ON DANFORTH The Magazine Your Neighbours Are Reading
transform your backyard
even your baby can save the planet
Pigeonholed Seeing eye-to-eye with the common street pigeon
Change on the Tracks Upcoming renovations at Pape station
Two Twists on Yoga Tales from the mat
The Red Tent Sisters Inside the one-of-a-kind women’s store
If These Walls Could Talk . . . The story of the historic Playter family mansion
27 It’s Easy Being Green Eco-friendly products in your neighbourhood 30 Is Your Baby Squeaky Green? How your baby can save the planet
06 Summer Pairs A guide to seasonal wines on the Danforth 09 Pssst ... Your Backyard is Dull Tips for improving your outdoor décor
33 Out of Curiosity A photo essay on the details of the Danforth
[On The Scene]
39 Event Listing 42 Get Down (to Earth) on the Danforth Plan the perfect eco-friendly party www.onthedanforth.ca
Publisher Sarah McQuillen Editor in Chief Sivan Keren Creative Director Jia Jennifer Rong EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT Associate Editor Lauren McPhillips Managing Editor Colin Holland Senior Editors Jason Karp, Sara Tinteri, Caroline Weekes Chief Copyeditor Rachel Coffey Copyeditors Karli Fisher, Ashley Hisson, Lynda Jess Fact Checkers/Researchers Melanie Berthier, David Halpert Proofreaders Cathy Biribauer, Melanie Berthier Web Editor Sara Cation DESIGN DEPARTMENT Art Director Eva Arifin Assistant Art Director Lindsay Thompson Photo Editor Rhesa Sealy Designers Pamela MacFadden, Suzanne Post, Amy Wilkins Media Kit Designer Meighan Topolnicki Production Manager Leah Ringwald Webmaster Cheryl Hawley SALES DEPARTMENT Sales Manager Robert Cundari Assistant Sales Manager Jennifer Clark Account Managers Jenna Illies, Rose Noonan Marketing Manager Allie Wilson Circulation Manager Candice Chaput Media Kit Amy Kappus Publicity Coordinator Meghan Withers
On the Danforth is published twice a year by the students of the Book and Magazine Publishing Program at Centennial College. OTD Summer 2008 thanks Denise Schon, Dyan Parro, Mary Newberry, and Peter Helston for their support. OTD was printed in Canada by Maracle Press. Cover image: istockphoto
Editor’s Note From Pape station to Kosovo to Washington, DC, the first half of 2008 has been teeming with calls for change. But even in our iPod-toting, Facebookstatus-updating culture of the individual, changes that affect us collectively are not only still relevant, but they also continue to shape our relationships with one another. Change plays a large role in defining community, which is why in this fifth year of On the Danforth, our staff invites you not only to explore the Danforth, its people, and its stories, but also to take a look at how this community has adapted to change. On the surface, the 90-year-old sisters of the historic Playter Mansion, the Greek restaurant owner, and the newborns being wheeled around the Danforth strip in their chloridefree diapers may seem as related as the mismatched socks you’ve stuffed in your bottom drawer. But when viewed as a whole, these eclectic neighbours reflect a community that is rich in culture, diverse in age, and unwaveringly proud of the corner of Toronto it calls home. In the spirit of adapting, our OTD community has embraced some changes of our own. While flipping through more pages than any past issue has had to date, you’ll find more robust departments, OTD’s first-ever photo-essay, and longer, more substantive in-depth articles. And for those hungry for more, there is — well, more! In keeping up with the changing terrain of the internet, this year OTD unveils a re-energized online presence that features more articles, up-to-date information, and space for useradded comments and content. With Youtube videos, recipes, blogs, and other web-related goodies, onthedanforth. ca provides more than an online version of what you’re currently holding; it’s a value-added experience that reflects the evolution of this magazine. So whether you’ve picked up this issue of OTD because you live, work, or play on the Danforth, we welcome you to join us, the now-graduates of the Centennial College Book and Magazine Publishing program, in exploring this dynamic community. Enjoy.
Summer Pairs A guide to seasonal wines on the Danforth by Jennifer Clark and Allie Wilson
ooking to revitalize your wine list this summer? Well look no further. Dave, the Danforth’s local bottle consultant, offers some fabulous flavour suggestions that will please connoisseurs and novices alike. We know you’re anxious to hit the rack, but not so fast — Dave suggests that food selection is a necessary first step. Only once you’ve picked your menu should you then set out to pair it with the perfect wine. And to find that perfect match, the more information you can provide a consultant, the easier it will be to find the type of wine you’re looking for. Now, for some refreshing additions to your wine collection this season, we’ve listed the four must-have wine flavours of the summer.
escription: Best when D purchased in the summer, this pale red wine, both refreshing and light in taste, must be vented from red grapes.
Description: Vinho Verde is a white wine made from grapes that yield a high acidity and low alcohol content. This dry wine is effervescent and light, with hints of lemon, peach, and apple.
Description: The full-bodied flavour of this red is soft, soothing, and relaxing.
escription: This is a sharp D and palate-pleasing white that provides an invigorating hint of citrus flavour.
Food pairing: This wine serves well with lighter cheeses or softer meats. It’s also enjoyable with vegetarian meals, or even as a gratifying dessert wine.
Food pairing: Serve with either roasted lamb or grilled pork chops.
Food pairing: This wine pairs well with the distinctive flavours found in mussels, shrimp, or scallops. Example: Familia Zuccardi Santa Julia Syrah Rosé 2006
Food pairing: Try it with finger foods such as smoked salmon rolls, mozzarella bruschetta, or a fresh strawberry spinach salad. Example: Aveleda Vinho Verde
Still wanting more? Dave can be found at the LCBO located at 213 Danforth Avenue (at Broadview).* He would be more than happy to suggest a wine to suit your summer needs. So what are you waiting for? Go taste some wine . . . on the Danforth! *For more information about this location, please call 416-469-4724. We would like to thank the LCBO for their time and contribution to this article.
on the danforth | summer 2008
xample: Castelmonte E Cent’are Nero D’avola (V)
xample: Château Julia E Assyrtiko 2005
WINE 101 How to sound like a pro Ever been at a loss for words when tasting wine? Use these terms at your next dinner party and your guests will surely be impressed. Acidity: You can use this term to describe a wine’s crispness and vitality. It’s detected by a mouthwatering sensation on the inside of your cheeks. Balance: This term describes the four main components of wine: acidity, body, tannin, and fruit flavours. A balance occurs when these components are pleasantly complementary. Body: This term refers to the weight or feel of a wine in your mouth. A wine may be light-, medium-, or full-bodied. Dry: A wine’s dryness will always refer to its sugar level or sweetness. A dry wine has little or no sugar. With sparkling wines, however, dry actually means sweet! Legs (or tears): After the content of the wine has been swirled, tracks of liquid cling to the sides of the glass; these tracks are called legs. Legs are most often related to the alcohol and/or glycerol content of a wine. Tannin: These polyphenolic compounds give wine a harsh flavour; tannin is often detected by a bitter feeling in the mouth. But some wines contain tannins that soften, while others contain mellow tannins that don’t need any time to soften.
