I really can't bear to have the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC) use the closure of overnight Out of the Cold programs as an indicator that the system is falling apart (NOW, February 15-21).
According to the TDRC, the closure of Knox Presbyterian's Out of the Cold program for youth 18 to 25 resulted in the loss of 40 beds.
The reality is, up until a few years ago we would regularly accommodate 25 to 35 kids on our gym floor. But once the Streets into Homes program came into effect, we saw our numbers decline rapidly so that, by last winter, we had fewer than five kids sleeping over most nights.
They were still coming to our church each week for food and companionship, and they started asking if we had any food they could take home. So we opened a food bank and started asking the congregation to donate used household goods (sheets, towels, dishes, pots and pans).
At the end of the season, our leadership team decided it was a waste of taxpayers' money for us to operate as an overnight shelter using the resources of the Out of the Cold program.
Instead, we opened independently as a dinner service, food bank and drop-in for newly housed youth. We see an average of 70 young people every Tuesday. Most are still struggling to get by. (Aren't we all?) Some are still battling addiction and mental health problems. But the majority of these former street kids are working or going to school, and a good number are "paying it forward" by volunteering with us and other agencies.
Sadly, as a volunteer-run program, we were never adequately equipped to provide those struggling souls with the resources they need to get off the streets.
Coordinator, Knox Church dinner and food bank for youth
Co-op's corporate welfare
Last week your paper published an article about housing and the poor. It stated that a subsidized building will be used to house hospitality workers. Apparently their pay is so low they cannot live on it.
So the wealthy multinational hotel chains can pay their employees ridiculously low wages and have the taxpayer pick up the slack. What a glaring example of corporate welfare.
Face the white face
I read your typical dig at Tyler Perry's new movie, Daddy's Little Girls (NOW, February 8-14). NOW needs to wake up. Perry has a huge black audience, and we like his work. Why can't you white motherfuckers get it? Whites are not the centre of Perry's films. As a black person I find it refreshing not to have to look at white faces in Perry's movies.
Breaking down J. Star
Generally I read NOW for its honest coverage of Toronto's eclectic music scene. The right people for the right reasons get well-deserved publicity in NOW. So you can imagine how disappointed I was reading Benjamin Boles's piece on Jeffree Star (NOW, February 15-21).
For whatever reasons, Boles has ignored the real story here. Too bad for NOW's readers. It was a valuable opportunity to see what happens when the star-making machine breaks down.
Building up eco gene pool
RE Let's Not Blow This (NOW, February 8-14). Wayne Roberts writes that "there are more killer chems out there than ever before." It's inevitable, as our consumer society demands even more innovative products, that many new toxins will be introduced into the marketplace.
We should therefore focus on genetic engineering research and advances to fortify our bodies to alleviate and overcome the effects of harmful substances - just as in areas prone to earthquakes and hurricanes we build stronger buildings and skyscrapers to resist them.
What's Harp smoking?
As counterintuitive as it may seem, maybe the Conservatives may be in the best position to implement the drastic changes needed in our environmental policy. Stephen Harper, a conservative from Alberta, is in the unique position of bringing the oil industry into the fold.
Canadians are telling Harper, "They're your friends. We said, 'No smoking in the house.' Talk to them."
Art attack flak
In his review of Book of Love at Spin Gallery (NOW, February 8-14), David Jager writes, "The fine-grained attention of a reader is required to tease out the conceptual nuances and humour here." I wish he'd taken his own advice.
One of my two pieces mentioned in the review was credited to another artist whose work conceptually, aesthetically and physically (located at the other end of the gallery) differs from my own.
I've been an avid reader of NOW from the beginning, relying on its entertainment information and reviews and impressed with its support of the cultural community.
I also believed that part of NOW's agenda was honest reporting, uncovering and revealing misrepresentations and untruths.
I find Jager's oversight unconscionable, especially from a paper that prides itself on supporting the arts.
Harkness a knee-slapper
I've been meaning to write to thank and congratulate John Harkness on his fine and witty writing on film.
I've always appreciated his savvy and ability to cut through the bull and name crud for what it is, often with knee-slapping wittiness.
Hell, I even look forward to his mini-reviews in the DVD and video section. Keep up the good work!
Contrary to popular myths and perceptions, some of which were mentioned in Adria Vasil's column (NOW, February 1-8), today's vinyl siding is being recognized for its environmentally friendly benefits.
Vinyl siding uses minimal raw material in production, gaining strength and durability through engineered design. Nearly all pre-consumer scrap and off-spec material is reprocessed in the plant, meaning nearly zero waste ever leaves a manufacturing facility.
Because vinyl siding is easy to maintain, there is no need for paint, stain or caulk, reducing toxins and maintenance-related substances in the solid waste stream.
Simply put, vinyl siding lasts a lifetime on the house, not in Canada's landfills.
Vinyl Siding Institute
T.O.'s load of eco cred
RE Foam Here To Eternity (NOW, February 15-21). Congratulations, Toronto. I salute you, for you show the world you give a shit.
Being from Calgary, I am shocked and amazed by your environmental dignity. I'm coming from Calgary, the last major city in Canada to have no curbside recycling and no recycle bins on the street, where "compost" is considered a foreign word.
We take our recycling initiatives for granted. At such a vital time, we can teach the world a few things about human responsibility.
The issue of styrofoam is a touchy one. I like to eat out, but I like to recycle, too. The answer is simple. Banish all fast food containers.
When I saw Foam Here To Eternity and the sidebar listing businesses that use green packaging, I was hoping for a welcome mention. But alas, I guess we're too new. Sadie's Diner is a new vegetarian restaurant that not only uses green packaging for all our takeout containers but also offers fair trade organic coffee, organic milk and cream and free run eggs. Heck, the scraps you leave on the table even go to feed two pigs living on a no-kill farm.
RE Alex Maclean's letter about the the closing of the Cabbagetown Restaurant (NOW, February 1-7). MacLean says anti-poverty activist John Clarke likes the attention that comes with agitating on behalf of the poor.
When are city councillors consumed with the interests of powerful developers going to start to speak for the average person?
Just who's pushing drugs?
I'm upset by the drug ad in your paper that asks, "Do you suffer from excessive anxiety or worry?" and then solicits volunteers for an unnamed drug study on Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (NOW, February 15-21).
By the way, GAD is another bullshit "mental disorder" manufactured by psychiatry and Big Pharma.
The ad makes no mention of the name of the health or research organization running this study, no mention of the drug(s) tested, no mention of the lead researcher(s), no info of the study's duration, no mention of any financial compensation.
Since I was curious to find out the name of the drug(s) - probably another addictive or brain-damaging antidepressant - and the corporate drug pusher funding this study, I called the number. A disembodied, pre-recorded female voice asked me to "please leave your name and phone number."
I believe this ad's serious lack of specific and relevant information violates the drug ad standards of Health Canada and those approved by Advertising Standards Canada. We have a right to know who wants to use us as guinea pigs and why.