The View from The Niagara Guide

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


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.

Today's Gift of Time

Mark Kawabe - Monday, July 25, 2016

The gift of timeEvery day we wake up, we have a gift.

It's called time.

The fact is that today, you woke up. You are an alive, breathing, sentient human being, alive at one of the most exciting times in history.

What are you going to do today?

What will you do that will inspire?

What will you do that will help?

What will you do that will be of benefit?

Every second of every day, you can be working on making yourself and the world a better place, one choice at a time.

You can choose to help.

You can choose to say a kind word.

You can choose to forgive yourself and others.

You can choose to change your attitude for a moment, for a minute, for an hour, for a day, for a week, for the rest of your life.

Opportunities for greatness exist in the smallest of acts.

Today's post was inspired by my uncle Tats, who passed away this weekend. His time was up. I still have some. So do you.

How will you choose to use your gifts today?

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.

Here We Go Again

Mark Kawabe - Friday, June 24, 2016

The British people have spoken and have voted to leave the European Union. 52% of the population have chosen the uncertainty of leaving vs. the uncertainty of remaining. The one thing the two sides have in common is fear.

The fear of staying in the EU, with its perceived bureaucracy, ability to impose rules on its member states and unaccountability was enough to convince a majority of Britons to vote to leave. The fear of economic uncertainty was an major factor in why almost an equal number voted to stay.

The start of the plunge at the top of a roller coaster

With all the uncertainty, one thing is certain: change is scary, but it's less scary if we seem to be in control. 52% of voters felt they would have more control over their futures by not being part of a larger entity. Thinking we have control over a potential outcome helps reduce fear.

The media headlines today are fear-provoking. They always are and they always will be. Fear is how the media get our attention and make their money. If there's one thing you have control over, it's your ability to recognize that despite the challenges you face, there are some things you control and some things you don't. Control what you can, then deal with whatever else comes your way to the best of your abilities.

We're on a big roller coaster. There's a build up, we go over the precipice and then are thrown around more loops, curves, swoops and hills. Ultimately though, we wind up in the same place as we were before, a little shaken up, our equilibrium thrown off, our hair a mess, and slightly changed for the experience.

Enjoy the ride as best you can and remember: we're all in this together.


National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, June 23, 2016

On June 23, 1985, 329 Canadians died when Air India flight 182 was destroyed by a bomb. To this day, this event is the largest mass murder and act of terrorism in Canadian history.

June 23rd was declared a National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism. Flags should be flown at half mast to honour both the victims of the bombing of Air India flight 182 along with all other Canadian victims of terrorism.

May we remember and honour appropriately.

National Aboriginal Day

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Totem PoleToday is National Aboriginal Day in Canada. To be honest, this is the first time I've heard about it. I suspect I'm not the only one in that boat. It's the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, so I've been in the dark for 20 years. Thank you Candy Palmater on CBC for enlightening me.

On June 21st, we are invited to learn more about Indigenous history and culture and to build stronger relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.

A quick scan of the Ontario government's website shows that tonight, Niagara Falls will be lit in the colours of the Medicine Wheel (yellow, red, blue and white) to mark the day. The Canadian Government's website lists a number of events happening around the country. The only Niagara events I could find marking the day in the top 30 results in Google is a display of Aboriginal art at the Grimsby Public Art Gallery and a picture from Ontario Power Generation's Instagram account - and the mention of the lighting of Niagara Falls in the Ontario Government's news release.

It can be argued that Canada would not be Canada were it not for the assistance of Aboriginal soldiers during the War of 1812. I don't think the intervening years have been kind to Canada's Indigenous peoples. We collectively owe them a debt of gratitude for their contributions to the founding of our country, and I think we owe it to ourselves to repay that debt with more compassion and understanding of Aboriginal concerns nation-wide.

Happy National Aboriginal Day! Here's hoping for better relations between us all.

Earth Day 2016

Mark Kawabe - Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Earth Day! My wish for this year is for action. Not for wishes, platitudes, or grand ideas.

As a society, we don't live in harmony with each other, much less the other organisms that we share the earth with. The natural systems we coexist with are what allow us to survive and thrive. We can do better than we've done in the past.

That's my personal goal - to do better - to improve my interactions with my environment, to work on minimizing negative impacts I make, and to educate myself and others on things we can do to protect and enhance Niagara's natural wealth.

I hope you will make it your goal as well. If enough of us do, I believe we can create more livable, sustainable communities. That's a worthwhile goal I hope everyone can move toward.

Comfort Maple

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!

Avoiding Business Erosion

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Change is all around us. It's in our society, in our technology, in our work, in our home. I think humans have a gene for change wired into their DNA. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have any genes that make dealing with change any easier.

Business Erosion

Your business is operating in an environment where new competition starts up seemingly overnight and old markets dry up and fade away. How are you adapting to this change? Are you like water, just going with the flow? Or, are you an island, trying to weather all storms with stoic resolve?

Welland native Anthony Lacavera certainly knows how to create and navigate change. He founded Wind Mobile in 2008 and took on telecom giants Rogers, Bell and Telus. His company was recently sold to Shaw Communications for $1.6 billion.

Niagara Falls business fixture Sunny Halani has shepherded his UPS Store through major changes in the printing industry. The internet has posed a double challenge to the world of print. Email and PDFs have reduced or replaced (for some) the need to print brochures. The internet has also allowed the creation and rise of low-cost, DIY services like VistaPrint whose low prices are very appealing. Sunny's built a business based on stellar customer service, exceptional product quality and of course, his Sunny personality. In a world where print material is often considered a commodity, Sunny's way of doing business is helping his business thrive.

Wind Mobile's innovations allowed it to prosper. Sunny's UPS Store's success is based on superior customer service and doing the job right. What will be the right approaches for your business to take for it to stand the test of time and stand up to the winds of change?

What Can You Do Differently?

Mark Kawabe - Monday, January 04, 2016

What can you do differently today?Whether he said it or not (and he probably didn't), Einstein is said to have defined insanity as "doing something over and over again and expecting a different result".

Every day we have choices to make. What we choose to do and how we choose to do those things largely determine the outcomes of our activities.

What are you doing today that you've done before that you want to turn out better than it did before?

Here's something I tried today: black coffee.

When I have coffee, it's usually in the form of a vanilla latte (from Starbucks) or a French Vanilla (from Timmy's). Today, in an attempt to gain the benefits of coffee (caffeine) without extra calories, I tried a dark roast, black, from Timmy's. It was more palatable than I thought it would be. More importantly, I stayed awake on my late-night drive home while feeling good about the choice made.

You have choices to make today. Here's hoping they contribute to your sanity.

Please feel free to share them with others. What works for you may work for someone else :)


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