Don we now our gay apparel, like that stunning LBD for NYE

By Ally Champagne (photo by Carla Ossa)

It’s a new year. Your slate is clean and all of your past fashion transgressions are forgiven. It’s time to look forward to must-haves in 2015.
So, let’s look toward that one piece that’s going to right all your wrongs: the little black dress (LBD).
Even as you find your festivities drawing to a close, you don’t have to give up your glam look until next Christmas. There is a staple that runs through all the seasons: the little black dress. It represents an ideal of the perfect sexy item – and women who know this usually have more than one in their possession.
According to fashion lore, Coco Chanel introduced the little black dress back in 1926. Up until then, the colour black was used only for mourning. From that point on, like with many other fashion revolutions she spurred on, the colour black quickly transitioned from dowdy and sad to sexy and hot.
The little black dress has so many great aspects. It is slimming and creates the illusion of height. Being a neutral hue, you can enhance your outfit with countless colours, not to mention endless accessories (both fine and costume jewelry).
This dress is one of the few closet treasures which flatters all body types (coming in all sizes from 2 to 22), the price ranges from $20 to thousands of dollars, and it is the most popular simple design on the market. The majority of women desire to own at least one because it can get them through so many occasions looking the part.
Dress it up or down
Part of its versatility is being able to dress it up or down. It is likened to a blank canvas, because you can take it to a five-star event or to a simple afternoon business luncheon. If you change only the accessories, you can wear it a couple times a week without anyone noticing (and you’ll feel like trying to get away with it!).
Opt for a fabric that works for you as well as a texture you can wear at any time of the day and any time of the year. Popular fabrics include ponte, gabardine and jersey. Classic, clean lines are the best, and it is advised to keep the length at or just above the knee to keep it professional.
The neckline can vary on this item but a scoopneck or a v-neck flatters the well-endowed. Self-conscious of your arms? Opt for short sleeves or three-quarter sleeves. But should you feel your arms are worthy of attention, the sleeveless sheath would be great for you.
Fashionistas’ advice is to also bare your legs with this look, or wear a very sheer hose. Patterned hose is making a comeback and currently being added to this attire as well (sounds like a chance to break from the status quo).
The party look can include long, dangly earrings, a clutch purse in any colour, and a stylish pair of stilettos. You might also consider a terrific pair of boots, either short or knee high. I would recommend a shorter dress hem for the boots. The work luncheon look can be accessorized with a bright blazer, long necklace, matching earrings and another pop of colour in your flats.
It is worth considering putting aside money to buy a more expensive version of the little black dress rather than spending on a cheaper style. If you choose wisely, this is one purchase you will wear often and enjoy for many years to come.

I’m in love with a Canadian (and I want you to know it)

By Dorothy Dobbie (photo by Maurizio Pesce)

