Introduction

The Better Bloor project has been a 4 month long initiative over the spring and summer of 2007. Employing local youth, high school and university students, with extensive assistance and participation by Christie Ossington Neighborhood Centre (hosting organization), B.I.G., DIG IN, community volunteers, and business, residential, artists and police associations. The project fits the passions of its founding artist, Dyan Marie, who uses creative means to vitalize the Bloor and Dupont West neighborhood. The Safer Vital Communities Grant from the Toronto Police Department made this project possible - thank you - with support from the Toronto Arts Council Community Arts Program.

We chose to do this project in the Bloor and Lansdowne area because it is a neighborhood that has much to offer but is struggling to show Toronto how great it can be. With lots of recent media coverage of drug abuse, crime, and prostitution, it seemed fitting to try taking a different approach to tackle these problems. We decided to take a direct action attitude, include as many people as possible and make this a good news story that was fun to be involved with. To vitalize the neighborhood through visible efforts we produced projects that took form in Tile Mosaics, Graffiti Removal, Street Cleaning, Info Brochures, Abandoned Store Front Reclamation, and other efforts that strived for a community space that is clean, green, safe, and civil. All of our projects work towards changing the neighborhood as it futher showcases the Better Bloor work, enthusiasm and spirit in an upcoming Nuit Blanche event called Bloor Nightlight, on Sept 29.

The Better Bloor Project leaves in place tools to continue our efforts:
Two video explaining:
How to fix broken tiles, and
How to remove vandalism graffiti.
Two improvement information brochures that were handed out door-to-door and can be downloaded (below) for distribution:
Clean Ideas and
Better Lighting
Our Better Bloor storefront offers local communities the on-going free use of cleaning and graffiti removal supplies: buckets, brooms, scrubbers, window cleaners and graffiti removal products

Other outcomes include the start-up of a youth technology company that created this website, and videos.

Our Better Bloor storefront is a model for a future self-supporting summer youth business offering local cleaning, repair, vandalism graffiti removal and local business website that could be accessed on this site.

We thank the 100s of people that participated including: the many youth that worked off their court appointed sentences requesting them to offer community time - connected to Better Bloor by Police Officer Scott Mills
Volunteer help from students from BLoor CI and other local schools and local residents and businesses that actively participated. We know that on a day-to-day basics 1000s more are enjoying the hope this project has generated in appreciation of cleaner streets and stores, the accidental finding of the many mosaics embedded throughout the street and through the informative face-to-face discussions the Better Bloor staff had with the local Bloor Street community (sample recorded comments in the middle column.)

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Splash Party

This fantastic event will kick off a month long cleaning effort on behalf of the Bloor Improvement Group. We invite you to bring along a bucket, a sponge and a friend to help wash the face of Bloor Street. We will be using volunteer and community assistance throughout the day to clean storefronts. We will have a pressure washer to assist in cleaning that extra hard grime.

For High School Students: Do you need hours to put towards your 40 hours of volunteer work to graduate? Come and join in the Sponge Party and we'll give 7 volunteer hours, and an Award of Community Participation.

This BIG Bloor Street Improvement event initiates a summer long effort to help clean, repair and vitalize Bloor Street.

We invite you to bring along a bucket, a sponge and a friend to help wash the face of Bloor Street, or just show up and we’ll have extra supplies.

This party encourages volunteers and community members to participate in improving our neighborhood.

Letter to DIG IN & BIG Members

www. digin.ca www.bigonbloor.com

Now is the time to gather our efforts, collect the community and give our support to the neighborhood.

This event is really important to Bloor Street. It will be a chance to get out there in numbers, to meet your neighbors and fellow community members. It will be a chance to show our appreciation for the neighborhood businesses, and to actually take some action in changing the space we live in.

Rather than sit complain about what is not happening, celebrate what is.

Come and lend a hand this Thursday, everyone is welcome; we need all the support we can get. Bring a sponge and a bucket if you can, otherwise we'll have supplies. This is a chance to really make some impact, to wash the face of Bloor street.

Summer is here, lets make our neighborhood beautiful and fun.

