Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter TO and #BLMTOtentcity

On Sunday, March 20th, Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition organized a peaceful rally and protest at Nathan Phillips Square to speak out against ongoing incidences of anti-Black racism in the city. Specifically named incidents were the City of Toronto’s threat of shortening of AfroFest from two days to one and the recent SIU decision not to publicly name or charge the officers accountable for the death of Andrew Loku.

As an organization that uses critical dialogue, open and accessible resources and artistic tools of engagement to create alternative learning spaces for young people, Lost Lyrics is proud to stand in solidarity with the organizers of Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition and the protestors, supporters and allies at #BLMOtentcity.  Lost Lyrics is proud to support a movement committed to intersectional analysis and action and one that creates connections across communities. Thanks to the perseverance of organizers and their supporters, the peaceful protest is still going strong after more than 90 hours on the street despite the presence of harsh weather conditions and aggressive responses from police.

Black communities and particularly young people within those communities, face a disproportionate amount of institutional and physical violence. The threats protestors have faced, including but not limited to the aggressive acts made by police on March 21st, 2016 – the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – demonstrate this fact.

We urge Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor John Tory and Chief Mark Saunders to hear and affirmatively respond to the demands from Black Lives Matter TO for:

  • Transparency and the release of critical information concerning the shootings of Alex Wettlaufer, Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby.  Public release of the identities of the officers responsible for these shootings not public?  The release of video footage from the building where Loku was killed.
  • A review of the Special Investigations Unit with adequate consultation from families victimized by police violence and affected communities. Through our laws police wield great powers, we must ensure they are also subject to these same laws.

In love and solidarity,



Returning to community resources

By Marisol Fornoni

I stumbled upon this interesting article from Vu Le, who runs a blog called Non Profit With Balls entitled “Why individual donations strategies often do not work for communities of colour”.

I strongly encourage anyone interested in fundraising or entering the fundraising profession to read this. Fundraising a lot of the times is based on connections. That’s something what smaller grassroots organizations and communities of color need to think of. There is a lot of privilege within the non-profit sector that determines where money gets allocated and who gets funding. It’s easier for white fundraising professionals to be connected to higher points in the hierarchy of power and money.

As the article says “We need to accept the premise that fundraising, the way we understand and practice it currently, is historically designed for white fundraisers to work with white donors.”  The assumption that immigrant or communities of color have access to the same relationships and resources is not true. This is why many grassroots groups from these communities are returning to more guerrilla style fundraising techniques. Next time we will share some of these techniques with you.

Stay tuned.



By Marisol Fornoni

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions out there when it comes to grants. It’s incredibly hard for first-timers to get their grant application approved. As competition increases for funding and funding continues being cut, it has become harder to obtain funding for organizations that are piloting new ideas or that have no ‘track record of success’ (as funders like to call it). Funders want to see previous experience and be certain that you have a solid capacity of carrying out a project according to their terms.

If you do not have experience carrying out any projects make sure you do! Run a trial and document everything; the good, the bad and the ugly. If you then decide to apply for funding use this documentation to answer these core questions every funder asks in detail:

  • Which community members and stakeholders will benefit the most from your project?
  • How will you involve participants during the planning and execution phases?
  • How will you measure or evaluate the impact of your project?
  • Do you have a work plan outlining all project steps, timeline, and resources?
  • What experience and/or qualifications does your organization have to carry out this project?
  • If activities continue beyond the term of the grant, how will they be sustained?


Prioritizing your time on social media

By Anelia Victor

Now that you are set with all the initial social media accounts, you are swamped with keeping up with everything. There are many tools out here that can help you organize. We are going to list two free tools we use here.

1) Hootsuite: Let’s start with one of the most popular social media management online system out here. Hootsuite allows you to post, schedule, monitor from all major accounts. To use Hootsuite, you can link your accounts and then add them onto your stream. Your stream is the various tabs for your social. You have the ability to choose which stream is best for you. The streams include schedule (post you have scheduled), mentions, your post and private messages. For a free account you can only link three social media accounts, if you want more you will have splash that cash.

2) Buffer: Buffer is Hootsuite cousin. Buffer allows you to link your Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest. With the free account you are allowed three linked accounts. With Buffer, you can schedule post, track your post performance and they offer pre-written post if you are stuck on content to post.

Use any other applications to schedule your post? Let us know, we would love to try them out!

OG Snapshots: Braxton

This week’s feature Original Griot is Braxton

Words and photography by Braxton


I don’t know if anyone has ever identified themselves as an Experiential Artist, however I see myself as one. No matter the art form I immerse myself in the experience. I don’t like titles which is the main reason I explain to people in conversations that I simply experience the art I enjoy.

