Join us for the Biggest Table

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The Biggest Table: A Harvest Celebration
presented by Making Room Community Arts and Greenest City

Sept 24th, 2016
Meet at 6pm at Dunn Ave Parkette

Making Room and Greenest City are excited to invite you to The Biggest Table, a community celebration of friends and neighbours, friends and neighbours, and of course, fantastic food and art!

Throughout the summer, we have been sharing stories and traditions through art-making, asking, what does it mean to be a guest? What does it mean to be a host? And what can that tell us about the way we share space, food, and art in Parkdale?

Like Making Room Community Arts on Facebook and follow us on twitter (@MakingRoomTO) so you can keep up with our workshops, get more details about the event, and find out how to get involved! Join us every Wednesday in Masaryk Park from 3pm-6pm for art and story sharing for all ages.

Feel free to contact Michael (michael@making-room.org) or Jonathan (jvalelly@gmail.com) if you’d like to get involved, or if you have any questions or ideas!

A huge thanks to the Toronto Arts Council, City of Toronto and Ontario Arts Council for their generous support!

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A summer update!

Moving forward from our Connecting Currents celebration in the Spring, we made the decision to shift gears, start fresh, and begin developing some exciting new projects with both old friends and new partners.

Every Wednesday afternoon, concurrent with Greenest City’s “Good Foods Market”, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Parkdale’s residents at a little booth beneath the trees in Masaryk Park, making art and enjoying fresh veggies with the splash pad-goers, PARC members, and happenstance passer-byes. In preparation for our upcoming celebration (detailed below), our workshops have produced a stunning selection of feast-themed cutlery, invitations, embroidered bunting, napkins and napkin rings, and a braided constellation web.

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Following this line of thought, Greenest City has been kind enough to have invited Making Room to help out with their monthly pot-luck in Hope Garden. While enjoying some delicious recipes next to the patch of land where it was actually grown, we were honoured to run an embroidery workshop at this get-together in July, and both a food-making workshop and an interactive choir performance in August. Thanks for having us, Greenest City!!

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A short walk away, the Making Room Team has been working with the Co-op Cred program in the Dunn Garden Parkette. Participants, here, have been bending forks into quirky—sometimes unnerving—stainless steel contraptions, setting them aside to be hung on a scarecrow-esque structure. It’s hoped that the wind clanging through the cutlery will be enough to keep unwanted birds out of the vegetable garden, and that our creation will thus be as useful as it is beautiful! Continue reading

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Connecting Currents, Celebrating 45 Years of PCLS

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In the spring of this year, we were asked to do something we never had done before. After getting to know some of the folks at Parkdale Community Legal Services through projects like the Parkdale Community Economic Development project, PCLS invited us to use our expertise and passion for celebrations to imagine a special, community-led ceremony honouring their 45th anniversary. It was a big challenge for us to show up at a place with so many stories and connections in our neighbourhood, but it’s fair to say it was one of the most exhilarating projects yet.

From mid-April and through June, we worked with participants from 11 different community groups, with varying relationships to Making Room and Parkdale Legal, to make art that would honour each of these groups’ special place in Parkdale and draw out the living connection they have with the important work of the legal clinic. Artistic Director Michael Burtt led a project with the ESL Learners at the Parkdale Public Library, many of whom are Tibetan senior women. With the help of textile artist Marianne Alas and designer Sonja Rainey, the Michael and the class created bigger and more complex looms and weaving techniques, bringing in some of the traditional methods held by people in the class.

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Making Room artists also led workshops with the Parkdale Youth Advisory, the Jeremiah Community, Greenest City, Edmond Place, the Parkdale Legal Seniors Group, WEST Neighbourhood House Newcomer Youth, Parkdale Women’s Justice Tellers, PCED and more as we asked questions and shared stories about legacy, memory, changing relationships and the landscapes of Parkdale past and the neighbourhood to come.

On June 25th, all of these groups came together to present different pieces during a procession and ceremony at the Dufferin ampitheatre, bringing together more than 250 people on a hot summer afternoon.

The PCLS Seniors brought forward tin cans capturing the essence of Parkdale…

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Greenest City brought forth paper lanterns in the shape of clouds….

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PCED brought forth banners…

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Parkdale Library ESL learners brought forth looms, weaving and wool…

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Women of Parkdale brought forth embroidered flags and Parkdale  Newcomer Youth brought forth their prints, and PARC and the PCLS seniors and community members brought forth landscapes of lost Parkdale…

But most magically, our honoured group, Parkdale Community Legal Services, brought forth the copper chandelier honouring 45 years in the community…. crowning the beacon of Parkdale!

