thirty-plus years that I worked as a teacher –  at primary, junior, and high school levels in several school boards across the Greater Toronto Area, and also in the day care field, which is where I began my work as a teacher.

However, I am pleased to add that, in the years during which I have retired from teaching, I have had the occasion to learn many new things. My outlook is broader; I have a better understanding of things.

Expert panel to lead TDSB consultations

For these reasons, I agree with Janet Ecker that teachers’ unions in Ontario would benefit from a better acquaintance with everyday reality than the current teacher-led labour disruptions in Ontario demonstrate. For these reasons, I strongly support the work of the expert panel that I have referred to earlier in this post.

The full text of the Ministry of Education Backgrounder, referred to earlier, reads as follows:

March 16, 2015 2:00 P.M. Ministry of Education

Ontario has appointed an expert panel composed of seven members to lead the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) consultation process. The panel will consult with the TDSB community and make recommendations to the Minister of Education on how to improve the governance structure at TDSB. The panel will lead up to 20 public consultations between March and May 2015.

Barbara Hall (Chair)

Ms. Hall has more than 40 years of experience as a community worker, lawyer and municipal politician. She served three terms as a Toronto city councillor from 1985 on and as Toronto’s mayor from 1994 to 1997. From 1998 to 2002, she headed the federal government’s national strategy on community safety and crime prevention. She was chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 2005 until February 2015.

Ms. Hall has also practised criminal and family law, been a member of the Province of Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care health results team, and lectured nationally and internationally on urban and social issues. She has extensive experience on non-profit boards and committees, and has a strong record of bringing diverse groups together to build safe and strong communities.

Dr. Vicki Bismilla

Dr. Bismilla is the former vice-president, academic, and chief learning officer at Centennial College (2005 – 2012), and a former teacher, principal and superintendent of education with the previous Scarborough Board of Education, the Toronto District School Board and the York Region District School Board (1972 – 2005).

Dr. Bismilla was involved in the creation of 20 equity programs and committees for the York Region District School Board that address a range of equity issues including racism, homophobia, classism and diversity hiring practices. She initiated the province-wide equity committee for supervisory officers from school boards across Ontario and taught the supervisory officer qualification program.

She won the Province of Ontario volunteer service award in 1998 for her years of volunteer service including serving as president of the board of directors for the Scarborough Women’s Centre. Since 2010 to the present, she has served on the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Curriculum Council.

Patrick Case

Mr. Case, LL.B. LL.M, is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph and he is the current chair of the board of Ontario’s Human Rights Legal Support Centre. Mr. Case is an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the director of the Osgoode Hall Law School Certificate Program in Human Rights Theory and Practice. Mr. Case is also a member of the board of Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that helps educators worldwide link the past to moral choices today.

From 1979 to 1985, Mr. Case was a school trustee with the former Toronto Board of Education and from 1989 to 1999 he was an equity advisor with the same board. From 1999 to 2009, Mr. Case was the director of the Human Rights and Equity Office of the University of Guelph. From 2006 to 2010, he held an appointment as a Commissioner at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He has been a trade unionist, a school trustee and a practitioner whose chief focus was serving women who were victims of male violence. Mr. Case has served as a staff lawyer in the family law division at Parkdale Community Legal Services. He is a past chair of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, which was created as a part of the federal government’s redress agreement with Japanese Canadians and has been a co-chair of the equality rights panel of the Court Challenges Program of Canada.

Briony Glassco

Ms. Glassco is a former trustee for Ward 10 and served from August – November 2014. Before serving as trustee, Ms. Glassco was a member of several TDSB advisory groups including the parent involvement advisory committee, the inner-city advisory committee and her community and local parent councils. As a parent, she has worked to improve communication between parents and schools, trustees and the school board. In 2013, she served on an advisory committee reviewing the TDSB’s community advisory committees and has run workshops with many school and ward councils on effective communication and meeting practice.

As a communication skills coach, Ms. Glassco has developed innovative programs and exercises for both young people and adults to help them with their communication skills. Ms. Glassco is a board member of the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation, a philanthropic foundation promoting innovative public policies for the north and fresh water management and Playwrights Workshop Montreal.

Shirley Hoy

Ms. Hoy started her career in municipal public service in 1980 with the former Metro Toronto government, where she held various positions, including general manager of administration/corporate secretary, at Exhibition Place, and executive director in the Metro Chairman’s Office.

Between 1991 to the end of 1995, Ms. Hoy worked in the Ontario government as assistant deputy minister in three ministries – Ontario Women’s Directorate, Ministry of Community & Social Services, and the joint position of ADM of operations, and CEO of the Ontario Housing Corporation, in the Ministry of Housing. In 1996, she returned to Metro Toronto, as the commissioner of community services. Following amalgamation, Ms. Hoy was appointed the commissioner of community and neighbourhood services department, and from 2001 to 2008 she served a city manager for the City of Toronto.

