Community Celebration June 22, 2019

We had a community celebration on Saturday June 22, 2019 at the Wellesley Community Centre. We wanted to share the results of the feasibility study with the community and thank everyone who participated in the various consultation processes and events throughout the past year. We were happy to present our accomplishments to the community and get people excited for the next steps. There was time for people to socialize and have fun, listen to the presentation, eat food, and go through the reports and ways to get involved information packages.

There was an amazing meal provided by Suruthi’s and Parliament Shawarma which filled everyone’s tummy and everyone was able to bring home leftovers as well. Our musician, Rosita Stone, played emotionally and beautifully, bring people to tears in the audience. Then we had a fun time dancing and chatting with one another, bonding over food and festive spirits!

Thank you to everyone who came out as well as our volunteer. Also, welcome to new members and volunteers!

We’ll have lots of events coming up including our Community Thursdays Series from 6-8pm at the The New Common Every Thursday this summer, come check us out! Calendar is here: http://stjamestowncoop.org/events/

You can find photos of the event here.

 

AGM May 18, 2019

The St James Town Community Co-operative held its Annual General Meeting on May 18, 2019. This AGM was called for a second time as we did not have enough members at our AGM in March for quorum and our constitution stipulates a second AGM.

We took the time to go through what a co-op is, the principles of a co-op, the year in review, strategic planning for the summer, and vote on motions and board elections.

It was a productive AGM with many wonderful ideas that came out of it and we are excited to move into the new year with a new board and engaged members.

One particular motion that passed at this AGM is the change from a lifetime membership to an annual membership. We are giving all current co-operative members until June 30th to contact us to arrange membership renewal and pay the associated $5 annual fee.

We look forward to this summer and engaging with our member-owners in making this food hub a reality in St James Town!

You can find minutes of the AGM here

We’re Hiring! Oasis Food Hub Project Assistant – Community Engagement

Commitment: 35 hours per week, for 8 weeks
Salary: $14/hr
Start Date: May 27th, 2019

How to apply: send your resume to sjtcommunitycoop@gmail.com We will send you an application form which you will need to fill out and send back to us by May 10. We will then contact those we are interested in for an interview.

Job Description: Seeking an outgoing community activator for the OASIS Food Hub – a community-run initiative to increase healthy and affordable and climate-resilient food in the St. James Town neighbourhood. This is an innovative food security project in the early stages of development that will be the first of its kind in the world.

This summer, we will be focused on increasing community awareness and commitment to the project. You will be a part of a two-person team – supported by member-owners of the St. James Town Co-op – focused on:
• Networking and Presenting to Community Groups such as Resident Associations
• Outreach at Street Festivals
• Run a 3-hr space once a week: informational sessions, co-op orientations, educational and community gatherings

Requirements:
• Young Person 15-30 years old (federal grant requirements)
• Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident
• Preference Given to St. James Town Residents

Our ideal candidate has the following skills:
• Inter-Personal Skills
• Public Speaking
• Coordination of people and events
• Working in a diverse community

Our ideal candidate also has Knowledge/Interest/Experience in one or more of the following:
• Food Security and Climate Change
• Urban Agriculture
• Co-operatives
• Community Development
• Facilitation
• Nature-Education
• Events Coordination
• Lobbying
• Alternative Economies such as Time Banking and Gift Economy

OASIS Design Gathering #3

We held our third and final design gathering on Friday February 8th. Where previous design gatherings asked for input from residents and allied organizations, our third gathering invited stakeholders and community organizations to engage with us in conversation about potential channels of collaboration as well as give us feedback on our work thus far. Representatives from various community organizations attended as well as our city councillor, Kristyn Wong-Tam, and representative from our MPP and MP’s offices.

The design gathering started off with presentations from Josephine on the history of the projects and our Project Co-Coordinators, Yi Fan and Darryl, on how the feasibility study is progressing. Our technical consultants, Waterfarmers, also presented an overview of their findings for the technical study and we also have time for some questions and answers. After a short break, Councillor Wong-Tam gave a very inspirational speech on how the strengths and weaknesses of the community as well as pledged her full support of the project which we were really excited to hear.

The final part of the design gathering culminated in a group conversation on other channels of funding, support, and collaboration that participants suggested. Overall, we were glad that so many people came out on a cold and icy Friday to both hear about the project but also to support the co-op in realizing the dream of a food secure community.

In the upcoming months, we’ll be gathering the information from all three design gatherings to present at our AGM in March before writing everything up for our feasibility study. We’re really excited to continue this work and can’t wait to share with you the results of our feasibility study!

