Danforth East (Community) Arts Fair – THANK YOU! #DECAF

In case you missed it, the Danforth East Art Fair ran for its 7th year a couple of weekends ago. (Here’s the wonderful poster to remind you!)

DECAF 2015 mailer

This is one of the larger events that DECA organizes in East Lynn Park each year, and it takes an entire team to bring 65 of your neighbourhood artists together for the weekend.  Our volunteers spend countless hours of their own time to pull off this extraordinary community event.

DECA would like to thank Melanie Ramsay, Melissa Peretti, Julie Glick and Shauna Rempel who continue to take on the challenge of the Arts Fair year after year, and who do it so successfully.

Thanks also to returning volunteers Corinne McCabe, Fernand Ciraco and Dana McCullough (of local Ciraco Framers fame), Dan and Jane Davis-Munro, Jodi Shanoff, Anita Schretlen, Sheri Hebdon, Alison McMurray and Linda Ballantyne.

This year we had a few stand out NEW volunteers. A big shout out to Caroline Starr, Janice Peters, Erica Schaub and our two student volunteers, Sydney Burns and Julian Morris. All of these volunteers came out just to see what was going on, they didn’t know each other, they didn’t know DECA, they just wanted to meet their neighbours and help make our community better. And it was fun!

If you have any interest in volunteering for next year, please send an email to volunteer@deca.to

Thanks also the Arts Fair sponsors:
Bosley Real Estate
Canine Social Company
Toronto Honda/Kia

Here are some great pics from this year’s fair from snapd beach/danforth

DECA’s Veteran Drivers, Scene 9 (last but not least…)

Cath in a broccoli costume promoting the Farmers’ Market (with Rebecca!)

If you live in this neighbourhood, your life has likely been bettered by Catherine Porter.  Her colicky baby had her walking  the neighbourhood at all hours nearly a decade ago, and where many would have called their real estate agents and packed up for the Beaches, Cath saw an opportunity to make real and positive change here.  Thank goodness she did.

You know our pop-up shop initiative? (The one that has lowered vacancy rates on our stretch of the Danforth from 17% to 9% in a couple of years) It was Cath’s idea. You know the East Lynn Farmers’ Market? She helped to start it. This year she spearheaded a new social justice group. All of this while writing a regular column in a major newspaper (that rhymes with “afar”) and raising two kids.

Cath always says that DECA is special because we were the first (only?) residents’ association formed to do something, not to stop or oppose something.  We are for positive change, and Cath helped shape that.

Catherine possesses a rare and special combination of passion, honesty and tenacity that draws people in, and yet she is also the first one to roll up her sleeves and pitch in however she can.  She’s really funny and kind too. We are so lucky to have her in our midst.

Here is the phenomenal CATHERINE PORTER in her own words:

My name and age is…

Catherine Porter, and I am eternally 39. (Her driver’s licence says 42)

One thing people don’t know about me is…

While most of you think of me as entrenched in our neighbourhood, I am happiest as a stranger in a strange land. My family and I moved back last September from Senegal, West Africa where we spent a year. At 30, I spent a year living in Ladakh, India. I’ve also lived in Cuenca Ecuador, Montpellier France, Montreal and Vancouver.

I moved to Danforth East …

Eleven years ago this summer. My husband Graeme and I were living in a dreadfully hot warren of an apartment on the second floor of one of those rambling houses in the Annex, and I considered myself a west-end girl. I’d only been as far as Woodbine in high school to visit my friend Tanya. As it turns out, Tanya bought a house a few blocks from where we live on Keystone Ave. We came to visit her and noticed a house for sale. That was it. We were east-enders.

One change I’ve seen over the years….

I know so many more people. When we started this group, a guy from the Parkdale Residents Association graciously agreed to drive across town and give us some tips. One thing he said really stuck with me: His group had been working on the issue of street drugs, street sex work and terrible derelict landlords. Six years later, he said all those issues were still the norm in Parkdale. But he no longer really noticed them because when he walked down the street, he kept bumping into people he knew and had met through the residents’ association…. I feel that way. Plus, you can pretty much walk to everything you need now in our neighbourhood, which is a huge change.

