Archive for the 'Culture Blogger' Category

Nikki Fotheringham at Green Moxie in Toronto

in Activism, Blogging, Culture Blogger, farm blog and Toronto


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Nikki Fotheringham blog, Green Moxie, content marketingNikki Fotheringham is Green Moxie, evironmental bloggerNikki Fotheringham is a friend of mine. I met her the day I almost hired her, and I reckon we’re still friends today because I didn’t. I took one look at her resume and knew she was too good for my action. It was on that day she intrigued me and caught my attention with her ideas about measuring personal impact; she confessed to me in our first meeting how she was affected by a personal obsession to calculate her impact on things, on people, and on the environment.

Green Moxie is a reminder that there is no Planet B. Nikki dedicates herself to the outward presentation of this blog to raise awareness about everyone’s impact on nature – individuals and communities can make a difference, and in turn can be affected by larger or smaller bodies with compelling ideas and examples of positive change.

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito,” African ProverbNikki Fotheringham explains Green Moxie to African VillagersNikki Fotherham grew up an independent headstrong daughter of a professional athlete in South Africa. She was a bookworm, but not a geek. She was a track and field star, a marathon runner that no boy could catch, and no parent could contain. She grew up in Johannesburg and studied Philosophy in university. A wonderful subject to behold and debate, she loved the program, but it was almost impossible to get a job upon graduation. Nikki’s first break was as a receptionist at a computer software company, and she hated that position. Instead of changing plans or perhaps quenching her fiery temperament, Nikki soon quit that job and made some radical changes to her career path; she writes “…as a true student of Philosophy, I decided it was the fabric of society that was at fault, so I gave it all up and moved to a hippie commune in the Drakensberg; a remote mountainous area in South Africa. The scenery was breathtaking and I reveled in my self-imposed asceticism. These were the days dreams are made from! With plenty of sunshine our little band of rag-tag gypsies sitting on the banks of the river that ran past the front of our rambling farm house, I really can’t remember how we managed to feed all five of us and a baby – we never really seemed to work. I bought the local video store…” Nikki Fotheringham

Green Moxie, Nikki Fotheringham in Venice Italy, blogger Nikki also typeset the local monthly newspaper which was antique but she loved the newspaper the most and so, when the commune disbanded after four fun years, she headed back to the big city of Durban where she took up a part-time position at the Natal Mercury – a local newspaper. It was her first foray into professional journalism and she was hooked. After gaining some recognition, Nikki discovered she was really employable and she soon got a full time position working at a home magazine called the HomeGuide. It was a great job and eventually she became the editor. After saving up her money, Nikki embarked on a world tour and she met her husband Ian while teaching English in Korea. She was 29 yrs old. Nikki Fotheringham the South Africa girl with Green Moxie blog in Mexico jungle Ian is from Canada and he’s is currently in his last year of a Sustainable Energy and Building Technology diploma at Humber College. He has Green Moxie. Eight years after they were married the couple worked all over the world in many different vocations – Korea, Taiwan, Kuwait, Oman and Frankfurt Germany. During that time she traveled through the United States, central and North America, all through Asia, to India and Nepal, the Middle East and, during one memorable year, drove the entire length of Africa. The environment has always been core to Nikki Fotheringham’s existence and those memories are the body of experiences she draws upon as upon today, as a much-sought-after environmental writer, and she works almost exclusively for a Jib Strategic content marketing company in Toronto who specializes in raising awareness for products designed for the green building industry. Her reward is seeing the new building products and services she extols become successful in the marketplace, and she takes great satisfaction in her own Green Moxie, her push to change the world one blog post at a time.

Post by Robert Campbell on Sunday Mar 3rd, 2013


Anum Khan and James Rubec, PB&J Mag in different parts of Canada

in Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, Fashion Blogger, humourist, NWT, Photography, Toronto and Web Designer


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PB&J

Like the sandwich that is its namesake, this is a quick, tasty and unpretentious blog.  Its bulk – or the bread is in its commitment to quality content which chronicles local/world events and lifestyles in a down to earth tone. The protein – or peanut butter – is the hearty substance behind provocative articles like Three stories that prove racism is alive and well or A grave undertaking.  Last but not least, the flair – that’s the jam – of this online gem is in its entertainment and product reviews, recommendations and musings on the good old days, like When Tim Hortons took only cash.  Individually, the ingredients themselves are humble, but when they come together they create something that is nutritious, delicious and leaves you wanting more.

James Rubec and Anum KhanPB&J Mag is a lifestyle/ political/ social/ scientific/Canadiana blog that aims to “turn frowns upside down and get brains moving.” Founded by Anum Khan and James Rubec, both professional writers and marketers who have an aptitude for unique and buzz-worthy topics, PB&J is a general interest blog full of tips, recipes and useful information. The blog is uniquely Canadian: Anum, a coffee expert, lives in the heart of metropolitan Toronto, where she works as a social media marketer for Spark Internet Marketing Corporation in the biggest and busiest city in the country.  James, a photographer, lives several hundred kilometres below the Arctic Circle in Yellowknife, NWT, where he works in advertising for Kellett Communications Inc.

Anum loves cupcakes and James is into quilting; their interests and skills, which are alike and disparate simultaneously, fuse together to form a blog that is in turns funny, relevant and thought-provoking.

