Friends of Dufferin Grove Park
Dufferin Grove Park is a truly amazing place in Toronto, Canada. The community there, Friends of Dufferin Grove Park, have built a Cob Courtyard in the 14.2 acre park. You can see the construction process in their Photo Gallery. Dufferin Park is a city owned common space. There is no organization, no meetings, to redtape. Just a community that make use of this space of their neighborhood. Cafeteria, community gardens, puppet shows, Cob Courtyards – it’s inspiring!
There is a not-well-defined group called “Friends of Dufferin Grove Park” that’s busy in and around the park. It started with four people in 1993, and over the years it’s picked up between 80 and 100 people. There are no membership cards, nor a fee. We don’t have a mission statement. We rarely have meetings (the nature of open space is that people are talking to each other enough that most of the issues are talked about as the occasion arises).
The goal is to establish public space as a place where people in a neighbourhood can come to know each other, as little or as much as they want. The programs are mainly ones that other people — all sorts — bring to the park (dance, theater, stories, sports, music, whatever). My objective, my full-time hobby, is to remove blocks to such gifts to the neighbourhood. Somebody asked us what our “target population” is(tsk tsk, such language, targets are what you hit with weapons!). It is, quite simply, everyone in the neighbourhood. That means that the bad guys don’t get squeezed out when they’re acting good, and the middle class don’t get humoured when they’re acting bad. But the order of the day is “everyone welcome.”