My advice to new neighbours is… 

Be the change you want to see. Gandhi said that, and if it was good enough for Gandhi, it’s good enough for Danforth East. If you see a problem, suggest a way to fix it. If you have a dream to make this place better, get together with a few friends and neighbours and get it started. We started DECA as a group of neighbours around my dining room table, with noting but enthusiasm and wine. Join us or do it yourself and let us advertise for you!

The thing I love most about Danforth East is…

The East Lynn Farmers’ Market. I love the campiness and friendliness of it. When we started it, we decided to feed the farmers’ home-cooked meals before they left for home. A giant crew of volunteer cooks joined us and they still whip up giant pots of stew and pasta each week. That sets the tone of the market I think – unaffected, kind, fun. I set my kids free there, and have since they were babies. They know so many people in our neighbourhood, and so many people know them, I know they are being watched. It feels like a village, which I love.

My biggest local pet peeve is…

The derelict blocks where there is nothing but brick walls, empty storefronts and stores with nothing but dusty plants in the window. It makes me feel like we live in a ghost town. I also hate the giant parking lots, which are almost always empty. They create dead zones. When Paul Bedford said he thinks we should approach the owners of some and demand development there, my brain almost exploded. What an idea! Let’s do that….

My neighborhood secret is…  

Running at night. It is such a great way to learn about your neighbourhood – the best gardens, the best Christmas displays, the most elaborate home renovations, the homes with swings on the porches where couples sit and chat. There is a house on Mortimer with a rock garden that I covet. There’s a house on Beck with a giant tree, and a tiny mouse door at the trunk. And truly, if you haven’t gone down into Taylor Creek Park, you are really robbing yourself.

The place I go in DECA’s stomping grounds that you’ve likely never frequented is…

Well, you’ve likely heard of them if you are reading this blog. So, I’ll go back to a standard: Seb’s Cappuccino (1928 Danforth, ). From the outside, it can seem a little intimidating – packed with loud Italian men. I started to go to Seb’s because it was the only place, other than Coffee Time, to get a coffee around here when we first moved in. The guys turned out to be friendly, particularly Seb and his older brother Mateo. They always greet me like I’m a long lost friend.  And truly, you can’t get a more beautiful and cheaper latte in this city. My kids and I go there regularly to play foosball.

(Check out 2009 this article when DECA’s Business Revitalization Team, led by Cath, made over Seb’s!)

The thing I’ve done as a DECA board member that makes me most proud is…

I was at a giant microcredit conference in the fall for work. A woman I’d never met rushed up to me and gushed, “Are you Catherine Porter?” I figured she was a Toronto Star fan. Or maybe a fan of my mother, who his an author. But no, she was a DECA fan. “I want to start a pop-up shop. I’m so excited to meet you and hear about DECA.” I realized, the small little group of neighbours has become an empire! (Okay, an entity at least.) What makes me proudest, really, is the number of people doing really exciting things with DECA whom I don’t know and have nothing to do with.

This year, I hope to finally…

Transition off the Board. I’ve been part of DECA since it started. It’s time to make way for new folks with fresh ideas.

It’s Harvestfest at the East Lynn Farmers’ Market!

With only two weeks left, the market season is winding down. But it won’t be gone until we celebrate the harvest season with the our neighbours and the farmers. Harvestfest is happening this Thursday. Check out the poster for all the details!


The East Lynn Farmers’ Market runs every Thursday from 3-7:00 p.m. between June 4 – October 15 at East Lynn Park, located on the south side of Danforth Ave, just west of Woodbine Ave. Stay up to date by visiting the East Lynn Market Facebook page or by following us on Twitter.

Are you thinking about Syrian refugees?

Unless you are on a serious news diet, you know about the Syrian refugee crisis. More than 4 million Syrians have fled a civil war in their country.

Regular citizens have been stepping forward to help. Last summer, a campaign to bring 1,000 Syrian refugees to the GTA was launched by community leaders in Toronto. It’s called Lifeline Syria, and its mission is to help other regular folk sponsor refugees just like Torontonians did in 1979, bringing 33,000 Indochinese boat people to the city and helping them settle.

