Carol Barrett has always lived in Southern Ontario. She went to school in Halton and Guelph and attended a field course in New Brunswick. For years she has called the GTA her homebase.
Carol Barrett's background is in science however her passion for the arts has led to opportunities in communication arts.
Carol Berube Barrett, Toronto Canada has been active in providing warm clothing for those in need, making soft toys for children who are victims of AIDS, and facilitating arts and crafts programmes for enthusiasts of all ages.
Carol Barrett Berube believes in building strong communities through compassion and generosity of time, resources and support.
She does not see herself as an activist but rather active in her community.
"I do not worry about the world once I am gone" she says. "I am constantly amazed at the acceptance I have had amongst those much younger than myself. The next generation is much kinder and compassionate than we give them credit for. And they will not take the wrongs in the world lying down! "
Although a senior citizen, Carol Berube says she gets her motivation to remain involved with the world around her from the passion she sees in the youth in her community.
Carol Barrett Berube is a strong supporter of the public library system.
Books currently in her pile to read include
Winston Graham "Poldark's Cornwall"
Donna Tartt "The Goldfinch"
Sarah Dunant "The Birth Of Venus"
"Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries"
Carol Barrett Berube curates music playlists for internet radio
Her selections range over many genres including punk, garage, classical, electronic, folk, rock, celtic, prog, psychedelic, blues and experimental.
"I have a hard time picking favorite artists" Carol said in an interview. "I hear so many different things in each artist's work, each with a story to tell"
On the turntable currently:
classic Pink Floyd
She also is passionate about all animals.
She lives with her rescue retriever and is the unofficial aunt to a large number of dogs, cats, birds and others.
Inspired by a number of independent publications, Carol Barrett Berube decided to try her hand at putting out a zine. There has been a definite learning curve and to date only one issue was distributed with another in pieces on the desk, but the process of using artwork, writing short articles, testing and publishing recipes and even including an embroidery pattern to create a 10 page zine was highly rewarding. The zine is called "Lost and Found" and the hope is that more issues will follow. "Basically, the little zine was a way of reaching out to community and share my interests, helpful tips and projects that anyone can do. There was even a dog biscuit recipe"
Even someone without a lot of computer saavy can make a zine, it turns out. "I used a good old fashioned typewriter, hand drawings, magazines, glue and paper to dummy up the first issue" Carol Barrett confessed. "There was a real satisfaction in moving type and illustrations around the page until it looked right before committing to the final product. I think I am Kinko's best customer at this point, nothing like being in a public place generating your work in the company of others."
This project was completely self funded and in retrospect, Carol Barrett does not regret that one bit.
"I knew that not everyone will appreciate this little zine. Or that it would be a throw away once read. For me, it was the idea of reaching out to strangers and in some way connecting in a gently positive way. I would do it again exactly the same way even down to leaving copies in public places like libraries and coffee shops. Somehow it also helped me feel more part of the fabric of the community."
One of Carol Berube's great joys is swapping clothes, shoes and other accessories at community events. "I will confess to volunteering at these events as a means to see everything as it comes through the door and meeting all the participants one on one. It's like a big party with eveyone encouraging one another to try on different things" says Carol Barrett. "Love it so much that I hosted one myself with my friends"
While leading kids craft workshops, Carol Berube quickly learned that costs can really mount up, particularly when the events are free to the public. "I couldn't do these in the number I have without donations and bartering for the supplies I needed" she said. "More than one art workshop has been fuelled by supplies bartered for with coffee cake and CDs from my collection".
Referred to fondly as the "Witness Relocation Programme" word gets around when things are needed for public workshops or other projects for Carol Berube. "Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for" Carol laughed. " When there is an embarrassment of riches it then falls to you to share with others. Sometimes easier said than done, but keeping in mind the original intent was to be helpful and generous makes the whole process work"
Nothing works better to build community than to pitch in without an agenda to lend a helping hand. "I have been really lucky to have the support of family and friends when getting involved in volunteer organizations that are near and dear to my heart" Carol Berube said. "It costs nothing to volunteer other than some time and the payout is priceless"
"In the big scheme of things, the end game is to always be mindful of others and through your actions try to make the world a better place, even in a small way. "- Carol Berube