Wednesday, 13 September 2017

"Pull Out all the Stops to Win Amazon HQ bid" says Toronto mayor John Tory ...ignoring Amazon's predatory business history

Or that's what the Toronto Star copy editor made of whatever Tory actually  said in the paper's Sept.8 issue. Words like "gigantic" and "leverage" ripple through the article along with the page 2 headlined "predictability and stability" (identified as Toronto's urban strength). That predictability and stability are the last words one would use to describe the megalomaniacal CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and the contradiction between Amazon values and those that made Toronto once one of North America's most "livable" cities seems to have eluded the Star writers in their eagerness to be seen as city boosters in these continuing neo-liberal times. Predatory capitalism and livable cities do not a happy matrriage make, however many jobs the former promises (and rarely delivers). Better enterprise that promises less quantity and more quality for citizens.      

Monday, 11 September 2017

Think Before you "Skip the Dishes" - you may be missing more than "hard labour"

It's a long time ago when family dinners went the way of extinct species, in that distant past before kids worked several part-times to  pay for school so they can to get a "real job", and before parents worked several jobs to put enough food on the table to give their kids enough nutrition to do the  several part-time jobs they did to get the real job that school was supposed to get them. Those multiple clauses reflect pretty well the degree of displacement from source of the dish-skipping process. In summary let us just note that It would be a sad downer if all this dish-skipping led to no job, or less job than the ancient species of dish doers did.

In fact it's so long ago that most North Americans did daily dishes it's surprising how long it's taken for services like Skip the Dishes (cooked food direct to your door without the waste of the cerebral and physical energy required by dish-making)  to show up. The issue is not so  much the disintegration of the family dinner (and of course the family, nuclear or other, with it). Nor is it necessarily one of quality, though it's hard to imagine quality being maintained when the food making is "outsourced." Quality aka "whole" food is now available, even if the recently Amazon acquired Whole Foods is less and less likely to be the provider and not just because it's too  expensive for the great majority of workers.  

The issue is what is the full impact of dish skipping on the dish skippers. Underlying the whole topic of dish-skipping is, predictably, economics. Those forced to dish-skip by the scant jobmarket will inevitably be less well fed. Dish skipping services are targeting those who don't have the money for decent restaurant food and who, therefore will be paying for cheaper food they know little or nothing about. In other words dish-skipping services are another form of disenfranchisement for the already disenfranchised. When we don't make our cultures, whether its through language or art or food they no longer do what culture us supposed to do - make us a home in the universe. And homelessness of any kind is bad for all it afflicts. A challenge for the many progressive food services in TorontotheBetter's directory, none of which are dishskippers, is to make quality food a personal option. We invite our visitors to check TorontotheBetter food services and let us know who, you think, iis doing the best job of re-patriating food for people.     

Monday, 4 September 2017

This labour Day Polish workers show the way in the fight against Amazon

See this recent English post by solidarity NGO Razem [Together] about resistance by Amazon workers in Poland.[]. Amazon is living up to its name and by its recent acquisition of fellow corporate giant Whole Foods it's literally swallowing up opposition. Say no to Amazon's unhealthy appetite for domination  

Saturday, 2 September 2017

A test case for progressive enterprise - the affordable Montreal optician

Recently Philippe Rochette a renegade Montreal optician (seen below in the comfortable home his profession has brought him) has become well-known for doing something markets are supposed to do, charge the lowest price for the goods sold, one that provides a fair price/affordability for the target buyers while covering costs (with profit, of course...) for the sellers.That Rochette's price for eyeglasses is widely less (- 90%) than the norm for the industry should, then, according to the fantasy of market theory mean that eventually all  opticians will soon charge this lower price. Stay tuned to see if it happens. There are too many problems with the theory to list them all here, but to start with we might ask why opticians have been charging so much in the past.