From 2009 to January 2014, Ms. Hoy completed a five-year term with the Toronto Lands Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Toronto District School Board, responsible for managing and disposing of surplus school properties.

With respect to community and volunteer activities, Ms. Hoy is currently vice-chair of the Governing Council of University of Toronto, and a member of the board of trustees of United Way Toronto. In the last five years, she has also served on the board of the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation, and the board of regents of Victoria University, U of T.

Richard Powers

Mr. Powers is the national academic director, directors education program and governance essentials program at the Rotman School of Management. He recently completed a five-year term as the associate dean and executive director of the Rotman Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Finance programs. Mr. Powers’ areas of expertise include corporate governance, ethics, business and corporate law. He also teaches in Rotman’s Executive MBA, Omnium Global MBA and executive education programs.

Mr. Powers is a director of several not-for-profit organizations and frequently comments on legal and governance issues in various media across Canada. He currently sits on the following boards: Commonwealth Games Canada (president); Rugby Canada (COC representative); CIS eLearning Consortium (chair of governance committee) and Childhood Cancer Canada.

Jennifer Williams

Ms. Williams is a third-year student at Queen’s University in the health studies and life sciences programs. She is a former TDSB student trustee (2010-2012) and was active in the board’s strategic planning and in developing policies around electronic device use, student leadership, and student activity fees. She was also involved in planning and executing student leadership events and retreats geared towards grades 7-12 students. As president of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association (2011-2012), Ms. Williams co-authored the Mental Health Charter of Rights for students and forged greater links among and between student trustees and other student leaders across Ontario.

Ms. Williams is active in student affairs and initiatives supporting prospective and first-year undergraduates and academically at-risk students, and has for the last three years had a leadership role in the Canadian Undergraduate Conference on healthcare.

Media Contacts
Gary Wheeler
Communications Branch
gary.s.wheeler@ontario.ca
416-325-2454

Nilani Logeswaran
Minister’s Office
Nilani.Logeswaran@ontario.ca
416-314-6020

[End of text]

 

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Etobicoke Creek mystery spill may take a week to clean up: CBC, May 15, 2015

A May 15, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Etobicoke Creek mystery spill may take a week to clean up.”

The opening paragraphs read:

“Workers continued to clean up a mystery spill in Etobicoke Creek into the weekend – and to figure out just what caused it in the first place.

“The spill, in the portion of the creek between Toronto and Mississauga near The West Mall and Sherway Drive, left nearby residents disturbed.

” ‘It smelled, really. It’s hard to describe, something you don’t want to breathe,’ said Mississauga resident Frank Petrielli.

“Clean-up crews used hoses to vacuum oil out of the water and put down booms and blankets to absorb the spill.

“The workers, who’ve been contracted by the city of Toronto, believe the spill is either diesel fuel, oil or paint.”

[End of excerpt]

 

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MCHS 2015 organizing committee met on May 13, 2015 in Kitchener. Plus: Recent Cartierville photos.

Left to right: Scott Munro, Lynn (Hennebury) Legge, and Gina (Davis) Cayer at the May 13, 2015 organizing meeting in Kitchener. Lynn is looking a the 1962-63 MCHS yearbook. Jaan Pill photo

Left to right: Scott Munro, Lynn (Hennebury) Legge, and Gina (Davis) Cayer. Lynn is looking a the 1962-63 MCHS yearbook. Jaan Pill photo

The most recent meeting of the MCHS 2015 Reunion organizing committee took place in Kitchener on May 13, 2015. The previous Kitchener meeting took place on April 1, 2015. The next one is at 11:30 am on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, and that one may take place in St. Williams.

Recent Cartierville photos by Scott Munro: Click on the images to enlarge them; click again to enlarge them further

Cartierville School, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

Cartierville School, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

By way of images for this post, I’m pleased to share some photos that Scott Munro, of the organizing committee, took recently while attending a conference in Montreal. Scott reports that driving is less of a hassle in Montreal these days than in Toronto, because, in Scott’s experience, Toronto has gridlock, whereas Montreal does not.

Please note that if you do a search for topics such as “Cartierville,” “Church of Good Shepherd,” “Scott Munro,” and so on, using the internal search engine at this website, you’ll find previous posts about these topics. You can also find previous posts through a Google search – for example, by pointing your browser to “Cartierville Preserved Stories.”

At our May 13, 2015 meeting, we talked about the fact that, when we go to visit one of our old elementary schools, the place tends to appear so tiny. That makes sense, because in those bygone years we tended to be rather tiny ourselves, and the buildings in those year loomed like big enormous structures in front of us.