PRESS RELEASE:
Splash Party to Revive Bloor
 

On Thursday July 5, 2007 the Better Bloor Project will be throwing a Splash Party to clean up Bloor Street between Lansdowne and Margueretta. We encourage all residents and business owners to come out and participate. Volunteers should meet at the southeast corner of Margueretta and Bloor, two blocks east of Lansdowne. Come anytime between 1 and 8 pm, and there will be refreshments and hopefully live music.

This is the first in a series of events, collectively known as the Better Bloor Project, that seek to revitalize the area. Party volunteers will help wash windows, remove vandalism graffiti to restore original walls and replace broken tile work on storefronts. A number of How-To demonstration will be provided.

In an effort make the area clean, green, safe and civil, the Better Bloor Splash Party seeks to bring residents and businesses together and improve the neighborhood.

The Better Bloor Splash Party

Thursday July 5, 2007, from 1pm-8pm

The Better Bloor Splash Party is the first in a series of initiatives seeking to repair and revitalize Bloor Street between Lansdowne and Dufferin. The aim of this event is to bring together businesses and residents from the community in a collaborative effort to revitalize the area. The Splash Party plays the essential role of cleaning up before future projects can take place. We will be documenting the event through photos, articles and potential publications.

There are three main tasks set out for the Party: washing windows, removing graffiti and replacing broken tiles. Together, these three tasks will improve the physical appearance of the storefronts, making the stores more attractive to potential customers. They will also revitalize the area and set the groundwork for future cultural projects.

Thank You Letter on Behalf of
Splash Party

We would love to send out a huge thanks to the more than 125 people who participated in the Splash Party today. The event was terrific.The entirety of Bloor Street between Lansdowne and Dufferin was thoroughly cleaned this afternoon by a group of volunteer students, local residents, and community members. It was beautiful to see so many selfless people out on the street enjoying themselves.When the Samba Band hit around 6:30pm Bloor Street was transformed into an awe-inspiring spectacle of sound, the music drew people out of their stores and onto the streets, cars paused on their way home, bicyclists bobbed their heads, and residents leaned out second floor windows. For a few hours Bloor Street paused, celebrated, danced, forgot its problems and enjoyed its space being reclaimed.We had a wonderful day, and it wouldn't have been possible without those who helped.- Better Bloor Staff and Volunteers

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Tile Mosaics


-Fix problems when they are small, fix them before they blossom. Fixing broken tiles shows an appreciation for community space.

-We are providing a Limited-time Free Service of replacing portions of broken tile with creative mosaics, done by our team of local youth. Under the idea of New York City's "No Broken Window" mandate, we are looking to revitalize the neighborhood through simple creative techniques.

Our repair work using creative gems of Tile Mosaics, fitted into over twenty locations along Bloor Street, replaced sections of missing or decrepit tile. They ranged from small to large, glass to ceramic, and all were tasteful celebrations of colour and form that act as artistic interventions into the public space. The entire process, including before and after photos is well documented on our Better Bloor website, alongside images of all our work. As the project comes to an end I think that the community will miss our presence along Bloor street, as we will miss their smiles and kind friendships. In the end hopefully we have met our goal to leave in place tools for long-term, self-directed, and sustainable change.

Our Tile Mosaics are fitted into over twenty different locations, replacing absent or decrepit tiles on storefronts and facades. In an effort to vitalize the neighborhood, we targeted noticeable areas of decay and after receiving permission, we permanently affixed creative gems of both glass and ceramic tile mosaics in place. These artistic interventions into public space are beautifully colourful designs that celebrate a creative component of the community. They add a playful sense of interaction. As diverse as their locations and the cultures of the neighborhood, they become small luminescent acts of repair. The appreciation shown by the business owners has been a great reward throughout the project. The main response is that people are happy to see someone who cares about their neighborhood and has faith that some things can change.

Our first step was to locate an area in need of repair. After asking permission to fill that space with a mosaic we took measurements. At our studio we traced the designated size onto a mesh backing. Then we began fitting the tiles into one another like puzzle pieces. Using special glue we set the tiles in place. Once it was dry we took the mosaic to the location and covered the wall with an appropriate amount of wall tile adhesive. We let the glue set for about ten minutes and then pressed the mesh backing into the wall. We left it for about a day and then returned to grout. Once the space between the tiles was filled with grout and the tiles were washed clean we stood back and looked at our beautiful work.

