Christina Vasilevski

Toronto Writer/Editor for Content Strategy, Content Design & UX.

3 Lessons From The Art of Entrepreneurship

The Art of EntrepreneurshipOn Tuesday I attended The Art of Entrepreneurship, a day-long event with info and resources for business owners and entrepreneurs. However, even though the speakers were famous, much of the advice about running a successful business was old-hat.

You know the stuff. Build a positive work culture. Find your passion. Be bold. Et cetera.

That advice works; you can’t be successful in business without following it. But there’s more to entrepreneurship than that.

Despite this, I did learn some other lessons. Here are three of them.

1. Entrepreneurship is like basketball: it’s all about pivots and rebounds

The best anecdote that I heard was from Alexis Ohanian, who talked about starting reddit. Reddit is one of the darlings of Paul Graham’s Y Combinator program, but initially Ohanian and his co-founder Steve Huffman were rejected when they applied. Their plan to create a mobile-based restaurant ordering service didn’t pass the sniff test — the infrastructure for this sort of thing just wasn’t there in 2005.

However, they got a sudden reprieve: the next day, Graham called them back, offering them a second chance if they worked on a different idea instead.

Y Combinator wasn’t yet the legend it is now. But both founders knew a good thing when they saw it. With the right guidance, they got reddit off the ground and made it so successful that it was bought out by Conde Nast the following year.

Could they have stuck with their initial bad idea? Yes. Could they have improved on that bad idea? Probably. But they recognized that changing direction would be better in the long term. They pivoted and rebounded from near failure.

2. Give your presentation balance

There were five speakers at the event:

  • Eric Ryan, from the eco-friendly cleaning product company method;
  • Chris Guillebeau, best-selling author and “travel hacker”;
  • Debbie Travis, design expert and founder of a multi-media empire;
  • Alexis Ohanian (mentioned above); and
  • Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of the Wine Library and VaynerMedia.

These are all notable people — big names draw in big crowds.

However, I suspect they scheduled the speakers in the above order on purpose: the opening and closing speakers, Ryan and Vaynerchuk, had the most energy. Ryan was fun and goofy. Vaynerchuk was confrontational and swore a lot. (This had the benefit of waking up an audience that was crashing at the end of the day.) In contrast, the other three speakers were more muted.

The point is that what applies to high-school essays can also be applied to people: start and finish with your strongest stuff, and leave the weaker parts in the middle.

This isn’t to say that the other three speakers were “weak” — just that different people have different levels of charisma, and that you need to take advantage of that. Personally, I found Chris Guillebeau’s talk the most appealing, but he was far more subdued than Eric Ryan was.

3. It’s not just about the art; it’s also about the people

The true value of these events lies in meeting interesting people, so let me tell you about some awesome people I met. Maybe they can help you. Maybe you can help them. Whatever happens, they’re still doing cool stuff.

Viviana Machado of Foodies Inked — Viviana’s day job involves managing social media for a major hardware store chain, but during the evenings and weekends she reviews restaurants across Toronto on her blog, Foodies Inked. In addition to her reviews, she travels, runs contests, and posts recipes online.

Belinda Monpremier of 99founders — 99founders is an online benefits club for Canadian entrepreneurs and business owners. It offers special deals and discounts on travel, hotels, web apps, and other aspects of running a business. Note: The site is currently invite-only.

Lindsay Knowlton of Iron Lady Golf — Lindsay started playing golf as a hobby with her dad. Eventually, people asked her to teach them how to play golf so they could take part in corporate events. She soon realized that knowledge of golf was a useful asset for women who wanted to “break into” primarily male parts of the business world, and founded Iron Lady Golf as a result. Lindsay has made some fabulous connections with golf courses across the GTA. Now she’s learning how to play golf left-handed to learn all over again what it’s like to be a newcomer to the sport.

Were you there too?

There were hundreds of people at The Art of Entrepreneurship; were you one of them? How did you feel about the speakers? What did you learn? Let me know in the comments.

Book Review: Stroll by Shawn Micallef

Stroll by Shawn MicaleffTitle: Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto
Author: Shawn Micallef (illustrations by Marlena Zuber)
Publisher: Coach House Books/Eye Weekly
Format: Print
Rating: 3 out of 5

Sometimes walking around your neighbourhood is one of the nicest things there is. Depending on where you are, you can escape from the everyday by going down a choice side street. If you’re feeling a bit more sociable, perhaps, you can just chat with your neighbours.

