Archive | July 2010

Residents at risk of losing homes

Italian couple fret over TTC Greenwood extension plan

By Elena Serra

“The Better Way.” If they lived by their own motto, Toronto Transit Commission authorities would avoid major problems. The organization has in fact all too often found itself at the centre of controversies in the past few months, and after an ‘emergency’ campaign in an attempt to gain back the faith of Torontonians, we’re back at square one. This time, however, it’s not about sexual indiscretion, or employees who catch a few winks on the box office chair, or thoughtless drivers who park a bus to grab a snack as dozens of riders impatiently wait. This time at the centre of the storm is the TTC expropriation to clear space for the construction of a second exit on the Bloor-Danforth line’s Greenwood subway station.

To better understand the situation, imagine an Italian newlywed couple – Grazia and Domenico Calia – who came to Canada after the war, and after years of sacrifice finally purchase a home on 247 Strathmore Blvd. It was 51 years ago, and there wasn’t even a subway line in the area – which arrived about seven years later. They lived in that house for over half a century –she was a homemaker and he worked for the TTC. They have five children and eight grandchildren. Then, last June 17, a letter changed everything. “When I read it, I though there was some mistake,” said Bruna Amabile – the couple’s daughter who lives at 243 Strathmore Blvd told Corriere Canadese/Tandem. “It wasn’t possible that they wanted to expropriate my parents’ home.”

Only at a meeting days later attended by over 200 community residents did the information begin to leak out: the TTC Second Exit Plan is a project that calls for second exits to be built at 14 subway stations for safety reasons, at a cost of $8 million per station. It is a project dated from 2002 that no Greenwood station area resident had heard about until last month – even the information listed on the TTC Internet site magically disappeared days ago – that calls for total expropriation of two properties as well as 10 others that will be partially expropriated or affected by the construction. One of the homes to be expropriated belongs to the Calias who are almost 80 years old, require daily nursing visits, and receive assistance from daughter Bruna Amabile who fortunately lives two doors away.

“No one is questioning TTC’s safety standards,” explains Amabile. “I use public transit myself and want safety as well, but we’re questioning the manner and lack of transparency with which the TTC is behaving. The Woodbine residents have known about the TTC expropriation for over a year, but we haven’t been contacted by anyone over the past eight years, neither personally nor as a community. No one came to explain what was going on and to consult with us.” The problem is that many families could soon find themselves in the same position – the TTC Second Exit Plan involved 14 stations and is still in the preliminary phase. “Anyone can wake up tomorrow and receive a letter saying the TTC is taking your home away,” said Bruna Amabile. “My parents have lived here for 51 years and they pay their taxes. The TTC wasn’t even there when they moved here. People don’t know, but these things can happen and you lose everything in an instant.” The amount of ‘compensation’ the couple would receive from the expropriation, based on market value, would not even allow them to purchase another house. “If they wanted to buy, they’d have to take on a mortgage at 80 years of age,” the daughter continues, “without taking into account the trauma of a move and the fact that I would no longer be two doors away to assist them.”

Monday evening at a second public meeting with TTC, the organization accepted a solution by residents proposing to locate the new subway exit at a house on Linsmore that has been abandoned for years. Notwithstanding this, the expropriation proposition is still on the table and remains the final solution in case further inspection discovers logistical problems. A decision is expected within a month. “They’re in a hurry because they want to finalize everything before August and get financing before the election,” explains Amabile. “I don’t want there to be any chance my parents lose the house. And if the TTC should encounter obstacles with the Linsmore project, it’s their duty to do research and come up with alternative options that don’t require the expropriation of citizens.” “I ask myself how many other solutions are there. This demonstrates to everyone that the TTC didn’t properly do their research on what the best solution was.” And while those in white-collar positions decide, the Calias still have a month of questioning and praying before they find out if, at almost 80 years of age, they’ll have to abandon their home, and lose something much more precious.

Publication Date: 2010-07-18
Story Location: http://www.tandemnews.com/viewstory.php?storyid=10349

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If I Could Relive Any Day of My Life

I had lots of very good and very bad moments, but I always say I would not go back even if I could.

But if I have to pick a day I would say my wedding day. Most people say that it’s the best day of your life, but my father always told me «The wedding day is just a celebration. The very best day of my life was the day that I met you mother. That changed my life».

I would pick my wedding day because it was perfect, and I probably didn’t enjoyed as I should have. Everything was so quick! And then, I could wear again my beautiful wedding dress, which I’m in love with, and see his face walking down the aisle is priceless!!!

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Ttc espropria coppia di ultra settantenni

Gli italo-canadesi hanno appreso da una lettera che avrebbero perso la casa di proprietà

Di Elena Serra

TORONTO – The better way, ovvero “il modo migliore”. Se vivessero secondo il loro stesso slogan, i vertici della Toronto Transit Commission eviterebbero non pochi problemi. L’azienda si è infatti trovata troppo spesso al centro delle critiche nei mesi scorsi, e dopo una campagna “d’emergenza” per cercare di recuperare la fiducia dei torontini, eccoci di nuovo al punto di partenza.

