A regular commuter along the eastern part of Danforth Avenue may have taken a bit of extra time this morning while passing through the section of the road between Pharmacy Avenue and Danforth Road. The center of curiosity was the activities taking place inside the park on the south side of Danforth Avenue, the colorful tents, music and a large crowd full of enthusiasm. Some commuters, who were able to stop for a few minutes and take a walk inside the park, left with a look of astonishment on their faces. It was the Oakridge Park Eco Day, presented by a group called Friends of Oakridge Park. This is a regular fixture on the park’s calendar, in line with the City of Toronto’s Clean Toronto drive, around this time of the year organized by the group.
The cleanup drive began in the morning with many of the volunteers sporting their “Clean Toronto Together” t-shirts. Scarborough Cycles, supported by Clean Air Partnership, CultureLink, Cycle Toronto, Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank and METCALF FOUNDATION, put up a tent helping people get their bikes checked and ready for the sunny season. Informative flyers were distributed from the tent. The Stuff Swap tent drew a lot of interest from the participants and visitors. Gently used clothes were getting attentions for sure, but gems like “Dracula vs Grandpa” for comic book fans or “Time Capsule – The year 1983 in pictures” for history buffs, all were up for grabs for free!
While the grown-ups were busy treasure-hunting at the overflowing tables of Stuff Swap, children were more interested in riding their colorful bikes, writing their names or messages on the paved areas or flocking around a table full of color pencils, sharpies and drawing papers with Eco Day themed drawings to be filled with their imaginations.
Local Swiss Chalet’s very own Brandon put up a table showing people how to re-use plastic food containers that are non-recyclable. “We use these containers to store/organize food, but what about your precious Lego bricks, scented candles, pen/pencils, small comic figures? All of them can use a safe home and stay organized,” says Brandon. Standing there, one could find instant use of at least 20 containers. That is 20 containers less from each households going to your garbage bins or landfill.
Many of our readers might have found it challenging to teach children (and some grown-ups as well) what to look for when taking part in a park cleaning event. What to pick up for the garbage removal and what to leave! But the Friends of Oakridge Park were brilliant with their creativity here as well. A table was set with samples of what to look for. For many, that would have been good enough, but not for these creative minds. The main attraction was the table with demos of what one could create using the items picked up. Find a piece of a leaf, four pieces of tiny branches and a piece of woodchip, and you get to make your very own Eco Day themed masterpiece.
The event generated a lot of enthusiasm within the neighborhood. People from all ethnic and social background showed up to enjoy a morning of bright sun and communal spirit. Doly Begum, NDP candidate for Scarborough Southwest was there as well. “I have come here as a friend of the park where my younger brother and I spent a lot of precious time of our childhood, growing up close to this neighborhood. Even though politics becomes a part of the conversation wherever I go these days, this morning is not about politics, it is about coming out to nature in this glorious morning, renewing our commitment to mother Earth and engaging with our neighbours. Elections will come and go, but we, the residents of these neighborhoods, will live next to each other for many more years to come, and that is a bond that goes beyond anything else. I am delighted to be able to have some time off from the conventional politics” said a joyful Doly.
John Beers, a friend of Oakridge Park and Coordinator of Crossroads of the Danforth BIA, talked to the Toronto Citizen about the exciting ideas and events that are coming up centering this park. “We can have small concerts/music jams to promote local musical talents while bringing the neighbours together and of course the crowd’s favourite movie in the park. People can pick up some takeaway from the nearby Chopsticks restaurant and walk into the park with your children, enjoy the calm and peace sitting in park while the kids enjoy the swings and slides in the playground” said John, a passionate advocate of more neighborhood engagement.
More information on the park and the activities is available via the Facebook page @Friends of Oakridge Park. The event was supported by Toronto East Cyclists, Oakridge Community Centre, Park People, Crossroads of Danforth BIA, Toronto Police 41st Division, Access Point, Bike Toronto, Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, West Scarborough Neighbourhood Centre and New Circles Community Services.