May 12, 2015 message from Scott Munro

Scott reports, in a May 12, 2015 message regarding his photos:

Church of Good Shepherd, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

Church of Good Shepherd, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

“Hi Jaan – I was in Montreal last week for a meeting and took the occasion to visit the old neighbourhood. I have for you two pictures of MCHS (now an Armenian school), two pictures from the block where you grew up (S-ward from Forbes, N-ward from De Salaberry), one of the Church of the Good Shepherd (now used by 7th Day Adventists) and, on the other side of the street, one of Cartierville School (once used as a Montessori school but seems vacant now). An MCHS pic might be useful for our web site, which is why I took both a landscape and a portrait orientation. Cheers – Scott.”

Thank you, Scott, for sharing these great photos!

We may also have one or two photos to share from the May 13, 2015 meeting in Kitchener, but I make a point of checking with people before I post such photos to a wide audience.

May 12, 2015 meeting at Old Mill Toronto

Lavigne Street looking toward the north, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

Lavigne Street, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

Jaan Pill met on May 12, 2015 with Sheila, the Sales Executive who is our contact at Old Mill Toronto. Sheila mentioned she likes the fact that the MCHS 2015 organizing team like to approach things in a detail-oriented way.

In this post I’ll focus on a few updates related to the planning of the MCHS ’60s Reunion and Celebration of the ’60s.

Speed networking

At our May 12, 2015 meeting, we discussed the ice breaker, a concept that Lynn (Hennebury) Legge has introduced, that we will use to start off the evening, on October 17, 2015. In speed networking, people will be moving about the room, talking to people and picking up name cards, that the organizing team provide. In the end the person with the most cards gets a prize, plus everyone wins by getting to connect with more than just their initial contacts at the reunion.

Lavigne Street, looking southward. Scott Munro photo

Lavigne Street, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

Lynn is having business cards made up. Each attendee will have 100 business cards, with their name on it.

Budget

Lynn (Hennebury) Legge and Gina (Davis) Cayer have recently ensured that we have a clear picture of our budget. We are keeping costs as low as possible, while delivering a top-quality experience for the reunion attendees. By way of example, a member of the organizing committee will supply a microphone and portable amplifier, for the event, at no charge.

Quiet places to chat

Malcolm Campbell High School building, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

Malcolm Campbell High School building, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

People who’ve attended previous events have often spoken of the fact that, if they are having a conversation with another person, it’s helpful to be in a quiet enough setting, so that you can hear what the other person is saying.

For people at the reunion who want to find a quiet place to chat, they have the option of wandering anywhere in the building. There are plenty of places to chat in the hallway just outside Brûlé Room C, where the reunion will be held. People can also find a place to sit and chat on any of the floors. If the weather is good, and chairs and tables are still set up on the outdoors patios, those could be used as places to hang out. Jaan Pill learned about this option in the course of a conversation with Sheila, while walking by Brûlé Room C on May 12, 2015.

D.J. for the evening

Gina (Davis) Cayer, who has taken on the task of tracking down a list of D.J. candidates, reports good progress toward the finals step, which will involve the announcement of who the D.J. will be.

Playlist

We are developing a Playlist of ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s songs. Gina (Davis) Cayer, who has been posting songs online at the MCHS Facebook Groups, is a key player in the development of the playlist. Part of the list will include songs that were favourite songs of Alumni who have passed away.

Maximum attendance figures

Malcolm Campbell High School building, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

Malcolm Campbell High School building, May 2015. Scott Munro photo

Rather than renting two rooms – Brûlé Rooms B & C – at Old Mill Toronto, we decided on May 12, 2015 that it would be more prudent, in terms of our budget, to release Brûlé Rooms B, and to rent just the one room.

With one room, were looking at the maximum of 150 people in a buffet dinner arrangement, and 200 maximum if we have a sit-down dinner.

In the event we were to have to switch to a sit-down dinner, in order to accommodate 200 people, we would need to make that decision two and a half weeks before the event. We would need to give two and a half weeks notice.

Events on Friday, October 16, 2015; on October 17 before 6:00 pm; and on Sunday, October 18

We are beginning to get details into place regarding a possible get together, for people who are interested, at a couple of locations on the Friday evening, one of the locations being the Home Smith Jazz Bar at Old Mill Toronto. The Jazz Bar is first come, first served. There is jazz starting at 7:00 pm on Friday and Saturday, with a $10 cover charge.

For the Saturday, we are planning a nature walk, led by Scott Munro, during the day along the historic Humber River near Old Mill Toronto. We will also be posting information about great shopping opportunities in Toronto, for those of us who like to shop. There may be some of us, among the MCHS alumni, who like to help out with keeping the economy going, by engaging in the experience of shopping. Toronto offers many shopping experiences to choose from, as we will highlight in future posts.

As well, Gina (Davis) Cayer has found a great online video about things to do, if you are a visitor to Toronto. We will post the video in the next while, as well. As well, we are working our way through large numbers of Toronto tourist brochures and handouts, seeking to locate items that are especially appealing to visitors to Toronto.

