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Saturday, August 29, 2009

There’s no such thing as a free lunch...

It’s hard to go anywhere in the downtown core of Toronto and not be confronted with those that beg. Most ask for change, few are aggressive, But few receive a positive reaction from the public. A lot of us believe that these people are panhandling, lazy, and not wanting to work individuals. And the begging has spread. Living in the beach I see them daily. Sitting on the pavement, begging pennies.

Few of these folks receive more than the quickening of the pace away from them or an “I don’t have any change”. But many of these folks are truly deserving of our change. Or if not our change, maybe a cheap meal. And at least a kind word.

My local grocer has a deli section that sells prepared meals. The packaged ones you grab on the way home late from the office. A chicken leg with rice and some green beans: or mashed potatoes and a pork chop. Later in the evening these hot meals are half-price: guess they’re going to be thrown out anyway. So I’ll grab one with my daily shopping. Then I’ll give it to the panhandler at the corner.

Some of us have been led to believe that beggars are asking for change to buy drugs and alcohol. I’m sure many are. But the majority truly need your loose change to buy a meal. So why not buy them a meal? Or give them an apple from your bag of groceries?

So what do I mean by there being no such thing as a free lunch? Well there are free lunches, aren’t there? A company rep or an important client will quite often buy you lunch. Or your boss buys you lunch. When your boss buys you lunch don’t for one moment think it’s free. You earned that lunch. You also earned the lunch that sales rep bought you. You just didn’t pay for it out of hand.

You went to work one morning with five bucks in your pocket. Your boss bought you lunch. You’re going home that evening with five bucks more in your pocket than expected. So why not use that five-dollar bill to buy the homeless person you see every day on that busy yet lonely street corner?

Believe me, that’s not a free lunch to that person either. That person begging change on the pavement has paid for that meal with their self esteem, their pride and the scorn of most that pass him by.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lessons Learned...

Lessons learned... or not

Garbage pick up has resumed in this city of ours. Most have had 3 pick-ups. We in the Beach have had two pic ups of garbage and one of recycled materials. Tomorrow we have another pick up of recyclables. We were all inconvenienced by this work stoppage. It made some think quite extensively about the way this city is managed. It made a lot of us question the amount of waste we create. But some have decided that the city, and its residents need to stop creating physical and fiscal waste.

On almost every street corner of this city resides a gaggle of newspaper boxes. Some of them demand coins to open and remove the contents. Others though are open to all and their contents are free to all.

But are they really free?

These free daily periodicals may be free to those that read them, but they’re not free to those that don’t read them. The residents of this city pay for the clean up and disposal of them. Most free newspapers end up littering the streets of our city. They wind up on TTC property, in parks and on park benches, in the gutters and vacant spaces, especially throughout the fringes of the downtown core.

Ironically, most of these publications would want you to believe they promote public awareness and claim the higher ground when environmental issues become the flavor of the day. In fact, the publication most likely to be found littering our streets has just published a cover article entitled “The 100 Mile Myth”. How can a publication promote an ethical environmentally responsible way of life, yet create a publication that encourages litter and wastefulness in the way it delivers its message?

The city would do well to ban free periodic publications. It should at least ban the distribution of unsolicited publications. Ban boxes on street corners that don’t require payment to open. If a publication is free, it should only be available at the publisher’s office or delivered to the reader’s home and only if requested.

Free publications, including mass mailings of junk mail cost us all in disposal fees. We as tax payers pay for the clean up, pick up and disposal of all discarded printed products. No matter if they’re delivered to us free, deposited in newspaper boxes at no charge or simply left at street corners.

Free printed matter, whether advertisement or editorial isn’t free. We all pay for it. If it wasn’t printed no one would have to pay for it. The city should not allow it to be printed in the first place!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I’ve become soft in my old age. I’m really not that old, but I’m older than I was a number of years ago. What do I mean about becoming soft? Well it’s the whole “what you eat is what you are” thing.

