Friday, October 30, 2009

"The New Eco Chic"

Yup, that's us! Or the title of an article on The About Face Collective and Regenesis by Maria Calleja in Alternavox Magazine. Check it out here .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Dire Consequences of Not Buying Ontario Garlic

Another artist/activist group I am a part of here in the city is The Dupont and Spadina Corner Collective ( We had been noticing that there is very rarely any local garlic available in grocery stores or even in produce stands in Kensington Market, and we couldn't understand why, since we knew that Ontario farmers definitely grew garlic.

Then, NOW magazine published an article about how China was sneakily getting around the law systems that would allow Ontario garlic growers to have a fair chance in the stores by shipping their garlic to India and elsewhere and then shipping it here. Local growers cannot compete with the low prices that cloves from China are priced at, and so Ontario growers are bumped out of the market and can only sell in local farmers markets most of the time.

To get the word out about local garlic, we produced this quick informational video,(courtesy of Neil Cavalier)!

Garlic: Ontario's Oppressed Herb from Neil Cavalier on Vimeo.


Enjoy and be informed!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Heart Beat 960 Gallery

I've just spent a lovely evening of music, poetry, food and friends in the basement-turned-fort of Heart Beat 960, one of the latest inspiring entrepreneurial ventures here in Toronto. Thanks to my friend Natalie Logan who works there, I've been introduced to the space and have fallen in love with it, not only aesthetically, but as a business model concept as a whole. Heartbeat is a cooperatively run gallery and event space featuring all locally made products including clothing, music, jewelery and various other local crafty items.

If you are a local artist looking for places to sell your stuff, or if you're looking for a cozy event space to host music or arts nights, I would highly recommend this little gem situated on Queen street west between shaw and ossington.

Contact info:

I heart you Heartbeat!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Like Art and the Earth?

Of course you do! Otherwise, you probably wouldn't be reading our blog. Perhaps you even sometimes like knowing what day it is (often a challenge for us creative types). Well, here's the opportunity of a lifetime - or at least of the year. Get yourself organized AND have some great art to look at. Make yourself a New Year's resolution and get started with The Yardfolk Calendar from our green designing friends at Squab Studio. Okay, let's be honest you may just end up having some great art to look at, but what the heck; you're supporting Earthroots in the preservation of wilderness, watersheds and wildlife in Ontario. Each calendar features trim-able, frame-able animal portraits by a great lineup of Toronto artists including Tammy Yiu, Danielle Hession, Mahmood Popal and our own Lauren Pirie, all of whom you may have seen exhibiting at our recent Art & Eco Fashion show in the distillery. Look for it at local retailers (list coming soon) in November or get more info from Squab here .

Business Advice for the Un-businessy

My friend Mike and I once had a very enlightening conversation. Mike is 25 and runs his own very successful Non-Profit called "Sustainable Waterloo", an environmental consulting group that helps tech companies in the Waterloo region voluntarily reduce emissions. Mike comes from a business background, and I from a liberal arts background. We have a lot of mutual respect for each other and what we bring to the table when it comes to being social and environmental innovators. There's just one catch: a person with business skills and an innovative, creative idea has a wayyy better chance of "making it" then does a liberal arts grad with innovative, creative ideas. Sad but true.

However, in that enlightening chat Mike and I had a while back, we talked about how necessary it is for the arts world to meet the business world, because the arts world often contains all of the liberal, new exciting ideas, and the business world has the tools and skills to make those ideas reality. Wouldn't it be great if Universities would pair liberal arts kids and business kids together a little more often to collaborate on projects in and out of the classroom?

In this same realm of merging the arts and business world together, York's YSEC (York's Sustainable Enterprise Consultants) are hosting a workshop for people with non-business backgrounds to talk about their ideas and explore business models that might work for them. (click here for the event brite website)

Facilitated by John Baker (Partner and Chief Executive of Aperio and member of the Faculty of the Schulich School of Business, York University), this introductory workshop will:

* explore different social enterprise models and how the 'numbers' change depending on the model

* examine ways to evaluate which model makes the most financial sense for your organization

* offer hands-on practice working with raw financial data

* demonstrate how to format finances in a way that is easier for other members of your organization or business to understand

* help you to understand finances as a process that creates sustainable social enterprises

* provide you with the foundation for future workshops in the "Finance is Sexy Workshop Series", including those on creating budgets, dealing with taxes, and accounting.

The About Face Collective will be there, and we'd recommend this workshop to any other artistically-backgrounded entrepreneurs with a creative vision who need the practical skills to get them to the next level!

See you there!

--Natalie and The About Face Collective

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Water | Bottles in my basket | Belated Nuit Blanche Bike Ride Reports

Oh water, water. In a country where we are so fortunate to have you flowing freely from our taps, isn’t it funny that we opt to pay more than we would for say… a cupcake to drink you out of a bottle? (Or if you prefer the square, flower-laden variety, opt to pay close to the equivalent of a modest sandwich) A plastic bottle, no less, which may be leaching potential carcinogens into you (and, well, therefore into you, yes you out there). A bottle made of non-renewable resources that once empty, will go on to litter our land and waterways, or be lovingly placed into my bicycle basket (there must be something about my “vintage” [read: broken] brown bike that says “this girl’s a willing hippie who will redeem your laziness and ensure that your recyclables make their way to the nearest receptacle”). Or in the best-case scenario, be shoved into the frequently overflowing Toronto recycle bins (perhaps this explains the apparent need to resort to the bicycle basket) and maybe go on to be recycled through a pollution creating, energy consumptive process. Silly, right?

