Marking our #DECAde, Part 3: Making change 

For this series of blog posts marking our #DECAde, we are looking back on where DECA started, how far we’ve come and where the next 10 years might take us and our neighbourhood. We are including interviews with some of DECA’s founders and other info and tidbits from DECA’s “archives”

2014 DECA Board

Making Change

Parts 1 and 2 of series described what the neighbourhood was like 10 years ago and how a group of people came together to start DECA. This post is about what  happened next. As you know, fair reader, the DECA Diaries blog was our only communication tool for many years before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram helped us expand our reach. Lovingly written by DECA’s founding Chair, Natasha Granatstein from 2008-2011 when every post was written on an actual computer (not on an iPhone like this one) and event posters were still actual pieces of paper and not JPEG files so the words that Natasha wrote had to be crafted carefully – and they were.

In the past nine years of the blog (it began as an email newsletter), we have posted 1160 times. Each post takes anywhere from 20ish minutes to a few hours of someone’s spare time, to help get the word out about our community. More than 1200 people subscribe to the blog and many more read it via Facebook and Twitter. The blog is now managed by a small team of volunteer bloggers and a volunteer editor (yours truly). Turns out, the blog is also our unofficial archive.

Here’s a look back courtesy of the blog at some of what we’ve done to change the neighbourhood over the past #DECAde. 

January 2009: First Store Makeover  

The store did so well after this makeover, the owners bought their own building and moved a bit west where they remain today.

July 2009: Square Dancing at the Market

Our weekly market posts didn’t start until a few years in, but this post was a sweet reminder of a wonderful night at the market (in its third year by 2009) where people of all ages came to square dance! 

September 2009: First Danforth East Arts Fair

November 2009: Our first annual cocktail party (that was secretly also our AGM)  at Melanie’s Bistro. No e-version of the poster back then so the blog post is our only proof!

November 2010: First Pumpkin Parade

December 2012: First Tree Lighting at East Lynn Park 

January 2012blog post about Australian  Marcus Westbury’s innovative “pop-up shop” model to deal with high commercial vacancy

March 7, 2012 – Marcus Westbury was in town so we hosted an event with him!

May 2012 – carrot gets a buddy: the birth of the broccoli costume!

What shows a deeper commitment to improving one’s own community than dressing as vegetables to promote our local farmers’ market during rush hour?!

Veggies promoting our Farmers’ Market

October 2012: First Pop-Up Shops

This was back when it was solely run by a team of DECA volunteers, based on the Renew Newcastle model we learned about earlier that year. Incredible!

June 2013: First #DanforthEast Yard Sale

April 2014: #DanforthEast Dreams event

We asked you what you wanted for our neighbourhood and mapped it and made a video found in this follow-up blog post. (The post also shows our first laneway revitalization effort more than three years ago!)

April 2015: DECA Gems neighbourhood competition

It was a total love-in and so many people learned of new places to shop, eat, play, get their car fixed, hem a skirt, get a haircut, buy flowers and on and on. Search the hashtag #DECAGems on our fb page or blog to look back. Anyone remember who won?

December 2015: First DECA Connects fundraiser – Sleep Out for Syrians

DECA’s social justice group launched with this fundraiser where participants slept outside (in December!) to simulate what Syrian refugees were experiencing for months in camps. The goal was $10k. In the end, we raised $28,500, helping  several Syrian families come to Canada.

June 2016: First DECA Pride LGBTQ+ event 

We have a thriving LGBTQ+ community in the east end but no groups or events. DECA Pride changed that!

June 2016: First Table Tennis for Tuition 

To raise money to support the $2000 DECA Young Leaders Scholarship established in 2016. 

This has been an amazing decade-long experiment in being positive and making changes that many people say have transformed our neighbourhood. 
Want to join us?

DECA memberships are $10/household to support our community initiatives including our weekly Farmers’ Market, Diversity Scholarship, annual Arts Fair, Pumpkin Parade, Tree Lighting Festival, #DanforthEast Yard Sale, DECA Pride LGBTQ+ group and more! Sign up here

If you want to get in touch, send us an email

The Joys of June

June can be a busy month so get out your calendars and mark down these dates.

 Farmers’ Market Fifth Anniversary Festival

I know what you’re thinking…this is NOT the fifth year of the farmers’ market! I KNOW!  That’s what I thought too, but we all hunkered down and thought about it for a while and yes indeed, we are embarking on the fifth year of this little experiment.

Join us this Thursday as we celebrate five years fabulous. There will be lots of great activities and a very awesome new farmers’ market feature to be unveiled.  Watch this space for more info. The market runs each Thursday, 3-7 p.m. at East Lynn Park, on Danforth, west of Woodbine.

S Sense in Design 

S Sense in Design is a design studio that provides furniture, lighting and home accents. The products and art are made of eco-friendly, natural materials that are handcrafted in Canada. And it’s more than a shop. Owner, Laura Walters is a stylist who can help you find a style for your home with colour consultations, healthy home advice, upholstery service or wallpaper selection.

If you’re looking for a reason to visit, why not drop in on Sunday, June 24th from 12-4 p.m. for a Magical Tea Party. Enjoy a cup of tea from Tea Emporium, scones from Cake Town Cafe and the artwork of Mafalda Silva.  RSVP to Laura at or 647-519-7743.

If that’s not your cup of tea, you may want to visit on Thursday, June 28th from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.for the opening of Armandine In The Garden.

