Story Pitch

In a classroom setting, students had to create story pitch concepts for clients and pitch them to hypothetical media outlets. Here is my story pitch for a new children’s book.

 

books

Dear publisher,

Ellie, with fiery red hair and purple gumboots, isn’t your typical fairytale heroine.

Equipped with a leather-bound children’s book and a “do-no-wrong” attitude, she combats illiteracy in the make-believe world of Letterly, one child at a time. The Bookworm Princess by Ellen Cartwright is part of a new initiative by Scholastic Canada to bring awareness to the issue of illiteracy in Canada.

Did you know?
– 42% of Canadians are semi-illiterate.
– Having a parent read aloud to their children helps them learn basic listening, vocabulary and language skills, as well as develop imagination and creativity.
– Research shows that children have a better chance of becoming fully literate adults if reading is encouraged in the home.

Expected to release in Spring 2014, The Bookworm Princess tells the tale of Ellie, a street girl with an active imagination and the power of storytelling. Ellen Cartwright, the author of the story, has teamed up with Scholastic Canada and plans to donate 100% of the proceeds to the Scholastic Book Grant Program, which aims to put a book in the hands of a child in need across Canada.

Having been raised below the poverty line in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Ellen knows what it is like to grow up not knowing how to read or write. “There were nights when my siblings and I didn’t know if there’d be dinner at the table. Looking back now, being able to slip into an imaginary world would have saved me from so many dark nights.” To date, the children’s book has garnered a list of awards including the Rainforest of Reading Award, the City of Vancouver Book Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.

”Ellen Cartwright crafts a magical story full of hope and love,” says Heather Reisman, Chief Executive Officer of Chapters Indigo. “It provides children with a fantastic life lesson about giving back to those in need.”

The Bookworm Princess is offered via Scholastic Canada’s online store, mail order forms, monthly book fairs and Chapters Indigo locations across the country. If you’d like to schedule an interview with either Ellen Cartwright or Heather Reisman, please contact me at 604-294-3860 or by email at anthony.nerada@gmail.com

Thank you for your consideration.

Cheers,

 

Anthony Nerada
Communications Specialist
Scholastic Canada

Photo Credit: CBC

Corporate Profile

Here is a corporate profile of a start up bicycle company in Poland as part of an assignment for a Writing for Media Relations course.

 

Efneo is all about enhancing the way you ride a bike by replacing the parts you don’t need. As a start-up company from Warsaw, Poland, we bring innovation and quality to the cycling industry with a line of fully patented accessories meant to better the lives of daily riders. We believe our first priority is the cyclist’s comfort to ensure their ride is met with the highest standards in safety and design. Started in 2009, the Migaszeksi family worked tirelessly to create a solution to the complex world of derailleurs. The family affair —a father, his three sons and his sister—collaborated with the best universities and metal processing companies in the country to come up with a product that would have the potential to transform the cycling world.

 
przekladnia-ukos

 

The result of five years of prototyping, Efneo has crafted a three-speed, internally geared chainring suitable for any standard bicycle frame. The ease and sophistication of a compact design attracts both recreational and professional bike users and provides a quality product to all kinds of riders.

At Efneo, we are revolutionizing the way cyclists ride by launching a new type of bicycle gearbox with three gears as opposed to the traditional two. With a sleek, three-gear design, Efneo poses an alternative to the traditional use of a front derailleur. Similar to a car, the enhanced gearbox allows users to change to the first gear instantly and provides riders with the ability to change gears while in stationary mode, making it great for the every day city traveller.

Technical difficulties of chain skewing between separate chains become a thing of the past with Efneo positioned in the middle of the bike’s framework. The trick is in the internal construction. Trading in the awkward three-chainring structure of a front derailleur, Efneo rotates one chainring at different speeds on each gear. This provides cyclists with a smoother, seamless experience. Efneo continues to expand its international reach with the determination to become a global household name. With ambitions to expand into the Western hemisphere, we continue to increase brand awareness on a global scale, turning heads and garnering the attention of the cycling world through the use of social media platforms.

bicycle

Efneo trumps its competition by remaining affordable, compact and durable. Throughout the inception process, we continuously designed with the rider in mind and sought to manufacture a product of premium quality – with three gears. In its final stages of development, Efneo seeks the support of its current and future stakeholders through the use of crowd funding campaigns, aimed to fuel the project to an international success.

As there is an increased desire for results, looks and comfort among consumers, Efneo will be known for delivering a line of technologically advanced bicycle accessories and bettering the overall satisfaction of its clients.

