The View from The Niagara Guide

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

Niagara Community Radio

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, October 12, 2017

Radio Microphone

I'm probably jumping the gun a bit, but I'm excited. Coming soon: an online radio station that is all about Niagara, for Niagara, and by Niagara. It's Niagara Community Radio, and it's going to be a reality in the near future.

The purpose of the station is to provide a platform for Niagara voices. That's it. Sounds vague, I know, but I think it has potential to be an important platform for small business owners, artists, artisans, politicians, pundits and anyone else who cares enough to share their story.

Niagara Community Radio is a not-for-profit venture that is offering an online radio platform to anyone who wants to host a show about pretty much any topic. Want to talk about Niagara business? Great. How about environmental issues facing Niagara? Go for it. Want to talk about your local hockey team's performance? Sure thing. Want to showcase local musicians? Right on.

From what I understand, there will be shows on at a set time, and because it's the internet, those shows will be available to be streamed on demand. It's kind of like a podcast, but you don't have to download the shows themselves. They'll just be streamed to you via your computer or through a smartphone app (iPhone and Android versions available).

Oh - and another thing - won't be any advertisements. Just announcements for Niagara community events for local charities, non-profits, service clubs and the like. This platform is being provided free of charge to Niagara for the time being.

Coming soon. It's so cool! Watch - or listen - for our first show on Niagara Community Radio before then end of 2017!


Mark Kawabe - Sunday, September 18, 2016

We are interconnectedEvery action has a consequence. The smallest act not taken can have a huge ripple effect. We are interconnected in ways we don't often think about, yet exploring and understanding those connections are essential for our individual and collective benefit.

I'm fascinated with how our society is transforming. There are heated discussions around every topic imaginable. From the environment, to race, gender, technology, economics, food, culture, politics, energy, transportation, it seems that every facet of our society is undergoing change. It can be overwhelming to try and comprehend all that's happening.

My desire is to begin exploring these connections as they relate to Niagara. I hope to increase awareness of and discussion about these issues from an open and welcoming perspective, while weaving in information about what's going on in Niagara from a business and cultural view. This fits with my vision for the Niagara Guide to "Bring Niagara Together". It's kind of a grand, muddy vision, and I don't know where it's going to take me, but then again, it kind of reminds me of life in general. It's grand. It's not easy, neat or tidy. But at the end of the day, I'm grateful to have lived another day and appreciate the opportunity to have new experiences tomorrow.

I hope you'll enjoy the journey. More importantly, I hope you'll participate in the discussion and exploration of topics. All voices are welcome on the journey.

Blink, and You Miss It

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 27, 2016 was National Multiculturalism Day in Canada.

You'll be forgiven if you didn't know about it. Not that it means much, but I had no idea. I suspect the same is true for many Canadians.

Canada was the first country to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy, back in 1971. Doing so promotes the idea that all Canadians are equal. It affirms the value and dignity of everyone, regardless of racial or ethnic origin, language or religious affiliation. Multiculturalism helps encourage racial and ethnic harmony and cross-cultural understanding.

As an official policy, that's great. The reality on the ground is different. Most cultures tend to stick together. While this is natural, it means there are still barriers to achieving that cross-cultural understanding.

Here are some ideas on how actively become more multicultural.

  • Become friends with at least two or three people who are from a different religion than you. Chances are they'll be from a different ethnic group than you as well. The twelve classical world religions (alphabetically) are: Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism.
  • Choose to eat at small, ethnic restaurants. I like Wind, but it's not a true cultural experience in my opinion. Visit Kool Katts (Caribbean), Michinoku (Japanese), Spiice (Chinese), Duru (Korean)The Garden Restaurant (Greek), Passage to India (Indian / Pakistani), Afghan Horseman Kabob (Afghani), The Thai Dish (Thai), and any other non-chain restaurant that offers more authentic cooking. Learning about culture while experiencing new foods is great fun. If you're unsure what to order, ask the proprietors what they would recommend to someone who's never eaten that cuisine before.
  • When you see a racial, religious or cultural stereotype, take some time to research whether it's actually true. It's easy for untruths and misinformation to be spread online. Take some time to educate yourself and others.
Whether or not you (or I) knew that yesterday was National Multiculturalism Day is really not important as long as we're doing our part to foster understanding among all people.