As part of the ceremony we honoured two people who acted as guides bringing us into the amazing and wide ranging web of relationships and groups at PCLS. Executive Director Nancy Henderson  invited us to do this project in the first place, and we are so pleased that she trusted us and brought us into her community. And Amarna Moscote became an incredibly important force for us, introducing us to so many people and inspiring our art and our way of working through her passion and enthusiasm.

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Throughout the ceremony, Leah Houston and Shelley La Hay acted as MCs and musicians Liza Bozikvic, Tseten Lhundup and Cathy Nosaty accompanied the action under the direction of Making Room Music Director Shifra Cooper. After the offerings, the choir sang two pieces: the folk classic “How Can I Keep From Singing”  by Robert Lowry arr. Curtis Hanson, and “Here’s to Life” by Mark Cohen. As the choir sang, delicious Tibetan momos (a kind of dumpling), prepared by Sonam, and samosas, prepared by Rahma, were distributed by PCLS volunteers. As we all snacked, Georgie and her troupe of Roma dancers entertained the crowd, eventually inviting everyone to join them dancing in the centre of the ampitheatre.

Moving forward from a celebration acknowledging the many different ways people in Parkdale experience memory and community, we look forward to deepening our relationships while also cherishing the memories and relationships that led us to this very special day.

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Celebrating the launch of Tyde Cambridge’s website

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Please join us to honour our dear friend Tyde who is launching her website – showcasing her talents as a performer and artist.

We’ve been working for months to make a site that would honour Tyde’s diverse and prolific career including her support for Making Room.

The event will take place on Monday, April 25th from 5:30pm-7pm at The Gladstone Hotel Melody Bar.

Check out this Artist Spotlight on Tyde, which we featured on our blog, highlighting her connection with Making Room and giving you a taste of what her website will offer.

We thank and acknowledge the support of the New Horizons for Seniors initiative.

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Join us for the Making Room AGM!

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Join Making Room and our Board of Directors for our Annual General Meeting this April 3, 2016 at 3:30pm at the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (1499 Queen St W) in the Healing Room upstairs.

Like many AGMs, we will be going over general board business, but this is also an opportunity for all Making Room members, friends, artists, participants, neighbours, fans, relatives and supporters to come together and join in conversation and art.

Please email michael@making-room.org with any questions or suggestions. See you there!

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Thanks, Jess!

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Many people are a part of Making Room Community Arts.

Whether you’ve visited us at a workshop, joined us for a parade or celebration, contributed to a project or simply seen us around, we count you as a part of Making Room’s community.

There are also some people who take a pivotal role in shaping what Making Room is or can be. Whether they’re mentors, community members, or lead artists, these individuals become part of the heartbeat of Making Room.

One of these people is Jess Shane. Jess Shane began working with Making Room in the Fall of 2013 assisting Choir Director Shifra Cooper part-time, helping to get our wildly successful choir off the ground. While completing her degree in Visual Studies at the University of Toronto, Jess also pursued a practicum with Jumblies Theatre in 2014. In summer and break times, Jess became a staple in our workshops, developing concepts and designs, documenting moments of art and celebration, and building deep creative and personal relationships. Jess’ experience with both puppetry and projections made her a perfect lead for the creation of the “A Day in Parkdale” video as a part of One Small Gesture. 

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In May of 2015, Jess came on to Making Room’s artistic team fresh off of her graduation, diving right in to lead projects at Camp Naivelt and Sparrow Lake and taking on giant design challenges in preparation for our Sure as the Park celebration with Greenest City — yeah, the giant bird puppet? The dyed fabric canopy? The promiscuous furniture shadow show? Those all had Jess Shane all over them!

Most recently, Jess helped produce the periscopes and accompanying books that crowned the most recent project at Edmond Place while simultaneously designing a massive, moving lightbox show for PARC’s solstice. And her commitment to sound design and documentation have laid the foundation for the Making Room podcast currently being put together.

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A huge part of Making Room’s mandate is to provide mentorship and platforms for emerging community artists to grow and develop their skills. As Jess leaves her lead artist position at Making room to pursue new and exciting endeavours in her own personal art practice and career, we can only hope that we’ve given Jess as much as she’s given us.

We love you, Jess!