My Blackberry 10 Passport is my new best friend. Slim but substantial; it feels like coming home. It’s smooth and elegant to the touch, but it has that tactile little keyboard that makes typing a dream – no more cramped hands.
The numbers are on a touch screen just above the keyboard and make a reassuring little pop when I touch them.
Like any new friend, it takes time to get to know it but each day brings a new discovery. Yesterday, we added my drop box and now I can take my office with me wherever I go without my computer. I don’t think I want to type a story on it, but I could in a pinch.
I love the size – the screen is large enough to enjoy the photos I take (wonderfully sharp, clear, lots of pixels, and easy to see outside). At 13 megapixels, the quality is there so I can use them in my magazines at 300 DPI and still get a good-sized image. It has a front camera for selfies if you are of a mind to record your own movements.
With 32 gigs of internal storage, it is about twice the size of the first computer we used to create our Manitoba Gardener magazine. It’s fast and responsive, with 3 GB of RAM, and you can add memory if you like… but it wasn’t my intention to give you a technical review.
I don’t want to give you a review at all – I just want to let everyone know how happy I am with this little device.
The Blackberry Passport easily takes the place of the tablet, which has so many limitations and is too large to be convenient. I feel safe in predicting that the Blackberry Passport and its imitators will make the tablet obsolete. I can do everything on my Passport that I can do on a tablet – and take it with me in my purse. It fits in all the pockets I’ve tried it in, including those belonging to my husband.
It’s a long time since I have been as delighted with a little toy like this – maybe because this one is perfect for business. I can surf the net, take notes, pictures and videos (and send them all), play games, text, email, and make calls – it has voice recognition and a really good speakerphone. There are all kinds of apps for it and more coming, many of them really useful for business purposes.
True patriot love
But what delights me most of all is the fact that this device is Canadian. Am I a chauvinist? Yes, I guess so, but isn’t it about time we took some pride when Canadians do something wonderful? Blackberry has been a leader from the start, demonstrating just what kind of talent we produce here in the frozen north. I think we should all be using the product, even if it wasn’t such a clear pleasure and a leader in so many ways.
The sad thing is that I had to go to an American store to get my Blackberry Passport. MTS had a 20-name waiting list and doesn’t stock the phone in their stores. Rogers will only bring it in upon request, making you wait a week or so. I wanted one right away so I went to Future Shop who was glad to oblige, and gave us a $50 rebate on an old phone plus a phenomenal price on the new one.
I had to abandon my decade-long Rogers account to get the phone, though, and give up my idea of maybe bundling my services at MTS. Now we are with Telus, which doesn’t have the best range in Manitoba, but meets my citywide needs just fine. And the monthly price is right.
I’m happy. I love my new phone and I love that it is a homegrown product. Go see, feel, and try it out for yourself – and support a Canadian company.

Lunch Bell Bistro measures up to any establishment

By Brenlee Coates

Opening a new restaurant is tough. Workers need to be trained, peak times need to be determined, and menus have to be tested.
As these details are getting ironed out, the Lunch Bell Bistro is also debuting a completely unprecedented training program.
Based on the success of the Changes organization’s person-centred support services, it has branched out into ownership of a restaurant, where some of its clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities are being trained in the hospitality industry.
“We train them to work in this establishment, but we train them to adapt to any hospitality environment,” says general manager of the Lunch Bell, Josh Marantz. The students of the program spend 10 weeks training in the kitchen and 10 weeks in the front-of-house before making room for new eager trainees and seeking employment elsewhere in the field.
Though still on its first batch of students, the Lunch Bell has seen tremendous success with the rollout of the program.
“They have learned more than I ever thought possible in a short time. Part of that has to do with their willingness to learn – they’re so eager,” says Josh.
“The students that (Changes) are recommending for our program have been vetted extensively and the students really want to do it.”
The educational component doesn’t mean you have to manage your expectations before visiting – the Lunch Bell has attentive wait staff, fresh, healthy food options made in-house (it isn’t even equipped with a deep fryer) and speedy kitchen times (usually under 10 minutes for its mainly soups, salads and sandwiches menu).
Even with a tricky location on Main Street at Higgins Avenue in the Bell Hotel, the bistro has had enthusiastic response since getting the word out after a soft opening in August.

From left to right: Lunch Bell executive chef Chris Tascona, hospitality students Sheldon and Eldon, sous chef Bev Villagarcia, and general manager Josh Marantz.
From left to right: Lunch Bell executive chef Chris Tascona, hospitality students Sheldon and Eldon, sous chef Bev Villagarcia, and general manager Josh Marantz.

