Scarborough.

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How to report on Scarborough's layers of complexity

We look forward to reflecting more of your lives, as we continue to surface community-powered stories from Scarborough.

My colleague Anita Li and I joined the rest of The Discourse team in Vancouver earlier this week. We had a chance to reflect on our work so far, and to plan some exciting projects for 2019.

In addition to hearing about our colleagues’ experiences with reporting from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and with covering the urban Indigenous community living in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, Anita and I shared our learnings from Scarborough. We described our many positive interactions with residents, from engaging with members of the very active Scarborough Discourse Facebook group to meeting locals in-person at Discourse-hosted events, such as our first-ever Story Circle. We also discussed the challenges ahead, as I continue to cover one of the largest and most diverse suburbs in the Greater Toronto Area, while remaining true to The Discourse’s mandate of community-driven journalism.

The Discourse team (not pictured: Anita Li) at our 2018 holiday party on Monday night in Vancouver, B.C.

Take, for instance, my goal of producing a story that accurately reflects the issue of gun violence in Scarborough. As I dig deeper into the statistics and surveys, it’s become increasingly obvious that there are no clear-cut answers, but rather, layers of complexity at play; these include systemic issues like poverty and institutional racism, and social issues like unemployment and lack of community services for youth, among others. For me, the most challenging aspect of it all is that none of this is new. So, how do I report on a well-worn topic with which many locals are already familiar, like crime, in a way that offers new and useful information to them?

At the same time, there are a number of community organizations running local programs to address such key issues, as well as many others, including isolated seniors, homelessness and affordable housing, barriers facing people with disabilities and discrimination against Indigenous people living in Scarborough.

These are just a few of the topics I’ll be thinking through during the holidays. For now, The Discourse team and I will be taking a break, so this is my last newsletter for 2018. Happy holidays! I wish you and your loved ones the very best.

Your favourite strip malls

The strip mall at the intersection of Sheppard Avenue East and Progress Avenue, where a halal butcher shop opened up to serve the area’s primarily Muslim community.

Hey, Scarborough! Thanks for submitting photos and stories of your favourite strip malls. We’ve rounded up your submissions, and compiled them here. Highlights include Wexford Heights Plaza and Stop 20 Plaza, with an honourable mention going to Woodside Square mall. If you want to be featured in this post, please email me with your anecdote and photo, along with caption and credit information.

Let’s meet up

  • Dec. 22. The Penguin Show. Like all great children’s entertainment these days, Applefun Puppetry is equally fun for adults. Chief puppeteer Mike Harding makes his own puppets, and adds his zany sense of humour to create a rib-tickling show. Albert Campbell Library, Multipurpose Room. 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

  • Dec. 22. West Hill Harvest Food and Toy Drive. West Hill Harvest describes itself as a 100 per cent volunteer-run organization that “keeps it simple.” It provides baskets of food, toys and gift cards to local families in West Hill that are struggling and need extra support around the holidays. In addition to donating, you can help by assisting with delivery in the neighbourhood. Contact Jenny Foster at westhillharvest@gmail.com to participate. Guildwood Presbyterian Church. 12 to 2 p.m.

  • Dec. 26. Boxing Day at the Zoo. Everyone loves a good deal — and tickets to the Toronto Zoo are half price on Boxing Day for the entire day. Take your family for a stroll through the indoor pavilions, or bundle up and enjoy the scenic walking trails outdoors. You can also drop off old electronics at the Phone Apes Station at the front entrance. Toronto Zoo. 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Spotlight

Suresh Singaratnam is on a Yuletide mission. He’d like “Now Adorned,” a Christmas song that he wrote and composed, to be sung across Canada — at holiday concerts, community gatherings, church services and any other place you’d hear Christmas carols. “It’s a very Canadian Christmas song. It’s inclusive, it’s hopeful, it’s diverse,” says Suresh, who grew up in Scarborough.

“Now Adorned” features jazz singer Joanna Majoko and pianist Stu Harrison. For his part, Suresh sings background vocals on the track, and also plays the trumpet and french horn. Watch the music video, above.

 

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