Why Dry Cleaning Clothes May Be Harmful To Your Health

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest
Why you shouldn’t dry clean your “Dry Clean Only” clothes

Spilled BBQ sauce on your favourite shirt this weekend? Dry cleaning may be your go-to, but did you know PERC, a toxic chemical that’s been phased out in several jurisdictions around the world, is the most commonly used solvent in Canada? Read two common misconceptions about “Dry Clean Only” clothing labels and tips on how you can clean your linen, silks, and cottons the greener, non-toxic way.

the algae
is back!
Lake Erie is expected to experience a significant algae bloom this summer. Read our latest blog to learn more about what causes the blooms and what this summer’s algae forecast could mean for the lake and the people who rely on it.

You can also show your support for the lake by taking our Lake Erie Pledge.

Show us how
Life’s a Beach
for a chance
to win
Our Blue Flag program is once again hosting the Life’s a Beach Photo Contest. This summer, share with us your best photos of your favourite Canadian beach. You could win $1,000 for new camera gear! Visit blueflag.ca/photocontest to learn more. The deadline to enter is Sept. 1.

Learn some tips on how you can clean your linen, silks, and cottons the greener, non-toxic way


Learn some #tipsandtricks for cleaning your linen, silks, and cottons the greener #toxicfree way


Alberta’s toxic tailings ponds keep growing and the cleanup costs keep rising. Giving feels good (over-stuffed closets don’t.) This year, throw an ECHOage birthday for us. Our work is possible thanks to caring people like you. Please make a charitable gift today in support of our environment!


Twitter Facebook Youtube

Joy Junction Apartment Complex In Albuquerque Fights Homelessness

It’s no secret that homelessness in Albuquerque is an ongoing crisis. The crisis continues, despite inaccurate promises by some groups to “end” homelessness.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen panhandling increase prolifically all over the city, while at Joy Junction, desperate families-often with children-call or visit us daily asking for a meal and a place to stay. Many we can help; others we have to deny services often due to a lack of space.

To help address this issue, I’m excited to announce the official May 15 groundbreaking for our 52-unit apartment complex, located in southwest Albuquerque. The project, which is expected to be completed by fall 2017, will have units with 250 square feet of living space and a personal bathroom.

Guided by our mission to offer the homeless a safe and tranquil environment to live, it is our hope that this new complex will make the situation somewhat better for those experiencing homelessness.

More than three years ago, the James Boyd case caused us all to reflect on what we as a community could have done better to prevent a man from seeking shelter on a mountainside.

Despite our collective sense of disappointment and sadness over what transpired, it did lead many local organizations, community leaders and ordinary citizens to come together for discussion about what needs to change to address an issue that can’t merely be wished away.

Recognizing that “it takes a village” not only to raise a child but also to lift an individual from their worst days, Joy Junction is stepping up our efforts. It’s taken a while to happen, but the time is finally here. Today, we continue to act on our commitment to assist our city’s homeless and hungry with the groundbreaking for what will soon become a beautiful and dignified apartment complex.

For 30 years, Joy Junction has grown to now serve more than 10,000 meals each month, not including the 6,000-plus meals served by our mobile feeding unit dubbed The Lifeline of Hope.

Our staff also drive a van through the streets of Albuquerque in the darkest hours of the night in search of anyone who might need assistance with food, water and when available, a blanket or sleeping bag.

We’ve made it our mission to not only provide basic needs like food and shelter, but also emotional and spiritual assistance so individuals can get back on their feet.

Over time, we have noticed a growing need for living spaces that go beyond mere subsistence. Living in dignity can more quickly help bring about a positive and permanent change in the ongoing difficult situations experienced by the homeless.

When the homeless come to Joy Junction, they are often looking for more than a dry bed and a warm meal; they’re looking for hope-hope that they will find a way out of their troubles and a path to a better future.

Completion of this new apartment complex will now provide 52 additional opportunities for the homeless to better work through the issues with which they are beset and as a result, return to mainstream community life as taxpaying citizens.

In other words, this new complex will help us better meet the needs of our city’s homeless. While still needing many more dollars, we are confident that the community generosity which got us this far will take us past the finish line.