Photo Credits: Efneo & CreativeMotive

Spirituality at Work

Buddhism

Feature article in the 25th Anniversary Issue of Pacific Rim Magazine, Spirituality at Work is a profile piece featuring Vancouver professionals who define what it means to be spiritual in the workplace, fusing Eastern theologies with modern occupations.

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It was an epic battle between good and evil, and yet the young prince, Siddhartha Gautama, did not raise a finger against Mara, the wicked one casting chaotic storms and temptations at him. Instead, Gautama sat beneath an ancient bodhi tree, deep in meditation on his path to understanding suffering. He placed his right hand upon the Earth to witness his defiance of Mara. It was then, underneath that sacred fig tree during a full moon in May, that Siddhartha Gautama became Buddha, ‘the enlightened one,’ and Buddhism was born.

According to the most recent census on religion, the majority of Canadians ages 15 to 29 and nearly 60 per cent of citizens in British Columbia have no religious affiliation or have not attended a religious service in the past year. In a world becoming more secular each day, many people try to incorporate spirituality into our daily lives, looking to reconnect with our holy selves. Buddhism has progressed outside the traditional confines of temple walls. Sprouting in the most unlikely of places throughout Vancouver, Buddhism has become more of a way of life than a religion. A psychologist, dance teacher, and restaurant owner would normally have little in common, but throw in the teachings of an ancient prophet, and you have a modern twist on religion.

Sporting hemp-based clothing and emerald green Crocs, Kai-Lin Yang walks through life with Buddhism close to his heart. A life coach and psychotherapist with an MA in Integral Counseling Psychology and a Registered Clinical Counselor since 2005, Yang has established practices in both Vancouver and Burnaby. Born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Yang has incorporated Buddhist and Taoist teachings into his practice and uses self-help principles to motivate his clients to realize their potential.

Yang sits back in his chair, hands gently resting on his lap as he contemplates every question asked. After earning an associate degree in engineering, Yang began to doubt his Taoist and Buddhist upbringing and asked himself where he fit in the world. “When I was younger, I followed what my mom believed, but I didn’t know what I was doing. It was very hard for me to figure out what this was all about.” After enrolling at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Yang knew he had found his calling. “In my program, I relearned and reconnected with my faith and was able to create my own definition of what it meant to be spiritual.” Very much a fusion of Western and Eastern traditions, Yang credits his education in integral psychology as “a necessary path to understand [his] meaning of life.”

Yang works with people of all ages and learns from each one of them. “Most of my clients suffer from anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. I tend to focus a lot on emotions because they connect with our neural system, our bodies, and our memories. When emotions become too intense, they become the master and we become the dog.” However, Yang stresses the importance of love and compassion. “Buddha’s Ultimate Truth is that everything changes and there is only now. The other thing that goes hand in hand with change is that, when it happens, love and compassion become a part of it.”

When asked about the Tibetan amulet hanging from his neck, Yang rubs it as if for good luck. “This was given to me from a friend to ward off evil demons inside, to get rid of that voice that always judges and criticizes us,” he says. “I often tell my clients that if they want to live a happier life, they have to, no matter what, not let that voice in their head take over.”

Kai-Lin Yang is someone who found his connection to spirituality amid the clamour of the city. While helping his clients achieve a happier life, he established his place in the world with a contemporary take on divinity.

bettina

Bettina Rothe is a mother of two with rich auburn hair and a warm smile. Her place of worship is the dance floor. There she transcends rigid ways of thinking and expresses her individuality and freedom through the movement of her body.

Raised just minutes from the Berlin Wall in Germany, Rothe grew up hardwired for success. “My upbringing was very academic, very political. My father was from East Germany and both of my parents were children of the war. I grew up as a go-getter. You go figure out the system and make the system work for you. From a very young age I was programmed to achieve, and that life just didn’t work for me.”

After studying Psychology, Rothe traveled to California to further her studies at Esalen Institute, a community and retreat center focusing on the fusion between psychology and spirituality. Here she met the late Gabrielle Roth, a teacher she credits for changing her life. “Gabrielle believed that spirituality is not something we do in the closet; it is something we live and breathe and we become. We become the teachings; we become the offerings. Her approach really spoke to me.” In the late 1970s, Roth devised a practice based on erratic dance movement that she named the 5Rhythms, an exercise of the mind, body, and soul. Loosely based on Buddhist meditation principles of breathing and mind-body connections, the program puts the body in motion in order to reconnect with the spirit. When the five rhythms—flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness—come together it is called the Wave, a perfect union of the mind, body, and dance.

