What does your library mean to you? Some answers in the mid-January issue of TYSN

January 2024 Vol 6 Issue 1

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):
Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Linguistic Storytelling
Let me teach you to tell your story!

Welcome Mid-January 2024!

After having an unusually mild and “brown Christmas” with next to no snowfall, Saskatchewan has made up for lost time! On January 10th, a deep cold-front descended on us, bringing extreme temperatures and wind chills (some nearing -50 degrees Celsius). And, like most Canadians, we Saskatchewanians loooove to discuss (i.e. complain about) our wintry weather!

One of the best ways to endure Prairie winters and windchills, as I know you know, too, is to read (or re-read) wonderful books from the local library (or, even better: your own). So in “Article One” this month, I visit an article from Freya Howarth that asks what a library can mean to you, as its reader.

In addition to suggesting that we become conscious curators of our own library holdings (hardcopy and online), Howarth recommends nine very sensible steps to keep, use, and prune our libraries to allow the best access possible.

In “Storytellers’ Corner,” this month, I visit an oft-cited but only confusing rule for spelling in English that is better off forgotten. And “Shop News” chronicles some of my recent activities,  after I introduce a new “Entrepreneur of the Month”– designer and photographer, Tara Kalyn, of “Gentoo Expressions.” What does Tara’s business name mean? Read on, to find out!

What are you doing, good readers, to keep your minds and bodies warm this winter? When the weather moderates this week, I’ll watch for skiers and snowshoers on the trails near where I live. (Meantime, thank heavens for indoor treadmills!) I’m also reading theory for teaching English as
a Second Language, and am preparing my books for another tax season . . . .

And on the food front, what have you been cooking? . . . . I’ve fired up my kitchen with family staples like hearty Asian stew and zesty Italian spaghetti, both filled with plenty of seasoned ground chicken and whole wheat noodles for fortification!

While Ol’ Man Winter again breaths his hoary breath on us this month, I hope that good books, films, exercise and soulful food will keep you well, good readers. After all, as many of my neighbours are fond of saying, “Winter’s already more than half-way over!”

Wishing you all the best for the first month of 2024.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth
Principal
Storytelling Communications
www.elizabethshih.com

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IN THIS ISSUE:
—>ARTICLE 1: ” ‘An escape, a sanctuary, a place of pleasure, a memoir’: What does your library mean to you (with Freya Howarth)”

—>STORYTELLERS’ CORNER:
” ‘I’ before ‘e’: A spelling rule to forget!”

–>SHOP NEWS
—>ABOUT US

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Article One: “An escape, a sanctuary, a place of pleasure, a memoir”: What
does your personal library mean to you (with Freya Howarth)?

In a recent article in the online journal, “Psyche,” writer Freya Howarth refers to an earlier decade in her life when she worked in various libraries or bookshops (“bookstores” in North America).
She recalls meeting many people who cared deeply about the books they were reading and plenty who also valued the idea of a library, itself: “that wild, sprawling and chaotic—or, perhaps, methodical, logical and organized—thing that emerges through the accumulation of books over time.”

At the dawn of a new year, many of us may avoid “resolutions” that seldom last, anyway, butfind ourselves decluttering and reorganizing our belongings. What separates our libraries from cluttered rooms of books, Howarth says, is “the considered process of curation.” A public library will hire a librarian to order and organize a collection that meets the needs of the local community.

By contrast, Howarth writes, is your “personal library,” that serves only you, and makes you both its reader and librarian.

Some writers (obsessively) organize their libraries alphabetically by title or author, or by the antiquated Dewy Decimal System. Others want to group books thematically or historically.  Howarth reports that Argentinian-Canadian novelist and essayist, Alberto Manguel, collected 35K books that forced him to buy an old house in France to store them!

Twenty-five years ago, I remember hearing a story of a theology student at a prominent Canadian university in the 1950s who obsessively organized the books (by author’s surnames) that he’d borrowed from the college library. One weekend, his peers thought they’d get the better of him while he travelled elsewhere, by reorganizing his library, according to the colours of their
covers!

Most academics, teachers and researchers build up a library over many years, one book at a time. As the years march on, Howarth notes, we take a broader view of our collections, assessing what titles we’ve added and why.

She says that a personal library may be “an escape, a sanctuary, a place of pleasure, a memoir.” She likens a “well-tended library” to “a landscape, with its valley of crime novels, its peaks of reference texts, its shores of memoirs.” The collection of these titles becomes “part of something greater . . . something with emergent properties, something totally unique to you.”

If you, good readers, have long ago formed your own libraries, Australian public librarian, Meaghan Dew, says the aim should not be to build what you think your library “should be,” but instead, a library “that you are actually going to use and appreciate.” And that, one hopes, on a regular basis.

It can be helpful to consider what functions you have in mind for your library: A personal collection may (i) house your personal and professional memories, allowing you to “revisit ideas and feelings,” and to help you “enjoy the pleasures of rereading”; (ii) provide a research tool, which offers you new ideas; (iii) become a source of “various pleasures” such as inspiration,
escapism, entertainment, etc.

The major paradox of a contemporary library, Howarth says, is that it aspires to be huge (in these Internet and AI-driven times), but also selective, setting boundaries around a “seemingly limitless sea of content.” You can focus on a single volume in your collection, while stepping away from the noise and distraction of online reading.

Our personal libraries are autobiographical, she writes, with some of their value inhering in their ability to help “shape your personal identity and intellectual pathways, changing and growing with you.” Reading and collecting favourite books help to form our identities, since “certain
books become personal touchstones for [your] values and interests.”

Libraries serve folks from all walks of life. I have built some of my collection around my work as a copywriter (e.g. with titles by Steve Slaunwhite, Michael Katz, Ed Gandia, Nick Usborne, Bob Bly, David Ogilvy and more). I still have many volumes from my years as a student of English literature, that I regularly return to. And most recently, I’ve added standard texts for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), in the effort to teach newcomers most effectively.

Mentor and friend, Monica Kreuger, an expert on entrepreneurship, has spoken of working during her high school years in the local public library and frequenting bookmobiles, most summers, by bicycle. She has since collected and pruned a significant library for the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship (both online and in hard copy). Most recently, she has donned that
familiar librarian’s hat, by happily curating collections for many buyers, when selling the huge library of her late brother, in yard-sale settings.

As we age, libraries can become burdensome. They cause us to worry when we learn we must protect our books from damage and decay, or to pack them to move, sell, or give away. We must, Howarth writes, “prune strategically,” keeping only the titles we actually need and want through the journeys of our lives.

By controlling a library’s size, we make it more manageable and more rewarding for ourselves and other readers.

Have you seen that photo that has circulated (for shock value) over social media in recent years (circa 1979), of psychologist, Jean Piaget, sitting (almost buried), by thousands-upon-thousands of books, newspapers and other printed materials? (If not, try to “Google” it—the photo is
copyrighted to prevent publication.) Piaget has effectively became a hoarder, never pruning his library. Howarth says we can only prevent this by becoming “more conscious” of our work as our own librarians.

When the library is yours, it won’t look the same as anyone else’s. It could include glossy magazines as diverse as “Architectural Digest” and “Victoria”; or a many-year subscription to The Guardian or The New York Times newspapers; or audiobook recordings of contemporary crime novels; or recipe books from lesser known times and cultures, and so on.

But regardless, in order to keep and use our libraries optimally, Howarth recommends these nine (9) common steps:
(1) “Take stock” of your collection, considering what you’ve acquired over time and how those titles reflect your reading tastes and interests. Which ideas and topics do you find likely to explore further, and which ones, not?
(2) Categorize books generally as “fiction,” versus “non-fiction,” history, philosophy, crime fiction, memoir, etc., like the sections in an old-fashioned library or bookstore.

Consider the categories that have many subcategories (e.g. “medieval history,” and “French history,” etc.), since they will indicate to you that “they represent an area, genre or topic that you’re especially interested in.” Those topics will guide you when you acquire and organize the books.

(3) Decide which titles to keep and which to sell/give away. Having assessed your collection for what value it holds for you (e.g. informational, sentimental or other), you’ll recognize when you’ve outgrown or moved beyond many titles. Do this strategic pruning occasionally, to clarify what your interests are, and to make space for new and pertinent titles.

One helpful strategy, Howarth advises, to first sort books into “read” versus” unread” piles and discern whether you want to re-read any titles (so “keep” them); books that you didn’t understand at the time and might want to try again later (“keep”); books that you enjoyed once but haven’t stayed with you and that you wouldn’t buy today (“sell/donate”); books you gave up,
part-way through, and have no interest in restarting (“sell/donate”).

When assessing the unread books, consider whether you just haven’t found the time for a title (likely “keep”), or you would buy again if you lost your own copy (“keep”), or if you can see it has value, but you no longer work in the subject (“sell/donate”).

Howarth observes that some books may be especially lovely as objects or as books emotionally connected to a particular time, place person or memory, and so are “likely worth hanging on to,”
even if you’re unsure when you’ll find the time to (re-)read them.

And she shares that “It’s OK to hang on to some ‘maybes’ for a while. Sometimes, you’ll rediscover a book years later and be glad you kept it.”

(4) You may want to collect a shelf or bookcase of certain titles that have “an enduring place in your own reading life.” These favourite titles may “affirm your tastes” or be “comfort-reads” that you might return to when life is hard.