We have come a long way, especially in the last few years. And yet despite that, there is so much more work to be done. We hope everyone will continue to rise to the challenge that lies ahead, and together, we can end homelessness and hunger, one life and one meal at a time. For the Silo, Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO Joy Junction Inc. and HNS.

Letter To The Silo- Being In Canada 50 Years And Involved In Social Change

This year, I have been in Canada 50 years. It is difficult to define what I need to do but I have to be more active, more involved in positive social change…….The state of Trumpism gnaws at me.
During March, about 40 of my photographs (1967 – 1974) of Toronto’s Baldwin St. were exhibited at the Toronto Arts & Letters Club. I recently spoke at the Club about my experience as an immigrant in 1967 with a draft dodger avoiding the Vietnam War.    
Here is one of my photographs.
In Feb., I was fortunate enough to have exhibited photographs at Unlovable Gallery that John Phillips (my ex-husband and late husband)  and I took of the American Civil Rights Movement. A few days ago, I gave a slide presentation at the Women’s Art Association on Canadian women photographers who worked between 1865 -1915.   Three projects – war resisters, civil rights, and feminism. 
…and this one taken Toronto City Hall
 My son, Bennett Jones Phillips, and his partner,Lisa Pereira are in the process of creating a record store on Baldwin St. and I am going to have an exhibition space. (I had a gallery in the past on Baldwin). Here is a chance to be more active and socially involved.   My plan includes an expanded “coming to Canada” exhibit with blow ups of my and John’s photos and some pages of John’s FBI file and underground papers. It looks like the space will be a shipping container and available as early as June. The opening event will likely include having a tent in the former  Silverstein Bakery parking lot and having music, poetry, and a 60’s feel with Baldwin Street history – Irish, Jewish, Chinese, and American immigration being part of the  opening focus. 
There are lots of possibilities. I am very open to ideas and involvement of other people. So what do you think? Cheers, Laura Jones.

Reader Letter To The Silo Regarding Motion 103 And Hamilton Protest Rally

Dear Silo, there was a protest rally held at City Hall in Hamilton this past weekend. The purpose was to discuss or protest “Motion-103 “the motion put forth by one Ms. Iqra Khalid to stop as she sees it “Islamophobia.” For many the idea of “M-103” seems almost redundant as hate speech and any sort of hate crime based on religion is already under the “Criminal Code, The Charter of Human Rights & The Constitution.” Some have opined that Ms. Khalid is grandstanding & perhaps they may be correct.

The protest was as it went peaceful & low key. The police presence was minimal and well placed. Directly on site there were six uniforms, but a bit further back there were two mounted units, and further back out of sight behind city hall were three more mounted units.

The speaker at this event was a Muslim woman who was well spoken and exhorted the crowd with slogans, chants & political sayings, touting the Liberal regime and downplaying the Conservative aspect.It was my understanding that there would be both aspects of this motion represented at the protest, but for the near 3 hours I was present I only heard one side of the story [but] perhaps another side spoke later. I saw on the 6:00 pm news, things turned a bit ugly, and the police stepped in to quell any further incident, so who knows.

For many, it seemed a “ family event,” and I saw a few children there, [but] in my humble opinion [this] is no place for kids. In the “ Vietnam” years when the protest was clearly in many cases, a daily event, there never were any children present, mostly due to the fact protests can at any given time turn from something sedate to an angry, ugly mess, ergo no kids. I for one seriously have to ponder the parental abilities of such an action.

There was a few tables set up, all proffering their political views, the Communist Party, ( the mainstay at any protest), a painting table where you could add your hand to a large almost like paint-by-numbers setup where you could if so inclined could add your hand to it. There was a Muslim table set up and two young men who would engage you in conversation about their faith and handed out books & pamphlets, one of them at the time I stopped by, was engaged in a somewhat intense conversation with a Christian young man. Several people were working the crowd by handing out flyers, pamphlets and flash cards with their message on it. The “ Socialist group”, ever present at any event, was handing out small flyers promoting  worker solidarity,” the Marxist group was there too, handing out flyers to combat racism, the “ No Borders Manifesto,” an 18 point small booklet promoting a “ grassroots movement “ to promote the movement to the “ new world.” There were “ Stop the War Coalition,” the “ Know your Rights,” group & “ Hamilton Against Fascism,” and regarding [this]protest it seemed a well-rounded outpouring that way.

