On a sunny Thursday morning, UrbanArts hosted a launch of their new Recipe for Community book in accompaniment with the unveiling of their brand new location down at Jane and Weston.
The launch featured multiple appearances from significant community faces, including Councilor Frances Nunziata, Rahul Bhardwaj (the CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation), and many others. Distinguished guests spoke of the promising future for the local non-profit organization and mentioned the undeniable hard work put forth into obtaining the building. Other coordinators for the Recipe in Community initiative attended the event as well, coming from St. Jamestown and Alexandra Park to celebrate the success of their neighboring towns.
Recipe for Community, a collaborative model led by the Toronto Community Foundation and City of Toronto Office of Partnerships, focuses on implementing constructive outdoor activities that engage the entire community in developing a sense of communal pride and respect. Each participating community also pieces together a book on their endeavors to be viewed by the public.
The Weston-Mt. Dennis edition of the book features reports of UrbanArts members cleaning areas around the area to create a new, comfortable and welcoming outdoor space for the community. A collection of recipes from local youth are also featured at the end of the book, including several from Jeffery Edwards – or more commonly referred to as JSoul, who also spoke publicly at the event.
“I’m glad that we opened up a new place at Bartonville. I feel that the space will give people and artists like me a place to really train our talents, and also get other youths’ attention about trying out art,” Edwards said, “Being a researcher for Recipe for Community was a really great experience. I was glad to see all the different cultures in one book. [And] setting up a big movie screen for the outdoor theater in the community was one of the best things to see – everyone came out from their houses and down to the park to watch one movie as a big family.”
Now equipped with the extra space, the UrbanArts facilitators and members are eager to properly utilize the building.
“Our goal right now is to make sure we maintain that [the building] is being used at maximum capacity and that we’re reaching out to engage as much as the community as possible,” Marlene Mckintosh, the UrbanArts executive director said. “[They should] know that this space is here to use and that it’s open an available to them, and that they feel comfortable.”
The re-purposed building, originally an auto repair shop, features a vibrant UrbanArts logo, a projector screen mounted in front of the brand new computer lab, a lively kitchen nook, and multiple rooms with large doors opening up onto the yard. Out in the front, a patch of dirt begins to take shape as their new community garden.
Also excited to use the new space is the bustling UrbanArts summer camp. Though most of their camp activities take place outside or at the Chaminade College School, the camp will use the new location for the dance portion of the program, and for computer workshop activities.
When asked if Ms. Mckintosh had added her own recipe to the Recipe for Community booklet, she responded with a laugh. “I was looking through it and I realized, ‘Oh crap!’ You know, I was just doing all the office paper work, making sure it would come together. But it’s nice to see the kids’ recipes in here, and for them to realize that a part of them, their work, is published and here for everyone to see. I want to see the kids do this, because it’s really about them – it’s about how they grow in the community. It’s building their sense of pride.”
Drop in see the UrbanArts building at 5 Bartonville Avenue East and pick up a copy of the book for yourself!
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Mary-Lynn Vella of Syntax Editorial, a Weston-based copywriting and translation services business (email@example.com).