Questa vola però non si tratta della sregolatezza di alcuni impiegati, che schiacciano un pisolino sulla poltrona della biglietteria, o della maleducazione di un autista, che decide di fermare l’autobus per uno spuntino mentre decine di persone aspettano impazienti il suo ritorno. Ora, al centro della bufera vi sono espropri che la Ttc vuole compiere per la costruzione della seconda uscita della fermata della metropolitana di Greenwood, nell’ala Est della Bloor–Danforth line.

Per capire meglio di cosa si tratta, immaginate una coppia di sposini italiani – Grazia e Domenico Calia – arrivati in Canada dopo la guerra, qualche anno di sacrifici e poi, finalmente l’acquisto di una casa al 247 di Strathmore Boulevard. Erano ben 51 anni fa, e nell’area non c’era neanche la metropolitana, che arrivò circa 7 anni più tardi. Per più di mezzo secolo hanno vissuto lì, lei casalinga, lui impiegato alla Ttc, cinque figli, 8 nipoti. Una storia nella quale moltissimi possono immedesimarsi. Poi, lo scorso 17 giugno una lettera ha cambiato tutto. «Quando l’ho letta pensavo ci fosse un errore – ha raccontato al Corriere Canadese Bruna Amabile, figlia della coppia e residente al numero 243 di Strathmore Boulevard – non era possibile che espropriassero casa dei miei genitori».

Solo nei giorni successivi, in una riunione di più di 200 persone della comunità, le informazioni sono iniziate a trapelare: il Ttc Second Exit Plan è un progetto che prevede una seconda uscita per ragioni di sicurezza in 14 stazioni della metropolitana, al costo di $8mln di dollari a stazione. È un progetto datato 2002, del quale nessuno nell’area di Greenwood ha mai sentito parlare fino al mese scorso – anche le informazioni sul sito Internet della Ttc sono miracolosamente comparse pochi giorni fa – e prevede l’esproprio totale di due abitazioni di proprietà, più altre 10 che verranno espropriate in parte o coinvolte nei lavori.

Una delle case che verranno espropriate sarà proprio quella di Grazia e Domenico, oggi quasi ottantenni, che necessitano delle cure di un’infermiera durante il giorno, e dell’assistenza della figlia Bruna, fortunatamente a due porte di distanza. «Nessuno discute gli standard di sicurezza della Ttc – spiega Bruna Amabile – io stessa uso i mezzi pubblici e voglio essere sicura, ma discutiamo i modi e la non trasparenza con la quale la Ttc sta agendo. I residenti di Woodbine sono a conoscenza di espropri nella loro zona da parte della Ttc da più di un anno, noi non siamo stati contattati da nessuno per otto anni, sia personalmente, sia come comunità. Nessuno è venuto a spiegarci cosa stava succedendo e a consultarsi con noi».

La sensazione è che molte famiglie potrebbero trovarsi presto nella stessa situazione, in quanto il Ttc Second Exit Plan coinvolge bel 14 stazioni, ed è ancora nella fase iniziale. «Chiunque può svegliarsi donami e ricevere una lettera che dice che la Ttc ti porta via la casa di tua proprietà. I miei genitori hanno vissuto qui per 51 anni, hanno pagato le tasse. Non c’era neanche la Ttc quando si sono trasferiti qui. La gente non lo sa, ma queste cose possono accadere e tu perdi tutto in un attimo». La cifra che la coppia riceverebbe come “compenso” dell’esproprio, essendo basata su valori di mercato, non permetterebbe loro neanche l’acquisto di un’altra casa. «Se volessero acquistare dovrebbero accollarsi un mutuo a quasi ottant’anni – continua la figlia – senza contare il trauma di uno spostamento ed il fatto che non sarei più a due porte di distanza per assisterli».

Stasera al Danforth Collegiate and Technical School è previsto il secondo incontro pubblico con la Ttc: «Noi abbiamo già presentato loro possibili e valide alternative – spiega Bruna – Solo oggi, (giovedì, ndr) la Ttc ci ha fornito tutta la documentazione sul progetto. Sono centinaia di pagine che avremmo bisogno di studiare prima dell’incontro, ma non ce n’è stata data la possibilità. Abbiamo chiesto un rinvio della riunione, ma ci è stato risposto che non era possibile perché la data era stata fissata un anno fa. Peccato che l’intera comunità sia stata tenuta all’oscuro di tutto». Il dispiacere di Bruna, dei suoi genitori e dell’intera comunità per una situazione spiacevole, è sicuramente aggravato delle maniere, dalla non trasparenza e dalla fretta con la quale il chair della Ttc Adam Giambrone e la sua azienda stanno gestendo una situazione che avrà effetti profondi sulla vita dei residenti.