As I said, as protests go it was for the 3 hours I was there a peaceful, almost fun event. Later after things went south and everyone had done their barking and bitching sessions, they packed up their wares, printed material and children, and went home to read the tea leaves of the event and to generally pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

Protests are an integral part of the Canadian fabric and should be allowed at all times. The message I received from this one was that the potential for “ free speech,“ could be quashed possibly if this motion is put into a bill and becomes law. Do we have concern?? Perhaps as many feel we do, and it becomes the responsibility of all of us, to be open-minded, observant of what our government says and does. It falls to us to yes question what they tell us so that democracy as we live it will be ongoing and ever present so that we may all move forward with a proper sense of things for all who live and come to this great country we know it.


James R. Charlton

America Meditating Radio Show launches “Meditate the Vote – Real Conversation”

America Meditating Radio Show LogoBuilding a better and more cohesive environment through collaboration
Washington, D.C.  – “Meditate the Vote – the Real Conversation” is the brainchild of the globally broadcast America Meditating Radio Show. In the midst of the election fever and the buzz that follows it, it is even more important that the citizenry is brought together to converse on mutual issues to create a better and more cohesive understanding of ways of moving the country forward and making the world a better place. Can getting into our Zen zone help Americans to decide who they vote for or what they do regardless of who enters office? 
The #MeditatetheVote grassroots campaign to bring respect, compassion and a peaceful dialog to our election process, intends to create an avenue where people from diverse backgrounds can express their views via various means of social media including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and gatherings in homes and other venues. This campaign, supported by an alliance of friends, thought leaders and organizations from around the country, will be launched on the 1st of May, coinciding with the start of National Meditation Month and will continue leading up to Election Day on the 8th of November, 2016. 
Our goal is simple. Meditate the Vote simply asks folks to amplify the quality of conversation using the Meditate the Vote questions to stimulate more inclusivity and partnership in the country as we lead up to Election Day on November 8th. Meditate the Vote does not endorse any candidate or political party. It is a movement to socially engage all folks into a higher and more cohesive way of working together as a people and a country. 
The internet and social media platforms will be used in spreading the word with participants making videos saying “I, Meditate the Vote” and why, as well as sharing feedback from their conversations using Meditate the Vote questions.
There is also the Pause for Peace App available for users of Android and iOS devices to allow for constant communication, meditations and videos, and for listening to the America Meditating Radio Show featuring various prominent thought leaders sharing methods for personal development. For the Silo, Antonia Silvera.
About America Meditating
America Meditating was launched in June 2012, as a nationwide initiative to promote unity and peace as everyone is encouraged to pause for moments throughout the day to reflect within and create an environment where love, respect, and trust reign.
It subsequently resulted in the birth of the popular America Meditating Radio Show hosted by teacher and motivational speaker, Sister Jenna. The program is available across the globe on numerous platforms including Blog Talk Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Aha Radio, Speaker, the Pause for Peace App, and the Player.FM App.
Supplemental: The David Lynch Foundation was established to ensure that any child in America who wants to learn and practice the Transcendental Meditation program can do so.

Ontario Greens Push To Ban Political Donations For Counties And Province

Time to get big money out of Ontario politics
(Queen’s Park): “Political fundraising in Ontario doesn’t pass the stink test,” says GPO leader Mike Schreiner.
Schreiner is challenging the Liberal government to ban corporate and union donations to political parties in Ontario. The GPO is also pushing the government to amend the Municipal Elections Act to allow municipalities to ban such donations. The City of Toronto has done this, but other municipalities do not have provincial authority to do it.
“People are sick and tired of reading stories about big ticket events that give deep-pocketed insiders special access to Ministers and the Premier,” says Schreiner. “Serious questions about special deals are being raised. Corporate and union donations have no place in politics.”
The federal government banned corporate and union donations to political parties in 2003 and extended the ban to include donations to candidates in 2006. The new Alberta government made banning corporate and union donations their first legislative act in 2015. The GPO believes it is time for Ontario to clean up its act.
Meat Grinder Metaphor“Citizens vote, not corporations,” says Schreiner. “Government policy should be focused on what’s good for the public. Even the perception that big money might have influence in securing special deals or driving policy decisions is bad for democracy. What about the 100 companies being given a free ride under the new cap-and-trade plan? Are any of them donors to the Liberal party?”
The Green Party of Ontario supports campaign finance reforms that ban corporate and union donations, limit third party advertising and provide some public financing for eligible parties.
“It’s past time to get big money out of Ontario politics,” says Schreiner.
The GPO is on a mission to bring honesty, integrity and good public policy to Queen’s Park. For the Silo, Becky Smit

