It has become increasingly clear, over the past few months, that building community in a pandemic is… hard! We, as a staff team, are SO thankful that we’ve been able to continue working together in Parkdale, seeing our folks and meeting practical needs. AND, it’s really difficult that we haven’t been able to sit down and eat together as a community, welcome people into full participation through volunteering of time and talents, have long discussions or times of prayer and worship, and the other things that make The Dale feel “Dale-ish”.
That being said, we have found many creative ways to remain connected to the community as best we can; we do lots of street outreach, we have a list of people with whom we regularly speak on the phone, we published a devotional and distributed it to people in the community who liked the idea of reading/praying/reflecting through the same material at the same time (though separately), and we found a way to safely hold an outdoor memorial for our friend Jahn. I am so grateful for all these ways we have found to be “Dale-ish”.
However, over these past few months we have seen a significant number of new faces in the lines up for to-go meals, and have realized that many of these folks have no context for The Dale beyond these line-ups. I recently had the chance to explain who we “really are” to a newcomer, and she was surprised and delighted that we usually sit down and eat together, and that she would have been welcome to volunteer if she wanted to (and that she will be in the future, once COVID dies down!)
This all motivated us to put together a little “Intro to the Dale” handout, to go along with our August/September calendar. I’ve included it below.
As we have entered Stage Three and can have larger outdoor gatherings, we hope to have more and more “Dale-ish” times together 🙂
If you’re new to The Dale:
Welcome! We’re so glad that you have found us! We want to properly introduce ourselves, and explain a bit about The Dale’s core values, which include:
Breaking down barriers
The Dale is a nomadic community organization and church. We do not own a building of our own, but borrow spaces around the neighbourhood. We welcome all people and make intentional space for those who might more often be found in the margins.
During non-COVID times our schedule looks like this:
On Mondays we are at Bonar Parkdale Presbyterian Church (250 Dunn Ave) for a sit-down lunch. We encourage community participation in all aspects of the day, from meal prep, to delivering platters of food to each table, to dishwashing, to playing music.
On Thursday mornings we are at the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Center (1229 Queen St. West) for a sit-down brunch and self-directed art drop-in where people can participate in meal prep, clean up, art and music-making.
On Tuesday afternoons we are in the back corner of the Salvation Army Thrift Store (1447 Queen St. West) for a conversational drop-in with snacks and board games, on Tuesday evenings at St. Francis Table (1322 Queen St. West) for a Bible Study, and Sunday afternoons at Epiphany and St. Marks (201 Cowan Ave) for a church service.
Of course, things have looked very different for the past few months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For everyone’s health and safety, we have not been able to have many community volunteers, sit and eat together, or hold our usual programming. This has been really sad and hard, but we are also very grateful that we have been able to see each other face to face around the neighbourhood and on Mondays and Thursdays when meals are distributed.
We dearly hope that it will soon be safe to start operating in a way that better fits our values, but we know this may be a slow transition.
We hope that this introduction to The Dale has been helpful, and that you will continue to be involved with The Dale even after COVID is over! If you want more information about this community, you can visit our website, thedale.org, or approach any of us with your questions!!
Peace be yours,
Erinn (Pastor and Director), Joanna (Community Worker), Pete (Community Worker), and Olivia (Community Worker)