Tag Archives: Downtown Mission

Barry Furlonger, David Dubois: This week’s NIMBY

picture-44Well, we recorded another show, and again it felt as though Adam and I are finding our timing. It seems to be getting smoother and smoother with each show. Again, we produce/host NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) on CJAM.

We both remarked at how much we enjoy producing and airing the show, to the extent that we want to carry on this project as far as possible.

This week, Adam interviewed David Dubois of the band The Locusts Have No King. Dave has also been a massively proficient singer/songwriter for quite some time, and this interview was centred around the release of a new full length CD due out in January. The bits I heard on the show today were fantastic!

Me…I interviewed Barry Furlonger, executive director of The Downtown Mission. My interview with Barry was MUCH longer than the edited version on the show, which left a lot of usable, viable content on the digital cutting-room floor. So, I will first post the archived version of today’s Not In My Backyard, and then I will post the full, unedited interview I did with Barry for those of you who want to know/hear more about the Downtown Mission.

Thanks to all those who listened to the show live today!

Here’s the link to the extended interview with Barry Furlonger of The Downtown Mission!

Here’s the link to today’s NIMBY!

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Coincidence

picture-43Not many weeks ago, with the Big Walk, I became aware of a guy from Windsor named Shawn Micallef. You see, I knew he existed beforehand, because I saw him regularly at Phog with some of my current patrons/friends.

What I did not know was that he was heavily involved in some amazing projects, including pshycogeography, Spacing Magazine (Associate Editor), and Murmur. Murmur being the most outstandingly wonderful story-telling concept I heard about when I was 20 or 21.

But Spacing magazine was something being tossed at me (conceptually) by several people. Some knew Shawn was involved, and others had no idea who Shawn was, but they knew Spacing Magazine. I was being referred to this magazine, because surely if I was interested in taking a crazy-long walk, I was a fan of the things this magazine stood for. Here’s what their website says:

“Public space is at the heart of democracy. It’s where people interact, teach, learn, participate, and protest.

But environmental degradation, commercial self-interest, and infrastructure neglect have come to dominate our cities’ streets. Fortunately, imaginative and passionate city-dwellers worldwide — and in Toronto in particular — appreciate the endless possibilities that cities can offer. They are resisting the co-option of their communities through random acts of beauty and intellect.

Inspired by these actions, we launched Spacing in December 2003 to cover the numerous political, cultural, and social issues affecting our lives in the public realm. We want the magazine to be an integral, independent, and unique voice that brings to life the joys and obstacles surrounding Toronto’s public spaces.

This city is a special place — we’re excited by its people and its neighbourhoods, its sidewalks and its graffiti. Spacing is here to help our readers understand and take ownership of Toronto’s urban landscape.”

Fast forward a bit, to when Chris Holt tells me that he has a pile of these magazines at his house.

“I can bring ’em to you if you want ’em,” he said. So I was totally revved about finally seeing this magazine, and secondarily, putting it out for my customers to consume at Phog. Maybe we get a little leakage from the pages of this magazine about CARING about your city and DOING things rather than harping, bitching, and whining. We’ll see in due time.

So I began reading the mags, but damn-near every article is fascinating, and I know it will take a while to get through these babies. I did, however find an article less than 6 hours after writing the blog post about the Downtown Mission and the possibility of them having their own organic garden on municipal land. (By the way, I got a ton of comments on this post form people who are musicians etc., who I know for their music primarily, but who are doing this VERY thing in other parts of the county…teaching food education through hands-on participation, an THEN donating food to food banks! Getting the word out there is amazing. The results of outreach can really open your eyes.)

The article I found in Spacing read like a question and answer, with the first question and answer giving me all the convincing I needed to decide whether it’s possible for The Downtown Mission to do this kind of project. Interview by Matthew Hague.

