Ten Questions for DECA Board Members: Melissa & Christal

Ten Questions for… Melissa Peretti

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How long have you been living in the neighbourhood?

Almost eight years. We’re on our second house. First over on Strathmore, than after an extensive city wide search in 2009, bought 480 meters away on Keystone.

Where did you grow up?

Peterborough. Escaped to the big smoke for university in 1999.

How do you spend your Saturday mornings?

Two-thirds of the year, we spend it at home and then East Lynn Park. During the summer, we split among home, my husband’s family cottage and visiting my family in Peterborough.

What’s your favourite thing to buy at the Farmer’s Market, and what do you do with it?

Peaches! We eat them straight up, with whip cream, or make into turnovers.

How did you get involved with DECA?

The day we moved into our house on Keystone the infamous Mary Margret McMahon came right over, introduced herself, and gave us a rundown of DECA and all the great stuff they do for the neighbourhood. I had attributed most of it to some other organization, or to the BIA. I started going to meetings to see where I could fit in, and eventually found projects that I am interested in and find fulfilling to work on.

Do you have a dream DECA project?

Nothing outside of the “dreaming” phase yet but I would love to see a festival for children, or maybe even a huge neighbourhood fantasy tea party.

Which business on the Danforth sees you the most–and what brings you there?

Cake Town has best lattes in the city. Deserres, I’m always buying crafting and art supplies. DKB Wellness: I’ve being seeing Dr. Penner for years for my bad shoulder and through my pregnancies. He’s an amazing chiropractor. And Silly Goose Kids. I spend hours nosing around exploring all the amazing toys.

If you could open (or persuade someone else to open) a business on the Danforth, what would it be?

I am in the process of opening my own store: Mrs. Darling’s Imaginarium for Boys and Girls. It will be a creative place to play and create. I’ve been slowly nurturing the idea since having my second child two and a half years ago. I was fortunate to be involved in two of the Pop Up Shop rounds to test out my ideas and feel out the market. I would say to anyone thinking about opening a business here to go for it! I think all the lovely new and existing shops are a testament to the neighbourhoods support. And also not to be discouraged by our somewhat slow gentrification. There are a lot of families all around the Danforth building deep roots here, desperate to support, spend their money, and even with the help of DECA. The neighbourhood gets right in there with their sleeves rolled up to scrub and paint in order to see this stripe become the vibrant area we all are dreaming of.

If you could change one thing about the neighbourhood, what would it be?

The silly one-hour parking rule on my street! It makes no sense to me. But in the broader sense I would love to see all the store fronts filled up. I think the all the various effects of that will be amazing. And more patios!

When you tell other people about our neighbourhood, what do you say?

That I love it. That it is a small town with in a great city. I know almost all my neighbours. I rarely have to leave the ‘hood to get what I need. East Lynn Park is the best, the beating heart of our community. The farmers’ market rocks, the Danforth East Art’s Fair is amazing. The residents are down to earth and welcoming. But hands down the best thing about our community is DECA. Almost everything I love about this place is either directly related to or has been touched by the amazing VOLUNTEERS of DECA.

Ten Questions for… Christal Pshyk

christalpshykKitchen

How long have you been living in the neighbourhood?

My husband David Kravinchuk and I moved to Danforth East September 3, 2009 from Edmonton.

Where did you grow up?

On a farm in Armstrong, BC—the sunny Okanagan! Then I attended the University of Alberta in Edmonton on a Fine Arts Scholarship. I picked the University of Alberta’s printmaking program as it was and still is considered the best printmaking program in North America.

How do you spend your Saturday mornings?

Enjoying a few cups of coffee, wishing I had more time to make a delicious breakfast that included lovely Berkshire sausages from Royal Beef; then taking Ella our St. Bernard for a nice morning walk, before I open LEN at 10 a.m.

What’s your favourite thing to buy at the Farmer’s Market, and what do you do with it?

When the peaches are ready in late July/early August, I go a little bit crazy! The sun-ripened fruits (and vegetables) available in Ontario completely remind me of growing up in the Okanagan, where I was able to walk out to one of our orchards and pick fruit warmed ever so slightly by the sun and savour its juicy goodness! Because the quality of the peaches at the Farmer’s Market is so amazing, we tend to eat them as they are, but when I want to get a little bit fancy I make a very good gluten-free peach and blueberry crisp! I love sharing recipes too.

How did you get involved with DECA?

Before we moved to Toronto, we researched neighbourhoods that we might like to live in (based on what we could afford, amenities, etc.). We did the usual things, like subscribing to Toronto Life magazine and some other boards and websites listing happenings in Toronto. But in our search we discovered DECA Diaries,  and religiously started following what was going on. We saw people coming together to make things they wanted for their neighbourhood actually happen, and we really liked that! Seeing what was going on solidified our decision to concentrate our property search here.

It took us a little while to get settled once we arrived, but we were really looking forward to meeting this tenacious group of visionary people. I still remember attending our first meeting at the Naval Club (on Gerrard) to see what kinds of opportunities that were available. We were impressed by the “let’s get things done” attitude of group and felt right at home being encouraged to have a pint or two. Both David and I joined the BRT (Business Revitalization Team) where we worked on improving existing spaces and preparing spaces for DECA’s newly formed Pop Up! Project. We ended up submitting an application for the December 2012 Pop Up extravaganza—and were successful with our proposal! It was a really great experience, from which we were able to move forward with a business plan to open a permanent shop in the neighbourhood, which is LEN 2.0 on Coxwell!

Do you have a dream DECA project?

A night market (of sorts) . . .more cool concerts in the park . . . a centrally focused community garden . . . some kind of annual cooking contest: think Simpsons’ circa 1995 Chile Cook Off minus the “hallucinogenic insanity peppers”!

Which business on the Danforth sees you the most–and what brings you there?

Probably Royal Beef. We are committed to eating only organic or sustainably sourced meats and dairy products. We really like the fact that the butcher offers unconventional cuts of meat, like the petite clod, or the culotte, and we have been known to serve the Marquez lamb sausages as an “extra dessert” item at dinner parties.We also buy Ella’s food at WAG, and since she is a very large dog, we tend to see Ruth and Rob quite often too.

If you could open (or persuade someone else to open) a business on the Danforth, what would it be?

A fish shop carrying sustainable fish products, and a shop specifically devoted to cheese.  I would never have to leave the ‘hood again.

If you could change one thing about the neighbourhood, what would it be?

I would like to see an effort to create more walkability between “pockets”–so having more businesses or places with opportunities to engage people when commuting on foot.

When you tell other people about our neighbourhood, what do you say?

“It’s the best kept secret in Toronto…”