Of course, it is because they could and that is because opticians as a group  were happy with their gross profits. Now that somebody has broken ranks we have a test case for progressive, if not exactly social, enterprise (price is only one factor,  and arguably a subsidiary one, among social business criteria). But at least Rochette has identified a gap - affordable eyewear - which has prompted TorontotheBetter to explore other gaps in our social enterprise environment in Toronto. To check our current coverage look under the TorontotheBetter Product/Services listing here - and email what you find out to We have several food and travel listings but is there a socially responsible security firm or hairdresser out there? If so, we don't know about them...yet, As for opticians, after Rochette, let them prove  to us the rationality of markets by lowering their prices en masse.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Papal endorsement of Social Economy...?!

Revolutionaries  of the past must be rolling in their graves. We live in extraordinary times when it takes a pope to say what most politicians, schooled in neo-liberal orthodoxy refuse to, which is that the liquid modernity of transient engagements and mobile, consumer motivated attachments is bad for our social health. Progressive sociologist Zygmunt Bauman coined the "liquid" descriptor to capture the essence of consumer society. By comparison, a social economy as advocated by Pope Francis, where human values are built in throughout the economy, appears the best economic option available to us.

A mixed, private/public economy where the state is used to deal with problems such as sickness, unemployment and inequality left by the a-social, and anti-social character of private industry, had been an evolving  compromise option since the Great Depression of the 1930's. Whittled away by 30 years of neo-liberalism we now find ourselves with reduced caretaker states and increasing privatization. The only way towards a more solid, "social" economy, as advocated by Bauman (and the Pope and other "postcapitalist" voices like Paul Mason) is to "socialize" industry, by building social values into industrial norms instead of taking short-term gains at the expense of long term pain, which has been the norm in mixed economies. TorontotheBetter encourages a strong state along with an increasingly commercial enterprise sector, by championing those enterprises that make the leap from pure profit-making. A comprehensive social economy requires an engaged state to address basic needs such as health and education in addition to a social enterprise sector that will prevent problems such as unhealthy workplaces and unemployment before they occur.

There need be no contradiction between private and public sectors provided the private sector embraces  social as well as financial goals. We are not there yet. Until we are we must, and will, work for ecnomic socialization. Geting there is something TorontotheBetter will continue to identify ideas for, by championing those in  Toronto that have made the jump. All economies are social, it's just that some are anti-social...       

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Reaching out from city to city: TorontotheBetter supports the Common House project in London and commons movements everywhere

We recently received an appeal from the Radical Librarians Collective to support an important  community initiative in London where the horrific Grenfell Tower block fire recently killed and severely injured hundreds of inner city tenants. In solidarity from another city TorontotheBetter calls  on all to inform their networks others about initiatives like London's Common House, described below, that build commons where people are connected to others for the common good.
TorontotheBetter [ ] - building Toronto's social economy sine 2004

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [RLC-DISCUSS] Fwd: [radicaleducationforum] Fwd: Save the Common House - Emergency Crowdfunder
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 19:00:54 +0100
From: Radical Librarians Collective
From: "radicaleducationforum" (via radicaleducationforum Mailing List) <>
Date: 22 July 2017 at 20:26:34 BST
To: radicaleducationforum <>
Subject: [radicaleducationforum] Fwd: Save the Common House - Emergency Crowdfunder
Dear all,

As you may or may not know our radical community space The Common House is under threat. The loss of a large grant that was making up the majority of our funding mean that we urgently need cash in order to keep the space open.

The Common House provides space to a number of amazing groups and continues to provide a place for peer support, political organising, creating and learning across radical communities in East London and beyond.

We think it's important to maintain this space and not be driven out to some inaccessible margins. Today we are launching an emergency crowdfunder to keep us going in the short term while we source more sustainable funding through grants and other means.

Please help us by spreading the word, sharing widely through your networks and contributing if you are able.

