All In Hand
Here you'll find the sum total of Miss Vicky's Remarks thus far.
So it looks like some kind of community-based solution to the food desert that exists in Centretown and Hintonburg will come to pass. Last night's meeting about Food Security and the possibility of a Community grocery store was extremely well attended, and the 40some folks who crowded into the boardroom at Somerset West CHC were both enthusiastic and knowledgeable - about the neighbourhood and its challenges, about food security, and about co-operatives. It was very encouraging for the folks who have been working hard on the issue since the Booth St. Loeb closed last year.
That's how this whole thing started - when the Loeb began to threaten closure, the community really mobilized, knowing full well that losing a place to purchase staple groceries would have an adverse impact on the neighbourhood. SWCHC has been working since then on alternatives - contacting other grocery providers to see if they would be interested in setting up shop, for example. And they were able to get a grant to examine the feasibility of a community grocery store - either a non-profit or a co-op, most likely.
The first step was the survey that many of us filled out, either on line or at the community centre or elsewhere. They needed 300 responses to be statistically relevant; there have been well over 400 responses, which was encouraging. We did discuss the need to do some focus groups with marginalized people, people from different ethnocultural backgrounds, and so on, because there wasn't a lot of diversity among those that did respond. But the survey responses were interesting.
#3 Where do you buy your groceries now that Loeb is closed? Responses were quite varied. Hartmann's and the Parkdale Market topped the list, with the Superstore, Loeb at Wellington and the Giant Tiger also having large responses. Some people go further afield now - to Merivale, or the Food Basics at Hampton park, or elsewhere
#4 Do you spend more? 37% said yes.
#9 Considerations in buying groceries:
68% felt that location (proximity to home) was very important
50% price was v. important, 47% somewhat important
Other considerations - local, organic, fair trade, eco-friendly, vegetarian, cleanliness, bus routes were all popular write-ins
#10 Preferences : There was a significant number of people who indicated a preference for vegetarian and diabetic-friendly food shopping, as well as local & organic
#12 Getting your groceries home: walking 31%, car 24%, bike 15% , bus 14%
one participant observed that from the looks of the #2 every day, a lot more than 14% of local residents take the bus to get their groceries home.
#13 Difficult to get groceries home - 31% said yes
The survey also indicated siginificant support for a community grocery store, especially if price and selection were similar to other choices. In some cases respondents indicated they would even pay a little more to shop there. And a lot of respondents said they would volunteer if one would set up.
We had a long discussion about the survey responses, then discussed the two models of a co-operative or non-profit community grocery store. There are a lot of examples of successful community-driven ventures, including recent startups in Saskatoon and Regina, and even neighbouring Hull. Participants added a few other examples; one had been involved in a local co-op that ran for years but is no longer with us. We are far from being able to say which model is preferable, but there seemed to be a real interest in a co-op last night, and people at the meeting raised some very good questions - about labour practices and the role of staff, about governance models, sources of funding, suppliers, pricing structures and so on. Moe Garahan of Just Food was a great resource - she gave us a quick primer on food security early in the meeting, and had some insight into the issue of suppliers later on.
We also talked a bit about the issue of location - the Loeb site would likely be too big and unsustainable as a site unless it was combined with other businesses and/or services. Folks had plenty of alternative suggestions, however. Whatever happens, it is likely that the location will be in Chinatown rather than Hintonburg, but hopefully this will not dissuade folks from our neighbourhood from participating in the project. If there is substantial interest in doing something here as well, we might talk about that via the community association, perhaps.
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Miss Vicky will be facilitating an open meeting tonight to discuss the notion of a community grocery store to replace the closed Loeb in neighbouring Chinatown. As you know, the Somerset West Community Health Centre has been conducting a survey of local residents about their food purchasing habits and desires. We'll be hearing the results of the survey tonight and discussing alternatives.
The meeting takes place at Somerset West Community Health Centre (Eccles and Booth) at 6:30pm.
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Just a quick note to let everyone know about my brother Chefgeek's 'new' gig. He's now chef at Jak's kitchen (479 Bronson Ave, at McLeod). He has been working there for a while now, but they've recently renovated -- and part of that renovation was not only a promotion for him, but also allowing him to create their new menu.
For many of you long time Ottawans the address may sound familliar, as it was the location of the old Stonface Dolly's. When Jak's first moved into the location, it was a change in name only -- causing some mixed reviews and a bit of confusion. But now that they've had time to plan it out properly, they've made the space their own. Almost all vestiges of the old Stoneface Dolly's are gone. No more crowded "mom's kitchen" style tables & chairs. Instead, there are clean, modern furnishings and a comfortable banquette along the north wall. The menu is much more contemporary as well, thanks to the new chef. The only "Dolly-esque" feature they retained are the Saturday & Sunday brunches -- though I'm sure the menu has changed there too.
Miss Vicky and I recently made it out for an early dinner (with Wee G in tow) to sample the new fare and were suitably impressed. I would recommend visiting sans toddler. They were very accommodating (even digging up a booster from somewhere), but it's not a family restaurant. So if you're in the neighbourhood, give it a shot. And if your in for dinner, don't forget to say hi to my Bro'. He'll be the guy proudly working away in the kitchen.
(bonus points to anyone who gets the title reference -- without the aid of Google)
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Critical Mass is a form of urban cycling activism, and it's coming to Hintonburg.