(5) If you do add more books to your library (because you presumably have decades of reading ahead of you and are not retiring and downsizing your home), consider acquiring titles that speak to each other, or to your already existing titles. For instance, if you enjoy Simone de Beauvoir’s memoirs, then your library could grow by collecting some of the novels that the
philosopher refers to in her account of her childhood and adolescence (e.g. Louisa May Alcott, George Eliot, etc.).

Howarth rightly says that “from a single author or a single book, infinite reading pathways [can] open to you.” You will begin to find that you are curating collections of classic and contemporary titles that are thematically or historically related (e.g. Charles Darwin, Rachel Carson and Andrew Wulf, etc.)

Howarth says that the websites “Five Books” and “Goodreads” can provide reading lists tailored to be either very specific or broad.

(6) Make friends with a local bookseller (such as at “Turning the Tide”) to learn of titles relevant to your collection or that you haven’t yet read (and may love).

(7) Find a book club with like-minded readers, “whose tastes overlap with yours.” You may find these people on “Goodreads” or through your local arts’ community.

(8) Locate a book reviewer (possibly from an internationally reputable publication) whose tastes are similar to yours (see sources above).

(9) Read about books: Look at the history and background of a book you’re considering buying. Howarth says the website “Book Marks” (run by the online magazine, Literary Hub) collects book reviews from different sources and assigns “a cumulative rating” for each book.

Howarth makes other suggestions that are less advisable, in my view, such as “signing up for a book subscription service,” that will send you a selected book each month. I think you’d do better to talk to a librarian or experienced bookseller, so that your acquisitions will be tailored to your interests.

Also, I wouldn’t recommend (as Howarth does) to “pick up a book on the street,” in Saskatoon’s “neighbourhood library” boxes or on the city bus. These books are seldom clean and may carry dreaded bedbugs or other pests that you want to avoid!

But two final suggestions from Howarth are great—(i) to create a simple notebook of your holdings (so you can find it to consult yourself or to loan titles to friends); and, possibly, (ii) to annotate your books in pencil, on their blank closing pages, with a few chosen words and page numbers, to
remember what was interesting in each volume. If/when you return to the book, those notes will save you time.

Howarth concludes that despite all of this organization, libraries can “grow a bit wild over time,” because many books defy easy categorization: “A library should be a little bit chaotic and contradictory. . . . A library of perfect harmony would be a rather boring and uninspiring place.”

Meantime, consider visiting reliable used bookstores in Saskatoon, notably, Westgate Books (8th and Louise Streets) and, especially, Peryton Books (408th 20th St. West), to sell back titles of interest to their owners/managers.

Although you will be paid less money to resell former titles, at least those titles will more likely be read, second-hand, than if they collect dust on your shelves.

And finally, some books and literary adaptations pertaining to bookstores and libraries that are fixtures in my library (or on my “To acquire” list) are The Bookshop (novel by Penelope Fitzgerald) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows), both of which raise urgent questions on issues of democratic thought, the
stewardship of knowledge over generations, and lasting ties that connect us as humans.

Both also have uncommonly good film adaptations that may spur you on to even more intensive thought.

And now it’s your turn: Do you agree with Howarth’s ideas of how to organize and use your personal library? Please write in and share.

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STORYTELLERS’ CORNER . . . . 


STORYTELLERS’ CORNER: Words, Stories, Riddles and Jokes on Writing and Editing . . .

This month: ” ‘I’ before ‘e’: A spelling rule to forget!”

There are many spelling rules that writers and editors of English have cited over the centuries, such as how and when to add suffixes to words, when an “e” is silent, how to make suffixes plural, and so on.

Readers often struggle to remember the correct spelling of words when multiple vowels are involved. Years of the repetitive process of editing (our own and others’ work), in addition to the aging of our brains, can sometimes wreak havoc with our ability to remember to spell words correctly.

Some writers develop rules to try to facilitate better recall, but often those rules backfire.

One such case, is a rule that I encourage my English language students to FORGET is the rule of “ ‘I’ before ‘e,’ except after ‘c.’” This rule has so many exceptions that it’s worse than useless–it’s downright confusing.

American “Grammar Girl,” Mignon Fogarty, has cited these exceptions that are not governed by that rule:

Ancient         Species           Feisty      Neither      Weird

Glacier          Sufficient       Kaleidoscope   Seize   Science

Being               Leisure          Sovereignty   Society

Caffeine          Neighbour      Vein

There’s seldom a better way to learn spelling in English than simply to read a good deal and from many sources. If you are a newcomer learning English, you may also want to keep a vocabulary/spelling list, which you can review instead of always consulting your dictionary for a word’s meaning.

What other commonplace spelling or grammatical rules are inaccurate and useless to you? Please write in; I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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SHOP NEWS:

Featuring Entrepreneur of the Month: Meet Tara Kalyn, from “Gentoo Expressions!” 

I’m pleased to introduce to my readers, Tara Kalyn, a Saskatoon-based freelance graphic designer and photographer.

Tara’s business name is “Gentoo Expressions” (an explanation of which follows below.)

Tara (pronounced “Terra”) has, in total, over 25 years of experience in the print industry and graduated in 1999 from the Visual Communications program at Medicine Hat College.

Tara has worked on various design projects for clients including Jolene Watson, Chickenlip Consulting Corp., and DBreckner Printing Services. She also contributes stock photography to Pexels and Stockimo (for which freelance writers like me are grateful!).

Her passion for photography began when she received her first camera, as a child. In 2024, she plans to expand Gentoo Expressions’ photographic services to include studio photography.

Tara enjoys working on projects that challenge her abilities and allow her to experiment to bring her clients’ vision to life. “Even after so many years,” she says, “there’s always more I can learn, and I love that.”

To view Tara’s work and contact her about design or photography projects, please visit gentooexpressions.myportfolio.com.

When asked to explain her business name, Tara says that “expressions” refers to the artistic aspect of graphic design and photography. And “Gentoo” is her favourite species of penguin, whose resilience allows it to survive in some of the planet’s harshest conditions.

She adds: “Gentoos are the fastest swimmers of all penguins, and in my opinion, the most beautiful, with their striking black and white colouration and bright orange beaks and feet.”

“In my work,” as Tara details, “I aspire to be adaptable to my clients’ needs and to work effectively and efficiently, completing projects within the agreed upon timeframe. Helping people express their ideas is my goal. The name ‘Gentoo Expressions’ is meant to convey those aspirations.”

Please visit Tara’s online portfolio and contact her for your next design or photographic project!

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Special thanks this month also go to Professor Emeritus, Robert (Bob) Calder and writer Paula Jane Remlinger for sharing two enjoyable visits over the past couple of months, including coffee, dessert and thoughtful conversation.

Bob will soon launch his latest book—film adaptations of W. Somerset Maugham (stay tuned for the dates of the McNally Robinson launch). He also will shortly release his own memoir of writing over the last five decades, while a member of our local English Department. There, he influenced the reading practices and selections of both Paula Jane and me (in the mid-90s), along with hundreds of other students. He was also recently awarded an “Alumni of Distinction” Award by the University of Saskatchewan.

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I’m grateful, too, this month, to mentor and friend, Monica Kreuger, for sharing entrepreneurial conversation that (prior to Christmas) included her recommendation of the popular Netflix TV (hospital) series, “New Amsterdam.” Its stories appeal to me by offering some hope for the deeply troubled healthcare system of Saskatchewan (and beyond).

Similar thanks go out to other friends for sharing  Netflix/library  recommendations that I viewed through the holidays, including the “Bank of Dave,” (for most of us, troubled by our late capitalist banking system); and “The Lost King” (based on the true story of how a brave woman  found the remains of  King Richard the Third and worked to restore the monarch’s identity and reputation, after misrepresentation by Tudor period writers, including Shakespeare.  (Thank you to Dani VanDriel and Lesley-Anne McLeod, respectively.)

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And “thank you” goes to my French student, who has introduced me to French crooners of past decades, from Edith Piaf (whose work I knew only a little) to Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour and Yves Montand.

As a regular patron of the Arts, Eliane has also informed me of the work of Canadian-born contralto, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, who has won the admiration and respect of operatic audiences across Europe. Lemieux is a household name in Quebec, but less known in English speaking Canada, which should be remedied!

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And a final thanks this month to ESL teacher, mentor and colleague, Steve Cavan, who has shared some  insights on accent reduction for English language students, for which I’m (as ever) very grateful.

I hope that the currently oppressive winter will be the last Steve has to spend in Saskatchewan, as he anticipates semi-retirement in sunny Southern Italy!

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ABOUT US:

Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now help Canadian newcomers land better jobs by improving their language skills and I help small-businesses to close more sales by communicating more effectively.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website (www.elizabethshih.com).

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!

Please visit my website for more information (www.storytellingcommunications.ca).

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Feeling the Christmas blues? Some solutions in the mid-December issue of TYSN

 

December 2023 Vol 5 Issue 12

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):

Specializing in Entrepreneurial & Linguistic Storytelling

Let me teach you to tell your story!

WELCOME Mid-December, 2023!

In contrast to last year, when winter started early (with snow that stayed in November), this year, we’ve had next to no snow and very few days of temperatures below -10 or 15 degrees Celcius!

However, even though a “brown Christmas” may be on the horizon and cause us worry for future drought, there is much to enjoy and be grateful for, as we prepare for Hanukkah, Advent, Christmas and other holidays, this season.

Through the “Advent Appeal” program in my church, we have continued our annual practice of collecting clothing, warm blankets, food and hygiene supplies on behalf of the city’s homeless and at-risk people.