Yellowknife's Beer BargePB&J offers its readers insight into the diversity of Canadian geography and culture. For example, Toronto, often referred to as the New York of Canada, is a far cry from Yellowknife, which, situated so far up North, enjoys summer days where the sun never sets. “This isn’t the Yukon, the story isn’t about the Klondike gold rush that brought fools to stampede to their deaths for hope of riches,” James writes of the Northwest Territories. “It is a story of a community building something from nothing; on and under the hardest land in the world that was and is surrounded by untamed wilderness with winters that are maddeningly long and cold. If the story of the Yukon is about personal exploration and the great gamble that is life, then Yellowknife’s is about balanced risk and teamwork.” James’ posts about life in the NWT, such as Yellowknife’s Beer Barge, contrast between Anum’s coverage of events in the big city such as restaurant openings and Fashion Week. Writes James, “Cities have larger parties, with better beer served in bigger bottles, but they’ll never have an ounce of the unity that has been built in Yellowknife with gold, stone and heart.”

NHL lockout should be stopped by HarperIn addition to recipes from James and product review from Anum, you can count on PB& J to express opinions on politics in posts like NHL lockout should be stopped by Harper (“Why should the government stand by while important money for municipalities, charities and low-income workers is left idly sitting in the arguments of rich whining babies?”), Bruce Mau Design insults all of North America (“Canada has so much to do with Seth Rogen as the United States does with Michael Phelps. You can’t pin a nation on an individual as emblematic, you can only pin the nation on the individual as a factoid.”) and Republicans, Liberals and One Good Book (“I’m jealous of the power that voters actually have in America. I hope Americans feel lucky to be able to vote for their district attorneys, sheriffs and senators. Canadians are lucky if they have a chance to vote for someone once a year.”)

PB&J Mag offers both masculine and feminine perspective, urban and boonies, world news and Canadian content. Since both writers have a background in marketing, these two bloggers are great role models for people just starting out. There aren’t any gimmicks on PB&J; it’s good content on white bread to satisfy the soul.


KD Faustino, the girl with the messy hair in Calgary

in Alberta, Blogging, British Columbia, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, Fashion Blogger, Personal Blog, Photography, style diary and Web Designer


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thegirlwiththemessyhair.com

KD Faustino is a fashion blogger and ‘style diarist’ based in Calgary, Alberta, who describes herself as ‘a 20-something fashion buyer and social media extraordinaire who left her sunny tropical islander life in the Philippines to live in freezing cold Canada.’  She has a lot of energy and is a prolific blogger; only four months after her arrival her blog was named one of the top fifteen Canadian fashion blogs of 2010*.  Her effortless style and discerning eye for fashion, made her blog an instant hit.

The girl with the messy hair is a style diary that KD (Kristine Diane) Faustino started in April 2009, while still living in Manila, to chronicle her daily outfits.

“I blog today simply because it makes me happy,” she says. “As narcissistic as it may sound, I blog for myself. It might seem shallow, but there’s really no hidden agenda behind my blogging, just that dressing up and fashion makes me happy. The compliments/recognition I get, inspiring other people with finding their style and the perks from brands/designers are just a plus for me.”

Faustino is a social media professional, and works as Social Media Head for Fashion Night Out Canada, Fabricated, and a fashion buyer for Citizen’s Planet. Her expertise in social media is apparent throughout her blog, and she’s a PR natural: “I think what makes my blog (or any blog for that matter) unique is the individual behind the blog itself,” she says. “If you stay true to yourself, your style, why you are blogging, your overall brand–it will show. You have to come to terms with the fact that blogging can be a serious business but at the same time, still having fun while doing it!”

Hailing from the tropical Philippines, KD’s had to adjust her style (not just fashion-wise but lifestyle as well) to Canada’s often frigid temperatures. Her islander spirit has brought a fresh new style to Calgary’s fashion scene and she’s embraced the challenges along the way–and posed for many a picture featuring piles of snow in the background instead of a beach. “I live in Calgary and the biggest [influence] it has on my blog is the weather!” she says. “As silly as it may sound, that’s the challenge of dressing in a bipolar city (in terms of weather) like Calgary.

#1 Holts Muse KD Faustino“I think the best thing that ever happened to me due to blogging was being recognized for something that wasn’t meant to be recognized at all,” says KD. “When I started blogging I was just doing my own thing but then I started getting recognized and awarded [Top 15 Canadian Fashion Blogs*, Honorary Blogger of the Year in the 2011 Calgary Fashion Honorary Awards, Top 5 Best Overall Blog & Top 4 Best Personal Blog at the Canadian Blog Awards 2011, 1st Place Holts Muse by Holt Renfrew, MTV Blogger Looks we Love, etc.] by the industry and being on the same lists as the people I look up to, or just by random people in random places (which is more flattering, to say the least). What makes it special is the fact that I started this blog all by myself without the help of anyone–it is certainly my baby, something that I am proud of.” See two of KD’s personal favourite posts: http://www.thegirlwiththemessyhair.com/2011/06/crochet.html, and http://www.thegirlwiththemessyhair.com/2012/01/brown-hues.html. The worst part? “Definitely the haters,” she says. “But you know what they say, you know you’ve made it when you’ve got them.”

KD at workKD isn’t certain whether or not she’ll keep the blog going after her thirtieth birthday in two years. “The good thing about my blog is that I don’t feel pressured,” she says. “I am at this point in my blogging career where I feel like I’m not anxious to get anywhere. I can choose which events I want to go to or not, what brands I want to work with–I don’t need to be everywhere, unlike when I was starting. I must say, it’s a good place to be at. And who knows, maybe after 30 I’ll turn my blog around to a travel blog or something like that!”

