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Meet Our Newest Pop-up Shop: The Handwork Department

The Handwork Dept | 1801 Danforth Avenue | Tues. to Fri. Noon – 7pm, Sat. 11am – 6pm

Have you noticed a fun new window at 1801 Danforth? DECA’s newest pop-up shop, The Handwork Department, opened quietly a few weeks ago and we are overdue in sharing the news. The Handwork Department is Maggie Krawczyk’s pop-up shop and she has completely transformed the drab empty space and filled it with an eclectic mix of vintage and artisan goods.  There is something for everyone, from the vintage furniture, ephemera, 35mm cameras, toys and housewares to Maggie’s own handmade jewelry and art, works by other artists, kitchen items and more.

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Maggie is a self-taught jewelry artist who started out as a full time machine operator in the commercial book bindery trade. While working in the factory, she discovered her love of origami and creating fun items for people to enjoy.  After selling her first few pairs of origami earrings to coworkers, she began to formulate a plan to leave factory work and follow her passion. She is the maker of a few different lines of jewelry including amazing tiny origami creations that she transforms into jewelry called Neogami, and jewlery which is made using text cut from vintage adult novels called XXXLittWear. She is also as an avid photographer of local abandoned buildings, and she’s excited to bring all her creations under one roof, including her experience working in vintage shops. She’s been stockpiling items in her garage in anticipation of opening her own store, and she’s even been spotted toting old ladders on the subway for her new shop, much to the entertainment of fellow riders.

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Maggie has named her store The Handwork Department as a homage to her early years spent as a factory worker in the commercial book bindery trade, before discovering her talent for jewelry design and ability to run a home based business. She is looking forward to working with other non-classically trained artists and crafters, to help them sell their products.

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Between the imminent opening of Kops Records two doors down, the ever-popular Tool Library and now The Handwork Department, that little stretch of the Danforth is getting livelier and livelier. Please stop by! Not only might you find a great little gift for someone you know, or a fun little treasure to add to your own personal collection, but you will also be supporting DECA’s efforts to revitalize the commercial strip.

What could be more “summery” than fresh, sun-ripened, locally grown strawberries? Grab a pint for dessert at the market and take some home for the rest of the week. If you can resist eating them, here are a few recipes  from The Ontario Berry Grower’s Association website to give you some inspiration. Please note for all your summer salads: strawberries + balsamic vinegar = perfection.

Spinach Salad

Frozen Strawberry Squares

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Sweet tooth? Visit Sun Ray Orchards for a tart

13th Street Winery will be here this week, so please stop by for a tasting from this amazing St. Catherine’s winery.

And here is everything you need to know for your littles:

  • Face painters will be back!
  • Crafts, colouring pages and more from the Mooseketeer Kids Club in support of the Walk to End Canine Cancer
  • 4:30 p.m. Rob Joy Concert! Touted by Toronto Life magazine as “One of Toronto’s biggest Names in Pint-sized entertainment.”

The East Lynn Farmers’ Market runs every Thursday from 3-7:00 p.m. between June 4 – October 15 at East Lynn Park, located on the south side of Danforth Ave, just west of Woodbine Ave. Stay up to date by visiting the East Lynn Market Facebook page or by following us on Twitter.

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Canada Day is a few days away and you should know about these amazing local events!

Of course, the annual East York Canada Day celebration (including a parade, music, midway and fireworks) will once again take place at Stan Wadlow Park. Check out the website for details on the parade route and music lineup: www.julyfirstparade.com

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The amazing group of neighbours over by Stephenson Park have put together a great event that we all should try to attend!  Join them for acoustic music from 3:00-9:00pm along with watermelon, cake and lemonade. (If you haven’t been to Stephenson Park, you really should put this on your summer to-do list.) Note – wading pools are open so come prepared!

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Do you know that our BIA is once again putting on concerts at East Lynn Park every Wednesday in July?  The series this year is called The Danny Loves Music.

For Canada Day, we can all go rock out to the Spoons. Yes, THE SPOONS (Here is the link to the video for Romantic Traffic, which anyone who lived in Toronto in the 1980s will especially appreciate!).

A lot of people think that DECA organizes this concert series so we’ll say it as many times as possible that full credit goes the Danforth Mosaic BIA, who recently rebranded as “The Danny”. Click here to check out their awesome new website.

Pssst – rumour has it the beer garden will be back!