Occasionally, though, those walks turn into something deeper. You might be with a friend who’s been part of the community for a long time, and knows stories you don’t. You might notice an interesting sign or faded storefront. You might even have had your memory jogged by visiting an archive. It’s those sorts of moments that Stroll focuses on.

Shawn Micallef is one of the Senior Editors of Spacing magazine, a publication devoted to culture and architecture in Canada and Toronto specifically. Stroll was originally a series of columns published by Eye Weekly (which then became The Grid TO, which then unfortunately shut down last week), and is an in-depth look at Toronto’s history and development as seen through its streetscapes.

Each chapter of the book discusses a different neighbourhood or stretch of road in Toronto, from the Beaches to the Rouge to the hydro corridor on Finch, and does so from the perspective of one just walking around. Micallef’s observations are interspersed with those gleaned from long-time residents and historians. Interesting things about the city’s history reveal themselves when seen through the lens of the humble flâneur – ravines and highways are just as important as the now-iconic view of the waterfront. Each chapter also comes with hand-drawn pictures and maps of the locations in question by Marlena Zuber. The back cover also comes attached with a hand-drawn pullout map for more context.

I think part of what makes Micallef such an incisive viewer of the city is that he didn’t grow up here, like I did. He approached Toronto with the sort of exploratory eye that only someone new to a place can bring. It also helps that he came to the city right around the time it was really starting to undergo renewal and/or gentrification, and got to see some of the last glimpses of the past before the condo towers started going up. As someone who has lived in Scarborough my whole life, that’s not the sort of view I’ve had access to. Also, I was away at university during part of this transformation, I think.

That doesn’t mean it’s a light, read, though. I found it difficult to read more than 4 or 5 essays in a row. It actually took me about 2 months of nibbling to get through it all. The stores and architects and important dates become a jumble after a while. Is this the best way to think about history? Perhaps not. But it seems this book is best taken in at a slower pace. Considering that all of the walks are “strolls” rather than “jogs”, perhaps that’s a rather fitting way to look at things.

The EAC 2014 Conference: Live Tweets, Landmarks, and Lost Voices

Conference logo for the Editors' Association of CanadaI’ve been a member of the Editors’ Association of Canada since 2009, but haven’t attended every conference since then. I’ve only attended the ones requiring minimal travel, like the 2010 one in Montreal or the 2012 one in Ottawa. Luckily enough, the EAC 2014 conference, which happened just last weekend, was in my hometown of Toronto. It was a pretty fun ride, most things considered – here’s what it was like.

Friday June 6th

Friday did not start off well for me, as I woke up with an alarmingly scratchy throat. As the day progressed, I felt worse as muscle aches started to set in. Understandably, I was filled with dismay, as having a cold would affect my ability to talk to others, but I soldiered on and went to the reception anyways.

I have to admit that while it was good to talk to people and see familiar faces, I didn’t enjoy the reception as much as I could have, as the cold ruined things. I went out with some other attendants afterwards for dinner in the hope that some Tom Yum soup would fix me up, but alas, it didn’t.

Saturday June 7th

Since I live on the edge of Toronto, it took me a while to travel to the conference location, so I missed the opening moments of Douglas Gibson’s keynote. I enjoyed what I did manage to hear though, especially his anecdotes about Alice Munro and W.O. Mitchell (“now that’s what I call a ‘deadline’!”). I ended up attending the following sessions:

Faster Editing: Using PerfectIt to Check Consistency and House Style with Daniel Heuman: PerfectIt is a software program designed to help editors maintain consistency in a document by automatically checking for things like hyphens and capitalization. I’ve never used it, but this seminar gave everyone in the room plenty of reason to try. The entire room was filled with a low-grade murmur of phrases like “oh my god” and “wow” and “that’s a lifesaver” throughout the hour. I live-tweeted this one.

e-Merging in Social Media to Win Clients with Erin Brenner: Erin is the editor of the Copyediting newsletter, and made an impact with her writing blog and other social media efforts. Her seminar focused on using a blog as an online presence hub with social media profiles as the spokes reaching out from that hub. A lot of this information was already familiar to me (hell, I was live-tweeting this seminar too), but I do admit that it gave me some ideas about how to revamp the static pages on my own site.

