Franke James in the News:

Franke James

CBC does “Dinner with a Stranger”

CBC television’s The National and CBC radio’s The Spark shared Franke’s story of “Dinner with a Stranger” with their audiences.

CBC National: “Stranger for Christmas” by CBC video-journalist, Peter Wall.

Watch CBC video

CBC Radio: “Dinner with a Stranger” with Spark host, Nora Young.

Listen to show

Franke’s post about CBC coverage:

Just look where “Dinner with a Stranger” has led…

(Original visual essay: Dinner with a Stranger)

350 Storyteller: Franke James

By Kevin Buckland
Stop CO2 statue illustration by Franke James

“No doubt about it, we’ve got our work cut out for us with Climate Change. We’ve got a problem on our hands the size of our planet. Luckily, that planet is full of smart and dedicated people using their unique skills to make a difference. One of those people is artist and storyteller Franke James. To deal with such unprecedented problems, Franke has set about developing a new way of communication using her online Visual Stories. These wonderful tales read like the great illuminated manuscripts of the past, filling the meaning of their words with powerful images. Franke uses her skills as illustrator, writer, photographer and communicator to turn her personal experiences into a platform to address global issues. From selling her SUV to dyeing her hair, James turns her personal process into readable and accessible anecdotes. Best of all! She is now our most visual advocate for 350, and composed this visual feast to spread the word! In part 3 of her essay, Taking Action for 350, she speaks beautifully (literally – look at her images) about the campaign and the ways we all can make a difference. Still wondering what your doing on October 24th? Join Franke’s Freeze to Protest Climate Inaction campaign, and organize a freeze flash-mob!”

Read more…

Green Living Magazine

“Franke James is using her creativity to tackle climate change—armed with a paintbrush and a vivid imagination—and having dazzling results.”

Photo of Franke James by Kourosh Keshiri for Green Living Magazine

Franke James, artist, author and speaker, is profiled in the Fall 2009 issue of Green Living Magazine. The issue urges Canadians “to take a stand” and challenges them to become greener citizens. Read more…

Toronto Star: Green conscience inspires change

“Franke James knows it isn’t easy being green. And when people ask the Toronto-based artist and environmentalist what they can do to become greener, she gives them the hard truth, literally. “Do the hardest thing first while we are strong and before we change our minds,” she says…”
See: Franke James: The Great Canadian Green Driveway Pioneer

“In a non-preachy and humorous fashion, Franke’s book explains how she made big decisions that were suitable to her lifestyle and in turn significantly reduced her personal contribution to environmental waste and damage. Franke’s advice: “do the hardest thing first.”…”
See more:

Flare Magazine: Green Read

“Sipping on cucumber water and organic beer, guests pondered their own green guilt at last night’s launch of Bothered by My Green Conscience a new book by Torontonian Franke James…”
See more:


Kimberley D. Mok, Book Review Bothered By My Green Conscience by Franke James 07.10.09

“Inspiring others to go green can be an uphill battle, judging from the blank looks of non-comprehension that one may receive at times. However, Toronto-based artist Franke James shows that this doesn’t have to be the case. With her delightfully quirky style, James has been chronicling her personal journey in going green through a series of illustrated online essays for some time now, and her latest book, Bothered By My Green Conscience, finally brings five essays together in one edition.”


Rob Wittig, Book Review Drawing Softens the Blow; the Green Conscience of Franke James

“We’ve admired her online visual/verbal narratives in these pages, and Franke James’ smart, fun, and only-seemingly-casually designed little book, Bothered by My Green Conscience is now making its way in the world. Illustrated and designed in an easygoing way that blends photocollage and a range of illustration styles from scribbly to nearly classical, the book shows practical how-to’s of a green lifestyle for busy people.

The transition from illustration style to style keep the book surprising and active, page turn after page turn, but the contrasts are much more than just random. James selects her styles to subtly support and sometimes soften the rigor of what she’s asking of her readers in their lives. It’s a great example of form following function in a discursive presentation, just as intonation and volume do for spoken communication . . . gently prodding, supporting, cajoling, humoring and making humor — because this is a piece that is often funny.”