Brunch on October 18, 2015, the day after the reunion

As a rule, the less photos of Jaan Pill, at his own website, the better. But I do like the photo Scott Munro took of me on May 12, 2015, in front of his house where he has lived for many years in Dundas, Ontario. When we meet in Kitchener, I park my car at his house in Dundas and then get a ride with Scott to the meeting. On May 12, 2015 on our ride to Kitchener, we talked about the Driver Education program that Mr. Lafon taught in the 1960s at Malcolm Campbell High School. Scott Munro photo

As a rule, the less photos of Jaan Pill at his own website, the better. But I do like the photo Scott Munro took of me on May 13, 2015 in front of Scott’s house on a rustic, tree-lined street where he has lived for many years in Dundas, Ontario. When we meet in Kitchener, I usually park my car at his house in Dundas (Hamilton) and then get a ride to the meeting. On May 13, 2015 on our way to Kitchener, we talked about the Driver Education program that Mr. Lafon taught in the 1960s at Malcolm Campbell High School. Scott Munro photo

The Brunch at Old Mill for October 18, 2015 costs $34.95. We have reserved a table for 20 people for 11:00 am that day, on the second floor, which offers a great view of the pastoral landscape by the Humber River, where Old Mill Toronto is located.

Mid-October is a busy time of year; we’ve made a point of reserving a table early. Once we have a sense of how many people, from the reunion, want to join us for Brunch, we will arrive at a final figure, for the number of Brunch attendees.

Grab Bag

Lynn (Hennebury) Legge has suggested the idea of a Grab Bag for each reunion attendee.

For the Grab Bag for attendees, Jaan Pill has picked up 80 copies (we can get more later) of a small, glossy booklet, published by Metroland Media, celebrating the 100th anniversary (in 2014) of Old Mill Toronto. There’s lots of photos from the past 100 years in the booklet. It’s a good item to include in the grab bag.

We know how excited people are about getting a Grab Bag, and we are making sure that this one is brimming with a diverse range of attractive Grab Bag Items. If I remember correctly, one of the items will be a Pencil. If we get around to getting all the scanning done in time, the Grab Bag will also include a DVD with PDF files of all of the MCHS yearbooks from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, along with PowerPoint slides of key images and texts that will be screened at the reunion.

Accommodations reservations at Old Mill Toronto and Stay Inn

For the block of rooms at Old Mill Toronto (and at the Stay Inn) that we have reserved, we need to release any leftover rooms by September 17, 2015. So if you plan to reserve a room, at the rate available to MCHS 2015 attendees, please do it before that date.

Check-in at Old Mill is 4:00 pm but if you phone in the morning, you can see if a room is available earlier. Checkout is 12:00 noon. Reservations can start before October 17 and can be extended beyond that, at the same block rate, as I understand.

The reunion will be taking place at Old Mill Toronto, which is described online as follows:

“Adjacent to the Humber River and the Parkland and Toronto Bike and Walking Trail System, this upscale, Tudor-style hotel, open since 1914, is a 4-minute walk from the Old Mill subway station, and 12.6 km from downtown Toronto.

“The refined, traditional rooms offer Keurig coffeemakers, Jacuzzi tubs and WiFi access. Suites and some rooms add fireplaces, 4-poster beds and/or valley views, plus separate living spaces.

“Complimentary continental breakfast is provided. There’s also a 24-hour fitness centre, as well as an elegant spa, a jazz club, an upscale restaurant and afternoon tea service. There’s also a garden and chapel for weddings.”

Online Zagat review of Old Mill Toronto notes:

“An atmosphere of old-world British elegance permeates this luxurious property in a pastoral setting next to the Humber River and recreation trails. Rooms and suites are individually styled and feature fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs. The traditionally decorated dining room (in operation for nearly a century) hosts an afternoon tea service and Sunday brunch, along with weekly live performances. There’s also an on-site spa and lively jazz bar.”

 

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WOOP (Oettingen 2014): Wish | Outcome | Obstacle | Plan: Getting things done by focusing on the task at hand

Like many people, I have a lot of projects on the go, and at times I find it a challenge to focus on the task at hand.

Distractions make their presence known, and take command of a person in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Fortunately, I like to read widely, about a broad range of topics, including ones that deal with evidence-based conclusions about how the mind functions.

In that context, a post from some time back is entitled:

WOOP (Oettingen 2014): Wish | Outcome | Obstacle | Plan

I’ve recently had the opportunity to try out this approach, and have found it works exquisitely well. The basic concept is that it’s a great idea to engage in positive thinking, about what a person seeks to accomplish, in a given day or week or year, but positive thinking by itself can only take you so far.

This is an evidence-based strategy, that is to say, beyond just engaging in positive affirmations, however useful such affirmations may be.