Working as an In-house Managing Editor with Brooke Smith, Robert Steckling, and Tracy Torchetti: I didn’t get a lot out of this one, but I attribute that to the fact that I was really crashing due to my cold. However, I did get a chance to reconnect with a former coworker, and that was definitely worth something.

There were a few hours between the end of the sessions and the start of the EAC’s Awards Banquet, and the idea of going back home only to return downtown made little sense. Luckily, I found two editors who came from out of town who were also wondering how to spend the intervening time, so I offered to take them on a little tour of the landmarks close to the conference location.

We ended up going to Old City Hall (which was closed), where I managed to dredge up some of the facts I remembered from Doors Open a few weeks ago, the current City Hall (where we took a look at the diorama of the downtown core), Campbell House, and some of the grassy grounds leading out near the rear of City Hall. We then had an afternoon snack at a local pub, and went back to the hotel where the other two were staying to spruce up for the Awards Banquet.

The Awards Banquet  itself was interesting, but with my cold, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it. I had run my voice ragged by the time it started, so I couldn’t talk as much as I wanted with the people sitting at the same table as me. Also, as it was the first time I’ve ever attended one of the EAC banquets, I didn’t know what to expect, especially in terms of length – I had to run to catch a taxi after it was done, and if the banquet had lasted one minute longer or if my taxi had stalled for one more minute in traffic, I would have completely missed my train home from Union Station.

Sunday June 8th

This was the day when all of my previous talking took its toll. My throat was sore and scratchy, and any attempts to raise my voice above a whisper resulted in a hoarse squawk. Before I took the train back downtown, I took matters into my own hands, which resulted in this:

I was undaunted, though, and went to seminars in all of the available timespots. On Sunday I attended:

Career Mojo at Work: Deceptively Simple Strategies for Times of “Crazy Busy” with Eileen Chadnick: Lately I’ve been working with a business coach to see how I can make my freelance business more effective. This seminar, run by a different business coach, talked about how stress affects the brain, and discussed methods that freelancers can use to minimize stress and maintain positive well-being. This was a change of pace for me, but I appreciated having the chance to reinforce the lessons I’m learning with my own coach.

Protecting Yourself in Your Digital World: Preventative Maintenance from a Computer Security Perspective with Jeffrey Peck: This session talked all about passwords, encryption, privacy, security breaches, backups, viruses, and more. I admit that I probably piped up a bit too much in this session as it seemed like I already had a lot of these security settings in place, but issues like password management (yay, LastPass!), Carbonite, and two-factor authentification can really do that to a girl. A note to other editors reading this: Lifehacker is your friend. Seriously.

How to Edit a Blog (and When and Why You Should) with Tammy Burns: This seminar talked about the history of blogging and the issues surrounding what it takes to edit blogs for both personal and commercial interests. There was some useful information here, but I’m considering contacting the facilitator directly for more customized advice.

The Future of Self-publishing and Editors with Arlene Prunkl, Donna Dawson, Mark Lefebvre, Vanessa Ricci-Thode: This seminar was definitely the highlight of the conference for me in retrospect. There was so much useful information here about how editors can find self-publishing authors to work with, and what rates are typical for editors to charge. This seminar was done in Q&A format, which I think worked quite well. It also helped that the room was packed. This was the only seminar of the day that I didn’t live-tweet, because I was worried about my phone’s battery.

How to Leverage LinkedIn to Showcase Your Editorial Expertise with Leslie Hughes: The audience for this seminar was so big that it got moved into the auditorium. This was wise, because it was the seminar with the highest attendance of the entire conference. As a bonus, my seat was near an outlet, so I was able to recharge my phone. This seminar served as a good refresher course, since my LinkedIn profile is a bit dusty – I need to work on my social media strategy in general.

The whole thing ended with a closing keynote by Terry Fallis. It was hilarious, but I had heard him deliver almost exactly the same speech in a previous event I had seen him speak at – although this time it had snazzier visuals and a heightened sense of electricity just because of the sheer size of the audience.

That electricity continued as editors filed out the door to return home, because of the final announcement of the conference: Toronto will be next year’s host as well, and the EAC will be partnering with editing organizations from other countries to make the conference fully international. It would be quite the coup if successful – Bryan Garner could be speaking next year, you guys!