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Planning for Parkdale: PCED launches into the next phase

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It’s here! The great big report by the Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) project launched to a great crowd at the Parkdale Library this past Saturday. The celebration brought together many of the different groups and individuals who helped shape the research the plan present, and a presentation by Kuni Kamizaki explained that seven crucial action areas emerged from the collaborative research process: participatory democracy, food, decent work, arts and culture, community financing, housing and land, social infrastructure.

Making Room has been working with these themes for the last two months developing a series of beautiful banners related to each area, bringing together iconography developed by PARC members that speaks to Parkdale’s assets and needs. The banners hung around the library bringing extra colour and creativity to the event.

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The launch of the report also marked the beginning of the next stage of the project, convening new working groups meant to respond to the action areas that emerged during the research project. Although they are all interconnected, Making Room is a part of the working group developing arts and culture in Parkdale as a means of building and sustaining a healthy neighbourhood.

If you’re interested in getting involved in this working group, please email michael@making-room.org or keep your eyes on our website and facebook page for opportunities to contribute!

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Sound, songs, and studios…

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If you know any of the Making Room team personally, you know that we’re all inordinately passionate about podcasts (perhaps you could say obsessed?). For so many reasons, these online radio shows have revealed to us the incredibly potential of audio for collaborative art making with communities and for telling stories in interesting ways. Artistic Director Michael Burtt even has his own blog about podcasts, Thoughts on Tape, which you can check out for more recommendations and reflections on the medium.

Thus it was only natural that we would make the world of sound our newest area of interest. You may have seen the shadow puppet show we produced this summer at Camp Naivelt, which relied heavily on sound, or caught wind of the Clock of All Time at PARC solstice, which also involved a sound piece.  Since September, we’ve been using microphones and recording technologies in our workshops to gather tape from the many folks we work with.

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Naturally, our Choir Director Shifra Cooper has been an instrumental help in directing some of our work with sound. Last month, Shifra led the choir in a special recording session to document the piece“On Tuesdays,” commissioned by Jumblies Theatre, composed and written especially for our choir by Kyle Brenders and Ange Loft.

Shifra has also been helping lead our Wednesday Sand in Water workshops, where we’ve been taking up and unpacking the idea of editing not just through recording, but through our own bodies as a medium.

All of this to say, keep your ears open, friends of Making Room. Because you’ll be hearing lots from us very, very soon!

Photos courtesy of Shifra Cooper and Jonathan Valelly

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The Clock of All Time


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We tell stories about the past everyday. At the same time, we imagine aloud our shared visions for the future.

At PARC, storytelling often takes on the character of the future as we revisit the past, filling the room in the present with the emotions and questions of a story that spans both. In other words, stories never live in just one chapter of time, but rather live simultaneously in the past, present, and future. The time-spanning nature of stories inspired our contribution to PARC’s Winter Solstice celebration, an installation and live enactment of stories we dubbed The Clock of All Time.

Winter Solstice is the biggest day of the year at PARC, and since Making Room’s work there began in 2010, we’ve always made sure to be a part of the celebration. It’s a tradition that’s been going on since PARC’s inception, and while many PARC members celebrate other holidays in December, Solstice is the one we all share in together. This year, we presented The Clock of All time as a way of bringing together and honouring all of the work Making Room has been doing at PARC and Edmond Place this fall around stories, bringing together diverse media such as comics, traditional storytelling, sound design, bookmaking and song. Continue reading

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Happy 5th Birthday Edmond Place!

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On January 5th, 2016, Edmond Place celebrated 5 years since the day its first tenants moved in!

Edmond Place is an apartment building that adjoins PARC, and in a previous life it was one of the largest and most notorious rooming houses in Parkdale. The folks at PARC, in conjunction with the Affordable Housing Program, Habitat Services, the City of Toronto and a host of other individuals and organizations, fought to renew and transform Edmond Place into affordable and supportive housing for people in the PARC community. It opened its refurbished doors in 2011, and was named in honour of the late Edmond Yu, who once lived there as a boarder.

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As a part of the celebration, Making Room artists and Edmond Place residents created small memory books, enshrining memories of growth and excitement as well as of loss and adjustment. We shared in a grilled chicken lunch prepared by EP chef Michael Dawson (who braved temperatures of -12°C to man the barbecue) and in the afternoon joined staff, residents, and friends of EP to watch the 1993 classic Benny & Joon. It was a warm, beautiful, creative way to celebrate in the middle of the winter’s cold.

Happy five years Edmond Place!

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