Happy city... Happy food

I’ve started buying eggs that are free range. Costs me an extra buck fifty or so. I’ve also started buying pork from the market. What it comes down to is I’ve started buying happy food. If the critter I’m eating was happy throughout its life, it’s gotta be better for me and better for the whole grand scheme of things. Happy food equals happier consumers!

I still hunt, and I still fish. But if I shoot something in the bush, or reel something in on the lake, I know it lead a productive and natural life. A happy life!

If everyone in the city were to buy a dozen free range eggs each month instead of factory eggs, we would be promoting happy chickens and happy food!

I’d much rather eat fried eggs from birds that scratched and picked from the dirt than from some factory floor, in a one foot by one foot square cage.

Let’s eat happy food, and be happier!

Monday, August 17, 2009

If you do not have property in Toronto but wish to grow vegetables or flowers you can apply for an allotment. In my neighborhood there is one at the foot of Leslie St. But there is a long waiting list. If you would like to acquire a small lot to grow your own veggies you need to call the city on February the first. Right away: when you get out of bed: before you put the coffee on! It’s like signing you’re kids up for swimming classes. Thing is though, there are more pools than allotments. And there are less allotment properties than applicants!

Why don’t we have more allotment properties in our city?

There are acres of vacant unused land throughout the city. What would it take to create public allotment gardens, available to the residents of Toronto for a nominal fee from the hundreds of open, public, city owned green spaces that literally litter our city?

The city of Toronto spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to cut grass, prune trees and shrubs, plant annuals and maintain the perennials they plant yearly.

Why not turn a portion of the vast acreage of city, that is unused land, over to the public? They can cultivate it themselves, produce their own veggies and flowers. Self-sufficiencies become tax savings and environmental victories!

I’d like to see the city to go green. I’d LOVE to see the city encourage its citizens to go green, AND become more self-sufficient!

Let’s give those who want to grow green a place to do it! We need more allotments and better access!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Let’s get our city to a higher level of quality living.

If where you live has a back yard, front yard, or terrace, put up a bird house. Or maybe a bat house. Great either way for keeping the bugs down and getting the kids (and us older, don’t want to grow up ones) interested in so much stuff!

First of all there’s the interest in the environment. Then there’s the whole idea of putting hammer to nail and creating something useful. Useful for the little creatures around us.

A bird house, a bat house; less bugs and a great family project!

Send me pictures.

So many people, so little purpose!

...Oh, but that is God's conundrum!

What sense is there to our lives if we lack purpose? If we lack purpose, we live either foolishly or without consideration.

This past Friday afternoon afforded me the best view one can possibly have of my city. (For those of you living afar, I’m referring to Toronto. It’s only my city because that’s where I live and work. On many days I find myself wishing it weren’t my city.) Why was this the best view? Well, at three miles out, on a beam reach doing six and a half knots, Toronto is at it’s best! You can’t hear it, you can’t smell it!

I have my problems with Toronto. I’m sure many people do. I’m sure most people have problems with the areas they live in, be it urban, rural or isolated. Having problems or concerns is one thing, but not doing anything about it is something completely different!

If we honestly care about the environment which we live in, or our interaction with those around us, and think there’s any purpose to our lives, then maybe we should all come up with some constructive ideas to make life better for ourselves and others in our community. It really shouldn’t take much.

I have a challenge to all.

Over the next two weeks I’m going to illustrate ten ideas that I believe will help make this city of ours, or any community for that matter, a better place to live in. Some of my ideas are easily implemented with a simple change in one’s daily routine, others will need the actions of city council. But, all will be within the realms of possibility. No magic, no science fiction!

So, what’s the challenge? Follow through with the implementation of at least half the ideas I publish, or come up with, and fulfill five out of ten of your own ideas. I’ve not completed my list yet, I’ve five or six ideas so far. I’ll post one tonight, later.

Let’s make our world better to live in. For ourselves and those around us. Let’s live with purpose!