In the meantime, however, KD will be focusing on maintaining the high quality of her blog. “The ideal blog for me starts with decent hi-resolution photos,” she reveals. “People tend to look at photos first and then they start to read if your photos are interesting enough. A short, constructive write-up with readable font is a must for me, too. Above all, [the ideal blog is about] keeping your stuff interesting and making people come back for more.”



Mary Bratko is Wedding Girl in Ontario

in Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, event blogger, Fashion Blogger, niche blogs, Ontario, Professional Service and visual arts


Mary Bratko, wedding planner in TorontoMary Bratko eats, sleeps and blogs about weddings in southern Ontario. She shares her décor ideas, menu ideas, insights into popular traditions, decorating tricks and sweet thoughts about marital bliss to a growing following of daily readers. She’s an expert wedding planner with a seemingly endless flow of original ideas for making brides’ dreams come true. Funny thing is, she isn’t married.

WeddingGirl.ca believes that every bride should be able to afford a wedding planner. Her business is all about creating luxury on a budget and sharing her hard won knowledge on where to spend cash, how to save cash, what to skip, and when to splurge. The blog is built to both inspire and educate brides to make smart spending choices and turn their wedding planning dreams into happily ever after memories {swoon}.

wedding girl, cartoon character, polka dot dressMary came to this blog calling from an unusual angle. Through-out school she studied sciences and if you’d asked anyone of her university classmates they would have guessed that Mary was bound for a career as a surgeon, or a cancer researcher, or something that required her to keep her head buried in scientific journals, medical charts and diagrams. But when she was at school, she was also a bride, and she spent hours, days weeks months planning a beautiful wedding on a seemingly endless budget.

As a young adult, when she wasn’t reading brainy texts, Mary Bratko was thumbing through bridal magazines and developing an expensive taste for exquisite things, like high end linens, fancy embellishments, and couture designs. A twist of fate left her grand affair wedding canceled and her expensive taste became extensive debt. The rookie mistakes she made inspired her to create Wedding Girl.

diamond ring, wedding day bethrothalWith her own nuptials canceled, Mary hoped she could give away what she’d already bought to another bride, and dreamed up Wedding Girl after spotting a cry-for-help from a bride that had become pregnant during her engagement and was medically ill. The couples’ wedding budget was spent on keeping her and her unborn baby alive. She was desperate to have a wedding to one day show her baby that “Mommy and Daddy got married”. The ad was looking for anyone who could help her with décor, flowers, food, anything to create a wedding. At this moment Mary decided that no bride should ever have to beg for a wedding, or settle for second hand, or second best, and that every bride should be able to ask for, and get help.

Mary Bratko is Toronto Wedding GirlAs Wedding Girl, Mary Bratko’s goal is to help brides resolve their own unyielding desires for high-end, fancy, and couture, with a limited budget. While most of the wedding industry tends to focus on how to spend, her website is more about when to save and when to splurge and what to skip all together (and still make your wedding nothing short of FABULOUS!) What began as a hobby has now become her full time job.

Mary’s blog showcases the most recent wedding she planned and coordinated – alongside two professionals, Rick and Jay – and talks candidly about a sassy promotion with these two characters, and all the events surrounding their infamous Wedding Threesome contest.

Wedding Day Threesome, Rick Mary and JayLast year, Rick, Jay and Mary got together to create the Wedding Day Threesome contest. The inspiration behind the idea was to join forces and give one lucky bride and groom an amazing wedding package that included photography, cinema, and event design and planning. With some clever marketing, our creative talent, and lots of time, effort, the Threesome Contest was born. And as the things went swimmingly right up until the end. The trio was supposed to announce the winner on that particular day, but unfortunately one of the crew had an emergency; a child was in the hospital. The group didn’t get a chance to confirm and thereby publish their final pick for the grand prize winner.  Mary writes that “…The contest had grown a strong Facebook following and when we didn’t announce the winner (or have the chance to explain why), our Facebook followers lost their minds. We were being accused of having faked all three businesses …. of being scams, but yet we hadn’t even asked for any money!”   Mary wrote a comprehensive reply to squash the backlash and resolve the Wedding Day Threesome contest.

Wedding kiss, wedding dance, song, Stoney Creek, photographer

In less than three years, Wedding Girl has already made an impressive start and hopes to grow even bigger in 2012 with more guest blogging, content sharing, text link and banner advertising, site sponsorship and great articles about weddings, school for girls.  This blogger has found her niche.

Mary writes, ‘On a personal note – 2011 was a year for me to make mistakes, learn lessons, create new relationships, and indulge in new experiences. I’ve grown stronger as a woman, more creative as an entrepreneur, and more resilient as a business-owner. I’m thankful for every favour I placed, detail I tweaked, and bustle I bustled. Each and every bride I’ve been fortunate enough to meet has given me more than I could ever thank them for – and I’m honoured to have been a part of their big day.


Deb Lewis Blogs About Events in Toronto

in Blogging, Culture Blogger, event blogger, Ontario and Toronto

Deb Lewis of Toronto City Events, blog bannerDeb Lewis Toronto City Events blog sponsor charityDeborah Lewis runs an upscale event planning business in downtown Toronto. On average she designs, promotes and executes between thirty five and fifty of the city’s biggest and most memorable occasions each year, and she blogs about it and posts pictures on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook. Her blog gives readers the pertinent details and more – it shares a precious inside look at the makings of each happenstance.