The acronym “WOOP” isn’t a particularly catching acronym, in my view, but that is beside the point, to a considerable extent, I would say.

Here’s a WOOP Four-Step Analysis for a current project that I am working on, for the MCHS 2015 website.

Wish

I wish to go through a transcript of an April 1, 2015 MCHS 2015 organizing meeting and incorporate material that deals with our conversations regarding a favourite question among potential MCHS ’60s Reunion attendees, namely: “What do I get for $150?” The answer to the question is currently featured in broad outline at the FAQ page at the above-noted website.

Outcome

A key question for potential reunion attendees is answered in a way that is useful and engaging.

Obstacle

My attention is diverted by a myriad of other tasks and interests that engage my attention.

Plan

If my attention is diverted, then I will return to the task at hand, no matter how hard it may be to return to the task that I have assigned myself.

 

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The new MCHS 2015 website is this evening officially launched

By way of accompanying this post, I'm pleased to share with you this photo of Bob Carswell listening to the MCHS School Song on Jaan Pill's iPhone, at the Birds & Beans Cafe in Mimico. Jaan Pill photo

By way of accompanying this post, I’m pleased to share with you this photo of Bob Carswell listening to the MCHS School Song on Jaan Pill’s iPhone, at the Birds & Beans Cafe in Mimico. Jaan Pill photo

Jacki Ralph and Bob Carswell, April 24, 2015. Jaan Pill photo

The other photo is of Jacki Ralph-Jamieson and Bob Carswell, April 24, 2015 after the screening of the documentary, and after a Reunion Performance by The Bells. I make a point of not using a direct flash when taking such a picture, in such a circumstance, unless I have a flash unit that can reflect light off the ceiling. Instead, I’ve depended in this case upon available light for the photo that you see. Jaan Pill photo

It’s been a long day. Tomorrow we have a meeting of the MCHS 2015 organizing committee.

In the meantime, the MCHS 2015 website is hereby now officially launched.

You can access it here:

MCHS 2015 website

The web address is www.mchs2015.com

 

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Recent emails (Brian Liberty; Jennifer Keesmaat; David Godley) concerned with urgent Long Branch urban planning matters

On May 10, 2015 Brian Liberty of Long Branch wrote:

Hello everyone,

A happy Sunday to you, and Happy Mother’s day to those celebrating.

View of Lake Ontario from near Lake Promenade in Long Branch. Jaan Pill photo

View of Lake Ontario from near Lake Promenade in Long Branch. Jaan Pill photo

On Friday, David Godley received an email (see below) from the City’s Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat in response to his meeting summary that was sent following the May 4th community meeting.

Her message outlines the importance of addressing the range of issues that were brought up and that swift steps must be taken in the short term while the higher level policy framework – at the municipal and provincial levels – goes through the required processes.

I can’t tell you how significant this email is from Ms. Keesmaat.

Moving forward, we hope to provide a first hand tour of Long Branch shortly with her and Neil Cresswell, Director of Etobicoke Planning to view some of the planning failures that have been permitted in recent years.

Congratulations on your efforts and keep it up.

All the best,
Brian Liberty
35th St.

May 8, 2015 message from Jennifer Keesmaat, MES, MCIP, RPP. Chief Planner & Executive Director, City Planning Division, City of Toronto to David Godley of Long Branch

Date: Fri, 08 May 2015 17:00:13 -0400
From: Jennifer Keesmaat <jkeesma@toronto.ca>
Reply-To: Jennifer Keesmaat <jkeesma@toronto.ca>
Subject: Long Branch
To: mhairig@pathcom.com [that is, David Godley]

David,

Thank you for your earlier correspondence. Following City Council over the past three days, I have spent a good part of today in meetings with Neil Cresswell reviewing in detail the history of Long Branch, its ongoing development activity, current issues, and notes pertaining to Committee of Adjustment hearings as well as outstanding matters (such as illegal tree removals).

I’ve also reviewed your comments in detail. Many of the issues you identify are consistent with pressures we are experiencing in other parts of the City that are also facing growth and change. However, it seems to me that the aggressiveness of the applications and the activities of the developers in Long Branch is acute.

I have reviewed with staff a series of strategies that we could potentially employ to address these planning and development issues. At this point in time, I will need to review these options with your Councillor, Mark Grimes, in order to consider how best to proceed.

I understand that you have had extensive correspondence with local planning staff. My Director, Neil Cresswell will continue to be your best point of contact as we go forward. I will be working closely with both Neil and your Councillor to determine next steps. I recognize from your meeting notes regarding the public meeting on May 4th that you and others felt frustration that tangible strategies to address the problem at hand were not forthcoming. I want to assure you that working with the local Councillor, I am seeking to expedite advancing a way forward.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Keesmaat

Jennifer Keesmaat, MES, MCIP, RPP
Chief Planner & Executive Director
City Planning Division
City of Toronto
City Hall, 12th Floor East
100 Queen St W | Toronto M5H 2N2
T 416-392-8772 | F 416-392-8115
E jkeesma@toronto.ca
Twitter: @jen_keesmaat

www.toronto.ca/planning

 

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The real problem with America’s inner cities: May 10, 2015 New York Times article

Many perspective lend themselves to the study of what are called “inner cities.”

