Read Paul Born's latest book:
Read Paul Born's latest book:
Wednesday July 24, 2013—Door to doors
Thursday July 25, 2013—Picnic in the Park
The Festival of Neighbourhoods team, strenghtened with our Summer interns, goes out every Summer and enjoys visiting new parts of the city and starting conversations about neighbourhood engagement.
The team did its first door-to-door blitz at the Vanier Drive and Traynor Avenue area in order to invite people to a neighbourhood gathering at Traynor Park. Vanier and Traynor Drive is a largely immigrant populated, lower income area, with mostly rental apartment buildings and some owned condos. Though there are many who have lived in this neighbourhood for almost a decade or more and it is their home, this neighbourhood is a passing place for many. The closest community centre with recreation facilities and a large diversity of programs is Kingsdale Community Centre which is not walking distance. We chose Traynor Park for the get together place for the convenience and access, and because it is a natural gathering place for children and teens.
All 350 households in the neighbourhood were invited to the Picnic in the Park. We either talked to them at their doors or left invitations at the doorsteps. The most interested were immigrant families and mothers with young children. The women were surprised that there was an event taking place in their neighbourhood, which seems to point out how isolated the neighbourhood is from most of the programs. The door-to-door was very intense, hearing about the living conditions and lack of safety, and on the other hand hearing about how it is essential that all the basic amenities were close by and how families brought up their children there and stayed for the friends.
We had a truly amazing evening in the park with the children and youth. The community spirit shared in the Tarynor Park is built for the ages 16 and under! Play was a way of bonding, shaping relationships and growing up in a world, that is not always the most gentle place. The children joined us in a soccer game, scavenger hunt, tug of war and loved munching freezies as a prize.
Women with young children that came out found it very easy to bond over their new Canadian experience, raising children in a different culture and trying to get by in a new environment. Some of the women had met at an ESL course during night school and lamented over difficulties faced by many newcomers, like finding inexpensive childcare, finding jobs, or going back to school fulltime.
The event was also an opportunity for some residents to tell us what they thought about the initiatives such as the Festival of Neighborhoods and the role it could play in diverse and low income neighbourhoods. During the door-to-door there were honest residents who said they would not come, the reason being Festival of Neighbourhoods is not being seen as a part of the solution in the light of challenges that this community faces.
On the other hand, we had the greatest pleasure meeting some of the most engaged community builders in this area who have been contributing to the improvements of the parks and palygrounds over more than a decade! Amazing humble, honest and generous people that know all the glows and lows of the neighbourhood, daily being there for their neighbours. We have met people that are willing to share their vision of what the neighbourhood can be and we are sure we will get invited to the next get together in Traynor Park. Only, this time hosted by the amazing people from the neighbourhood!