This month’s “Storyteller’s Corner” returns us to an “Advent Miracle” that one of my church’s organizers witnessed four years ago, but which reminds us that small acts of kindness can have a miraculous effect on others.

In spite of the soaring inflation at our grocery stores, gas stations and the empty shelves of staples often blamed on “Covid,” I hope that you, good reader, have warm, safe and stable homes, not just this season, but throughout the year. 

And if you (like me) are so blessed, please do consider donating to those who lack basic necessities, whether through your “office pool,” the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, or similar work done by your faith or neighbourhood communities. 

Since our global community has now entered its fourth Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s seasons in the grip of the Coronavirus, as well as other respiratory infections, this year will not be a “ho-ho-ho” holiday time for many. Our hospitals are teeming with infections, and medical tests and timely treatment have been delayed for many by months or even years. Our medical specialists and workers, too, are facing unprecedented levels of burnout, along with the collapse of our healthcare system.

So in this last issue of the year, “Article One” revisits “Coping with Christmas,” a publication of the American Hospice Foundation (AHF). Coping may be the “new normal,” in these expensive, late Covid days.

For those of us who care for others on a daily basis and/or who face complex health problems ourselves, the AHF reminds us to be aware of our own emotional needs and  avoid burnout.

Despite the challenges that fill the daily news, I hope, good readers, that you’ll find at least a little time to enjoy the final days of this year, giving thanks for the family, friends, mentors and clients who grace our lives.

May you find peace this holiday season; and good health, happiness and prosperity in 2024.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth

Principal

Storytelling Communications

www.elizabethshih.com

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IN THIS ISSUE:

ARTICLE 1: Feeling the Christmas Blues? Here are Some Solutions . . . .

STORYTELLERS’ CORNER:

A Local “Advent Miracle” Story 

SHOP NEWS

ABOUT US

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Article One: Feeling the Christmas (or Holiday) Blues? Here are Some Solutions . . . 

For many of us, even if we have been blessed to enjoy  Advent, Christmas, Hanukkah or other spiritual traditions at this time of year, the holiday season can be painful.

The pain may come from to the loss of a loved one, a job, separation from a “significant other,” health or financial difficulties, the excessive pressure to buy and give, and so on. The so-called “holiday season” can in reality be anything but “ho-ho-ho.”

This holiday survival guide, written originally by the American Hospice Foundation, offers some ideas that may help us as we plan (or choose not to plan) holiday festivities. Please read on and share with others who may need this. And know you are not alone and that it is not only fine, but best, if you can live through the holiday season on your own terms.

Christmas or Holiday cards (choose one like these):

1. Mail as usual, or email to save on stationery and postage

2. Shorten your list

3. Include a Christmas letter that you’ve written

4. Skip it this year

Christmas or Holiday music (choose one like these):

1. Enjoy as usual

2. Shop early, to avoid Christmas music

3. Avoid turning the radio on

4. Listen to the music and allow yourself to feel sad (or to cry)

Decorations (choose one like these):

1. Decorate as usual

2. Let others do it

3. Choose not to have decorations

4. Have a special decoration for a loved one, who may have died or left

5. Modify your decorations

6. Make changes, such as putting up an artificial tree

7. Ask for help from others

Shopping (choose one like these):

1. Shop as usual

2. Shop early

3. Make your gifts by hand

4. Make a list of gifts to buy

5. Shop online

6. Ask for help wrapping gifts

7. Shop with a friend

8. Give cash

9. Give baked goods

10. Ask for help

11. Go giftless and (if possible) make a donation to charity

Traditions (choose one like these):

 

 

1. Keep the old traditions

2. Don’t attend Christmas parties

3. Open gifts on the usual day

4. Attend a worship service

5. Attend a totally different place of worship

6. Visit the cemetery

7. Attend Christmas or holiday parties

8. Go to an entirely new place

9. Open gifts at another time

10. Do not attend a worship service

11. Light a special candle to honour your loved one

12. Bake the usual foods

13. Modify your baking and cooking, to save money

14. Buy the usual foods

15. Spent quiet time alone, in meditation or relaxation

Christmas or Holiday Dinner (choose one like these):

 

 

1. Prepare as usual

2. Invite friends over

3. Eat in a different location of the house

4. Go out to dinner, possibly with someone else who is alone

5. Eat alone, while listening to favourite music

6. Change the time of dinner

7. Have a buffet/potluck and share the clean-up, after

8. Ask for help

Post-Christmas and New Year’s Day (choose one like these):

1. Spend the days as usual

2. Avoid New Year’s parties

3. Spend time with only a few friends

4. Write in a journal about your hopes for the next year

5. Go out of town

6. Host a New Year’s Party

7. Go to a movie, watch a movie on a streaming service or even borrow one from the library

8. Go to bed early and feel refreshed the next morning for the new year ahead

And now it’s your turn: Does the Christmas, Hanukkah or holiday season present challenges and pain for you? Please consider some of the above options you have to experience the holidays on your own terms.

And remember that crisis counselling is available 24/7, at number 9-8-8. 

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STORYTELLERS’ CORNER . . . . 

STORYTELLERS’ CORNER: Words, Stories and Riddles  on Writing and Editing . . .

This Month, a Story: A Local “Advent Miracle”  

A couple of years ago,  Alan, a friend and colleague in my faith community, shared a remarkable story of how our church’s seasonal gift donations benefited a downtown charity that helps victims of abuse and homelessness.

He says: “One spring I went into the [church] parlour and noticed that the Advent gifts still sat where we’d left them, last December, since the office of the recipient agency was never open. I had phoned, left messages and visited in person multiple times, only to find the office closed.”

He continues: “As I was driving past one day, the following spring, I decided to give it one last chance and showed up to the agency, just after lunch. They were open!

It was obvious that the staff had just come from a meeting. One of the folk there came over and asked me what I wanted. I told her that I was from the church and had some very belated Advent gifts for them.

She looked confused when I said gifts, but when I said that the gifts consisted of toiletries and other items, it changed to surprise. She asked how many, and I told her that the trunk of my car was full. Again, there was a look of surprise on her face. She spoke with the director and then went into the back and got a small cart. We then went down the car and loaded it up. It was a small cart, so I carried the extra packages that didn’t fit.

When we got back to the office, she took the items into the back and the director came over and thanked me profusely. She told me that the topic of conversation at the meeting they’d just finished was how they were going to find toiletries to fill packages for some of their clients. They had a few items, but not nearly enough, and there wasn’t money in the budget to purchase more. They left the meeting wondering how they’d find the remaining items, and that was when I walked in!

We called it Christmas in June! We could have delivered the gifts the prior December, when other churches were doing the same and when the need was largely met. But by delivering them in the spring, we met a great need at a time when others had stopped giving.

We can put this down to coincidence or fate or luck. I look at it as an Advent miracle and a sign that our Higher Power is alive, well and living among us.”

And now it’s your turn: Have holiday activities of years past surprised you with any small miracles? Please write in and I’ll share your stories in a future issue!

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SHOP NEWS:

 

Heartfelt thanks go out in this final issue of 2023 to friends, colleagues, followers and mentors who enable me to facilitate language (ESL) classes; who respond to my blog postings and monthly newsletter; who have coached or encouraged me to achieve greater clarity in my entrepreneurial goals; and who have lightened some of the weight of elderly caregiving that I regularly carry.

With apologies to anyone whose name I temporarily forget, here are some of the truly beautiful people who grace my professional and personal lives:

Chief Visionary Officer, mentor and friend, Monica Kreuger, and the amazing team at the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship (PSE); English and ESL teacher, extraordinaire, Steve Cavan;  Saskatchewan’s best entrepreneurial coach (and PSE facilitator), Deanna Litz, of  Powerful Nature Coaching & Consulting, Inc.; (Extraordinary) Minister of Word and Sacrament, Rev. Roberto De Sandoli of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church; Amazing writer and AI specialist, Ashleigh Mattern (of Vireo Productions), and the equally amazing Julie Barnes (of Julie Barnes Creative Services) for co-leading the monthly writers’ group that we pioneered, more than 10 years ago.  Fellow writers, including both Ashleigh and Julie, along with Merle (Massie) McGowan, Adele Paul, Ashlyn George and Tara Kalyn, who keep pushing the envelope as they write (and publish) their remarkable work.

Thanks are also due to Kanchan Manek and the Manek family of the Raj Manek Mentorship Program, who since 1998 have provided monthly seminars and facilitated mentoring relationships between junior entrepreneurs and seasoned mentors on the Prairies; and to fellow alumni of the PSE’s startSMART program, including Christina Cherneskey, Megan Kent, Barry Frain,  Malvina Rapko, amongst others.

Thanks also go to my students, including newcomers to Saskatoon, and a citizen in France, whose conversation and studies vivify my life.

At a time when senior care in our province is in a collapse by underfunding, and when many special (private) care homes offer inadequate support at high costs, the properties of Luther Care in Saskatoon provide a bulwark from the storm.

As we look back over the past year, while losses and disappointments have been challenging, the support of the above people and organizations have given me much to be grateful for: Merci beaucoup, mes amies!

 

ABOUT US:

Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now help newcomers and economic immigrants to Canada to secure better jobs; I help SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I help major companies tell their legacy stories.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website.

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss services with you!

Please visit my website for more information (www.storytellingcommunications.ca).