Summing it all up

My conference experience would have been better if I hadn’t gotten a cold on Friday. In fact, it’s Wednesday and I’m still in its clutches, despite drinking copious amounts of tea (because of course I am). Otherwise, I felt I got a lot out of it, and have a huge list of ideas about how to develop both personally and professionally.

Other editors have already written about their experiences, too. Check out the roundups below if you want a fuller portrait of the EAC 2014 conference:

Vanessa Ricci-Thode

Suzanne Purkis

Sue Archer

Iva Cheung

Adrienne Montgomerie’s extremely comprehensive Storify of live tweets from the conference, broken down by theme

Ad Astra, Hell Yeah!

Ad Astra conventionTomorrow is the start of Ad Astra, and I can’t wait. I originally thought about attending last year when the lovely Beverly Bambury encouraged me to do so, but I didn’t go since I felt it was going to be too last-minute for me – we had talked about it only the week before. Now, though, my fiance and I have everything planned out: weekend passes, hotel booking, and even the  books we’re bringing to sign (as well as planning to buy). There are so many people in Canadian SF/F that I want to meet and celebrate good times and good writing with.

Oh, and speaking of good writing, yes, I am working on the novel, but it’s going slower than I anticipated. I’m thinking I may have to purge the giddy thought of writing 2,500 words a day from my mind, and instead settle on the more practical number of 1,100. Ah well. However, I did find out the results of the Friends of the Merill contest; I was originally going to write about this on April 1st (not a joke!) but then the idea of grappling with sexism/gender bias in genre fiction was too satisfying to ignore. Ultimately, I did not make it into the top 3, but considering this was the first story I ever submitted to a contest, I’m pretty satisfied.

So, Ad Astra. Fuck yeah, I’ll be there. What about you?

Thoughts After the 2012 World Fantasy Convention

The 2012 World Fantasy Convention is over, and I feel deflated. I met so many people, and bought (And got for free!) so many books when I was there that I now feel like Cinderella after the ball – kind of ragged, slightly in disbelief that there was so much fun to be had, and sad that it passed by so quickly.

I think a full accounting of all 4 days will be too long to write, but I do want to provide summaries of certain aspects of attending, so here we go.

The Panels

I only attended about half a dozen panels in all. Some of them were unmemorable or downright frustrating, but the two panels I attended on Sunday, one about maps in fantasy fiction and the other about the intersection between the real and the fantastic, were fabulous.

In particular, I was surprised by how forceful and eloquent a speaker Jo Walton was, and I think that I may need to reassess my opinion of her book Among Others. I was also impressed by Gregory A. Wilson, who gave an extremely cogent explanation on the difference between fantasy fiction and magical realism. I wish I could quote him verbatim here but, in essence, he said magical realism takes the fantastic at such face value that no one feels awe or wonder when encountering it. Because the fantastic is so accepted, it becomes normal, then boring – and he finds that this eventual acceptance and contempt makes magical realism the most depressing genre in speculative fiction.

My biggest regret about the convention is that I didn’t attend the Friday afternoon session on e-publishing, as both Mark Leslie (who works for Kobo) and Michael J. Deluca (who helps run Weightless Books) were on the panel. However, it was on at the same time as a reading by Cat Rambo, which brings me to the next part of the convention experience…

The Readings

I attended half a dozen readings and they were almost uniformly excellent. It all started off on Thursday afternoon with Patrick Rothfuss reading a new (as-yet-unpublished) short story and a funny poem about Cyranos de Bergerac. Immediately after that was a reading by Aliette de Bodard.

Friday afternoon was Cat Rambo‘s reading, and when you consider that she made her audience collectively gasp at a key point in her story, you could say that she knocked it out of the park. The second one on Friday was by Gabrielle Harbowy of Dragon Moon Press – she and I had had a lovely conversation together earlier that day, so I was happy to support her as she read a story about a fortune teller, two lovers, and intricate tattoos.

Then, on Saturday afternoon there was a group reading between C.S.E. Cooney, Caitlyn Paxson, Amal El-Mohtar, and Patty Templeton that included music. Amal El-Mohtar played a miniature harp, which I watched with great interest. However, of the four authors, I think C.S.E. Cooney’s reading was the most memorable – indeed, it was the best one I saw in all 4 days. I wish I had the presence of mind to record her story; her voice flooded the room like a storm, so forceful was her reading.