BlogTalk Radio: Connecting Women

Faten Abdullah, Book Review Book Review: Bothered by My Green Conscience:
How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green

Going green is now the latest craze. Whatever the reasons why “going green” is the latest craze, the Earth benefits from the actions of people going green. Author Franke James wrote Bothered by My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green to show her experience of doing something “big”, not just small steps like changing to fluorescent light bulbs or recycling cans…

This is a must read because not only is this educational, it is written in a whimsical style–entertaining. I would highly recommend this book because it is edutainment for adults.

Greenpeace Canada

Anil Kanji, Book Review Bothered by My Green Conscience

“What I like most about Franke’s approach is that she’s not really that radical, and isn’t preachy about the changes she’s making in her life. She readily acknowledges she’s not perfect, she’s just someone who started to listen to their “green conscience” and acted accordingly. I take to heart her advice for anyone who wants to make a change in their lives but feels overwhelmed by where to start: ‘Do the hardest thing first’.”

Read more

North York Mirror,

Fannie Sunshine, Interview North York resident pens environmental book:
Challenges others to think green

“What’s bothering your green conscience? That’s a question North York resident Franke James likes to pose when discussing ways to help save the environment. James, who made headlines in 2007 when she became the first resident in the city to win approval to build a green driveway, recently released her first environmental book, Bothered By My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green. The book, printed entirely on reused paper, chronicles her decision to go green and the impact on future generations through drawings, photos and hand-drawn text.”

Read more

The News Record, University of Cincinnati

Green Conscience activist sows seeds of sustainability
By Taylor Dungjen

“She renovated her home, sold her SUV, fought city hall, planted grass where her driveway used to be and wrote a book. Franke James – artist, writer and environmental activist – had to fight Toronto City Hall to remove her interlock driveway so she could green up her property. Upon inquiry of the driveway’s removal, the city sent out an official to say, not only could she not remove her driveway, but she could only have one tree in her front yard.

“That’s when I had an eye-opening moment,” James said. “I thought, ‘How can that be? That doesn’t make any sense at all. [The city of Toronto] is saying they’re green, that they want people to plant trees, but I can only plant one?’ It really bothered my green conscience.”

Read more…


Michael McGee, Atmosphere Monthly Bothered by My Green Conscience | A book by artist Franke James

“The full name is Bothered by My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green. It’s by Franke James of Toronto. This book of visual essays is engaging, beautiful, ingenious and an unusual pleasure to read. It is good for future generations, for frugal budgets and one’s own spirit.”

Read more


Book review by Martin Edic: I’m not ‘Bothered By My Green Conscience’ (Franke James new book!)

“Franke’s visual essays have been spreading virally over the past few years with mentions on major blog sites like Kottke and Treehugger. Now they are gathered together in a book, Bothered by My Green Conscience (New Society) and I think it gives us a very good reason to still value having a bound and printed object that we can share without peering into a screen.

Franke’s essays are illustrated guides to her process of changing internally and externally — we literally see into the conscious and unconscious thought process as she decides to take real action in dealing with the personal effects of climate change. Not content to simply change lightbulbs and stop drinking bottled water, Franke (with her husband) sells her SUV, rips up her driveway and plants a garden (battling a confused bureaucracy in the process) and writes a moving letter to her unborn grandchildren, a letter bemoaning in advance our pitiful lack of effort to improve a world we’re destroying. This essay, To My Future Grandkids in 2020, goes beyond the humor of the situational earlier essays and paints a poignant picture as Franke attempts to explain our collective failure to change things now when change is required — an explanation written for a generation yet to come.”

Read full article

Jim Carroll, Innovation Expert & Author

Book review: I read a book today, oh boy! “Bothered by My Green Conscience”

Last night, I read Franke’s new book, “Bothered by My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green.

It’s an absolutely stunning, delightful, colorful, inspirational and thought provoking romp through Franke’s unique adventure to change her life to pay more respect to the environment. It’s artistic, creative, and unique. I don’t think I’ve quite ever read a book like this.

It’s not really a book that you read; it’s more of a colorful diagram that you work your mind through. Franke’s unique skill has always been her ability to draw her thinking. And that’s what she does in this book — it’s an absolutely fascinating display of what can be done when a truly unique, creative mind sets out to tell a story in a unique and innovative way.

You really need this book – both for the unique creative way in which she tells her story — and for the importance of the message that it provides. Inspirational!