Published by www.storytellingcommunications.ca – Storytelling Communications, 541 Fifth Ave. North. Saskatoon, SK, Canada. S7K 5Z9 Copyright © 2023.

 

What can AI teach us about how we learn language? Some preliminary answers from “The Economist”

November 2023 Vol 5 Issue 11

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):

Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Linguistic Storytelling

Let me teach you to tell your story!

Welcome Mid-November, 2023!

As I prepare this issue of “Tell Your Story Newsletter,” Saskatoon continues to experience mild, but very grey, weather. Photos from the local TV news remind us that at this time, three and six years ago, we were inundated with snow!

 

By contrast, this year, fluffy white flakes descended only in late October and on November 9th; and snow on the latter date melted by midday. Bare ground in November creates such ambivalence for Saskatchewanians: while we know we need moisture for next year’s crops, the lack of snow and ice makes our daily activities so much easier.

 

This month, I was delighted to find photos (or descriptions) on social media of Hallowe’en hijinks! Parish Nurse extraordinaire, Laura Van Loon, dressed as a pirate, according to strict specifications provided by her grandchildren;. . . . Tech expert and community developer, Katrina German, appeared on X  as a cheerful red tomato, for a lucky 13th year! . . . . Marketing guru (and another community developer), Sara Wheelwright, appeared on Facebook as a very convincing female vampire! . . . Due to a deadline here, my paltry contribution to the festivities was to shun the candy bowl at my local gym, telling myself others needed the chocolate more than I did! (Note to self: please try to plan ahead for a costume in 2024!)

 

But such fun aside, has the mild start to winter 2023/24 felt significant to you, as we approached Remembrance Day? I know that the grey, mostly calm, skies and warmth (no need of heavy parkas or boots) have allowed me to reflect more consciously on the news of our world’s many conflict zones, the tragic loss of human life, and even our daily worries over escalating costs of living. Reflect–but not despair.

 

Readers, have you gone inward during these recent, grey  weeks, to “level-up” your emotions, as we observed Remembrance Day, again?

Turning inward to do some of this emotional work can liberate us to turn outward, again, with new hope.

No, the bombing in Ukraine and Gaza (to name only two hotspots) has not stopped, as we all want it to. But “levelling up” from despair to a calmer state of awareness, has enabled me to find at least provisional peace, as I teach, write and communicate with others.  I wish you, good readers, the same kind of peace, well deserved, even in these troubled times.

This month, in “Article One,” I share some insights from a recent newsletter of “The Economist,” on what Artificial Intelligence (AI) can teach us about how we learn language.

In “Storyteller’s Corner,” I cite the Merriam-Webster dictionary for “part two” of their posting of “bookish words for book lovers” of all varieties (continuing from last month’s issue).

In “Shop News,” I’m delighted to feature as “Entrepreneur of the Month,” Adele Paul, of “52 North.” Hailing from Saskatoon, Adele has both written and designed marketing and communications materials across multiple sectors, and has also honed her skills through studies at Centennial College (Toronto). Please visit the links shared in her promotion, to better appreciate her gifts and expertise.

And as the last six-and-a-half weeks of 2023 draw to a close, notwithstanding the conflicts around us, may each of us continue to cultivate peace, compassion and kindness for each other–to “let peace begin with us,” before moving outward.

Then, in the words our African newcomers, we will be able “to stay blessed.”

Sincerely,

Elizabeth

Principal

Storytelling Communications

www.elizabethshih.com

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IN THIS ISSUE:

–>ARTICLE 1: What can AI teach us about how we learn language? Some answers from “The Economist”

–> STORYTELLER’S CORNER: Five more words for book-loving readers (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

–>SHOP NEWS

–>ABOUT US

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Article OneWhat can AI teach us about how we learn language? Some answers from staff writers at “The Economist”

Last spring, several staff writers of the “language learning” newsletter produced by “The Economist,” adopting the collective name of “Johnson” (after Samuel Johnson, the great 18th century man-of-letters), wrote this about AI: “ChatGPT raises questions about how humans acquire language.” In the piece, the writers argue that AI developers and users have “reignited a debate over the ideas of Noam Chomsky,” who at age 94, remains the world’s best-known linguist to dismiss AI in popular media.

“Johnson” writers cite the much-touted victory of “Deep Blue,” a chess computer, over world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, in 1997, as a watershed moment in the development of AI.

The victory of AI in that match also caused many to fear that machines were triumphing over humankind. In the 26 years since that fateful match, AI has developed by leaps and bounds. But none of those advancements, “Johnson” says, have “captured the public imagination” the same way as that chess match—until now.

What’s changed?

Computers are now able to use “something that we consider our defining ability” (“Johnson” says)—language, itself.

ChatGPT, the best-known of AI’s large language models (LLMS) can produce what appears to be outstanding human writing. But cultural critics have been debating “what the machines are actually doing internally; what it is that humans, in turn, do when they speak”; and in academia, what is the validity of Noam Chomsky’s linguistic theories, in relation to AI.

Among Chomsky’s well-established insights are his belief that “human language is different in kind (not just degree of expressiveness) from all other kinds of communication” (“Johnson”). Therefore, Chomsky contends even the most diverse human languages bear more similarity to each other than they do to computer code or to the chatter of animals. Chomsky has frequently said that a visitor from outer space would say that “all humans speak the same language, with surface variation.”

Another of Chomsky’s most notable theories is that the ease and speed with which young children learn their native languages reflect a “predisposition for language [that] is built into the human brain.” Children astonish us by their capacity to learn languages until about age 12, despite the inaccurate and intermittent words and sounds they hear when they are young. Chomsky has argued that AI cannot match (much less outdo) that.

But, as “Johnson” writers observe, plenty of linguists disagree with Chomsky and are adopting the capacities of LLMS to communicate, in rebuttal to his theories.

Basic linguistics tell us (as “Johnson” says) that grammar has a “hierarchical, nested structure involving units within other units. Words form phrases, which form clauses, which form sentences, etc.” Chomsky theorizes that humans “merge” or glue together “smaller units . . . to form larger ones that can then be operated on further (and so on).”

He and at least some of his followers have argued that AI cannot think or use language in this kind of cognitive processing, as humans do, and that LLMS function only by predicting “the next word in a string of words.”

But as the “Johnson” writers say, we don’t yet know enough about AI to understand what LLMS “think.” The “programming and training data” of commercial LLMS (e.g. ChatGPT) are “proprietary. And not even the programmers know exactly what is going on inside.” AI is not at all a level playing field of functioning or influence.

But when linguists have tested LLMS’ knowledge, the models “seem to learn nested, hierarchical grammatical structures, even though they are exposed to only linear input—i.e. strings of text.”  LLMS pick up new words and discern parts of speech.

An earlier form of LLMS, GPT-3, was trained on about 1,000 times the data that a 10-year-old child is exposed to, suggesting that children do have an “inborn tendency to grammar, making [children] far more proficient than any LLM.” But in other experiments, LLMs trained on only the text that children are exposed to, have shown that computers can use even “rare grammar.”

The “Johnson” writers report, however, that when other researchers trained an LLM on only the words children hear, the LLM performs far worse than children. So Chomsky’s theory that the human brain is “built for language” cannot be too easily displaced.

Both camps of linguists (pro- and anti-Chomsky) are implementing LLMS to argue their theories; “Johnson” concludes that if Chomsky’s theories are to survive AI, “his camp will have to put up a stronger defense” than they have, thus far.

What do you think will happen if/when LLMS surpass our human capacities to speak and write?

And now it’s your turn: Do you think that AI threatens our acquisition of language?

What opportunities and threats should we identify and act on? And what action would could we take?

Please write in; I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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STORYTELLER’s CORNER . . . . 

STORYTELLER’S CORNER: Words, Stories, Riddles and Jokes on Writing and Editing . . .

This month: Five more words for book-loving readers

This month, I share a final five of 11 words that describe “bookish” and book-loving readers, as compiled in a recent blog posting of the American dictionary, Merriam-Webster. (The last issue of TYSN featured the first six.)

 

If you can’t think of any occasion when you could use the following words, why not have some fun by trying them out, in your daily parlance?

 

(7) “Omnilegent”: Formed from two Latin parts (“omnis” meaning “all,” and “legere” meaning “to read”), this word refers to someone who reads (or has read) everything—that is, someone known for encyclopedic reading.  For example, “a book by the usage specialist Bryan Garner (of Garner’s Modern English Usage), will allow even the most omnilegent to learn new words.”

 

(8) “Bookery”: An alternate word for a bookstore. Its ending (the “—ery”) adds the meaning of a “place of doing, keeping, producing or selling,” to the noun, “book.” For example, “I spent a fascinating afternoon in our local bookery, Peryton Books, unearthing titles that will make the best Christmas gifts for my family.”

 

(9) “Bibliokept”: A person who steals books. For example, “The charismatic collector of rare manuscripts turned out to be nothing more than a bibliokept.”

 

(10) “Bibliotaph”: Formed from the French “biblio,” meaning books, and the Greek word “taphos,” meaning tomb, this word refers to a person who hides away or hoards books. For example, “Among the artists in the community existed a bibliotaph who retained so many  overdue books that he deprived common library readers from their reading rights.”

 

(11) “Bouquiniste”: A term given to a dealer in second-hand books. This word comes from the French “bouqin” (meaning “old book”) and the ending of  “–iste.” For example, “When visiting Europe, readers should allow time to meet bouquinistes, often eccentric characters who sell used books, posters and memorabilia.”

