The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

Niagara Region Children's Safety Village

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, January 13, 2011

What did over 6000 students in Niagara do last year? Visit the Niagara Region Children's Safety Village!

This safe, controlled environment teaches children how to recognize and deal with dangerous situations. Police, Fire and Ambulance crews all participate in the various classroom and street scenarios making this a one-of-a-kind educational experience for kids.

We are pleased to announce the addition of the Niagara Region Children's Safety Village to the Niagara Non-Profit Guide website. This is a free service offered to all Niagara non-profit organizations and we encourage them to take us up on our offer.

If you haven't heard of the Niagara Region Children's Safety Village, have a look at their listing.

Just look both ways before you click this link : )



TMK Limousine Now Online!

Mark Kawabe - Friday, January 07, 2011

We are happy to welcome TMK Limousine to The Niagara Bridal Guide!

When you need classy transportation to special events, weddings, proms or just to the airport, call Tim at TMK Limousine.

Visit them online in The Niagara Bridal Guide!

http://www.niagarabridalguide.com/tmk-limousine/



Attn: Out-Of-Province Winery Tourists - YOU'RE CRIMINALS!!!

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Unbelievable in this day and age...

A 1928 law makes it illegal for consumers to transport even a single bottle of wine across a provincial border. The same applies for beer. This archaic law was originally designed to prevent the flow of liquor to provinces that still had prohibition in place.

Kelowna MP Ron Cannan is putting forth a proposed amendment to allow a "personal use" exemption so out-of-province tourists taking home wine from their trip to the Okanagan are not breaking the law.

Isn't this stupid? Thought you'd think so. How can you help?

Visit www.FreeMyGrapes.ca where you can email your MP to support Ron Cannan's efforts.

If it's illegal in BC, it's illegal here, so let's help get this law amended and add some common sense to the legislation.



Water Temperature for Green Tea (or Why I Hate Tim Hortons Green Tea)

Mark Kawabe - Sunday, November 14, 2010

I picked up a green tea from Tim Hortons today, primarily because I couldn't get to my favourite tea shop (LM Teas in Niagara Falls). At the first sip, I began regretting my choice. Not because it was undrinkable, but because I've had so much better tea.

First off, Tim Hortons staff don't seem to know diddly-squat about tea. Some would say they don't know anything about coffee either...but we'll stick to tea. Two bags of green tea in a cup is enough to turn the tea so dark it might be mistaken for black tea. In addition, it makes it so strong and bitter that while it does an admirable job of keeping one awake (perhaps its only redeeming feature), it's rather unpleasant to drink.

I wonder if Tim Hortons staff ever drink green tea. I strongly suspect they don't. One of the reasons their tea gets so bitter, I believe, is because they're using boiling water to make it and then they're allowing it to steep for longer than it should. High water temperatures bring out the bitterness in green tea and letting it steep too long is another evil they could avoid.

According to the folks at LM Teas, the idea water temperature to make green tea varies on the variety. Some teas can be brewed starting at 50°while others do fine at 80° to 90°. Again, it depends on the tea. Perhaps Tim Hortons tea is specially picked to be made with scalding hot water. I'll have to ask.

Anyway, if you're in Niagara Falls and need a good cup of tea, I recommend my friends at LM Teas. With over 200 varieties of loose-leaf teas, you'll find something you'll like.



What Does the Word "Winery" Mean to You?

Mark Kawabe - Sunday, October 31, 2010

Today I received an email chastising The Niagara Guide for not including Vincor Canada in The Niagara Winery Guide. The page for Niagara Falls wineries had previously stated there were no wineries in Niagara Falls. Technically, the writer was right, but it made me wonder what people expect when they hear the word "winery" or the phrase "Niagara winery".

Various government and industry associations have spent the last few decades promoting Ontario wines and lauding the "winery experience". Here are two quotes from the Inniskillin website. (Note: Inniskillin is one of Vincor's brands.)

"Many of those who appreciate and collect wine have discovered that a journey to the heart of wine country adds an indescribable dimension to the appreciation of the distinctiveness of each fine wine."

"Come to experience, firsthand, the full range of Inniskillin's Premium Estate Wines, while enjoying the spectacular sights, the regional culinary specialties and the outstanding hospitality . . ."

I think these statements capture the essence of the image the various Niagara tourism and wine industry members have worked so hard to create about Niagara's wine region. That's why I found the message about Vincor so interesting.

Vincor is a company that produces wine. Does that make their retail and tasting center in the middle of suburban Niagara Falls a winery? What do you think?



It Comes But Once a Year . . .

Mark Kawabe - Sunday, October 10, 2010

Today is Thanksgiving Day. Another line of days when we celebrate various things. Love. Faith. Being Irish. Turkeys.

I enjoy these days. Especially when they are actual holidays. Today, millions of people will get together with family and friends and enjoy a feast of some sort. Waistlines will expand around the world and we'll experience a global endorphin rush before slipping off into a collective food-induced coma.

A small reminder that these days, whatever we're celebrating, should be seen as the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Today is but one day out of 365. Today we give thanks. Tomorrow we do what? Hopefully give thanks again. Sleep, wake, repeat.

