During the Global Pandemic, Building A More Inclusive Toronto Through the Sharing of Stories, One Neighbourhood at a Time

Block by Block

TORONTO – In the midst of the global pandemic and even as the politics of division continue to polarize, the Toronto Ward Museum’s Block by Block program is launching public exhibitions and live virtual events that celebrate resilience, build solidarity and foster conversations among diverse communities. 

 

Block by Block is a participatory, multimedia program in it’s 2nd year of development in Toronto at the Toronto Ward Museum. Each year, a new team of 16 young people are trained to interview community members in their own neighbourhoods of Agincourt, Parkdale, Regent Park and Victoria Park about their lived experiences of migration, settlement and civic life in Toronto. These neighbourhoods have served as landing spots for newcomers, and continue to be spaces where diverse groups of people live.  All are redeveloping rapidly and how they change is of increased urgency as a result of COVID-19.

 

The 2020 Block by Block team has been working together virtually since the pandemic hit in March and has produced an exhibition of 25 posters that will be mounted in windows of local businesses and community services throughout the four neighbourhoods. Live virtual events and new online content will also showcase stories of community care and grassroots organizing, celebrate local relationships and explore the effects of neighbourhood change- all more relevant than ever as cities rebuild from the pandemic. The exhibits and events will run from November 13-30 (see below for locations and schedule).

 

“We’re actively creating spaces for dialogue- across neighbourhoods, sectors, generations and differences. And we have found that the acts of sharing stories and of listening are more important than ever,” stated Maggie Hutcheson, Block by Block Program Director, Toronto Ward Museum.  “Our young team has recorded a remarkable range of stories from community members, including stories of systemic racism, gentrification and displacement, but also stories of love and the simple ways that neighbours support each other. These are stories that connect Torontonians across the city.”

 

Participants in the program have also found it a positive and powerful experience during the pandemic. “Block by Block has been such a pleasure to participate in. The young curators took such care and created a safe, comfortable and open space that really allowed me to tell my story. I just loved the energy everyone brought to the project. This pandemic has been tough in  many ways but Block by Block has provided a much needed breath of fresh air and magic in our neighbourhood” said Vijay Saravanamuthu, an interviewee in the Agincourt neighbourhood.

 

For more information about Block by Block, please contact:

 

Aashna Thakkar

Toronto Ward Museum

marketing@wardmuseum.ca

647-393-5395

About Block by Block

 

Block by Block is a program of the Toronto Ward Museum, a museum without walls and a registered charity. It is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Inspirit Foundation and the City of Toronto Music Office (City Hall Live). The Toronto Ward Museum is leading Block by Block in partnership with ten other organizations. They are: Agincourt Community Services Association; City of Toronto Newcomer Office; Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI); Regent Park Film Festival; Ryerson University; Toronto Community Benefits Network; Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre; Toronto Public Library; West Neighbourhood House; Working Women Community Centre.

 

This is the third round of Block by Block events. In 2017, the Toronto Ward Museum and nine partner organizations ran Block by Block nationally, focusing on historic immigrant neighbourhoods in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Over one year, the national team engaged 520 participants; recorded 30 oral histories in 3 neighbourhoods; co-created 3 local exhibitions; co-curated an online exhibition (visited 5000+ times); and hosted three “Block Parties”, where the research team and local partners animated neighbourhood stories with creative programming.  2019 was Block by Block’s first year in its current four neighbourhoods.

 

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