Danforth East Pops Up!

I live in the east end of the city, close to the Danforth, but not the part of the Danforth known as Greektown. No, we’re further east, beyond the reach of Starbucks, in a (so the lingo goes) gentrifying part of town: Danforth East.

It’s a great place to raise a family, as it has all the community amenities that one could want: a great library, good schools, local sports facilities, and a vibrant community-run farmers’ market in East Lynn Park.  However, if you were to walk along our stretch of the Danforth, you’d probably be less than inclined to stay and find out what the neighbourhood is about, given the number of papered-over storefronts that line the street between Coxwell and Woodbine.  There are fantastic independently-run businesses in the area deserving of foot traffic, (I’m looking at you, Better Bulk, Royal Beef, and Silly Goose Kids ) but with so many For Lease signs in windows, the whole area has the appearance of being down and out:  those empty storefronts make you want to go elsewhere.

Enter the Danforth East Community Association (DECA) and their Renew East Danforth Pop-Up Stores Project. Modeled after a successful similar project in Newcastle, Australia, the Pop-Up Stores project links building owners with potential short-term tenants. DECA volunteers paint and ready the stores for the tenants, and landlords donate their empty premises for a short period to entrepreneurs looking to get their feet wet in the world of retailing. After a successful pilot this fall, DECA has organized a full-month of Pop-up stores  — nine shops in six storefronts — in anticipation of the holiday season.

The Toronto Star’s Catherine Porter, who is also one of the project’s organizers, wrote a great article recently about the project’s genesis and aims:  take a look!

It’s a great project with a smart bottom line: if you want to revitalize an area, you need to make it vital for people to come.   By creating foot traffic on the street, DECA is creating buzz  and turning the Danforth East into a destination.  Newcastle, Australia saw a complete turn-around of its downtown business district in three short years. Here’s hoping the Renew East Danforth Pop-Up Stores Project can do the same here.

For more information about the Pop-Up  Stores Project and the artists, entrepreneurs and creative minds who will be setting up shop, click here.

Buy local this holiday season, and pay us a visit out east. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Everybody’s Gonna Have a Real Good Time

This past weekend, serendipitously, I watched a swimming pool full of children between the ages of four and twelve sing and splash to LMFAO‘s I’m Sexy and I Know It.  As the opening notes sounded, a rush of kids emerged from underneath towels and off of chaises lounges;  into the pool they went, where for three minutes, they danced and carried on like the kids they were, completely oblivious to the underlying meaning of of the lyrics of that song. Half the adults in the pool were singing along, too. Say what you will about the artistic merit of the song, you can’t deny that it’s catchy. It puts you in a good mood. It makes you not-at-all sorry for party rocking, and that’s the whole point of that type of music. It’s fun.

I bet if you asked the average seven-year old what that song is about, they’d tell you: it’s about having a party. It’s about looking good.  My seven-year old certainly could care less about the lyrics beyond those which are readily discernible on a quick listen to the chorus (he might mention that it’s about shaking his bum, but he’s seven and anything to do with bums is REALLY funny).  My older one could probably tell you what some of the other lines in the song mean, but we’ve already discussed how babies are made and that – gasp – grown-ups do “it”. Of course, you’d have to get him to stop dancing in order to ask him a question about the song in the first place.

Still, it’s probably no surprise to him or to his friends that there are references “it” in songs. Grown ups talk about a lot of things that kids don’t talk about, which doesn’t mean that kids don’t listen: it just means that it doesn’t matter to them to hear it. The economy. Politics. Stocks. What to make for dinner.  Paying bills.  These are all topics which register with most kids as “things that grown ups say” and not “things I must understand RIGHT now”. And when they do tune in, you do the best that you can with whatever questions that come your way about what they’ve heard, as it doesn’t really matter what the source of the question is: as parents, we can’t completely insulate our children from the world, nor should we. Instead, I’d rather teach them to live within it, and give them the right information to be able to do so.