Archive for the 'gardening' Category

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.”


Whimfield, Modern Pre-Industrial Living in Prince Edward Island

in farm blog, food blog, gardening, niche blogs, Prince Edward Island and Tourism

Laura-Jane Koers started blogging in 2001 when the practice of writing personal stories on the web was still called journaling. She describes it as a ‘social outlet for a socially awkward girl’. The practice served her well, and now Canada Blog Friends is proud to present her portal as the most sophisticated blog on the index.

Whimfield, Modern Pre-Industrial Living is an online magazine quality niche blog that’s the work of one female genius. The portal centers on a 100-year-old farmhouse on 63 acres of field, forest, and streams, located in a small community outside of Montague, on Prince Edward Island. The stories are written by a girl who emigrated to PEI from British Columbia, with her boyfriend Cameron. It’s a 100% original ‘lifestyle content’ blog that paints the perfect picture of a beautiful young couple, very much in love, enjoying a modern pre-industrial life in rural paradise. They have no modern appliances, except an old tractor, and so they conserve and enjoy the goodness of nature in a manner similar to the pioneers.

What’s most intriguing, is that both Laura-Jane and Cameron work in technology. They run a web marketing and web project management business called Brightflock, and Cameron also has a web application development company called Kibo Software. Follow Laura-Jane on Twitter @ljbrightflock Here are two smart people, and their love story is their most compelling component of their all natural lifestyle without manufacturing software or gadgets.

Cameron and Laura-Jane of Whimfield farm blog in PEI Cameron Lerch is a lucky guy, and his life is chronicled in hundreds of photographs, anecdotes and poems; indeed most of his thoughtfulness gets recorded online. One of the most popular posts on Whimfield is the long version of how they met. The story …It Feels So Good To Love and Be Loved define their characters to readers, as it relates how they themselves defined their characters. Laura Jane writes later that, “The short version is that we were both absolute social outcast teenagers who were ecstatic to find each other. In one another we found support, love, and a best friend. We’ve grown up together. It hasn’t always been easy. We both have a lot of respect for one another and for our relationship itself. Relationships are hard work, but the rewards are deep and many.”

cameron Lerch and Laura-Jane Koers in Buggy at Anne of Green Gables House in PEI Canada

Cameron embraces Laura-Jane’s blogging but, “…back in the old days he had a love/hate relationship with it because I didn’t censor anything. I swore, I gossiped about his irritating habits, and I left no stone unturned. As time passed, though, we developed a set of rules. In order for blogging to work for us both I have to respect his privacy.” And she adds that, “Now that we’re known in our community and we own businesses, he is even more protective of our privacy. He really respects what I do though. He reads all of my posts. And he’s written two of his own posts.”

At Whimfeld, there’s no conflict and that’s okay. Laura-Jane’s new web journal is an information rich look at the life in the country, and it can be grouped into multiple niches. It’s DIY home renovation, environmentalism, gardening, food, travel and photography. This female blogger has a good eye for photos, and a professional approach to blogging around compelling images. She writes, “…I still use my photography to illustrate my points. I love to combine my photographs with my writing. It’s some kind of symbiotic happy existence. I don’t like to write a blog post without an original photo to accompany it. Usually a photo will inspire the post.” 

“Blogging saved me in 2001. I love talking about blogging. I could cry talking about blogging.” Laura-Jane Dec 2009

Whimfield starts with a bang! A fascinating road trip story starts the Whimfield blog. Laura Jane opens the manifest by detailing her migration in Driving Across Canada: How To Sleep in Your Car In The Depths Of Winter with her boyfriend Cameron in a jeep like automobile. The couple slept in their vehicle and rigged a boat heater to run off the battery at night. The lessons learned and the manner in which they are related are truly unique and priceless.

