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

DECA news and updates

We are so often sending out info about other events going on, but here are a few DECA events and updates to tell you about!

#DanforthEast Garage Sale – June 7

It’s not too late to sign up for the great #DanforthEast Garage Sale!

The community-wide garage sale happens Saturday, June 7, 8-2, rain or shine and after last year’s success, we are looking forward to an even bigger turnout this year!  Send us an email by clicking here to add your address to our list/map.

Why join this sale? Well, we will do all the advertising and can arrange for your leftovers to be picked up – so your two most irritating garage sale “to do”s are taken care of. All you have to do is empty your clutter onto you lawn and be willing to bargain.  

If you’re not selling that day, make sure to mark the day down anyway and plan to stroll around for good deals.  It’s a great way to meet your neighbours!

East Lynn Farmers’ Market – June 5

The market starts June 5! That is only two weeks away – just long enough for you to dig out your picnic blankets and get out the sun hats. While the experience is what makes it so special, please remember that the market can’t happen if we don’t show up and buy stuff from the farmers, so adjust your budget and set aside a bit of cash for the freshest, yummiest most wonderful locally grown/produced food that you could ever want.

Danforth East Dreams (#DEDreams) Follow-Up

Thank you to Annette and Max for putting together the final piece we have to share from April’s Danforth East Dreams event. Check out the summary of everyone’s dreams for the hood!


You can also find everyone’s individual dreams mapped by Kim and pictures of the day. Take a look and be inspired to make one of these dreams into a reality.

Dance Mob Follow-Up!

DECA, Pegasus Studios and the Danforth East community came together on Sunday May 4th to celebrate Dance Day! We danced in the streets in our bright blue t-shirts.

Did you see us there were almost 90 of us? First we joined Art of the Danforth in Robertson Parkette and then we joined the Walk group at Greenwood and Danforth. We had the most fun dancing and laughing together. We want to say THANK YOU to the community for helping us create a neighbourhood where we can have this much fun!

We are incredibly grateful to all our sponsors for your help in getting this event happening and for outfitting the dancers in amazing t-shirts!

LEN: Democratic Purveyors of Fine Art and Beautiful Things,
FlyGirl Fitness,
Ages & Stages,
Oaks ‘n Acorns,
Dianna Kennedy from Remax Hallmark,
Counterbalance Studio Pilates,
Pose Hair Design,
The Canine Social Company

And what would a Dance Mob be without dancers! We had so much fun dancing with everyone who participated. Thank you for joining us and putting your dance shoes on to bring us all together.  If you want to see it for yourself, here is a video and photos:


Reimagine the Laneway, #DEdreams video, ArtCave Shindig & More Art this Weekend!

Reimagining the Laneway–now even bigger & better!

Come out this Saturday, May 10, from 3-6 pm, to the back patio of TKOs (1600 Danforth) and be part of making the laneways and parking lot surrounding Coxwell station amazing spaces. As part of Art of the Danforth, DECA has teamed up with two great architects who specialize in optimizing public spaces, Michelle Senayah & Rotem Yaniv, to see what ideas the community can generate to make the laneway more beautiful and safer.

And now, thanks to Janet Davis, we’ve connected with the TTC and Toronto Green P Parking. Both organizations are sending representatives to the join in discussions. Even more exciting, Green P has this parking lot listed for upgrades within the next 1-3 years. They have launched a program called “Green P Plus” and are holding consultations like this one with communities across the city. Ours will be able to feed into this process! RSVP to our facebook event here.

photo 2
Max wants YOUR ideas for the Coxwell stn laneway!

More Ideas & Dreams-#DEdreams video & map

Speaking of sharing ideas for making our community even more vibrant and fun, we put together the video clips of your dreams at April’s Danforth East Dreams event. Have a look and see if you spot yourself, a friend or an idea you love. Our fabulous volunteer, Kim D., also mapped out all everyone’s ideas for the ‘hood here. Have a look at what we love now about Danforth East and our wish list and get inspired.

ArtCave Shindig

Our friends at the ArtCave have a free family event coming up in May: their first ever Shindig on May 23!
They are looking for submissions for a collaborative community art project, From Cave art to ArtCave , to be launched at the party.

Even More Fun Community-Art Happenings This Weekend

Art Battle: Remember that this Saturday night at Artisans at Work, 2071 Danforth, is Art Battle! Live painting, great tunes, drinks, an auction and you  help choose the winner!

Art of the Danforth: The closing weekend promises to be a non-stop fun-stravaganza. Some highlights include  our Reimagining the Laneway event; the 5 Minute Paint Fight onSaturday at 1 pm (sign up at noon); an interactive running race on Sunday from 12-4 pm and a pot-luck dinner in Felstead Park alley on Sunday from 5-7 pm.


