Category Archives: resources

“Principles of Good Governance”, by George Elliott Clarke, Poet Laureate of Toronto

Principles of Good Governance*
In Memory of Two Eminent Torontonians:
Dr. Sheela Basrur, OOnt (1956-2008)
& Mr. Charles Roach, LL.B (1933-2012)

I—Background Paper
1)  Educate the electorate.
2)  Illiteracy rots Democracy.
3)  Equality? Fine schools, fine teachers, in every district.
4)  The Citadel of Reason? The Library.
5)  Quote Scripture; cite History; recite Poetry.
6)  Do not plague the people by shouting opinions.
    Do not demonize opponents.
    Do not mislead or confuse.
    Produce Facts.
7)  Honesty is State Treasure.
8)  A governor’s speech must be as clear as water.
9)  Clarity is a branch of Charity.
10) To be decisive,
    First be incisive.
11) Judgment must be as cool as steel, as sharp as steel.
12) To convince is better than to conquer.
13) Complaint is Revelation.
14) News perpetually startles,
    Yet its truths are ancient:
    To the Perceptive.
15) Do not pander; also, do not puff up superiors.
16) Flattery is bribery; it is slush.
17) Excuses enshrine Cowardice.
18) Remember: Great Thought leaps upward—
    To try to discern Divinity.

II—On Lawmaking 
1)  Political success? A silver tongue and a heart of gold.
2)  Elected? Serve the people.
3)  Sobriety, Punctiliousness, Generosity, and Intelligence:
    These qualities demand allegiance.
4)  Ethics is a scythe,
    Separating the correct from the corrupt.
5)  Even the bad governor envies good policies.
6)  The heedless governor is soon headless.
7)  Good laws set themselves good examples.
8)  Extremism only serves thermometers.
9)  Excess disguises Dysfunction.
10) Egoism is Insufficiency.
11) Envy dreams up conspiracies.
12) Err in one law?
    Correct it in the next.
13) The law suit never fits—
    Unless it’s a straitjacket.
14) First, comprehend Justice;
    Then, apprehend criminals.
15) Dust dwells and swells—
    When the broom is stayed.
16) Police secrecy equals Sedition.
17) Citizens must be activists;
    Lest they be oppressed.
18) Plant vineyards, not prisons.
    Plant vineyards; cart home the city wine.

III—On Economy
1)  The Treasury is for the citizens’ convenience.
2)  Sacrosanct is Renminbi.
3)  Capital flows;
    Labour pools.
4)  Greatness? Public works, public art.
5)  Spend: Do not let potholes become sinkholes.
6)  Beauty demands Maintenance.
7)  When in Debt, build.
    When in Doubt, build.
    Paper Wealth is air:
8)  Diversity rouses Beauty.
    (Light does not discriminate.)
9)  Nurture
    Arts & Culture—
    To richly prosper.
10) Create, profit; save, invest;
    Create, profit; save, invest.
11) To secure heaven, help the lowly.
12) Benevolence staves off Violence.
13) Charity engineers Miracles.
14) Plutocracy vomits black bread, black flags,
    and black batons.
15) Arms dig Deficits.
16) Spending should be like planting,
    Never like eating.
17) Taxation should be transfusion,
    Not vampirism.
18) Squander revenues, spark revolts.
19) Paltry is that government careless of Poetry.

IV—On Beauty
1)  Youth creates; Age preserves.
2)  Revere children; respect elders.
3)  Sun is balm; rain is ointment.
4)  Light allows no doubt.
5)  Good Style wins popularity;
    Good Deeds inspire reverence.
6)  Be a Caesar to allies and a Sphinx to adversaries.
7)  Beauty escapes Chastisement.
8)  Good wine precedes good Poetry.
    Good wine succeeds good Poetry.

*By George Elliott Clarke, Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15). Note: The poem riffs on Confucius (via Pound), Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, several T’ang Dynasty and Song Dynasty poets.

Used  with permission by the Junction Commoners who found much wisdom in these words.


Free Store?????

The idea of having a free store came up quite a few times during the JCP public consultation. It’s an idea that is close to  my heart having grown up in the bohemian margins where there was a free store in the ‘hippy house’ at the end of our block (in 60’s-70’s era Vancouver). I still remember the long, navy blue, tailored wool coat I got there – it was a score. Yesterday I just happened to pop into the Art Gallery of York U where they are having a show called incidental activism. The exhibit is a workspace, with artists working on social projects. There were some documents posted around from the Anarchist University (now in archive form) that looked amazing so I asked one of the women who was in the exhibit. Turns out she is in this new project: The Really Really Free Market (brilliant name).

Check out them out by the link below – it happens the first Saturday of every month in Campell Park – one hood over: Campbell Park is on Campbell Avenue, North of Wallace and South of Antler Street..

Really Really Free Market Toronto.


(Image from RRFM website)


La Ruche Art Hives – Montreal

CULTURE | SEPTEMBER 15TH, 2011      McGill Daily
Making art and community
St. Henri art space brings neighbors together with canvas and conversation
Written by Andrea Zhu | Visual by Afra Tucker

When it comes to art here in Montreal, we are undeniably spoiled. In any other city, just being artistic stands out on its own, but here, there’s usually something more. Handwritten signs, eclectic colors, and nifty décor are breathed into just about every corner of this vibrant city. The arts in Montreal have become the means rather than the end, usually paired with another grassroots movement or cause.

A more recent initiative – started April of this year – is a free community art space located in the revitalized borough of St. Henri, called La Ruche D’Art. It is open to anyone interested, at no cost, and provides a big studio space as well as a wide variety of materials to use for creative, therapeutic, or social purposes. The idea behind the La Ruche D’Art is to have an alternative space that is inclusive and accessible not only to artists, but to the general population.

When you first walk in the sunny entrance of the space, welcoming posters encourage you to “make good art” and to be part of the St. Henri Community. The studio itself is one large, open room with a spacious cluster of tables in the middle. A friendly mix of Francophones, Anglophones, and people of all ages gather around and chat while sewing, painting, doodling, and generally having fun. Along the walls surrounding the table, tall shelves are available to anyone looking for wool, tree bark, buttons, jars, pencil crayons, fabric, and almost anything else you could use to make art, all donated to the studio by community members. The other side of the studio is set up like a gallery, with a few installation pieces as well as paintings and photographs by La Ruche participants. In the back, the studio has a beautiful outdoor space called “the collective garden,” also free to use for art projects, gardening, installations, and general enjoyment.

For many art studios, the participants walk in with the intent of making art, and walk out with a much broader experience. What is unique about La Ruche is that most people that walk though its doors are not coming just for the art, but for the sense of community, whether it be in a listening ear, friendly faces, encouragement, support, or acceptance. Community members come in to talk about various current events or personal stories, as well as to teach and learn about arts and crafts in a nonjudgmental, informal setting, often walking out with a tangible piece of art.

Through this initiative, founder Janis Timm-Bottos and their business partner Rachel Chainey hope to overcome the social stratification present in Montreal. In a space free of differentiated social classes, participants can bond over shared food, collaborative pieces, and music. Bringing together experienced artists and amateurs alike, La Ruche provides the residents of St Henri and its neighbours with a space outside of work or school in which to express themselves.

For those interested in stopping by, there’s no need to bring anything but an open mind!

Why True Neighborhood Building Requires the Dedication of a Few Zealous Nuts

Why True Neighborhood Building Requires the Dedication of a Few Zealous Nuts | Cities on GOOD.

We all have our own families, friends, and professional networks, and our own interests and hobbies that determine with whom we interact. Each of us is a member of many different communities that can extend over vast geographical areas. We might play on a team with people from across our city, have dear friends across the continent, and colleagues all over the world.

But there is something very unique about the neighborhood, and the role that we play as a neighbor within the community where we choose to live. Through proximity alone, we gain a special status among a group of people with whom we might never otherwise interact. Today we are digitally connected to communities around the globe, making it easier for us to move and live were we like. The places that are thriving—and will continue to thrive—are the ones that people feel they are able to help create with their neighbors.

What we share with our neighbors is place: the magical, intangible quality that is created when people interact around a tangible space, be it a park, a street, or a vacant lot. At the Project for Public Spaces, we advocate for citizens to be included more directly and meaningfully in the process of shaping their neighborhood’s public spaces. We believe that a neighborhood can only reach its fullest potential when everyone who lives, works, and plays there feels welcome to contribute to the life of its public spaces.

To that end, we facilitate communities in undertaking Placemaking, a process that helps neighbors work together to determine how public space can meet a variety of local needs, from the economic to the social. While this process often results in vibrant, well-used spaces, we believe that the true value of Placemaking lies in its capacity for building stronger and more varied connections between neighbors. As we’ve written in the past, “if you’re not building social capital, you’re not Placemaking; you’re just re-arranging the furniture.”

Here’s the best part: while great places are the result of the layering of many individual contributions within a public space, the Placemaking process starts with each individual neighbor. Time and again, in cities all over the world, we have seen the impact that one person can have when they realize the unique capacity of public spaces to bring communities together. These are the people who we refer to, with admiration, as the “zealous nuts.” They come to a point at which they realize that they can no longer wait for someone else to step in, and that the responsibility for turning their neighborhood around lies first and foremost at their own feet.

Most recently, we visited Detroit, Michigan, for the inaugural meeting of our Placemaking Leadership Council. While there, we were able to visit a number of places around the city where groups of dedicated people were working to save cherished civic institutions, from dynamic local art projects to historic aquariums and sprawling parks. Detroit has been in the news, in recent years, for its deterioration. But get on the ground, and talk to the people who live there, and you can see the power of neighbors coming together, motivated not by profit or economics but by love of place and their community, to dedicate time and effort to shared goals.

It may have been The Alley Project’s Erik Howard who put it best, at the Urban Innovation eXchange panel hosted by the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD). “Placemaking is something through which people build relationships, and where people have access to each other,” said Howard. “If you think of a neighborhood as a bunch of lines representing connections between people, look at where the overlap of those lines is darkest; that’s where you start building community.”

Detroit is struggling, but this is bringing out the best in the citizens who have chosen to stay. What we are seeing there today is neighbors realizing, en masse, that they can’t wait any longer for someone else to turn things around, and they are taking action to create the kinds of neighborhoods that they want to live in, with or without official permission. They are thinking Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper, and working together to accomplish ‘quick wins’ today that will build the social ties and momentum needed to transform the city tomorrow.

In our Placemaking workshops, we often tell people that 80-90 percent of the success of a public space comes not from its design, but its management. In the very best public spaces, one often finds that the sense of place is self-generating; no one group dominates, and everyone feels welcome to enjoy the space as they please. The resulting overlap of activities and uses creates the unique local culture that defines great neighborhoods. This all traces back to the action taken by engaged neighbors—the ‘zealous nuts’ in each community—that take it upon themselves to get started on the hard work of Placemaking today.

We all choose to be the kind of neighbors that we want to be, through the ways in which we interact with each other in our local streets and spaces. In so doing, we choose to make our neighborhood the place that it is. What kind of place do you choose to create?

Hang out with your neighbors on the last Saturday of April (a day we’re calling “Neighborday”).Click here to say you’ll Do It, and here to download GOOD’s Neighborday Toolkit and a bunch of other fun stuff

Spur Toronto | The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

Now that the economy has become a water-cooler subject, The Bottom Line—Spur’s Toronto edition—looks at the intersection of money, politics, art and ideas, and asks how we might reimagine their connections in our society.

About Spur

Spur is Canada’s first national festival of of politics, art and ideas, to be launched in April 2013 by Diaspora Dialogues and the Literary Review of Canada.

Spur will be an annual festival designed to engage Canadians in a feisty, nation-wide search for ways forward on the most current of issues. It is multi-partisan, forward-looking and solutions-oriented—spurring ideas into action.

Spur Toronto | The Bottom Line.

‘Some Great Ideas’ by Edward Keenan

A JCP member recently came across the book ‘Some Great Ideas’ by Edward Keenan which she wanted to share with the JCP community:

I recently came across a really good book by Edward Keenan. There is a lot of the Junction material in his book because the author turns out to live here. The title is ‘Some great idea ‘and the book talks about Toronto’s past and present. It has some moments where the events described are incredibly current and parts of this book read like our manifesto (basis of unity). I think that our project (JCP) is we on the right path and its timing is perfect.

Here is a review (just a small piece) of the book by Angela Hickman. I picked this passage because it talks about one thing that many people notice: how divided the larger area where we live is.

‘Keenan has been a journalist in Toronto for over a decade (and grew up here to boot), and while I wouldn’t say he’s unbiased, I would say that he’s fair. His personal stories, whether from reporting or his personal life, are illustrative of both how the city works and how it doesn’t, and that dichotomy is often jarring. Take, for example, Keenan’s story of moving from one ward to its neighbour across the tracks. His family moved only a couple of blocks – easy walking distance from their old apartment (Dundas St. and Pacific Ave – KK) and found themselves in an entirely different version of the city. I see these changes every day on my way to and from work. I get on the subway in a dense, walkable city neighbourhood and get off in a neighbourhood of busy four-lane roads and a whole lot of cars. In my case, both of these neighbourhoods are middle class, but they demonstrate very different planning philosophies.

But these differences – this diversity – are Toronto’s strength, Keenan says. Diversity of income, race, urban landscape, age, gender, background, etc. is what makes Toronto such a liveable city. In recent years, however, that diversity has become increasingly divided. The city as whole remains diverse, but its neighbourhoods less so, as development downtown pushes up prices and low income residents are pushed farther out, where there are lower levels of the services they would most benefit from. It’s a problem Keenan says, but not one without solutions (and, to his credit, he offers numerous workable ideas as starting points).’

You can read the full review here:


2.      Here is another very insightful piece from the time when the Junction started to change.

Yes in My Back Yard (YIMBY) | The Stop Community Food Centre

Yes in My Back Yard (YIMBY) | The Stop Community Food Centre.

Would you like to grow your own food, but don’t have space to garden? Do you have a backyard that you would like to put to use?

The Stop Community Food Centre’s Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) program connects people who would like to garden but don’t have the space, to people who have space in their yards they are willing to share.

Backyard gardening is a great way to access fresh, organic veggies for a lower cost, contribute towards a healthier environment by reducing chemical inputs and pollution caused by the industrial food system, and grow things you might not be able to find at the grocery store – all while getting exercise, fresh air, and the satisfaction of watching food grow!

In fact, gardening is one of Canada’s most popular outdoor recreational activities. But here in Toronto not everyone can go right out and start digging – many people would like to garden but live in apartment buildings or do not have access to yard space suitable for growing food. And yet others have access to a yard but do not have the time, interest, or the physical ability to maintain a vegetable garden. Some just like the idea of co-operating with others to create a garden together. Whatever the motivation for participating, YIMBY is working to build community and strengthen relationships between people who might not have otherwise met.

The Stop acts as a connector, helping to set up garden sharing matches. We also offer a tool lending library, free gardening workshops to enhance your skills, some free seedlings, a community seed exchange, and opportunities to meet and learn from other gardeners. YIMBY connects people to garden in the neighbourhoods around The Stop’s two locations, The Green Barn at Christie and St. Clair, and our centre at Davenport and Symington. This area extends roughly from: Bloor up to Rogers/Vaughan Rd and Bathurst over to Dundas W./Old Weston Rd.

If you’re interested in the YIMBY program, please contact Liz Curran at 416-651-7867 ext. 27

7 YIMBY Yes In My Backyard Toronto

16 February 2013: YIMBY Festival at Toronto Reference Library! Free! Fantastic!

7 YIMBY Yes In My Backyard Toronto.

The YIMBY! Festival provides a social space for people and groups involved in grassroots, locally-driven community development to gather, exchange ideas and strategies to effect change, and imagine their future city. It’s a chance to celebrate achievements and identify new challenges and opportunities, in an atmosphere focused on listening, learning and engaging.

The YIMBY festival was founded by Christina Zeidler in 2006 as a result of her work with neighbourhood groups who were responding to widespread unchecked development in Toronto’s Queen West Triangle. She realized that many neighbourhood groups were unfairly labeled as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard).

YIMBY is about promoting the role of neigbourhood groups as a positive force for change, who seek developments and projects that enhance the quality of life of the community, and bring the vitality that meets local needs.

This one-day event invites community groups from across Toronto to turn the table on politicians and policy makers, to educate them and each other about the issues that face each community. This is an opportunity for neighbours to meet neighbours, residents to meet politicians and politicians to meet community groups in the spirit of people coming together for positive change.

More inspiration for the Junction Commons Project

To understand Business model ideas that democratize the ownership of wealth (Purpose-motivated,  green, community-owned neighbouhood corporation based on social enterprise principles  with 10% of profit going back into new investments and technology) please watch this video. This is not some ideological crazy talk and it is essential listening if you want to understand the concept of wealth democratization. WARNING: THIS IS LONG.

David Barsamian interviews Gar Alperovitz on community based struggles and large scale transformation

This is a long but very useful video about the current state of political and economic affairs (neo-liberal gutting of politics with 1% owing 50% etc.). But also a very compelling case for locally based projects to redistribute wealth and practice democracy (in the face of widespread cynicism about citizens agency). Maybe Barsamian points at some of the key reasons and values we want to put forward with the Junction Commons Project.

Gar Alperovitz: America Beyond Capitalism.