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Vandalism Graffiti Removal

Remove, Restore, Revitalize

- In cases where graffiti vandalism and tags deface brick walls it is better to make restoration efforts to return the wall to its beautiful natural brick finish than paint over it.

- The city charges independent business owners for graffiti removal. This can be a costly and unwanted nuisance, but so is graffiti. Take action into your own hands and remove graffiti before the city hands you a costly bill.

- Working with over-the-counter solvents can cause more harm than good. Paint uses internal solvents to assist in the binding process, so using more solvent may not remove paint, but instead make it harder to get off in the future. It is better to use the right product specified for your wall-type.

For More Info Check Out:
Graffiti Solutions Canada

Contact:
sales@graffitisolutionscanada.com

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Clean Ideas

PAINT TOUCH-UPS

A little colour can enliven your store.

- The aesthetic appeal of a storefront is important and can be renewed with a touch of colour.

- Consider colours or designs that might appeal to your clientele and use long lasting methods and materials.

CLEAN WINDOWS

Cleaner windows make better displays

- Cleaner windows make better displays. Removing old signs, out of date posters, old tape, banners, and junk from your window display space makes for more appealing shopping.

Download the Clean Ideas brochure here

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Better Lighting

How lighting might reduce crime:

Improving community lighting in alleyways, walkways, and within stores will create a safer and more visible community space, likely reducing criminal activity.

Motion Detector lighting provides safety, reduces electricity costs, is convenient and simple to install yourself.

Motion Detector lights inside stores will provide immediate visual access for the police to monitor activity within stores. Police will be able to observe any presence inside businesses, making intruders easily perceptible.

Motion Detector lighting can be installed in stairwells and alleyways to discourage nighttime loitering and criminal activity.

Motion Detector lights cast a bright light when the sensor is triggered, which surprises and shocks intruders. When a light comes on it often scares trespassers who avoid well-lit areas. Good visibility is the best natural surveillance.

In the Lansdowne/Dupont neighborhood where Motion detectors were installed in alleyways the community was pleased with the effects. It reduced nighttime loitering. The lighting was effective in creating a brightly lit space that became uncomfortable for criminals, drug dealers, and the homeless. This simple method returned a much needed safety to the neighborhood’s alley-space. There are many opportunities to use light to our advantage to create more comfortable community space.

How to report a broken streetlight

- If you see a streetlight that is dim, yellow, or out, then call the Streetlight Outage Hotline at 416-542-3195

- Or fill out an online form at this website

When calling have this information ready:

1. Your Name
2. Your phone number
3. The street address closest to the pole
4. The pole number, which can be found at eye level on the pole
5. The closest intersection to the pole

How to Install Motion Detector Lighting

What you will need:
           
Tools
Screwdriver, Pliers and Circuit Tester

Materials
- Motion detector and light fixture
- Exterior rated bulbs as indicated on motion detector packaging
- All other materials are usually
included in the motion detector package

Step One
Shut off the power. Make sure to let everyone in the house knows not to turn it back on until they know it's safe to do so.

Step Two
Remove the bulbs and screws from the already existing fixture.

Step Three
Test the circuit of the fixture with the voltage tester by inserting the end of the tester into the socket of the bulb. Make sure the tip touches the wires and make sure to test all the wires. The voltage tester should not light up. This guarantees that the power is off.

Step Four
Remove the nut cap and expose the wires. Untwist the wires to remove the fixture from the wall. Cut the wires if necessary--if you need to cut them you'll also need to strip some insulation so you can reattach them to the new fixture.

Step Five
Inspect your motion detector fixture. Read the manufacturer's instructions for assembly.

Step Six
Connect the wires. Make sure to connect the colors correctly—white to white, black to black and so on. If there is grounding wire, attach it to the light box. Twist the wires together, then screw a nut cap in place to cover them. Mount the light into the light box then drill the screws in place.

Step Seven
Check the motion sensor once night falls to make sure it detects motion in the appropriate area. You may also need to adjust the sensitivity of the sensor.