“The idea with 5Rhythms is to get out of thinking, because thinking is linked to a very linear way of being, linked to judgements and concepts and systems. The body is timeless and completely in the present moment,” says Rothe. “We work with big sound systems and electronic music that enable people to get into those alternate states of consciousness. We are a group of people moving together, breathing together, and crying together.”

Upon coming to Canada in 2000 with her husband, Rothe was unable to work for the first two years while herimmigration was finalized. So she sought to create a community of her own, one connected through healing and dance. “We started out with one man in 2001, and now our group in Vancouver is massive.”

Rothe’s way of life is deeply rooted in Buddhism. “The first thing I do in the morning is meditation to centre myself between Heaven and Earth, in a vertical way, to bring myself back into my own body. I need to start the day knowing that my heart is there; I’m grounded. I’m present and hopefully not stressed out.”

Bettina Rothe, when asked what advice she would have for someone wanting to start a spiritual journey, replies with passion: “I think a lot of people have a big threshold or landmark on what they perceive spirituality is. Start exactly where you are, and start right now. Spirituality is going for a walk and noticing the bird sitting on the tree and just being able to be with that. It is being able to recognize what moves through you at the moment and taking full responsibility and ownership of that.”

sheila

Sheila Pan is the owner of Panz Veggie on Hornby Street in Vancouver. A Taiwanese-born chef, Pan chose to open one of the first Asian vegan restaurants in the city in March 2010. After growing up in the food and beverage industry, Pan brings her own experiences and flavour to Vancouver.

Melodic traditional music flows through the restaurant as Pan prepares for the day. A Buddha statue greets guests as they arrive and, for Pan, serves as a reminder of peace and tranquility. “Personally, I wanted to be with my belief and with my God at all times. There are moments where I lose control for sure, but when I look and see him, I snap out of the state that I shouldn’t be in. I ask him to help me to do better and overcome any hardships that I encounter.”

Pan attributes the opening of Panz Veggie to destiny. “I was brought up by my father in the kitchen. I remember working in his restaurant Shanghai on Robson Street in the 1970s. It’s very funny because since his passing six years ago, all of the technical skills he taught me are coming back. It’s amazing how our brain keeps all of our memories. We don’t forget things.” Pan smiles, “I’ve never operated a restaurant and never managed people before, so where do I get all these skills? Then I realized that everything that my father taught me has led me to exactly where I am today.”

When asked what her most popular dish is, Pan answers: “The bestseller is the Buddha’s Feast.” What is interesting about this meal, and her entire menu in general, is that Pan does not use garlic, onion, shallots, leeks, or chives in any of her dishes. “In Buddhism there are spirits all around you, and those five ingredients chase away the good spirits and attract the bad ones. Garlic gives you an aftermath aura,” she says with a laugh. “You smell like a skunk.”

Typically, Buddhist cuisine advocates vegetarianism, as it follows the teaching of ahimsa, meaning, “to do no harm.” With ahimsa, one respects all living beings, so using meat products is generally condemned. However, Pan insists she does not specialize in Buddhist cuisine and that the food she offers is for everyone. “I respect everyone’s beliefs. If you would like it to be Buddhist, sure, make it Buddhist. I am Buddhist. But if you want to make it a healthy, natural meal, then that’s the way it will be.”

Sheila Pan stands tall for a woman of petite stature and has a positivity about her that radiates light. While vegan food may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Pan’s kind smile and story beckons customers from all over the city to try their hand at this truly unique experience. In its three years of operation, Panz Veggie remains a staple on Hornby Street, and Pan could not be happier in what she calls “home.”

Buddhism has greatly evolved since Siddhartha Gautama chose to walk away from Mara’s temptations. As the modern world becomes more secular every day, many North Americans are integrating faith into their careers, transforming tradition and spirituality into a hybrid of new and old. Each day Kai-Lin Yang begins a dialogue with his clients, helping to alleviate their anxiety and depression through inspiring counsel. Every morning Bettina Rothe meditates before making her way into the studio to instruct a rhythmic dance exercise that sets spirituality in motion. Across the city Sheila Pan makes her way to Panz Veggie, hoping to provide an authentic vegan experience to entice locals. Three Canadians, three Buddhists, and three professionals, all live and breathe Buddhism each day by incorporating aspects of the religion into their trade.