Every day I live I am thankful. I love. I try to focus on the positive more than the negative. I look for the light when things seem dark.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

P.S. Today is also a "perfect day" - 10/10/10. I hope you enjoy!



Recess From Responsibility

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, October 06, 2010

This caught my attention on Facebook.

Really - a "recess from responsibility"?

Isn't there enough of that going around already?

Nobody's responsible for anything.

Kids can hand in their homework late or not at all. They don't have to know how to read to graduate.

"No child left behind" means even the worst-performers can stay with their peer groups and fail all the way through the system.

Everybody gets a trophy even though they're on the losing team. Kids get ribbons just for showing up. A reward for just being there and breathing. How nice. Don't you feel better kid?

What's going to happen when something "real" happens to these kids, like they're rejected from university or college because their grades are too low? That they can't get or keep a job because they never developed a strong work ethic? Can you say "Do you want fries with that"?

I say there's already a dearth of responsibility in our society. Somebody or a group of somebodies is responsible for everything that goes right or wrong. Acknowledge that responsibility.

Take ownership of your work.

Feel some pride about who you are or what you do when you do things right. 

Acknowledge when you screw up and make sure you fix the problem as best you can and learn from your mistakes - and we all make mistakes.

Everything that's good or bad in your life has one consistent characteristic: you

Take responsibility for your life.



In Memory of Tom Masek

Mark Kawabe - Monday, October 04, 2010

It is with a sad heart that I learned about the passing of Tom Masek, member and director at the Garrison Little Theatre. There was an article about Tom in this week's Niagara This Week. The address for the online version is below.

http://www.niagarathisweek.com/what%27s%20on/article/881852--bittersweet-milestone

Our thoughts go to Zdenka Cole, Tom's partner in theatre and life. Zdenka is also the PR director for the Garrison Little Theatre and we work closely with her keeping the Garrison Little Theatre website on The Niagara Arts Guide up to date.



Why "KNOW it ALL" Niagara?

Mark Kawabe - Friday, September 24, 2010

So "KNOW it ALL" Niagara was voted the Best Networking Organization of 2010 by Canadian Networker magazine.

My question is "Why?"

After all, there's BNI - who's founder "wrote the book" on Word of Mouth marketing.

There are countless Chambers of Commerce that qualify.

The Small Business Club Niagara and others like it are well-established groups that offer networking.

What makes "KNOW it ALL" Niagara so special?

Well, in a nutshell, it's the vision of the founder Carrie Matthews that makes "KNOW it ALL" Niagara the networking dynamo it is.

The quality of networking events is pretty good. Groups are generally small so you get to meet everyone and spend more 1-on-1 time with them. I have personally found that the relationships built through "KNOW it ALL" Niagara have been stronger and have led to quality referrals from the linkers.

In addition to the events, there's Carrie herself, who worked at the West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce for years before embarking on the "KNOW it ALL" Niagara journey. From the outset she planned to make KIAN a better type of organization for business owners by providing a variety of marketing vehicles for her linkers. Little things like "Linker Minutes" - allowing you to send two marketing messages to the rest of the group EVERY MONTH at no additional cost. The local chambers charge for this service as does the Small Business Club.

There are many things that make "KNOW it ALL" Niagara stand above the networking organization crowd. It's fun, personable and effective networking - when you use the system provided. Just as with any group, if you can't work the system, it won't work for you. For example, I can't make the Business After 5s provided by the various Chambers. Consequently being a Chamber member doesn't really provide much networking benefit for me. If you don't use the Linker Minutes or attend meetings or provide Carrie flyers so she can market your business for you then her system won't work and you won't benefit.

However, the fact that "KNOW it ALL" Niagara keeps growing - even counting the Niagara Falls Chamber as a Linker - is a testament to its effectiveness. That's why it was voted the Best Networking Organization in 2010. Here's looking to the future successes of Carrie and "KNOW it ALL" Niagara!



Diane Doneff Presented with Community Achievement Award

Mark Kawabe - Monday, September 20, 2010

Addictions Ontario in partnership with The Niagara Addiction Treatment System held their Recovery Awareness Breakfast on September 8 at the St. Catharines Golf & Country Club, as part of their provincial Recovery Campaign.

Kathie Scott, Executive Director of Community Addiction Services of Niagara welcomed an enthusiastic crowd to enjoy food and fellowship and to celebrate addiction recovery. Diane Doneff, founding Director of Women’s Addiction Recovery Mediation, shared her own personal recovery journey.

Diane’s personal journey started 30 years ago when she found a program and people who believed in her until she could trust herself to live a sober life, one day at a time.  Diane was given the tools and processes by which to heal her past wounds. For the past 20 years, Diane has felt privileged to share these tools and processes while supporting other women and their families in their journeys of recovery through WARM.

Norma Medulun, President of Addictions Ontario presented Diane with the 2010 Community Achievement Award in recognition of Diane’s commitment and outstanding service to the field of addiction recovery.

For more information call Claire Duthie at 905-871-9195 – extension 822 or [email protected]




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