Traffic controller of happiness

Toronto Inspires when a time-challenged finance executive, Elaine Stanley, transforms her frustrating commute into a series of happy acts.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

The daily grind of getting back and forth to the office in traffic that has been dubbed North America’s longest commute is often irritating. To offset this frustration, Elaine takes control of Toronto rush hour by changing her response to it and turning her drive time into game time. On route, she sets out to let into her lane as many drivers as possible. In the process, her commute morphs into a series of friendly exchanges. The resulting appreciative waves turn her drive and day around for the better.

Inspirational Takeaway: Make a little space in our lane. ūüôā

For more ideas on managing your daily commute stress, check out  Commuting Tips.

Another reason Toronto Inspires: Shared by Lynda Chubak.


Teen idol in the making, Jake Feeney

Toronto Inspires when Jake Feeney, an unassuming, gifted 17 year old, teeters on the cusp of launching his music career and strives to complete his first EP.

Jake Feeney

Jake Feeney
From Growing Pains video

Between finishing up Grade 12 at Etobicoke School of the Arts and regularly busking outside of popular Toronto liquor stores, this charismatic singer writes and records his original music. To date, Jake’s twelve videos posted on¬†YouTube¬†have 15,000-and-climbing views.

While talent doesn’t fall far from the Feeney family tree (his dad is Canadian country musician, Joel Feeney), Jake is still his own self-made (young) man. It’s only three years since he began teaching himself to play guitar. Yet, with his natural talent and relentless dedication, he creates the sweet sounds of a pro. Currently, beyond singing and composing, he’s doing “everything” from adding the base line to laying down some mandolin to pull together his five song EP, which is scheduled for a mid-April release.

At just under 6′, this sandy-haired cutey has both the good looks and the musical vibe of one of his greatest musical influences, John Mayer. Personality-wise, when friends were asked to describe Jake, they quickly enthused, “He’s just really, really nice”. ¬†Nice guys should finish first. Let’s support this new Canadian artist, as¬†he works towards realizing his dreams.

Inspirational Takeaway: Everyone benefits when creativity is nurtured. :)

Check out¬†Jake Feeney¬†on YouTube and Facebook,¬†Jake Feeney Music. Here’s a taste, with his original song Little Things.

Another reason Toronto Inspires: Shared by Lynda Chubak

A father’s admiration

Toronto Inspires when my older son Lin-Whei, with the illness of Asperger Syndrome, is doing all that he can to solicit stable labor work to support himself.

Story shared by Shyh-Chwem Kang (Steve), Proud Father

tenacityLin-Whei suffered very much from hyperactivity during his childhood. Due to his backward reaction, he experienced quite a bumpy and painstaking life to finish his vocational education in Taiwan. Even so, he always has been revealing a very strong wish that he wants to live on his own.

Two years after my family immigrated to Canada and went through innumerable trials, Lin-Whei got precarious part time labor work with a food store chain. To enhance his competence, Lin-Whei took ESL courses during non-work time. Meanwhile, he still kept on actively searching for any chance for a stable job.

Five months ago, there was a chance of a six month paid training program for food storage management, which was provided by a government organization. Luckily, Lin-Whei had received a very positive recommendation letter from his kind ESL teacher before the interview, which became very instrumental in the passing of his interview. Worrying about the uncertainties after finishing his training program, Lin-Whei insisted on keeping up his work at the food store during the evening shift, after the daytime training. Now, Lin-Whei works about 10 hours every weekday and five hours on Saturday and Sunday. He is content to do the hard labor work without any complaint. In spite of having such a painstaking life, the words we hear from him most often are “Thank you so much”.

There are many people among us like Lin-Whei, lacking skills or even having some degree of disability. Instead of complaining about their fate, they just strive to survive with disregard of their limitations and never give up. They and my son are the emblems of humanity’s fortitude.


Carolyn Taylor bridges the sacred and the secular

Carolyn TaylorToronto Inspires¬†when effervescence cultural producer a.k.a. community builder, Carolyn Taylor, turns her irrepressible energy upward to create Rev’d Up, a new ministry that bridges the sacred and the secular in imaginative ways and asks “What’s your sacred?”.

 For more than two decades, Carolyn has been an arts and culture impresario. Innovative and accessible creative and social change initiatives, such as McLuhan100, Municipal Mind, Urban Screens Toronto, Humanitas, World Youth Centre, The Word on the Street, and Artsweek came to fruition largely due to her sheer and indomitable dedication to the work and the city. These significant achievements make for an impressive career. However, her decision to turn her attention to a less tangible landscape by becoming a conduit for others to (re)discover their own spirituality is an equally, perhaps more, uplifting personal story.

Often, there comes a point in one’s professional career when a desired overhaul may seem too daunting and unrealistic. Carolyn, however, is proof-positive that mid-career re-alignment is possible, once the heart and mind begin moving in the same direction.  At 50, Carolyn officially transformed from arts maven to ordained interfaith minister. In September, 2012, she performed her first wedding ceremony. Continue reading

Rannie’s rainbow

Rannie’s Spadina Rainbow

Toronto Inspires when professional local photographer and self-described culture documentarian, Rannie Turingan, captures unexpected city perspectives, like a rainbow over Spadina, and generously posts them for us all to enjoy. 