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Show your appreciation to the BIA for these concerts by supporting their members. Shop on the Danforth as much as you can! Summers can be slow for our local shop owners, so try to make a special effort to wander in and make a purchase or two.

 

Happy Canada Day, neighbours!

 

Have you noticed DECA has a regular podcast? It’s put out with radio traffic announcer Damon Scheffer and his volunteer-partner-in-crime Emily Anastasiadis, a Grade 4 teacher with a passion for radio.

They’ve just finished Episode 4.

This is what Damon had to say about it:

In this episode we talk to Billy Dertilis. He’s the chair of the Danforth Mosaic BIA, owner of the Red Rocket Cafe and he was also a judge for the DECA Gems contest. Billy talks about his interesting life, working with DECA and the challenges facing the hood.

Danforth Mosaic BIA Chair Billy Dertilis, delivering his decision as a judge at the Danforth Gems finale.

Danforth Mosaic BIA Chair Billy Dertilis, delivering his decision as a judge at the Danforth Gems finale.

As well, the East Lynn Farmers Market is back up an running again. Every Thursday at East Lynn Park from 3-7pm you can join hundreds of your neighbours at the park and take in the sites, sounds and most importantly, the tastes of fresh, local fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy products and more. Emily Anastasiadis spoke to a number of the vendors at the market and if her report doesn’t whet your appetite you may need to check if you still have a pulse.

And if that wasn’t enough we’ve got a BONUS feature on Face To Face Games. They recently celebrated their grand opening (even though they’ve been open for nearly a year – they just wanted to make it official) so we thought we’d bring you some of the audio Emily recorded the night of the DECA Gems contest finale that didn’t make it into the last episode.

Enjoy and let us know what you think. If you have any suggestions on stories, events, stores or people you think deserve some coverage in the hood, let us know that as well. You can email me at bergkamp13@gmail.com.

To listen, click here.

Alison McMurray was a community activist long before DECA was born.

If your kids romp around the play structures of East Lynn Park, you have her to thank. She started lobbying for new park equipment when her kids were little. By the time she cut the ribbon, they were tweens and no longer interested in swinging or sliding.

The woman is patient, persuasive and persistent. I think of her as the Queen of East Lynn Park.

She helped found DECA. A year later, one of the members brought up the idea of starting a farmers market, she jumped on it. The next thing we knew, we were meeting city engineering staff in the snow drifts, attending meetings at city hall with two dozen bureaucrats, and knocking on neighbor’s doors asking for support. It was Alison who pushed, cajoled and charmed everyone into giving us the go-ahead.

Seven years later, Alison is still at the market most weeks, opening the shed, helping farmers set up and serving their dinners brought by generous volunteer cooks.

She is a neighborhood jewel.

She does all this, by the way, while running Ceili Cottage with her husband, Pat McMurray. If you haven’t been there for oysters and beer, you are robbing yourself.

Here is ALISON MCMURRAY, in her own words.

Alison McMurray at the East Lynn Farmers' Market 7 years ago, a couple months after it first opened, with Catherine Porter's son, Noah. (He's 7 now, by the way.)

Alison McMurray at the East Lynn Farmers’ Market 7 years ago, a couple months after it first opened, with Catherine Porter’s son, Noah. (The spit up on her shoulder is his. He’s now a giant, by the way.)

My name is… Alison McMurray and I am 47-years-old.

One thing people don’t know about me is… I am part of an Irish Dance Ceili team and we placed 1st in our 8-hand dance at the Eastern Canadian Irish Dance Championships last year.

I moved to Danforth East… when my husband and I were first looking for a house in 1994. He is from the east end of Toronto but I was raised in Kitchener-Waterloo.

One change I’ve seen over the years is… the number of babies!!!   Just one visit to the Farmers’ market and you can see the baby boom that’s taken over. When I moved to the area, all my neighbours were retired and now most are young families. My advice to new neighbours is get to know your neighbours as they are the ones who can help in a crisis be it an ice storm, break in (my house was ransacked last year) or tragedy. I have fantastic neighbours who are my best friends and it makes for a safer community.

The thing I love most about Danforth East is… the sense of belonging and pride of place that the community has.   Coming from Kitchener which was then a small town, I never thought I would find the same tight knit community I grew up in, but I definitely have.

One of my pet peeves is off-leash dogs. A hot topic for some reason but to me in a city where we all have to share, having dogs off leash is not sharing. Having respect for those around you and allowing the parks and ravines to be enjoyed by everyone is a no brainer to me.

