Organizations share positive social change ideas...
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May 22, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Organizations share positive social change ideas during Toronto's west-end YIMBY Festival

Parkdale Villager

Social organizations from Toronto’s west-end got together to share ideas on effecting positive change in the city and to strengthen their connections in an effort to do so during the west-end YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) Festival.

The event took place Sunday, May 22 at the Gladstone Hotel.

Typically a citywide event, this edition of the YIMBY Festival partnered with Gladstone Hotel and Shape My City to create a west-end event.

Held in the hotel’s ballroom, the event included a range of socially engaged, local organizations working together to foster a neighbourhood network that’s committed to affecting positive change while building a community.

Susanna Redekop, communications coordinator for Parkdale’s West End Food Co-op (WEFC), said the organization has participated in the YIMBY Festival for at least four years, and this year’s installment took place mere steps from WEFC’s headquarters.

“We’re literally a block away,” Redekop said. “We’re very community involved and we like to see what other community organizations are doing. People don’t always know what’s going on in their own backyards.”

Redekop said she typically leaves a YIMBY event with as many as eight contacts. She said people tend to know that the West End Food Co-op exists, but not necessarily what it’s all about and she uses the YIMBY Festival as an opportunity to promote its work.

For example, in 2012-2013, WEFC launched the Co-op Cred program with the Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (Parc) and Greenest City, which empowers those who are marginalized and dealing with hunger, poverty, and mental health issues, to gain access to healthy food.

Co-op Cred participants are paid for their labour, working in the WEFC kitchen and store, and in Greenest City’s community gardens, and earn co-op credits that can be used at WEFC to purchase groceries.

Thanks to a recent grant, WEFC is able to revamp its kitchen to make it more accessible and install a bake oven.

“There are very exciting things coming,” Redekop said.

Cycle Toronto’s Ward 14 and Ward 18 co-captains Mary Jo Pollak and Hyedie Hashimoto were on hand to chat about cycling in the city.

“Biking is the most practical form of transportation and the city should provide more infrastructure so people can get to and from work,” Pollak said.

Cycle Toronto – formerly the Toronto Cyclists Union – is a diverse, member-supported organization whose mission it is to advocate for “a healthy, safe, cycling-friendly city for all.”

Julia Zeeman and Sarah Stadnyk of Sustainability Ontario Community Energy Co-op (SOCEC) said they were more than happy to participate in such an event that allows the opportunity to share information about their organization.

“We’re passionate about clean energy,” Zeeman said.

Founded in 2012, SOCEC ( is currently working on a project with the University of Toronto to see the installation of a solar community charging station for small, electrical devices. It will be an outdoor, interactive space that’s expected to be complete by August.

For representatives of the Parkdale Community Health Centre, the event was a way to share a message that their organization is here to support everyone.

“We want to create an inclusive neighbourhood,” community development worker Nancy Steckley said.

From their booth, staff brought attention to the health centre’s Parkdale Parents’ Primary Prevention Project (5Ps), which provides free programs for parents and young children. It provides prenatal nutrition and support, breast feeding support, and support as your baby grows, among a whole host of others. There is ample opportunity to meet other mothers to share experiences. To find out more, contact

Soshauna Simmons is a volunteer for the Toronto Tool Library and The Sharing Depot. They operate like a library, but a membership must be purchased for a year, she explained. There are locations in Parkdale, East York, and Downsview where you can borrow anything from measuring tapes to power washers, table saws and generators. In East York, items such as camping equipment, games, sporting equipment and party supplies can be signed out too.

“Our clients differ location to location,” Simmons said. “High school kids borrow tools for school projects, parents sign out tools for home renovations.

The library is volunteer-run and there are perks to being a volunteer, Simmons said. They are eligible for free membership.

Find out more at and

Spokespeople for Dames Making Games (DMG), a non-profit feminist organization that supports women who are interested in playing, making and changing games, were on hand at YIMBY. DMG includes dames-only game nights, socials, arcades and showcases, workshops and tutorials, and advocating for inclusion and diversity through public speaking and outreach.

Anyone who is interested is welcome to get involved, DMG member Izzie Colpitts-Campbell said.

Check out for details.

The YIMBY Festival provides a social space for people and groups to gather, to exchange ideas, and establish connections in an effort to effect change while strengthening their networks.

The west-end YIMBY featured organizations that are helping build a strong community in Toronto’s west. Check out its Facebook page for further information:

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