Niagara Events Calendar

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Event organizing is enough of a challenge, but getting the word out can be even tougher.

We'd like to make that a tad easier with our Niagara Events Calendar.

Visit it online at

Yes, I know. It's ANOTHER event calendar. Why should you bother, especially when you can put your event on Facebook for free?

There are a few things that set our calendar apart.

It Lets People Plan Ahead

If you let us know about your event several months before it happens, we will have it posted on our event calendar for several months. Yes, I know, you can do the same on Facebook and Twitter, but those platforms will ultimately bury news of your event. Our calendar lets you add your event early for additional exposure.

We Post Events Multiple Times to Social Media

Most of the time when you add an event to a social media stream, it gets posted once. We use our posting software to post notifications in our social media streams multiple times before the event. Usually a few weeks in advance, then two weeks, then one week, then the week of, then the day of.

It's Human Monitored

I like automation, but I also hate automated spam crap submitted to our events listings. Everything that goes online in our calendar gets looked at by a human. Sometimes we even add (and hopefully improve) upon what you've submitted to us.

You Can Add Photos Too!

Yep. Just send us the photos and we'll add them.

It's Free

Yes, it's free. You just need a free account with The Niagara Guide to add your event to our calendars. Click here to create an account.

We want to help you promote your events. Please help us help you :)

A few caveats:

This is a free service. There may be delays as we take care of our paying customers. And yes, we're human. Sometimes things can get missed. We do our best to put events online as quickly as possible. If yours hasn't shown up after a few days, feel free to remind us!

Niagara ergonomic supplies

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In my travels I meet some very interesting people who sell interesting things.

Today I met Terry Scott, President of Special Needs Computers in St. Catharines.

I was amazed at some of the cool ergonomic office technology available to help us office workers avoid the aches, pains and diseases we're susceptible to by sitting most of the day.

Watch the video about this chair, for example.

Pretty cool, eh?

Anyway, if you're interested in saving your back (or your hands, wrists, heart or brain), you might want to drop by and see Terry at Special Needs Computers. 50 Niagara St., St. Catharines.

Of course, we added a category to our business guide: Niagara Ergonomic / Assistive / Adaptive Technology Suppliers. If you know of another business that should be added here, please let us know about it. Thanks!

Where to start . . .

Mark Kawabe - Friday, April 25, 2014

Niagara Music Instruction - electric guitar picturedThe past several months have seen much change with the structure of The Niagara Guide's websites. We've been steadily working on converting our legacy websites over to the new database and consolidating information onto domain and website. It's been a lot of work, but fun and we're looking to be on track to have this work completed by the end of May 2014.

That being said, there's much left to do. Every day we're adding new businesses and categories (who knew there was a mobile funeral planning specialist in Niagara?) and meeting new people. Of course, there's the ongoing marketing of our clients which never, ever stops.

So, that's where things are at. Oh - and we've updated one of my favourite categories: Music Instruction - with one of my favourite instructors, John Kott of Three Beagles Music. Rock on John!

Winter's here - here are three tips to help you drive safely

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Snowy day in NiagaraIt's a beautiful day out there - especially if you like snow.

I KNOW you're Canadian and therefore have evolved in such a way that you have a natural talent for driving in snow. That being said, there are going to be cars in ditches more than the average number of collisions today.  As a former driving instructor, I thought I'd share a few pieces of advice.


Yes, I know I'm preaching to the converted, but really, this does need to be said. I don't care how good your tires and your brakes are. The laws of physics dictate that your vehicle will have less traction in snow. That means it will take longer distances to stop and you will not have as precise control when you steer. It only gets worse when you are driving too fast for the conditions you're in.