Among the perspectives is evidence-based research including ethnographic research by Alice Goffman, the daughter of Erving Goffman. Another perspective relates to evidence-based research about North American drug laws.

A May 10, 2015 New York Times article is entitled:”The Real Problem With America’s Inner Cities.”

The article is exemplary and of the highest quality, by which I mean it is evidence-based, and has enough depth and breadth to ensure that it does not attempt to address a complex issue by seeking to capture the story in one or two brief, compelling blurbs, which is the standard way of doing things by way of election slogans, and by way of many media accounts as well. Blurbs are useful; they serve a purpose; but they have limitations.

The article in question is an opinion piece by Orlando Patterson, a professor of sociology at Harvard and the editor, with Ethan Fosse, of “The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth.”

Below are excerpts from the article; I have used headings in order to organize the excerpts. The purpose of quoting the article is to encourage site visitors to read the full article, at the New York Times website.

Opening paragraphs: It’s not just a matter of insurgent racism and violent police behaviour

“Cambridge, Mass. – The recent unrest in Baltimore raises complex and confounding questions, and in response many people have attempted to define the problem solely in terms of insurgent American racism and violent police behavior.

Image of Baltimore, from the May 10, 2015 New York Times article that is highlighted in the blog post you are now reading. Credit Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Image of Baltimore, from May 10, 2015 New York Times article highlighted in blog post you are now reading. Credit Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

“But that is a gross oversimplification. America is not reverting to earlier racist patterns, and calling for a national conversation on race is a cliché that evades the real problem we now face: on one hand, a vicious tangle of concentrated poverty, disconnected youth and a culture of violence among a small but destructive minority in the inner cities; and, on the other hand, of out-of-control law-enforcement practices abetted by a police culture that prioritizes racial profiling and violent constraint.”

Composition of the inner cities

“According to recent surveys, between 20 and 25 percent of their permanent residents are middle class; roughly 60 percent are solidly working class or working poor who labor incredibly hard, advocate fundamental American values and aspire to the American dream for their children. Their youth share their parents’ values, expend considerable social energy avoiding the violence around them and consume far fewer drugs than their white working- and middle-class counterparts, despite their disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates.”

 Street or thug culture

“Their street or thug culture is real, with a configuration of norms, values and habits that are, disturbingly, rooted in a ghetto brand of core American mainstream values: hypermasculinity, the aggressive assertion and defense of respect, extreme individualism, materialism and a reverence for the gun, all inflected with a threatening vision of blackness openly embraced as the thug life.

“Such street culture is simply the black urban version of one of America’s most iconic traditions: the Wild West. America’s first gangsta thugs were Billy the Kid and Jesse James. In the youth thug cultures of both the Wild West and the inner cities, America sees inverted images of its own most iconic values, one through rose-tinted glass, the other through a glass, darkly.”

Intersection with overly aggressive law enforcement

“Its intersection with overly aggressive law enforcement was not random or inevitable, but rooted in a historical irony. As the political scientist Michael Javen Fortner documents in his forthcoming work “Black Silent Majority,” when Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York introduced draconian new drug laws in the early 1970s to combat the increasingly violent street life of New York City, he did so with the full support of black leaders, who felt they had no choice – their lives and communities were being destroyed by the minority street gangs and drug addicts.”

Black policemen

“In tackling the present crisis, it is thus a clear mistake to focus only on police brutality, and it is fatuous to attribute it all to white racism. Black policemen were involved in both the South Carolina and Baltimore killings. Coming from the inner-city majority terrorized by the thug culture minority, they are, sadly, as likely to be brutal in their policing as white officers.

“We see this in stark detail in the chronic violence of New York’s Rikers Island correction officers, the leadership and majority of whom are black. We see it also in the maternal rage of Toya Graham, the Baltimore single mom whose abusive reprimand of her son, a video of which quickly went viral, reflects both her fear of losing him to the street and her desperate, though counterproductive, mode of rearing her fatherless son.”

Chemical detoxification

“In regard to black youth, the government must begin the chemical detoxification of ghetto neighborhoods in light of the now well-documented relation between toxic exposure and youth criminality. Further, there should be an immediate scaling up of the many federal and state programs for children and youth that have been shown to work: child care from the prenatal to pre-K stages, such as Head Start and the nurse-family partnership program; after-school programs to keep boys from the lure of the street and to provide educational enrichment as well as badly needed male role models; community-based programs that focus on enhancing life skills and providing short-term, entry-level employment; and continued expansion of successful charter school systems.”

