Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A truly community planned park: Dufferin Grove Park, Toronto

Image: Tyler Anderson/National Post. Area residents (R to L) Jacqueline Bergen, Leslie MacKay and Astrid Yates cook on a fire and try to stay warm in the increasingly colder evening air at Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto.

The National Post reports, in Dufferin Grove Park isn't like any other in the city, and the locals aim to keep it that way," about a truly unique park from the standpoint of city park systems.

-- "The Big Backyard: Neighborhood Park Becomes Center of Community Activity," (PPS)

From the article:

On Thursday afternoon at the Organic Farmer's Market in Dufferin Grove Park - wading through throngs that lined up to purchase flowers, bunches of deep-purple beets, sheep's milk and vegan spelt patties (from a groovy looking Rasta guy) - I bought a hearty loaf of whole wheat bread for $4.50.

City of Toronto staff baked this loaf of bread in an outdoor, wood-fired brick bake oven designed by the community and built, in 1995, with money from the Ontario Social Development Council.

At no other place in town can you buy city-baked bread; the baking program is just one of dozens of what city bureaucrats call "anomalies" at Dufferin Grove Park. The park also gives out permits for nightly bonfires at two fire pits, boasts a huge sand pit with shovels and a tap with running water, packed with kids, when the weather is good; offers a snack cart by the wading pool featuring noodle salads, organic hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, at $2 to $3 each (though all food in the park is pay-what-you can). Up to 200 people each week show up for Friday Night Suppers. Last week's supper took in $2,500.

In winter at the rink house, park staff serve up piping-hot squash, lentil and other soups in reusable bowls, hot chocolate, mini-pizzas (75¢) and staff-baked cookies, offer skate rentals for $2 and keep a wood-fire crackling in the skate house, which is always crammed with locals. At 6.3 hectares, the park is one of the city's busiest.

(Years ago, I remember reading about a community oven operation in Australia...)

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