My neighbourhood secret is… really the Williamson ravine that my house backs onto. It’s a beautiful and tranquil setting in the middle of a busy city and part of the larger ravine syste, complete with an underground stream. There is a park group I helped start that is looking to naturalize the ravine even further.

The places I go in DECA’s stomping grounds… are not new to most people but I can’t live without a pedicure from Jenny at Metro Nails and a visit at my friend Ruth’s store, Wag on the Danforth.

The thing I’ve done as a DECA board member that I’m most proud of is… to be one of the original founding members of DECA still on the board.   The Farmerlicious Femmes and I started the Farmers’ market which is something I missed from my childhood in Kitchener where I grew up surrounded by fabulous produce and meats from local Mennonite farmers.

This year I hope to… do even more in my favourite park, East Lynn park, with the farmers’ market and finally finish phase 2 of the park that was started over a decade ago. That will be a beautiful path system and potentially a bathroom for 2016!

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Looking for a great way to cap off the school year? Head to the farmers’ market this Thursday.  Shop, eat and relax on the grassy hill of East Lynn Park.

What can you expect this week?  There will be wine from both Coyote’s Run and Broken Stone Wineries.  School Grown has been tweeting up a storm about their scapes and 100 lbs of lettuce that they harvested just yesterday.  And if you’re like me and didn’t know what a scape was, let alone how to cook with it, check out this link for some ideas.

There will also be lots of ready made food options, like loaded baked potatoes from the Borough.  And just in time for Canada Day, Fa Real Custom Tees will be selling some of their custom made East York Tee’s.

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A student from School Grown showing off her scapes.

Also important to know about this week: There is NO FACE PAINTING. However, Kelly and the gang from Face-to-Face Games will have games galore to entertain and stimulate brains young and old.  Toronto Public Library will have story-time and a craft activity starting at 4:30 p.m.

And don’t forget, there is a community safety walk starting at 7:00 p.m. with members of the Toronto Police Service. The group will meet at the top of the hill by the water fountain and walk east along Danforth Avenue to Main Street.

Wellness Booth 

Dancing for fun, happiness and joy!  Come and learn how dancing not only is a fun way to exercise but it has additional benefits like; reducing stress, improving strength and flexibility, keeping our muscles and joints healthy, improving posture and balance. Not only that but people participating in dance, learning sequences, mastering new skills helps with brain development, makes us smarter and can lift our mood and make us Happy!

Pegasus Studios will be at the Farmer’s Market Wellness Table to give you information, tips and maybe even get you moving!

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Pegasus dancers in a flash mob.

The East Lynn Farmers’ Market runs every Thursday from 3-7:00 p.m. between June 4 – October 15 at East Lynn Park, located on the south side of Danforth Ave, just west of Woodbine Ave. Stay up to date by visiting the East Lynn Market Facebook page or by following us on Twitter.

Anita Schretlen was DECA’s chair for three long years. She was pushed into it. Our founding chair, Natasha Granatstein, had asked for someone to share the role with her and finally, Anita agreed to. (She’d only been on the board for a year then.)

A couple months later, Natasha abandoned ship! She was too burnt out. And Anita would soon discover why. Being DECA’s chair, when this little organization started a decade ago, involved hosting an annual all-candidates’ debate, and inviting people to your house to drink wine and dream collaboratively about the fun we could have in this neighborhood.

Suddenly, DECA had become an empire. There was the farmers’ market, the arts fair, the garage sale, pumpkin walk, winter festival, Art on the Danforth, the pop-up projects…

By the time she stepped down as chair last November, Anita was logging 15 hours a week — answering emails, reading proposals, talking to councillors and board members, interviewing prospective pop-up tenants, chairing meetings, discussing DECA’s work with university professors studying our area, giving press interviews….

No one wanted to talk over. We were all too intimidated, by both the amount of work involved, and Anita’s legacy. You cannot find a calmer captain in a hurricane. Anita is balanced, thoughtful, wise, and truly unflappable. And she is kind.

Finally, when it looked like we were going to have to rotate the chair position, month by month, Sheri stepped forward. Phew! (We divided some of the work, so she won’t burn out — hopefully.) And then, Anita agreed to take over as DECA’s treasurer.

And through all this, you might not have met Anita. She’s fairly shy, and she doesn’t talk about herself much. Only recently did I learn she grew up in Elliot Lake! So when you do see her on the street, make a point of asking her questions.

