It’s been a busy year of learning, spreading the word and laying the groundwork for the Junction Commons. Volunteers working on the Junction Commons Project (JCP) have tabled at a number of events, attended a conference, thrown a street party, negotiated, studied, debated, planned and filled out a pile of paperwork as part of our efforts to establish a new community space in the vacant police station on Mavety Street and build community in the Junction.
Spring: Assessing Local Needs and Determining the 5 Pillars of the JCP
Some of you may remember our Townhall Meeting in April where we laid out our vision of an open and welcoming community hub at 209 Mavety St. and shared the feasibility report we commissioned which showed that such a space was realistic and achievable. In that meeting, we also shared the results of the design charrettes we held throughout the Junction to better understand community needs. Junction folks had a lot of great input, as you can see in the image below, and most of it fit within five key categories.
Looking over the results of our charrettes, we determined that people in the Junction need and are asking for space for Art, Health, Food, Community Building and Local Exchange (The 5 Pillars of the JCP), and we’ve been working all year to help meet those needs. Our main focus has been to ensure that 209 Mavety Street becomes a valuable and exciting part of the Junction landscape. We’ve had an ongoing email dialogue and a series of in-person meetings with city officials about the future of the site and we’ve also reached out to a number of potential anchor tenants to better understand how their plans might correlate with the community’s vision for the space. It hasn’t always been easy, but we feel that we’ve been making steady progress in the right direction.
Key Take-Aways from our Meetings with the City of Toronto:
- public ownership of the building is preferred by both the city and the community
- a designated anchor such as a service provider would provide a good foundation and minimize the risk of failure
- a Building Condition Assessment by the city’s Facilities Management should be ready shortly
- the proposal to create a hub in the Junction will hopefully go to council as soon as possible in 2015 (February)
Representatives of our different committees have attended monthly meetings to review our progress and discuss future plans. We’ve also put a lot of effort into defining and shaping the JCP as an organization. Earlier this year, we applied for and obtained official non-profit status from the Ontario government and selected an interim board from among our volunteer committee heads. We plan to elect a full board at our first Annual General Meeting next spring and we’re also going to need more volunteers to work on new projects.
Autumn: Meeting New People and Connecting with New Organizations
Over the course of the year, we’ve also been sharing our vision and learning about other great community initiatives. We manned a table at the perpetually delicious Junction Farmer’s Market where we met lots of people who were excited by the idea of a new kind of community space at 209 Mavety Street. The Junction Farmer’s Market is exactly the type of popular and well-loved local initiative that needs access to a friendly and bustling community space. We also tabled at Toronto’s Annual YIMBY festival, an inspiring mini-conference for non-profits and community groups. There were so many great organizations in attendance including community hubs like East Scarborough Storefront and Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC) and a few organizations that we would love to see pop-up in the Junction in the near future such as the Toronto Tool Library, The Kitchen Library and Repair Café. In November, a member of our Governance Committee attended the Community Knowledge Exchange, a summit about measuring and utilizing community-level knowledge. We also recently visited the Rexdale Community Hub for a tour of their space. It was a great opportunity to pick their brains about what services they provide, how they organize themselves and how they stay in touch with the people in their neighbourhood.
The all-night food, drink, art and music event (Blackout!) we hosted on October 4 during Nuit Blanche was definitely the most fun we had all year!
For one night only we had it all in the Junction — art by Kaitlyn Sita, Kathryn Tarver (aka Concrete Katie) and mother-daughter team Maya and Agnieszka Foltyn; a free yoga class from Breathe Yoga Studio; beverages by Junction Craft Brewing and delectable nom-noms from When the Pig Came Home; plus wicked performances by a great group of musicians including Sabrina Fallah, Norman Perrin, Bob Menzies, Michael Coughlan, Maintenance Request Form, Matt Cooke and Stan Simon. We saw a lot of Junction people out that night — drinking, eating, talking, laughing, taking it in. It was a great taste of the lively activities we hope to see on a regular basis at 209 Mavety Street.
2015: More Hands-on Projects and Hopefully a New Home
As the year came to a close, we’ve becoming a little introspective ourselves and we’ve been talking about how we can do more to keep in touch with the community-at-large and continue our work both inside and hopefully outside the 209 Mavety Street location. One idea we’re working on is pursuing a collective impact model of change-making. We’d love to help connect all the great organizations and initiatives in the Junction to the resources they need to address local issues. A lot of the work we’ve done this year had been behind-the-scenes – and we apologize for that – but the seeds we’ve been planting will start blooming early in the new year, so keep an eye out for more parties, talks and public gatherings, more regular updates and more opportunities to share what is important about the Junction and work together to make it an even better place to live.
The work of all past and present members and friends of the Junction Commons Project, the work of the many consultants who prepared feasibility studies, town hall meetings, and community charrettes was absolutely indispensable – we thank you ALL and we thank our community for their unwavering support.
Happy New Year!