50 years in Canada

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It’s been 50 years since I came to Canada, newly married to John Phillips.He attempted for months to get  conscientious objector status so that he could serve for two years doing non-military service. This process involved defining his personal definition of a supreme being and proving his beliefs with public evidence. He wasn’t successful, so we dropped out of the Quaker college that we were attending and moved to Canada.

(See the video Vietnam: Canada’s Shadow War for background about the Vietnam War and Canada’s support to both the war and the war resisters. In 2016, the  film, directed by Andy Blicq,  won the Best History Documentary in the Canadian Screen Awards I am one of the featured interviews with photos by John and me.)    http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episodes/vietnam-canadas-shadow-war

We settled on Baldwin Street in Toronto and got our first jobs creating the Baldwin Street Club with the Company of Young Canadians teaching photography and writing to children with learning disabilities and teaching teenagers at Point Blank School, an alternative school.

Toronto, 1968

It was Centennial year, 1967, a very optimistic time. It felt that almost any idea that we would try would work. We started the Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography. The first exhibition was children’s photography with their poetry and stories displayed.  We also co-founded Snowflake  Day Care  Centre for Baldwin neighbourhood children.

The gallery moved to several locations and left  Baldwin St in 1980.

Six Of The Best – Photographic History

On June 21st, I’ll be one of six speakers at the Photographic Historical Society meeting My topic is the history of the Baldwin Street Gallery.My involvement with the Photographic Historical Society began in the 1970’s as a charter member. In the past few years, I have again gotten involved having a table at the photo fairs and attending meetings. It’s well worth becoming a member.  The magazine is   informative and friendly. http://phsc.ca

 June 21,  7:00pm FREE,

North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St , Toronto (conveniently indoor walk from North York Centre subway)

Jane’s Walk “Power, People & Possibilities”

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Social and Environmental Justice in South Riverdale, Leslieville and Riverside

Saturday May 2 11:00 am Meet at the Dark Horse (630 Queen Street E. @ Carroll Street.) The walk stops at five spots in the community and lasts about 1.5  hours 

Jane’s Walks 2015 are  walking tours that build community by getting  neighbours together and by discussing local urban issues.  There are about 200 Jane’s Walks in the Greater Toronto Area during a three day Jane’s Walk Festival May 1-3. Other cities in other parts of the world are doing walks too. See Jane’s Walks

I’ll be one of the “special guests”  of  Councillor Paula Fletcher. First you will visit two parks and the Ralph Thornton Centre and then head  to the church-yard of the Queen St. E. Presbyterian Church (Queen St E. at Carlaw Ave.) beside the South Riverdale Community Health Centre. It’s not a long walk from the coffee shop to the finish. I will look forward to chatting with you about the  “get the lead out” struggle and success.

To me Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) has been a legend who I have looked up to for 50 years. She authored many books including The Death and Life of Great American Cities. In 1968, she left the United States and settled in Toronto.

At that time, John Phillips and I had a gallery on Baldwin Street just two blocks south of the University of Toronto. Jane Jacob sent students to interview us about our attitude towards wide sidewalks. Really, I had never thought about sidewalks one way or another. But after living on the street and being asked by different students, I became aware of the importance of sidewalks to the building of  our very tight community on Baldwin Street.  I  awed Jane Jacobs as she voice her opinions and took on many of  our city’s planning and transportation issues.  She kept questioning and challenging throughout her life.

It is a delight to be asked by Paula Fletcher to be a “special guest” on a Jane’s Walk within our neighbourhood . Paula asked me because I became obsessed with pollution and health from a lead smelter (Canada Metals). It took almost the entire community of South Riverdale to get involved, to get the children’s blood tested, pollution control devices installed, contaminated soil replaced, and houses and schools cleaned. But then when this was all done, the company wanted to expand.  So don’t get me started. I’ll start ranting about the company not paying for the clean up. They finally closed and the film industry is on the site.

Enough said. Join a Jane’s Walk.  Not everybody is as lead obsessed as me. So check out the others. You may prefer skateboarding in the financial district.