It’s closing time for The Fab Files

Let’s not bury the lead: this eclectic little blog has served its purpose, and it’s time to put it to rest.

 

I started The Fab Files as an undergraduate student in March 2009. At the time, I wanted an outlet— a place on the internet where I could be as long winded, and annoyingly earnest, and dash-crazy as I liked.

I continued to write  — regularly at times, but more and more sporadically — while making my way through graduate school, and then during my first few years in the work force. I joked that this site’s only unifying theme was “Fabiola and everything she’s interested in” — implying that the fab files all live under miscellaneous.

To my amazement, people got in touch. People stayed in touch. Over 2000 people subscribed! Although some posts went completely unnoticed, others soared straight out the park. A few trolls stopped by, but even that was kind of cool.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

These days, I must admit, I’m mainly focused on my work for Q with Jian Ghomeshi — an enlightening and entertaining CBC Radio show that has expanded  into international markets and far beyond the airwaves. I am the first associate producer to be solely responsible for the show’s website and larger web presence, and every day I’m privileged to write about fascinating individuals and ideas.  I work with an incredibly lovely and talented team, and for one of the best interviewers in the industry.

Although I’ve been keeping pretty busy, every now and again I remember my personal blog.

I log in to discover pending comments, unaddressed requests, and unexpected spikes in traffic. (This post, for instance, is still killin’ it!)  It’s something like remembering that the plant in the corner of the room needs watering, and feeling a mix of relief that it’s still alive and guilt over its worsening condition. Poor thing.

And, so, I’ve decided that it’s best to be honest about my diverted attention and my desire to draw a clearer line between the writing I did as a student and the projects I’m taking on in the professional world.

As I post this last file, I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who has taken the time to read, comment on and share my posts over the years. I hope you will check out the strictly professional successor to this site when the time comes.

For now, I’d like to repeat how grateful I have been for your interest and engagement since 2009 (or whenever you googled your way here looking for Fabiola, Queen of Belgium).

The best way to nudge me these days is on Twitter @fiercefab. Stay in touch — or get in touch, as the case may be!

Warmest regards,
– Fabiola

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Generation Why: CBC News’ digital digest of must-read news for young Canadians

This week's cover

If you’re a Canadian under the age of 30, odds are you’re not reading a physical newspaper every morning or sitting down each night to watch the six o’clock news — but that doesn’t mean you’re not paying attention to the world around you.

Perhaps the ways you encounter information are a little less predictable, a little more serendipitous, than the ways your parents did when they were your age.

But a lot has changed since then.

Young people today have an unprecedented amount of access to information from around the world. It comes at us constantly from a multitude of sources. In this fast-paced and ever-changing digital landscape, it’s easy to miss stories that are interesting, informative or useful.

Let’s find the best stories, together

Your peers at CBC News (self included!) are news junkies by profession, which means that we’re in a good position to keep watch for what’s new and notable. Like staff at a bookstore, we know our collection well and can help you find the best of it.

But we also know that you bring fresh perspectives to our news coverage, and may have different ideas about what should be at the top of our agenda. We really want to know which stories interest, enrage, excite or engage you.

That’s why we’ve launched Generation Why, a weekly interactive magazine curated by young Canadians for young Canadians.

Each week, readers under the age of 30 and young staffers collaborate to highlight the best content that CBC news and current affairs programming has to offer. 

Here are some example spreads:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our goal is not to talk at you, but with you.

The CBC audience is filled with sharp minds and great taste. It would be a shame not to collaborate and learn about which issues and ideas matter most to you.

How to become a contributor

To contribute follow these three steps.

Step 1: Choose one news or current affairs item from the preceding week that you think would appeal to, affect, or engage students and young adults in Canada.

Your item can be a story, a standout radio or TV interview, a documentary, a photo gallery, an interactive map, etc. As long as it’s CBC content we can link to online, it’s an option! (If it’s not online but should be, you can flag it for us, too. We’ll see what we can do.)

Step 2: Write a couple paragraphs (150 words max) about why this news item caught your attention and why you think other young Canadians might be interested, too.