Read full article

Montreal Gazette:

Interview by Monique Beaudin: Beyond the bags and bulbs

Franke James had made small steps in the pursuit of an eco-friendly lifestyle, but it was the selling of her SUV that started a giant leap toward greener pastures

Franke James has a message for people who want to make environmentally friendly changes in their lives: Do the hardest thing first

“It’s human nature to want to postpone hard things,” she said. “We need to face up to the fact that we need to tackle the hard stuff first while we’re strong enough to do it.” And that’s how she decided to do something big about climate change – by selling her family’s only vehicle, their SUV. “You can change a light bulb, but do you really feel good about that?” asked James, who will be in Montreal next month to take part in the 5th World Environmental Education Congress. “I wanted to do something that was a big statement that I would feel was a big lifestyle change… Selling the car was definitely the hardest thing,” she said. “Every day you get up, and you don’t have a car. So you have to live with that reality… In general, people are not aiming very high in terms of climate change,” she said. “They say, ‘I’m recycling, changing light bulbs, what more do you want me to do? I’ve got a life.’ ”

In her book, James writes to her future grandchildren, saying she imagines them “cursing us – yelling and stamping your feet that we were stupid and selfish and mean.” She says she wants them to know that she tried to do something about climate change. “Even if I’m one of the few who is actually taking personal responsibility and changing my lifestyle, at least I’ve done something,” she said. “My future grandkids are going to think, ‘She did try. She changed her lifestyle and she did write about it and communicate it.’ ”

Lest you think James is hectoring people who aren’t as green as she is, she says that’s the last thing she wants to do. Everyone can tackle global warming in their own way, James emphasizes.

“I would hope that each person would find their own thing that’s right for them to do,” she said. “If they could just raise the bar a little and do something ambitious, because we are seeing the changes all around us – the polar ice caps melting, we are having weird weather. Climate change is coming faster than anybody expected.”

Read full article

Lloyd Alter writes: No One Will Know Except You.

Franke James is an author, artist, photographer and writer who has been on TreeHugger and Planet Green before with her illustrated essays like MySUV and Me Say Goodbye. They were recently published in her book Bothered By My Green Conscience, where the printer made a mistake and didn’t print the inside covers red… The printer said sorry, but said “no one will know except you.” That got Franke thinking.

And when Franke gets thinking, she gets drawing and twittering, and the results are interesting and entertaining. Read about the resolution of the Mystery of the UnRed Page.

Read full article


Joshua Tusin reviews: Bothered by My Green Conscience

“Local artist Franke James is no stranger to interest in her endeavours to go green, but with Bothered By My Green Conscience Franke has made the jump to the hardcopy book world. Until now people have only been able to follow her stories through her vertically-oriented, online visual essays, a format that had be to re-worked to fit a book 5.75″ wide and 6.75″ tall.

Franke not only provided the book content but designed the book too, and thank goodness she did. Her visual aesthetic is as crucial to the stories as her compelling content, and if the design of the pages were left to somebody else I suspect the translation to paper would not have been so perfect. And that’s really the word here: perfect…

…a letter to her future (as yet unborn) grandchildren in 2020 was a touching and clever way to articulate the reason Franke has become a green crusader. Not that people need to justify why they sell their SUVs, install a green driveway or otherwise go green, but since Franke keeps making waves with the grand green gestures she makes, this essay gave her the freedom to express, in her own way, why it’s so important to her that she does her part for our planet.

And so whether it is for inspiration, admiration or discussion, this undersized book will become my new favourite coffee table book. Not only does it take up less space, it’s more important than whatever beautiful picture book I might have put out instead.” Read full article

The Go-Giver blog: Dinner with a Stranger by co-author John David Mann

“‘We teach our kids not to talk to strangers. But some of our best conversations have been with strangers.’ So says The Stranger, in this charming pictorial-adventure-diary from Franke James, Toronto-based founder and editor of the blog Office-Politics. Last August Franke wrote an extremely engaging and thoughtful piece about The Go-Giver (she even posted her own go-givers list of forty-five specific people). Franke just shared a remarkable story with us that seemed so go-giverish, we had to share it with you.” read more

