Archive | April 2013

I’ll take sticks and stones anyday…

Sticks and stones may brake bones, but words…

Contrary to popular belief, words do hurt, and a lot.  I’m not even talking about bullying solely, which is a very touchy topic these days. Just look at the case of Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia, where the online bullying and distribution of a photo of her being gang raped drove the 17 year old to take her own life.

Pictured: Rehteah Parsons, a victim of words

The incident propelled millions to protest and share her story. How can things escalate to the point when a whole entire school turns an incident of rape into a reason to bully and harass someone so diligently to the point that the girl had to move TOWNS in order to go to a different school? And thanks to Facebook and the internet, it followed her there. How did not a single person step up to defend her? Why wasn’t something done sooner to stop the harassment?

To me, someone who also grew up experiencing harassment from bullies throughout elementary school, I understand how words can cut.

But I also know they do more than cut. They shape thoughts and opinions, they inspire attitudes and mentalities, they sway individuals and move masses. In turn, you can use words to destroy lives, damage souls and spread lies that cause corruption and evil.

The power of words is a scary thing. Because misusing them is so easy.

I just reblogged a post by Rebecca Fraser-Thill of her advice to her students upon graduating, which was this:

Do No Harm

It's not about listening to the Angel, but successfully ignoring the Devil too

It’s not about listening to the Angel, but successfully ignoring the Devil too

She states that it’s one thing to tell her graduates to go out into the world and do good, but that advice is lacking. To truly create a brighter world, attempting to avoid harm on others is the true challenge, but a more beneficial one. I think about her advice when I ponder Rehteah’s bullying dilemma. All those people who chose to feed on the words of her bullies, and even those who stood silent and did nothing, caused harm. It took away a girls life.

See, that’s how Stigma spreads. Words. And I could apply that theory to any social stigma. In fact, I plan to do just that.

I have always been a writer deep down. Maybe not a fully realized writer, because I haven’t written enough to merit the title, but a writer non-the-less. And as a writer, I love WORDS.

I love words because even though they are powerful enough to destroy lives, in turn, they also have the power to change the world for the better too.

I look at all the evil and injustice in the world, how words are being used to do harm, and realize that you can fight fire with fire. I want to fight words with words.

the_pen_is_mightier_than_the_sword_by_moriarteas-d4z4hmp

As they say…

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Let’s talk about poverty in a language most people understand: MONEY

Might as well place our money here...

Might as well place our money here…

I was reading the newspaper at work today, and low and behold, there was this article:

Poverty costs us billions: Fiorito

It was about the belief of money manager Marc Hamel that poverty is costing us Ontarians billions in tax payer money. Some interesting quotes of his are:

“Someone living in the lowest quintile of income earners will use the health-care system 50 per cent more than the average person. This is as a result of higher stress, poor nutrition, substandard housing and an unstable social environment.”

That costs us billions in extra health care spending, what Hamel calculates is $3 Billion.

Also:

“If we were able to increase the income and participation of the lowest quintile of income earners, and raise their incomes to the second quintile, the benefit to the Ontario economy would be over $16 billion a year.”

$16 billion!!! That’s how much revenue we loose out on just be ignoring poverty.

And to total cost of poverty in general?

“In total, poverty costs the residents of Ontario a staggering $32 billion to $38 billion a year — the equivalent of over 5 per cent of provincial GDP.”

That’s right, solving some of Ontario’s economic hardships means tackling an issue that has repeatedly been ignored for years: POVERTY.

It’s not just the middle class that needs boosting, we need to invest in those who are at the bottom, because there is way more untapped potential there. It’s actually even financially more responsible to do so.

Anyway, this article is definitely a good read, check it out!

Getting a “Job”: Now harder than being a freelance artist

I just finished reading a blog post, a rant more like it, about how some artists should go GET A JOB.

I felt the desire to comment on it, since based on my own experience, he couldn’t be more wrong. He starts by saying: “GET A JOB. A stable one. 9-to-5. With health insurance and a 401k. GET IT NOW.”  He directs this at artists of my  generation, in their 20’s and 30’s. He says:

“Stop angsting over whether your Art or your Muse will survive Selling Out. Stop saying that your delicate artistic expressiveness can’t cope with an office job. Stop being allergic to money and then wondering why you can’t make rent and your lights are always being turned off.”

The first part made me laugh. A stable 9-5 job with a pension? Why, these days finding one of those sounds just as elusive as scoring a record deal, or successfully selling out your paintings at an art Gallery. It takes what feels like years to score one of those, and as time passes on, the fewer of those jobs will exist. William Bridges predicted the slow decline and extinction of the “job” back when he published his book “Job Shift” in 1992. The ironic thing is that slowly, with the dwindling down of 9-5 jobs, it’s the creative class that is predicted to rise to the top. Yeah, that’s right, those same artists the author of the blog is lecturing at. And here’s why:

Artists already have a lot of the skills necessary to survive in the current job market. Its the same skills that even those handing out the elusive and very much coveted 9-5 jobs are looking for. They are resourceful, quick to adapt to changing environment, able to think outside the box, are used to project based assignments, have the self awareness and ability to self market themselves, and the passion and creativity to get the job done. When I see a “starving artist”, I see someone who understands what the world is really like today, for most people, artists or not. And by the way, most “starving artists” I know do have jobs. Sure, part time, but guess what, most people looking for full time work also have part time jobs. Or temporary contract jobs. Or full time positions with no benefits or pensions. As I’ve mentioned before, in my city alone, half of all workers have some form of precarious employment. That’s just the nature of employment in general. Starving artists are in the exact same scenario as other workers. Except, starving artists are more equipped to deal with it and probably more motivated to do so. They don’t fear the soul sucking “desk job”. They realize that no matter what field of employment you’re in, only the best people get the job, or make the sale. And to be on top, you have to really love what you do.

Yes, we now live in a time where “loving what you do” is not just a blessing, but the best way to survive in such a competitive economy.

I also want to provide an example of how the “artists” who give up looking for the stability of a 9-5 knowing full well that it’s just a myth, how they actually not only survive, but persevere.

My friend Sonia makes jewelry and accessories. It was her way of staying creative after giving up her dream of going into fashion when she decided to take environmental studies in University instead. She wanted to set her parents at ease that she would be able to get a nice cushy 9-5 when finishing her Degree. Well, she finishes her Degree this year and has already told me that selling her line of jewelry has proved to be so successful, that instead of looking for a job in her field of study, she plans to commit to her businesses full time. While working part time at Ikea, taking on a full time study load, she has built herself two very successful jewelry brands that she sells online, at specialty boutiques, and even sells overseas. She’s even been featured in a few magazines and fashion shows. She tells me there is no point looking for a job, she’s making more than enough on her business alone. And I’m a huge fan of her brands COVEN and Quaintrella

If I saw a starving artist, the last thing I would tell them to do is to “Get a Job”. That’s a dead end. The only people I’d recommend that to is someone who wants to get a 9-5 job since they’ll take years to find one anyway. What I would tell a starving artist is this: forget getting a record deal, or living off your work, that’s unrealistic. Find a way to make money. Be creative, look around you. Look for what is needed in the world around you. Learn to match your skills and what you have to offer to that need. Then learn to sell that idea or make it a reality. Learn to sell yourself and your skills. And always do something that you will love and be passionate about, because there is no better way to guarantee your quality.