Ten Questions for DECA Board Members – Natasha & Anita

DECA volunteer Heather Bean has been busy interviewing DECA Board Members for this new Ten Questions series. This series will run every Sunday for the next few weeks.  Heather posed questions to each of our board members to learn a little bit about where they come from, who they are, and what their dreams are for our neighbourhood.  Here’s the first two interviews of the series from our founding and past chair, Natasha Granatstein and current chair, Anita Schretlen.

Ten Questions for… Natasha Granatstein

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How long have you been living in the neighbourhood?

My husband and I moved from our apartment in Parkdale to this neighbourhood in 2004. We first saw the house on a miserably cold and grey day in January. It was the fifth house we had bid on and we were getting used to losing bidding wars.  This house didn’t sell in the first week so we put in an offer and were shocked when they accepted it. We’ve never once regretted buying this house or moving into this neighbourhood.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Calgary and lived next door to fantastic neighbours who are still like family.  My parents were involved in our community association, and both sat on the executive board at various times. They were also involved when seven communities came together to raise funds and build a double-pad ice rink in our neighbourhood.

How do you spend your Saturday mornings?

Most Saturdays I go to Legacy Cycling Studio just west of Coxwell and do the boot camp or the spin class. I often go to Royal Beef and Kelly’s fruit market for supplies. It’s not uncommon to make a stop at Silly Goose Kids for a birthday present or three.  In the winter, odds are good that I’ll spend some time at East York Memorial Arena watching some form of hockey, and if it’s a really early game, we’re likely to end up at the Sunset Grill for post-game pancakes and omelettes.

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

Tough decision. But I think my favourite thing to buy is raspberries. I have two little boys and they love to stick the raspberries on the end of their fingers and eat them off one by one. There are lots of yummy things at the market, but the sight of them having such a wonderful time giggling and soaking everything in makes raspberries the winner.

How did you get involved with DECA?

I was on my first maternity leave. I wished for a better commercial strip so I could get a decent cup of coffee somewhere with my baby. I wished that politicians would pay more attention to this neighbourhood. At first, the group was going to centre around the intersection of Woodbine and Danforth. When those involved decided to expand out a bit further, I jumped in.  I said I would write a newsletter for them. Next thing I knew, I was hosting meetings around my dining room table, and I became the founding chair of the Danforth East Community Association. It’s still hard for me to believe that DECA’s become so much more than just the ideas of half a dozen people sitting around drinking wine.

Do you have a dream DECA project?

I would love for DECA to be able to invest in public sculptures and tuck them in nooks and crannies around the neighbourhood. Over time, they would become an attraction for visitors to come and take a tour of the neighbourhood and the sculptures. For residents, the sculpture would be little, almost intimate, pieces of art that become woven into the fabric of our community.

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

Certainly the Legacy Cycling Studio. I try to get in there two or three times during the week at 6:15 a.m. and once on the weekend at 8:30 a.m.  I love Royal Beef, Silly Goose Kids, and Impressions (for my dental cleanings). These are the places I go because they have the things I need most frequently, but also because their owners have made the effort to get to know me and always make me feel absolutely welcome.

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

I would love to see some more clothing and shoe stores. I’m thrilled to see some of the pop-ups trying out clothing shops.  I hope at least some of them can stay!

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

The LITTER!  I hate the litter on the Danforth. I hate the litter on the side streets. I wish the BIA would use some of its budget (which includes my tax dollars) to pay for extra litter pick up on the Danforth. But mostly I wish people wouldn’t litter. It makes me crazy.

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

I tell them that I have terrific neighbours. I feel very fortunate to have landed here among such smart, funny, interesting, kind and down-to-earth people.

Ten Questions for…. Anita Schretlen

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How long have you been living in the neighbourhood?

Three and a half years. We knew almost nothing about the neighbourhood when we chose our house and it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small northern Ontario mining town called Elliot Lake. Anyone who knows me now will not be surprised to hear that I did not fit in.

How do you spend your Saturday mornings?

My littlest one insists that I make pancakes on Saturday mornings. She’s pushy, so it’s turned into a bit of a family ritual. She talks about it all week and then manages to eat her weight in them, so it’s worth the effort.

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

There is no way I could pick one favourite thing. I buy as much as I can. In fact, I’ve been known to fill up the stroller so full of food that I have to make my two year old walk home. Everything’s so fresh and tastes so much better that my kids are actually excited to be eating fruits and vegetables. This past Thursday, they actually ignored the pizza on their plates and made dinner of the basket of peas I’d bought. Then begged for the raspberries for dessert.

How did you get involved with DECA?

A friend told me about the blog. I followed along for a while, and then decided I wanted to contribute, so I contacted the folks in charge. I believe my first contribution was hauling pumpkins for waste pickup after the pumpkin parade.

Do you have a dream DECA project?

I would primarily like to see more people getting involved in the projects we have going right now. We have a lot of supporters, but there are also a lot of people in the area who don’t know what DECA is. The more people get involved, as volunteers, members or participants, the more successful we will be in fulfilling our mandate.

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

I’d like to say I’m at my gym, Bomb Wellness, every day, but I’m pretty sure they’d just laugh me out of there at that little exaggeration.  We’re at Silly Goose a lot-they are fantastic at helping choose birthday presents and we have our fair share of those. We also hit up Royal Beef pretty often; they have plenty of last-minute dinner inspirations and the quality can’t be beat.

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

I would open up a kids’ clothing store. No, a home decor store. I mean a fishmonger… there’s such a market in this neighbourhood for so many things, I don’t think I could decide on just one…. Ummm, actually I could use a wine store for sure!

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

I’d like to feel safer walking around at night. Unfortunately that’s something that still needs to change.

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

Mainly, I tell people what a great community vibe we have here. I love bumping into so many friends and acquaintances on the street, at the coffee shop, or in the park. The last neighbourhood I lived in was really beautiful, but no one talked to you. Imagine my shock when I moved here and a new acquaintance (with three kids under three and a full-time job, no less) showed up at my door with a lasagne after the birth of my daughter. That’s just not something you see in most parts of the city.