Check out other photos of the event here

OASIS Design Gathering #2 – November 17, 2018

We had our second OASIS design gathering on Saturday, November 17th at the Cabbagetown Youth Centre. We started the day with lunch, and a fun ice-breaking word association activity to get our minds thinking about important issues and our bodies warmed up to work. We built on the discussions from the first design meeting by splitting into small groups to share our thoughts on four specific areas: bulk buying food buying, food growing, food processing and storage, and waste and repurposing. All of the groups completed a “Flourishing Cities Design Canvas”, where we focused on both the short and long-term necessities for food security and resiliency in the community.

There were great dialogues happening that allowed for connections to be made between residents, community partners, and farming representatives that helped us generate a more specific and robust plan for OASIS. At the end of the day, everyone reported back so that all of the attendants could share what they have accomplished, and learn from the expertise of the other focus groups. Each group came up with three “Action Steps” that can be implemented right away to make inroads into achieving our goals for OASIS. The enthusiasm in the room was electric, and everyone was able to come together to collectively resolve important community issues. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend, share, listen, and help make a difference!

 

You can find more pictures of the event here.

Stayed tune for our third design gathering happening in early January!

Written by: Dani T.

Ward 13 Candidates Forum Oct 17, 2018

St James Town Community Co-op and CREW hosted a candidates forum on Community Resilience and Emergency Planning for ward 13 city council candidates on Oct 17th, 2018 at the Church of St. Peter and St. Simon in St. James Town. We invited all the candidates who were running for councillor to the forum and we had five questions prepared in advance for the candidates to answer.

At the forum, the candidates who showed up were: Jon Callegher, Megann Willson, Rob Wolvin, Walied Khogali Ali, Gladys Larbie, Tim Gordanier, George Smitherman, Richard Forget, and Jordan Stone while Lucy Triosi sent her apologies. We kicked off the evening with snacks and an intro statement from each candidate before we moved onto the questions. There were moments of tension and candidates also expressed frustration that the incumbent candidates were not present at the forum. At the same time, we had insightful conversations and thoughts from candidates on what community resilience looks like to them and how to best prepare for emergency situations in St. James Town.

We had some time at the end of the evening for questions from the audience and the questions that came up included:

  1. How would you ensure that you are accessible to all residents regardless of status?
  2. How will you raise revenue for the projects you want to create?
  3. People are dying from overdoses in the community, what will you do to address this issue?
  4. Do you have a plan of action to get to know your community?

We’re thankful that the candidates had a chance to join us on this evening to share their ideas and how they want to engage these important topics. We’re also glad that people in the community want to engage in these discussion and demand that our candidates work for them and represent them well.

You can find photos of the event here.

You can find a live tweet thread of the debate here covered by Justin Chatwin

Design Gathering #1 – Oct 13

 

We had our first OASIS design gathering last Saturday, Oct 13 at the Wellesley Community Centre! Over 30 residents and participants came out to share their ideas and vision what they want OASIS to look like in stage 1 and specifically how they envision a community kitchen and a food storage unit. We had great conversations and a delicious lunch to keep us going; there was also a kids group where youth got a chance to ask pertinent questions for the project and present a solid vision of what they wanted to see. The kids’ presentation definitely had the adults in the room thinking and chuckling.

The energy in the room was amazing and every table was buzzing with conversation and chatter. This is what we want to encourage in the community: people gathering to talk about important issues and solutions and meeting other folks in the community.We can’t wait for the smaller laser groups, set up through this design gathering, to work on more detailed aspects of the projects and bring more focus and expertise to the table. Our next design gathering is happening on Nov. 10 and allies are invited to join residents at this stage. Keep in touch to hear about other events and progress on OASIS coming up!

Check out more photos from the gathering from our Facebook album here.

Don Valley Walk August 4th 2018

On Saturday August 3rd the St. James Town Community Co-op led a plant identification walk through the lower Don Valley. We were fortunate to be joined by knowledgeable and enthusiastic community members who shared their own perspectives and expertise to our walk. Among the plants we identified were Jewelweed, which can be used to treat rashes and irritations; Japanese Knotweed, a hardy invasive plant that acts as a cleanser for the liver, kidneys, and digestive tracts; and Wild Grape Vine, a native plant that can strangle and kill trees if left to grow without human stewardship. We also had informative discussion on the nuances of removing invasive species, particularly whether or not invasive species should be taken out of an ecosystem if they fill their ecological niche more effectively than their native counterpart. We ended the walk with a visit to the Evergreen Brickworks, and participants were excited to learn that that there would be more walks to come!