#DEdreams in Pictures

A huge, big thank you to everyone for coming out and making last week’s Danforth East Dreams event such a fun and successful day!

Over 400 (!) of you joined us to share what you love about the ‘hood and your dreams about how we can make it even better. There were tons of great ideas, including:

  • starting a community garden (Attention those of you who loved this idea: good news is coming soon!)
  • a neighbourhood wide golf tournament in which everyone sets up a hole on their lawn
  • bringing back monarch butterflies to Monarch Park
  • bike lanes on Danforth
  • converting the TTC buildings at Coxwell (South side of Danforth) into a public space with a park, stores and housing
  • rabbits (the young lady didn’t elaborate on her vision, but rabbits are indeed pretty cool all on their own)

We even spied an idea that looked an awful lot like a marriage proposal (possibly a DECA first?). We’ll continue collecting all the ideas and share the full results in the next few weeks. Until then, have a look at the fantastic pictures taken by Bruce, Tina and Casey. See if you spot your idea or recognize someone you know posing with their dream.

Once again, many thanks to Melanie’s Bistro, Moberly Natural Foods, Beau’s, LEN, Rebel Therapy Yoga, Air Zound bike horns, Ankh Yoga, 32 Spokes, Mrs. Darling’s Imaginarium for Girls & Boys, Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon for the use of her popcorn machine, the Toronto Repair Cafe and the owners of 1811 Danforth, Haig and David.

#DEdreams: tomorrow! Ultimate @ Stephenson


Remember to come out THIS SATURDAY, April 12 to our community party, Danforth East Dreams! Stop by 12-4 pm to 1811 Danforth Ave. for a few minutes on your way to the park or stay for the whole afternoon.  FREE drinks & treats from Melanie’s Bistro, Moberly Natural Foods & Beau’s! FREE bike tune-ups from 32 Spokes! FREE kids’ activities from Mrs. Darling’s Imaginarium for Boys & Girls! FREE repairs next door from 11-3 pm at the Repair Cafe! We also have amazing door prizes from LEN, Rebel Therapy Yoga, Air Zound bike horns and Ankh Yoga!

We’ll have lots of cool ways to share your ideas for improving the hood. So start dreaming and tweet your ideas now using #DEdreams and we’ll use your tweets tomorrow.

Special thanks to the owners of 1811 Danforth, Haig and David, for the use of their space for the day.

Ultimate Frisbee Returns to Stephenson Park

If this gorgeous weather has inspired you to get outside, why not try ultimate at a local park? REC Athletics’ Spring 2014 Ultimate Frisbee League begins May 7, 2014 at Stephenson Park. It’s co-ed, fun and you can register now as an individual or a team at




Let’s Party! Save the date: April 12

It’s been a long winter. Power outages, Polar Vortex, snow, the return of the Polar Vortex, and even more snow. If there was ever a Spring to celebrate, this is it. So save the date for Saturday, April 12, 12-4 pm, 1811 Danforth, because we’re inviting you to kick off your Sorrels and get together with your neighbours to party.

We’re calling it Danforth East Dreams. We were so inspired by #DreamPopup survey response, we decided to up our game and go even bigger. What do you want to see next for DE? A co-work space? Community gardens? Ping pong in the park? And we know dreams are a good place to start because the Farmer’s Market, Arts Fair, Pumkin Parade, Pop-up Shops, Adopt- a-Tree and Yard Sale (or a community association) all began as someone’s big idea.

Come out and tell us. Or show us. Because this isn’t a meeting: it’s a party. We’re going to have all kinds of fun, interactive ways to share your ideas. Put your house and ideas up on the giant map of the hood, Neighbourland (apologies to Candy Chang); pin your dreams to our clothesline; get interviewed by roving kid-reporters; build your dream with the crafty Mrs. Darling (of Mrs. Darling’s Imaginarium for Boys & Girls fame); get your bike tuned up for spring by the folks from 32 Spokes; or just come and hang out and be inspired.

Besides all the free activities, we’ve also got free snacks and drinks to fuel your creative energy–popcorn courtesy of Moberly Natural Foods; java and treats from Melanie’s Bistro; beer from family-run, DIY-ers Beau’s.

But that’s not all.

Right next door, at 1803 Danforth, from 11-3 pm, Toronto’s Repair Cafe is partnering with the Tool Library and offering you free repairs of your broken stuff! The volunteer-run organization is committed to giving people the confidence to fix your things instead of making them landfill fodder. They’ll have fixers available for computers and other electronics, small appliances and furniture, and clothing and more. Our current pop-up shop, Veritus Pictures, will also be open for business– take a stroll through his gallery and find out about his fabulous workshops.

So start dreaming about the hood and tweet your ideas with #DEdreams to get us started.

Special thanks to the owners of 1803 & 1811 Danforth, Haig and David, for the use of their space for the day.