Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stay Behind the Yellow Line

Wow, how time has flown - it is already National Rail Safety Week. GO Transit says "STAY BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE. Staying behind the yellow line puts you at a safe distance from oncoming or departing trains. Mind the yellow line and always be aware of your surroundings."
I also remember when there was no Front Street in front of Union Station, you had to keep away from the barriers that kept you away from the chasm that was excavated to construct the Union Station ttc expansion.


The new glass roof rises from the yard of old steel and concrete

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Brain Project launches #noblankbrains

A healthy mind is a goal of the Baycrest Foundation and they want to draw awareness of the growing problem of dementia and Alzheimers with an ambitious art installation that will see 100 brain sculptures placed around Toronto. The works will be created by artists such as Mr Brainwash and Gary Taxali, architects, designers and celebrities like Kim Kardashian and her daughter North West.
Paul Godfrey, Ben and Jessica Mulroney, Erica Godfrey and husband Noah

Telus presents the project and Baycrest President Dr William Reichman was joined by Vice-Chairman of the Baycrest Board Paul Godfrey, host of etalk and project co-chair Ben Mulroney and Mayor John Tory at City Hall for the announcement of the Brain Project. Other leaders of the project include Jessica Mulroney, Sandra Ainsley, Clara Halpern, Anda Kubis and Ann Priftis. Due to the crummy weather, the unveiling of the sculpture "My Heart Knows You" by artist Gary Taxali, a graduate of OCAD University, which was presented within the members lounge adjacent to the Toronto City Council Chambers. Gary's work has been shown in the Andy Warhol Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum in Rome as well as the Whitney Museum of American Art. 
Unveiling "My Heart Knows You" in the Council Chambers Members Lounge

Sponsors include Amaya Inc: "Amaya is happy to support the The Brain Project and to advance public awareness of important issues surrounding mental health and awareness," said David Baazov, Amaya Chairman and CEO. "Poker is a mind sport and a form of entertainment which heavily encompasses strategic thought, helping to keep the brain healthy and active. Many of the poker world's top players find a healthy diet means a healthy mind, and a healthy mind means better results."
Baycrest President Dr William Reichman

The large brains are the brainchild of Baycrest Foundation Board member Erica Godfrey and husband Noah, who drew their inspiration from other public art installations, including the Faberge Big Egg Hunt in New York and the Heart in San Francisco. Like the Big Egg Hunt, the brains will be exhibited before being auctioned off to raise money for the Baycrest Foundation.


The progress of the Brain Project began with artist submissions, selections by the team of curators, production of the artwork, public display and voting for the top five projects and finally the brains are auctioned.

Baycrest notes the following. "It makes sense for everyone – all of us – to pay attention to brain health. When dementia strips a person of their abilities and memories, it’s a devastating loss for the person affected and their loved ones. Whether you’re young, middle-aged or older, you can make changes now and potentially reduce your risk. At Baycrest, brain health has been our focus for many decades. Funds raised by The Brain Project will help our important work to change the future of aging and help people realize their optimum cognitive well-being for a lifetime." A staggering statistic suggests that the number of people suffering with dementia is expected to double by 2030.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Waterfalls in early spring

Spring has sprung and cold water flows through Spencer Gorge in the rugged Niagara Escarpment overlooking the City of Hamilton. Two large waterfalls in the Conservation Area pour Spencer and Logie's Creeks over the high ledges of exposed limestone and shale until the water flows into Lake Ontario at Hamilton Harbour; Webster Falls, above and Tew Falls, below.
With the return of warmer temperatures to Ontario, families and friends are flocking to parks and natural areas, many packing picnics. The Bruce Trail and the many waterfalls around Hamilton are a popular destination and within easy driving distance to Toronto.
Tew Falls is the taller one. 41m high instead of Niagara Falls Horseshoe Falls of 52m
Trees are just starting to bud and tiny yellow, white and purple flowers dot the forest floor. It won't be too long before the forest returns to its glory of green canopy with squirrels running roughshod over the other forest denizens. You can check the falls in winter in my previous post here.