Download the Better Lighting brochure here

Additionally Better Bloor research helped inform the theme for the BIG Bloor Nuit Blanche Event "Bloor NIGHTLIGHT" an event to take back the night using lighting as the inspiration for a 2.5 block long contemporary art festival - Sept 29, 2007, 7pm - 7am more information see www.bigonbloor.com

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Abandoned Storefront Reclaimation

During the summer of 2007 there were over ten empty storefronts in the two blocks that ran from Lansdowne to Marguretta along Bloor Street. Some owners were resistant to ideas that were not immediately business related, but we were able to reclaim some windows with displays. We used one to display our Splash Party package and present info about the Better Bloor Project. These displays held symbolic significance as they mimicked active business in the neighborhood. Residents stopped outside to ponder these new and colourful store displays. The encouraging idea that new business is springing up helps establish of mentality of success, growth, and prosperity.

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Media Coverage

With one of our most successful projects, The Splash Party, we received media coverage from The Bloor-West Villager, The National Post, The Badge, and an afternoon interview with CBC's Matt Galloway. Approximately 125 volunteers participated in The Splash Party, where, using buckets and sponges, they hand cleaned the area of Bloor Street between Lansdowne and Dufferin. We had pizza and a barbecue, and topped it off with a two-hour life performance from a twenty person Marching Samba Band. The day began as a giant scrubdown and ended in a street party.

We received a lot of positive feedback from the community. Both residents and business owners have expressed their appreciation for our project, and have assisted in the success of this project through providing space, donating, and volunteering.

Press Coverage Links:

Featured on CBC's Here and Now program with Matt Galloway, Thursday, July 5th, 2007.

Toronto Police Article: "Bloor St. hit with big splash"

Toronto Police Video: Splash Party 1

Toronto Police Video: Splash Party 2

National Post: "A little appreciation for Bloor"

The Villager: Splash Party

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BETTER BLOOR

A Dyan Marie Project with the support of B.I.G., DIG IN, Bloordale BIA and the Bloor West Community.
Hosted by Christie Ossingtion Neighbourhood Centre
Sponsored by The Safer Vital Communities Grant from the Toronto Police Department: This Project has been made possible by a grant from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.


Youth Employees:
project co-ordinator
JP King
with team members
Sadiyya Ajmal
Tharchini Vallepuram
David Aitken

and
Bruce Ward - tile consultant
Renee Pang - communications
Enervated Endeavors - Information Technology

Related Contact Numbers:

Dyan Marie www.dyanmarie.com, dyan@dyanmarie.com
Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre 416 534-8941
DIGIN: www.digin.ca
Bloordale BIA
Police www.torontopolice.on.ca
www.222tips.com
BIG: Bloor Improvement Group www.bigonbloor.com

Return to BIG www.bigonbloor.com



 

SPLASH PARTY COMMENTS/STORIES

Resident
from Margueretta:

Around 8pm about two months ago, an elderly woman was walking along Bloor Street when she was surprisingly approached by a tall, black man, who stole the plastic bag that she was holding. The man didn't stop after he had taken the bag. Although the bag did not hold any personal belongings, this incident left the lady with a fear of the neighbourhood. Due to this experience, the lady had really supported the Splash Party, and thought that it was a good idea.

Concerned Citizen:
"Wow! Great Job! It sure looks cleaner. I'd like to spend my money here."

Elizabeth:
"Congratulations!"

Renee:
"Change is about taking control, taking action and caring about your future. This Splash Party is about making changes on all levels of the community, the residents, and the businesses. Together, anything can happen. You just need to believe. Cheers!"

Chris Gallop, Councillor Giambrone's Office:
"Congratulations DIG IN for pulling off a fantastic event!"

Worker from Discount
Store:

"The Splash Party was a great idea. You should continue doing these kinds of events often. In order to make a difference, these events should be taken seriously by the whole community. Everyone should pitch in. If this event were held only once a year, it would be impossible to maintain a "Better Bloor." Thus, these events should be held more often."

Resident from
Ricky's General Store:

"Along with cleaning Bloor Street, we need to clean the "crack heads." Overall, this project is a good idea."

Chima Foods Worker:
"The idea to clean up Bloor Street was a very good thing to do; I really appreciated that. Keep up the good work! I also enjoyed the music. This project is a good (best) idea."