S Sense in Design is at 698 Coxwell, step north of Danforth.

Danforth Gem – Red Rocket

Thanks to Sarah Kiriliuk for this Danforth Gem….


 Danforth East denizens who consider coffee a secondary food group have already started to line up for their daily brews at the newly opened Red Rocket coffee at 1364 Danforth, just west of Monarch Park. 

Those already familiar with the aromatic roasts of the famed Leslieville coffee house know that their coffee is second to none. Although the Leslieville location was forced to close, their loss is Danforth’s gain. The new Danforth location resides in the space formerly belonging to Three’s Company Two and Niche. A minor facelift has transformed the space into a cozy and chic spot on the strip to get your daily dose of java. There is an an antique children’s school desk in front of the fireplace and archived prints of the real red rocket framed along the wall. We shouldn’t forget to mention that there is lots of room for stroller parking!

The coffee and espresso offerings are partnered with a selection of treats and sandwiches, with more menu items on the horizon. Here’s a hint: blueberry bran muffins are not always that appealing, but the ones found here are worth writing home about!

If you’re looking for a place to answer emails or get some work done, Red Rocket offers free Wifi – look for the passcode on an antique chalkboard on the wall. 

And the final bonus is the cheery staff behind the counter. A handful of former Three’s Company Two employees stayed on with Red Rocket, so you will still be seeing familiar faces at the espresso machine. 

For news and updates, read the Red Rocket blog:


Danforth Gems – Circus Coffee

I’ve been meaning to write about Circus Coffee for a while now.  I stopped in the other day and it’s a great little spot.  Lucky for me – and for you – Jordan Whitehouse at The Grid wrote about it for us. It’s at 7 Woodmount, beside Carter’s Ice Cream, kitty corner from East Lynn Park.

Woodmount Avenue is a little side street with young oaks running off the northeast corner of East Lynn Park. Although the sun is already falling over the street on this late fall day, an antique toy circus ring in the window of Circus Coffee House (7 Woodmount) is still lit up with afternoon rays. Inside the month-old espresso bar, owner Ron Duffy stands behind his late-’70s Gaggia coffee machine.  More….


Danforth Gem – Emerald Restaurant

Emerald Restaurant, on what I’m now calling ‘Cafe Corner’ on the southwest side of Danforth and Woodbine, is serving Indian food.  One of DECA Diaries’ favourite local restaurant critics, Paul (he eats out a LOT) went tonight and promptly sent this review…


I have just returned from my dinner with friends at Emerald Restaurant, the new Indian place at Danforth and Woodbine. The chef is from Goa, and is enthusiastically planning to include dishes from that part of India; as of yet the menu is still in development, but includes a variety of standard Indian fare and some international dishes, such as spring rolls and ribs. I am a vegetarian and the chef was very helpful and accommodating with my questions. We began with a variety of samosas and kebabs; the samosas were really excellent, cooked to order, with a mix of vegetables and fresh coriander, and very crispy but not at all greasy. For the children with my group, the chef recommended the mild shami kebabs, and they too were much enjoyed. The curries we ordered for our main courses came with fresh-cooked naan breads, and a basmati pullao rice. I loved my cauliflower curry and mixed vegetable curry combo, and my friends’ chicken tikka masala was pronounced “the best ever.”  A gigantic serving of chicken biryani had to be mostly taken home! As all the curries are prepared to order, the chef helpfully suggested that one could call ahead to order; their preparation took quite a while, but the rewards of freshly prepared food are obvious to the tastebuds. The drinks are currently limited to pop or water while the restaurant awaits its’ beer and wine license… a selection of juices and lassis would be welcome…along with perhaps a nicer selection of music… the radio station playing in the background didn’t provide much in the way of ambience. With the very reasonable prices and the welcoming, friendly service, Emerald restaurant provides good home-style Indian cooking to our neighbourhood.

Show Some Love

I’m delighted to pass along an invitation from Paola Girotti from Sugar Moon Spa for the ‘Show Some Love’ fundraiser this Saturday in support of Toronto East General’s Child Development Centre.

‘It means a lot to me to hold this fundraiser as my son Elias was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. He was born at 32 weeks at Toronto East General and we had amazing care from the neo-natal unit right through to the Child Development Center. We feel very blessed to have such a wonderful hospital in our neighbourhood and would like to “give back” to all the wonderful staff for their support. Come and join us for a fabulous evening.’— Paola Girotti

This Saturday, April 10th at 8 p.m. $10 at the door

Location: Sidewalk Cafe (look for the orange balloons) 1344 Danforth Avenue, Toronto (416) 465-2012

Lots of prizes to be won: 50/50 draws and more!

Coffee Coffee

This just in from Pat on the new cafe at Danforth and Woodbine…

“I just got back from Coffee Coffee and OMG!!!!!!  It is GORGOUS!   The name doesn’t do it justice. I had thought it was somehow linked to Pizza Pizza, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s modern and beautiful inside–spacious and airy– and instead of ceiling tiles they use burlap coffee bags adorned with the logos of fair trade coffee. Really neat. They do all their own baking and try to use organic ingredients where possible. They have breads and strudels, killer cinnamon buns. Today for lunch they’ll have lasagna and soup–it wasn’t out yet when I was there at 10. I think this is their first day open and it will be exciting to see their full product line. I spoke with Vera, who owns Coffee Coffee with her sister. Very friendly and professional.  I can’t believe that after all these years of no bakeries in this neighbourhood suddenly we have two!”