So far, more than 200 groups of neighbours, church and synagogue congregants, school parent council members, etc. have come together and pledged to help sponsor Syrian families.

A few of those groups live in the east end. Check out the Ripple group, and the East-West Refugee Collective. Each group has to raise at least $27,000 for the family’s first year in Canada. So, if you are looking at an easy way to help, writing a cheque would be it. (Full disclosure: I am part of the East-West Refugee Collective.)

But maybe you want to do more than write a cheque! If so, Monday is your chance to learn more. Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon is holding an information night on Monday, October 5 at 7 pm at Beach United Church (140 Wineva Ave.).

Both Alexandra Kotyk, the tireless force behind Lifeline Syria and Andrew Fitzgerald of the Ripple Refugee Project will be giving presentations about what’s involved in sponsoring a single refugee or refugee family. There will also be time at the end to mix and mingle with other east end groups that are forming.

Festival of Lights wants YOU! Volunteer mtng Oct. 5

Volunteer Meeting Monday, Oct. 5

Remember last year’s amazing Festival of Lights? We packed what seemed like most of the hood into East Lynn Park for a fantastic night of entertainment and lit up the park’s trees.

Zero Gravity Circus Fire Artist wowing the crowds.
Zero Gravity Circus Fire Artist wowing the crowds at last year’s festival.

Our fabulous Fesitival lead, Angela, is back but needs our help to make this year’s event better than ever. You can sign up for a little or a lot–there’s something for whatever amount of time you can spare. Hang some posters, string some lights, hand out some treats.

Angela is holding the one and only meeting at her place this coming Monday, Oct. 5, 8 pm. RSVP to at Events@DECA.to and she’ll send you the location info. Can’t make the meeting? No problem. Just pick a job from below and claim it by emailing us at Events@DECA.to.  Details below courtesy of Angela (who is both efficient like that AND understands that your time is precious).

Lighting Lead: Time Commitment Approx. 10 hours max.

  • Attend October 5 meeting to plan the event.
  • Work with DECA to secure a team of approx. 10 volunteers to put up holiday lights prior to the event on one weekend in November. It will require a rain date in case of poor weather.
  • Attend and manage the light installation on both ends of the park. Approx. 4 hours.
  • In the Spring (i.e end of April or early May) work with DECA to secure a team of approx. 10 volunteers to take down the lights and store them in the shed. Approx. 2 hours.

*If anyone is interested in volunteering for the light installation only, you can sign-up now. We need 10 volunteers.

Food Collection & Distribution Lead: Time Commitment Approx. 10 hours max.

  • Attend October 5 meeting to plan the event.
  • Work with food vendors. Approx. 1 hour
  • Pick-up supplies. Approx. 1 hour
  • Work with DECA to secure a team of approx. 12 volunteers to set-up and distribute food on the day of the event. It will be 3 volunteers x 2 tents x 2 hours. Each team will be able to sign-up for an hour or two hours to serve.
  • Set-up and tear down at the event. Attend and manage the light installation on both ends of the park. Approx. 4 hours.

Poster Hanging: Time Commitment Approx. 2 to 3 hours

  • Pick-up approx. 100+ posters and hang them up in stores, parks etc. across the neighbourhood between Monarch and Main in mid-November.
  • Coordinate poster hanging helpers (unless you want to do it yourself–think of the exercise opportunity!)

Entertainment Lead: Time Commitment Approx. 6 hours

  • Attend October 5 meeting to plan the event.
  • Talent has already been booked. On the day of the event you will be the key onsite contact to meet talent and provide directions as required. You will be responsible to ensure talent has whatever they require to perform and that entertainment flows smoothly. Approx. 4 hours.

November 28th (the big day!) – Set-up and Tear Down & Servers

  • 2 hours (1 pm to 3 pm) x 6 volunteers – Set-up three tents (2 food/drink and 1 DECA), includes tables, banners and lights.
  • 2 hours (6 pm to 8 pm) x 6 volunteers – Tear down three tents and accessories. Do a park clean-up.
  • 1 or 2 hour shifts for food/drink servers – 3 volunteers x 2 tents x 2 hours = 12 people
  • 10 volunteers for 1 to 2 hour shifts over a 4 hour period to hand lights in November.