Being born and raised in Toronto in at-risk, priority neighborhoods I struggled to find myself and figure out what was going on in my crazy world. I couldn’t just escape no matter how many people think that works, I needed to cope and maintain a level of balance. ART! I photograph everything from my beautiful girlfriend to the weird eye-catching aesthetic my eyes spot on a walk in Toronto’s downtown core.


The adrenaline rush that comes with seeking the next abandon building or funky alley is the most thrilling feeling. Film and video is a medium that allows me to transition the frozen image I once saw in to a fluid moving visual that can tell a story frame-by-frame or scene-by-scene. I have always had this love for using cameras and it wasn’t until second semester January 2015 of my first year in university that I got my hands on my own camera and began learning. No classes, no lessons, just the camera and my ambition.

Through high school I enjoyed writing and recording my own music but my time spent reviewing and covering music as a contributor for music blogs has driven me to enjoy and appreciate music rather than making the music. I still write every-now-and-then. The main reason I create is to experience something more than life as we know it. I live through my art to experience, not just a get away, but to create a whole new world I can be myself in and impulsively decide what I like with no boundaries.


For so long I let my insecurities and lack of experience and knowledge limit my drive to create. I am 20 years old now and it was when I was 13 Lost Lyrics took me in and pushed me forward and I’ve never looked back. Currently I am forming a business model for myself and look to network and collaborate with others in efforts to gain knowledge, experience, and a network of like-minded individuals. While I wrap this up I want to share that art is something I live and love, my main focus in life is to change the lives of youth and people seeking better and more experiential lives. My education paired with my pool of life experiences are the foundation and pillars for my growth and success.


Favourite and Most Relevant Songs as of late

  • Chance the Rapper: Wonderful Everyday
  • Donnie Trumpet ft. Chance the Rapper: Windows
  • Cole: Love Yourz

Line from a song I wrote December 2014

  • I been spilling feelings tryna make a killing / but this stress got me wishing I was never living / so I’m sipping these bottles, drowning these sorrows / praying that I don’t wake up, f*** tomorrow



The Original Griots is an internship program for the older students of Lost Lyrics who have grown up with Lost Lyrics. Our OG’s joined Lost Lyrics when they were ten, and now in their early adulthood, these young people are translating and expanding their knowledge into tangible skills.

The OG’s practice a range of different art forms from writing to fashion design to acting, and the list goes on. Each month we will feature an OG from our program.

La Junta

By Marisol Fornoni

As a fundraiser, most organizations are interested in talking to ‘big money’ guys, including banks and large government grant-making organizations. The assumption is that if these organizations decide to fund your project, you are set for the duration of your program.

By doing this we tend to place all our fundraising efforts into one basket, hoping that if we just get that big grant we’ll be living the non-profit dream. Unfortunately, I often see this go wrong. Competition is high out here and as everyone continues applying to the same small pools of money in Toronto, it’s really time for us to start exploring new ways of fundraising.

Depending on the objectives and activities of your organization, perhaps the Junta system can work for your group.

Juntas are used in Latin America to raise large sums of money, and are often used as a grassroots savings model. My grandmother personally uses it and it works great for our family.

The model is simple. The Junta consists of a group of members, who monthly give a fixed set of money to the Junta. Each month, it is a members turn to collect the money. If a member has an emergency they can also request a collection. Members of the Junta are through this able to access higher rates of capital while operating in caring and trusting communal environments.

Through the Junta process of consultation many local Juntas have been successful in resolving key local issues in their communities, as well as financially contributing to worthy social causes. Take some time to think about how this model can work for you and use this example to creatively brainstorm about the ways you can propel your initiative forward with relying on traditional means of fundraising.

The Online Hustle

By Anelia Victor

Your network can be engulfed with your friends and family ‘re-sharing every bit of material you put out; they are providing you with the analytic but they aren’t your target audience. How can you tap into the network you need?

Re-evaluate your network

Who are you are following? What does your feed say to you? If you are witnessing that your feed is not conclusive to your field, start un-following people. You should be following people that provide valuable content and asset to you.

The Hustle

Now, this is where the research comes in. To gain access to the paradise of your ideal network, you’ve got to work for it.

1) Look for people or brands that have a significant amount of followers, likes, retweets or repost and learn from the content they are putting out.

2) Re-evaluate your content; is it getting you the attention you want? Is it content that your audience will talk about? If not, from the research you have collected from those popular play makers provide similar content. And, content that is specific to you.

3) Follow these play makers can lead you into the audience you want.

4) Understand which hashtag works best for you. This is a tricky area. When posting your content use some popular hashtags and create your own, so it gets connected back to you.

Fundraising and Accountability

By Marisol Fornoni


“Already surrounded by this mad city the caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalizes him”

Mortal Man – Kendrick Lamar


As the resource coordinator for Lost Lyrics, it is my role to acquire new resources and partnerships to make sure our organization can further expand its mission. This includes getting money to keep Lost Lyrics’ current programs running and roll out future ones.