Looking towards Hamilton
Two large platforms provide views of Tew Falls

New fences line the top of bank and the stairs to the valley floor are closed now: "We hope that you enjoy your visit to one of the most beautiful natural areas in Ontario. We ask that all visitors to conservation areas respect the rules, stay on trails and do not climb or otherwise bypass fencing, for their own safety and the environmental health of the areas. Keep well back from the edge of the gorge and escarpment areas, at least a body length. Adults should keep children and pets well away from these areas. Please note that the stairs to the bottom of Webster Falls is closed at this time, due to safety and ecological reasons."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

2016 Heroes are Human Resiliency Tour

First Responders and members of the military take a mental beating and their suffering has led to over 100 suicides from their ranks since 2014. Ontario has taken action and passed legislation with Bill 163 that supports First Responders with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Bill was passed on April 5, 2016 and will allow faster support of the affected emergency personnel to treatment and benefits. It also recognizes that PTSD in First Responders is work-related.
"Under the Supporting Ontario's First Responders Act, the presumption allows for faster access to WSIB benefits, resources and timely treatment. Once a first responder is diagnosed with PTSD by either a psychiatrist or a psychologist, the claims process to be eligible for WSIB benefits will be expedited, without the need to prove a causal link between PTSD and a workplace event. The presumption applies to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, certain workers in correctional institutions and secure youth justice facilities, dispatchers of police, firefighter and ambulance services, and emergency response teams."

The Tema Conter Memorial Trust was established 15 years ago to support emergency services and military personnel - they "aim to help these men and women when they need it most." In response to the large amount of PTSD-related suicide Tema Conter created the Heroes are Human Resiliency PTSD Awareness Tour which will begin a cross-country tour of 48 cities, leaving Newfoundland May 2nd, travel coast to coast and end in Toronto July 22, 2016. The tour will be launched April 25, 2016 in Toronto with a preview of the educational event at Fines Ford Lincoln Sales (10 Simona Drive) between 11am and 1pm. Bob Fines, owner of the dealership will also provide the tour vehicles.

This is the second tour they have undertaken, the first in 2014 and now the 2016 tour to provide more information and build on the success of the earlier tour and the passage of Bill 163. Tour sponsors include the OPP Association, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, CUPE 905, Wounded Warriors Canada, the friends and family of Cpl Ken Baker, the Humber College Health Sciences as well as the Saskatchewan Government and the General Employees Union.
"With the help of local correctional, emergency services, and military organizations, The Trust will host two- hour community-based educational events in forty-eight towns and cities across Canada. Attendees will hear from a panel of experienced first responders who will share their stories and best practices about how to deal with acute cumulative and post-traumatic stress and how they came out the other side of that darkness." The events are open to all and emergency services and medical health members, military personnel as well as frontline communications and correctional staff. As part of the tour there will be a screening of the documentary "The Other Side of the Hero" which will be followed with panel discussions of operational stress injuries.

“These men and women see tragic events every day,” said Vince Savoia, founder and executive director of the Trust. “They witness human suffering up close and it sometimes becomes very difficult to cope with the aftermath. Smells, sounds and reliving witnessed events create lasting painful memories that sometimes haunt these men and women for life”.

Due to the stigma associated with mental health issues many first responders find it difficult to ask for help and Tema Conter believes that awareness, education and resiliency training can lead to a healthy workplace. Tema Conter also released a statement regarding the passing of Bill 163- Ontario's First Responders Act, 2016:

"Toronto, Ontario - We would like to congratulate Honourable Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour, Honourable Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and MPP Cheri Di Novo, Parkdale/High Park for their tireless work in advancing this historic bill.

This legislation will authorize the Ministry of Labour to request and publish PTSD prevention plans from employers. It is our hope that these plans will require organizations to develop a comprehensive mental health wellness strategy, which include the enhancement of mental health awareness and stigma reduction, mitigation, intervention, accommodation and back-to-work policies and procedures.

