2nd Annual ReFashioned Event!

It’s that time of year again! Join us for our second annual ReFashioned: A Night of Live Fashion

We bring you a a night of beautiful clothes, delicious eats, local brews that include LB’s own crafted wine, and an amazing DJ all to celebrate an exciting year and to support a great organization, Maison l’Arc en Ciel in Haiti.

Come find out the how the year has changed the LB with a Haitian photo shoot, bow ties, and beyond!

There will be a silent auction featuring Toronto’s greatest in sports, arts, culture, food and indulgence. All proceeds will go to Maison l’Arc en Ciel, a Haitian based not for profit working with children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Maison l’Arc en Ciel works to combat the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS through education and awareness. http://www.maisonlarcenciel.org/site2english.html

Ticket prices include open bar and delicious hors d’eouvres catered by Emma’s Eatery.

Get your tickets in advance! $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Tickets available at: http://localbuttonsrefashioned.eventbrite.com/

We look forward to seeing you there!

Where: 1266 Queen St West
When: Friday November 30th, 2012 from 8pm-1:30am

Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/353458528082665/
Follow us on Twitter: @localbuttons
Search us on the web: www.localbuttons.ca
Contact: info@localbuttons.ca


Bullying our Planet

Picking up trash for WWF's Shoreline Cleanup

Almost all of our experiences link together to further inform and engage us. We can choose to pull from the experiences and create links or we can simply react to each situation. I found myself drawing correlations between the following two separate experiences earlier this month:

The first weekend of October I took part in WWF’s Shoreline Cleanup initiative. Early one Saturday afternoon I, along with a few friends, made my to Ward’s Island to pick up trash. Along the way we were able to witness not one, but two, bridal brigades usher themselves onto the ferry and over to the island for photo ops.  Not exactly a regular Saturday  morning (the trash pickup), but it sure did provide for a weekend of retrospect. While picking up the scraps of other’s past experiences carelessly left behind, or those that washed up from the lake, left me wondering about the lingering effects of our polluting ways. An overwhelming amount of what we retrieved from the sand was cigarette butts and straws. Tossed aside with little thought, these seemingly inconsequential acts of dropping a butt in the sand have long lasting effects.

Birds, fish and other wildlife may ingest the tossed remnants. They get washed into street drains making their way to our water sources and de-beautify our parks where dogs roam, children play and hipsters lounge.

Earlier this month I also learned that a former highschool classmate remains hurt from the bullying he faced on a daily basis through his 6 years of middle and high school life. Hearing the negative lingering effect of the taunting, made me realize that what we are doing to our planet is bullying. Just as a bruise may heal and tears may dry, the emotional rigours of verbal and physical assault remain with a person indefinitely. It is hard to shake. When we pollute and pillage the earth the scars remain. The oil may stop spilling, the cyanide may become diluted in the lake, or the trash removed from the shoreline, but the lingering, hidden and often most detrimental problems prevail.

We may attempt to sweep up the mess, but what is desperately needed in both planet and human bullying is to engage in preemptive initiatives-Work on dealing with root causes, rather than the bandaid solutions.

Of course there are initiatives, and many working tirelessly advocating for safer and more welcoming environments. Here are a few links to name a few….

Environmental Justice Foundation-check out their campaigns to end the use of toxic pesticides in agriculture-and their links to helping make the fashion industry more ethically and environmentally sustainable.

It Gets Better-Of course we all heard about this org set up by Dan Savage-Speaking out against hate and intolerance and providing a community for LGBT youth

TEA-Toronto Environmental Alliance-a great way to get involved at a local level. In fact, this week is actually Waste Reduction Week. They also just released the report: Don’t Trash my Environment: Why Companies Need to Part of Ontario’s Waste Solution

The Evergreen Brickworks-beyond the fantastic farmer’s market and little oasis within the city, they are a great community resource and play host to a lovely bunch of local environmental organizations.

The Frugal Economist, investing socially

I have been on a search to find affordable, ethical business attire. Not as easy as you may think, but definitely an interesting experience. And for the most part when I think business I think economics. Which got me thinking. Have  you ever wondered why ECO is the prefix in economics. Is it perhaps because initially economics was supposed to be a sustainable and ethical pursuit which allowed humans to grow and prosper as communal society?

I did a little research to determine the root meaning of economics. The prefix eco can be understood from its Greek translation meaning house(hold) and can be understood to mean habitat. Nomos is translated to mean custom or law. Therefore economy can be interpreted to mean the administration of household goods.

So what does economics actually mean in a tangible sense? Simply the exchange of money for goods, or the mere understanding and analysis of the consumption of goods and services? We speak of growing and building economies, again linked to the root word ‘eco’ in the sense of a natural process such as growing, or building a strong structure to promote and sustain long term growth.  Again and again it is rooted in sustainability. To sustain an economy. Of course, nobody can argue with the desire to do that. However, where many differ in views is in how to sustain an economy and more specifically what constitutes ‘sustaining’ said economy. Is it simply a matter of financial growth or should the economy factor in the human element?

Despite ‘eco’s’ link to sustainability, it has not transcended into a initiated sense of economic sustainability i.e. in regards to the earth and to people. James McNeill, a Canadian regarded as the father of sustainable development encourages the idea of sustainability as defined in the Brundtland Report as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The concept of needs is defined in two ways:

the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and

the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”

This understanding regarding the symantics of economics was part of a discussion I took part in last Thursday at the Ashoka Everyone A Changemaker forum at the Mars center at the UofT. Our talk centered around Social Impact Investing and breaking down the barriers of ‘social investment’. Many barriers exist to this type of financing, a major being the language and metrics used. Simply put there is no common language to speak of or an agreed upon metrics system to measure the outcome of social investing. Even within a small group we will differ on what ethics, sustainability and social benefits entail.

That being said, what may help to create a greater understanding of social investment is transparency across the board. Not just in terms of so called ‘social projects’, but for all investment. If a company looking to improve the society it exists within has to demonstrate how it will be financially and socially beneficial, should a regular profitable company not have to do the same? Can we begin to create a shift where we place as much emphasis on social well being as that of financial gain?  I believe this could be a start. As an individual way to make sure your money/investment makes a social impact while being saved my roommate and I figured out the perfect solution. Invest in KIVA an individual way to support micro-financing. With the money you lend, you can look at it as though you are simply storing your money, allowing it to benefit others until you need it next. BRILLIANT!

The Second half of the Symposium

Local Transport: Tap Tap

A few weeks back we wrote about a Symposium we attended at York’s Glendon Campus focusing on the complex issues between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Hispaniola 2011 symposium served as a great networking opportunity for Sway and I as we are able to talk enthusiastically about Local Buttons with many a perked ears.

Following our morning of panel discussions, music by Haitian jazz band, Groupe Révélation and delicious Creole food we sat in on a final panel discussion. We chose to engage in the topic of engaging with Haiti following the January 12, 201o earthquake. Professors from Journalism, Political Science and Geography all spoke on to the earthquake from their professional backgrounds. To close we heard from PhD candidate, Clare Payton, who created the Haiti Memory Project.

As described on her website the project:

The Haiti Memory Project is an online archive of oral testimony about the January 12, 2010, earthquake and post-earthquake life. The Project assumes that earthquake is a point-zero in the lives of individual Haitians and in Haitian history; it is a moment that divided time into “before” and “after”. The project is an attempt to document that change. The result is a collection of over one hundred audio-recorded interviews with Haitians in Port-au-Prince in the summer and fall of 2010. The interviews offer Haitians the opportunity to represent themselves and present their own narrative about what has happened to their country. While nearly all of these interviews include stories from the earthquake, most of them tend to focus on post-earthquake life, particularly life in the refugee (IDP) camps. The interviews invite the listener to engage with the intimate and unexpected details of life in Port-au-Prince and to explore Haiti in an entirely new way. While Port-au-Prince is by no means representative of all Haiti, it is the home of millions of Haitians and the majority of those directly affected by the earthquake. The experience of those in the capital city is crucial to understanding the immediate impact of the disaster.’

The interviews range from 3o minutes to 2 hours, often in French or Creole, with a few in English. Clare lived for

Mobile band made up of young men and women from a tent camp in Port-au-Prince

months in Haiti learning Creole and meeting with people in order to create this continually evolving project. We were so inspired to meet another young woman working in Haiti, and can only hope to continue our dialogue with Clare. Especially as we plan another trip to Haiti to create the production model for our clothing to be made!

We encourage you to take a look at Clare’s site, it’s a different and unique way of learning about the earthquake and the challenges and triumphs locals have dealt with following.

Dinner Co-op

It amazes me how often preparing my meals stresses me out. And nearly always it’s due to time constraints. Rather than taking the time to find recipes and shop for ingredients I catch myself in idle thought of how I have developed this tiresome relationship to food. I may have been idle, but I have come to some conclusions. I’ve identified some bad habits that are hard to break. As a university student for four years meal preparation was never my priority. I always ate on the go except for the few potluck dinners I’d have with friends where we’d set aside a couple hours to cook together. However the wine, beer, and cocktails usually remained the focus. The demands of school, jobs, and the necessity of a social life overruled the time and effort needed to prepare food. The kind of lifestyle university life creates is its own problem to be tackled.

Another thing contributing to food-prep-stress is the time I think it takes away from doing other things. I feel I already do not spend enough time getting physical exercise, working on my business, exposing myself to cultural and recreational activity, or seeing my friends. Yet I’m confused with my feelings because food remains to be one of the most important sources of energy. I could not enjoy any of the other activities without nourishment. At a time when food quality is declining rapidly and global food markets are monopolized to fabricate scarcity and artificial prices I should never feel “food is taking up too much of my time”. Such sentiments only support impulse buys from commercial sources that reproduce systems of inequality.

A third realization I came to was that I was overwhelmed. I was telling myself that I needed to have three meals planned and prepared for each day. Where there may be a point in my life that provides time for that (I’ll have grey hair!?), it is definitely not feasible now. I have realized the secret for me is to have certain ingredients on hand, the ones I replenish as I run out. This strategy has eliminated the necessity to cook large portions to be stretched over the week. Because the truth is I get sick of the same bean salad or squash soup if I’m eating it all week.

As I am a restless soul it is important that my diet is not limited to the same food all the time. This is where I incorporate YOU into my food strategy. I would like you to help me develop the Dinner Co-Op! The Dinner Co-OP is one of the latest editions to the Button Collective and falls in the category of Lifestyle, along with the Cookie Project and a number of other projects Anne and I are excited to bring to your attention soon.

When I think of a dinner party a number of things come to mind. In good company I feel at my best. I feel connected to a community. I always learn something from the conversations had, and I physically feel my body release stress. I loosen up and indulge a little more in the food and yet always feel better than if I’d limited my self to a “reasonable” portion. It has been explained to me that good mood and laughter improves our digestion! I have hosted a couple dinners now and am addicted to what an affordable gift to my friends and family can reap in terms of the priceless rewards the night returns. Despite the extra cake I ate, I still feel great the next day. And something someone said is still making me laugh or has me in search of a book that was mentioned.

I encourage you to invite one or a few guests to your place for dinner on a day that you arrange and as often as you feel you can comfortably manage. Recruit a co-host to appease your nerves! Have different guests over weekly! Not only will you have simultaneously built in a time to clean house but you will have a legitimate excuse to buy elaborate and local ingredients, and spend several hours preparing them amidst great tunes. If you mention the Dinner Co-Op the idea might catch on and before you know you’ll be going to as many dinner parties this summer as you’re preparing..or more!
If you try this, or are already doing it, share your experiences in the space provided below for comments. Do I detect a potential portal for recipe swaps?

The Cookie Project

A brilliant woman once quoted the Golden Rule when she told me ‘treat others how you wanted to be treated’. This brilliant woman, well she is my mother. And while I may have spent a large part of my teenage years ignoring her wisdom it somehow managed to manifest itself deep within my subconscious. Over the years I have come to realize that I am alarmingly more similar to my mother than I had once thought, or cared to admit. Her various advice seems to be dislodging from my subconscious at an alarmingly frightening pace and reentering my life-only this time I am more prepared to listen. However, this notion of treating others how I would like to be treated, was one of those rare gems that did manage to resonate deeply within me and continues to be something I strive towards achieving….and it is also the subject of today’s post. Bear with me as I embellish.

The Cookie Project

There is no greater a feeling than taking a bite into a chewy, oven fresh cookie. Feeling the chocolate chip melt in your mouth, savouring the flavor as it disappears into the abyss that is your rumbling stomach.

Now imagine not being able to experience this, based on the simple fact that you don’t have a home, let alone a kitchen stocked up with baking supplies. The reason you don’t have a kitchen? Because you are homeless, for whatever the reason may be, and have been for weeks, months or even years.

Being homeless doesn’t simply mean lacking a roof over your head, it means not being able to take part in the simple joys of life like a home baked cookie, or rolling out of bed into your comfy slippers to sip a cup of coffee while you read the paper.

I don’t (yet) have a sustainable and realistic solution to end both homelessness and poverty, but what I am proposing is creating a small change in your life. A change that could hopefully have a small impact on the life of someone else. I have been thinking about this ‘cookie project’ as I am calling it, for a few months now but have only recently taken this plan into action.

I started this week and for the weeks coming I will make a batch of cookies, muffins, scones and so on, wrap them up and hand them out fresh to three or four homeless individuals in my neighbourhood. While I know this is not life changing for anyone, I know that I would appreciate a home baked delivery every week. My idea is to have this happen on a larger scale, where people around Toronto, and even hopefully other cities, will take on this initiative. It takes little effort or money on your part and can be done on a weekly or monthly basis, whatever works for you. Think of it as your random act of kindness each week.

If you want to go down a healthier route than cookies, here is a muffin recipe I altered from the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook, and used for my trial run of the cookie project. It is vegan, sugar free and made with whole grains and very little oil. The berries can be substituted for mashed bananas and walnuts (or chocolate chip cookies for those who have a giant sweet tooth like me).

2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (I substitute 1/3 of Cup with Wheat Germ, you could also use flax, or almond, coconut flour etc depending on your tastes)
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1tsp cinnamon
2 Cups unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbls oil (olive oil or whatever you have)
1 Cup mixed berries either frozen or fresh (I use a blend, but you could use only say raspberries if you like)
Mix all dry ingerdients together Mix applesauce and oil, add to dry ingredients, put in a greased muffin pan in 375 degree oven for about 15-18 min