Rannie Turingan from

To experience Toronto people and places through Rannie’s singular lens, check out ¬† Compliments of Rannie, you can also upload¬†Rannie’s iphone wallpapers. Thanks Rannie!

Another reason Toronto Inspires: Shared by Lynda C.

Kudos to TTC’s Byford for acknowledging that public transportation stops here

Toronto Inspires when TTC CEO Andy Byford, in addition to quickly, fully and publicly apologizing for the unacceptability of Monday’s service shortfall, takes immediate and long-term corrective actions to improve public transportation.

Toronto by Train

Toronto by Train

For thousands of transit riders, Monday’s extended and unexplained service delays were just more frustration pile onto an already tarnished, some might say dismal, record. This blog post, however, is not about adding another criticism to that chorus.

In fact, Mr. Byford’s post-event response strikes as being comforting.¬†In my view, he deserves kudos for immediately acknowledging that the train stops with him. By releasing a sincere apology (youtube link below) and for making the media rounds¬†(TTC CEO’s Andy Byford’s interview on Metro Morning)¬†to explain exactly how the situation unfolded, accepting blame in the process, he assures us that he and his staff are being held to account. More importantly, his very public admissions were backed up with specifics about how Toronto public transportation and customer service are being overhauled. Byford’s actions were impressive and believable. His handling of the matter has instilled some degree of confidence that there are better days ahead for TTC riders. Continue reading

Caretaker’s work ethic shines at Forest Hill Collegiate

Forest Hill Collegiate Caretaking Staff

Forest Hill Collegiate Caretaking Staff Courtesy of

Toronto Inspires when a Forest Hill Collegiate caretaker continuously maintains the highest standard and takes pride in his contribution to the local school community.

The visit to Forest Hill Collegiate came about as part of a student assignment to do a photo essay of publicly funded institutions across the city.

This school sparkles.¬†During an impromptu encounter with one of its stellar caretaking staff (seen in photo, second from the right), we are taken aback by his sense of school ownership. Following a brief observation regarding the exceptional cleanliness of the facilities, he spontaneously offers to show us around. Pride in his work and school are clearly evident through affectionate descriptions of years of service, through the picking up of a minuscule piece of paper from an otherwise spotless carpet during our walk about, and through his ample use of collective pronouns‚ÄĒus, we, ours.

Continue reading

75+ Bogardo is hot at Chilly Half Marathon

Stephen Bogardo at one of his many races

Toronto Inspires when the 75+ years-young runner and coach, Stephen Bogardo, handily wins his age category, while simultaneously trumping two-thirds of the entire field of 2,800 half-marathon racers.

With a stand-out finishing time of 1:54:18¬†at the recent Burlington, Chilly Half Marathon, running¬†clinic coach Stephen Bogardo can’t help but instill awe in those attending his results-focussed running clinics and other mere mortals. It should be no surprise that he’s ranked among the top North American runners in his age group. It should also be no surprise that he has coached many aspiring racers, of all ages, to attain their personal bests.

Continue reading

Irene Atkinson relentlessly champions for children

Toronto Inspires when civic leader Irene Atkinson relentlessly champions the needs of our children and community for more than four decades.

Trustee Atkinson, we send along our heartfelt wishes for your speedy recovery. May you find strength in the support of your community to which you have given so much.

Untitled & Co’s Cameron Wilson is Queen Street West-spirited

Toronto Inspires when the 20’s-ish owner of a¬†recently established Queen Street West boutique, Untitled & Co, risks losing business to his competition to ensure an undecided high schooler completely loves her prom dress.

717 Queen St.. W. Toronto

Untitled & Co. 717 Queen St. West, Toronto

With only one shop crossed off our list, the mother and daughter hunt for the perfect prom dress had just begun before stumbling upon¬†Cameron Wilson’s Untitled & Co. After trying on and loving a custom-designed, on trend, little black dress, Rachel wasn’t yet 100% sure she’d sufficiently explored her options. Cameron immediately understood our too-soon-to-decide dilemma. He offered to hold the dress, gave us his e-mail and suggested we try some neighbouring boutiques, giving us specifics about these stores and what we might find. By helping us, at the risk of losing our business, this young fashion retailer revealed himself as a cooperative neighbour and positive contributor to Queen Street’s burgeoning independent boutique scene. While we took his advice by visiting the recommended shops, his dress and helpfulness lured us back to
 purchase the LBD.

To support Cameron and his community-spirited business ethos,¬†Untitled & Co (717 Queen Street West)¬†has become the first place we’ll check out for creative, affordable fashion. We hope you do too.

Check out¬†Alexandra Grigorescu‘s Untitled & Co¬†review¬†at Blog T.O.

Another reason Toronto Inspires: Shared by Lynda C.