Here is the brilliant and beautiful ANITA SCHRETLEN, in her own words….

Anita Schretlen and Houman, the owner of Bella Lite (1989 Danforth Ave.)

Anita Schretlen and Houman, the owner of Bella Lite (1989 Danforth Ave.)

My name and age is…
Anita Schretlen, 43

One thing people don’t know about me is…
I’m often seen around the neighbourhood at odd hours, so I get asked a lot if DECA is my job. That would be lovely, but unfortunately not the case. I actually work from home for a small artisanal leather goods company, Rimanchik, doing anything and everything business-related. Being part of a small business, I really see firsthand the impact that individual shopping decisions have on the livelihoods of these businesses and business owners. I think it’s for this reason that much of my focus with DECA has been on supporting the small businesses in our ‘hood.

I moved to Danforth East … 

In 2009. We had been renting in the Chaplin Estates area, which was beautiful, but we were expecting our second child and needed a bigger space. We were very methodical about our house hunt, circling areas on the map that fit all our criteria — good schools, nearby daycares, proximity to the subway, etc. We actually didn’t know anything about this neighbourhood but it was one of only 2 areas in Toronto that had everything we were looking for. Once we got here, it didn’t take us long to realize what a great decision it had been, but not for the objective criteria we had been trying to measure.

The thing I love most about Danforth East is…

The great feeling of community we have. I’m not from Toronto, and never really felt at home here until we moved to this neighbourhood. It’s the most community-minded and down-to-earth place I’ve lived in in the city. I love that we are always bumping into friends on the street and the shopkeepers know us by name.

One change I’ve seen over the years….  

Our stretch of the Danforth is becoming more and more interesting every year! Even just 5 years ago, there was barely a place to stop for coffee. On mat leave, I used to walk my stroller all the way to Greektown just for some signs of life. Now, we have tons of great new shops, restaurants and bars, gyms and other services. But despite all the changes, the original character of the ‘hood still shines through, which I love.

My advice to new neighbours is… 

A great way to meet your neighbours is to join DECA! Come out to our meetings, volunteer for an event, get involved. I have met so many great people and made some really wonderful friends, all while helping to improve my own neighbourhood.

My biggest local pet peeve is…

Businesses and property owners that do not upkeep their space. It’s their private property, but it’s our public space and letting it go brings down the whole commercial stretch. The vacant property tax rebate also has a negative effect on our area, by rewarding property owners for keeping their spaces vacant, This is something we are trying to change through our pop-up shop project, but it’s a long slog.

My neighborhood secret is… 

A few months ago, I joined a handful of friends for dinner at Stock in Trade (1272 Danforth Ave), a butcher near Greenwood. It was an amazing night – held after hours, a table set right in the middle of the space and a delicious multi-course meal featuring their quality meats and seasonal produce.  With such an intimate setting, personable service and top-notch food prepared just for us, it really did feel like a well-kept secret. And, did I mention it is BYOB, with no corkage? I highly recommend it, the Stock in Trade Supper Club.

The place I go in DECA’s stomping grounds that you’ve likely never frequented is…

Bella Lite. Granted, it’s not every day that you need a light fixture. But when you do, Bella Lite is the place to go! Houman, the owner, is so friendly and knowledgeable and has a huge selection (don’t let the small storefront fool you, he has access to everything from the most basic fixture to the fanciest chandeliers), including the ability to custom-make items. Prices are very competitive. It’s been a while since I needed a fixture, but the last time I did, Houman and his wife even delivered it to my doorstep when they realized I was planning to walk home with it.

The thing I’ve done as a DECA board member that makes me most proud is…

I was lucky enough to chair the DECA Board for about three years. It is a truly motivated and inspirational team to be working with. During this time, we grew fairly significantly in terms of our initiatives and our reach and I am proud to have played a hand in that.

I’ve also been a founding member of our East Danforth renewal team, the group that has been working to fill empty storefronts with pop-up shops and otherwise revitalize our commercial strip. It’s been a ton of work, but it’s been very rewarding to see our vacant storefronts slowly filling up, our streetscape beginning to change and several of our participating entrepreneurs continue on as permanent businesses.

My final word….

An easy way to help revitalize our area is to commit to shopping local when you can. There are so many benefits to this simple act, from keeping dollars within our community to protecting our local character and diversity of businesses. You can read more about it here

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