 

With these five book-related words, Merriam-Webster lightheartedly concludes its blog posting on “11 Bookish Words for Book Lovers.”

 

Will you use one or two of these terms when conversing with colleagues or friends? 

Please share your words, stories, riddles and jokes on language. I’d be delighted to use them in another issue!

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SHOP NEWS:

Featuring Entrepreneur of the month: Adele Paul, of “52 North: Professional Writing and Design”

Adele Paul is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer and designer who is another member of my collaborative writers’ group, “Saskatoon Freelancers’ Roundtable.”

She joined our group in 2018 and is November’s  “Entrepreneur of the Month.”

Adele writes of her business, “52 North: Professional Writing and Design: “Idylwyld. Meewasin. Spadina. If you have a story to tell, and you have no doubt as to the pronunciation of these words, you are in the right place!”

Adele says that she “knows, loves, and lives in Saskatoon.” Her passion is helping local people and businesses develop beautifully written and designed communications that stand out from their competitors.

Her mission is to bring the stories of Saskatoon people and brands “to the wonderful people who call this city home: Whether it is a feature story for the University of Saskatchewan, a jazzed-up guide for Nutrien Wonderhub, or web content for a local business,’ ” Adele writes, “my  goal is to uncover the voice of your brand and to use it to deliver content that is meaningful to our community.”

After almost ten years of working in education, Adele decided to repurpose her skills into freelance writing. She began as an editor at Family Fun Saskatoon Inc. where she was pivotal in building the brand from the ground up.

Over the course of her five years there, she was lucky enough to combine the three loves of her life: family, writing, and her hometown of Saskatoon.

In the years since then, she has honed her craft and expanded her writing pursuits to include magazine writing, content creation, social media management, graphic design, ad copy, and web design.

In April 2021, she completed the Post-Graduate Communications—Professional Writing program at Centennial College in Toronto. There she dug “deeply into the art and science of successful communication in our digital age.”

In that program, Adele expanded her portfolio to include technical communications, plain language, policy and procedure writing, and visual design.

To talk projects with Adele about learn more about her services, you can find her at “52 North.”

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And in other spaces and places . . . .

A change of pace for me this month included taking in a concert by Canada’s Celtic songwriter, adapter, and singer, Loreena McKennitt, with my colleague and friend, Martha Fergusson. Thank you to my family, for the gift of my ticket–an early Christmas present!

McKennitt, who hails from Morden, Manitoba, sang once before in Saskatoon, nearly 30 years ago, at The Broadway Theatre. Since it was late April “final exam” time at the U of S, I missed that concert, to my great disappointment.

A friend who did attend, however, spoke warmly about McKennitt’s exquisite voice and her adaptation of Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott.”

 

But the friend spoke of being disappointed that the singer “said nothing between the pieces,” by way of stories and banter.

 

By contrast, during last Saturday’s concert, McKennitt shared vivid, humourous stories that reflected her international research of Celtic history and culture, her 30 years of experience as a performer in Inner Mongolia, Latin America, much of Europe (e.g. Royal Albert Hall, before royalty), the US (Carnegie Hall) and beyond. 

 

“The Visit,” McKennitt’s breakout album from the early 1990s, was well “revisited” last Saturday, as we heard live those familiar, enchanting melodies embodied in Loreena’s hauntingly lyrical voice. 

 

Named in 2014 as an Honourary Colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), a uniformed McKennitt also sang our National Anthem at Saskatoon’s Remembrance Day service, several hours before taking to the stage for her own concert.

 

McKennitt continues to live her aesthetic and community values by reading deeply, purchasing, renovating and now directing the Falstaff Family Centre in Stratford, ON, which offers programming pertaining to the Arts.

 

Her many international awards include The Order of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals, and the rank of “Knight of the National Order of Arts and Letters” by The Republic of France. 

 

But when performed live, in particular, Loreena McKennitt’s music transports her listeners’ minds, so that both my friend Martha and I floated home, afterward.

++++++++

A deep thank you to the Board and staff of Luther Heights Intermediate Care Home, which my elderly mother now calls home.

 

It takes time for seniors to adapt to new surroundings and to make friends with whom to share conversation and activities. But Luther’s staff have been caring and supportive, earning my gratitude and that of many other families, too.

 

My visits during the past three weeks, including some moments spent with other residents, have reminded me of how many seniors in our communities could benefit from receiving more visits.

 

Do you have a contact who lives in a care facility, these days? Could you make time to visit them, even if just for 30 minutes, to brighten their day with some conversation and diversion? There are puzzles to be done, adult colouring books to colour, chair yoga and more to do!

 

So many beautiful souls languish in care homes. It takes as little as a half-hour visit for seniors’ neurological functioning to benefit—including memory and mood.

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Ten years ago, along with fellow freelancers Asheigh Mattern and Julie Barnes, whom I’d met at a local International Association of Business Communicators’ event (IABC), I co-founded “Saskatoon Freelancers’ Roundtable,” a writers’ group that continues to flourish, today. We invite new members but equally encourage other creatives to start their own groups.

 For more information about our group and what we do, please read our collectively written articles in the “Writers Ask” section, forthcoming in the next (quarterly) issue of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild magazine, “Freelance.” 

 

Co-authors include Julie, Ashleigh, Ashlyn George and Adele Paul—all blazers of diverse writerly trails in SK and beyond.

 

There are always new ideas, experiences and businesses to promote and discuss.

Please write me to share your stories.

But for now, this is a wrap for mid-November!

++++++++

ABOUT US:

Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now  help newcomers to Canada to secure better jobs by improving their language skills; I help small- and medium-sized businesses to close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I help major companies to tell their legacy stories.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website (www.elizabethshih.com).

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!

Please visit my website for more information (www.storytellingcommunications.ca).

 

Why the hand-wringing on handwriting? On handwriting and technology, in this month’s issue of TYSN

 

October 2023 Vol 5 Issue 10

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):

Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Linguistic Storytelling

Let me teach you to tell your story!

IN THIS ISSUE:

ARTICLE 1: Why the hand-wringing on handwriting?  On handwriting and technology, from staff writers at “The Economist”

STORYTELLER’S CORNER:

From Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “Eleven Bookish Words for Book Lovers” (and what they mean!)–Part One

SHOP NEWS

ABOUT US

++++++++

Welcome Mid-October 2023!

As I prepare this issue of “Tell Your Story Newsletter,” Saskatoon is in the midst of several weeks of largely mild but also grey weather.

Many of us have indulged in Thanksgiving treats like turkey, ham, pumpkin pie or alternative, multicultural culinary delights. And online ads already promote Hallowe’en candy and (dare I say it, this early?) even Christmas festivities.

Yet, even thinking about these seasonal traditions shrinks before news such as the heightened conflict between Israel and Hamas; the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and other world hot-spots.

And yet also, as a part of valuing our democratic freedoms, our daily lives and the service of what we do must continue–and that includes discussing issues of communication and entrepreneurship, which are often the fare of this newsletter.

So in this month’s issue, I share findings from a recent article in “The Economist,” co-authored by staff writers (named “Johnson” after Samuel, himself), on why handwriting (even cursive) still matters: How can we say that in our digital age?

In “Storytellers’ Corner,” I cite the Merriam-Webster dictionary for six of “11 bookish words for book lovers” of all varieties.

In “Shop News,” I’m delighted to feature as “Entrepreneur of the Month” my colleague and friend, Julie Barnes, of Julie Barnes Creative Services. My “Entrepreneur of the Month” continues to feature some of the remarkable contacts and colleagues I meet in Saskatoon and surrounding communities–found as a part of entrepreneurial networking. “Shop News” is, therefore, openly and unabashedly partisan.

Julie’s cv is both fascinating and impressive. I encourage you to read her profile, sample some of her work and consider the fine mind which authored them both.

Undergirding this month’s issue is my thanks to the many (often unnamed) friends who have helped me to stagger through another year of caring for an elderly mother in SK’s collapsed senior health care system; and to those who simultaneously have encouraged my entrepreneurial pursuits.

That gratitude can extend to the changing of our seasons, too, this month. Autumn can be lovely, especially when it delivers sun that illumines our dramatic skies and mitigates the chill of nature’s unpredictable winds.

As we begin to reach further into our closets for sweaters, shawls and blankets, good readers, may we consciously turn our minds indoors again: Although Old Man Winter will shortly enter our main stage as he has for millennia past, we can plan to keep ourselves warm by much great literature (past and present); films, performances and art exhibits; food and spirits to nourish us; and even the indoor watching of outdoor sports (!).

Through these and other blessings, while we traverse the remaining weeks of autumn 2023, I wish  you the very best.

Sincerely yours,

Elizabeth 

Principal

Storytelling Communications

www.elizabethshih.com

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Article One: Why the hand-wringing on handwriting?  On handwriting and technology, from staff writers of “The Economist”

In a recent monthly newsletter from “The Economist,” the magazine’s collective of staff writers, “Johnson” (named after the 18th C. British man of letters, “Dr.” Samuel Johnson), writes that even in these hyper-digital days, taking “pen to paper” can intensify the impact of one’s message.

In recent years, educational psychologists have found that note-taking by hand offers learners a significant advantage (across all age groups). As Lane Greene writes in an introduction to the article, “The very inefficiency of the medium is its advantage: it seems to force writers to think and compress information as they jot, rather than mindlessly transcribing verbatim.”

