Tag Archives: Toronto

Toronto Bakes for Japan: People Helping People

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn

On Sunday April 10, 2011, I had the pleasure of attending the “Toronto Bakes For Japan” Bake Sale that took place at 5 locations in Toronto. When I walked in the door, I was overwhelmed by the amount of baking that was available; and I was only at the Liberty Noodle location in Liberty Village!

Overwhelming contributions from you!

Sushi anyone!?!

My friend, Niya Bajaj, an event planner and social extrovert had taken this idea to heights that I had not anticipated. Her team of volunteers and her fellow organizer, Heena Punwani, had motivated, inspired and encouraged Toronto into putting together a massive spread of baking to help the people of Japan, following the earthquake that happened there on March 11, 2011.

There was also an auction of art, specialty baked goods and gift certificates for restaurants, spas and other locations in the city. One of the most impressive items up for auction was a cake that looked like sushi on a wooden stand! I can tell you that when I saw it, I thought it was sushi! I understand that @allcondohotels bought the sushi cake! I hope they enjoyed it! It was a very impressive item!

I also had the opportunity to visit the crew that was working at Cafe Diplomatico all day on Sunday and they had some interesting stories of their time on the patio! Their day had started in the rain, but thankfully the weather had warmed up and the sun had come out! They had provided people with snacks to enjoy while doing laundry nearby or to enjoy with their coffee on the patio. These folks had given up their day to sit outdoors and help raise money for the people in Japan. Their efforts should not go without a huge “Thank You”.

The same thanks should go to the other locations that hosted the volunteers and were generous with their support and time for the volunteers to sell their product. I had the opportunity to meet Sang Kim, and learn about his Toronto to Japan effort that helps raise spirits via sending short videos to people in Japan. Liberty Noodle played a large role in this effort and hosted a sushi making event on April 2, 2011 in conjunction with Sang. Please check out their website and visit them for dinner or one of their special events. It is now on my calendar to do so!

I really liked that all of the items were stylishly packaged. The level of care and concern that everyone had committed to their products was evident just from looking over the tables. There was a large selection to choose from and almost every item was labeled with the ingredients that went into the product. Every detail was taken care of especially for those with food allergies!

OMG! Was this ever good!

I didn

I even caught Jo shopping for some baked goods! Imagine that!

@clickflickca selecting his baked goods!

I know that I left Liberty Noodle with an armload of baked goods (that were all delicious), a good feeling in my heart! Thanks should also go to The Rivoli, Amaranto Cafe, Evergreen Brick Works Farmers Market and Yoshi’s Sweets that also hosted volunteers over the weekend.

As of writing this, the efforts of this team of volunteers was approaching $30,000 raised for the Red Cross in Japan and they are still working. If you would like to help them, please visit their website and contact them for how you can help donate. They and the people in Japan will appreciate it.

Twitter: One Year Later….What a Difference!!

March 25, 2010 – Why do I remember this date? It was the day of my FIRST tweetup, #TwestivalTO (@TwestivalTO). What has happened in the past year? What has Twitter done for me? I wish I could put that into words. What I hope to do in this post is give you a glimpse of how things have changed. To give you a frame of reference, here is a graph of my Twitter activity in March 2010, prior to attending #TwestivalTO:

Source: http://www.tweetstats.com

Something happened on March 25, 2010

When I walked into Tryst nightclub that night, I didn’t even know what the word #tweetup meant! I had no idea what to expect when I arrived knowing one person – Joallore (@clickflickca). Now if you know only one person, he is a good person to know. He has been participating in Social Media related events for a long time and knows a lot of people. He is gracious with introductions and disarming when meeting new people. These are all skills that I have improved on in his company during the last year.

I just attended my 2nd #TwestivalTO on March 24, 2011. At this point, I have sent almost 15,000 tweets and I have just over 1,200 followers. I had less than 100 of both on March 25, 2010! Have a look at these graphs! One shows my tweets by month since I joined Twitter and the other shows my activity in March 2011 as a comparison to the graph above.

A picture of a year “on” Twitter

What a difference a year makes!

Do I know what I am “doing” now? I would say, I have a better idea, but like Twitter itself,  the role that it plays each day in my life changes. Do I tweet more now, “Yes”. I like the interaction and conversation that I have with people on Twitter.  I miss the conversation when I am “offline”. It adds to the interactions that I have during the day, so just like talking over coffee with a co-worker, Twitter is something that I can do while I watch TV, have a coffee, watch a ballgame or listen to some tunes.

During the past year, people who are not on Twitter have asked me what I tweet about. I usually say, “Whatever comes to mind”. I get to talk about whatever is on my mind on Twitter and usually I can find a like-minded audience to share in the conversation.  The topic could be coffee, beer, BBQ, grilling, food, recipes, baseball, hockey, vacations, movies, music. The topics are endless and the support network is vast.

What I love about Twitter is that if you need information on a faraway place, you send it out and sure enough someone will tweet back with a resource for a restaurant or an all-night photocopy place! If you are having a bad day you send out a tweet for “+” vibes and your feed lights up with messages of support and good thoughts. You wake up on your birthday and your feed is alive with endless birthday wishes that stream in from Twitter friends around the globe! You put an idea for dinner or a get-together out there and suddenly you have 10+ people signed up to try a restaurant. The connections are personal and they have far-reaching potential.

I am now glad to include amongst my friends fellow foodies, movie fanatics, social creatures and sports fans. We have come together over the past year via various events and introductions and now see each other on a regular basis. These are all positive changes. These people are smart, funny and educated in a number of ways. Most of them are skilled professionals that share an interest in something that I like doing. There are also a number of people who I interact with regularly that I have yet to meet. I hope that 2011 gives me the opportunity to visit some of these people and meet with them, “In Real Life” (#IRL). It is always fun to finally put a face to a personality that you have talked with on Twitter.