Right. But, allow me to digress momentarily from the bottle banter while I acknowledge some contaminants that we Torontonians do face chances of encountering in our tap water. The ever-controversial fluoride is being thoroughly tackled by our friends over at Regenesis while the not-even-controversial-just-bad lead continues to infiltrate, especially in Toronto’s older neighbourhoods and buildings - the ones we at About Face are looking to inhabit (Visit Toronto's page on Lead in drinking water. We recommend following steps 4 & 5 whether or not you are pregnant or breastfeeding). It wasn’t sooo long ago that lead could be found in, well, pretty much everything; toys, household items, pipes… hmmm, kinda like plastic. You wouldn’t pay sandwich-equivalent prices to drink out of a lead cup, right? Just sayin.

But, we’ve all done it. Culprits of our love-affair with convenience. At least we’ve seen one good thing come of water bottles lately. Okay, I’m a little late reporting on this, but I’ve been busy (all that pouring of filtered water into reusable bottles takes time, you know). Chances are you either saw this first-hand last weekend at Nuit Blanche or in one of the many articles on Alexandra (Alita) González before and since anyhow. Her Trinity Bells installation made me happy with nostalgia for my 80s child affinity toward the glowing nubs (of plastic) that made for endless hours of entertainment with lite-brite creations.

And of course I offer a big high-five to Alexandra for the attempt to address the pollution and BPA issues with plastic bottles. How, though, does letting big kids move oversized rainbow coloured bottle-pegs around to create giant collaborative lite (sticking with the alternative spelling) images evoke health and environmental concerns? If you didn’t get it by playing, hopefully the visual and interactive success of González’s work inspired you to research further. And, well, I suppose you’re reading about it here.

More belated Nuit Blanche commentary tomorrow. Pour maintenant, bon nuit.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

San Francisco: A Model of Change

This coming year, I (Natalie) will be traveling across the United States and South America, working on Organic Farms and visiting cooperatives and exciting environmental initiatives which I will be sharing with all of you on this blog. One of the main places I would like to visit is San Francisco, as they have proven themselves to be a leader for environmentally-conscious urban living. As I looked for community groups in San Francisco to meet up with, I obviously came across their local ministry of the environment website, and was BLOWN AWAY with the accessibility of it, and how vast their resources and listings of the initiatives they are taking. Have a look for yourself. Below I've listed a web page that has a really cool link to a technology I've never heard of called SEE-IT which is AWESOME.

If you know of any artist/activist/eco-conscious initiatives or groups happening in the San Francisco area, please give me a shout!



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Art & Eco Fashion Show | Arta Gallery, Sept. 24

As many of you know, (based on the turnout, odds are good that you were there) we had our first major fund-raising event with Regenesis last week. If you were amongst the crowd, you know how incredibly talented and gracious our friends and contributors are. The Regenesis Art & Eco Fashion Show for The About Face Collective was one all-around fantastic and, well... well-rounded party - a testament to what's in the works for our Ecovillage/ Art Space. Thanks to all of you for your overwhelming support for this project. Good things are happening in Toronto and you could sure feel it at Arta Gallery last Thursday. (And it wasn’t just those Davids Tea tea-tinis)

Here are some highlight photos from the incredibly talented and gracious photographer James Kachan . You can see a whole load more here

About Face Collective Founders Natalie & Lauren

Councillor Adam Giambrone addresses the crowd

Natalie and Lauren telling our story

Claudia giving a few words from Regenesis
pre-fashion show

Multi-talented artist/ designer/ director/ dj
Justin Broadbent on the decks

The beautiful and talented contributing artist
Ms. Justyna Werbel

Toronto band Group of Seven kicks off the eve

The art auction wing with a prime view of
screen print by Tammy Yiu of Squab

A piece from About Face Collective creative director

Lauren Pirie

TV host, producer, activist and our emcee,

Kimberly Carroll & CityTV's Laura Lanktree with

handsome & talented musician/ director Josh Raskin

Contributing artists Justyna & Joy

A piece from the lovely Joy Broadbent

Great time in front of an amazing piece from

Mahmood Popal

Behind this handsome peaceful chap (we hear he's funny too);

a glimpse of some art by our friend Danielle Hession

Enoch Khuu, champion of everything

(namely functional event space design for the eve)

We love you Enoch.

Troy Jackson. What a gem.

Some food we liked.

Some boys we like.

One in particular.

The incredible Dr. Draw. Mind-blowing.

And now for the Fashion Show...

Hosted by the fantastic Laura Lanktree


69 Vintage


The Deadly Nightshades


Refinery Vintage

Harlow Black

The man behind the camera: James Kachan