Despite the rush in recent years to digitize human activity, this research has been noticed: Many education programs in Europe now reduce the amount of technology in the classroom, especially for students in their early years, and have increased the teaching of handwriting, including cursive.

The “Johnson” writers note ironically that “two and a half millennia ago, Socrates complained that writing [i.e. handwriting] would harm students,” because it would provide a way to store ideas “permanently and externally,” so the need to memorize would evaporate!

But in our times, a related (now very familiar) debate has developed about the negative effects of using and typing on computers. Students ranging from kindergarten to PhD levels rely heavily (more than ever) on computers to take notes and write their papers.

Families of young students also express alarm that in some American classrooms, laptops have become compulsory for young children. Meantime, university-based academics complain that students are distracted when they should be listening to lectures, because they’re reading and sending email, text or social media messages, instead.

Add to this the power of generative AI (particularly for college and university students) and educators’ hand-wringing, over what medium/media we need to learn by, and how, intensifies.

But as the “Johnson” writers report, one area of pedagogical research shows that long before computers were built, handwriting was revolutionary: “Studies have found that writing on paper can improve everything from recalling a random series of words to imparting a better conceptual grasp of complicated ideas.”

“Johnson”  adds that whether forming “the shapes of letters to the quirks of English spelling, the benefits of using a pen or pencil lie in how the motor and sensory memory of putting words on paper reinforces that material.”  Even how and where one makes “squiggles on a page feeds into visual memory.” I can remember distinctly, as an undergraduate, putting stars in the margins of my handwritten lecture notes, to mark an idea that I wanted to explore more deeply, possibly for a course essay assignment.

Writing by hand underpins “superior note-taking,”  the “Johnson” writers say, in contrast to typing, where students have been found to input nearly twice as many words and more verbatim passages from lectures. This reflects the sad reality that when typing, students often do not understand, but simply copy, what they are hearing.

Due to the time required to write by hand, students’ handwriting compels them to synthesize the lecturer’s ideas in “their own words,” which increases their understanding, even as they write.

Studies also show that hand note-takers “perform better on tests when students are later able to study from their notes.” By contrast, students who typed verbatim did not understand the lecture material, so much as regurgitate it.

The “Johnson” writers say that many studies have demonstrated the benefits of handwriting and so have influenced education policy, due to the “campaigning” of researchers. Half of the states in America have reported that they teach handwriting after the first grade, although the country’s “Common Core” curriculum has not required it, since 2010. I’d like to know (but haven’t yet located) an accurate statistic for Canadian (and especially SK) primary schools.

In the UK, curriculum already prescribes teaching cursive before children turn seven. And in Sweden, there is pressure from educators to work more with handwriting and books–and less with digital technology.

But typing will still be a skill needed by nearly everyone, because (as the “Johnson” writers say) it can “improve the quality of writing: being able to get ideas down quickly, before they are forgotten, can obviously be beneficial.” The greater legibility of typing also weighs as a factor in its longevity, for writers like me.

Handwriting researchers add that students need to learn to slow their typing to process what they hear, thereby improving their understanding.

Not only cursive, but also “ ‘manuscript’ print-style writing” and typing all have proven benefits, the article notes. And handwriting can be reviewed and “tuned up,” even though current school and university/college students continue to increase their use of digital devices, as they age.

Consider, too, how much what we write (i.e. our “message”) will intensify, when we understand it more deeply as part of sharing it with others.

The “Johnson” group (at “The Economist”) aptly concludes that whether Socrates was right or wrong about the threat that handwriting poses to education, “no one would remember, much less care, if his student Plato had not noted it down for . . . posterity.”

And now it’s your turn: What value do you give handwriting in the learning process, in this increasingly digital age?

Should there be hand-wringing over handwriting? Please write in: I’d be delighted to hear from you. 

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STORYTELLER’S CORNER . . . . 

 

 

 

 

STORYTELLERS’ CORNER: Words, Stories, Riddles and Jokes on Writing and Editing . . .

This month: 

From Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

“Eleven Bookish Words for Book Lovers”

(and what they mean!)

 

Merriam-Webster dictionary periodically makes the news for its quirky and fun blog postings. Last May, their house writers collected a posting called “Eleven Bookish Words for Book Lovers,” the first six of which I’ll share in this month”s issue of “Storytellers’ Corner” (with fictional examples of my own):

 

(1) “Bibliomania” = “an extreme preoccupation with collecting books.” 

 

This word is said to date to at least the early 1700s, and comes from the French term “bibliomanie” (with “biblio” meaning book; and “manie” meaning mania). 

 

E.g. “The Symphony Booksale in Saskatoon each year benefits from the bibliomania of those who donate to it, and even more, from that of those who buy the books!”

 

(2) “Florilegium” = “a volume of writings; an anthology.”

 

This word comes from the Latin word “florilegus,” which means “culling flowers.” So it refers to a “bouquet of writings, specially selected and arranged for your enjoyment,” the writers say.  

 

E.g. “The romantic Willoughby left a posy of flowers and a florilegium of poetry for the lovesick Marianne.” 

 

(3) “Librocubicularist” = “someone who likes to read in bed.”

 

This word comes from the Latin “libr-, libre” (meaning “book” ) and “cubiculum,” (meaning “bedroom”). Writer Christopher Morley is credited with the coinage of “librocubicularist” in his 1919 novel, The Haunted Bookshop: 

 

E.g. ” ‘All right,’ said the bookseller, amiably. ‘Miss Chapman, you take the book up with you and read it in bed if you want to. Are you a librocubicularist?’ ” (Morley).

 

(4) “Dithyramb” = The writers define this as “a usually short poem in an inspired, wild, irregular strain.” The term is not new to English literary critics. But while it currently refers to “any short irregular poem,” the word dithyramb comes from the Greek “dithyrambos,” which was the name for wild and irregular verse that honoured Dionysus, the Classical god of wine. He was widely associated with Greek festivals. 

 

E.g. “The poet who had hitherto been known for her ordered, highly structured verse, suddenly rose and, throwing caution to the wind, read a dithyramb about the the chaotic emotions of unrequited love.”

 

(5) “Book-Bosomed” = means “carrying a book at all times,” metaphorically (or literally) near one’s bosom. The term is attributed to the early 19th-century verse of Sir Walter Scott.

 

E.g. “The book-bosomed teenager whiled away the afternoon by reading a well-thumbed collection  of Shakespearean sonnets.”

  

(6) “Bibliotherapy” = “the use of reading materials for help in solving personal problems or for psychiatric therapy.” The word dates to at least 1914. 

 

E.g. “After trying many forms of treatment, the man found that his depression lifted only through bibliotherapy–especially focusing on Alexander McCall-Smith’s life- affirming mysteries.”

 

 Stay tuned to next month’s issue for another five “bookish” words from Merriam-Webster! 

 

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SHOP NEWS:

“Entrepreneur of the Month”: This month, featuring Julie Barnes of Julie Barnes’ Creative Services: 

 

Julie Barnes is a full-time freelance writer and a regular contributor to Saskatoon HOME magazine, where she writes about everything from agriculture to architecture, composting to cohousing.

 

Her recent article about Radiance Cohousing was born out of several conversations with friends about how to create a better sense of community and belonging.

 

For anyone who is seeking to strengthen their own community ties, Julie recommends reading Mia Birdsong’s excellent book, How we show up: Reclaiming family, friendship and community. 

 

Nine years ago, Julie and her husband, Josh, installed a green roof on their detached garage in Saskatoon. Brimming with succulents and native grasses, and buzzing with bees each summer, the roof has thrived, but green roofs in Saskatchewan never really took root. Curious about why green roofs have gained popularity in other places, but not in her home province, Julie investigated how other cities have encouraged their uptake for a recent article for CBC Saskatoon. 

 

Julie has also written about travel, environmental stewardship, gardening, urban planning and more for a variety of publications including the Ottawa CitizenPrairies North magazine, Cottage Life West and the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s quarterly magazine. 

 

In addition to writing, Julie is also a talent agent for the folksinger/song writer/public speaker Eric Paetkau, the former conductor and music director of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (2015-2022). 

 

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Julie spent a year in Dublin after university, followed up by five years in Ottawa, before moving to Saskatoon in 2011.

 

She’s happy to have found a community of local freelance writers, who meet monthly to share ideas, advice, referrals and more over coffee. “When you work in a solitary field, like writing, it’s important to find time to get out of the house and connect with others,” she says.

 

(Nepotism Alert: Julie is a friend and colleague whom I met more than 10 years ago through Saskatoon’s branch of the International Association of Business Communicators [IABC]).

 

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Ten years ago, along with the freelance writer and web designer, Asheigh Mattern, Julie and I co-founded a writers’ group (aka “Saskatoon Freelancers’ Roundtable”) and encourage other creatives to do the same.

 

For more information about our group and what we do, please check our collective article in the “Writers Ask” section,”  forthcoming in the next (quarterly) issue of the  Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild  magazine, “Freelance.”  

 

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Hearty thanks also go out (albeit belatedly) to William Wang, Director, Alberta China Offices, Intergovernmental Relations, Executive Council, Government of AB, for discussing with me potential markets for teaching the English language to newcomers, particularly in SK.

 

William once led China Offices for the Government of SK and still calls Regina home (huzzah)!

 

I’m deeply indebted to him for sharing with me his time, strategy and even an introduction to “WeChat.” I am now past due to host an authentic Chinese lunch when you next visit Saskatoon, William!  