In love and solidarity,

Common House emergency fundraising crew
For more details visit
To get in touch, please email
To unsubscribe from this list, go to

Sunday, 16 July 2017

As Whole Foods Degrades Better Food Shopping Options Survive in the GTA

A supermarket with a good food mission - Mississauga's Goodness Me location continues the tradition of social commerce this Canadian enterprise started in downtown Hamilton in the 1980's.
As American natural foods giant Whole Foods (aka "whole pay cheque") disappears into the jaws of predator capitalist Amazon a different story can be found in less glamorous surroundings in the GTA. It is not the practice of TorontotheBetter to make recommendations among featured enterprises but as former "ethical" enterprise options erode an example of evolved commercial integrity in the GTA should not be ignored. Founded in downtown Hamilton over 20  years ago and now present in the Mississauga and several other locations in southern Ontario, fair trade enterprise Goodness Me! commits to creating "the healthiest offering possible" and acting with "integrity, respect, and sincerity" while working with its customers, staff and suppliers.       

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Musical instrument lending libraries in Toronto and other Ontario cities expand the "loaner-ship" social economy

Toronto is among several Canadian cities, most recently Kitchener-Waterloo, where as well as their traditional books and videos public library borrowers can find musical instruments for their playing and learning pleasure. This augments the tool libraries and non-profit carshare organizations that are growing fast as mainstream ownership economics makes less and less sense for more and more. The logical conclusion of this wave is a library of everything. Stay tuned to this space for more social economy news. Like our favourite music the social economy loan-not-own option is catchy, and catching on.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Middle Class...enough already

"Working class Americans [and Canadians] know they're working class. It's elites who want to pretend everybody is middle class" from "Sleeping Giant: How the Working Class Will Transform America" (2016) by Tamara Draut.

Perhaps we should be pleased that Canada's prime minister and other more or less populist politicians have re-discovered "class", although, of course, that is the reality we all live, for better or worse, every day. Having acknowledged this "good", however, the "bad" of today's talk about class is far worse. Instead of abolishing class division, which is in plain language a hierarchy of inequality, Trudeau and the Liberal  Party want to increase the middle class and to enrol in it the unfortunate others, re-conceived by them as "wannabemiddleclass". To the conceptual idiocy of this (Hello, Justin - there can be no middle class without the wretched excluded, now called wannabemiddleclass) Trudeau either willfully blinds himself (put your money on this option) or somehow missed it in his various life journeys (about as unlikely as him thinking he would  wind up as the primary school  teacher he once, temporarily, was). The reason for his "blindness" follows below. 

1. Power and income are different, though in class  societies closely related. The reason Trudeau wound up as prime minister, not as teacher, is that being middle class is about power, not income. And the habit of power - connections, language, style - cannot be bought; it is learned and lived from an early age. Everybody knows this, children  too (except Trudeau, it seems). Middle income auto workers are wage slaves and are not  middle class - that requires the  the authority that comes from having the power to make the big decisions in their organizations, most fundamentally the power to hire and fire.
2. To admit that income (e.g. a lottery win) will never make you middle class would amount to a recognition that middle class wannabes are fantasizing and can never achieve what they supposedly want, according to Trudeau.  That's why he can't, and won't, admit it; to do so would be to accept that this class society has winners and losers, something that makes some of the middle class uneasy. The comforting  myth of social mobility runs aground in the sea of social classes. Our sought and struggled for social economy must be based on recognition, respect and rewards for the working class, not just Trudeau's incessantly celebrated middle class peers. 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Ouishare opens in Paris on July 5 - Celebrate the Commons with TorontotheBetter (and the world)

If co-operativism brought democratic democratic participation to the industrial economy in the nineteenth century  then our globally connected knowledge economy  needs a new form of participation: the commons. The world has more goods than anybody could ever use but thousands starve and suffer for lack of basics like clean drinking water. Something is wrong. The only solution is to make less and give away more of what we have, to make them available to all. On July 5, join Torontothhebetter and the world in celebrating the commons economy at the global Ouishare

                                            It's in Paris, but we are all  part of it. Join us.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

TorontotheBetter Welcomes the North American Indigenous Games to Toronto - July 16-23

  [Photograph courtesy of www,]
A first for Toronto and a plus for this city. so much to learn and participate in with first nations friends and neighbours.  See for details.