Worker from South Indian Dosa Mahal:
"Thank you. Really, you helped a lot. Thank you very much. God bless you."

Ram:
"This is awesome. It's great to see everyone out!"

Erica:
"What a glorious event! Truly a treat to be a part of. Congrats!"

Stacey + Zeus:
"Thanks so much for everything!"

Resident
from Russett Avenue:

"The Splash Party was a great idea. It was surprising to see people from our community volunteer. It shows that our society does indeed want change. We should continue to hold events such as these. It would help to have storeowners a bit more involved. Thanks a lot for what you're doing for our community."

Resident from Pauline:
"I came and helped wash windows. In the future, I'd like to see more people get involved. It's difficult to achieve our goal on getting a clean environment with only a few people involved. More people need to spend their time helping. Overall, it was a great idea, and this is a great cause!"

Resident
from Margueretta:

"Good luck in the future!"

Sadiyya and Tharchini:
"We were lucky that we were a part of the SPLASH PARTY organization. We were hoping that in the future, more people would get involved and participate in such events around our community. Thank you Dyan and J.P. for hiring us and allowing us to open our eyes and be a part of this great organization. It was a great experience for the both of us. We're looking forward to making a difference. Thanks again!"

Worker from Thrift Store:
"It's a good idea. The streets look cleaner, as well as our community. We should do this more often because it is the beginning of summer. No other community has done this. Therefore if one community starts, we will influence other communities in the future. Thanks a lot!"

Worker from Supermart Convenience:
"What ever you are doing is a great idea. No one really cleans the area often. Businesses on Bloor Street suffer due to the lack of cleanliness. Last year we spent our money on flowers to attract customers. However the drug users on Bloor destroyed them. We need it keep cleaning our community so it can be satisfying and welcoming to everyone."

Worker from Taoos &
Mart Dollar Store:

Nobody cleaned her windows so she wasn't really appreciative, although she thought it was a good idea.

Sadiyya, Tharchini and
J.P.:

People seem skeptical and often wonder about how long this will last.

K.S.A Video and Variety Store Owner:
"The band was a great idea it caught everyone's attention. The idea of
having the community
come andclean my store windows and the windows of other stores was great. It should be kept up to clean Bloor."

Heather and Mal Watson:
"We need more events like this to change the neighbourhood. Count on us. Thanks."

Brian:
"I think the streets should be clean. "

Paul Newman:
"Thank you for a great chance to make a positive change too much needed community involvement."

Shaffni:
"Once the youths start helping everyone will join in.

Laneway Story:
"One night at about 1 am and driving up the laneway between Margueretta and St. Clarens there was a group of people with their cars parked in the middle of the laneway. They were dealing and they did not move their cars. We had to move around them. They also marked the (cars) so the police was never called. SAD!"
Name Withheld.

Taken Over By Gangs:
A man who lives on St. Clarens was going to work at 5 am. When he opened his garage door, a gang of about 6 people confronted him. What saved his life was he pressing the garage door remote. He stayed for over one hour shaking in his car. When he was able to, he went down to 14D to file his report. They told him it happens all the time.
Name Withheld.

Names Withheld:

  1. I participated in the Splash Party because it was good.
  2. I took part in the Splash Party because I love my city.
  3. Hey, if we treat out neighbourhood with respect, our neighbourhood will treat us with respect. This day was a great idea!
  4. I've never swept Bloor Street before and I thought that it would be fun!
  5. It was a real SPLASH!
  6. It was great. It's so important to make Bloor a better place!
  7. Thanks to all who came!
  8. I'd like to thank everyone who made this possible today!
  9. Now we're all clean!

Other Quotes:

A Storeowner:
"I don't live here, so what happens on the streets doesn’t concern me."

Renee Pang on first day of Volunteering:
"I was surprised to see people smoking crack in broad daylight like there wasn't anything wrong."

An Angry Storeowner:
"I have worked here for many years and nothing ever changes. I am sick of this." Anything that can be done will help.I have lived and worked in the neighborhood for eight years.  When I was growing up kids use to play hid and seek. We would play across the neighborhoods. Do you see any kids outside anymore? They can't go out, its too dangerous. Now all they do is play video games and use the malls as their hang-outs.

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