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September 30, 2013

MARKET 707

Just last week I spoke about the pop-up shop JM&Sons which is housed in a shipping container. As I was doing my groceries this weekend, I remembered another spot in town that uses the same concept so I took a detour to Market 707.
Market 707 is located at Bathurst and Dundas outside of Scadding Court Community Centre. This small portion of Dundas is lined with about ten shipping containers that hold food vendors and retailers. Luckily I visited the market this past weekend during their Annual Harvest Festival. There was a farmers market, a bouncy castle for kids and vendors selling food and goods. Sadly, I missed the pie eating contest.
Earlier this year Market 707 hosted a Projexity campaign to raise funds for a new public patio and stage that would give visitors a place to stay and relax, and also activate this space for festivals such as this one. There was a design competition that was simultaneously launched, and I just so happened to visit the market as the winner was installing their pallet design. It reminded me of the Parklettes popping up all over San Francisco, which we are also now launching in Toronto along Church Street.
I can't tell you how good it feels to see strangers enjoying moments in the city together. The stage was set up and a group of young guys were rocking out with their friends, family and members of the community listening close by. I could hear joyous screams of kids off in the distance as I spoke to a retailer how serendipitous it was that she was selling a book to me called "On Reality: Meditations on the Edge of a World".
Market 707 is open year round and I highly suggest you go if you're in town. If not, find a venture like this in your own city and support your local vendors! Also, take some time to sit down in these public places. It feels so good to be with your community and to be in active places like this. We're lucky to have them, so enjoy it because they have been made for you. See it live here.

September 25, 2013

LOCAL POP-UP: JM&SONS

The other day I was having a pretty inspiring catch-up with one of my best pals, when she suggested we visit this pop-up JM&Sons. The two guys behind this shop, Junior Ayotte and Mackenzie Duncan, redesigned a shipping container and set-up a showroom for their stunning furniture designs and accessories.
Their furniture is made out of reclaimed wood and beautiful raw metals. The design is so clean and the connection between materials is detailed so beautifully. My favourite piece is the one-armed chair and this stunning serving platter.
While my coffee was being made, we chatted a bit about the process behind setting up the container in this lot at 1334 Dundas Street West. I asked them if finding a space to set-up was difficult both with permits and location. Luckily, the owner of Unique Auto Service was really supportive of the idea, which means getting a permit from the city was bypassed. It's easy for me to just assume this process with the city is difficult and lengthy since pop-ups like this are not too common in Toronto. This article from the Toronto Star outlines the confusion amongst bureaucrats about whether this is 'allowed' or not.
I think this is such an inspiring concept and ideas like this need to be fostered. Having a storefront can be incredibly costly so while internet presence is obviously so valuable for small businesses, so is having a 'street' presence, or at least an interaction with your community. Also, having a pop-up in a shipping container allows you to explore the very essence of what this particular design is grounded in: transportation. JM&Sons is currently on tour and will be travelling to New York, Austin, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I highly, highly suggest you stop by this shop and say hello. It's always so refreshing seeing people do what they love in such creative, innovative ways. I think the city could use a few more pop-up shops inspired by Junior and Mackenzie. 

JM&Sons will be at the corner of Dundas Street West and Rusholme Road until September 26th.

September 24, 2013

A MESSAGE TO PEOPLE WHO USE STREETS

I've been thinking of writing about cycling in Toronto for a little while now, but seeing as I got into a bike accident last weekend I figure now is the best time to finally do this. As I was approaching a red light, a seemingly drugged-up man rode his bike full-speed head-first into me and my bike. My personal space and safety as a cyclist was completely interrupted by a man who didn't even stick around post-accident long enough for me to even process what just happened. I'm incredibly lucky to walk away with only bruises and sad heart. That being said, I think there are some things to remember as not only a cyclist, but as a person who regularly uses streets. Yes, that means everyone: cyclists, pedestrians, motorists.
There is already plenty of conversation and argument over who belongs on the roads. I'm finding that most of the dialogue speaks about entitlement and quantity of space. We talk about separation, you know, your space versus my space versus their space. We talk about how the streets are not safe for cyclists, how we need to create more space to allow more cars on the roads. We also talk about how to densify areas of the city which means seeking out more pedestrians to create more active streets. 
All of these issues have value and are important. But what I haven't been hearing in these conversations is the use of eye-contact, respect, and patience. As a cyclist and as a pedestrian - I do drive but very rarely and usually not in the city - lack of any of these three qualities is my biggest pet peeve. I believe that we do need more bike lanes and better education on shared use of streets. I also recognize the need of cars in the city, especially in a city that is still working on a better transportation plan. But more fundamentally I think these three concepts are completely lost which makes way for a skewed sense of entitlement, tension, and accidents.
What if cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists were more patient when they were making turns? What if instead of being in a rush to get to one place, we made eye contact with each other to let the other know we are here? Why is it so difficult to respect people in transit in all forms? I often find members of all three parties so oblivious to anyone around them, which makes it easy for everyone else to be defensive and for accidents to occur. As a pedestrian I make a point to look at motorists when I'm crossing the street, most of the time it's with a look that says "Please stop creeping up on me and let me safely get to the other side of the street". I can't even count the number of times a motorist has been so impatient in making a turn or passing me when riding my bike or walking, that I've been scared of being hit. A few minutes before my accident, a bus sped beside me so quickly and closely I felt my bike shake. I'm sure its very frustrating as a driver in the city, but that's no excuse to be inconsiderate to those around you.
Most of the dialogue about these issues speaks of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists as three completely separate entities, and its always an argument about who should have more autonomy on the streets. All I'm saying is that if we cared a little bit more for each other by using eye-contact, respect and patience in the streets, then maybe there would be less tension. This isn't something we have to wait for the city to create for us. All it takes is a little responsibility and ownership. Make an effort to be aware of your surroundings. Please.