Advocating for minds and bodies in the Greater Toronto Peel Region - On June 21 support the new video project of the Peel Poverty Action Group

Making a video about mental health in Peel was suggested at Peel Poverty Action Group (PPAG) recently.
It would be something like PPAG's homeless video Spaces and Places: Uncovering Homelessness in the Region of Peel, about 15 mins, to be taken to community organizations by someone with lived experience. As currently envisaged, the video will deal with Peel issues, be made in Peel with local people, and be shown here.
Interested so far:  Andre Lyn (who worked on the homeless video), Laura Guerrero and Mayo Hawco of Bramalea Community Health Centre (BCHC), and me for PPAG.
BCHC would like to show the video to men in bars.
Any organization or individual who has ideas about a video — what issues need to be in it, how can the ideas be presented, who will take the video to audiences and speak knowledgeably about it — is invited.
Meeting to take place in the cafeteria at the Regional Building, 7120 Hurontario, (just north of Derry) at 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 21.                                                                                                  
For more info call  905-826-5041 and see
For more on poverty in Peel see this video: 


Friday, 16 June 2017

Tool Libraries pave the Way to a New Economy - report from the Toronto Lending Library Symposium

Library, (tool and others) representatives from around the world came to Toronto on Saturday June 11. And for all the differences between Honolulu Hawaii, Edinburgh Scotland, Kitchener Ontario, Oregon, U.S., Hanover Germany and our very own Toronto they spoke with one voice: the library is an economic tool that more and more see and use as a solution for tough economic times. Why? In a planet that is rapidly being exhausted loaning what we have int the lending library is a way to conserve the environment when owning more stuff does not. More and more young people get it and are talking about minimalism, a rejection of consumer spending that suits their limited pocket books and their millennial environmental awareness. TorontotheBetter salutes this planetary advance guard.  Is consumerism dead? No. But it's on its death legs. We wish it a speedy end.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

What's Pizza Got to Do With IT? - sports stars and endorsements



= ???

There was a time when star professional athletes had a short life and few. or no, guaranteed earnings when they had to stop playing. With million dollar contracts commonplace for elite sportspeople it aint so now. So why are athletes like Lebron James, who would never lack for food even if he never got another paycheque, hustling things like pizza (Blaze Pizza), or, as in a previous sponsorship, hamburger (for McDonalds). Unlikely hamburger or pizza were the recommended healthy food for a long athletic life. Why compound your money slavery when you're already thoroughly enslaved to the sport? Sure there are the foundations some have set up, but which tail is waging which dog here? And why?       

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

New economy activists - please join us at Toronto's June 9 Lending Library Symposium

TorontotheBetter welcomes other activist library organizations engaged in our struggle for a new economy that works for all. For details see

Congrats to the Toronto Tool Library and their IRBE partners contributing to loanership in Toronto

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Loanership vs. Ownership - towards sustainable economics through commons "ownership"

Author Peter Barnes is a proponent of the world's commons [plural]. To make his point that there is much (in fact arguably all) of our world that is just given and so not any individual's or group's property he entitled one of his books "Who Owns the Sky?" Obviously to ask the question this way is to answer it: nobody. Barnes concludes that it is for this reason (non-ownership) that we have been so profligate with nature since the industrial revolution. What was once seemingly infinite is now becoming scarce and finite, with species disappearing and glaciers melting.

As a businessperson Barnes' solution to this problem is to charge for the "use"/ misuse of the sky, something akin to a carbon tax on atmospheric use/pollution. Whatever the logistical difficulties this is an appealing suggestion. But it is inadequate to its ambition because it essentially risks reducing essentials like the sky to tradeable commodities and thus fails what we may call the philosophical test. The sky is not a commodity; if we think it is we can trade it away. A better answer and one that imposes a barrier on misuse is that the sky, indeed the whole universe is a common trust. As such exchange is an inappropriate way of regulating its use. Neither the use-, nor the exchange-, value of the sky or rivers or forests can, or should be, quantified. A better model for their economic role is that of the commons. Once intentionally  allocated to the garage-bin of history by "non-commoners" the commons is back in popular discourse for a good reason: the fragility of our eco-system. A better economic concept for our "use" of the common earth than that of the commodity the loan. The world and all therein must be seen as a temporary loan which, as in a library it is. It is our responsibility to return it as un-reduced as possible.