Fascinating Book- CANADIAN PACIFIC: Creating A Brand, Building A Nation

Canadian Pacific: Creating A Brand, Building A Nation, the forthcoming luxury coffee table book from School of Design of the Université du Québec à Montréal professor emeritus Marc H. Choko and Callisto Publishers. The private railway corporation that united Canada and built the world’s greatest transportation system, Canadian Pacific broke boundaries with its powerful commercial design.

Canadian Pacific Book Brief CoverA gorgeous new full-colour, 384-page hardcover from leading design book publisher Callisto, Canadian Pacific: Creating A Brand, Building A Nation [November 15 2015] reveals the intriguing story of the private railway company that united Canada politically – and became, for a time, the world’s greatest and most diverse transportation system. Written by Marc H. Choko – professor emeritus at the School of Design of the Université du Québec à Montréal and an honorary member of the Société des designers graphiques du Québec – Canadian Pacific weaves a concise and compelling narrative recapitulating the first 100 years of the company’s history, beginning in the 1880s. Brought to life by hundreds of advertisements, illustrations, designs, photos, and historical documents – many of which have never been published before – Canadian Pacific is more than a beautiful book: it is an indispensible testament to one of the greatest achievements of entrepreneurship the world has ever seen.

“The history of Canada is inseparable from the history of Canadian Pacific,” writes publisher Matthias C. Hühne in the book’s preface. “A distinct Canadian national identity was still in its infancy in the 19th century, and various stereotypes linked with Canada today are the direct result of decisions made by these artists and Canadian Pacific’s publicity executives.” From adventurous world travelers to potential immigrants considering a move to Canada, Canadian Pacific tells the important and unforgettable story of the impact this private corporation has had on a nation’s economic development and image – and will be a welcome addition to the bookcases, coffee tables, and cottages of history buffs, art lovers, and aesthetes alike.

Marc Choko
Marc Choko

Among the topics author Marc H. Choko is currently interested in and researching are: Beavers, Banff and propaganda: how commercial design helped a disparate, newly formed nation understand its place in the world and forge an identity. This is Canada: the romanticism and beauty of the images Canadian Pacific’s publicity department produced, and their immeasurable impact on the way Canada is perceived domestically and throughout the world Immigration and colonization: Canadian Pacific’s little-known history of facilitating the process of coming to Canada for hundreds of thousands of citizens. The eminent artists behind Canadian Pacific’s publicity materials: why we cannot separate the interplay of commercial interest and high culture.

About the Author: Marc H. Choko, author of Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand, Building a Nation is professor emeritus at the School of Design of the Université du Québec à Montréal and former director of the university’s Design Centre. He is also a former research director at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique Urbanisation, Culture et Société. Choko earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in planning from the Université de Montréal and a doctorate in urban planning from the Université de Paris VIII. He is the author of numerous publications on graphic design, urbandevelopment and housing, and has curated many exhibitions that toured internationally. Choko is an honorary member of the Société des designers graphiques du Québec.

About the Publisher: Berlin-based Callisto Publishers selects topics from the fields of design, art, and architecture that are especially well suited to be represented by a printed book, rather than an electronic medium, aspiring to create printed works of perfect quality in terms of content, design, and production. Strong contemporary design requires solid knowledge of the designs and methods of the past. Which designs endured, which did not, and why? Callisto’s books analyze trends of the past that are relevant for understanding design today and in the future. Website: https://www.callisto-publishers.com/

PremiumEditionAbout Canadian Pacific: The Standard Edition of Canadian Pacific: Creating A Brand, Building A Nation will be released this month, and retail for $80CAD / $70USD. The Premium Edition – a larger and technically more sophisticated version, packaged in a hand-crafted collector’s case with a wood veneer cover symbolizing the natural beauty of Canada, and containing additional images and Pantone colours and finishes not included in the Standard Edition – will be released in April 2016 and retail for $720CAD / $600 USD.

Art Canada Institute Facebook Promo Post Image

A Second Look At Ontario Bill83 AKA SLAPP

Dr Evil Canadian free speech, journalistic powers or lack there of are back in the news. Here is a related story  about Ontario’s Bill 83 from last year that deserves a second read.

Bill83. The threat of abusive lawsuits claiming damages like slander and defamation is deterring  a significant number of Ontarians from speaking out against big business on issues of public interest.

Our tweet from Feb22 2015 shows an interest in related freedom of expression concerns.
Our tweet from Feb22 2015 shows an interest in related freedom of expression concerns.

Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) are lawsuits brought by companies with the specific aim of distracting or silencing defendants. The defendants, usually ordinary citizens or public interest groups, feel threatened by the prospect of paying legal fees over several years and the possibility of paying large damage awards in the end. Even if the lawsuits have no merit, they often result in a “chill” on free speech in general because SLAPPs are also meant to intimidate the general public who are watching it all play out in the media.

John Gerretsen Attorney General Kingston and the Islands.
John Gerretsen Attorney General Kingston and the Islands.

Attorney General John Gerretsen has introduced Bill 83 ( In its 2nd reading at the time of this original posting, now referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy CP) to address this dubious use of Ontario’s publicly funded court system. The proposed legislation would force the courts to identify within 60 days whether a suit was in the public interest or an intimidation tactic to limit debate on an important local issue.

In communities facing fast paced economic development, this legislation is sure to play an important role in protecting the ordinary courage of citizens to tell their story, to share local knowledge and research findings and to insist on an authentic community vision for a healthy and sustainable future. For the Silo, Leslie Cochran. Originally published in print March 21, 2014.

Letter to the Silo- Why we march globally against Monsanto

It takes strength to usher in change and there's strength in numbers.
It takes strength to usher in change and there’s strength in numbers.

For those who are not aware of Monsanto or its global influence, I would like to provide you with some background information before explaining just why it is important to stand against the corporation and its actions.

 Monsanto is an international agricultural corporation which is based out of the United States. It originated in 1901 and has functioned mainly as a pesticide corporation but as of recently it has been implementing genetically engineered seeds. These seeds, which are being sold and grow in many parts of the world, do not have the ability to reproduce, thereby forcing farmers to purchase a new set of seeds from the company each season. In many situations, the farmers have no choice but to continue paying into the corporation because no other seeds are available in their area. Monsanto is also the leader producer (and creator) of the herbicide “Glyphosate” (a herbicide which is used specifically to kill weeds around the GM crops but leave the crops un-harmed. This is made possible through the genetic tampering of the seeds which makes them resistant to the herbicide).

Monsanto has been adamantly rejecting many accusations that have been coming their way in more recent years. In fact, they go out of their way to address the international conversation that has been taking place about their “terminator” seeds and their inability to reproduce (provide seeds that can then be planted the following season). They claim in a statement on their website that “Monsanto has never commercialized a biotech trait that resulted in sterile – or “terminator” – seeds” (Monsanto Website). The website is littered with fabricated stories, pictures of smiling farmers and claims that Monsanto has their best interests at heart. The truth is many farmers are struggling to make the expensive purchases of Monsanto seeds and herbicide. Debt is rising in rural areas around the world (India taking one of the hardest hits, with thousands of farmer suicides being said to be associated with debt owed to Monsanto and their inability to support themselves) and a countless number of individuals are suffering because of the negative side effects. Monsanto has a huge stake in the worlds production of seeds and is already working on spreading their patents to broccoli and eggplant despite international disagreement.

This is why we march. The global March Against Monsanto is a worldwide call of action aimed at informing the public of the long term health, environmental, and financial effects of genetically modified foods. Last years globalized day of action took place with over 2 million people took to the streets to express their opinions and attempt to reclaim the food systems. We march for seed freedom (because seeds are a source of life, and corporations should not have the ability to patent life), for the labeling of GMO foods, to promote organic and sustainable alternatives, to demand the accountability of those responsible for corruption, and to further the scientific research around GMOs. On May 24th we united against the corporations who are threatening our heath, our children and our planet and marched against Monsanto at Victoria Park, Brantford Ontario.

Letters to the Silo