DebLewis.ca is the home of an expert party planner and web savvy event promoter. This thirty something woman writes about parties, past present and future. The blog is rich with event summaries wherein she wraps up the best stories with photos and anecdotal accounts of Toronto roof food and music, and any outstanding memories. She writes about celebrity chefs and musicians, politicians, charities and of course the charismatic people that attend these events. She tweets her blog posts, and has an engaged Facebook following. Deb’s digital presence adds a lot of value to her events; the sponsors benefit from blog links, Facebook likes and social media ‘klout’.

Toronto City Events Logo As the founder and owner of Toronto City Events, Lewis shares her insights and her discoveries and successes using the web to promote events. When she speaks at gatherings, she can fill a room with people eager to hear her secrets.

Deborah started blogging four years ago because she was curious about this new trend and wanted a more candid less business vehicle to connect with people. She was enjoying reading other local blogs and felt it would be an interesting movement to experience writing her own. And of course she identified blogging as a key tool to complement her business communications.

Deb Lewis of Toronto City Events at Lenzr partyWhat are the results? Deb relates that immediately after starting her blog she found she was hearing more feedback from participants about the events. People were leaving comments and coming to Facebook to tag themselves in pictures. She also heard more stories and more opinions about hers and other people’s events which helped her develop better programming, but also helped increase her web and online marketing skills as she learned to respond to these queries and quips and compliments.

Deb’s most read posts are the ones that are most informative. She wrote a piece about the bars that stay open till 4am during the Toronto Film Festival that was retweeted constantly in September by the Toronto Twitterati and became a big hit with thousands of readers during TIFF and after.

Another popular post is The Beer Boutique in Liberty Village and that’s partly because the headline is phrased to resemble the search term that everyone types into Google when seeking this elusive location . It was also well shared on Facebook and Twitter around that locality. Some posts in Deb’s blog are made of what she calls ‘cultivated content’ and by that she means that her interns write the pieces from scripts that she finds or creates. Deb writes ‘…some stories I write 100%, where others I provide the framework and have the final edits and touches.’ Managing creative interns is difficult and this sentence hints at her process.

Deb Lewis with Camera at EventWhat’s in the future? More blog content and the domain will be expanding to include more rich media, more videos and podcasts. And the blog will be getting a face lift in 2012. But more substantially Deb wants to streamline the style of the posts to include more event tips and resources for people who are attending, and more content will be made available for folks who are “…interested in my area of expertise, and ideas for planning and promoting events. We’ve become a resource for what events are happening in Toronto and provide people with insights into how these events are created.”


XOXO Jes Pop Culture in Calgary

in Alberta, British Columbia, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger and humourist

XOXO JES This is me sitting on a hay bale. Self-explanatory.

Jes of XOXO is a humorous and often sarcastic voice situated in Calgary, Alberta, or “Calgs” as she calls it. She’s a prolific blogger that’s always up to date on the latest entertainment and events in her hometown, and she shares celebrity gossip from around the world. A self-proclaimed hater of many things, Jes loves writing; her blog is nominated in the categories of Overall Humour, Best Post and Pop Culture Blog in the upcoming 2011 Canadian Blog Awards.

XOXO Jes tagline is “There’s something fascinating about things you don’t need to know,” is a pop culture roundup (in the crass and vulgar tradition) of current events – its the only one of its kind in Calgary. “If I knew the secret behind people’s obsession with fame and celebrity I would totally capitalize on it,” Jes says. Kate Gosselin“All I know is that there is a large group of people who seem to care that Justin Bieber cut his hair and I would like to be the one to tell them…with some added sass and a couple zingers.”

Jes graduated university a year earlier than her friends, and she found herself watching a lot of Friends reruns after work while her real friends plodded through their homework. She was restless, and even though Friends has the distinction of holding an infinite place on her Love List, she knew she couldn’t watch the same episodes over and over forever. So, she turned to Jon and Kate Plus 8 and the rest is history: “Kate Gosselin annoyed me so much I would rage about her for hours, literally, to my roommate’s dismay,” Jes explains. “I finally decided to put in in writing and that’s when the blog was born. No joke, you can go back to the beginning and see that Kate started it all. Thanks Kate, you did one good thing. Only one.”

Jes didn’t start blogging with any intentions to be the next Perez Hilton–“there was no deep thought behind my first post, or any of the ones after that,” she jokes. “If I were to stop blogging today there wouldn’t be a domino effect of destruction or any kind of Backstage with Ben and Tyler of Said the Whale at Junofest void left in the universe. No, honestly, I started blogging because I like to write my opinions and I keep doing it because I still enjoy it and for some reason people seem to like it, grammatical errors and all.” Since that fateful first encounter with the Gosselin family, Jes has written over a thousand posts, interviewed some of her favourite entertainers like Vancouver band Said the Whale, been called a “Fairy Godmother” by a Juno winner, and even scored VIP access to the Cowboys Tent at the Calgary Stampede. “Trust me, it’s a big deal,” she says, adding, “Just kidding…kind of.”

