Insights from St. James Town Annual Spring Gathering 2019
Residents felt that the association should be able to represent St. James Town and every individual resident. Another important role was also to create a positive image of St. James Town, in the media and also among the public.
Similarly with the Local Catering Collective, residents brainstormed training that food vendors could benefit from, apart from Food Handling and Safety. Residents suggested that customer service skills, advertising and marketing skills, as well as knowledge of diverse cuisines and special diets would be important for the Catering Collective. Residents also highlighted some of priority resources that the collective would need like a well equipped kitchen and appliances; a Dietitian and Chef support for mentorship. Participants also stressed that the menus should reflect global cuisines and be diverse.
The Reuse Hub/ Tool library ideas were consistent with the finding from the survey conducted prior to the event. For example majority of residents were interested in borrowing items for personal use, and with regards to repair, electronics (eg. Computers, phones, vaccum cleaners, ACs) and home repairs (drilling, carpentary) were of most interest to residents. Other interesting ideas about types of training the hub could offer through skilled residents, included cooking, jewelry making, photography classes and beauty salons.
Spring Gathering was an opportunity to learn more about the history of Harm Reduction Activities in the neighbourhood as a public health approach. Residents shared that they see a lot of needles in SJT but the neighbourhood does not have needle disposal bins in public spaces. They highlighted that needle disposal bins in schools, and buildings and public spaces parks/playground areas were important, many expressing concern for children picking up needles. Residents indicated that all workshops suggested would be important, from understanding harm reduction and how it helps people, to becoming more familiar with harm reduction kits, and how to help people who are overdosing. Participants also stressed on finding ways to reduce stigma for people who use drugs.
For Newcomer Connection, residents had concrete suggestions on how to outreach to and reach more newcomers in SJT, such as having tea parties, raffle and prizes to draw people in. The general consensus around best outreach spots to reach newcomers were the schools, followed by government supported language classes, and then the community centres, parenting centres and library.
Spring Gathering 2019 was held on Friday, March 22nd from 5:30 to 8:30pm at Rose Avenue Public School. This is the 6th in a series of annual community consultations carried out to understand the service and program needs of the St. James Town community, as well as plan as a community to promote neighbourhood well being. It was hosted by Health Access St. James Town (HASJT) in partnership with the residents of St. James Town and the St. James Town Service Providers Network (SJTSPN).The theme of this year’s gathering was Resident Leadership and Collaboration. This year we had 253 participants attending the event, which included residents, volunteers, service providers, children and community stakeholders.
Informed by previous consultations and a social charter, the following initiatives were identified for discussion and collaborative planning: a St. James Town Neighbourhood Association, Newcomer Connection Activities, Intergenerational Initiative, Harm Reduction Plan for St. James Town, and Income Generation Initiatives.People gave feedback on how to go about planning a Neighbourhood Association for St. James Town from recruitment to gathering feedback and the neighbourhood-level issues it should prioritize. The top 3 priority issues were: Safety in the Community, Cleanliness/ Maintenance of Public Space, and Neighbourhood Planning, Infrastructure and Housing. Residents also suggested training programs that they could use to be effective in the Neighbourhood Association like City Planning and Tenant Rights;, Community Organizing, Outreach and Advocacy; followed by Politics and Civic Engagement, understanding different levels of Government and how to work with them.