When we imagine graffiti artists plying their trade we typically imagine them skulking about in the wee hours of the morning, away from the sun and prying eyes. But sometimes it’s best (and sneakiest) to vandalize in broad daylight, when that sort of tomfoolery is least expected. This piece was produced around 10:45 a.m. on what must have been a spectacularly sunny morning, and kudos to whoever did it—you’ve got a lot of nerve.
It’s a familiar trope, and all the more satisfying for being true: sometimes your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength.
For the people of Lawrence Heights, the possibility of turning negatives to positives was proudly on display at the Collective Memory Bank project on Friday, November 14. As the community prepares for the massive revitalization project that will see the entire neighbourhood razed and rebuilt over the course of the next 20 years, residents gathered at the community centre to post pictures, tell stories, and talk about how to preserve the unique and dynamic culture that has sprung up in this marginalized parcel of North York.
EDITOR’S NOTE: November 21, 2014, 11:00 AM The author of this piece has in the past volunteered with the Charlie’s Freewheels organization. This fact was not disclosed until after the time of publication.
Today, the average Toronto cyclist is a 35-year-old male who lives in the old City of Toronto and cycles in the West End along established bike lanes. But a non-profit organization is working to diversify the city’s cycling population. Charlie’s Free Wheels teaches young people how to build their own bikes and ride them safely, and they’re pumping out young riders like no one else in the city.
Inspired by and named after Charles Prinsep, who died at 23 after being struck by a car on a cross-continental bike trip, Charlie’s Freewheels wants to encourage young people to explore every nook and cranny of Toronto by bike—and to know, love, and engage with their city. “A bike makes the city seem as if it’s smaller, so everything’s closer to me,” says participant Timothy Calupig.
This summer, the city of Houston collaborated with a local arts organization to glam up municipal recycling trucks. Six vehicles were tricked out with designs by six local artists. There’s one truck wrapped in leaves and another wrapped in quilts; there are trucks depicting twisted steel beams, reused bottles, and post-apocalyptic recycling utopias—all roaming the streets on garbage day.
Toronto is home to more than 2,400 public laneways, totalling 250 kilometres. According to urban planner and designer Mackenzie Keast, they represent a major opportunity for public-space development—but we’re ignoring them. “We can’t really build new public spaces,” he says. “There’s only so much room to build and grow. [With laneways] there is an opportunity for us to reimagine what they can be used for.”
Keast is part of the leadership at The Laneway Project, a non-profit organization established in 2014 to promote the use of Toronto’s laneways as public space, and support communities undertaking laneway development projects.