 

And thank you again to my long-term mentor and dear friend, Monica Kreuger, for introducing me, last summer, to William! There will be more collaborations to come . . . .

 

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And a final “Thank You”  in this issue goes not least to the extraordinary women leaders of SK who spoke at “Women in the Lead: Navigating the Political Labyrinth” (October 4th), spearheaded by Monica Kreuger, in affiliation with Business and Professional Women of SK (BPW), the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce and Equal Voice (the latter, a not-for-profit organization that encourages women to serve in politics). 

 

It was fortifying to hear eight talented and successful women, who have served in either municipal, provincial or federal politics, discuss the urgent need for more women to enter leadership roles in our province; and the related challenges of defining our own priorities, since we usually balance the demands of family with those of our careers.

 

Special thanks to speakers and panellists Claire Card, Vicki Mowat, Tracy Muggli, Lenore Swystun, Tiffany Paulsen, Bev Dubois, Colleen Young and Pat Atkinson, for renewing this discussion for us.

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Would you like to improve your English language skills?

Are you a newcomer whose language skills have not gotten you traction in the job market?

Do you have language-related “career blues” and don’t know how to move through them? 

Starting in December, I will take one or two more students for my in-person language lessons, most of which occur in one or other local  library.

If you (or someone you know) are interested, or for more information, please don’t hesitate to email me here:

shih.ea@gmail.com

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ABOUT US:

This month, I’m particularly grateful to close friends, several of whom have provided me with emotional support and encouragement, as I move (perhaps for the last time) an aging family member into a care facility for disabled seniors.

The list of these friends’ names is long (and I wish to preserve their privacy), but they know who they are, even as I strive to thank and acknowledge them, in-person.

Good friends have often been said to be “the family we would like to have chosen.” So this issue of TYSN is dedicated to all of the truly wonderful friends out there–whether mine or yours, good reader. Blessings on them, for personifying generosity, support and kindness.

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Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now help Canadian newcomers secure better jobs by improving their language skills; I help small- and medium-sized businesses close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I also write the legacy stories of major companies.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website (www.elizabethshih.com).

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!

Please visit my website for more information (www.storytellingcommunications.ca).

 

Why does AI need Emotional Intelligence? Five reasons from Nick Usborne in the mid-September issue of TYSN

September 2023 Vol 5 Issue 9

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):

Specializing in Linguistic and Entrepreneurial Communication

Let me teach you to tell your story!

Welcome Mid-September 2023!

As I prepare this issue of “Tell Your Story Newsletter,” the heat waves of July and August have passed, and more of  the brisk autumnal air we associate with September has come!

I hope that the new program and academic year has begun well for you, good readers.

Last night, entrepreneurs, including proteges and mentors, gathered to celebrate the 27th Annual Raj Manek Memorial Banquet at Prairieland Park. Some details follow in “Shop News” and in future blog postings!

In “Article One” of this issue, I share from Montreal copywriter (and blogger) Nick Usborne five reasons that we must balance our use of AI (e.g. ChatGPT) with  Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Whatever tech developments arise, EQ remains indispensable to our work as communicators.

In “Storytellers’ Corner,” I forward Penny McKinlay’s recommendation on the importance of reading from contemporary Italian poet, Alba Donati.

And in “Shop News,” I feature “Entrepreneur of the Month,” Barry Frain, who specializes in customs consulting and education resource development for highway carriers (to meet the reporting obligations of US Customs and Border Protection; and of Canadian Border Services Agency).  I also thank fellow entrepreneurs and service providers for sharing their time and resources with me.

May the best of autumn–the crisp fall air, crimson leaves, compelling new books, programs and more–be with you, good readers, as we  complete the final third of our revolution around the sun. (Where did 2023 go?)

And may each of us feel gratitude for the blessings that we sometimes fail to notice, but which continue to grace our lives, even (or especially) in challenging times.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth

Principal,

Storytelling Communications

www.elizabethshih.com

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IN THIS ISSUE:

ARTICLE 1:Why does AI need Emotional Intelligence? Five reasons that creatives should know, from Nick Usborne

STORYTELLERS’ CORNER:

Why bother reading? A response from Italian poet, Alba Donati

SHOP NEWS

ABOUT US

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Article One:  “Why does AI need Emotional Intelligence? Five reasons that creatives should know, from Nick Usborne”

Back in the years 2010 and 2011, I trained as a copywriter through online programming of the American Writers and Artists’ Institute (AWAI), based in Florida.

One of AWAI’s chief training copywriters (and program developers) at the time was Montreal-based Nick Usborne.

Fast-forward about 13 years and Usborne continues to share his ever-current insights on marketing copy for our digital world.

In several of his recent blog postings, he has argued that we cannot afford to ignore Artificial Intelligence (AI). Its influence on communications, marketing (and pretty much everything) is huge.

But Usborne equally insists that we must add Emotional Intelligence (EQ) when we use AI:

While tools like ChatGPT can provide us with great and creative ideas, Usborne contends that “there’s one thing [AI is] really, really bad at: Emotion.”

The “bots” simply don’t handle emotion. So they don’t know how to write with “Emotional Intelligence” (EQ).

Usborne says that AI has “no first-hand experience of emotions. Lines of code can’t fall in love or laugh.”

So they can’t feel empathy for others: “Lines of code don’t care about people, and how they feel.” In theory, then, AI code could remind you of media reports on the hollowed-out personalities of psychopaths.

We really can’t rely heavily on ChatGPT or other sources of AI as they stand, because content that does not emotionally connect with readers has little use to us.

But Usborne says the antidote to soulless bot-generated, unmodified (AI) copy is “Emotionally Intelligent writing.”

He shares five (5) ways in which Emotional Intelligence can “raise the bar way above what AI alone can achieve.”

I highlight and amplify his points with examples from my reading and copywriting:

#1 – Emotionally Intelligent writing empathizes with its readers.

Empathy rather than AI is magical, Usborne contends. When you recognize how your audience feels, you can show that you hear and understand them.  You can write in ways that respect and mirror those feelings. That empathy sells. And it can’t be displaced. Usborne calls it “future-proofing” marketing.

Remember Maya Angelou’s statement on the power of emotion: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When you acknowledge readers’ feelings, Usborne writes, you “validate” their experience, and from there, you’ll have them eating out of your proverbial hand.

Writing with EQ (emotional intelligence) allows you to secure readers’ engagement, attention and memory.

#2 – Emotionally Intelligent writing stimulates readers’ trust.

When people feel heard and understood, they trust you more deeply than they did before.

Building trust (recall Cialdini’s writing on persuasion) is essential to the processes of marketing. Even if you have a great service and amazing ideas for marketing it, if your reader doesn’t trust you, you’ll flounder. Prospects will only buy when they know, like and TRUST you.

As Usborne writes, “Emotional Intelligence comes to the rescue. Emotionally intelligent writing connects with readers at a deep level and fosters and communicates a sense of authenticity and sincerity. It builds trust.”

#3 – Emotionally Intelligent writing is more easily remembered.

Usborne reminds us that emotions play a large role in how human memory is formed and then repeat in our minds, often for many years.

So when we read slick direct marketing promotions, our memory of that material “disappears within minutes, if not seconds.”

But when marketing captures a prospect’s emotions, it lodges in their memories in more lasting ways. If we remember commercials from our childhood or youth, Usborne observes, we know they were emotionally intensive to us.

Remember some of the favourites (such as those featured by Terry O’Reilly’s program, “Under the Influence?”)?

Such as “Mikey” who liked “Life” cereal? (“He likes it! Mikey likes it!” circa 1971-1984).

Or Michelin tires, “Because so much is riding on your tires” (circa 1987).

Life cereal’s ad powerfully connects a pleasant taste with habit formation for children; and the Michelin tagline connects tires with the safe travel of children, for anxious parents. In both cases, the marketing plucks on our heartstrings. We remember those advertisements, 20+ years later.

Now think about the lack of emotional connection we feel when skim-reading a Readers’ Digest sweepstakes’ direct mail letter (sent via email)—we forget such promotions, a mere 10 seconds later.

#4 – Emotionally Intelligent writing builds a reader’s sense of community.  

Usborne says that when we share feelings with others, we connect with them, and feel we belong to a family or group with them. Why else are there book clubs and online dating websites, and social media like TikTok and texting services like WeChat and What’sApp?

Why is it that most online English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are based on conversation, instead of traditional instruction of grammar or writing?

Why do we labour so hard to develop (and maintain) a prospect list for our marketing messages? When we feel empathy for our prospects, we share community with them.

This is why emotionally intelligent writing is so powerful when you’re trying to build community.

And when people feel they are part of a community, they allow that belonging to influence their purchasing decisions. We all know that we’re more likely to buy products and services recommended by our colleagues.

In 2019 When Jenn Sharp launched her book Taste of Saskatchewan partly online (due to Covid), we found our wish for belonging fulfilled by the heartwarming stories she tells of Saskatchewan farmers and foodies. After listening to Sharp read some of her profiles, I remember calling the book “a love letter” to the SK food industry–and the tagline stuck! The book is all about emotions and community.

#5 – Emotionally intelligent writing better persuades your readers. 

Copywriting 101 tells us that we best persuade others to buy our products or services by appealing to their feelings.

“At its most basic level,” Usborne says, “we buy something because it makes us feel good.” The marketing of products and services must convince us that we should buy these things because they’ll make us look better and be healthier and happier.