Though currently funded by the three levels of government and CentreVenture Corp. (which approached Changes with the idea), the business aims to be self-sufficient by its second year, so it faces the usual challenges of achieving prosperity in the competitive restaurant industry.
One thing Josh has found especially humbling is the respect the establishment has been granted by all of the surrounding residents, workers and visitors to the neighbourhood.
“Everything from the business people to the street people… It’s very, very rewarding, the acceptance of the general public.
“As much as you tell yourself it’s the good thing to do and it’s rewarding, it’s nice to get that validation.”
With a concise menu and interior seating for just 30 people, other streams primarily drive business for the Lunch Bell. For instance, its catering service (which comprises food preparation without serving staff) makes up about 70 per cent of its revenue. The bistro can cater to large organizations, schools, and any size business lunch, and offers city-wide delivery.
The restaurant also has a grab-and-go fridge and take-out at its 662 Main St. location, which means zero wait time for busy downtown workers.
Worthy of mention is the incredible interior designed by local architect Liane Veness (of Work/Shop) – the long and narrow restaurant is warmed by a wooden geometric ceiling treatment and bright white tiles encasing the booths. The white room glistens and has an organic, earthy atmosphere.
Even though it doesn’t get by on its social merit, the Lunch Bell does all the little things right, sending the leftover food at the end of the day on to Changes programs.
Lunch Bell Bistro is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit http://www.lunchbellbistro.ca for more information on its training program or to view its dine-in/take-out and catering menus.

What do layoffs mean for those who are left behind?

By Lisa Cefali (photo by Bob Barr)

As we begin the new year, do you find yourselves in the optimistic state of a fresh start? If you are one of the companies that has begun hiring or an individual who has been hired – congratulations!
If you are part of the seven per cent that is anticipating cutbacks, how are you getting ready for this?
We have often talked about career transition services and how they are beneficial for the individual and for the company’s brand.
However, are companies spending enough time and effort on those left behind? Layoffs and cutbacks create stress, and not only for those directly impacted. Without the proper support, employees can be left with a feeling of uncertainty as to their own future within the organization.
If left to their own conclusions, rumours may start, and employees may assume the worst and begin their search for employment outside the company.
So what can leaders do for their people to ensure those left behind are just as productive and morale remains high? What strategies must leaders consider along with the decision to downsize? Here are five key strategies to begin with.
Connect with a firm that offers support in this area. Firms are often engaged if the employees being let go are being offered transition services. However, if not, engaging a firm to assist with supporting the rest of the organization is a very good insurance policy. An outside firm can assist with developing the messaging, ensuring that the emotional impact is appropriate, and that the purpose and support is understood.
As quickly as possible, hold a town hall meeting. The message should be timely, honest, and very clear in its intent. The reasons as to why the downsizing has occurred need to be presented.
A focus on what will be accomplished within the first few months in this new environment is important so that employees can see the progress and positive aspect to the change.
The presentation also needs to be an opportunity for the employees to voice their concerns and questions so that leaders can see very clearly how the decision is impacting their teams.
Get employees involved. Using focus groups or small functional groups, invite employees to create ideas on the best change strategies to address the existing workload with the remaining employees.
Morale needs to remain positive, and if employees can see that their ideas are being considered –and even better, acted upon – you may create an even more efficient employee base.
Developing an understanding of the company’s challenges will encourage everyone to realize that the downsizing was not done for personal reasons, but to address the concerns of the organization.
Communication, communication, communication! Use various forms of communication – both formal and informal – to ensure that you reach all the various groups and generations in their preferred format.
This is not a time to hold back for fear of over-communicating. Employees need reassurance that the initial message is backed up with action.
Celebrate success and have some fun! The people left behind are there for a reason. They need to feel valued, important, and necessary. Consider how best you can show your appreciation at the company, group, and individual level.
Include team building sessions and involve the social committee to ensure the activities and events considered resonate with the employees.
Even with mid-managers and senior-level managers, at times of change, there is stress. Sometimes we assume that the senior and mid-level manager should simply be executing the activities, and are therefore immune to the impact of the change because they are part of it. Consider that all employees need to be valued and appreciated – including those who are being asked to carry out the messages.
Downsizing, letting people go, layoffs, positions being absorbed – no matter how they are presented, when there are job losses, the organization as a whole is impacted.
The reality is that organizations often have to make these changes for the productive success of the company. Leaders can either execute upon them well or poorly.
It is at times like this when true leadership ability is most evident, most challenged, and most needed. A leader will be judged on how the layoffs are conducted and how those asked to leave are treated by the company.
How you keep employee morale up and productivity amongst those left behind is also being judged. Ensure you have every angle covered and ensure your approach to downsizing is a complete one.
Lisa Cefali is the vice president of executive search with Legacy Bowes Group, where she uses her many years of business experience, and assessment of emotional intelligence, to uncover organizational insight and those attributes that provide the best fit for her clients with their strategic planning needs. Please feel free to contact her at lisa@legacybowes.com for your executive search, recruitment, coaching, and strategic planning needs.