Photo Credit: Francis Garrucho

Cultivating Concrete

With the rise of urban farming in metropolitan cities around the world, the phrase “concrete jungle” is taking on a whole new meaning. Though the concept of “urban farming” is relatively new, Vancouver is one of the first Canadian cities to accept it as a viable form of sustainable food practices due heavily to the growing concerns for safe food handling procedures and a rising population.

The number of community garden plots has nearly doubled since 2009 with over 104 locations, bringing a hue of bright green to the washed-out shades of grey our downtown core is inundated with. In an attempt to educate consumers about the realities of food production, City Council adopted a action plan at the beginning of the year that included the increase of urban farms, farmers markets and community garden plots within the city by 2020.

Parking Lot with a Purpose

green

Last November, the first vertical urban farm was introduced to North America in the most unlikely of places — on the rooftop of an EasyPark in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

Operated year round by Alterrus System Inc., Vancouver’s Local Garden uses a new hydroponic technology called VertiCrop. Fashioned after a factory conveyor belt, it is equipped with over 3,000 trays that rotate between 18 to 24 days for maximum exposure to sunlight without the need for pesticides. The result? A yield four times more than a typical field crop at ten times the productivity.

The space is a mere 5,700 square feet, but given that the produce is grown in trays stacked 12 high, one might think they’re stepping into a lush forest of green as opposed to a once bustling parking lot. The site produces approximately 150,000 pounds of fresh produce annually while using only 10% of the water typically used for traditional agriculture.

Growing over 80 varieties of vegetables including spinach, arugula and kale, Local Garden significantly reduces Vancouver’s carbon footprint by cutting back on transportation distance, energy use and harmful chemicals.

Gas Station Gardens

solefoods

Imagine that instead of filling your car with expensive gas, you’re stocking the trunk with the season’s freshest herbs and produce. It may be a far-fetched idea, but for the residents surrounding Main Street and Terminal Avenue, it is very much a reality.

In the summer of 2013, SoleFood Street Farms, a Canadian nonprofit organization, converted an old Petro Canada gas station into the largest urban orchard in North America. With the land having been unused for the past decade, it is being leased to the company by the city of Vancouver for an unheard of total of $1 a year.

With the help of over 500 new fruit trees, SoleFood expects to produce up to 60 tonnes of produce annually between its four working sites. Members of the community can be a part of the fun too with a fully functioning share program, wherein SoleFood delivers a variety of produce, using the highest organic standards, weekly to customer’s doors between May and November. SoleFood also supplies produce to 30 local restaurants and gives back 10 percent of its harvest to Downtown Eastside agencies via donation.

Because Vancouver’s real estate is some of the most expensive in the world, SoleFood has countered the issue with a system of moveable planters that can be stacked one on top of the other and moved with a forklift. As a result, SoleFood prevents its crops from being exposed to contaminated soil, can cultivate an entire garden of produce on pavement and, if need be, can relocate the company at any given time.
SoleFood Street Farms have become somewhat of a tourist attraction. Their Pacific and Carrall location, which can be seen from the Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain, is in plain sight of thousands of people daily as they pass by on walks or bike rides along the seawall. While being one of the city’s newest hotspots, they also provide meaningful employment to members of the Downtown Eastside who may have struggled with drug addiction or mental illness.

Harvesting the Benefits

Though there are several obvious reasons as to why urban farming is beneficial to a city—reduction of soil contamination and the city’s carbon footprint, healthier living choices, and food security—the outcome is far greater than what is expected.

When a neighbourhood bands together to maintain and produce an urban farm, a sense of community pride is formed. In a survey done at the University of Albany on community gardens, research showed that by interacting with nature and their own neighbours, residents displayed an overall improvement to their social and emotional well-being as well as an increased community social life. Urban farming is seen as a calming experience and usually offers a place of refuge to people in heavily populated cities.

Noise pollution is also a growing concern in Vancouver where buildings seem to sprout overnight. Large amounts can not only lead to lower property value, but can also be damaging to both health and hearing levels. While plants are known for recycling harmful carbon dioxide emissions from the air, it is unknown to many that they are actually a vital source of sound absorption. As a result of implementing urban farms throughout the city, farmers are additionally contributing to a vast reduction in noise pollution.

As land becomes harder to come by and the city’s population continues to rise, urban farming is a trend most likely to take permanent root in our city. There is a certain appeal that comes with having fresh fruit and vegetables at our fingertips that many Vancouverites are being drawn towards. If the success of urban farms continues to catch on, we could be seeing one around every corner of our city, a soon-to-be common sight of flourishing greens typically only found after an hour-long walk through the depths of Stanley Park.