BlogTO: Dinner With a Stranger

“Imagine that a total stranger sends you an email inviting himself and a friend over to your place for dinner, in exchange for which he’d contribute $200 to charity. Would you say yes, prepare a meal and see what’s in store? That is exactly what local artist Franke James (of un-paving paradise fame) did, and now she’s trying to get the idea to spread. Franke’s latest visual essay chronicles the experience, from the initial email appearing in her inbox to its almost magical conclusion. And now, in the comments, we’ve already heard from The Stranger’s mom and the Yonge Street Mission – Franke’s charity of choice – and now Franke and The Stranger are sharing ideas of how to expand upon this concept as a larger-scale fundraiser. I had a little chat with Franke about what was on her mind hosting this dinner, and what’s on her mind now.” read more

Franke James’ New Book: Bothered by My Green Conscience

Bothered by My Green Conscience is the story of my true-life adventures in going green. It includes the story of us selling our only car (an SUV), winning approval from Toronto City Hall for the right to build a green driveway (and actually building it as a long weekend DIY project), rediscovering eccentric glamour in my own closet, understanding the real poop on social change, and also writing a visual letter to my future Grandkids in 2020 — and wondering how they will judge us. The collection of five visual essays is being published as a 160-page full color book by New Society Publishers in early April 2009.”

Life in the Greener Lane: Dear Prime Minister

In her most recent blog [visual essay] she takes on the Prime Minister in a way that only Franke could. The essay, entitled Dear Prime Minister, “You say a pollution tax would wreak havoc on our economy”, touches on a number of major issues facing Canadians today. The essay by no means tells you who to vote for, but it will make you think! And that’s the point, especially during this election and especially in these hard times. Climate change is a reality, period! And as Franke notes in her essay, why are we being forced to choose between the economy and the environment? We tend to forget that without an environment we would not have an economy, as everything we consume and I mean everything comes from our environment. read more

BlogTO: 12,000 Sitting Ducks Chronicles Propane Explosion

“Back in July we posted a story about a North York woman who had torn up her driveway and replaced it with a much more eco-friendly alternative. All the while she chronicled her adventures in a great photo essay called Paradise Unpaved. Well, now Franke James is at it again. But this time she has a photo essay of the recent propane explosion. It’s called 12,000 sitting ducks.” read more

National Post: Kicking a keen sense of green to the curb

“Franke James likes doing the hard things first, which is why, when it came to reducing her carbon footprint, she skipped right past the programmable thermostat and coffee thermos business and headed straight for the real green challenge — selling her SUV and replacing the driveway with a garden” See as newspaper pdf.

BlogTO: Whack the PM Predicts Election Results

Whack the PM is a non-partisan and spectacularly satirical election website that lets you beat the crap out of the party leaders in an effort to predict the next Prime Minister of Canada. In this game where winning means you’ll lose, candidates are hoping to come out unscathed after participants answer hot topic questions by whacking a party leader on the head… Plus this will likely be the first – and last – time you see any of the candidates rubbing shoulders in a single hot tub… Whack the PM is the product of the artistically minded James Gang, including Franke James of green driveway fame. It’s also not entirely satire… You’ll have to excuse me now as I go back to whacking Mr. Harper. read more [18.09.08] Luke EisBrenner interviewed Franke about Whack the PM, the election polling game no leader wants to win. Whack the PM puts the leaders of the five top parties in a simmering hot tub with tough questions about global warming, the economy, leadership, food safety, Afghanistan, minority governments and the kicker “All politicians are liars. Why should I trust you?”

This is the 3rd federal Election that Franke and her partner Bill James have done the online polling game and strategic voting tool. Can Whack the PM accurately predict Canada’s federal election results? So far its track record is 100%. Luke EisBrenner asked Franke to come back after the election to talk about the outcome! The Real Poop on Franke James

“I was first introduced to Canadian visual artist Franke James’ work via a link from Max Gladwell, a site that explores social media and green living. Ms. James, who describes her visual essays as “a freewheeling mix of illustrations, photographs and hand-drawn text,” sits squarely at the intersection of these two spaces Toronto Resident Tears Up Driveway to Plant Paradise

“Local artist and eco-minded citizen Franke James decided to do the hard thing first and replace her interlocking brick front yard (parking lot) with plants and an eco driveway (paradise). What she didn’t expect was a North York demand for concrete, asphalt or interlocking driveways. But, with persistence, she made one of the city’s greenest front yards a reality 2008: Paradise Unpaved: Franke James’ Driveway One Year Later

