Monthly Archives: February 2015

Eliminate Food Banks!

In our book, “Voices Matter,” the subject of food banks is mentioned:

“Look at the Food Bank – now you can’t choose what you want, they give you prepackaged bags … people don’t use everything because it’s not what they like.  A lot of the cans are dented.  People don’t want dented cans because the inside of the cans are coated with chemicals …  The Food Bank gives you what they have.”

There are a host of issues that go with any food bank.  This includes collecting and storing the food, finding people to manage and distribute the operation, and the lack of choice – as mentioned above.  When you go to a food bank, you take what they give you.

How can food banks be improved?

Maybe the best improvement would be to get rid of food banks altogether.

There was a recent article in the Toronto Star (link provided below) that describes a program set up in Woodstock, Ontario.   In a nutshell, “Food for Friends” uses cash donations to fund gift cards that can be used to buy groceries.

Recipients ate able to choose whatever non-taxable items they want.  This program seems to eliminate most, if not all, of the issues with food banks.

As I read the article, I thought that this sounds a lot like a version of the American food stamps program.   Why aren’t we adopting this for use in all our communities that need it?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Here’s the article:

Free 3D Cover Maker

FREE online 3D book cover generator   Creativindie Book Covers FULL

This is too cool to not share right away. I wanted to create a 3D image of our book (“Voices Matter”, that is) for use in various places.  So I did the Google, and I found a great free resource.  It’s easy to use, and you can see the results for yourself.  And yes, it is free.

I took a quick glance at this site, and it looks like a great resource for authors.  Check it out sometime!

Here’s the link to the Cover Creator:

The Voluntary Sector

We put together our book, “Voices Matters”, for a number of reasons. One reason was to bring up issues and concerns related to our community. Now that our book is published and available for sale (not too subtle a plug, is it?), we’re looking for answers and information.

The role of government and providing services was mentioned on pages 154 to 156 (yes, another shameless plug). Michelle Dagnino, the Executive Director of the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre has written a great article on this topic. I’ll post the link at the end of this post.

In the interests of transparency, I am a member of the Centre’s Board of Directors. I have heard Ms. Dagnino make many of these points at various times. She pulls them all together in this article, which saves me the trouble of collecting and transcribing the scribbles I’ve made listening to her.

The article opens by explaining the importance of the voluntary sector, and how this sector is being hard hit by government cutbacks.

Once she outlines the problems and challenges facing the sector, Ms. Dagnino offers three suggestions to improve the situation. And they are great suggestions. They are so great that I will not summarize them here, but instead urge you to read the article.

Before I present the link, let me toss in my two cents. I agree with every suggestion made. The only suggestion I would add is that in order to bring any of this to fruition, we need to get people engaged and putting pressure on all levels of government. I think a key function of the voluntary sector is to pull people into their communities, and give them a greater sense of purpose. They need to know the issues, and how to make their voices matter.

And with that last shameless plug out of the way, here’s the link:

Our book is on sale!

This is interesting. has put our book on sale. It’s selling for $13.50 (U.S), which is ten percent off list price.

I have no idea how long this will last, so let me summon my inner salesman and suggest that you buy now.

Here’s the link: Voices Matter


Two great books for self-publishers

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog that sought to fill creators with the urge to forge forward. If you didn’t read it, you can find it here:

Go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back.


See?  I didn’t go anywhere.

Near the end of that article, I suggested people be persistent and “Get books on marketing.”

But I did not mention any specific titles.

So let me mention two books that I’ve found really helpful in a number of ways. Better yet, if you’re not quite ready to shell out for copies, both authors provide lots of awesome free resources.

The first book is Unleash the Artist Within, by Bob Baker. This is just one of the many books written by Bob, and he hit it out of the park here.

“Unleash” contains twenty eight lessons, with the idea that in four weeks, the reader could transform their “creative talents into more recognition, more profit and more fun.” As you can see, Bob has a way with words. His writing style is engaging, friendly and practical.

I could go on, but I’ll let Bob sell you instead. Go to and you’ll find all kinds of free information there.

The second book is “Sell Your Book Like Wildfire”, by Rob Eagar. The title suggests that this book has a more narrow focus than “Unleash.” However, the author has recently released a video that suggests the principles in this book can be used to sell anything. I’d have to agree.

On his website, Rob claims “this is THE bible of book marketing.”  The basic premise is that you need to determine the value of your book. Once you do that, the book is packed with all kinds of marketing ideas to help you find your audience, and sell to them. This includes how to prepare for interviews, how to use Amazon, and marketing tips for fiction.

If you go to, you’ll see that there is all kinds of great free information. Make sure to sign up for the weekly newsletter.

I own both books. I feel that “Unleash” works really well as a motivational tool and a creativity booster, with a lot of good marketing ideas. “Wildfire” is all about the sale, and may be the only book you really need from a marketing standpoint.

These are my two “go-to” books. If anyone has other suggestions, let me know about them in the comments.

Thanks for reading!


Here’s the book!

Voices Matter

This is the result of our first foray into self-publishing.

Not Newsworthy

One of the main reasons Jane-Finch On The Move was formed was to change the media perception of our community. Bad enough that “Jane-Finch” had become a code word for “bad neighbourhood”, but it seemed that the only time the media noticed Jane-Finch was when something bad happened. And nothing got attention like a shooting.

When JFOTM held a neighbourhood forum in September 2007, we were surprised that various members of the media attended. As Chair, I had to deal with microphones and raised pencils. Why the turnout? There had been a shooting nearby only a few days earlier.

We would hold two more forums over the next year or so. Fortunately for the neighbourhood, there weren’t any shootings in the days beforehand.  Unfortunately for us, no media appeared.

I mention this because I got an email from a friend and JFOTM member a few days ago. She now lives in the Lawrence Avenue West-Allen Road area (Lawerence Heights). She was concerned that there had been three shootings in her neighbourhood within the past few weeks, plus a neighbourhood man had been shot and killed while out in Hamilton.

I wanted more information, so I got to Googling. One of the shootings happened on Neptune Drive.  Using “Neptune Drive”, I found a number of news accounts going back to 2007. This included the 2010 murder of a 16 year old boy who was killed by three other 16 year olds. A 46 year old man was shot when standing in the lobby of a Neptune Drive building last August.

When I changed the search to “Lawrence Heights”, most of the results were about the July 2014 shooting death of Abshir Hassan. He was a substitute teacher who died going out to move his car. Police reports indicated he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This death made the front pages at the time.

How about all those other shootings? I found a Globe and Mail article titled “Toronto’s New Murder Capital”, which was about the spate of murders in an area that included this section of Lawrence Avenue. It was written in 2009.

The point is that while I knew Lawrence Heights was a “rough area”, I didn’t know it was like this. Back when Jane-Finch seemed to be a “Murder Capital”, every death made the front pages.

Now it’s only newsworthy if the victim is very young, or is “not targeted.” Otherwise, it gets stunted to the back pages, if mentioned at all.

Does this mean we are getting used to gun violence? Does this mean we are willing to let select areas of our city slowly drift into a lawless state where bullets rule and people cower in fear?

Toronto is still seen as one of the safest cities in the world, with The Economist calling us Number One.  I guess it’s all relative. How safe does my friend feel living near Neptune Drive?

There are no easy solutions to the scourge of gun violence. This shouldn’t mean we give up trying.