A “long-term, fundamental change that can only come from within the black community”

“And finally, there is one long-term, fundamental change that can come only from within the black community: a reduction in the number of kids born to single, usually poor, women, which now stands at 72 percent. Its consequences are grim: greatly increased risk of prolonged poverty, child abuse, educational failure and youth delinquency and violence, especially among boys, whose main reason for joining gangs is to find a family and male role models.”

[End of excerpts]

Updates

A May 4, 2015 CBC The Current article is entitled: “Civil rights movement did not do enough to create systemic change.”

A May 15, 2015 New York Times article is entitled: “Latin American Allies Resist U.S. Strategy in Drug Fight.”

 

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Globe and Mail series: Risks are associated with too much consumerism; risks are associated with too little of it

I’ve explored two related concepts in a May 9, 2015 Twitter post, which can be represented as follows:

Consumerism fuels runaway spending

Consumers in debt stop consuming, economic collapse looms

Risks are associated with too much consumerism (in the sense of the compulsion to buy the newest electronic gadgets, bigger houses, and pricier cars)

That is, a May 8, 2015 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Laurie Campbell: Credit Canada CEO shatters debt myths.”

The article notes:

“Ms. Campbell has come to strongly believe the root cause of Canada’s debt problems lies in consumerism – the compulsion that makes people want the latest electronic gadgets, bigger houses and pricier cars.

“Her only debt is the mortgage on her house in Toronto’s Scarborough Bluffs neighbourhood, and she says she was content to buy her kids’ clothes at Wal-Mart or Value Village when they were younger. Her indulgences? It’s not an extravagant list – she says she likes travelling, and she happily pays for pedicures.

“For many people, however, debt is a habit, and helping people reduce their debt is a process Ms. Campbell likens to dieting, with most people finding it hard to stick at it.

“ ‘You’re talking about lifestyle changes,’ she says. ‘You can’t change your money habits for six months, until you get out of debt, and then go back to your old habits. It has to be a lifestyle, over a lifetime.’ ”

[End of excerpt]

Risks are associated with too little consumerism (in the sense of people spending money to keep the economy growing)

A second May 8, 2015 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “In deep: The high risks of Canada’s growing addiction to debt.”

The article notes:

“Not everyone struggles with debt. In fact, nearly a third of Canadians are debt free. But a small, highly important, share of households are drowning in debt and could pose a major risk to the economy.

“ ‘You really have to look at the extremes, as opposed to just talking about averages. There’s a group of one to two million people out there that really scare me,’ says Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University.

“ ‘If you have enough people that run into financial difficulties, eventually it aggregates and you have cities that are in trouble and you have neighbourhoods that are in trouble and eventually that affects consumption. At some point people that have misfortune stop spending and if enough of them do it, then it’s a risk to the economy.’ ”

[End of excerpt]

Consumer Reports

I’m a big fan of Consumer Reports. The concept of an organization devoted to evidence-based analysis of consumer products and trends appealed to me tremendously, as a teenager in the 1960s. Long after I left behind such 1960s pastimes as reading Reader’s Digest, Life Magazine, Newsweek, and Time (as well as the old version of Canada’s own Maclean’s Magazine, before whatever happened to it, happened to it), I retained my enjoyment of reading Consumer Reports.

About the only time I became dubious was when CR in the 1960s espoused the line of the American Medical Association on all matters related to nutrition. However, I noted, as the years passed, that Consumer Reports in time began to depend more on independent research, related to medical and nutritional matters, rather than accepting the concept of “expert opinion” at face value.

In the late 1960s, during the hippie era when I was at university, I remember encountering a student-published satirical magazine, which among other things featured take-offs on standard magazine ads. The publication included an advertisement for Consumer Reports, but in the case of the latter ad, nothing whatever had been altered in the text, so far as I could tell. I thought that was very clever. I thought, “That’s clever. I like that. Your brain is clearly working. But you haven’t convinced me of anything.”

My fellow students, or whichever batch of hippies put together the text, were making fun of Consumer Reports by indicating that an ad for the magazine could convey the satirical message, of the student publication, with no need whatever to alter the text. The message was – this being the 1960s hippie era – that advertising by Consumer Reports represented an advocacy for consumerism run wild, as was the case with every other form of magazine advertising that was available to us.

Hippie era

I enjoy reading about the concept, that has been occasionally advanced, with greater or lesser amounts of evidence to back up the claim, that the hippie era was created by the Madison Avenue advertising industry, as a way to sell more products. Oh, the irony:

The hippies were the creation of the American advertising industry, according to Thomas Frank (1997).

The concept of an ever-growing economy, as the indicator of happiness and peace in the world, brings to mind the concept of sustainability. The latter concept functions either as powerful rhetoric for more of the same way of doing things, or else is a powerful concept whose back story matches the rhetoric. The concept brings to mind how economy, as a field of study, has changed since the 1960s.

