Sunday 1 March 2009

Family Day Frolic

Two weeks ago we took advantage of a holiday Monday to explore a new neighbourhood which may sometime in the near future become our neighbourhood. Change is in the air. Istra is on the list for 3 different kindergartens in the city and which hat she gets pulled out of will dictate our next move. Our next move may be southward, to the Hawthorne II Bilingual Alternative neighbourhood.

Hawthorne II is a unique school in Toronto. It has several objectives which are a little bit, shall we say, alternative. First of all, it starts introducing French slowly right at the beginning using songs and word games and other fun ways to engage young children with the French language. Also worked into the curriculum is social justice and environmental awareness issues. Also unlike other schools in Toronto, it is open to parents and parents we encouraged to be involved in their children's education in a way which creates the legendary "Hawthorne Community".

We started our walk at Christie Pits, which is a rather large park at Bloor and Christie which has a history of violence. Of course, there hasn't been much violence there anytime recently (that we know of), but all the same, Tim did his best to capture with his photographic eye all less-than-seemly elements of our maybe-to-be neighbourhood. It is his way.

The neighbourhood, it seems, is full of artists--the undercover, nighttime, spray-paint can sort of artist. A few more extreme examples of this are here, here and here. I chose the example to the left, however, to illustrate another point about the neighbourhood: not only is it close to Tim's work, close to my potential future school, close to Quaker House and close to the Children's Storefront (a much-loved hangout for me and the kids), it is also very bike friendly. See how the neighbourhood artistes have defiantly spray-painted out the "NO" in the "No Bicycle Riding" sign? These are vandals we can get behind! More evidence of this neighbourhood's pro-bike culture was observed at the Hawthorne Open House we attended a few weeks ago: a half-full bike rack (in the winter!) of double bike trailers and even a beautiful shiny black cargo bike.

On our long walk home, we passed a few blocks of townhomes, one of which we may be calling our own by summertime. There are some definite advantages to living further south, closer to downtown; but on the other hand, there are advantages to sticking to our current neighbourhood and sending Istra to the local school. Change is in the air! We shall see how big of a change in two weeks time."

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