We applaud this legislation, but we must remember that first responders may suffer from a variety of mental health issues, including, but not limited to cumulative stress, vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue. These stressors can be as debilitating as post-traumatic stress disorder. Currently, these stressors are not recognized in this legislation. We hope, that with time, these additional stressors will be recognized and included in future amendments."

Hooters Bikini Contest coming soon

The Downtown Toronto Hooters Bikini Contest is Wednesday, May 11, 2016. "It doesn't seem like it outside but it's bikini season at Hooters again! Come join us for our annual bikini contest and cheer for your favourite girl. Get your tickets now before they run out. Call us or ask your Hooters girl for more details!"


See previous contest photos here and here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

420 Toronto 2016

People pressed close together in Yonge-Dundas Square for the 10th annual comedy festival. The protest has become more of a victory celebration than a protest movement and crowds grew quickly as noon approached and the introductions and speeches began on the stage.
Chris Goodwin and Matt Mernagh (photo at top) shared their thoughts on the success of the event with Matt even promising to retire from the protest as it was no longer required, their best wishes have come true as the Liberal government promises to legalize pot.



Coming up on May 5, 2016 will be the Global Marijuana March at Queen's Park North. Gather at noon, march at 2pm.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Scotiabank Photography Award 2016

Finalists in the prestigious photography competition joined media and sponsors as they launched a new public art installation called Beyond The Frame at Queen and McCaul in Toronto. The Scotiabank Photography Award finalists for 2016 are Pascal Grandmaison, Suzy Lake and Jayce Salloum. This award recognizes established photographers in Canada's largest peer nominated and judged competition.
Jayce Sallows, Scotiabank's Ben Thompson and Suzy Lake

"At Scotiabank, we have witnessed, first hand, the powerful way that photography helps people connect with a moment in time. In 2010, we co-created the Scotiabank Photography Award, with Edward Burtynsky, to strengthen our commitment to the arts and to celebrate the creative vision and accomplishments of some of our country’s most gifted photographers," said Barbara Mason, Group Head and Chief Human Resources Officer at Scotiabank. "The finalists for this Award are artists who strive to invent, influence and redefine art in enduring ways." Ben Thompson, the Scotiabank branch manager of Small Business, announced the finalists and noted the artists' outstanding contribution to Canadian contemporary art and photography.
Suzy and Jayce stand at the window as their photos are projected onto the Scotiabank wall across the street

The winner will be announced at the Ryerson Image Centre on May 3, 2016 and will receive $50,000, an internationally distributed book and an exhibition at the 2017 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. The remaining finalists will recieve cash prizes of $10,000. Last year's winner - Angela Grauerholz, will have a solo primary exhibition at the 2016 CONTACT which will run from May 4 to August 21, 2016.
The temporary display of the artist's photographs will be projected on the outside wall of the Scotiabank branch bank at McCaul and Queen Street West until this Saturday, from 8pm to 11pm. People passing by will be able to see the gallery as they wander the busy area which is home to such attractions as ROM, OCAD and Much Music. Phone numbers will be posted with the photos where members of the public can text '?' to 1-855-800-2112 which directs people to the following video.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fashion Art Toronto

Fashion doesn't take a holiday, it just gets more fabulous. The annual festival is held every April and features runway shows, and other media installations with over 200 fashion designers and artists. This years event was April 12-16 and was held in Regent Park's Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas Street East.
"Fashion Art Toronto has a mandate of showcasing artistic disciplines rooted in fashion and their exploration of clothing in today’s time. The festival emphasizes this mandate through the showcase of fashion design, photography, installation, film, multi-media and performance in an effort to push forward and redefine our perception of the fashion phenomenon."

While the night started at 5:30pm, the runway fashion shows didn't start until after 7:30pm, until then they kept us in the hallway. After what seemed like forever, they finally let us into the hall of fashion,unfortunately they didn't have enough chairs for the people with tickets. Once the parades of fashions began, it finally became worth the wait.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs

Pride

Redball

Beaches

Graffiti

Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square

Transportation