Celebrities and entertainers choose a public life, and in so doing share their talents (and shortcomings) with the world. But why blog about them? “There are tons of crass rude blogs out there in every form, and since entertainers are such easy targets there are more of those types than others,” says Jes, although she’s the first to admit that her blog was not an original concept. What makes it unique, however, is that it’s the only one of its kind based XOXO Jes with Kevin Costner at the Calgary Stampedein Calgary. “Calgs is an interesting city that has hidden relevant-to-what-I-write gems that I explore,” she says. Of course, Cow-town celeb gossip is not an every day occurrence so I fill with various other Canadian entertainment stories or the more general stories of the hour. Most of my readers come from Calgary; [I’m] not sure if that is because they know me, heard of me or have searched something relevant to the city which has led them to my blog. All I know is that I have many Calgary faithfuls. That being said, I could probably live in the Yukon and still do the same thing. Live show reviews may be difficult, but I am sure they have the occasional performer up there…right?!”

It isn’t always easy for Jes to keep on top of work, life and blogging, but juicy celebrity scandals keep pouring in along with new TV shows, albums and viral videos. To maintain consistency, Jes established the XOXO Weeklies, three posts her readers can expect week after week: Top 5 comes out on Mondays, and lists a Jes’ top 5 picks for whatever is on her mind on a given week. Out This Weekend lists movies hitting theatres, and Jes’ pick for which one looks best. #NowPlaying: MG’s Pick of the Week is written by MG, a woman from Halifax, Nova Scotia–the only guest blogger featured on XOXO Jes–who recommends a tune every Friday.

For Jes, a good blog is an honest one. She doesn’t necessarily have to agree with what the author says, as long as they say it with conviction. “Because my opinion is, more often than not, extremely negative I have a rule: I must always be honest,” she says. “I love what I love and hate what I hate, no compromise. I know not everyone is going to agree with me, but I’d rather be hard-hitting than a puff writer who blows with Meaghan Smith at the 2011 Junossmoke up people’s asses to get on their good side. I may not always lean with popular opinion, but you know it is always my opinion and not someone else’s.” Jes’ frank, fierce and fearless approach is part of what makes XOXO Jes so appealing, but she’s had her fair share of haters, too. “I love my hate mail. It keeps me real,” she says. “If you are going to dish it out you have to be able to take it, so I appreciate that not everyone agrees with me.” Some of these strong opinions can be found in blog posts like the letter to the girl sitting behind her at a Ke$ha/Rihanna concert, an in-depth analysis of why she hates Nickelback so no one would ever ask her again, or this completely reasonable request she Standex electronics reed switch made of Oprah.

Jes has no plans to write her last blog post soon, or any plans at all, really. In an ideal world “some rich enlightened person” would pay for her to blog full-time, but until then she’s fully enjoying what she’s doing. “Hopefully I’m around for awhile and don’t get burned out trying to keep up with the many jailing of Lindsay Lohan,” she says. “Maybe one day I will go big and get an XOXO Jes Facebook page. Or not, again…no strategy here.”


The Northern Star in Prince George

in Activism, British Columbia, Culture Blogger, humourist, News Media and Scholar


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The Northern Star Magazine, British Columbia, Alternative media print and online publication

Will Lewis, Northern Star Online writer, editor, publisher and daily bloggerWill Lewis is a loud voice, west of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He’s an alternative media print publisher in Prince George, British Columbia, with a well trafficked website and blog. Because storytelling runs in his blood, he writes news, comedy and political satire. His mother was one of the first aboriginal women in all of North America to get a university degree, and he has the same pioneering spirit.

The Northern Star is best categorized as ‘alternative media’, and has one goal – to entertain its readers. Every edition is filled with news stories, folk tales and funny observations. Will, and his wife Cathie, believe their job is to make readers think, smile and feel better about themselves. The Northern Star blog is an effective content repository, where they showcase the best articles and jokes from their weekly publication. Anyone is welcome to respond with their comments. Will says, “We actually began blogging as an afterthought. We first created a printed magazine, developed a readership, and then created the blog to build upon that audience.”

Will and Cathie produce The Northern Star in Prince George, British Columbia, but it’s enjoyed around the world. Even the local political articles, Will's Thoughts on The Northern Star in Prince George British Columbiaespecially Will’s Thoughts, wherein he gets very opinionated about actions and decisions of politicians and government, is enjoyed world wide. Beyond that, there’s plenty of human interest pieces, like the story on Purina’s new TV commercials for dogs, and how Knokkers is played in Missouri. They profiled Leonard George Casley, the independent micro nation known as the Hutt River Principality in Australia, and closer to their home is a fascinating overview of Spotted Lake, a volcanic water body in southern BC, that weeps mineral rich mud in an unusual spotted pattern. Will follows his own passion, and publishes things that makes one think – he shares a growing conviction that ‘We Are E.T.’ (Extraterrestrials) with his readers, in pieces relating facts that challenge the standard belief system regarding the origin of mankind. But don’t misunderstand, The Northern Star is a family friendly publication, that fundamentally respects the diversity of our multicultural world.

The Northern Star, valuing differences, celebrating diversityThe Northern Star is an Aboriginal Owned and Operated Print and Online Publication

Because The Northern Star is physically circulated in print, available online, and directly mailed to thousands of email addresses, Will and Cathie can offer advertisers a variety of different options, different platforms and delivery perspectives. They have more than a dozen long term advertisers, and get good return from their ad network, which speaks volumes about their business acumen. According to Lewis, however, …the biggest obstacle we run into is that many businesses are reluctant to do business with an aboriginally owned and operated company. That’s a fascinating statement, because it makes his own writer’s quest for racial and religious tolerance even more profound.

Unfortunately, Will can’t publish all of his opinionated beliefs, because Cathie is the final filter who won’t allow some of it. When we asked him the worst thing that’s ever happened to him since publishing, he alluded to creative differences with Cathie.

Mel trucker stories truck driver british columbia blog

One of the best things to come from the rise of The Northern Star, is the discovery and promotion of Mel McConaghy, an original voice found in a retired truck driver, who started life as a dyslexic eighth grade dropout, and is now an internationally acclaimed writer. This long journey occurred in part, because of the exposure he receives from his own website, My Life Through A Broken Windshield, Trucker’s Tales From The Road Of Life, which is truncated and published as a weekly column in The Northern Star.

BC truck driver navigates a mountain creek with big tractor trailer

Some terrific examples of Will’s writing occur in Will’s Thoughts, like this favourite, wherein Will confesses to being a belief-o-holic. He writes,

Hi, my name is Will and I am a Belief-o-holic. Beliefs have always been my best friends. I used beliefs to feel better, to ease my pain, and to end my loneliness. Sometimes I believed in public, but most often, I believed alone. I’ve suffered horribly, and caused others to suffer, because of my addiction to beliefs. I put beliefs ahead of my family, friends and community. Beliefs made me do things that I am ashamed of, and almost destroyed my life.

More wisdom in Will’s Thoughts when he writes about the moral ambiguity of the word ‘okay’; he says, …any time that you hear someone say ‘that’s okay’, pay real close attention to how it’s being used.

And this little gem, ‘The Problem With Education’, is a delightful look at a dinner party, where the truth about teachers is revealed to a money grubbing career driven corporate CEO. It’s immensely enjoyable, and like the rest of The Northern Star, it shares a simple mandate to make people smile and give them hope.


Nora Camps, Business Storyteller in Toronto

in Blogging, Culture Blogger, farm blog, food blog, gardening, Ontario, Painter, Personal Blog, Toronto and visual arts

business storyteller, Nora Camps blog, Strategy and Design, web marketingbusiness storyteller, Nora Camps blog, Strategy and Design, web marketingNora Camps is a graphic designer, web marketing strategist and fine arts painter living and working in Toronto, Ontario. She is one of the two principals of Duo Strategy and Design, a cost effective business storytelling company with a green mandate; they’re bent on changing the world one project at a time. Nora’s blog is filled with insights into the business of being an artist and her struggle to make change and remedy societal malaise through art and interaction.

Duo Strategy and Design Blog is chock full of rare and precious wisdom from a professional artist that runs a marketing company for A list clients. She helps the greenest institutions in Canada demonstrate their innovations and environmentalism with amazing print publications and high concept websites. Her portfolio of business stories inspires other artists and imbues her own blog with status and authority.

Her diction and prose are easy to read, and her text is emotionfull; each blog post is a story. In just about every dispatch the reader can glimpse Nora’s humanity, especially when she writes about life in Toronto, or her escapes to the country. She writes, I love Toronto, grit and all. When I’m not in the city I can be found in the country and sometimes join Terry, in his Skybolt, to fly over the countryside.

Imagineering is a word created by Disney, but co-opted by Nora Camps. Her vision embraces any use of imaginative narrative to realize, create, or catalyze in real life the potentials we are imagining. It often involves complete stories, in any form. But it can also involve one or more story elements — metaphors, images, themes, perspectives, conflicts, problems, questions, goals, knowledge, possibilities, and imagined characters, situations, plots, events, resolutions, dialogue, etc.

Imagineers use these story elements consciously to inspire and guide people to reshape their consciousness, their lives, and their social and physical circumstances.

Nora has a unique storytelling process that she executes for corporations which I want to share here,

Step 1 – Buy-in, decide who will sit at the table. Listen and learn stories.

Step 2 – Draft the story

Step 3 – Diction – refine the language, syntax, tone and perspective.

Step 4 – Test the story tell the story, develop launch plan, creative brief, speaking notes, and syntax.

Step 5 – Map the story, grow the story, share the Final Brand Story as many ways as possible

Nora laughs at something opening night of Sarayu gallery exhibit, paintingsOn being a blogger, Nora writes, I have discovered that in order to move forward through life, as opposed to simply standing still, I must live consciously. Writing about my adventures of thought and deed seem to propel me forward and the connections have produced very cool new products, client projects and paintings.

Nora tells me that she gets a lot of feedback on her blog posts. People email her and ask questions because they are looking for experts on some subject. Some folks respond to blog posts in comments to say that her thoughts have helped them or encouraged them to write more, to blog, to journal, or to question something.Nora writes, To me, questioning why something is happening is important to growth. For business, zeroing in on their biggest obstacles produces the fastest wins – that is asking: This is our biggest problem – why is it happening? All my stories transcend life, business, and art.

A conversation is always better. business storytellingNora doesn’t get involved in online debates, or flame wars. She doesn’t even respond to comments that are filled with obvious negativity. She will publish all comments however, unless they are profane or spam, but she won’t get into bickering matches with her readers, She writes, Blogging must never be bashing. Sometimes a comment about local politics takes on a life of it’s own. Time is short. I do not wish to waste my time ruminating on the minutia. Online is not the place for a debate. A conversation is always better.

Probably the best thing that Nora ever did for society with her blog was Mugs With Frames – Portrait of a City. The project was done to demonstrate that the people of Toronto are friendly. She blogged about this ambitions first and asked for stories. “Thank you to everyone who shares their opinion with me.” Nora writes, “I treasure your opinions”.

Here is a brief look at Nora’s work as a fine arts painter,

Readers can follow Nora on Twitter @NoraCamps and they can see all her artwork on NoraCamps.com

Sarayu is a river in India

SARAYU is the name of a river in India. It is the name of a spirit, and sometimes it’s the name for wind that catches you by surprise. Women are comfort givers, they are life and energy givers and in their actions they channel the spirit of the creator. They are representative of the holy spirit, though not necessarily as chronicled in the scriptures, but more specifically they are all that is warm, loving, gentle, kind and refreshing – SARAYU is every woman in every circumstance all over the world

With an eye on the future, Nora hopes to make her blog more perfect by making it a little less cerebral, and even easier to read and digest. She takes a camera with her everywhere now, to best capture one-of-kind original pictures that are life’s fleeting moments. Nora wants her blog to be the entry point for people learning about her web storytelling company. In her words, “DUO does really cool projects – because of who we are and how we learn and live and synthesize. It’s a continuous circle. The blog is an important and obvious contributor to the process.”


Fredericks Artworks is a Canadian Art Blog

in Culture Blogger, niche blogs, Scholar and visual arts

Fredericks Artworks bannerFrederick winston of Fredericks ArtworksFrederick Winston is a Canadian painter, and his blog celebrates his own passion for the visual arts in Canada. By documenting great art, and detailing little known artists, he gives Canadians a beautifully painted perspective on their own cultural identity.

FREDERICKS ARTWORKS is a veritable volcano of historically responsible, easy-to-read content that’s firmly centered on the visual arts. It’s an online periodical that reviews paintings and the people who painted them, yesterday and today. It’s very frequently updated, and there’s even sidebar text informing readers of when to expect future posts! Frederick, like so many other personal bloggers, feels guilt and angst inside what he perceives is an overwhelming obligation to an invisible audience. He doesn’t want to let his readers down, but will he burn out if he keeps up this pace?

Ladies Tea, a painting by Frederick WinstonOut in front of the curtains, Fredericks Artworks has certainly become a very valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of Canadian art or insights into exhibiting art in this country. The blogspot is part history, part biography and a big part reflection that includes unique social commentary. Reading this material everyday is very healthy for painters, and anyone passionate about supporting the arts and promoting Canadian cultural values.

A look back through the archives reveals many thought provoking glimpses into the nooks and crannies of making art as a business in Canada. Frederick praises small town art galleries, and reviews festivals and visits friends with whom he paints and describes the places at which they glimpse unusual landscapes and why they choose one particular venue over another. It’s truly fascinating stuff.

Bruno Cote, blog bruno cote Soleil Couchant sur la TaigaThe artist biographies and Fred’s presentation of other artists’ works are both well researched and focused on the market. There is some borrowing of public information from sources such as the CBC, the NFB, Wikipedia and You Tube, but whenever possible the author attempts to personalize the text with special insights, unusual facts and personal anecdotes. Frederick likes to write about painters from the early 1800s, and the early nineteen hundreds; its truly remarkable is how well these historic biographies juxtapose his critiques and reviews of contemporary artists, including many fresh young faces still studying art in Toronto and Montreal.

Frederick has no agenda. For the first few years he wouldn’t even show his own paintings on his blog. And he doesn’t ever want to be appear political or even opinionated. If there’s even a hint of controversy he runs away – for example when his piece about Norval Morriseau spawned some spurious comments, he apologized and then deleted the whole post. Ha ha!

St Martins, a painting by Ken TobiasSome of Frederick’s best work includes critiques or studies of certain pictures, such as Robert Harris’s A Meeting of the School Trustees, June 1, 2010, and Prudence Heward’s ‘Sisters of Rural Quebec,’. Recently Frederick had creative exchanges with singer, songwriter Ken Tobias after doing a search on him in which he discovered that this musician is also an impressive painter. Frederick communicated with Ken and shared a personal story about how Ken’s song, Dream Two impacted his life. Later it gave the art blogger a lot of satisfaction to write a positive critique of Ken’s art,

Here’s a bit of what Frederick had to say about Ken’s painting, St Martin (above), This delightful landscape work by Ken Tobias, creates a sense of solitude. The picture covers such a vast panorama of sea and distant land that I cannot help but feel a sense of diminution. The recognition of one’s finiteness against the vastness of earth and sky creates for me a sense of awe at the beauty of the earth.

Frederick’s journey into blogging came from traveling several routes on his path as a writer, and an artist.

Way back when he graduated university with a degree in English and for many years in one vocation or another he produced hard copy newsletters. One publication was an award winner, and so he was published in trade magazines before he became a painter, later in life. The evolution into blogging seemed natural, and his computer literacy and digital photography skills have also improved in accordance with the ardours of the new publishing medium.

Frederick writes, …The problem with writing articles and producing newsletters and blogs is that you pretty much work in a vacuum. After my first year of producing daily blog entries I went through a process of re-evaluation. Even though the blog is ticking along with a healthy readership, a very small percentage of people comment on my postings. So few that sometimes it seems that what I work to produce has little value. One weekend, I was sitting at my art display in a nearby village and someone walked up to me, and said “Hi Fredericks, I enjoy reading your blog.” I was stunned. I told him that I was thinking of putting it to bed and his response was, “No…don’t…I read it every day.”

Art festival in Quebec, fine art, paintings for sale, montreal

Frederick has discovered readers in other artists, art schools, art galleries and among Canadian media and the communication industry in general.

When asked why people read his blog, Frederick Winston replies,

Because I paint, the blog reflects my love of the visual arts in Canada. My blog is unique because I give artists an opportunity of telling their story to Canadians, and the opportunity of sharing special events in their lives and presenting their works. Beneath it all, I strive to present, through art, the way Canadians see our country. Art tells the story of who we are and that story takes us into all parts of Canada, from the art of our Native brothers, into the forest and prairies and coasts of Canada and into our largest urban centers. It also takes us for a walk through time from the recordings of English military officers in watercolours, to the abstractionists of the 20th century, and we see it all through our rich diversity of the visual media.

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Lauren O’Nizzle in London Ontario

in Blogging, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, niche blogs, Ontario and Personal Blog

Lauren OutLoud blog is home of Lauren ONizzleLauren O’Neil, aka Lauren O’Nizzle is a 24 year old journalism student at the University of Western Ontario. She’s working on her master’s degree, but she’s already the most sophisticated, web tech-savvy pop culture princess we’ve ever encountered.  This girl makes media, and in less than two years she has become an outstanding example of a new type of entertainer, a socially brilliant one girl band on a noble quest to “spew random hilarity” all over the internet.

LaurenOutLoud is the website that hosts her entire menu which includes Lauren O’Neil web journalism portfolio. In addition to this formal magazine like portal, Lauren O’Nizzle’s content is distributed across numerous social mediums including, her LaurenOutLoud blog which is complimented by her twitter page @LaurenONizzle her LaurenONeal Delicious bookmarks account, her Nizzle .Posterous email blog platform, and of course her Lauren ONizzle on YouTube account.

This isn’t your typical marketing student blog, or any form of high brow intellectual content, although her posts are smarter than you might expect from a 24yr old person; the largest search terms in her blog’s tag cloud are ‘funny, muchmusic, TV, youtube’ in that order, and these are followed by ‘jschool, internship, cute’ and ‘dating’.

lauren ONizzle looks shy sad quiet fragile and its an illusion

Lauren O’Nizzle is very creative, and a little nerdy in how she stretches ideas and goes the distance for her followers. She’s been know to scan and post original drawings, and apply advanced photo shop skills to borrowed images. Also impressive is her ability to infuse comedy into her video interviews.

The name O’Nizzle came about organically as a nickname her friends applied several years ago. When it came time to create her Facebook account etc, she decided to go with that handle to protect her future employers from seeing any scandalous photos that may or may not appear in that space. Now, most friends don’t even call her Lauren anymore, to them she is simply “Nizzle.”

When an digital artist named Cameron Stewart cartooned her, she remarked on how the picture was ‘the sickest thing she’s ever seen’,  and she used it on her menu page layout.  That menu is so compelling. This young journalism student already embodies the future of electronic news media and entertainment. She is a great example of how people will soon make media for other people.

lauren ONizzle in the bathrrom with a toothbrush and phone cameraBorn in Chatham Ontario, Lauren moved to Windsor for her undergraduate degree, and now she lives in London.  As a journalism student, her blog is a place where she doesn’t have to worry about journalistic integrity and reporting on hard news. On her blog, she can have the freedom to take sides and write about what ever she desires even if it’s about creepy old naked ladies.

In a way, Lauren began blogging when she was only twelve years old, after she discovered Angelfire.  In that strange space she created a diary web page called “Spaz Central.” She filled this page with animated gifs and pictures of her awkward, frizzy-haired adolescent girls posing like the young models in Seventeen magazine (pictures that had been taken with a disposable camera and scanned at the library, of course).

As a self-proclaimed soul mate of Tina Fey, Conan O’Brien and Lisa Simpson, Lauren colours her stories funny and smart.

lauren onizzle on the radio

Lauren loves to multitask and is always on the go; she’s a little obsessed with always creating content. When she isn’t being viral, she likes watching comedy TV shows, doing yoga, reading fashion magazines, dancing and eating sugar cereals.  She’s an active blog reader and prolific commenter.  And Lauren is not at all shy about having her picture taken, and her face can be seen mugging all over her media empire. Her openness gives followers a big window into the life of a young blond journalism school student in Canada.

Lauren ONizzle AXE contest promotion banner

She also defines herself as being the opposite of Sarah Palin, Jay Leno and Bart Simpson.

Recently, Lauren was named one of the 10 finalists in the in AXE Canada’s Ridiculously, Ridiculously Good Summer Gig Competition. Voting for the Axe Summer Gig ends on March 31st, which ironically is the very day in which her profile here on Canada Blog Friends was posted.

“Success for me is making people laugh. Every time I get an email from somebody telling me that something I’ve posted has made their day or cheered them up, I’ve succeeded. I don’t do this for the money or the perks or the mad groupie hoes. I do it for the lulz, plain and simple.”

lauren Onizzle cartoon by her friend, i cant remember his name

“I saw an episode of Ghost Writer when I was 9, where ghostwriter goes into a computer modem and fights a hacker. I thought that this was the coolest thing ever so I begged my parents for a modem until they finally got me one.”

Lauren’s considers her blog to have no true central theme. Her posts run the gamut. Funny things, weird things, pop culture, web culture, nerdities, schadenfreude and all things karma related and esp things that she observes while shopping. Half the time, she says it’s just brain vomit. Whatever is on the top of her mind at any given time is effortless transmutated into social capital. Lauren’s followers tend to be people who share her wacky sense of humour and have similar interests to her.

For Lauren (Nizzle) O’Neil, blogging is how she brings her humour, lifestyle, hobbies and career aspirations to one place so she can properly share them with the rest of the world.

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