Come try your first week of unlimited classes for only $20! Moksha Yoga Danforth is an inspiring place for your hot yoga practice, offering you a fun and supportive atmosphere, along with engaging and knowledgeable teachers. We welcome you to our environmentally friendly studio, whether you have been practicing for years, or have never stepped on a yoga mat! Come join our studio family and discover for yourself just how amazing the yoga journey can be.
Calm mind. Fit body. Inspired life. Moksha Yoga Danforth • 372A Danforth Avenue • Toronto, Ontario M4P 2H1 • PHONE: 416-778-7744 • www.mokshayogadanforth.com
mediterranean made easy Also available: our line of fine dips and spreads, made from the freshest natural ingredients
Euromediterranean Foods, 19 Curity Ave., Unit 12, Toronto, ON, M4B 1X4, T: 416.755.4913, F: 416.755.9017, www.euromediteraneanfoods.com
Pssst . . . Your Backyard is Dull
Get the new sophisticated look, feel, patterns, and textures of today’s outdoor décor.
.............................. by Lindsay Thompson
e all relish the time we spend in our homes, away from the stress of work and the hustle of this hectic city. This summer, let’s take what’s inside – out. Creating a livable space outside is the best way to enjoy the sun and fresh air. Boring plastic furniture is out and modern homeowners are looking to interior design to help facilitate their outdoor “rooms” with stylish and personal design elements. Sound intimidating? Creating a livable outdoor space is easy, and can be achieved at any budget and level. For the style-savvy, do as the experts are doing and experiment with period antiques and collectibles to create a truly unique space. Whatever your style, aim to create a continuous flow
between your indoor and outdoor areas. If your home is modern and contemporary, continue this style outside. Likewise, if you decorate with mostly period furniture, keep the same motif outside. But antique-lovers beware, warns Mike Waite, owner of Cool and Unusual Antiques. Antiques, especially wooden pieces, are susceptible to weather damage. If you go this route, he suggests using mid-century pieces made from weather resistant materials like fibreglass and wire to complete your look. His favourites include Yves chairs, Saarinen tables, and Bertoia pieces. Just as with interior design, when creating an outdoor space some planning beforehand makes all the difference. www.onthedanforth.ca
Whatever your style, aim to create a continuous flow between your indoor and outdoor areas.
Tips to Help Transfor m Your Backyard l Budget
When you begin your quest to transform your outdoor space into a place where friends and family will gather comfortably, you will need to decide on a budget, as this will determine the type of material you can afford. And though you can choose from many different types of woods, wrought iron, or other types of steel, for the more price-conscious consumers there is always sturdy, durable plastic. Keep in mind, the better the materials you choose, the longer your outdoor deck furniture will last. Buying the best quality materials your budget will allow can prevent the need to replace your deck furniture for years to come. l Define
Do you entertain? Or is this a space for reading and relaxing with family? Try to choose furniture and pieces that suit the purpose of the space you are trying to create. If you want your space to meld with the outdoors, choose teak furniture, and keep the garden as the focal point. l Make
use of lighting
Whether you are blocking UV rays in the day or navigating a party in the evening, this is a vital part of a functioning and livable backyard. Tiki torches, Japanese lights, plug-in fixtures and wall mounted period lighting can add an interesting edge to your space while still being functional. l Include
Be wild! It may be intimidating to buy colourful pieces of furniture, but maybe it’s time to experiment. Too
10 on the danforth | summer 2008
nervous? Start on a smaller scale and experiment with vibrant coloured cushions, dining sets, planters or artwork, like a vase. Don’t be afraid to make a statement with colour – bright furniture or accents will bring sunshine to any backyard. l
Maintain furniture longevity
Vintage furniture, while beautiful, must be carefully chosen and requires a lot more care than all-weather furniture. Are you the type to run out and put protective gear on your furniture in a summer storm? If not, there are more durable selections. You could use painted or weather-treated wood designed to withstand weather conditions. Some outdoor fabrics are also specially designed to be non-fading and resistant to mildew. These could be used outdoors or indoors in high traffic, sunny areas of your house. l
Placement is everything
Arrangement is key. Arrangements help to define the area just like indoors. Rugs, placement of tables and chairs, and the presence of a canopy or pergola can more plainly define where people can sit, stand, or relax. l
Experiment with different styles
Finding the perfect outdoor deck furniture and décor to reflect your distinctive style and individuality can be fun. You will look at many different types, styles, and materials when purchasing outdoor patio furniture. Remember, the outdoor environment has become an extension of one’s interior style. So what are you waiting for? Get those favourite pieces outside!