Check out images here: https://www.facebook.com/sjtcoop/posts/1888596687899942

Tour of Naadmaadgit Ki (NKG)

Last Saturday, we went on a tour of the lands that Naadmaadgit Ki Group is taking care of near the Humber River. We all met at Sherbourne St and took the TTC together to Jane and Eglington to meet our guide, Doug, and his friend, Aaron, for the tour.

 

Although our group was small — no more than 8 people — it happened to be the perfect size for the tour, down to to number of shovels that Doug brought with him. Fortunately, the weather was also cooperating with us that day and held off on both rain and sun to give us a comfortable setting for a tour and some restoration work.

 

As we walked through the land, Doug and Aaron talked about their indigenous relationship to the land, pointed out all kinds of useful information about the plants around us, and encouraged us to think about our own relations to land and nature. At one point, Doug told us to imagine that the whole area is a garden! We also got a chance to help out by removing some invasive common reeds that are threatening to engulf the side of the Humber River banks; it was hard work but rewarding as we looked back at what we had accomplished in over 30mins time.

 

Here are a few reflections from some participants on the tour:

 

“When I saw the work that NKG was doing it seemed like an overwhelming task. My most significant moment was when we were clearing an invasive grass species beside the Humber River. I think I might have helped pull out ten stalks.  Our guide, Doug, was appreciative of the contributions we had made.  I am sure that I did very little!  As I got to know more about the vision of the group for the area, it made me realize that indeed, this was a perfect metaphor for the Oasis Community Food Hub.  In order to have the endurance and perseverance, one must be energized by a vision.  It was not just about pulling out the invasive weeds beside the river bank but it is seeing the vision of what the place could be for the indigenous peoples in the future.  Similarly, one could easily get discouraged if nothing seems to be happening in the accomplishment of an Oasis Community Food Hub but the vision must inspire a persistent action.” – Petite

 

“The NKG trip was an eye-opener. I realized that parts of many plants can serve as food and are available for consumption if one knows how to recognize and cook them. Some of them are also medicinal. Such knowledge is either not mainstream, or has been lost. Hence people resort to the easily available, and sometimes unhealthy, food. In a similar vein, immigrants who make a new country their home have no option other than consuming food that is easily available. This unavailability of foods that gave them comfort and happiness in their country of  origin sets in an additional stressor to their otherwise burdened lives.. OASIS in St. Jamestown has this great potential of growing, acquiring and storing foods that are culture specific and heartwarming thus lending peace of mind and health to the otherwise stressed community.” – Darryl

 

“I’m an elementary school teacher. I’ve always been keen on inspiring my students with a love for nature. At the tour of NKG, however, I realized that my own enthusiasm for nature is very shallow. Having joined a few other nature walks, I was expecting no more than recognizing plants, their uses as food and medicine or their potential harms to humans and to the ecosystem. We did precisely that, but the experience left a much more impactful impression in me: no one should be owners but caretakers of land. We have the responsibility to interact with, to use, and to look after the plants and other living things on the land. When Doug, our tour leader, explained to us his family’s indigenous tradition and practice of burying babies’ placentas in the land, I realized how central the land is to his identity, his history, and his worldview. The trip has kindled in me a desire to understand myself as a person and as a teacher through this land I’m currently living on. ” – Enosh

 

“It was a wonderful learning experience to be out in nature with Doug and Aaron from NKG. I learnt so much about the different plants growing in Toronto, both native and invasive species. Other than enhancing my ecological and botanical knowledge, the experience was also very enlightening and rejuvenating as I was able to really connect with nature and reflect upon our place in the larger scheme of things, in the past, present, and future.” – Becky

 

As these reflections show, all of us are really appreciative of being given the opportunity to learn from and connect with the NKG. It gave many of us food for thought and it was an encouragement as well to see and be a small of their great vision.

 

                  

Dinner and Social on July 20th 2018

We had a great time at the dinner and social on Wednesday evening and I love that we had a lot of people come out to the event. It was even better to hear that many people that we met through our weekly outreach attended! Although we had a few technical difficulties at the beginning, we managed to get started without a hitch.

Josephine presented our new powerpoint on the OASIS community food hub project we’re trying to get off the ground and had a discussion on the importance of involving indigenous people in the project. People also had a chance to have discussions and brainstorm what clean and healthy food means to them.

During the dinner prepared by our amazing cook, Petra, the team got to chat with people who came to the social dinner about their thoughts on the project and just getting to know people in the neighbourhood. I saw many enthusiastic conversation and was delighted to see that a broad range of people were engaged with our project.

I’m glad that we had an opportunity to host a dinner social to connect with people over healthy and delicious food. I’m even more excited that there were fruitful conversations about the community food hub and genuinely interested people who are keen to get involved!

– Yi Fan