Friday, October 24, 2008

Addicted to Plastic

Bubble buy
Originally uploaded by Gavatron
There's no doubt our society has a major addiction to plastic - and not just the credit card variety. As I look around me at work I see plastic phones, plastic TVs, plastic pens and a plastic calculator and stapler. However, what I don't have on my desk is a plastic water bottle, and I have cut the plastic bag habit by more than half. These are but a few of the small things I can do to curb my own personal addiction to plastic. Fortunately other Torontonians are realizing that we can break this dependence, and filmmakers like Ian Connacher are too.

Tonight, Addicted to Plastic, an intriguing documentary directed by Connacher and edited by my talented friend and co-worker Gad Reichman, plays at the Royal Cinema on College at 7PM as part of the Planet in Focus Film Festival. The film premiered at VIFF to a sold-out audience which included the enviro-guru himself, David Suzuki.

If you too have a predilection for plastic, and a curiosity for where it comes from and where it goes, I think you'll be amazed to see some of the film's images, the most incredible of which is a floating island of plastic waste, double the size of Texas, which bears the elusive name The North Pacific gyre.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hop Along Harper

As with every election I hear the woes of friends who seem afraid to let the conservatives continue to run this country. The thought makes them want to crawl into a hole and hide for the next 4 years. As usual these friends seem astounded when the conservatives are actually voted in again, as it happened this week. Is Toronto out of touch with the rest of Canada? Or, is it that our Canadian cousins are simply sick of listening to our whiny self-centred opinions?

According to CBC only 26% of Torontonians voted for Harper, a former resident of our city, while his party picked up 38% of the vote across the board. That's a big stretch, and a strange one when one considers that Toronto is very much the economic engine of Canada. It's hard to argue that voting conservatives into power translate into tax cuts, balanced budgets and decreased deficits. Toronto, under Miller, our formerly NDP mayor, is verging on bankruptcy. Wouldn't it help to have some friends in Ottawa? I mean, I hear the whining from all sides - Toronto deserves more of its cut, but if we keep spending (as the NDP is prone to do) can we really keep expecting handouts?

Since we don't seem to care so much about financial stability there must be another story here - and there is. Our cosmopolitan grounding means we see the world through different eyes and because we've seen it all and live with such diversity we place high value on individual freedoms, freedoms that would be lost if the Conservative had won a majority of seats. So, if it's gonna take this city-slicker to keep that from happening maybe Toronto's got the right idea after all and we should happily tell Mr. Harper to hop along.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Can Art Unite A Community?

Originally uploaded by 416style
For years residents and businesses on the Bloor Street strip between Keele and Dundas West have battled over the area's graffiti-covered back-alleys. It started with the "Keele Wall", behind Midas, where friends of mine have been spray-painting for years. The work has evolved but it's always been eye-catching, drawing the attention of subway riders riding the Bloor Street track and other graffiti artists whose work began to spread eastward.

Up until a year ago the alley artwork covered a huge stretch, all the way to the Dundas West subway station. It drew even more attention, from residents who were drawn to the art and others who knew the strip as a landmark. Unfortunately Toronto City Hall was paying attention too. When they decided to get tough with graffiti they decided the art-strewn walls had to go.

Now, selective pieces will be going back up. The Bloor-by-the-Park BIA is bringing businesses, artists and residents together in an event called ComeUnity. Tomorrow between 10AM and 10PM you can watch as the community unites for a little love in the name of art.