Let’s talk development with transit in mind

By Stefano Grande (photo by Brian Burke)

Our city is changing. Developers and decision makers are realizing that there needs to be better balance between urban sprawl and creating more density and infill in our downtown and older neighbourhoods.
And our city has elected a new mayor who is fully aware of this and is prepared to make bold investments in rapid transit, creating development opportunities that will benefit everyone.
There are certain financial realities that are now clear. Density creates more taxes per hectare – anywhere from 10 to 25 per cent more for a city – and as a result, city operating costs are less. In a time of government budget crisis, proper land use development is the key to the future sustainability of our city, in every sense of this word.
All city infrastructure is already in place in neighbourhoods like our downtown and the inner city. But there is more than this.
Density and great design creates vibrancy and great neighbourhoods, more small and unique businesses, and cooler places to spend time, leading to increased property values and, yes, increased property taxes too. The research is there. But still there’s more to think about.
Creating affordable housing is a challenge as construction costs and land development costs continue to rise. Car ownership costs are climbing, and despite a recent downturn, gas prices are high, too. Have you noticed even the car congestion lately?
Baby boomers are downsizing and millennialism will lead the way to new markets, too. Building dense neighbourhoods around rapid transit is a solution where people of all incomes can take full advantage of vibrant neighbourhoods built for the movement of people – a city where rapid transit complements and is at the core of people’s values for live, work, and play in their neighbourhoods. This is known as TOD: transit oriented development.
This is the bold vision, and we need to give our mayor a chance. TOD plays an important role in cities by addressing significant and pressing transportation, housing and environmental issues, benefitting citizens as well as communities by capitalizing on the sustainable goals of government, and in turn, creating more vibrant and exciting places for people.
And it’s not a far-fetched dream. In fact, cities that people fall in love with today like Rome, Paris, Denver, Portland, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton – and many more – are capitalizing on what people want and where they want to live.
And the pieces are falling into place as Winnipeg pioneers have slowly been pressing for TOD and rapid transit in today’s marketplace. Winnipeg and downtown is in a good position to capitalize on these trends.
Take for example:
• Rapid transit is back on track
• Graham Avenue Mall, Downtown’s Transit Mall, is evolving and is now home to the largest drivers of economic growth in our city:
-MTS Centre: 1.5 million visitors per year
-Millennium Library: Home to over one million visitors per year
-The expanding RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg
-Some of downtown’s largest employers are located on its doorstep: Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Public Insurance and the Winnipeg Police Service
• Downtown’s largest housing development, SkyCity Centre Winnipeg, is on its way (a condo project by MADY and Fortress Real Developments)
• SHED is being developed, the city’s sports, hospitality and entertainment district
• The Forks Renewal: Redevelopment of Parcel 4 lands will integrate The Forks with its surrounding neighbours into one of our city’s most incredibly designed mixed-use neighbourhoods. Greater ease of movement and continuity of development with the area is necessary for The Forks to become an integral part of our city.
Where we are headed depends on our ability to focus in on best practices and understand the TOD lessons from other cities as opposed to pursuing our dreams based on opinion and local interpretation.
Where we are headed depends on a new breed of developers, from within and out-of-town, realizing the market opportunity for such an approach and in turn, helping to create and realize the vision for our downtown and city of tomorrow.
Local and national experts discussed implementation strategies at the inaugural Transit Oriented Development Summit. A full report will be made available on the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s website.
Are you ready to learn, listen, and dream about a changing city? Are you ready to help make a difference?
Stefano Grande is executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.