“A year ago we recounted how artist Franke James gave up her SUV and then decided to rip up her driveway, except the law said that every house had to have a driveway paved with concrete, asphalt or brick. Even porous pavers like turfstone were illegal. Franke took her case (and a printout of TreeHugger) to City Hall and won; now she tells her story in her wonderful mix of humour, drawing and photography 2007: Franke James on Global Warming in Canada 2007 : Selling the SUV: Do the Hardest Things First 2007: Don’t Rip Up Your Driveway in North York

Franke is Green:

Franke has won recognition for her environmental visual essays. The essays have been featured in the Toronto Star, the Ottawa Citizen, Treehugger, Worldchanging, and in numerous blogs. In 2008, A Green Winter was published in an anthology of readings for Canadian university students entitled Perspectives on Contemporary Issues, including authors Stephen Lewis, Ken Dryden, David Suzuki, Margaret Atwood and others. Co-edited by Kim Blank and Stephen Eaton Hume, University of Victoria. (Thomson Publishing, 2008). For the Green Living Show in April 2007, Franke reinterpreted A Green Winter as an animated movie, with music composed by David Gray, Big World Songs. It was shown on-stage between Al Gore and Robert Kennedy Jrs. appearances.

Franke is Inventive:

Franke is the inventor of an ethical dilemma-based game: Dear Office-Politics, the game everyone plays. The game launched in 2004. In 2009, Franke published it as a game-book. In May 2010, it won an Axiom Business Book Award in the United States for Human Resources and Employee Training. The dilemmas are based on letters submitted to the web site from 2002 to 2009. It has found a special niche in the training market, and won positive reviews from organizations as diverse as Unicef and the US Army. Feedback from players has been excellent and demonstrates that it can be a useful tool in bringing office politics problems into the open. The game is useful for team building, enhancing communication, exercising ethical muscles, raising awareness, and understanding culture and fit.

Read the April 2010 ForeWord Review.

Franke’s fascination with psychology is reflected in the online games and quizzes which she has co-created with James Gang co-founder Bill James. They include The Room [Umbra], The Love Quiz, The Looking Glass, Office-Politics [Online Contest], Whack the Mayor, and Whack the PM (2004, 2006, 2008). Their joint work has been featured on AOL, USA Today, Yahoo, as well as in many publications, including Rockport Publishing’s “The Best Work from the Web.”

The James Gang’s satirical humour grabbed headlines during the three Canadian Federal Elections in 2008, 2006, and 2004. The Whack the PM online game drew more than 33,000 visitors to the site. The Toronto Star, National Post, CBC Radio, CTV News, Global TV News, CH TV News, CKOM Saskatoon, 610 CKV, QR77 Calgary Today, London Free Press, the McLuhan Foundation blog plus numerous online sources, also covered the ‘whacky’ story.

More about Franke James and The James Gang

Editorial and Advertising clients have included Resolute Funds Limited, Roots Canada, Umbra, iVillage, Sony Music Canada, MICA Management Resources (Tom Peters, Stephen Covey), Dr. Edward de Bono, Dr. Marty Seldman, Upper Canada College, Stella Artois, Monster, TELUS, Algorithmics, Changepoint, Moveable Type and the Ontario Government among others.

Franke has presented at events, conferences and universities including the University of Colorado, the University of Cincinnati, Bates College, the Canadian Ecology Centre, the McMichael Gallery, the Ontario Science Centre, Sheridan College, CUTC, NMBA, Flashforward San Francisco, Flashforward New York, and the World Animation Celebration, Hollywood and has acted as a Judge for the Flashforward Film Festival and Marketing Magazine’s Digital Awards.

In March 2003, Franke organized and led a Trade Mission to Los Angeles for the Ontario Media Development Corporation. The mission delivered high level networking opportunities for Canadian new media producers to meet with key American executives at major entertainment studios, content aggregators and game companies. The blockbuster list included Universal, the WB Network, Warner Bros, Sega, Disney Online, Film Roman, Yahoo!, Google, Lions Gate, Morrison & Foerster LLP, Creative Artists Agency, William Morris, ICM and Mondo Media.

Contact Franke:

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