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PIGEONHOLED Though saddled with a bad reputation, the common street pigeon is still our neighbour, and introductions are well overdue. by Jia Jennifer Rong
ver notice the pigeons in Pape station? Over the past few months, the station has been one of the points in my daily commute. And while there’s not a lot that’s particularly distinct about Pape station, there is one thing that makes it unique: pigeons. Every day these inconspicuous birds congregate en masse in large numbers around the building. And not only that, the birds have managed to find their way down to the subway platform where they wait around as if in queue for the next train. While I’d never paid much attention to the pigeons that loiter outside, it’s the birds inside the station that made me take notice. After seeing a pigeon obliviously dawdling along the platform one day, straying far too close to the yellow line, I began to stare. Then I began to question: why are there pigeons here? Are they searching for food? Shelter? I decided to pose these and other questions to those who might have answers. But talking about pigeons is like talking about stamp collecting: most people couldn’t care less. When I approached one TTC collector, he denied the existence of the subway pigeons. Another brushed me off, claiming that he wasn’t familiar with the station, then snidely remarked, “You can find pigeons on bridges and balconies too, ya know.” Pigeons were certainly of no interest to him. But I’ll admit it — I’ve never
really cared for pigeons either. Once they once called home. We, however, honoured for their contributions end up paying for the mess they leave to humanity as the carriers of vital, — and pigeon-related damages are life-saving messages, especially in becoming costly. Cities all over the times of war, pigeons have lost their world now commonly list and treat revered status, and, according to these birds as a pest species. Seeing some, have outlived their usefulness. them as moochers of our food and Now considered the lowliest birds by shelter, many feel pigeons don’t many, pigeons have been commonly belong in our cities. And yet there’s more on the way. In nicknamed flying rats, and vermin. But pigeons are surprisingly resil- the next 10 years, the pigeon popuient. Finding our building ledges a lation is expected to increase by 50 perfect substitute for the coastal cliffs million, topping 400 million worldthey once inhabited, these birds have wide due to growing urbanization. But some still have compassion for adapted exceptionally well to our urban surroundings. Over the centu- these birds. In an attempt to change ries, they have learned to feed almost our perspective of the common street exclusively on human food. An pigeon, Toronto-based artists Luis evolutionary result we’ve all seen for Jacob and Amos Latteier speak out ourselves: pigeons will eat virtually on behalf of pigeons everywhere. Latteier, a pigeon lover and former anything from Timbits to discarded owner, values these ubiquitous birds hot dog buns. Pigeons inhabit every nook and and vouches for them. “Pigeons are cranny of our city, roosting, nesting, underappreciated,” Latteier says. and breeding wherever they please. “They’re animals we should pay closer Of course that’s not the worst of it. “The In the next 10 years, the pigeon largest problem that population is expected to increase by 50 pigeons cause is the tremendous amount million, topping 400 million worldwide. of feces they produce,” states Health Canada in its pamphlet attention to.” They’re also intelligent. titled “Effective Control of Pigeons.” A number of experiments have Their excrement has corrosive quali- revealed their advanced cognitive ties, capable of eroding buildings capacities, such as the ability to and roofing materials, the very same differentiate between a Monet and environment these birds inhabit. a Picasso — and it’s these kinds of Pigeons treat our concrete jungle no qualities that Latteier and Jacob wanted to highlight. differently than the seaside cliffs After receiving an invitation to www.onthedanforth.ca
produce a work of public art on Yonge Street from an artist-run centre called InterAccess, the duo decided to collaborate on a project called Pigeon Condo for the 2006 Humanitas Festival. “We thought this project could provide luxury housing for the pigeons that live under the nearby Gardiner Expressway,” reflects Jacob, two years after the project was conceived. This was an area where a lot of pigeons roost and a lot of condo projects were underway.
But Pigeon Condo wasn’t just about pigeons. Jacob and Latteier saw Pigeon Condo operating on a number of levels. “Pigeons as a metaphor,” says Latteier. Not only could it change our perspective of pigeons, but it could also draw our attention to the urban environment and the process of urban development, with an emphasis on the concept of condos, the development of which is constantly displacing wildlife. If pigeons had their own buildings, they might be less inclined to live around ours. “Pigeon Condo touches on issues of urban wildlife and the rights to space,” says Jacob. But some were skeptical of luxury housing for pigeons. After all, pigeons
14 on the danforth | summer 2008
aren’t the only ones who live under the Gardiner, which stirred concern among city officials that the project would draw attention to issues of homelessness. These concerns ultimately prevailed and construction of the Pigeon Condo was denied. “It became a performance project,” says Latteier. Dressed as pigeons, the two brought an architectural model downtown and talked to tourists and passersby about the plan. “I still hope to do some incarnation of it,” says Latteier. Having raised pigeons in his own loft for several years, he adds that he understands the general concerns over pigeons. “Pigeon control is pretty ineffective,” he says, suggesting that a municipal pigeon loft would be more appropriate. “Pigeon Condo as a pigeon control method rather than an art project,” he explains, adding that he’s considering a reposition of the project. But as it stands, Pigeon Condo remains a virtual structure only visible through their website, pigeoncondo.com. Back at Pape station, it’s a sunny afternoon and a large flock of pigeons, at least fifty, are pecking away by the bike rack beside the Tim Hortons.
This spot seems to be a popular hangout for the feathered creatures. With a lack of their own space, this is the next best thing — one that they’ve claimed for obvious reasons. “Pigeons are here because people feed them,” replied a TTC employee, after being questioned about the birds’ presence. “If you have food they’ll attack you,” he continues. But if they can’t get our food, they’ll settle for our trash, which is why pigeons are often associated with garbage and even disease. Realistically, these birds carry no more disease than any other wildlife, and in most ways, are no different. Can we really fault them for their relentless adaptation to our urban environment? Our buildings and homes are safe and sheltered, and perfectly suitable for their breeding needs, with more than enough food waste in our trashcans to fill their bellies. While pigeons may be like us in our choice of dwellings, we certainly differ when it comes to food. Pigeons, unlike humans, aren’t wasteful. In feasting on our discarded food, these birds reduce the excessive amount of waste we produce. Pigeons may be dirty birds but they clean up after us.
Never letting food go to waste, a flock of pigeons devour a discarded Timbit outside Pape station.
Change on the Tracks by Jason Karp This summer, Pape will be the first in a series of TTC stations to undergo major renovations. When asked about their views on the proposed changes, most Danforth residents were taken by surprise. To address their questions and yours, OTD has dug deep to find out: whatâ€™s the deal with the new Pape station?
n 1938, Moscow’s Mayakovskaya station was opened to the public. Boasting massive columns faced with pink rhodonite and stainless steel, an elaborate flooring pattern of white and pink marble, and the “24-Hour Soviet Sky” — a series of ceiling mosaics designed so that riders would look up and envision the bright Soviet future that lay ahead — the station was not only a public works project designed to help transport Muscovites from place to place, but also an homage to the socialist ideal.
Thousands of miles from Mayakovskaya, on the corner of Pape and Lipton, plumb in the heart of Toronto’s Greek community, sits Pape station. Built in 1966, the modest building with its utilitarian grey, concrete exterior, low-to-theground appearance, and joint Tim Hortons, has never been mistaken for an ode to the socialist utopia, nor any utopia for that matter. This summer, however, construction will begin on renovations that the TTC hopes will bring the station’s aesthetic appeal and serviceability closer, if only marginally, to that of its Russian cousin.
The project, which the TTC hopes to have completed by 2010, will aim to enhance and modernize the station’s appearance, improve passenger flow, and update safety features. Renovations that will cost the city an estimated $20.8 million will include the construction of new elevators and platform-to-street subway exits for easy access and movement; improved lighting and fire alarm systems for passenger safety; and a host of aesthetic upgrades, including the integration of public art into the station’s finish.