In fact the largely informal social contract of the loan/trust is the key concept that has historically restrained us from destroying what we cannot live without. Inscribed in indigenous beliefs it was rejected by western economics. Time to re-learn it, if indeed there still is time. We have to learn to loan more and restrain the habit of ownership that was normalized when the agricultural commons were enclosed in the 18th century. If what is in the world is becoming scarce then, as Barnes and Nobel prize-winner Elinor Ostrom understood, the commons model of universal group ownership must be championed if we are to survive as a species. And to achieve this we must loan more and own less, in that ownership is a form of separation of something that is integral - the earth.

Extending commons of various forms is the challenge of the 21st century. Unless we do this we are doomed, socially and existentially. We must loan or, in the term used by libraries we must circulate what we have instead of consuming it. In so doing we will be closer to nature as circulation is what nature does. And before the predictable response of "get real" to this principle is heard the reality is that in fact the new economics is already happening in several places, including Mondragon and Chiappas, and with the library model being extended in recent years to knowledge (influenced by the success of the Internet) and material items like seeds, cars, bikes and tools. Will it be long before we are impressing our neighbours by how much we loan rather than how much we own. For survival's sake it must be sooner rather than later.

As for Barnes' book you can buy it from our worker co-op (much better than corporate predator Amazon) . But much better than owning of course is borrowing it from your local branch of the Toronto Public Library.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

With NAFTA to be re-negotiated remember Canadian farmer hero Percy Schmeiser

Back at the beginning of the new millennium Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser had the guts to take on corporate giant Monsanto about their allegation of patent infringement; his crops grew with Monsanto fertlizer accidentally blown onto his farm, for which Monsanto took him to court. Schmeiser fought the case and lost in Canada's Supreme Court but stood out as a model for all who value political independence and GMO-free agriculture.Worth remembering as Canada is set to embark on another bout of the sovereignty forfeiture called NAFTA. For details see:

Friday, 26 May 2017

Congrats to Studio89 for May 24 better economy (minimal consumption) workshop

TorontotheBetter co-op members were pleased to join others at TorontotheBetter directory participant Studio 89's panel discussion, moderated by Jazzmine Lawton, on living "stuff-emancipated" (minimalist) lives. With 24/7 consumer advertising beamed at young and old alike everywhere in this still new-ish century, independent voices of resistance to consumer-mania are more important than ever as pathways to a better way of living and a more social economy. TorontotheBetter plans future events in partnership with the Studio and others of our many hundred strong progressive business sector.  
 For more information about Studio89 see the TorontotheBetter directory at
TorontotheBetter - building Toronto's social economy since 2004.
Our Toronto includes the GTA 

Monday, 22 May 2017

On gift boxes, little libraries and anti austerity movements - a new economy is coming?

Change takes a long time and lasting change rarely comes all at once, never without struggle. The appearance in recent years, particularly after the financial collapse of 2008, of alternative to mainstream economic forms, be they "sharing" or giving, or swapping, are signs of a groundswell of change in some attitudes, ideas and behaviours arising from the now pretty universally acknowledged inequality of our times. Gift boxes and little free libraries arise from the awareness of those who recognize more or less consciously the existence of a polar degree of inequality in today's society - Occupy's 1%-99% divide. That such initiatives are tiny gestures, rather than serious endeavours to prevent poverty does not diminish their significance as a symptom of unease in the population, specifically that portion of the population that are culturally prepared and experienced enough to make change if they wished to. Some portions of the middle class are barometers of the stresses felt much more savagely and regularly by the poor. It was the case in the previous millennium of world wars and revolutions and the pattern's consequences could repeat in the absence of hindsight.

