East End Sorry, social action poseurs of the.
Sorry, social action poseurs of the West – it’s the East that’s red (and green). There’s something wafting in the wind, literally, here that’s given us supersized organizing skills. Since the fight over lead emissions in the 70s, we’ve been on a tear. No wonder we mark our ballots here in the commune for NDP leader Jack Layton, former Greenpeacer Peter Tabuns and solar buff Paula “Come on down, baby” Fletcher (pictured).
On this side of Yonge, folks don’t buy guff when it comes to assurances about safe levels. If it emits, we want it gone. Period. Like the Portlands Energy Centre, which we haven’t managed to dislodge – yet. We’re also the air quality control freaks who killed off incineration at the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant.
Oh, and another thing about life on the sunrise side: residents wear their political hearts on their – well, living room windows, actually. People here hung white No War signs during the invasion of Iraq, and did likewise to win against Leslieville’s big box SmartCentre.
And, hey, we’re reeking with social justice. Scarborough’s Residents Rising dis TTC fare increases and beautify the pavement with flowers. And the bakery at St. John the Compassionate serves up jobs for challenged locals. The East is also OCAP territory. Here’s where the city’s leading street actionists come home to write the leaflets. Last month the group crashed cocktail hour at a Dalton McGuinty funder. Our side keeps it real.
Okay, okay. We can laugh too. We’ve got Mr. Privatize This, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who called the pesticide ban “council’s version of the gun registry.” And while we don’t have Adam Giambrone, we’ve got shockers, too, Sandra Bussin-style. Bunny suits, anyone?
No contest when it comes to the social activism zeitgeist, it’s firmly in the wild west. We sure can rock the wagon. And conveniently located on our side (but not necessarily on our side) is the seat of provincial power and the clamshell that directs the city, not to mention demo magnet the U.S. Consulate.
It was the West that urban guru Jane Jacobs settled into when she arrived from the U.S., and, in the early 70s, with her guidance, we slew the Spadina Expressway and saved the city core for everyone.
Here on the sunset side, folks are engineering an eco crusade over clean electric trains as well as rattling the bureaucracy to take local control at Dufferin Grove Park. Heard of any eastern version of Car-Free Kensington? Or the Centre for Social Innovation? And it’s the West that owns the franchise on Third World solidarity, feminism and pacifism. Nothing like Friends House over yonder. Or Toronto Women’s Bookstore. Or the Rexdale Women’s Centre. And ain’t no OISE auditorium either Broadview way for lefty speechifying.
We’ve got cool citizen journalism at JaneFinch.com, and equal-opportunity eating at FoodShare. And great gentrification slayers – just ask West Queen Westers.
But if this side knows a good social struggle, it’s got pols to match. We’ve got Councillor Gord Perks, he of the anti-pesticide bylaw, and it’s ground zero for cyclist MP Olivia Chow (pictured), the city’s ferocious federal defender. Watch her poke at the dreaded Port Authority and fight the feds for transit funding. East-siders also have no policy head like Adam Vaughan, who’s big on small retailers and condos that fit families. And admit it, we’re just edgier. We’ve got extracurricular Adam Giambrone and radical reverend Cheri DiNovo, who fights passionately to up the minimum wage and at the same time champions pit bulls. Go figure.