VOLUNTEERS, COPS, KIDS, ARTISTS, AND A WHOLE COMMUNITY REBUILT BELOVED BASKETBALL COURT

ESPLANADE4In July/2013, a drug-related police car chase across an Esplanade basketball court left a trail of dislodged pink plastic tiles.  Then some tagging ‘artist’ finished the job with a graffiti scrawl.  What to do?

The beating heart of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood simply had to be restored.  With support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, CORPUS, the ESP Community Group, St. Lawrence Recreation Centre, StreetARTToronto, and Proaction Cops and Kids, the whole community came together to rebuild this much-loved facility.

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MONTREAL artists ELISA (SHALAK ATTACK) and JULIAN PERIQUET and a number of neighbourhood children volunteered to work on the project.  The court itself is now being restored using a seamless poured surface, tough enough to withstand cleated shoes.  (York University uses this same material to surface its outdoor running track.)

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The Esplanade Basketball Court mural was unveiled on a Saturday afternoon in July/2014 – one year after it was tagged.

‘NYCTOPHILIA’, SPARKLES IN A DARK CORNER OF A FORMER INDUSTRIAL NEIGHBOURHOOD

NYCTOPHILIA1A cluster of 36 streetlights on top of 10 utility poles has been switched on at the corner of Weston Road and Dennis Avenue.  ‘Nyctophilia’ (love of night), created by Daniel Young and Christian Giroux, is the first piece of public art in this former industrial neighbourhood.  Funding came from the city’s levy on developers in exchange for zoning exemptions.

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DANIEL YOUNG (on the left): “There’s a romanticism about coloured lights in the city.  And we’re programming this with a sort of personality, so it performs different ways at different times.”

CHRISTIAN GIROUX (right): “Given that it’s a working-class neighbourhood now trying to bounce back, we wanted to work with normal, everyday pieces of urban infrastructure.  Take something that’s kind of invisible and turn it into something extraordinary.”

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Their website: http://www.cgdy.com

<PHOTO ABOVE – Chris So/Toronto Star>

TORONTO ARTISTS DON FOLIAGE FOR A “FIGMENT” EVENT ON OLYMPIC ISLAND

FIGMENT2Artists PHILIP HARE and LAURA DIVILIO dressed as shrubs for this weekend’s FIGMENT TORONTO FESTIVAL.  Their project – ‘Bush Verite’ – allowed the public to engage, first time ever, with bushes.

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FIGMENT celebrates the creativity and passion of artists in communities across the United States, Canada and Australia.  Figment cities: Geelong, Australia; Toronto, New York City, San Diego, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Jackson and Oakland.

Website: http://www.figmentproject.org

FROM LAKE ONTARIO TO OUTER SUBURBIA, BATHURST STREET IS ONE FUNKY THOROUGHFARE

BATHURSTSTREET12HENRY BATHURST, the 3rd Earl of Bathurst, never visited Canada but lent his name to one of TORONTO’s main streets, which runs from Lake Ontario to outer suburbia and beyond.  Lord Bathurst organized migration from the British Isles to this country after the War of 1812, and granted the charter to King’s College, now the University of TORONTO.

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In a nutshell, on Bathurst Street (MAP – Wikipedia) you’ll find: temples and churches, Sneaky Dee’s, Honest Ed’s, the Wheat Sheaf, small theatres, antique shops, the Oak Leaf Steam Bath, tumble-down shacks, high-end condos and townhouses, Victoriana, a skateboard park, Central Tech, dives, excellent restaurants, the Thompson 5-star hotel, fine millinery, art galleries, bike shops, a large Jewish community . . . etc. etc.  It’s worth a look!

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THEY MAY (OR MAY NOT) LIKE US, BUT THEY COVET OUR 416 AREA CODE

AREACODE2416 area code numbers are now as rare as hen’s teeth.  The last 416’s were handed out in 2006 by the Canadian Numbering Association, which means these three digits have become hot, hot, hot.

The 416 first appeared in 1947.  It’s TORONTO’s oldest area code and to born-and-bred locals it symbolizes the city itself.  There’s plenty of room for 647’s and 437’s, but the 416’s are all gone.

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UNLESS of course . . . a business or individual is willing to pay hundreds or a couple of thousand dollars to snag a 416.  For some, that’s important.  <PHOTO – child’s 416 t-shirt, cafepress.ca>

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Phone number vendor GEORGIOS PAPPAS: “They feel that a 647 number makes them feel like they’re not established.  Let’s say you need a lawyer.  If you call a 647 number, how credible is that lawyer, how many years has he been in business for?”

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