One of the many adjustments that The Dale has faced this past year is that we mainly operate out of one space, rather than somewhere different every day of the week. Thanks to our new van (lovingly known as Morrison), we are able to carry lots of supplies with us when we engage in street outreach, connecting with folks in a variety of locations around the neighbourhood. But for the most part we spend our time at 201 Cowan Ave, either in the basement doing food prep and office work, or outside running our programming.
While I really miss our pre-COVID way of operating, I am so grateful to its leadership that this space has remained available to The Dale during the pandemic (when all of our other partner buildings have needed to close). I am also very grateful for the opportunity to build deeper sort of relationships with our current neighbours at 201 Cowan Ave.
This building is primarily known as Epiphany and St. Mark Anglican Church, but is also currently home to a few other organizations: Greenest City (GC), Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT), and Flick the Switch.
Greenest City works with the Parkdale community “to create innovative projects that promote health, support community action, and enhance social and environmental justice in Toronto.” One of the programs of GC is the HOPE Community Garden, in which The Dale has a plot. We’ve had a long connection with GC, particularly with its current Executive Director, and it’s been great getting to see her and the rest of the kind and dedicated staff on a more regular basis.
PNLT is “a community land trust in Parkdale led by a group of residents and organizations trying to protect the social, cultural and economic diversity of Parkdale by redefining how land is used and developed.” As the neighbourhood gentrifies and becomes less affordable, PNLT seeks to ensure that no one is left behind, and that the community members have a say in how space is used. I’ve always had huge respect for this organization, and it’s been sweet sharing some time and space with a few of the fine folks doing this important work.
Flick the Switch is an artists’ collective, founded after a number of artists were evicted from studios in an old factory. They are a vibrant, creative bunch, and have generously partnered with The Dale in a variety of ways.
Other organizations have come and gone from this building over the years, including Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS). These lawyers and law students engage in community organizing, law reform and advocacy. They provide legal advice and representation on a variety of matters including housing rights, which is especially important as Parkdale gentrifies and evictions happen all too frequently. Ironically and tragically, they themselves were evicted from the building they had rented for many years, and found a temporary home in a portion of the basement of 201 Cowan while they searched for a more suitable space.
If this blog seems like one long plug for a bunch of organizations… that’s because it is 🙂 I want to share my gratitude for people doing good work in Parkdale, and these are just the folks who are/have been under this one particular roof! I could go on about PARC, St. Francis Table, PQWCHC, Parkdale People’s Economy (whose acronym is a little too confusing to use these days!), Sistering, Bonar Parkdale Presbyterian, Community Fridges Toronto, the Parkdale Community Food Bank, the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and others, but I won’t…today.
In the midst of this hurting, mixed up world, there is a lot of good. Thank you to everyone mentioned above, and everyone else too ❤