Awareness amongst the general public is low. Of the 18 riders asked, only one was aware that any renovations were scheduled. Whatever the cost, many riders feel that the station is in dire need of an update, particularly when it comes to accessibility and ease of use. “There’s a lot of stairs,” one woman remarked after struggling to muscle a baby carriage up Pape’s two-flight stairwell. Another rider welcomed the renovations, particularly the instal-
The new Pape station (image provided by the TTC)
16 on the danforth | summer 2008
lation of elevators. “Elevators will be great,” said the man, motioning towards the stairs. “Especially for my mom and dad, who have trouble with the escalator.” While plans to improve the station’s safety and accessibility have been met with high praise, efforts on the TTC’s part to raise awareness of the proposed renovations have caused some to raise an eyebrow. Awareness amongst the general public is low. Of the 18 riders asked, only one was aware that any renovations were scheduled. According
to TTC Senior Project Engineering Co-ordinator David Lawson, increased efforts on the TTC’s part to promote awareness of the project should go into effect once the design phase of the project begins. These efforts will include a series of public open houses, intended to keep Torontonians abreast of the design
PROPOSED STREET LEVEL PLAN EXISTING PROPOSED LEGEND
Parking Lot Entrance
Toronto-based blogger (joeclark.org) who writes about issues pertaining to TTC signage, tiling, and typography. Clark suggests that part of the BloorDanforth line’s charm is its aesthetic uniformity, a uniformity that would be broken should the Pape modernization go through as planned. “Bust up
“The TTC has a history. Put through the wrong changes and you destroy that history.” Plans to alter the appearance of Pape have also come under attack. Besides acting as a means of public transportation, for many, the TTC also acts as a source of civic pride, a symbol linking together all of Toronto, through which many of the city’s residents derive a sense of place and identity. In the eyes of many Torontonians, the identity of the TTC is linked to its unique appearance — the distinctly tiled walls and the retro-era signage — that would be scrapped under the TTC’s proposed changes. “The TTC has a history. Put through the wrong changes and you destroy that history.” This is the warning of Joe Clark, a
Lipton Avenue selection process. “The open house,” says Lawson, “will be promoted with an ad in the Metro newspaper, . . . a mail drop to local residents, . . . the TTC’s websites, and [will be] often picked up by the local councillors through their emails and newsletters to their constituents.”
Image provided by the TTC he does, we may never know. When asked what role the public has been granted in determining the direction of the redesign, Clark responded, “Thus far? Nil.” Up until now, Pape’s aesthetic fate has been laid in the hands of two parties: a TTC-compiled Art Design Review Committee, and artist Alan Harding McKay, whom the committee chose from a short list of names. Who is this mysterious group? “The ADRC,” says Lawson, “consists of the TTC’s art consultant; a representative of the City’s Culture Department; local community representation proposed by the local councillors; the consultant’s architect; and a representative of the TTC’s project management team.” Once McKay produces a vision statement for the new design, the concept will be reviewed and developed by the committee, at which point the proposed design will be shown to the public through a planned open house. How much public reaction will factor into the TTC’s final decision is yet to be seen.
one of those stations and you destroy the intentional symmetry of the line. A much stronger case can be made for refinishing many of the Yonge- and Spadina-line stations, because they either aren’t internally consistent or are just dumps.” But not everyone agrees with this line of thinking. One rider, when presented with the idea of aesthetic diversity along the Bloor-Danforth line, was encouraged by the idea. “I think that’s great. Each station being different would be a good thing.” It’s difficult to gauge just how By 2010, Toronto may have its widely shared Clark’s sentiments are, if at all. But whether or not Mayakovskaya. Whether or not they Torontonians feel as strongly as want it is another question altogether.
Two Twists Sara and the Downward Dog Never set foot on a yoga mat? As it turns out, anyone can do it, and it’s not too late to start! by Sara Cation
ome of us late starters have watched the yoga craze stretch on by. It began with eccentric cousins making us uncomfortable by practising a series of awkward and provocative poses in the living room. Then Hollywood caught on. After that, even friends who used to cringe at the thought of breaking a sweat were name-dropping poses with animal-related themes. Now it seems as if just about everyone is yoga-crazed, which has left a few of us feeling like the wave has passed us by — and we’re slightly sheepish about starting so late. My first yoga experience went almost as I’d expected. When I wasn’t struggling to maintain balance, I was firmly planted on the floor with my bum boldly in the air, regretting having worn my tights with holes. Although the instructor insisted that I not be concerned with whether my pose and flexibility matched the person next to me, when you’re surrounded by mirrors, it’s hard not to focus on every awkward, embarrassing, imperfect move. I found myself thinking, “What if I fall?” (something I tend to do on two feet, never mind while
on the danforth | summer 2008
squatting on one foot with one leg wrapped around the other). What if my Downward Dog goes upward? For those who aren’t familiar, Downward Dog is to yoga what missionary is to sex — the basic move that everyone’s heard of, even those who have never done the deed. But don’t let that daunting name fool you: Downward Dog is a surprisingly simple move. Picture yourself dropping your keys about a foot away from you and bending at the waist to pick them up while keeping your knees straight. That’s it! Right? Keep in mind that almost every position in yoga feels awkward and embarrassing at first. No matter how ridiculous you’re feeling, remember that everyone is doing the same thing. It’s not just your bum in the air, it’s everybody’s bum in the air. And so I challenge everyone who feels intimidated to pull up your yoga tights and give it a try. The longterm benefits of yoga will far outweigh the initial tender muscles and bruised ego. Yes, it feels like we’re jumping on the back of the bandwagon, but at least we’re jumping on as it drives forward . . . and before the studios start offering yoga for pets.
on Yoga Hot Yoga for a Cool Change? Unlike Sara, Cheryl knows yoga like the back of her hand. But what does she make of practising yoga in sauna-like conditions? by Cheryl Hawley
started to sweat before I even got inside the studio. The first thing the instructor says? “On your first visit, the main thing is to stay in the room.” I forced a smile and considered my response. “Wow, it’s that hot, eh?” I say. Witty . . . Oh well, I’m not here for the banter, just the hot yoga. I’m curious to see what kind of challenge a layer of sweat will add to my practice. The studio is hotter than I was expecting — hotter than mid-summer with humidex. As I lay out my mat and towel, I start to feel very thankful for the marathon sauna sessions that my Finnish boyfriend forced me to endure. As I lie down for Savasana, the classic relaxation pose that’s performed at the beginning and end of a session, time slows down. I try to relax and clear my mind, but I can’t stop thinking about the heat. We start with standing poses. I’m warm, but not uncomfortable. I’m happy that I can get into a tree pose without needing a wall for balance, but in my usual yoga class, my instructor would be yelling about keeping our hips forward, and our legs straight. Novices beware: there’s none of that here. Although we’re told to straighten
our legs, it’s assumed that we’ll do so correctly. Hips are mentioned, but not until we’re in the pose, at which point I’ve already adjusted. I manage to make it through to sun salutations. Downward Dog flows into the yoga version of a push-up. By now I’m sweating profusely. At one point, in a pose on my stomach, I lift my head and discover a puddle on my mat. Lovely. I’ve been taking sips of water whenever we’re told to, but I can’t drink enough to keep up. Defeated, I spend the rest of the class sprawled on the floor. Once the class is over and I walk out of the hot studio, the change in temperature feels delightfully cool. In the change room, one friendly woman suggests that if I go every day for a week, I’ll fall in love. With beads of sweat running hastily off my body, I’m not so convinced.
