Category Archives: community initiatives

Refresh: the great paint in the Shoreham community

Volunteers painted inside the homes of Shoreham Court community members this month as part of the Refresh program. Here, volunteers from Indiana pose with Esther (mother, centre-left), Matthew (son, in the doorframe) and Mike (father, right), a family whose home was painted. (All photos courtesy of Kevin Motiram)

By Tom Kear and Kevin Motiram

From July 10 to 18, nearly 200 volunteers from Canada and the U.S. spent their time painting houses and getting to know those who live in the Shoreham Court community. It was all part of a project called Refresh, which was organized by the Ephraim’s Place Community Centre in partnership with the Jane-Finch Church Coalition. The program is designed to create a strong sense of community, restore local pride and improve the living conditions of those living in homes provided by Toronto Community Housing.

Diana Am. and Gladis An. both had a number of rooms in their Shoreham homes painted by volunteers from local Jane-Finch Church Coalition churches and from the U.S. “I am really happy to have some volunteer assistance in getting my home painted,” said Gladis, who moved her furniture back from the walls and provided lunch for the volunteer painters.

Megan Henney, a high school student from Pittsburgh, was one of the many volunteers for the Refresh program. “It goes both ways: we learned about the family in the home we were painting, and we had a great lunch.”

Chicken, noodles and watermelon were prepared by one family for hungry painters.

Kara Getkin, a volunteer who is on staff at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, added, “This has been a great cultural experience.”

Over nine days, approximately 55 families had painting done in their homes by 199 volunteers. Ephraim’s Place and the Jane-Finch Church Coalition would like to thank Gillian Dennis and the Toronto Community Housing staff along with Jamac Nur and other leaders in the Shoreham community for working so cooperatively with the volunteers.

Young painters Michael Scalia and Claire Sunberg take part in the program...

... along with Dan Hoddinott, who takes care of the difficult, higher-up painting.

Pastor Bill Sunberg and Kevin Motiram discuss plans for a week of painting.

Cynthia and Stephen Atkinson, who also take part in the program.

Community and city leaders attend the Jane-Finch Church Coalition barbecue: Shoreham tenant representative Jamac Nur and Councillor Anthony Perruzza.

During the Refresh program, volunteers sit outside to enjoy lunch in the summer heat.


Jane-Finch’s Green Change Project wins Toronto Green Award!

Jane-Finch community reduces carbon footprint by 2,000 tonnes and gets 2010 Toronto Green Award
Written by M. Ann Phillips

Members and supporters of the Green Change Project accept the award for best green community project. Photo by Tom Kear.

Congratulations to the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, the entire York West community and all the Green Change Agents that have taken part in the Green Change Agent project over the past year.

At the Green Living Show on April 23, 2010 the Green Change Project won the Toronto Green Award for best community project. For the Green Change Agent Project, which is just celebrating its first year this April, winning the Toronto Green Community Project Award is a real achievement and an indication of the amount of work that the entire community has put into making green the colour of choice for Jane and Finch.

Over the past year, 60 community residents have become Green Change Agents by receiving over 45 hours of training in a variety of areas: how to reduce waste and conserve energy, recycling, how to conduct waste and energy audits, how to use the Zerofootprint software to track their personal carbon footprint and keep track of the amount of CO2 emissions their lifestyle is producing, and how to become more active and take steps to live green. As a result of the energy and waste audits conducted by the Green Change Agents, the community has reduced its combined carbon emissions by over 2,000 tonnes.  Now this is the real accomplishment!

There was a crowd of Jane-Finch community residents at the Toronto Green Awards to support the project.  They all would have liked to be on stage to accept the award, but the person who represented the group was Rosemarie Powell, Assistant Executive Director, who was one of the originators of the idea for the project.

Rosemarie Powell at the Toronto Green Awards. Photo by Tom Kear.

“We planted the seed,” said Rosemarie. “It unifies a diverse group of people and organizations.”

As the project moves forward over the next 3 years, expect to see great things as Jane-Finch continues to go green!

Other finalists in the community projects category were Sketch, an art and urban garden project for street involved and homeless youth, and a neighbourhood solar panel project organized by the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation.  They each received an Award of Excellence. The Afri-Can Food Basket was also one of the Toronto Green Award finalists in the Local Food category for their urban farm and the work they do to meet the nutritional, health and food security needs of the community.

To see the video of all the finalists, visit the City of Toronto website here.

Green Change in Jane-Finch

We all know that education is the key to real change, and that’s why the Green Change project makes so much sense. It’s a one-year initiative to train eco mentors in the Jane-Finch community.

With the help of Toronto Community Housing (TCH) and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) – and a grant from the province – the project is offering a 45-hour environmental training program focused on reducing waste, conserving energy, and more.

The project is also making sure that everyone is involved and that the program is inclusive. Residents and staff from local agencies are encouraged to participate. You can contact the project here to register for a training session or to find out more information.

Are you involved in the Green Change project? Want to share what you’ve learned, how you’re making Jane-Finch a greener place? Share your story in the comments section here!

Take back the neighbourhood!

Take BAC 13

Youth in Jane-Finch, and all across the city of Toronto, are getting their hands dirty revitalizing their communities and helping out the environment at the same time. How? They’re part of Take BAC 13 (BAC stands for “beautiful and clean” and the “13” represents the 13 priority neighbourhoods in Toronto, where the program is focused).

In 2009, more than 100 youth participated in the program in 18 different planting projects that included community gardens, creating outdoor art and cleaning up their outdoor spaces. The best part is that the teams were responsible for designing, planning and executing their own projects, which included managing a budget and attending workshops.

A lot of different organizations in Toronto have come together to make this great program happen year after year, including Toronto Community Housing Corporation, and Evergreen (find out about the rest here).

Are you a part of the Jane-Finch Take BAC 13 team this summer? Or have you seen some of their projects in your community? Send your pictures to zalina.alvi [AT] and we’ll post them on our blog! Or just add your comments about how Take BAC 13 is changing your neighbourhood right here.