All photographs by Natasha Basacchi. 1. Florence. 2. Portland. 3. Toronto. 4. Vancouver. 5. San Francisco.

September 12, 2013

CITY SNAPSHOT: PALERMO

Finally, the last stop on my incredible trip around Italy with my Nonna was Palermo, Sicily. This is the city that my Nonna was born and so was my dad, although he left when he was only three. It was such a great trip because the entire journey she was telling me stories of how she met my grandfather, who I never met, and growing up in the war, and so on. To finally see all of the places where this events took place was really special.
1, 2. The first place we visited was my Nonna's best friend. It was like no time had passed. We went through a box of photos which included the two of them as young girls and my dad casually on a donkey. It was heartbreaking saying goodbye, as who knows if and when they'll ever see each other again.
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Our next stop was visiting one of my Nonna's cousins. They welcomed us with open arms. He showed me around the garden which had lots of grapes. These photos are of the beautiful views from his house. One of the romantic images I'll always remember is hearing about the people who go up these mountains to pick oregano. Mmmm.
9. This is actually in Monreale, which is where my Nonna fled to during the war and subsequently stayed. So many winding streets and beautiful vistas. 10, 11. The church where my Nonna was married and my dad was baptized. The doors were locked when we went, so we asked a local boy where the priest was. Luckily we located him and he let us inside. It was so small and charming. 
12. This is now a hotel, but on that porch is where my Nonno first laid eyes on my Nonna. He used to work and live in this building which was once a paper mill. 13. This is the house my Nonna grew up in. It's just across the street from the cartiera. 14, 15, 16. More shots around the building. My dad lived here too. I can't even express how it was being in this building which is so important in my family's history. I'll always cherish how excited my Nonna was showing me around that day.
17. Sicilian charm. 18. I enjoyed hearing all the stories of the saints my Nonna prays to, especially Santa Rosalia, the saint for Palermo. It's really so interesting how much celebrating saint name days is tied to the Italian culture.
19. The markets in Palermo are so intricate. There is literally stuff everywhere. I even saw a couple of Nazi 'memorabilia' pieces from the war. 20. My favourite markets to wander around in was the fish markets. It was just so typically European and amazing. 21. Hung laundry amidst decaying architecture. 22. Colour and flowers.
23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29. Palermo is such a beautiful city and I saw it in such a special way. The old architecture is really something else, but my favourite moments in this city were hanging out in my Nonna's cousins' kitchen. We would wake up, eat a light breakfast with espresso, venture around the city and come home for a huge pasta lunch. Then we would all 'take a rest' only to wake up and eat again. There was even one moment where we all broke out into dance in the kitchen. Its moments like these I'm so grateful to be Italian and also to have such a wonderful family. It was such an incredible trip.

See more posts about this trip:

For all the cities I've travelled to, go here.

September 4, 2013

NEW YORK: CONEY ISLAND

A couple weeks ago, I spontaneously booked a round trip ticket to New York City to visit a dear friend. There were only a couple things I wanted to do during the few days I was there, and visiting Coney Island was one of them. When I was in Seattle a few years back, I bought a book called So Wicked My Love which is a saucy crime drama that takes place around Coney Island, so I couldn't wait to put it into perspective.
We spent the entire day on the beach drinking melon ball cocktails, tossing around a football and soccer ball, and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. It was perfect. Don't let the pictures fool you, it was a beautiful sunny day.
We didn't go on any rides, but I did try a a corn dog! Does anyone remember pogo sticks? I used to crush four after school. I'll have to go back and try some of the rides. Some of them had interesting names like The Tickler, which also sported an interesting logo.
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