Above: Mary (left) and Madeline Playter as young girls (credit: reproduced from the Toronto Public Library) | Right: The Playter Farmhouse, 1890 (credit: reproduced from the Toronto Public Library) | Far right: The Playter Farmhouse, 28 Playter Crescent, January 2008 (colour photos: Pamela MacFadden) 20 on the danforth | summer 2008
If These Walls Could Talk... Madeline and Mary Playter reflect on the final chapter of their family’s Danforth story and the changes that have been winding through this neighbourhood over the past century.
follow Mary Playter into the living room. Plush, red-velvet Victorian furniture and bouquets of balloons tied to the ornate woodwork have been arranged around the periphery. A fieldstone fireplace dominates one end of the room like a patriarch at the head of a table. A white toy cat, a Christmas gift, perches in the bay window and peers out at the snow falling on the stately Edwardian-style homes of the Danforth’s Playter Estates district. Squarely occupying its own table beside the sofa is a worn, leather, gilded-edge tome. “That’s the Bible,” Mary tells me. “My mother’s family Bible.” We join her sister, Madeline, in the dining room. Scores of birthday cards fill a window ledge, and next to those, an easel displaying congratulatory letters from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Dalton McGuinty, Governor General Michaëlle Jean and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David Onley: “Warmest wishes on your 90th birthday, Madeline.” The housekeeper, Estella, arrives with chamomile tea and a plate of cookies. She offers birthday cake from the party that was held in Madeline’s honour three days before. Over 60 friends, family members, neighbours, and fellow churchgoers gathered here in the house on Bayfield Crescent that their father, Albert, built in the 1930s. And three doors down, at 28 Playter Crescent, shrouded in blue tarp and surrounded by a chain-link fence with a sign warning trespassers to stay away, stands the historic Playter Farmhouse. If you look north from the Danforth on to Playter Crescent, you’ll see it: a solid two-storey red brick house, with the original arrowhead brick pattern still visible. The Playter Farmhouse was built by Madeline and Mary’s uncle, John Lea Playter, a central figure in the story of the Danforth. It’s a story that began in the mid-1870s when he built the Farmhouse on land that was first settled by his grandparents, John Playter and Sarah Ellerbeck.
by Cathy Biribauer The Playters were a family of farmers. Before the Carrot Common and Book City, there was John Lea’s prosperous farm that ran from the Don River to what is now Donlands, and from the Danforth to Browning Avenue. Apple, pear, and cherry trees, and endless vegetable gardens stretched north from a dirt country road that was laid with mud-covered boards. John Lea sold his produce to local merchants, and you could go and pick raspberries for them and be paid 1 ½ cents per quart. Three tiny wooden bridges spanned creeks where signposts read, “Walk Your Horses.” He hunted bears, wolves, and deer in the valley, and in the hot, dusty summers, he took his family swimming in the river. By 1912, the Danforth area had been annexed to the City of Toronto, and John Lea, sensing major change was soon to come, decided the time was right to sell. He subdivided most of his property and sold it in lots for several thousand dollars an acre. That year, streetcar tracks east of Broadview were laid, and horse-drawn trolley cars with little coal-burning stoves were installed. There was a new wooden sidewalk for pedestrians, and talk of a viaduct that would connect the Danforth to Bloor Street.
With this surge in the local economy came the first wave of European immigration. In the February 3, 1984 edition of Real Estate News, Anne Fritterer says that “fortunes were made and property values skyrocketed … the English, Irish, and Scots bought lots on the newly paved streets … Market gardeners grew rich overnight … and the Danforth became one of Toronto’s busiest, densest, and most prosperous commercial thoroughfares.” In 1923, when Madeline and Mary were five and two years old, their uncle John Lea died. By the end of the decade, the retail strip and the substantial homes of the Playter Estates district had been developed, and the tidal wave of growth was ebbing. The dust had finally settled on the Danforth — but not for long. Estella tops up our cups, jasmine tea this time, and the aroma mingles with the scent of a dozen perfect salmon-coloured roses on the table. It’s 2 p.m. on a Sunday, and steps away, the Danforth is bustling with shoppers. “It’s all changed,” Mary says. “It’s not like it used to be.” Madeline and Mary are members of the oldest congregation in the area. One hundred years ago, St. Barnabas Anglican Church was overcrowded and people spilled out into the street. Today, membership is dwindling, and the sisters are among a handful who attend regularly. Mary shrugs. “Now everybody’s at the mall on Sundays.”
Mary (left) and Madeline Playter, January 2008
22 on the danforth | summer 2008
The end of World War II marked the start of a new era of radical change for the Danforth. British residents were growing older and had begun moving out to the quiet suburbs. Many single-family homes were converted to duplexes and boarding houses to accommodate an influx of Italian immigration into the neighbourhood. In 1950, it became legal to participate in organized sports on Sundays. “That ruined everything,” Mary says. “Everybody would go to sports and they wouldn’t go to church.”
“We’re the last,” Mary says sadly. After being in the family for over 130 years, the Playter home was put up for sale last year. When the Danforth subway line opened in 1966 from Jane to Woodbine, shopkeepers complained that it drove all the foot traffic underground, and that they lost business because of it. Madeline shakes her head. “That was something. It wasn’t easy taking the subway. You had to go down underground, it was a long way to go —” “I never liked the subway,” adds Mary. “I used the streetcar.” In the 1960s, after many Italians began to relocate to what is now Little Italy, a Greek community quickly settled in their place. Once a magnet for shoppers, the Danforth became a mecca for foodies. “There used to be nice stores along there,” says Mary of the avenue’s strip. “Dress shops, hat stores … a Woolworth’s and a Kresge’s — there’s nothing like that now. It’s all restaurants.” And in the ‘70s, “all the stores started to open on Sundays. I could understand sports, there were different places [players] had to go. But the stores to be open on Sundays — it wasn’t right, I don’t think. I don’t shop on Sundays.” With both sisters childless, there’s no one to inherit the Playter Farmhouse. “We’re the last,” Mary says sadly. After being in the family for over 130 years, the Playter home was put up for sale last year. “It was getting to be too much,” she explains. “I mean, we’re old, the taxes were getting too high — we had to sell it.” Madeline puts down her cup. “I was really worried sick. I thought, ‘Oh, it’s someone outside the family who wanted to buy it.’ There had been people in here talking to us and they were very anxious to get it.” The house was listed on the Toronto Historical Board’s Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1981. In 1984, a historic plaque was unveiled in front of the stone gate. “The Historic Society is helping [the new owners]. Anything they do they have to refer to the society. The house is going to be looked after,” says Mary. “The city is watching us very closely,” Madeline adds. “They’re really interested in what’s going to happen to the house.” ••• I look outside and see the clouds are parting and a little bit of sunshine is streaming down onto the Playter property. Down on the Danforth, a family of four with a double stroller exits Starbucks. A pair of teenage girls pass and the one with bright pink hair swears a blue streak into her cell phone. A group of Greek men cluster together with cigarettes outside a bar, filling the air with lively conversation. They might be reminiscing about how things used to be, discussing the imminent end of an era of Greek-owned businesses on the Danforth, and the new wave of immigrants that are moving into the neighbourhood. Or they might just be talking about the weather, how windy it’s been lately. The blue tarp on the Playter Farmhouse flaps in the wind. “As long as it can stand,” says Madeline, “it’ll be there.”
