Urban Design Guerillaz: 100 in 1 day

 We are Guerillaz!

On June 7th, we are participating in 1 of 100 urban interventions across the city of Toronto alongside a team of Urban Design Guerillaz. UDG

The Urban Design Guerrillaz were started by brother-sister team Amos and Karen Shaw after an ice cream outing where they noticed a street corner that could use some love. Ever since then they have been performing Guerrillaz operations throughout the city and this weekend we find ourselves in Jane and Finch.


In preparation for this weekend’s Jam we joined the UDG at the Driftwood St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club on May 29th for a quick design jam to see what ideas were emerging. The all boys group talked about space for quiet homework, loud video games, a girls lounge, a new kitchen, an improved and welcoming outside and an indoor park and beautification.

While we didn’t limit the brainstorming the ideas were mostly practical and really demonstrated the place that this drop-in centre has in the community. Simple tasks like cleaning the windows and throwing away junk was quickly added to the to-do list. In addition to a laundry list of video games.

The group will be joining us again on June 7th to participate in Evergreen’s 100 in 1 day. We will be in charge of rallying the troupes and getting everyone motivated for a day of work. The guys at the jam have already signed up for roles and will be leading tasks like storytelling and getting resources. The most popular role is the Ninja. A role suited for a person that is good at working in the shadows and getting things done without needing to be asked.

Come out on Saturday from 10am – 6pm or support the intervention with a donation of time, money or resources. 




It’s a Green Change Pop-Up!

I have been working on the Centre for Green Change since last summer and we have been doing a lot of work on designing programming and we are so excited to be announcing the Green Change Pop-Up.

The Centre for Green Change is a hub for community design and education with a focus on environmental action. Our goal is to engage residents in conversation and participation where community voices lead the way in shaping a vibrant neighbourhood. We are opening a Green Change Pop-Up in Jane and Finch in March in anticipation of the opening of our permanent space later this year. The Green Change Pop-Up will host, facilitate and support community design initiatives with a social justice and sustainability lens.

We already have a few great programs on the roster, Design Talks and Hands-on Mess. Design Talks is a bi-weekly workshop to play with ideas to design our ideas with words. Themes will include everything from food, to cities, to environment.  Hands-on Mess is a bi-weekly workshop to get your hands dirty and mess around with do-it-yourself projects and build new skills.

We are opening up in March and looking for a few good people! Drop us a note if you have an idea for a workshop, a design challenge or better yet, you want to be a Community Program Host – details here: Community Program Host on Letter Head

Stay Tuned for more!



Green Change Community Consultation

Join us for a conversation about the future of the Green Change Agents Program, in a co-design process we will be gathering input on the future of the Green Change Agents Program, the vision for the core curriculum, the “ultimate” Green Change Agent and what community partnerships look like.

Green Change Agents Program – Community Consultation

WHEN: Friday, November 30, 2012 from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm
WHERE: Driftwood Community Centre, 4401 Jane Street (southeast corner of Jane St/Driftwood Ave)
WHO: Individuals and community partners working on, or interested in, local environmental action, community engagement/education, and social justice, as well as past participants of the Green Change Agents Training Program
OVERVIEW: Green Change presents an immersive, interactive session to (re)engage community partners and residents around the next iteration of the Green Change Agents Program and develop strong partnerships that will influence its new structure and content

Clara Stewart-Robertson, Project Coordinator for Green Change
and Jennifer Chan, Education Innovation Consultant

We have included some important background information below on the Green Change Project and Green Change Agents Program to help bring everyone up to speed. We promise that it is worth the long read! 

What have we been up to lately?
Since the last round of agent training in early 2011, the Green Change Project has experienced numerous challenges, including a complete staff turnover and the loss of organizational memory, partnerships, and participants. While the resulting transition proved difficult at times for our new staff and caused some delays in our programming – as well as the construction of our new Centre for Green Change, – it also presented an incredible opportunity to pause, breathe, and reflect upon the project at a critical stage in its development. Moreover, that very “break” gave us the space to experiment with new creative processes and activities, seek new relationships with other innovators across the city, and stretch our capacity to lead change. Many of you played a part in this exploration and we are so grateful to you for your dedication and your inspiration over the last year!

So, once we had distilled all the lessons learned as well as our emerging ambitions for the project, we recognized that we needed to:

  • Develop better organizational clarity and communication
  • Develop more systematic and systemic community outreach
  • Scale up inclusion and diversity in our operations and programs
  • Formalize our commitment to community design, environmental health, and just sustainabilities

What better place to start this transformation, we thought, than with the redesign of our cornerstone Green Change Agents Program?

The purpose of the Green Change Agents Program was, and continues to be, to uncover and grow the capabilities and potential in all Jane-Finch residents to transform the way we treat each other and the planet. Through the program, participants are offered opportunities to build their environmental knowledge, take leadership on community projects, connect with a network of local mentors, and create pathways to employment.

Can we co-produce a more effective and sustainable program? 
Over the last year or so, we have been working with graduate students from York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies to unpack what happened during those previous agent programs, interview past participants and facilitators, and discover emerging trends in the “green economy” and “green jobs.” More recently, we have begun to evaluate similar environmental education and community leadership programs operating throughout the Toronto region, Canada, the United States, and Europe to help us think about how we could do our work differently.

We will be posting more direct outputs from our research online in the coming months, but for now, please get in touch with us for more information!

How can YOU contribute to this process? 
As we begin to translate this research into more concrete ideas and practices for a revised agent program, it is important that we hear from as many different people as possible by hosting meaningful public conversations with our partners and residents. We want to ensure that we provide a fertile ground where we can all work collaboratively, creatively, and strategically toward the program’s growth and development. All of you have so many wonderful ideas, projects, and job/entrepreneurship opportunities to share with the Jane-Finch neighbourhood, and we want to find the best ways to move them forward.

Unfortunately, our timeframe for delivering a redesigned Green Change Agents Program is extremely short due the conditions of our funding. Our goal is to test run the new program this February during the “12 Days of Green Change,” and then deliver two consecutive rounds in March and June 2013. That said, we are strongly committed to ongoing dialogue and community engagement, starting with the community consultation on November 30th.

The purpose of this community consultation session will be to:

  • Share the draft vision and principles for a redesigned Green Change Agents Program
  • Engage with community partners and residents to amplify/coordinate emerging partnerships and learning opportunities
  • Collaborate on the challenges currently facing the Green Change Project

If you know other community members or organizations who might be interested in contributing to the Green Change Agents Program, please share this invitation with them or contact us directly. We will do our best to accommodate everyone at the session, however, space is limited at the Driftwood Community Centre.

Additional details: Lunch and refreshments will be served. Please let us know if you have any specific food allergies or needs. Childcare can be provided upon request.

RSVP to the Green Change team by email at cstewartrobertson@gmail.com, or call  416-663-2733, ext. 235


Yesterday, we facilitated a furniture design charrette in Jane and Finch for the Centre of Green Change. After a bit of dinner and an idea dump on the floor about the 4 main areas of programming, the participants were off to the races. With playdoh and hot glue guns, there was little need for enticement to get some of the youth building furniture. We ended up with a variety of table designs of different heights and convertible features, some firm stances for and against benches, and a pizza oven! Designs ranged from functional to artful, each with personality and adaptability in mind. There was a desire for open spaces and hidden spaces, like the indoor treehouse reading space. There was a strong focus of bringing natural elements and inspiration.

The process delivered many ideas and introduced the project to a whole new group of youth, this furniture charrette was the beginning of a longer conversation about sustainability and what you can make with your hands.

Maybe, one day we can build this growth table.

Furniture Design Charrette for the Centre for Green Change

We have been working with the Centre for Green Change for a few months now. In the summer, we hosted a “Design Jam” to start generating ideas with residents about what the space might look like.

The jam spurred a whole slew of ideas that will add life to the Centre for Green Change programming and space on the inside and outside. One big idea was about the furniture: what could it look like? how could it be flexible and adaptable to all the different programming? how will it be sustainable?

On September 26th, we are meeting again to focus on furniture. We will be designing furniture for the new space and will have access to the York University sculpture studio on November 2nd and 3rd to build stuff! We are looking for designers, builders, ideas people, photographers, creative folks in general to join us. Please RSVP to designthinking (@) exhibit-change.com

Centre for Green Change “Design Jam”

Together with the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, we are hosting a Green Building Design Jam for the Centre for Green Change.

The Centre for Green Change is a new innovated space for the community of Jane and Finch residents to build awareness, be hosting community members,  designers,Toronto Community Housing Staff and York University Students to offer their ideas on the future of the Centre for Green Change. community engagement and action around environmental impacts. The Centre for Green Change will have it’s home at 2999 Jane Street. On Thursday, July 25th at 5:30pm, we will

If you’d like to attend, please email Clara Stewart-Robertson at clarasr@janefinchcentre.org

See you there!