So we pay extra for that salon shampoo or the name-brand anti-sensitivity toothpaste.

Writing with emotional intelligence intensifies the emotional lure of our marketing. Writing with EQ “increases conversation rates ” beyond what AI can do, Usborne says.

“AI writing alone can achieve NONE of this,” he says. Tools like ChatGPT are now a daily reality for copywriters and content writers.

He concludes: And that’s fine… just so long as we understand that relying exclusively on AI isn’t the answer. . . . . AI has zero Emotional Intelligence.

That’s why the future lies with writers who combine the efficiencies and other benefits of AI with the emotional power of Emotional Intelligence.

To master this winning combination, you need to learn how to fuse AI with EQ.”

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If the development of AI has you feeling queasy about the future marketing of your product or service, please consider picking up Usborne’s new course, Futureproof Copywriting(Please note: Although I’ve met Usborne and studied his “Web Copywriting” program, I am not affiliated with him and do not benefit from the sales of his training materials or coaching.)

You’ll want to avoid relying on lists of “Killer Prompts” (reminiscent of keyword stuffing for SEO).

Instead, we all need to develop a “writing process” and practice that includes both ChatGPT and Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Otherwise, our copy will be predictable, bland and will discourage customers from engaging.  Your features and benefits won’t be remembered, discussed or shared—at the cost of engagement, trust and community.

The answer to “future-proof” your copywriting, Usborne concludes, is to infuse AI with EQ… Emotional Intelligence.

He testifies that he uses ChatGPT and GPT-4 to help with research and audience analysis. I use [AI] to outline articles, presentations, and reports. I even use it – sometimes – to write and rewrite early drafts.

But I NEVER use ChatGPT to write a final draft.

We know that computers can recognize and respond to consumers’ emotions by gathering and evaluating data like facial expressions, gestures, tones of voice, the force of one’s keyboarding and so on.

But AI cannot itself create those emotions.

So whatever anxiety AI brings us as creatives, not to mention those of us familiar with publishing both business and academic articles or books, Usborne insists that we can (and must) learn how to tap into AI without it replacing us, “today or in the future.”

And now it’s your turn: Have you noticed the emotionless quality of AI-generated writing?

Do you agree with Usborne that we must change it, if we want to appeal to our readers and create work that matters?

What strategies have you used to infuse AI with EQ? 

Please write in; I’d be delighted to hear from you. 

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STORYTELLER’s CORNER . . . . 

 

STORYTELLER’S CORNER: Words, Stories, Riddles and Jokes on Writing, Reading and Editing . . .

This month: Why bother reading? A response from contemporary Italian poet, Alba Donati 

With the new program (and academic) year just begun, many of us (not only students) are delving into libraries and bookstores to fuel our reading habits!

Reader, blogger and European house-sitter, Penny McKinlay, recently recommended a memoir by Italian poet, Alba Donati, who opened a bookstore in a small Italian village on the cusp of the Covid Pandemic. Facing that challenge, the store only “stayed open thanks to booklovers and local residents” (writes McKinlay).

Donati’s book, Diary of a Tuscan Bookshop: A Memoir, collects her “thoughts about books, community and family” that help us to renew our love of books (McKinlay). Donati takes “an inward look at what we value most in life.”

What better pursuit could any art form prompt?

While I haven’t yet read Diary of a Tuscan Bookshop, you can be sure it’s on my “to do” reading list for this fall! I will pair Donati with Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel, The Bookshop, which was made into an exquisite film (one of my favourite adaptations of all time!) starring Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy.

McKinlay’s posting about Donati’s memoir caught my attention, since she cites Donati for saying that a good bookshop matters, because it promotes thoughtful reading:

A bookshop is a school—a window looking out on a world that we only think we know. But to really understand the world we have to read, because those who write are always inspired by something that doesn’t quite fit the mold. And when things don’t add up, authors must face the paradox of life and venture into the darkness of the human mind—become at one with that darkness, even—there is no other way (Donati).

Donati could be thinking of some of the novels of British Modernism, including those of Virginia Woolf, who wrote that her focus was on “the dark places of psychology.”

An individual book and an individual bookshop may not seem like much in the larger scale of human life, especially in these tech-intense days. But in reality, both are essential to our understanding of the world and the places we hold in it.

We’d be hard-pressed to get more relevant than that.

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SHOP NEWS:

Entrepreneur of the Month” for mid-September is Saskatoon’s founder and managing director of “eManifest Express,” Barry Frain . . . .

Barry Frain brings more than 30 years of customs and transportation experience in the highway carrier, customs broker and importer and exporter sides of the shipping world.

He worked for more than 10 years for Expert Customs Brokers, George H. Young and Monarch Industries; and then for 17 additional years for TransX Ltd. and N Yanke Transfer—all before launching his own company, “eManifest Express,” in 2016.

He launched his company through the “startSMART” training program of the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship (Nepotism alert–haha!—I facilitated writing workshops for the cohort that included Barry in 2017).

So what is “eManifest”? It is a mandatory screening tool used by customs to assess the risk of shipments, conveyances (i.e. means of transportation or carrying goods), drivers & passengers that enter into the U.S. or Canada.

“eManifest Express” provides a powerful web-based software as a service (SaaS), customs consulting and education resources that highway carriers use to meet both their US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reporting obligations.

Developing educational resources requires a “measured approach,” Barry says, since carrier regulations have moving parts, and in some cases, knowledge can be elusive.  He suggests a course developer should consider the laws and regulations; directives; specific procedures and timelines; port policies and potential customs penalties when creating a course.

On the other hand, Barry has developed one module in an area that helps carriers meet customs requirements: His “Improve Your Customs Declaration” course provides course participants with a background on the declaration requirements and strategies which can help them meet their obligations.

Of this challenging field of carrier and cross-border transportation and customs, Barry says it’s for “the health, safety and security of Canadian and U.S. citizens that these processes are in place.”

Known for the precision of his technical knowledge, as well as his sense of humour and penchant for satire (e.g. “The Beaverton”), Barry is a family man who recently spent summer holidays among adult kids and grandkids in Northern Saskatchewan.

His only regret, as summer ends, is that he “didn’t have an opportunity to get on the wave runner!”

For more information about Barry’s online courses, please visit:  https://customsforcarriers.ca/

Or reach Barry directly at barry.frain@emanifest.express .

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In other news this month, I also benefited from (and greatly enjoyed) sharing conversation with Angela Jamieson and her mother, Mrs. Yen Fung (a leader in our province’s Chinese community and former long-time owner of Saskatoon’s “Genesis” restaurant).

Both friends discussed entrepreneurial ventures and family developments with me, over coffee on a busy afternoon in early September.

Of particular interest was Angela’s commitment to memoir writing (spawned by years of travelling the world as an engineer with her young family); her “Transformational” consulting program; and other publishing ventures.

I was also delighted to have Angela join me last night at the 27th Annual Raj Manek Memorial Banquet (September 14th)! It’s hard to imagine that we have been (long distance) friends since we met as 14 year-olds at Aden Bowman Collegiate!

And we resumed our friendship six or seven years ago, after connecting at a prior Raj Manek Memorial Banquet, when Angela’s husband, Pat Jamieson, was in the program. (Small world!)

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Special thanks this  month to Kanchan Manek, and the Manek family (including Raj, Sona and Kinjal) for organizing and hosting the 27th annual Raj Manek Memorial Banquet last night (at Prairieland Park). The keynote speaker, Sam Kolias, CEO of Boardwalk REIT, said that entrepreneurs should never focus on the “bottom line,” because  “if you focus on profit, you’ll fail.”

Kolias spoke of the “Four Ps” as essential to all entrepreneurs: (i) Purpose (being motivated by love for all); (ii) People (caring for and serving others, including the homeless and those without health); (iii) Our Planet (caring for our environment); and (iv) Place (valuing our communities and understanding and accepting others, instead of judging them).

One year, many of us proteges would delight in hearing Kent Smith-Windsor give the keynote address, and ditto for Monica Kreuger and Silvia Martini!

At the banquet, I had the pleasure of reconnecting  with mentors and proteges, past and present—including Monica Kreuger (as always), Deanna Litz and Rick Cumbers, Kirk Backstrom and Bing Yan, Lauren Penner, Gabriela Leal,  Jolene Watson, Karla Combres and Mario Dima.

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I’m happy these days to be teaching ESL students from various parts of Africa and Asia. In that context, I’m especially grateful to the IT support staff at the Saskatoon Public Library, who actively support  newcomers in using the library’s digital resources.

These include showing and helping them download apps to improve newcomers’ English skills (e.g. “Hoopla,” “Libby” and “Mango Languages”).

And various branches of our public library also provide common meeting space for language classes, with great Wi-Fi and welcoming staff.

Under the organization of Saskatoon Open Door Society’s Lisa Focardi, the J.S. Wood branch, for instance, has hosted one of the organization’s  most popular “Conversation Circles.”

Thank you to the staff of Saskatoon’s Public Libraries, who strive to accomplish much in our communities, including for newcomers.

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There are always new entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial success stories to celebrate. Please send me yours to share in future issues!

But for now, this is a wrap for mid-September!

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ABOUT US:

Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now help new and economic immigrants to secure better jobs by improving their language skills: I assist SMEs in closing more sales by communicating more effectively; and I help major companies write their legacy stories.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website (www.elizabethshih.com).

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!

Please visit my website for more information (www.storytellingcommunications.ca).