The Red Tent Sisters
Kim Sedgwick, co-owner and retail manager of Red Tent Sisters, talks about going into business with her sister and the relationship between their unique store and the Danforth community. by Colin Holland
he storefront is innocuous — a typical Danforth retail space with plain white walls and lines of shelves carrying merchandise you might expect to find at any other store: books, CDs, DVDs, and baby clothes; there’s even a display in the centre of the room with colourful selections of yarn. And then there are the shelves that hold a small but varied collection of condoms, lubricants, and sex toys. As it turns out, Red Tent Sisters has surprised more than a few curious shoppers. “I think that’s what people find so strange — having sex toys and baby products in the same store — we’re saying, well why can’t mothers be sexual?” says co-owner Kim Sedgwick.
Kim opened Red Tent Sisters in August 2007 with her sister Amy. Their Danforth store joins the likes of Toronto sex-positive shops Good For Her and Come As You Are, but expands on these models by including products and services for women’s reproductive and sexual health. Of course, not everyone in the area is comfortable with the idea of a store that sells sex toys. Guarding against confusion, there is a cautionary sign on the front door alerting customers to some of the store’s contents. Though Kim mentions a few incidents of being chided for selling these products in a store where children are welcome, overall, she says, the community has been quite welcomwww.onthedanforth.ca
ing. Customers have been wishing her and her sister good luck, telling them, “We really need you here.” Kim and Amy chose their current location because it sees a lot of pedestrian traffic, particularly on the weekends. Unable to afford much promotion, the sisters rely on their location (with a hard-to-miss bright red sign) and word of mouth to build their business. There is, however, another factor critical to their success. As Kim puts it, Danforth area residents “are far more invested in the community than in many other areas . . . There is so much potential here. People don’t seem to have any issue spending a little bit more, because they know they’re supporting small independent businesses,” she says. “They’re invested in what’s happening in this area . . . People are sick of seeing bar after bar after bar.” Starting their business has been “very much a community experience,” says Kim. She and Amy borrowed the name of their store from the novel The Red Tent by Anita
E S C A P E
Diamant, a retelling of a biblical story from a woman’s perspective. “It’s a story about women gathering together and offering support and guidance for one another,” says Kim. “Amy and I are both concerned that that’s being lost a little bit in our society, that we don’t necessarily have that wisdom being passed down from generation to generation, or that we take the time to gather with other women.” Kim feels that her family, her friends, and her cus-
“My sister and I feel very strongly that this isn’t our business,” Kim says humbly. “It’s a business that grew out of a community of people who really believed in what we’re doing.” tomers have all helped shape what Red Tent Sisters is about. “My sister and I feel very strongly that this isn’t our business,” Kim says humbly. “It’s a business that grew out of a community of people who really believed in what we’re doing.” True to the name of the store,
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shelves with the products they wanted to sell. Amy, with a background in occupational therapy, develops and manages the services they provide, including workshops, information sessions, and yoga classes. Reminiscing about the highlights of co-owning Red Tent Sisters, Kim mentions the grand opening party she and Amy hosted to celebrate their accomplishments with family and friends. Kim remembers standing before a room packed with the people who had supported their vision, turning to her sister in awe, and saying, “You and I created this. We brought all these people together.” Kim explains that she and her sister want to encourage people to be more connected with themselves: “I feel that so many people are disconnected . . . in a variety of ways, particularly women. There are so many things that have made us disconnected from who we are, and I think one of the fundamental drives behind Red Tent Sisters is creating an awareness of one’s body.” Kim and Amy’s concept seems to be resonating with the people around them. Their store is filled with products that challenge women to connect with their bodies and toss stereotypes to the wayside — it’s the reason they sell vibrators, crafts, birthing pools, and CDs all in a small store on the Danforth — and it’s exactly why people buy them.
Kim (left) and Amy (right): The Red Tent Sisters
More Than Just a Pretty Place Red Tent Sisters offers up its space for the following workshops and discussion groups by Leah Ringwald
The His + Her Pleasure Workshop For couples looking to add flavour to stale sex lives, this two-hour session teaches men and women how to become more intimate while widening their collection of sexual secrets. The workshop focuses on techniques, positions, and the incorporation of sex toys. Spice it Up! A Workshop for Women who Have Sex with Women Is “his pleasure” irrelevant? This class is for lesbian couples (and single women) to learn more about their sexual selves, covering similar topics as The His + Her Pleasure Workshop, sans the “his.” The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Massage (TM) This one-on-one workshop teaches external massage that directs abdominal organs into their correct positions as a means to promote health. This method helps alleviate symptoms such as painful or irregular periods, backache, infertility, endometriosis, and hormonal imbalances. Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) FAM workshops promote various fertility awareness methods, both as a means to aid conception and as a method of contraception. Group workshops examine the Justisse method
of charting menstrual cycles, the anatomy of both sexes, and how to recognize the signs of fertility. Weehands (TM) Signing Babies This eight-week workshop teaches parents and infants sign language pertaining to food, loved ones, bathing, and bedtime. Studies have shown that teaching infants to sign can lead to stronger cognitive development and can improve vocabulary. Mindfulness for Menopause For women approaching or experiencing menopause, this workshop looks at changes in nutrition and lifestyle that can be used to alleviate physical and psychological side effects during the menopausal transition. Book Club and Feminist Film Circle Red Tent Sisters hosts a book club and a feminist film circle on a monthly basis. Although donations are welcome, both events are free and open to the public. So come one, come all! For more information on upcoming workshops, the book club, or film circle, call 416-463-8368 or visit www.redtentsisters.com. Better yet, visit Red Tent Sisters at 810 Danforth Avenue, between Pape and Jones.
