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Visionaries
Community Synergy 

Visionaries: Amy McLaren from Write to Give

I really admire those people who are able to find a way to use their passion to not only satisfy their own internal ambitions but to change the lives of others…forever. As a Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni, I was browsing through our alumni magazine a few months back and came across an organization that sparked my interest. Known as Write to Give (clever play on words no?), this project was started by Amy McLaren of Ontario, Canada who founded World Teacher Aid, a Canadian charity committed to improving education throughout the developing world. Since 2009, Write to Give has since grown to become internationally recognized, and continues to bring students from all over the world together by promoting literacy for a well deserved cause. The organization used funds raised to complete their first school this past May in Kenya!

Back to Basics Community The Great Outdoors 

Visionary: Natalia Kantor, Roads Less Traveled

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“Imagine The Alternative” suggests the tagline for upcoming TV and online documentary series Roads Less Traveled. Launching on March 24th at The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, the multi-part series is set to give viewers a glimpse into the other ways that people live.

When I first met Natalia Kantor, producer and director behind “Roads Less Traveled”, in a café in Toronto in the summer of 2010, we clicked immediately. What she was referring to – the existence of sub or counter-cultures and communities that offered alternatives to the conventional life – was something that I had already been exploring.

For some time I had felt that the familiar, conventional lifestyle that involved getting a degree, and then a salaried job, and then married with children, just did not work for many people. I’d seen evidence of this in my own life – with friends, work colleagues and family. As you may have also experienced “the formula”, does not guarantee happiness.

Community Synergy 

Visionary: jeffstaple of Staple Design

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I first heard the name jeffstaple and learned about his works back in the sneaker-hysteria days which has palpably cooled off in recent years. On the now defunct blog To Darrin Hudson, he was generously giving away his shoe collection because he was contemplating a move to Japan – which in the end didn’t go through. Being the shoe lover that I was, I anxiously put forth my bid for a pair of his collection. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to get my hands on a pair of his prized collection but fortunately for the city of NYC, he stayed and was able to bless the city with his designs, and projects.

Since then, he’s come a long way – opening one of NYC’s most unique shopping experiences in the Lower East Side, a magazine mirroring the ideology of the store, a successful clothing line which has made its way to several continents, and of course his forward thinking company which is at the heart of it all, Staple Design.

Below is an interview with Jeff that really gives us a glimpse of his beginnings and how you can never really escape who you are or what you’re meant to do.

Back to Basics Community 

Visionary: Renny Ramakers of Droog

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photo via The New York Times

“Reality isn’t static anymore. It’s not a set of ideas you either have to fight or resign yourself to. It’s made up, in part, of ideas that are expected to grow as you grow, and as we all grow, century after century.” – Robert M. Pirsig, Zen: The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,1974 , as referenced by Renny Ramakers, Co-founder and Director of Droog.

Recently, we introduced you to Droog, a conceptual design company located in Amsterdam. We mentioned the various facets of the company and how the Droog Lab is quickly becoming a globally known research hub that brings relevant solutions to its clients, and people of the world. Many of us live life hoping to one day start something that we can call our own. Few, actually go ahead and do it. After learning about Droog, I was particularly interested in the projects that this company is currently involved in, and was estatic when Co-founder and Director of Droog, Renny Ramakers, agreed to chat with us about her beginnings and her vision for the future of Droog.

Community DIY 

Visionary: Colin Asuncion chARiTy

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Nothing comes easy, but this young Toronto artist sure makes it seem so. Colin Asuncion, 22, has demonstrated that through his simple passion and a lot of hard work, he can use his hobby towards greater causes while juggling a normal student lifestyle.

Sustainability The Great Outdoors 

Visionary: Geoff McCabe of Anamaya Resort

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With the movie Eat, Pray, Love about to be released around the world, those interested in culinary, spiritual and relaxation journeys will be reminded of how to savour life’s simple pleasures and travel the world while doing it. How appropriate that we were able to speak personally with Geoff McCabe recently, who is CEO/Co-owner of Anamaya Resort (which we wrote about not long ago) in Costa Rica, the world’s first ‘carbon-neutral’ country.

Community DIY 

Visionary: Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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After watching Amy’s (@missamykr) Kindness Thought Bubble Short film, I knew she was someone whom I wanted to get in touch with. I was intrigued by her spirit, ability to bring people together, and was inspired to share her story with you all. As Amy describes it, “The Kindness video is a short film/meditation on the power of kindness. It is a collaboration with the Toronto-based design firm Thought Bubble and seems to be striking a chord with people of all ages, from all corners of the globe.” Have a look for yourself and see what you think…