«Lo sa che mio marito ha lavorato alla Ttc per più di trentenni? – chiede improvvisamente Grazia spalancando le braccia – Mio figlio tuttora lavora lì, e loro vogliono portarci via la casa». «Hanno fretta perché vogliono concludere tutto prima di agosto ed ottenere i finanziamenti prima delle elezioni», spiega Bruna. Venerdì, durante l’annuncio del futuro arrivo del segnale per cellulari nelle stazioni della metropolitana, Adam Giambrone ha dichiarato che la Ttc «vuole essere parte della vita della comunità e fare di tutto per migliorarla», ma espropria una casa a due ultra settantenni solo perché è la soluzione più facile e meno costosa. La comunità non si arrende, e promette battaglia.
«Questa è l’unica casa che abbiano avuto qui in Canada – conclude Grazia con gli occhi lucidi – e ora non so dove andremo. Questa casa è tutta la mia vita».

Data pubblicazione: 2010-07-12
Indirizzo pagina originale: http://www.corriere.com/viewstory.php?storyid=100357

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Definition of Fashion

My last year of university has been for me the best one.

In Italy you have to do a last big assignment – called tesi di laurea – in order to graduate. It’s basically a book that you have to write  picking up a topic related to your field, researching about it and developing a theory.
Today, with the new university rules, it’s becoming more and more  simple and short, very similar to those assignment that you do during class. But I’m happy and proud it was still “old style” when I graduated in journalism.

I always thought I was going to pick a subject that I love, considering the time, energy and money that I was going to spend for my tesi di laurea. And guess what I picked? Fashion, of course!

Well, my idea was to analyze the world of women’s magazines, how they were born, developed, and how they are today. However, going on with my work and research, I faced so many different aspects – the differences of language style and codes, the use of photography, the influence on the society, the role of women as writers and readers – all so fascinating and important that I would have loved to study and write about all of them, without space issues.

I worked hard, and I loved it.

This is how I found myself in the position to define “fashion”. What’s fashion?
I found very nice quote about it:

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months”.
Oscar Wilde

“Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.”
George Santayana

“Fashion is a tool… to compete in life outside the home. People like you better, without knowing why, because people always react well to a person they like the looks of”.
Mary Quant

“Fashion is architecture. It is a matter of proportions.”
Coco Chanel

“Fashion is all about happiness. It’s fun. It’s important. But it’s not medicine”.
Donatella Versace

“Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.”
Edwin Hubbel

“Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are”.
Quentin Crisp

However they sound like abstract paintings where you can see everything and nothing, wondering if people would pay to see that if it was you to make it.

The truth is that, in the last 30 years talking about fashion became a trend, and this made the definition even harder.

To be safe we could say that fashion is a general term for the style and custom prevalent at a given time, in its most common usage refers to costume clothing style.

But personally I think that fashion and its perception is something so personal that it’s a mistake to have or look for a definition that suits everybody. It’s like religion. For me it’s not about brands or big names, and please try not to hide  behind them. Dressing all the same, showing off designers names it’s not fashion at all.

It’s like those abstract paintings, as long as you have your own interpretation and you don’t follow other people’s rules. Have you own taste, style build your own fashion personality, and then you could just become fashion, and say “I am fashion”.

What’s fashion for you?©

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I love my Blackberry

I used to say that the cell phone is just to make calls, and when the first phones with camera came out I was the first to say they were totally useless.
Nothing could be more wrong than that!

Look at me now, blogging from my Blackberry, checking email, twitting and facebooking it doesn’t matter where I am. Sometimes I wish I could get the signal even in the subway!

I mean, I’m a reporter, and I spend most of my day at the computer anyway, but I have to admit my life changed with my Blackberry.
It makes everything much easier: you know, how annoying it is to wait to be able to use the computer to check Facebook or to get to the office to find out if you finally got that email? No more of that now, you have all your life with you, like it’s supposed to be.

Think about it, what’s the point to get in contact with your best friend from elementary school, follow on Twitter your favorite fashion designer and subscribe to Vogue tv if you can not get connected when you want to?

Even more if you spend all day at the computer, the last thing you want to do when you come back home is to turn on your laptop. Not problem anymore, it’s all in your hands! Finally! And in a way that you couldn’t even imagine. Friends, emails, news, video, movies, blogs!

Please, don’t even try to tell me that the iPhone is better than the Blackberry!!! Even if I have to admit the iPhone has all the above, it misses something very important, which is what took me to get the Blaclkberry: style!

The iPhone looks like a toy for teenagers, videogame to keep the kids busy!

No doubts, the Blackberry is more professional, for adults I should say, and it looks great, which is very important for something you are gonna look at hundreds times every day. That makes it the best accessory you can have. Now I wouldn’t really know what to do without it, and I know out there there are a lot of you that think so well.

And don’t forget you can change the case to match what you are wearing!!!©

(also read Challenge: tell me the things you are)

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