How do I see Twitter? I see it as something that is fun and exactly what you make of it. It can be a social tool, a business tool, a marketing tool or all of those things. You can connect with every type of person on a number of levels via the “conversation” that is happening. I try to be myself on Twitter and I try to stay true to some guiding principles for myself (eg: minimal swearing). Do I tweet often, yes, but I also like to talk a lot. I am an extrovert and a social creature by nature. I always have been. Twitter lets me get out and talking to people even if I am on a coffee break, in a shopping mall or sitting in a foreign city.

I have shared in the joy of a tweep celebrating the birth of a new child.  I have seen the pictures of people’s vacations and have seen twitpics of meals that I must go and try! Some of the food that people find is absolutely amazing!  No matter how silly it seems I also love it when people share twitpics of sunsets and sunrises!  The world is full of fantastic photographers and seeing a gorgeous sunset is just a nice addition to any day, in my books.  I have shared my memories and photos from various roadtrips and vacations, as they happened. Why not, one of the first questions people you haven’t seen for a while ask is, “What’s new?”. The saying is that, “A picture is worth 1,000 words”, isn’t it?

Twitter has given me the opportunity to go to San Francisco (#VXToronto, @virginamerica), try multiple restaurants in and around Toronto, meet new people in Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener and points in between (@TWestofTO, #RandomTO, #JaysTO). I have shared thoughts on movies and the #Oscars, the #Grammys, bonded over the Olympics (#Van2010reunion, #Vancouver2010) and even organized an event to celebrate the survival of a #BlackBerry taking a “swim”!! (#BeerDunk2010). I also organized an event in October 2010 (#FeedYourDragon), with my friends at Mickey’s Pizza (@FeedYourDragon), that helped raise over $200 for the World Food Program(@WFP) and taught us all how to make some of the best pizza we have ever eaten!!

There are loads of people who have guided me on the path in the past year, but the one that organized the majority of the events that I went to was @clickflickca (Jo). We are old friends, but after the last year I think that we are now good friends. Without his energy and enthusiasm for connecting people the graphs that I have included in this post would not look the way that they do.  My thanks to you, my friend, for the guidance you provided even if you didn’t realize it.

I look forward to what the next 12 months on Twitter will bring.  I am hoping that I can find a way to make Social Media part of my career and daily life.  I enjoy it that much.  How that is going to come together, I am not sure but I am working on it (if you would like to help me in this endeavour, get in touch with me via email or twitter, please).   I am sure that the #tweetups will continue as the number of things to do in Toronto and Southern Ontario is endless!! Where we go next, who knows!! I am sure it will be a blast and I look forward to it (and tweeting about it)!!

Note: Please visit – Tweetstats if you like the graphs that are included here. They run an awesome website!

I find this stuff interesting and if you do, here is a TweetCloud of my first year on Twitter (via Tweetstats):

A San Francisco Experience – Day 1

I was lucky enough to receive a free trip to San Francisco from Klout and Virgin America, due to my influence on Twitter. This in and of itself was flattering, because for me it meant that there was some value to what I was contributing to the conversation on Twitter.

I was on the fence about taking the trip, for a number of reasons. I had to rearrange my work schedule; Lots of others were coming at other times; I already had my vacation for the summer planned and paid for later in August. I decided in-spite of all of that to still jump at the opportunity and claim my ticket.

From the moment I arrived at Pearson Airport (YYZ) in Toronto, I encountered nothing but friendly people.  The check-in staff for Virgin America was busy, but they were friendly and doing what they could to keep the lines moving.  I met a fellow “Klouter” in the departure area and had a great chat about food and San Francisco.  Erin (who is apparently getting engaged – congrats!!) and Deb on the flight crew were friendly and cheerful during our flight.  They took the time to talk about air travel and how much they like working for Virgin while I was stretching my legs and having a coffee!! They did everything they could to make sure that our flight was great!!

When I arrived in San Francisco, getting to my hotel was easy and efficient thanks to BART (their rapid transit system).  I dashed off to AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants and got into line for  a ticket the ballgame. Two scalpers were doing their best high pressure sales tactic on me when a fan walked up to the line, right beside me and said, “Who needs a single ticket for free”? After a quick, “I’ll take it for free”, I was on my way to a Club level seat in the ballpark, still not believing how my day was going!! The fan that gave me a ticket wouldn’t even let me buy them a beer!! I am forever thankful to them and their co-workers for their generosity!!

When I got back to my hotel, I got checked in and discovered that I had a fantastic room at the Harbor Court Hotel, that is right on the bay in San Francisco.  The view from my room is fantastic and I couldn’t ask for more. For being part of their “member” program I was given a mini-bar credit and for mentioning a “codeword” promo that they had mentioned on Twitter, I received a secondary credit!!

My day didn’t end there, but what more could you ask for in less that 24 hours!?!  This trip has restored my belief that all people at their core are willing to help their neighbours.  Sometimes you encounter so many angry and frustrated people, you begin to wonder why everyone is so angry.  I can’t tell you how happy I am now that I took this trip!!

The world is a much better place when the attitude you are shining out gets shone back at you.  I am not sure if it was the positive attitude of those I encountered that caused me to smile back at others.  I hope that it was my smile and “Hello” that maybe changed their attitude towards me. I don’t know and I guess it dosen’t matter.  What does matter is that there were people on the planet  all working at being kind to each other on July 29 in Canada and the United States.  My hope is that my story was repeated in other ways in other cities around the planet as well!! What more can you ask for??