Please feel free to write in your own voice and be conversational – the way you are when recommending links to your friends on Facebook, for example.

Step 3: Send us your write up and a link to your item, as well as your name, location and a photo of you. You can email your entry to community@cbc.ca with the subject line “Generation Why” or upload your submission to our member pages.

Would you like to design a cover? 

We are also interested in hearing from talented young artists and photographers who would like to have their work featured on the cover of the magazine. Please email community@cbc.ca for more information.

The deadline for written submissions is Friday at 12:00 p.m. ET every week. 

The magazine goes live Friday night, and is featured on the CBCNews.ca landing page every Saturday.

The format isn’t set in stone, either. We’ll be taking your feedback and suggestions on how to make it a reliable digest of the best CBCNews.ca has to offer from a youth perspective. This Monday, in fact, we’re having our very first open editorial meeting!

We thank you in advance for helping us build this resource.

– Fabiola Carletti and Lauren O’Neil
Members of the CBC Community team and ever-curious twenty-somethings

One woman’s blind date with the city of Toronto

Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present inspires local theatre student

By Fabiola Carletti
Originally published by the Toronto Star

Allison Leadley spent a day sitting with strangers in a public art experiment she called “exhausting, intense, intimate, funny, touching and totally overwhelming.” (Courtesy Allison Leadley)

Allison Leadley, 25, dragged two folding chairs to a busy Toronto intersection — then sat down, swallowed her terror, and waited.

The often-shy university student was stationed at the corner of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. W., in early March. The plan was to carve a space for intimacy in a notoriously uninviting city.

Leadley, a Halifax native who normally works backstage, had committed to nearly eight hours of sitting without eating, drinking or speaking at four different intersections. Her inspiration came from the prolific performance artist Marina Abramovic, who had done the same at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

“At first people were going out of their way not to notice me,” said Leadley, a first-year PhD student of theatre and performance at the University of Toronto.

“I started to worry that no one would sit down and that this was going to be a long and really lonely day.”

… continue reading

What would you like to ask CBC News?

I wrote this post for CBCNews.ca, and will be coordinating this project. You can view the original post here.


Have you ever wondered how journalists prepare for difficult interviews?
Or how reporters train for the dangers of conflict reporting?
Perhaps you’re curious about how a key investigation came together.

We want to make it easier for you to ask questions and get answers from the CBC News team across Canada and around the world.

As part of our ongoing effort to increase transparency and engage with our readers, we are launching a new online feature: Ask CBC News.

Here’s how it works.

You submit your question.

1) Think of a question. It can be about an editorial choice we’ve made, the story behind a story, or the important issues of the day. The best questions are open-ended and have a good shelf life.

Examples:

  • Do you think Vladimir Putin will win Russia’s presidential election tomorrow?
    (Weak — This yes/no question may be outdated by the time it gets to the reporter.)
  • How mainstream is the movement to oust Vladimir Putin? What are you hearing from average Russians and local media?
    (Strong — Open-ended question that draws on the reporter’s unique insight.)

2) Clearly indicate if your question is for a specific journalist. If it’s a general question, we’ll track down the best person to field it for you.

3) There are several ways in which you can submit a question:

  • Email your question to yournews@cbc.ca with the subject line “Ask CBC News”
  • Record yourself asking the question in a short video (upload here, or send us a link)
  • Write your question in the comment thread below
  • Tweet your question using the hashtag #AskCBCNews

The more thought and effort you put into your question, the more likely it will be answered.

Video questions stand the best chance of standing out and grabbing our attention. Your video will be included with the answer.

Don’t forget to introduce yourself and tell us where you’re from!

Our commitment to you

1) We will present your questions to CBC News reporters across Canada and overseas, who will record their answers in a video.

2) We will post the reporters’ responses on CBCNews.ca and share them on social media.

3) We will email you to let you know your question has been answered.

Please note that our goal is to have a video response to a couple of questions each week, but we may begin with bi-monthly posts in the early stages of the project.

Although we cannot guarantee every question will be answered, we will try our best to field as many as we can.