Symptom recognition is a necessary preliminary for remedial action but symptom recognition is not solution. As a recent article in the Journal of Radical Librarianship pointed out, most free libraries appear in relatively affluent neighbourhoods. The same is likely true for "Gift Boxes" too. They represent a liberal response to the fact of radical inequality that lacks the muscle to turn back the force of right-wing populism fuelling further class-based economic warfare of the kind the US president has been engaged in. The only serious response that will produce change must be political and structural. So far the necessary political movement for economic equality has not emerged but the ground is shifting and while insufficient in themselves enough logs can make an economic fire that will, in the words of the poet, change things utterly.

Little free libraries and give boxes will solve little in themselves but they are clues to a future world, that other, better world that is possible and actual sometimes, somewheres.        

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Closing Words

Thank you readers and friends for tuning in and reading my blog posts this year. I learned a lot these past few terms about self motivation and finding the necessary assets to complete tasks. These tasks include making flyers, sending out emails to respective clients, and writing about hot topics in our community. My supervisor, Tim McGraw was very helpful in meeting with me to discuss assignments and how I could improve the quality of my work with a disciplined work ethic. I notably observed the importance of utilizing the assets already available to you like the library, FedEx Stores and home supplies when starting your own campaign or project in Toronto. Cruyff Court Toronto is expanding rapidly so make sure to check out our website at

Thank you. More pics on the way!


Monday, 15 May 2017

Canada is Back??? Climate Change Wishing and Climate Change Acting

Well, from climate change-denying to "sunny" statements about the inseparability of economic and environmental well-being is progress of a kind. But a detached observer might wonder about the practical difference between climate deniers and wishful thinkers. With an economy, like Canada's, that is largely built on fossil fuel extraction the leap to carbon neutrality will not be pain-free or quick. Better to face up.

To buoy up any flagging spirits it's important to recognize important measures where they do exist.
A recent article from For A Better World magazine
called "Sustainable Public Procurement: An Understated and Effective Way to Grow Fair Trade" identifies several Canadian public institutions committed to sourcing fair trade supplies. Read it and encourage similar action in your region. We all have  a role to play in creating a fairer economy, individuals, organizations and industry. To find the TorontotheBetter enterprise where you can get your own free copy of the magazine/article mentioned above email with Procurement in the subject line.

TorontotheBetter [] - supporting Toronto's social economy since 2004.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Public or private? - a real storm in tough economic times

 Western governments, led by neo-liberal leaders of all stripes since at least the 1980's have reduced expenditures in real  terms by cutting taxes, while axing some services and charging for others. As a result supporters of the public good, which no political party can be guaranteed to serve, are faced with a dilemma: agitate for public action to address human need, or act independently. This is a dilemma as old as modern government and did not exist in medieval times, when peasants' revolts against high handed aritocrats were the only option.

A recent and revealing example in this 21st century age of the "Great Recession"  is the storm over an apparently teacup sized issue is the hot debate in some media about "little free libraries," as raised by a Toronto native, Jane Schmidt. Should those with the resources to do so create such book oases in areas already, even if inadequately, served by public libraries, or should they agitate for more of them in under-served areas that need them? The debate, framed as such is answered by posing it. Of course we should do both;how could one stop them? In the dirty 1930's should the soup  kitchen providers have argued against the New Deal? Of course not, and they didn't. The long run is not the short run and as far as we know Keynes was right: in the long run we'll all be dead.

The strategic question metaphorically buried in these little book boxes is a serious one that must be part of any progressive action. what  to do for the best for the most. Best to pull the drowning out of the water, yes, whether it's food  for the mid or the body, but make sure you have a plan to prevent further drownings. In history well meaning governments have been changed or have been corrupted. We can't ignore the need to do something when they're not available. Like now.         

Monday, 1 May 2017

Copyright and the economy - from the Creative Commons summit - Day 3

There was much food for thought (and action) in the session on copyright and trade agreements on the summit's last day. Ostensibly, trade agreements like NAFTA and CETA and the many others that have been  signed by Canada and other nations in recent years are designed to remove tariff and other barriers to exchange in the interests of cheaper products and so more efficient trade..A na├»ve observer might wonder then why one  key barrier to exchange, copyright law, continues to exist in most "developed" countries.

So-called free trade agreements, the Creative Commons workshop was told, generally ignore the issue of intellectual property. While Creative Commons groups in several of the countries represented at the conference work for the abolition of copyright protections on the grounds that it is not just or fair to remove important knowledge from the many in the world who, for reasons of poverty, location and skill (often all three) are unable to benefit from what in many cases can be life and death determining. There have been several instances in recent years of lifesaving drugs that are held hostage, through high pricing, by pharmaceutical companies, much of whose research and many of whose researchers, have been supported by public funds. 

The obvious concluding opinion of the audience, if not yet of their national governments, was, in the interests of the many, to abolish copyright protection as a whole and institute a default creative commons. Fair use extensions and exceptions to copyright are not enough. The health and wellbeing of too many around the world are at stake. Is copyright not an enemy of a truly social economy?  

For those looking for altrenatives to Copyright an increasing number of alternative content licenses are now available at including CopyLeft and Sharealike. There is life in commons, beyond private property, both for real estate and for knowledge.                             

Creative Commons conference in Toronto-DAY 2: Co-ops and the Creative Commons: can the movements work together?

Like Torontothbetter many of those attending the Creative Commons Summit, and seeking copyright free access to knowledge, had their feet, and hearts, in both co-op and commons movements and want both to  succeed. In some ways, the Creative Commons movement is a generational and virtual translation of the co-op impulse to achieve an independent presence for the the hitherto voiceless, whether it be through economic action, as did/do the consumer and worker co-operatives of the 19th century and beyond, or through open communications as does the creative commons of our times.

For all  the overlapping historical ground  of the two movements, however, those at the co-ops and commons workshop at the 2017 Summit in Toronto on April 29, including representatives from Argentina, Japan, England, China, Poland, Australia, Chile, Canada, Tanzania, and the Netherlands, among other countries, the historical  and cultural differences of the two  movemennts were posed as challenges by TorontotheBetter. Co-operative priorities are democractic participation and solidarity, the commons' are opennesss and inclusion. These differences are not necessarily barriers to collaboration but can only enable deep solidarity if they are understood as distinct. On a positive note, and as a basis for concrete progress toward fuller collaboration, the audience at the workshop agreed that equality is a unifying principle that underlies both movements and offers a solid basis for collaborative action in the future.          

Please contribute your thoughts in response to this post and/or write your own post (request author rights to this blog by return email with Request in the Subject line).
TorontotheBetter                                                                                         - Building Toronto's Social Economy since 2004.      

Saturday, 29 April 2017

TorontotheBetter welcomes global Creative Commons summit in Toronto

The global summit of the Creative Commons movement opened in Toronto on April 28 with keynote speakers including Alek Tarkowski (pictured above) from Poland (venue of the 2011 summit). Several hundred guests from around the world have gathered at Toronto's Delta Hotel to plan the future of a growing worldwide initiative to make open intellectual, resources available to all. As an example of the openness of the Creative Commons idea Tarkowski recounted how in 2004, as a young man from Poland he was accepted as a contributor to the struggle for copyright reform through the development of open licensing. Though the creative commons movement started with the impulse to make knowledge available to all in an Internet linked world TorontotheBetter welcomes its growth as a stimulus to, and a model for, more holistically inclusive social and economic development worldwide.

Since the eighteenth century the world has undergone ongoing struggles against the socially and economically excluding forces of enclosure and here in Ontario, three centuries later, we witness new examples of continuing privatization/enclosure such as the Ontario government's recent sell-off of public hydro resources. Commons offer a path that can avoid the recently all too obvious costs, including inequality, pollution and waste, of market-centred development models. As the right to Internet access continues its journey, hopefully inevitable, towards acceptance as a basic human right, TorontotheBetter recognizes the presence in our city of the Creative Commons summit as a marker in this city's Toronto's evolution as a holistic social economy. Through our website, and related activities we renew our commitment to the task of progressive city building.

Toronto the Good: not so. TorontotheBetter: better.            