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It’s Easy Being Green Don’t be an eco-skeptic: this tree-hugging ‘hood has it all
by Sivan Keren
ater: clean, simple, hydrating. On a sticky summer day, it’s the drink we’re hardwired to crave in mass proportions. And although personal water bottles have been on many of our grab-on-the-way-out-the-door checklists for a while now, a new realization has come about in the realm of water-carriage: plastic is definitely “out.” “They’ve been flying off the shelves,” says Emilie St-Hilare, of the coveted stainless steel Klean Kanteen water bottles. St-Hilare, who works at the eco-friendly Grassroots at Chester and Danforth, says that customers have been coming in droves for the environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional plastic bottles. The trend has picked up so quickly that the store has been back-ordering the bottles for months.
Rob Baker of the nearby The Big Carrot says he’s never encountered such great demand. Like Grassroots, the health food store has seen an enormous peak in sales for the alternative bottles. Baker attributes this surge to an article published in the Globe and Mail. The paper recently reported that outdoor products retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op was pulling the previously popular Nalgene plastic water bottles from its shelves, citing health and environmental concerns. “There’s been about a 40 percent growth in alternative bottle sales since the article,” says Baker. He adds that though Siggs, a competitor of Klean Kanteen that comes in a variety of colours, have been marginally more popular than the slightly heavier Kanteen, sales numbers for both types of bottles have been “shooting through the roof” with no end in sight. www.onthedanforth.ca
An Eco-friendly ‘hood The 40 percent growth rate reflects an even greater trend: ecoholism. The term was coined by Torontonian and Ecoholic author Adria Vasil, and is reflected in the debates from Ottawa to your kitchen table. “This is a tree-hugging neighbourhood,” says Janet McGregor, an employee of Ten Thousand Villages, a fair-trade and eco-friendly nonprofit retailer on the Danforth strip. McGregor adds that people on the Danforth seem to have a stronger environmental conscience compared to other areas. “They come in and I ask, ‘Are you familiar with our store?’ But in this location, people pretty well already know.” Unfortunately, many eco-friendly products come with a relatively hefty price tag. And for folks in this neighbourhood, especially for young families, price is certainly a concern. But the interest is definitely there: one Danforth resident tells me that if prices were more competitive, she’d buy all organic and eco-friendly products. Although the higher prices are often attributed to a number of factors from supply and demand to the cost of production, at the end of the day, for customers, cost is often the prevailing consideration.
Ecoholic Meets Eco-skeptic Since nearly everyone I spoke to has encountered someone who thinks that green products just don’t work, I decided to leave the price debate aside for a while, setting out to assess how effective the green products on the Danforth really are. To account for any bias (as I’m a self-proclaimed ecoholic), I was joined by Lauren, an eco-skeptic member of our editorial staff. Our first item of business, as it should always be, was pizza.
Pizza: Delissio 4 Cheese Pizza (654 g, $5.99, Loblaws) vs. Life Choices OrganiCuisine Three Cheese Pizza (315 g, $9.79, The Big Carrot) As much as I long, as the Life Choices pizza box says, “to secure a healthy future, free of synthetic pesticides and herbicides” for our planet, my colleague Lauren is right: it tastes like “cheese-on-bread-inoven.” I told my boyfriend there was a slice left over, omitting the fact that it was eco-friendly. He took one bite and said, “This is pretty much the worst pizza I’ve ever tasted.” Dandruff Shampoo: Head & Shoulders (200 mL, $5.96, Loblaws) vs. J-A-S-O-N Tea Tree Oil Shampoo (517 mL, $9.99, The Big Carrot) Since many people get summer flakes from the sun, we thought it might be a good idea to check out dandruff shampoos. As it turns out, the flake-busters are the worst of the lot! Many brands of dandruff shampoo contain an anti-fungal compound called zinc pyrithione, which, according to the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (and pointed out by Adria Vasil in her book), can be deadly to fish: “If you put as little as 1/10000 tablespoon [of zinc pyrithione] in an aquarium containing 1000 litres of water, half the fish population will die in four days. A dose for hair wash . . . contains 88 mg.” So we checked out an eco-friendlier option. After a week of using J-A-S-O-N, most flakes were gone. What’s more, the herbal scent and creamy consistency beat out the synthetic smell and gumminess of Head & Shoulders.
Laundry Detergent: Sunlight Lemon Fresh (2.95 L, $8.99, Loblaws) Vs. Nature Clean All Natural Laundry (1.82 L, $8.25, Grassroots) It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it! We were immediately impressed with the price of the eco-friendly product. Even though you get less liquid for a similar cost, the number of loads (approximately 30) that you can get from each bottle is the same, because you can use much less Nature Clean for the same effect. While it lacked the citrusyumminess of Sunlight Lemon, our clothes were effectively dirt-free. A warning about gym clothes, though: it might be a good idea to let them soak a bit longer.
It’s Not Too Late If the Danforth tree-hugger in you is hesitant to come out this summer, don’t let the fear of defectiveness hold you back. In fact, the only disappointing product we tried was the pizza, which Baker admits isn’t the best The Big Carrot offers. He recommends the Amy’s brand, which he says is much easier on the palate. “You can get a crappy pizza from Loblaws too,” he adds. To keep costs down, Baker suggests that you get to work. As with non-eco-friendly items, pre-packaged, ready-made products are sure to make your eco-shopping more expensive than if you buy the ingredients whole and do it yourself. As for the future of affordability, Baker suggests, “the more people that support [the products] will simply mean in the future . . . the price will go down considerably.”
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Back to Basics
Homemade Solutions to Keep Your Eco-costs Down by Lauren McPhillips Our editorial department scoured the Internet and found great instructions on how to make your own homemade, environmentally-friendly products. We even tried them out so you don’t have to face the uncertainty of experimenting yourself! The recipes are safe for both you and the environment, and most of these inexpensive items can be found in your home or at any of the health food/eco-friendly stores on the Danforth.
Dandruff Shampoo Ingredients: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps pure castile soap (8 fl. oz., $7.99, The Big Carrot) Stash herbal tea (1 box/18 bags, $3.49, The Big Carrot) Holista Tea-tree Oil (50 mL, $9.99 The Big Carrot)
Brew ¼ cup of your favourite herbal tea, then pour in small saucepan.
Add 8 fl. oz. castile soap to the tea and a few drops of tea-tree oil; stir on low heat until well blended.
Pour into a bottle and use as you would any other shampoo.
ner d Din le h an b Lunc ls avail a a speci
Ingredients: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (500g, $1.69, Loblaws) White Vinegar (2.5L, $1.89, Loblaws)
Directions: The great thing about these ingredients is that they work by themselves, no mixing involved! Just grab your wet sponge, pour on whichever product you choose, and scrub away knowing that you’re saving some cash as well as the environment. If the vinegar is too pungent, add a drop of your favourite essential oil to effectively mask the scent.