Ask CBC News is part of our broad mission to be even more accountable to Canadians. We view it as a great opportunity for reporters to connect directly to readers.

Here is an example of what a video reply might look like.

Thank you for reading us here at CBCNews.ca and tuning in on TV and radio. We hope to hear from you soon!

Words that always make you feel better

Image by Tanisha Pina on Flickr

I’ve been thinking about personal affirmations lately — those helpful declarations that get people through their dark nights of the soul.

Some people etch a soothing phrase onto their wall, or repeat it under their breath, or tattoo it onto their skin. It doesn’t matter if it’s cheesy or clichéd or naïve. All that matters is that they have a relationship with their statement, and they believe it to be true.

It’s an incantation. A mantra. An invocation of the divine.

My mother says “everything happens for a reason” as if no one else on the planet has ever uttered those words in that order.  Somehow, she takes ownership of that overused phrase, and puts it to work.

My friend Amanda has a cursive sentence encircling her wrist: “Write! Writing is for you.” Her eyes sparkle when she speaks of the passage that inspired her ink and continues to drive her work. She doesn’t seek approval of it.

My brother once wrote a heartfelt song for his high school rock band. When he sang the refrain, he would close his eyes and sing from his soul: “No. I cannot be bothered by this.”

In a world of complexity, it strikes me how simple these affirmations can be. They remind us that our inner dialogue is powerful, and that we need to be conscious of the things we’re saying to ourselves — especially the things we say over, and over, and over again.

I’m going to wonder about this for my own purposes, but not aggressively.
Maybe my affirmation already lives in me.

Meantime, I’d be delighted to hear from you. Do you have a personal mantra?

Getting even googlier with Google+

Source: xkcd.com

Pardon me, am I too late to be an early adopter of Google+?

The service launched on June 28 in an invite-only “field testing” phase. Since then, roughly 20 million people have already blown past me. (Mostly geeks, let’s be honest — but ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.)

Still, maybe I can be among the first crop of journalists to tinker with this new-ish tool. (Too often we reporters play catch up, or even lapse into laggard status.)

The Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model (CC)

Why my sudden interest? Well, I’ve received a handful of invites to Google+ over email, but an old friend and reformed Twitter-phobe recently called me out publicly:

Ron Sly is a pretty reliable content curator, and I trust him despite his last name. So, today I put my reservations on hold — see: the googlization of everything — and have spent the last couple hours reading up on Google’s new brainchild.

Sure, the New York Times calls Google+ the latest “we wanna be Facebook” project, but also notes that this time it has really got a shot. Unlike underwhelming efforts like Google Buzz, some techies say G+ may actually dethrone Facebook the way Facebook dethroned MySpace.

I’ve come across myriad reasons to get in on the action, including many lists that cater to journalists specifically. Instead of linking a whole whack of ‘um, here’s the most comprehensive (sent to me by, surprise surprise, my buddy Ron Sly):

Read: Google+ for Journalists — A Primer

Anyway, since starting this blog post I stumbled upon a red button that instantly upgraded my Google profile to a G+ account … so I guess I’m officially an early adopter among journalists! Yay me!

Oh…

Dammit. Look who’s already here: Oh well. At least I’m not a laggard.

AWAKE and answer this: Are you your brother’s keeper?

Photo from expect.org/awake. Credit: Steve Carty

“Cain!” roared the pastor, his voice thundering throughout the church.

Where is your brother?”

The audience shuffled. The pews creaked. We all knew Cain had murdered Abel — but in that moment, not even God could force a confession.

“I don’t know,” came the flippant reply. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The words ignited something in me that they never have before.  I’ve listened to the story of Cain and Abel many times but yesterday, in the context of a eulogy, I heard it.

This despite the fact that the whole funeral was staged. The sermon was the backbone of a play called AWAKE, which premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival this year. The audience had gathered to mourn the loss of all of the young men who have fallen to gang violence, especially in  St. Jamestown and Rexdale.