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

4th anniversary of the Rana Plaza murders - some Canadian companies still refuse to reveal theiir suppliers

Mark's and Sport Chek (aka Canadian Tire) are among them. Check the Labour Start bulletin at and let's do what we can to make Canada's new "sunny ways" bring light, air and justice to garment workers in Bangladesh.

Notice to the "Sharing Economy":: Renting Is Not Sharing

We've already called in this space for de-missioning of at the now universally popular (in government, education and business circles) word "innovation" and its cognates - so popular it's not at all innovative (it may be insulting, but true to say this). Another term to put into the garbage bin of history is the "sharing economy". As popularly practiced and promoted, by enterpeises like Uber and Airbnb, social economy is simply a kind of rental. The appropriate word for it is the French renatbilite, the capacity to make money/profit from something. It is much more accurate than the ambiguous English word sharing with its slippery mix of the technical and the ethical. Write this on your walls: Renting is not Sharing.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Common Law Training Workshop (canceled)

Unfortunately we've had to canceled the workshop. We were bitting off more then we could chew with this one and are currently unprepared for it. We will hopefully hold one some time in the summer. 
Common Law Training Workshop

Workshop No. 1

Sovereignty, Self Government and the Common Law: The Theory and Practice of Popular Assemblies and Common Law Courts

Workshop No. 2:

The Common Law Court: Operation and Enforcement

Workshop No. 3:

Campaigns, Direct Action and Building the Common Law Republic

When: Saturday April 29 9am – 5:30pm
          (1st workshop starts 9:30am)  

Where: Treehaus Collaborative Workspace
            79 Joseph st. Kitchener

Friday, 21 April 2017

Join TorontotheBetter's year of the commons at the global Creative Commons conference in TO starting Friday April 28


Creative Commmons 2017, a celebration of all that's free and open, or isn't but should be, will  take place in the Delta Hotel, 75 Lower Simcoe Street. To find TorontotheBetter just go to the Registration desk and ask for directions, or check our Friday update to this blogpost.
For more information about the conference see   
 The Commons - beyond public and private

Monday, 17 April 2017

Common Law Training Workshop

Common Law Training Workshop

Workshop No. 1

Sovereignty, Self Government and the Common Law: The Theory and Practice of Popular Assemblies and Common Law Courts

Workshop No. 2:

The Common Law Court: Operation and Enforcement

Workshop No. 3:

Campaigns, Direct Action and Building the Common Law Republic

When: Saturday April 29 9am – 5:30pm
          (1st workshop starts 9:30am)  

Where: Treehaus Collaborative Workspace
            79 Joseph st. Kitchener

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Soccer News Today from ESPN and ABC

Some interesting news in the soccer world today. Bournemouth is recovering from a 4-0 loss to the increasingly powerful Spurs team that continues to dominate on the field thanks largely to the return of their starring player Harry Kane and Bournemouth's inability to make enough shots on net. In other news, there was an arrest made after a Germany bombing loaded with metal pins near the team bus of Borrussia Dortmund. One of the team's players was seriously injured and there has been more investigation with two new suspects from the Islamic community. Elsewhere, Arsene Wenger from the London Arsenal club is looking at new contract deals with other teams. Paul Mariner from believes a trade must be made to replace Wenger with Diego Simeone, a huge motivator and leader on the soccer grounds. Be sure to follow our blog as more soccer and other news will be posted.

Thank you,


For more worldwide soccer news please check out ESPN or

Bcome a Toronto "Sustainist"


As defined by Canadian researcher/writer Jeremy Caradonna in his 2014 book Sustainability:a History [available by emailing postmaster@TorontotheBetter] sustainists seek "safe and livable cities with abundant green spaces; buildings that produce their own energy; public transportation networks to decrease reliance on cars; agricultural systems that can produce enough food to meet human needs without genetically modfied mechanisms or monoculture and without degrading soils and waterways with petrochemicals; and a healthy environment." [p.5].  

Tell us what you're doing by commenting on this post and/or emailing to take up the challenge and become a Toronto Sustainist.