The final one I attended was later on the same day, and the one that i looked forward to the most: Garth Nix. He entertained us all with a sneak peek of his upcoming book Clariel, the long-awaited prequel to the Old Kingdom trilogy. In fact, I have a funny story about that, which I’ll share in my next post.

The Books

Never mind the huge dealers’ room where publishers of all shapes and sizes set up shop. Those books you pay for, like any other. Instead, imagine a giant canvas bag nearly the size of a pillowcase stuffed to the brim with free books and other goodies.

That’s what I’m talking about. Every single person who showed up at WFC got one, and there was even a table set up where people could swap out books they got in their bag but didn’t want with books from other attendants that they actually did want. My fiance, who also attended, and I made off like bandits with a huge stash of free books.

Seriously, this is the pile of books that we managed to score from WFC. Even within that pile, I can still think of 1 or 2 books that are missing.

Of course, beyond that stash, we also bought a number of books from the dealers’ room. Never let it be said that I don’t support the publishing industry!

The Authors

One of the best things about WFC is how it concentrates the fantasy publishing world into one small place. In a space of days, I got to talk to luminaries like Ellen Datlow and Paula Guran, and up-and-comers like Ian Rogers and Rio Youers.

My favourite author moment was a conversation I had on Saturday morning with author Karen Lord (the one behind my personal favourite Redemption in Indigo), famed illustrator Charles Vess, and Stonecoast MFA graduate Jennifer Brissett. We talked about the value that autographs bring to books, and how hard it is to write good characters. Not good as in successfully-drawn, but as in honest and decent. It’s hard to write someone who has integrity, but is well-rounded and not a boring cardboard cutout like Superman. That’s part of why I love Lord’s character Paama so much.

The Hotel

This was probably the most frustrating aspect of the convention, as the convention hotel technically wasn’t located in Toronto, but in Richmond Hill, one of its suburbs. I wanted to save money and stay at home during the convention, but this meant that I would have to commute an hour and a half each morning using public transit and rely on someone to pick me and my fiance up each evening.

It also meant that I couldn’t attend any of the cool after-hours impromptu happenings, like Charles de Lint’s jam session with other authors on the top floor. My fellow WCDR member Jenny Madore stayed at the hotel and got to see this happen, the lucky duck.

While I understand why they chose to have the convention in Richmond Hill – Toronto isn’t exactly cheap – getting there was a pain. It would have made a lot more sense, I think, to host it in downtown Toronto, especially considering the WFC website and official program pamphlet talked about all of the wonderful world-class restaurants that the downtown core had.

What I Learned

Those I spoke to at the event told me that the way the World Fantasy Convention handles things is unusual. For example, it’s a con focused on the professionals within the industry, so there was a higher proportion of editors, agents, and publishing houses than normal – this also meant that there were absolutely no people in costume. However, WFC sets itself apart from other cons in a few more ways:

  • Almost no other con gives out the humongous bag of free books to its attendants that WFC does.
  • WFC’s massive autograph session is also unusual – most other cons have authors signing at different times in different locations, instead of the single huge free-for-all in the same room that WFC does.
  • WFC also offers free meals to attendants, though the quantities are limited. The quality and variety of the food was quite good, though, and word of mouth spread through the hotel about it within a day.

Future Plans

Several people I spoke to at the convention talked about how wonderful Ad Astra (an annual fantasy convention hosted in Toronto) is. Because of this, I’m pretty sure that I’ll register for it and attend next April. The World Fantasy committee also announced which cities will be hosting the event in 2014 and 2015: 2014 will be in Washington DC and 2015 will be in Saratoga Springs, New York. I’m about 90% sure I will attend one or both of those events, though time will tell about my availability.

So, there we go! I said I wouldn’t write an exhaustive account of WFC 2012, but I did anyway!

Book Review: The Guilty Plea by Robert Rotenberg

Title: The Guilty Plea
Author: Robert Rotenberg
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: 3 out of 5
Format: Print

One of the genres that I’ve often had trouble “getting” is that of the crime/procedural (which was why I had problems with both Zoo City and Empire State). In terms of my reading habits, then, my enjoyment of Robert Rotenberg’s books is an outlier.

Old City Hall was Rotenberg’s debut, and The Guilty Plea picks up right where it left off, with many of the same characters. The premise here is similar to that of the first book: someone has been found murdered, and the various characters work together to push the case through the city’s legal system – the cops gather evidence and the lawyers pore over said evidence to bolster their arguments in the courtroom.