Laura-Jane writes, “It all began with a desire to leave urban Victoria, mostly because of the expensive price of property there. We wanted a farm, but we did not want to be mortgaged to the hilt to get one. So we started looking elsewhere in Canada. It was a simple equation, really. Where could we go that was beautiful, idyllic, and affordable? We trolled real estate websites, and we looked at the most affordable properties that had all of the qualities that we were looking for. We saw a picture of our lonely little house, and it just called to us. We sold everything and drove across the country because of that little house. It was on Whim Road. We couldn’t resist it.”

Read Whimfield: Summer of Discovery to glimpse the passion for nature that drives Laura-Jane and read how she ‘discovered’ her own property blooming and coming to life in the spring. Portable solar power, because the couple closed on the farm in the winter, they more or less bought the property sight unseen and so took front row seats to Nature’s spectacle in the spring, summer and fall.

Cameron and Laura-Jane in Whimfield autumn lane

On the subject of deck building and Farming in Prince Edward Island, Laura Jane continues, “The dream for us was never to be farmers per se. The dream for us was to be able to have the time and freedom to dabble in a lot of things at once. For example, spending four hours a day on web projects, a couple hours outside in the yard gardening or farming, an hour reading a book, an hour playing music, and so on. Variety is the spice of life. Doesn’t that sound like heaven? It does to me.”

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Life in Cowtown in Calgary

in Alberta, food blog, gardening and Personal Blog

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Tatina Kharitonova of Life in CowtownTatiana Kharitonova uses both sides of her brain. The 29 year old accountant crunches numbers in downtown Calgary from 9 to 5, but after work and on weekends she follows her heart and explores a ‘million mini passions’ which she writes about on her blog.

Life in Cowtown was originally created to document Tatiana’s first ‘cold climate garden’, and just in case anyone cared to duplicate her experiments she decided to keep an online journal that she could also reference later. An early post shows her backyard in the winter before the garden occurs and describes the conflict that occurs inside her own brain – Tatiana is torn between her desire to be outdoors, and her general fear and contempt for insects, esp spiders and stinging bees.

Stable, secure and contemplative, Tatiana has been locked up in a good relationship with “a great guy” for eight years. She loves to read books and digests about four per week. She’s also a champion of free printable coupons and occasionally  posts offers right on her blog.

pepper plantSkilled in writing unbiased reviews, it’s not unusual to find Tatiana combining food and travel in the same post. She reviews cafes, shopping malls and Calgary Hotels and her journal entries are sometime punctuated with pictures of half eaten sandwiches and empty soup bowls. Unpredictable, she’s best categorized as an abstract gardening and pets blogger.

“I’m a generalist” she exclaims, ‘I like to learn a reasonably shallow amount on a variety of topics, and here anything goes – from ‘quantum physics for dummies’ to ‘how to make penicillin at home’. For example, Tatiana is an amateur mycologist and goes foraging for mushrooms in Alberta every year. I hope she writes a post on that subject this summer, and perhaps someday she will offer up a homemade mushroom hunting map to her readers.

Miss Kharitonova shoots all her own photos, and counts photography among her many interests.  Some great posts include her review of Millarville, which is typical straightforward account of her journey to Southern Alberta’s largest outdoor farmers’ market. That destination relates to her cold climate gardening objectives. Here’s a fascinating look at wall systems and how she replants peppers and takes her own advice, for once.

She loves her cats, especially Tweak, seen here.
Tweak the cat
Tatiana’s journal is not political. She doesn’t write to offend anybody, or propose radical change or protest society. But she did relate to me her frustration with the city of Calgary. What other city builds overpasses and sticks six sets of lights on them? Or purposely staggers their red lights so that you catch each one when driving?

In closing, Tatiana relates, “I do have a pretty dark side, but it doesn’t come out on the blog for several reasons. First, the nature of this blog doesn’t really encourage it – it’s hard to write about gardening and cats then switch to something nihilistic. I may have to get a second blog to express that side of me, but when I think about it, life is hard enough for many people, so having something to laugh at is more important than dragging oneself down.”

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