The playwrights call it “docu-theatre” —  The eulogy had originally been delivered at the real funeral of 19-year-old Justin Shephard. The script was made up of verbatim excerpts from actual interviews with community members: mourning mothers, shaken friends, hardened police officers, youth from “at-risk” communities. People like me.

The altar was a stage for gospel, dance hall, spoken word, flashing lights, and a symbolic casket.

Nadia Beckles, played by Beryl Bain, spoke of her son Amon. In 2005, the 18-year-old was gunned down at a funeral for his best friend. After the shooting, his mother ran out of the church and knelt by him, covering his wounds with her hands.

Then, in one of the most poignant moments of the play, she looks up in disbelief as police arrive and ask attendees if they know the victim.

She watches his friends turn away.  They say they don’t know Amon.

Where is your brother?

The Silence

A group of young men in the audience talked throughout the entire play, and I smiled to myself. Some people may have thought they were rude — and maybe they were — but their presence made me feel like I was home in Rexdale. To understand why, you only have to ride the Finch bus after the school bell rings, try to find a quiet corner at Albion library, or watch a movie at Rainbow in Woodbine mall. The buzz is everywhere.

Peyson Rock. Credit: Steve Carty

When the silence happens, it’s deafening. Something is usually wrong.

It’s the code, says Lauren Brotman on stage.

As “Smokey,” she recalls the number of stitches she needed on her face after her ex beat her up (six, no … seven). She was furious, but didn’t snitch. There are many complicated reasons for this, too many to list here, but the code is why Amon’s friends turned away. It’s why, as a reporter, I am used to writing “no witnesses have come forward” or “police say residents have been uncooperative.”

On stage, the pastor looks into the light.

“We are not all evil. We are not all guilty — but we are all responsible.”

The Story

To get to the story, playwrights Laura Mullin and Chris Tolley had to crack the code. They had to tap into that small part of every witness that feels responsible.

The pair stood, a bit shy, during the Q & A after the play.  A man asked them why they’d been moved to write the piece. They started by admitting they were not from “at risk” neighbourhoods as the man let out a knowing laugh.

Their answer, if I make take allowances, is that they wanted to see if that silence could be broken, like bread among family, and shared.

“It was hard to get people to start talking, but once they did, they couldn’t stop,” said Mullin.

But after so many in-depth interviews, how were they supposed  to make characters, and not caricatures? Which threads were they to cut? St. Jamestown, Rexdale … these neighbourhoods are the definition of diversity. How could they do them justice?

Tolley spoke of a living room blanketed in interview transcriptions, of cultures within cultures they simply could not fit in. They couldn’t include immigration stories and other important neighbourhood nuances. Because I know Rexdale, and because I know reporting, I can appreciate the difficulty of their work.

But in the end, I believe they created something worth seeing.

They managed to tell a story that outsiders could appreciate and insiders could recognize — like bridging the gap between Jane Creba and Justin Shephard for an audience that could be coming from either side.

The Sincerity

At first, I cringed at the pastor’s words. They seemed theatrical, contrived — which would have made sense if they were written for the purposes of the play.

But then I looked at my church-going mother, who sat beside me in the dark church, and noticed that her eyes were sparkling.

He was preaching to his choir.

At one point, I tuned into conversation of the young men that wouldn’t shut up. They laughed when Knowledge (played by Peyson Rock), entered the room with his back to the wall. At all times, he explained, he needs to know exactly who is behind him.

At that, one guy blurted out: “truth.”

The play, I realized, is made up of many languages and no one speaks all of them fluently. Each actor, like each person, performed many roles — sometimes roles as disconnected as your street name and your given name. It’s up to us to make the connections.

If you’re in Toronto, I recommend you catch this play before the end of the Fringe Festival — especially if you feel nothing when you hear of these deaths.

Then go home and ask yourself: Where is your brother?

AWAKE, at the Toronto Fringe Festival

July 6-10 and 12 – 17
8:00 p.m. every night.

The Walmer Baptist Church
88 Lowther Avenue

Door: $11
Advance $10

Advance Ticket Sales: (416) 966-1062
or http://www.fringetoronto.com

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