Refugee causes face marketing challenges here in Canada, too, say experts

Katrina Clarke | June 20, 2017 | CBC Life

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Photo credit: Getty Images

Refugee crises are unfolding across the world, but chances are good that you’re not donating to help victims anywhere. The question is… why?

The answer is a complex one; it involves bad marketing, donor fatigue and the limitations of human empathy, say marketing experts. And it’s a problem specific to refugee crises, considering people were three times less likely to donate to help Syrian refugees than they were to victims of the Nepal earthquake or the Japanese tsunami, according to GlobalGiving relief organization as reported recently in the New York Times. It seems refugee causes don’t hit the same generosity triggers.

“Promoting any kind of a charity these days is extremely difficult,” said Ken Wong, Marketing Professor at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business. “The causes are all equally good… it does end up coming down to the quality of the appeal that’s made. It is, to be crass, a merchandizing issue.”

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Bike raves: BC’s phenomenal dance parties that take place on neon-lit wheels

Katrina Clarke | June 13, 2017 | CBC Life

Photo credit: Flickr/Chris Bruntlett

It’s late at night in a sleepy Vancouver neighbourhood when, in the distance, I see neon lights rolling toward me.

“Bike rave!” someone shouts out as he cycles past, music blaring from a boombox hitched to his bike, followed by some 40 cyclists decked out in neon clothes, bright lights twisting around their bike frames.

While still a relatively underground phenomenon, Vancouver bike raves have been rising in popularity over the past decade. The events are typically free, come-one-come-all street parties, where participants dress up in costume, decorate bikes with neon lights and tote around sound systems to play music. Ravers gather at a set point at a set time, usually dusk, and head off along a pre-planned route, pausing at pit stops for high-energy dance parties. It’s a party on wheels that lasts a few hours and sometimes involves drinking and drug use, according to past attendees. They’re happening in cities around the world, including Melbourne and Auckland, but Vancouver is the rumoured birthplace of the bike rave.

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The case for getting naked this summer

Katrina Clarke | June 2 | CBC Life

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(Instagram, @parisjackson)

I’m sinking my feet into warm sand at Vancouver’s Wreck Beach on a recent Sunday when a slim, bronzed man catches my attention. I watch him, struck by how graceful, streamlined and almost animal-like he is as he darts across the beach, jumping up to catch a Frisbee … completely nude.

I remain in awe – eyes averted – of this man’s body confidence at the clothing-optional beach for the remainder of the afternoon. Was it his nudity that bred confidence? Or his confidence that bred nudity? It got me wondering: should we all be getting a little more naked this summer? After all, proponents of non-sexual nudity rave about the benefits. Body positivity advocates say stripping down can help build self-confidence, feminists say nudity can help desexualize the female form, and nudists say it’s just natural and freeing.

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How to unplan your wedding

Katrina Clarke | May 23, 2017 | Toronto Star

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Ashley Aseltine holds her wedding dress, which she purposefully ruined and wore to a Zombie walk. Photo credit: Nick Kozak/Toronto Star)

Ashley Aseltine had the ring on her finger, dress in her closet and “save the date” magnets on friends’ fridges.

But seven months before the big day, she didn’t have a fiancé.

“He ended it,” said Aseltine, 31. “It stung. Everything kind of stung for a really long time.”

The December 2013 split ended their 12-year relationship and year-and-a-half engagement. The next weeks were a painful blur during which Aseltine leaned on family and friends for support. Once they were certain she and her ex wouldn’t proceed with their June nuptials, her dad and uncle broke the news to relatives.

Then she got to work, calling the vendors and notifying friends and tucking the ring and the dress away in corners of her apartment. The $600 silk, floor-length gown wouldn’t resurface until three years later when she would run over it with a car, drench it in fake blood and wear it as a costume for a Halloween Zombie walk.

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Infrared saunas have a celeb cult following, so we got in one to find out why

Katrina Clarke | May 12, 2017 | CBC Life

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(Photo courtesy Halsa spa, Kitsilano)

I’ve lived in Bangkok and sweated through many a hot yoga class. But an infrared sauna kicked my butt. If you’ve heard of infrared saunas, it could be because they’re all the rage with celebrities these days. Jennifer Aniston reportedly has one installed one in her home, Gwyneth Paltrow extolled the benefits of the saunas on her Goop website, and Busy Philipps Instagrammed from one. Continue reading

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#BigThighTwitter, the trending hashtag celebrating big thighs

Katrina Clarke | May 8, 2017 | CBC Life

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(Photo via Twitter, @SShyeanneXo)

If you’re wondering why Twitter has been flooded with photos of women flaunting their big thighs lately, look no further. It’s all thanks to #BigThighTwitter, a hashtag that took Twitter by storm in March when women started posting photos of their big thighs to the site.

“So #bigthightwitter is a thing??? My time has come,” tweeted one user alongside a photo of her sweatpant-clad thighs.

“Something I can participate in 🙂 ‪#BigThighTwitter,” wrote another. Continue reading

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Prince George can’t have a best friend – should your child?

Katrina Clarke | April 30, 2017 | CBC Life

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(Photo credit: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

If the future King of England can’t have a best friend, should your child?

Depends on who you ask.

The question comes after news last month that Prince George will attend Thomas’s Battersea prep school in London come September. Everything royal-related seems to make headlines, but this announcement was unique because of a controversial unofficial policy at the school: no best friends.

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Co-parenting after a split: focus on the kids, say experts

Katrina Clarke | April 29, 2017 | CBC Life

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(Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Watching Erin Silver hike along a trail in Arizona with her kids and their dad, it’d be easy to assume they she was a happily married mom.

She’s happy – but divorced from her kids’ dad.

“We realize we have to work together whether we’re married or not,” said Silver, 36, a Toronto-based freelance writer who spent the holiday season with her parents in Arizona. Her ex visited for a few days, staying in a hotel. “Our kids come first.”

Silver and her ex are co-parenting, meaning that despite being divorced, they’re both actively involved in raising their boys. And while it’s not extraordinary for two divorced parents to be raising kids in 2017, amicable co-parenting is still a surprise to some and – no surprise – it requires hard work. Good co-parenting involves drawing clear boundaries with your ex, navigating bringing new partners into the mix and having straightforward talks with your kids, say parenting experts.

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Blood sisters: Do women’s menstrual cycles really sync up?

Katrina Clarke | April 26, 2017 | CBC Life

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Credit: iStock/Getty images

There’s something about menstruation – maybe the universal braving of cramps and bloating – that promotes a feeling of solidarity among women. Perhaps an extension of that is the feeling of closeness between friends who seem to have “synced” their periods – believing that the very fact you’re menstruating simultaneously is because you’ve spent so much time together. But is there truly a possibility you might also be celebrating a biological connection?

It’s called “menstrual synchrony” and according to a 1999 study, 84 per cent of women were aware of it and 70 per cent reported experiencing and enjoying it.

However, experts say it’s likely not a real thing – and new research backs them up.

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Five surprising facts about semen from a men’s health expert

Katrina Clarke | April 24 | CBC Life

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iStock/Getty images

If Something About Mary taught us anything, it’s to keep semen away from your hair.

But aside from its industrial-strength hair gel properties, and its role in pregnancy, what else is there to know about seminal fluid?

To answer every question you’ve ever had about semen, and some you wouldn’t even think to ask, we asked Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, author of The Truth About Men and Sex and founder and director of Men’s Health Boston, and did our own deep-dive into the complex – and sometimes sticky – world of semen.
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