Hero: Friends in Bellwoods
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Hero: Friends in Bellwoods

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains of 2007––the people, places, and things that we’ve either fallen head over heels in love with or developed uncontrollable rage towards over the past twelve months. Get your dose, starting Boxing Day and running into the new year, three times a day––sunrise, noon, and sunset.
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In February of this year, a double-disc compilation titled Friends in Bellwoods was released by those who have made resident a small, west-end, bicycle-fenced home—lovingly dubbed Bellwoods House. Inhabited by sisters Jenny and Casey Mecija of local orchestral-pop septet Ohbijou and friend Kimberly England, the house has become in many ways the crutch (and perhaps, microcosm) of this city’s local music community. A venue for parties, a practice space, and a piss-off to near-by neighbours, the home has always been known as a welcoming space for friends to come and share their music, thoughts, and other talents. But it was this year with their release of the compilation album that re-defined the role of the Bellwoods House in this city.
Each disc of the compilation holds a heavy 18 track variation of already-celebrated bands (Kids on TV, The Meligrove Band, and The Acorn) and other, relatively new bands with big plans for 2007. Once called Friday Morning’s Regret, now named The Wooden Sky are a prime example whose first full-length When Lost at Sea was released one month after the compilation. Other songs were an introduction to newly ripening projects itching to be shared with the city (Galaxy powerhouse Katie Stelmanis, for example).
But in the end, what makes this album incredible is the generous reason it was put together in the first place. 100% of the proceeds went towards The Toronto Daily Break Food Bank which, according to the initiative’s website, “(was) to show how important sharing, working together and helping each other has been to everyone in the Bellwoods family.” Almost one year after the release, the collective have raised close to $10,000 for the well-deserving cause.
Friends in Bellwoods’ DIY approach in creating the album is also a point of reference in celebrating the initiative. Having friend Gavin Gardiner aid in mastering the album, and using local Trip Print Press to create the album jacket are a testament to how accessible the resources are in this city for someone willing to make a difference. Merging creativity, philanthropy, the use of local resources, and of course, friendship, Friends in Bellwoods have truly set the standard for artists in this city—an inspiring contribution.
Photo of the Friends in Bellwoods album jacket from Trip Print Press.

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