Nick Saul is the Executive Director of The Stop Community Food Centre, an organization in the Davenport West neighbourhood whose range of services include a food bank, workshops, and community kitchens…

Spacing: What are the opportunities that exist within the city to produce more locally grown, nutritious food?

Saul: I am a big believer that we should take every green space we have and turn it into food production. I think we should be growing food in our backyards, in our front yards, on our balconies. The Stop has an 8000-square-foot garden at Earlscourt Park where we grow about 3000 pounds of organic produce that comes back into our many programs, and it’s an exciting example of what you can do with green space in the city. Parks aren’t simply there to walk in and smell the flowers; you can actually turn some of that land into food production, and support our communities with healthy food.

Well holy crap.

Need I print more?


Urban Gardening

picture-5I recently interview Barry Furlonger of The Downtown Mission.

The interview will show up on Tuesday, on this site, after the shorter (by half) interview airs on Not In My Backyard on CJAM 91.5FM at noon.

I tried to stay away from questions of donation amounts and holiday hardship. I think it’s pretty well-known that charities get a lot of help during the holidays. People are in the giving mood, or at least they get into the giving mood after watching It’s a Wonderful Life or Secret Millionaire. The charities get a heap of help in one or two months, and then run a deficit for the remainder of the year. They struggle month after month, hoping people will run food drives and collect goods they are in need of for the other 10 months they provide food and shelter.

I asked Furlonger about the usefulness of a garden. An urban garden, downtown, on dead Windsor land (of which there’s a ton) could keep a steady supply of fresh vegetables to supply the kitchen to feed those in dire need. I have been reading/listening to Michael Pollan talk on google videos, ted.com, NPR’s Fresh Air, etc., etc. and he is all about food education. Teaching kids where food comes from, and having them keep a garden at school, understanding how valuable real food is. When they see how much work it is, they understand that it is not something to be thrown away or wasted.

I guess I was channeling this line of thought when talking to Furlonger. I brought it up because he said the Mission is unable to accommodate for more than 100 volunteers. This surprised me greatly, because I thought, “The more the merrier.” Not so. You can only fit so many people in the kitchen. You can only have some many jobs for them to do. I began thinking that a garden, located downtown, donated temporarily by a land owner or the city, could be operated, maintained, and serviced by volunteers. More than the 100 could get their hands dirty. In fact, it’s possible that the people being taken care of could be taught how a successful vegetable garden is run, yielding healthy food.

Furlonger seemed interested in this, but with his hands as full as they are, it is likely a project that someone else would have to take on in order to A) find the land, B) find a land owner/city willing to donate the space C) get the administration of the Downtown Mission informed and educated on how to take “possession” of the land and how to cultivate it properly. It would be a big project, and maybe something that Fed Up Windsor could make a great deal of impact with along with the other foodies in this city. There is no shortage of organic food experts and locavores in this city, and there is no dirth of HUGE garden-keepers who could share their ideas also…like Steve Green and Scotty Hughes…Mark Buckner…tons of others…

Anyone got any thoughts on what roadblocks one could encounter, and overcome?

Anyone know of any realistic ways this could take place?

I just think it is important for The Downtown Mission to have a project that HELPS them become more self-sufficient rather than “hoping” for steady, weekly support from people who are just trying to make ends meet during the year. Only good things could come from something like this. Heck! They could even sell the surplus to local restaurants or locavores (local food conscious eaters wanting to know where their food is grown).

I know that there is something like this on Vimy (I think it’s Vimy or Lens) near Howard Avenue, just east of Dayus Roofing and Windows, east of Angilari Lumber. There’s a huge clinic complex there…and two sets of railroad tracks. My father lives on Louis Avenue, between Ypres and Vimy (I think it’s Vimy or Lens) and Louis ends on the north side at this LARGE garden. The garden is closest to the (directly south of, and almost touching) the trackson the North side of Lens or Vimy. I believe it is run by a native co-op, but I’m not sure WHO runs it. Likely one of my readers does. Help us out.

Gets my brain ticking.