In this case, the victim is Terrance Wyler, the youngest son of a prominent family who owns a successful grocery store chain. When Samantha Wyler – the woman whom he was in the process of divorcing at the time of his death – shows up at her lawyer’s office with the murder weapon wrapped up in a kitchen towel, the case looks all but solved. However, the detectives and lawyers we met in Old City Hall – Greene, Kennicott, Summers, Raglan, and more – aren’t content to sit on their laurels and let the obvious conclusion do all their work for them. Papers still have to be filed, and people still have to be questioned.

This attention to process is a great part of why I like Rotenberg’s books. In essence, they are about more than just The Law or The Case: they are about competent people doing difficult tasks, and doing those tasks well. Rotenberg also delves into the psychology of people who become involved in a criminal case. In the trials, his lawyers analyze how witnesses gain and lose credibility in the courtroom; during the investigations, his cops pick up on subtle cues like people using rhetorical questions to respond to interrogations.

Within The Guilty Plea, specifically, I was impressed by the care which Rotenberg took to reintroduce the reader to characters from the first book, remind us of what they did, and place them in the context of who they interacted with. It served not only as a refresher course for the cast list, but also prepared me for the shifting perspectives across the book. On top of that, expert attention was paid to reintroducing the city of Toronto as a character as well – the streets and highways and neighbourhoods of the city reflect as much upon the plot of Rotenberg’s books as the people do. This focus on the city serves as one heck of an ego boost for a lifelong Torontonian like myself.

Despite these strengths, this book is not perfect. Like Old City Hall, it ended with the person on trial being innocent despite overwhelming evidence against them, with the real killer being suddenly revealed in the final pages. I understand that this is meant to increase the tension, but I don’t think that “whodunit” is the point of Rotenberg’s books.

Instead, I think the point is showing the process behind a criminal investigation, and the psychology behind preparing for trial. I want to hear more about the considerations that come into play when jurors are selected. I want to hear about the small things that affect the credibility of people testifying in court – things like witnesses not knowing where to place their coats, or being engulfed by the sheer size of the witness box. In Rotenberg’s world the courtroom is a psychological tango, and dammit, I want to understand the footwork involved! Last minute revelations of this sort cheapen the reading experience.

On top of that, some of the plot developments were poorly thought out. During the trial, Samantha was revealed to have had an extensive secret correspondence with Terrance’s brother Jason, her brother-in-law. This is the sort of thing upon which trials turn on a dime, but I was incredulous that 1) Samantha would have hidden this information from her own defense lawyer, especially when it could have bolstered her claims of innocence, and 2) so little follow-up research of email transcripts and phone records was done afterwards. Furthermore, although a noticeable portion of the novel was spent explaining what happened to the murder weapon, nowhere was it ever stated (unless  I didn’t notice, which would be odd), that the damn thing was dusted for fingerprints. Isn’t that Rule #1 of murder investigations – to thoroughly examine the murder weapon once its location is confirmed? Why didn’t that happen here?

Finally, I wish that Rotenberg would set his books so that they could take place across all of Toronto, and not just the downtown core. Speaking as a frustrated suburbanite, it would be really nice to see a book that actually paid attention to the part of town that I live in, instead of the same litany of major downtown locations and corridors.

The thing about The Guilty Plea is that it follows in the footsteps of its predecessor closely, for good or ill. I hope that in subsequent installments, the strengths (good characters, good psychological insights, detailed settings) will increase and the flaws (downtown-centric focus, convenient revelation near the end of the book that the obvious suspect is not the real murderer) will diminish.

Up next: Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey

Why the Toronto Public Library matters to me

I try not to foray too deeply into the world of politics on this blog, but when I heard about a month and a half ago that Toronto’s libraries could undergo reduced funding due to Mayor Rob Ford’s agenda to “stop the gravy train” at City Hall, I had to act.

Luckily, the people behind the Toronto Public Library are both web- and media-savvy, and they put together a great petition and public awareness campaign, resulting in an extensive citizen protest at City Hall against service cutbacks.

However, in our recession-ravaged world, it seems nothing is truly safe. So the Toronto Public Library upped its profile once again by opening a contest to win lunch with a famous Canadian author in Toronto.

The contest is closed now, but I figured I would share my video entry with you all – who knows, I might actually win! So, without further delay, here’s why the Toronto Public Library matters to me:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsQFenXbAek