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Say Something Nice to Your City

August 28, 2011

This week, I am overwhelmed with love for Toronto. Even though I’ve lived here for three years, I’m always quick to think of this city as cold and rushed and unfriendly. But this week I was proven wrong, many times over.

On Tuesday night, I spent over an hour wandering across Nathan Phillips Square reading the hundreds of chalk messages written to Jack Layton. I found a corner of cement and sat down to add my own message in pink chalk. On Wednesday morning it rained, and the messages were washed away…but by the time I returned on Friday evening there were hundreds more messages than there had been when I first visited. I had never thought of this city as capable of such an open outpouring of love, and for the first time I was so proud to live here.

I saw a different Toronto this week—a city of unity and compassion—and I want to know what Torontonians would say if we set up a megaphone in Nathan Phillips Square or Yonge-Dundas Square, like this one in New York City, with a sign that read Say Something Nice.

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Dear Jack: An Open Response to Jack Layton’s Letter to Canadians

August 22, 2011

For me, your legacy is one of unwavering hope and determination—both in your political career and because you truly lived a meaningful life in the face of terrible illness. It was with great sadness that I read of your passing early this morning. You will never read these words, but I wanted to write this message of thanks nonetheless.

For a girl who dreaded every single day of Civics class in high school, you made Canadian politics engaging. I remember watching the U.S. election in 2008. I was inspired by Barack Obama in a way that had only been rivalled by fictional politicians on The West Wing, and I watched as American youth became engaged in the voting process with a newfound passion that I had never really experienced myself—I always voted, but I was motivated by a sense of responsibility rather than by hope. I didn’t expect change in my own country and I wondered: where was Canada’s Barack Obama? Where was our symbol of hope? Little did I know, two years down the road you would become that symbol for countless Canadians, especially young people like me.

Thank you for your trust. Belief in the capabilities of my generation is rare. It is one thing for people to acknowledge the importance and vitality of my generation with words—talk is easy—but you did something many times more meaningful and more daring: you put your trust in us in the most concrete and encouraging way possible. Thank you for taking our future into consideration, and for your eagerness to work alongside us to create a better world. We won’t let you down.

If nothing else, I hope that your optimism and your sincerity will stick with me. I hope that all Canadians will take your parting words to heart. It is stories like yours—the loss of such an optimistic spirit made all the more horrifying following such stunning success—that remind me that it is our humanity that matters most. Despite differing political stripes, I hope that your legacy will remind all of us to be kind to one another as we work together towards a better world. I wish you could be here to see what we create.

Much love and many thanks,

Jen

People for Good

July 10, 2011

If I could only create one website, it would be something like this: People for Good. Making the world a better place, one good deed at a time. It’s a simple idea, but that’s the beauty of it.

I love their good ideas page – it’s a massive list of good deeds, just in case you need somewhere to start. My favourite so far is idea number two: instead of an email, send a handwritten note. I’m writing postcards on the back of old photographs. As soon as I find a way to make them a little sturdier so that they’ll withstand the postal service, they’ll be on their way.

I’m officially adding an orangutan to my Future Pets list.

June 28, 2011

I mean, really – doesn’t this video make you want an orangutan who will become instant best friends with all of the neighbourhood pets?

To Wanderlust: Thankful Thursday #29

June 9, 2011

To exploring. To spinning a globe and going wherever the tip of your finger lands. To newness: new places, new cultures, new faces. To planes, trains and automobiles. To facing your fears. To new friends. To spending hours staring at gorgeous photos of foreign lands. To leaving your camera at home – on purpose.  To learning a new language. To rainy seasons…and to rain dances. To wandering, even when you’re not lost.

 

1. Travel To The Heart Of The Final Frontier, 2. ‘Off the Beaten Path’, Iceland Fields of Lyngdalsheiði, 3. travel essentials., 4. In the train from Landeck to Innsbruck

Bicycles for Humanity: Thankful Thursday #28

June 2, 2011

My parents sent me an email this afternoon to tell me that they donated my old bike (and my sister’s) to Bicycles for Humanity. This bike and I have been through a lot – cycling to and from school every day, day trips with my family, adventures with my friends, and surviving a very scary car accident when I was in the 9th grade – but lately it’s been sitting unused in my parents’ garage. I’m so excited and thankful that it’s getting a second life (and hopefully changing a life) in Africa!

Happy International Children’s Day!

June 1, 2011

In her TED Talk,12-year-old Adora Svitak tells us what adults can learn from children:

 

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