Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Love on the STREETS
As the topic for this month is "Love”, I decided to write about the place I first found love.
I (Elizabeth) was born and raised on Bleecker Street in St.Jamestown. Next door to Regent Park. Where I made my second home. You might be thinking “love in Regent Park?? How can that be?” There was definitely love, and allot of it.
Although there was a great deal of crime and poverty in Regent Park, there was also a great sense of love not found in the suburbs and other parts of the city. In the “Park” as we all called it, this sense of love did not come from organized community activities, meetings with a neighborhood friend for a morning jog, or coffee at the nearest coffee shop. It came from knowing we were all surviving together, and no ONE person was better or had more then the next person. It came from knowing that kid you met at the playground or schoolyard may have a life just a little worse off than you, and that love also came from respect. Respecting each other’s strength and ability to survive life.
On those streets I learned to LOVE, respect and be LOYAL.
No matter if it was the store owner, police officer, crack dealer, prostitute or the business owner, we recognized and respected everyone. Although I knew a “not so right in the head person when I saw one” I was raised to always say “Hello, good morning, thank you sir/ms…., yes please, excuse me” Which ever was appropriate at the time.
Most days it was the neighborhood criminals that gathered us together at the ice cream truck to treat us to cones, sometimes seconds, or showed up in the park on special days like Christmas or Easter handing out quarters. I saw them as “normal” people. To be honest I, for some reason always took a special liking to the “criminals” as society would call them. They often sat us down at the park benches to speak wisdom and knowledge to us. I never once thought “What do you know?” I saw it as “They had a good mommy and daddy who taught them all this stuff” They had love deep inside and wanted to share it, only there was no one who gave them the time of day, outside of the youth.
Today, I’m 34 years old and still to this date I have never experienced that genuine, deep LOVE I had on the streets as a child growing up. Where I learned to be loyal and do unto others as you wish they do unto you.
I will never forget where I came from and why I’AM THE WOMAN I’AM today. A survivor!
The next time you sit next to a drug addict on a park bench, or walk by a young single mother with 3 crying babies, or a homeless man/woman asking for change, STOP to say hello and smile. That man, woman, boy or girl needs, breaths and desires love just like YOU. They have a story. A story that is worth hearing.
o Regent Park Revitalization is a six-phase, 15-year, $1-billion strategy that will transform Canada's largest publicly funded community into a healthier mixed residential community for 12,500 people in 5,115 units. The first Regent Park tenants move into their new homes in May 2009.
o Phase one of the revitalization will include approximately 640 market condominiums and 340 mixed social housing units in the area bordered by Parliament, Oak, Sackville and Dundas Streets.
o The Daniels Corporation is the developer/partner with Toronto Community Housing for all phases of the revitalization. Daniels oversees the design of the new buildings, will build all the buildings and will also sell the market condominiums.
o Phase one includes a mix of commercial tenants such as Sobeys, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Tim Hortons and Rogers Communications.
o The revitalized Regent Park will be a green community. Lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and energy savings will be achieved by constructing buildings that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Regent Park Energy Inc. will operate a district energy system that delivers high efficiency heating and cooling to all buildings in Regent Park.
o 380 households from phase one - about 1,160 residents - were relocated. All residents who are relocated to make way for demolition and construction have the right to return once new buildings are completed. All moving and related costs are paid by Toronto Community Housing.
o Construction on phase one began in 2006. The first new rental buildings will be ready for occupancy this spring and summer, and OneCole, the first condominium, will be ready for move-in this fall.
o Regent Park residents helped shape the phase two plan through a consultation process that began in fall 2008.
o The community will learn more about the phase two rental buildings and timelines through community meetings and newsletters.