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Is Your Baby Squeaky
How your baby can save the planet by Lynda Jess and Rhesa Sealy By now, everyone is familiar with organic produce, but what about organic baby shampoo? Latexfree rubber duckies? Chloride-free diapers? It’s enough to make even an experienced parent want to pull his or her hair out. We at OTD know that you’re busy with your kids, work, and life in general, so we’re going to make it simple: we’ve done some of the legwork to find a few essential items for your baby. We’ve tracked down organic, fair trade, and ecoconscious baby products that you can feel confident using, knowing that you’re doing your part to help protect the Earth. Going green is the first step you can take to protect your baby’s future.
What’s the Difference? This chart shows a comparison between environmentally friendly and traditional baby products. All the green products are available at Grassroots (372 Danforth Avenue).
Bamboozle Cloth Diapers, $21
Baby Cleansing Gel
Druide Baby Cleansing Gel, $8.99 (175 mL)
Johnson & Johnson, $3.99 (444 mL)
Druide Eco Baby Shampoo, $10.95 (175 mL)
Huggies Shampoo, $3.99 (175 mL)
Organic cotton, $24.99
Regular cotton, $9.99
30 on the danforth | summer 2008
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Luminato: Toronto’s Festival of Arts and Creativity Celebrate Toronto’s culturally diverse and creative side. When: June 6-15 (Night) Where: Various locations in Toronto www.luminato.com or 416-368-3100 Canadian Film Centre’s Worldwide Short Film Festival Become a movie buff in less than twenty minutes. When: June 10-15 Where: Various screening venues in downtown Toronto www.worldwideshortfilmfest.com Ride to Conquer Cancer Join the epic journey! When: June 18-20 Where: 200 km from Toronto to Niagara Falls www.conquercancer.ca ideaCity: Canada’s Premiere Meeting of the Minds Invest in your ideas. When: June 18-22 Where: The Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles Street West www.ideacityonline.com Pride Week Take pride in your identity! When: June 20-29 Where: Various locations in Toronto www.pridetoronto.com
Danforth Sidewalk Sale Have a blast bartering for bargains. When: Saturdays and Sundays throughout July Where: Danforth Avenue from Broadview to Jones 416-429-4479 East York Canada Day Parade and Fair Floats! Fireworks! Fun! When: July 1 Where: Along the Danforth The Fringe: Toronto’s Theatre Festival Celebrate 20 years of Fringe in Toronto. When: July 2-13 Where: Various venues in Toronto www.fringetoronto.com or 416-966-1062 Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition Experience fine art for free. When: July 11-13 Where: Nathan Phillips Square www.torontooutdoorart.org or 416-408-2754
Krinos Taste of the Danforth Indulge in the city’s best Greek foods. When: August 8-10 Where: Danforth Avenue from Broadview to Jones www.toronto.com/tasteofthedanforth compiled by Sara Tinteri
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on the scene
Get Down (to Earth) on the Danforth
Plan the perfect eco-friendly party by Amy Wilkins Remember winter? Neither do we! With the cold and rainy months behind us, it’s time to dust off those barbeques, sweep off your patios, and throw a spectacular summer party. On the Danforth has your guide for planning the perfect summer bash that’s good for both you and the environment.
Menu: Just about any menu can be made more eco-friendly when you buy organic, local, or in-season foods that are available at many stores along the Danforth. You can also save electricity and prep time by serving raw foods. At your next summer soirée, cool off with OTD’s favourite earthfriendly dishes: ◊ For starters, a classic salad is never a miss. Add organic strawberries, mandarin slices, or other fruits for a summery, tangy twist. ◊ Who says soup is just for winter? There are hundreds of unusual cold soups to try, such as classic gazpacho, vichyssoise, or something new, like chilled berry soup. ◊ For an interesting main course, try tuna tartare, stuffed cabbage rolls, or apple quesadillas. ◊ Serve organic juice, beer, or wine from organic wineries like Bonterra Vineyards and Ontario’s own Frogpond Farm.
◊ For dessert, top it all off with delicious no-bake brownies or organic fruit fondue.
Decorations: Forget latex balloons, banners, and other decorations that usually wind up in the garbage. Choose wisely and you can have traditional but earth-friendly decorations for any summer occasion. ◊ Instead of paper place cards, use non-toxic paint to write guests’ names on smooth leaves, rocks, or bits of wood that can later be returned to the garden. ◊ Liven up a table with natural centrepieces like a bowl of fresh summer fruit, a collection of shells or pretty stones, or a potted shrub that can be given to guests or replanted. ◊ Consult an eco-friendly florist like Eco Flora (www.ecoflora.ca) or My Luscious Backyard (www. mylusciousbackyard.ca) for organic, fair-trade, or locally-grown flowers.
Top Three Essentials for Eco-friendly Entertaining
◊ Summer is the time of garage sales, which are ideal for picking up funky retro vases and platters — a great way to reuse and reduce waste.
Gifts: Like decorations, gifts often aren’t produced with Mother Earth in mind. Worry not – there are plenty of eco-friendly gift-alternatives available on the Danforth: ◊ Write gift cards, thank-you notes, and invitations on “seed paper,” which is biodegradable and handmade. Plant the used paper in some dirt and watch the seeds grow as the paper disintegrates! ◊ Use cloth bags, gift boxes, and other reusable material instead of gift-wrap, plastic ribbon, and tissue paper, to help reduce waste. ◊ Give something handmade, like baked goods or jewellery. These gifts add a personal touch, and cut down on unnecessary packaging and shipping-related pollution.
by Sara Tinteri
Who says protecting the environment has to be difficult? Here are three products that will help you save the Earth without breaking the bank. 1) Biodegradable dishware
2) Solar lights
3) Organic cotton napkins
Unlike paper and Styrofoam, biodegradable dishware is sturdy, recyclable, and 100 percent biodegradable. Although a bit more expensive than regular paper plates and cups (50 plates or cups for $14.99 and $17.99, respectively, at Grassroots), biodegradable dishes can go in the oven. Beat that, Styrofoam!
Solar lights are a practical yet attractive way to set the mood for your summer party without using electricity. They store natural light during the day in order to illuminate your party all night long. Available in various styles and colours, solar lights are a must in an eco-friendly backyard.
Instead of using disposable paper napkins, provide your guests with organic cotton napkins, which can be washed and used time and time again. Besides being practical and earth-friendly, organic cotton napkins add a touch of class to your outdoor table. For more tips, check out www.hankettes.com.
42 on the danforth | summer 2008