We spend a lot of our time being told what to do and what not to do. And then we have children and get to be on the other end (then they hit 5 years old and we’re back on the receiving end again… but I digress). I have a ton of respect for those who “do”. I live in an amazing neighbourhood in Toronto (Danforth East). It is culturally diverse, eclectic and some would say “up and coming” (though others suggest that this gentrification is unwelcome). Call it what you will, but this it ain’t no cookie-cutter ‘hood.

A source of frustration for residents has been the categorization of the area as being a mere sum of its parts. Where the media seems to see only vacant store fronts and thrift shops, residents see a gold mine of finds (John’s Hobbies, Royal Beef, Relish, Seb’s Cappuccino). Where some see unkempt houses, others see tree-lined streets, beautiful parks and helpful neighbours.

While many people tend to get frustrated and bemoan circumstances, others DO. I have the great pleasure of knowing a group of individuals who’ve said: “Enough. Let’s stop talking about what this neighbourhood doesn’t have and DO something about it”. Over coffees and wine in each others’ homes, bit by bit, the neighbourhood has mobilized…thanks to the Danforth East Community Association.

The results? A Farmer’s Market, revitalized storefronts, and a sense of civic pride.

These things don’t just happen because we want them to…it goes without saying that it takes a LOT of work. Case in point…two days ago (in the dreary days of February), a group of neighbourhood women carpooled their way to St. Catharine’s to attend a conference on organic fruits and vegetables, leaving kids and businesses behind in other people’s capable hands.

What of revitalized storefronts? Last fall a group of residents got together to help out a floundering shop…check out this article…it takes a village to raise a store.

And as for the aforementioned civic pride, please read DECA Diaries…the love child of Natasha Granatstein, a very very busy woman who chairs DECA and wants the world to know what can be done…if everyone just stops talking and DOES.

Many thanks for the inspiration. No one’s interested in something you didn’t do. - Gord Downie (Tragically Hip)

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