Over the years, fundraising has changed significantly. As community organizing has become more institutionalized through the expected incorporation of non-profits and charitable organizations, the majority of initiatives have become accountable to funders instead of the communities they work in. It is important to ask ourselves if a reliance on this type of funding has impacted or derailed social justice movements.

Fundraising today is a full-time profession, with different branches, strategies and professional associations.  Social media, non-profit technology and branding are now all expected to be part of an organization’s strategic plans. While I am a complete product of these changes, my goal over the next couple of months is explore alternatives to current fundraising practices.

For groups that are making demands outside of the current system and have more radical visions of social change these grassroots fundraising strategies are particularly useful.  By learning more about how noninstitutionalized revolutionary movements and groups engage in fundraising practices I hope to answer the following questions:


  1. How do we engage in fundraising practices that involve the community and become more accountable to the communities we work with?


  1. How do we create cycles of mutual support in fundraising with the communities we work with?



Recommended Reading:

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex Paperback – Mar 1 2009 by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (Editor)



OG Snapshots: Thunderclaw

By Veronica Fredericks

The Original Griots is an internship program for the older students of Lost Lyrics who have grown up with Lost Lyrics. Our OG’s joined Lost Lyrics when they were ten, and now in their early adulthood, these young people are translating and expanding their knowledge into tangible skills.

The OG’s practice a range of different art forms from writing to fashion design to acting, and the list goes on.  Each month we will feature an OG from our program.

This week’s feature Original Griot is Thunderclaw Robinson.


The Living Thunder (is what he calls himself when no one is looking) Thunderclaw Robinson is a poet, actor, singer, martial artist, rapper, bare hand percussionist, musician and avid listener of things he wants to do but can’t really well, yet.


Why do I keep on hoping

Why do I find ways to destroy my self esteem instead of coping Emotionally DRAINED but my PIPES are all blocked up

Whats the difference between being held in ONE PLACE and being LOCKED UP”

11651202_863544793680624_184795529_nAttempts to recapture nostalgic childhood memories in poetry while also questioning the world around him. Often spends his performance time trying to scope out the cute girls in the crowd that he doesn’t have confidence to talk to while distracting the audience with fire and bars.


“Im a Certified Dreamer, thats why im still asleep But I haven’t gotten paid a single day of this week I never do my job right, thats why im getting weak And I forget who I am everytime I fall asleep Im still asleep”

Promises you he wont lie and neither will his hips. Romance, laughter, anime, movie and video game battle themes and hope to make you feel some type of way with his words. And believe it or not, his name does not have any affiliation with “Thundercats.”

To book a performance or other inquiries for Thunderclaw Robinson:

Facebook: Thunderclaw Robinson Twitter: @DTStrugglez_2 Instagram: iwishmyhipswouldlie




Where to start? Using social media to leverage your business

By Anelia Victor

There are many social media platforms out there to grow your presence. But which one to choose that will help you strive? We will look at the most popular ones and get you to understand how each can helps you.


To reach the pinnacle masses of your audience, sharing stories and videos are your best bet. Facebook content strives on people sharing between each other. Create content that is sharable and worthwhile for people to tell each other. Understand the eyes and ears that will be absorbing your content.


Content is everything. Plain and simple. Always plan at the beginning of the week, what will you be sharing with your followers. Don’t know where to get started? Start looking into the trending hashtags to get to know what is popular on Twitter. Add your voice to the tags and find relatable links to share to generate views, retweets and favourites. Always be consistent with the content you share on Twitter.


Tumblr has various communities on their site. Find the niche that belongs to you. And, follow the people in those communities to create and share using common hashtags. There is so much content on Tumblr to reblog and to keep your blog updated. If you don’t have time to keep up every day, set up your queue to post automatically for you.


Reddit is a forum style site in which users can share and comment on the information provided. There are various sub sections that is dedicated to a particular subject. Use those sections to deliver any content that would be useful.

Google Plus

Google Plus can be a great place to network and gain access to many people. Create an account and you can add people to your circles. Circles are divided in different subject: Family, Friends, Work, and Acquaintances. When people add you back in their circle, you will be able to see their post. Also, you can create a community account or join any community and use that bulk of members for your cause.


Pinterest is all image driven. Users can make various boards of any subject: jewellery, clothing, shoes, gardening, crafts, etc. After making various boards, users can pin pictures to their own boards. Pinterest is perfect for people selling a goods or physical items. It is a good way for your presence to be known through repetitive imagery.


Instagram drives on hashtags. To gain momentum on Instagram, always tag your pictures with any hashtags that are relatable and post daily. If you can’t figure out which hashtags to use, look up people you know that are popular in your industry and look at what hashtags they use.