The Changing Face of Economics (2004), Society in Question (2013), and Stalled (2015)

A useful resource regarding these topics is The Changing Face of Economics: Conversations with Cutting Edge Economists (2004).

A blurb for the latter study at the Toronto Public Library website (see link in previous sentence) notes, among other things:

“The interviews and commentary together demonstrate that economics is currently undergoing a fundamental shift in method and is moving away from traditional neoclassical economics into a dynamic set of new methods and approaches. These new approaches include work in behavioral economics, experimental economics, evolutionary game theory and ecological approaches, complexity and nonlinear dynamics, methodological analysis, and agent-based modeling.”

[End of excerpt]

Sociology is a helpful resource for making sense of things, including making sense of economic realities, however they are defined; a good resource in this realm of analysis is Society in Question (2013).

To round out the discussion, it’s useful to be aware of a business-focused, numbers-focused view of things, as in Stalled: Jump-Starting the Canadian Economy (2015). That said, the latter study’s discussion about what income inequality entails appears, to my understanding of the topic, to be dubious.

Click here for the goodreads.com ratings of the latter book >

“Current monetary policy is not going to work”

A May 8, 2014 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Joseph Stiglitz: ‘Current monetary policy is not going to work.’ ”

The article begins with the following Q & A:

  • Q: The debate over economic inequality has gone global since the 2011 Occupy movements. Yet, the last five years have seen little, if any, concrete action by governments on the issue. Why the disconnect?
  • A: I think one of the main reasons is that, in the years following 2008 and the global financial crisis, our collective attention was focused on survival. Would the economy recover? Could we get it to grow again? What would we do about employment? There is a political element in this as well. In the first three years of recovery in the United States, 91 per cent of all the income gains went to the upper 1 per cent. For an economy that claims to be a success, this is an outrage. Seventy per cent of Americans believe it is an outrage; they believe something should be done. And yet our fractured politics in Washington and the ideology of the right has put up road block after road block to prevent meaningful reform.
  • The good news is that, since 2011, a grassroots movement has developed around the U.S. So, while there may be gridlock in Washington, there is action being taken to roll back inequality in places like Seattle and other cities. I suspect similar forces are at play in countries around the world.

[End of excerpt]

 

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Changing the Conversation (2015)

Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution (2015)

I learned about Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution (2015) when I read an April 24, 2015 New York Times article entitled: “A William Forsythe Dancer Moves From Toe-Tapping to Handshaking.”

A Book List Review for Changing the Conversation (2015) at the Toronto Public Library website reads )I’ve broken the longest text into shorter paragraphs for ease of online reading):

“Conflict generally leads to endless cycles of attack, counterattack, and more conflict as we fail to get to the root of the underlying problems. Conflict mediator Caspersen offers 17 principles of conflict resolution in a highly graphic book that juxtaposes typical reactions and suggested alternatives that will ease tension and lead to resolution. The reader is encouraged to see conflict as a moment of opportunity.

“Instead of hearing an attack, which makes you ignore additional information that may be offered, listen for what is behind the words. Instead of acting on assumptions, test them. Instead of adopting a rigid stance, develop curiosity. Instead of ignoring the possibility of future conflict, expect and plan for future conflict, including a more productive response.

“Caspersen offers examples of conflict from arenas as varied as home, school, and work as well as exercises to help resolve frictions. The objective is to facilitate listening and speaking, acknowledge emotions, and look for ways forward out of conflict.

“–Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist”

[End of text]

May 5, 2015 Toronto Star article describes conflict resolution course at St. Stephen’s Community House

A May 5, 2015 Toronto Star article is entitled: “Conflict resolution course changed Premier Kathleen Wynne’s life: Premier Kathleen Wynne, one of the early graduates of conflict resolution training at a community agency, describes how it changed her life.”

The opening paragraphs read:

“Long before Kathleen Wynne became the premier of Ontario, a Liberal MPP or a Toronto school board trustee, she signed up for conflict resolution training at St. Stephen’s Community House, a social service agency in the Kensington market.

“The non-profit organization had developed a groundbreaking program to teach volunteers how to resolve neighbourhood disputes. Trainees learned to mediate everything from property-line disagreements to battles over pets.

“It was a turbulent time in Wynne’s life. Her marriage was collapsing. She hadn’t found her calling despite a master’s degree in linguistics and another in adult education. Her political instincts were beginning to stir.

“ ‘I found myself drawn to conflict and — more than I would care to admit — I was inflaming those conflicts,’ she told fellow graduates, staff and supporters of St. Stephen’s House at a celebration of the 30th anniversary of its mediation program last week. ‘I was excited to channel my innate understanding of conflict in a positive direction.

” ‘It is not an overstatement to say my life has never been the same.’ ”

[End of excerpt]

 

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