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Dear Reader
A word of warning to the 'faint of heart': I am expressing my opinion (which is most likely not politically correct) on a subject affecting us all, especially small businesses.
Theft, Stealing, Robbery, Shoplifting - call it what you will, it is a problem that is becoming more and more rampant in our society.
As kids I'm sure most of us have snitched a cookie or two from the jar, or some change from parents or siblings to buy a treat. Luckily, most of us either got caught and 'straightened out' before it became a habit, or we grew up and realized that it's not right to take what isn't rightfully ours.
However, it seems that much of our current society was not corrected enough or they just don't care to respect the fact that unless they have paid for it or earned it, it is not theirs to have.
The businesses in this paper are small, family run operations, which do their best to give customers good quality product, knowledgeable, caring service, and an experience that wouldn't be found in larger, corporate operations. Many still have the old-time friendly trusting feel to them - some are right in the owner's home, many are shops built on an acreage that allow you to wander through, mostly unsupervised, to browse at your leisure. We choose to shop and support these places because of the feeling of trust, often feeling like we've made a new friend by the time we leave.
It saddened and shocked me to hear that several of these places had been stolen from this summer. One business owner who mostly works alone, was distracted by the husband of a couple who came in, while the wife stole a Row by Row kit. This was captured on a hidden security camera so hopefully they will be caught or at least 'exposed'! Another small business had to close it's doors for a week to recover after someone helped themselves to all the cash in the till while the owner was distracted.
After hearing about both these episodes within a week, I asked one of the larger businesses in the city if this is a problem for them as well. Although they have more staffing to keep an eye on things, they also have a larger store and yes - they suffer from losses in the thousands (yes thousands$$)  due to theft.
It's easy to shrug our shoulders and pass shoplifting off as an 'illness', but an illness is something that comes upon us that is completely out of our control. Stealing is a choice. You may not have the willpower to resist helping yourself, but then you need to choose to avoid the situation entirely until good sense, respect, and willpower return.
Theft can't be justified by saying the business has lots of everything and you don't - they have paid for what they have and many small businesses are doing what they do because they have a passion for it, not because they are getting rich. Many would most likely give you whatever they could if you wanted something and couldn't afford it.
If you know or see someone taking something without paying for it - speak up! If you don't want to confront the individual yourself, tell someone in the store who will deal with it. If you struggle with this personally, try shopping online and make the choice to stay out of stores if you can't control yourself. There is no glory in taking something that isn't yours to take!

- Ruth
Meet our Cover Artist: Darlene Madden
"I do not know if mosaic art found me, or I found mosaic art....regardless while on this journey called 'Life', I found myself at an unexpected detour and change became my reality. It was during this time that I attempted my first mosaic, and the parallels of putting the pieces of my life back together and mosaic art became apparent.  I make art to express, to relax, to play and to feed my soul.
My work has a unique flavor due to my choice of materials and the fact that I invite viewers to touch the ever growing textures I use in my work. As a child, I watched my mother Theresa Signa Rose Grace Madden re-use, re-interpret and re-cycle. This stayed with me, and in my art life it has become my mantra.
Inspiration is my constant companion and I find it in music, nature, travel and everywhere in my day to day life. I received my BFA, with a major in Interior Design from Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota Florida in 2003.
I now live in St.Albert, AB where I am happy to spend my days creating, designing  and teaching various mixed media mosaic workshops. My Facebook page is Inspiro Mixed Media Works and my email is for those that wish to contact me and view my work and workshops schedules.
My Mandalas (as featured on the cover) are very popular. Each one is very unique and again I love to use found objects, broken jewelry, glass tiles and all kinds of odds and bobs.  This two day workshop has become a favorite for students, who enjoy that they can create a Mandala that totally represents them."    

- Darlene Madden
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