Check Your Tires

Two things here:

  1. If you're going to stick with your all-season tires, make sure the tread is good and that they're properly inflated. There is a sticker on the inside driver's side of the vehicle that tells you what the proper tire inflation levels are for your vehicle.

  2. I strongly recommend winter tires. Traction's much improved with them compared to all-season tires. If you like to be able to control your vehicle, you should be a fan of winter tires. I know it's expensive to buy them, but a collision is more expensive than a set of tires and rims.

Make Sure You Can See

Visibility's rather essential when driving. If your wipers aren't cleaning snow properly, get new ones. They're much less expensive than your insurance deductible. Also, clean your windows on the inside. Dirty windows fog up more.

Speaking of fogging up, we've all seen drivers on the road in cars with completely fogged up windows. To clear those windows faster, turn on your air conditioner. The AC will help remove the moisture in the air that is condensing on the inside of your windows. Some cars have settings that turn on the AC automatically to help clear the windshield. If yours doesn't, this should help. If you don't have AC, make sure you're pumping in lots of fresh air and try to get your windows warm as quickly as possible to prevent condensation.

There are plenty more things you can do to help make your driving safer, but I think these are the big three. It all comes down to your attitude about driving. It's more beneficial to focus on safety and getting where you are going without stress.

I hope you have a safe day out there!

Making Niagara Better

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's easy to complain - about anything. It's harder to make things better in reality. But in reality, we don't recognize just how good we have things.

When the Rogers cellular network went down a while back, my son noted all the people commenting on Facebook about the situation. He called these "first world problems", and I think he's right. If you've lived somewhere else for any length of time, you probably recognize that while we have our challenges in our respective communities, our region and our nation, that overall things are pretty good.

Everyone wants things to be better than they are. I do as well. I also think our collective perceptions of how good or bad things are may not be accurate. There is much good happening in Niagara. Yes, there are challenges, but there is much good taking place. While we bemoan the challenges, we often fail to focus on the good.

There is much work to be done to make Niagara better. I think a good chunk of that work needs to be done in people's minds. Recognize how fortunate we are compared to others in other parts of the world, in other parts of our country, in other parts of our own community. More than that, recognize that we are here to evolve, to grow, to learn and experience. I think helping our neighbours is a good way to start helping our selves and if we all do that, Niagara will be a much richer place indeed.

Want to see a better Niagara? Look in the mirror and look at how you can improve. By changing yourself you can change the world.

It starts with you.

What does "Heart Safe" Mean to You?

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I recently read an article on the Welland Tribune website that says Wainfleet is now the first "heart safe" community in Niagara.

Here's the link to the article.

I have no doubt that all those who put together the program have great intentions. What I question is the notion that defibrillators truly make a community "heart safe".

It's kind of like saying cars are safe because of their roll cages and airbags while ignoring the fact that people crash their cars on a regular basis and have to make use of those devices. The fact is that all cars are safe - until they crash - so one might think that avoiding crashes is the safest option and one that should be pursued. Since dealing with the causes of crashes (which in my opinion are 95% the responsibilities of one or more drivers) is harder to deal with than their symptoms (the crash), the focus shifts to the "safety" devices like airbags.

Wainfleet was chosen as the first community in the program because "Wainfleet has much higher instances of cardiac disease than the rest of the region". I hope Wainfleet is being more aggressively targeted for education and awareness campaigns by the Niagara health department. Then again, perhaps that's just me - hoping that the causes of disease will be addressed rather than the symptoms.

What do you think? Is this a good idea on its own? I'm open to hear your perspectives.

Do you like free concerts?

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On September 24th, enjoy a free community concert at Brock University!

The Tuesday [email protected] lunchtime recital series is free and open to the public, featuring Brock's performance faculty, talented students and alumni, as well as special guests.

Enjoy the Guest and Faculty Recital, featuring Austin Hitchock, French horn and Karin Di Bella, piano Held at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.

This is a free community event!


No Very

Captcha Image
You can list your business for free, or we can help you share your story.
Let us help you get the word out.