There are a lot of commuters cycling east on Wellington West every morning, making their way through the often perilous traffic to their downtown workplaces. Miss Vicky sees them every morning on the ritual family stroll to Bridgehead. Rain or shine, there are a substantial number of bikes on the road, and more often than not drivers are oblivious to that. Sometimes even hostile. As the width of Wellington West and Somerset shrinks and expands depending on where you are in the route, some spots are more dangerous than others. Buses pulling in and out of stops pose even more of a hazard to the cycle commuter.
So the idea behind the Hintonburg Daily Mass is to gather commuters to cycle downtown together - there is, after all, safety in numbers. Plus, it's fun!
The Mass will leave the Hintonburg Community Centre at 8:15 sharp. No need to dress up, as is often the case for the monthly critical mass rides in Ottawa and elsewhere. Just bring yourself and your bike.
you can also join the Facebook group for regular updates.
Sadly, Miss Vicky's commute is in the wrong direction, or she and her Townie would happily join in.
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Hintonburg's own Herb Girls are hosting the first ever herb girl family funtastic halloween concert this Sunday at the Carleton Tavern. Say the girls:
bring the kids, the partners, the mamas, the papas, the grandkids, the grandfolks, dress up if you like, dress down if you choose!
Sunday October 28th
11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
(lots of time to nap before & after)
In true Hintonburg style we are performing at where else but
The Carleton Tavern
223 Armstrong Ave (right by the Parkdale Market)
$5.00 per person
$10.00-$20.00 per family (sliding scale)
so get out that big bright pink/red/blue whatever colour marker you so choose and circle Sunday the 28th of October so you don't make other plans!
please pass this info on
thanks parsley, sage, rosemary and never-on-thyme
A family obligation out of town will be keeping the residents of the Finishing School away, but we hope everyone has a fantastic time! The last Herb Girls event I attended was a blast!
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So the Webgeek's second location for his dream pub is no longer in the running (should he win the lottery, that is). The former HQ for the NDP at Wellington and Stirling has its windows papered over and signs for "Cyclelogik powered by caffeine". A quick google search revealed this. While a bike shop that serves up espresso along with its tune-ups may not be exactly what Hintonburg residents have in mind in their clamour for a place to get a cuppa joe in the 'hood, it certainly is an intriguing idea! In addition to shopping and coffee, Cyclelogik will also offer a Ride Inside program - spinning classes to help cyclists train in inclement weather.
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Has it really been a week since I last posted? I have really been slacking off. Sorry, faithful legion.... Miss Vicky shall endeavour to address her neglect of this blog as soon as possible.
In my defense, it has been a rather busy week, juggling doctor's appointments, work, various Kitchicoo meetings, the wedding of two longtime friends, our street's first (at least in a long time) block party and a considerable amount of time in emergency with a sick WeeG (he has pneumonia - but he's feeling much better now, thanks to a puff or two of ventolin and some antibiotics).
An update soon. I promise.
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Creative Neighbourhoods has announced a very interesting opportunity for Hintonburg youth ages 12-20. The Murmur Project, which documents a neighbourhood's oral history and shares it via digital recordings you can listen to via cell phone, has chosen Hintonburg as its pilot location in Ottawa.
In the next several months, you'll see plaques celebrating local landmarks appear on storefronts and street corners around the neighbourhood, each with a special number that you can dial to hear a story about that spot.
The project is a collaboration with the GCTC, the Playwright's Guild of Canada, Creative Neighbourhoods and Uthink/Murmur, and the idea is to engage Hintonburg youth in exploring and documenting our local history. They're looking for young people who are passionate about writing (not to mention their neighbourhood) to participate in a day-long seminar at the GCTC, working with a professional playwright to turn memories into short stories about our neighbourhood - these will then be recorded for the Murmur project.
The teenage Miss Vicky would have totally been into this. If you know a young person from the 'hood who might be interested in participating, pass on this info... to apply, they should email email@example.com with their name, age and email address, along with a paragraph about a place in Hintonburg.
(the boundaries for this project are the O-train tracks in the east to Holland in the west, Scott in the south to the Queensway in the north)
The seminar will take place on November 4, so act soon! No lollygagging!
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So last year Miss Vicky and the Webgeek vowed that we would make a concerted effort to attend some of our local women's hockey league games, the Ottawa Raiders. Unfortunately, the NWHL suspended its operations before we had a chance to see them. So we were gratified to hear that a new women's league has been established, run by players as a non-profit enterprise. Ottawa has a team, the Ottawa Capital Canucks, which includes Olympian Katie Weatherston. So we checked the schedule posted here and started to rally friends to attend the December 1 game at the Sandy Hill Arena en masse.
Problem is, we can't find anything out about our team, the games, the cost of tickets, and so on. Anywhere. There's no contact info for the teams on the Ontario Women's Hockey Association website, which is where we found the release about the new league and the schedule. Calls to the arenas where they are playing have proven futile - apparently we are to "just show up" on game day. Okay.....
We know they are playing because the one team that HAS a website - the Brampton Thunder, is posting game information. Apparently they creamed our Canucks the other day. It seems just migrated their NWHL team over to the new league, which doesn't seem to be happening in Ottawa.
Miss Vicky can understand that the rush to get the new league organized, to arrange games and ice time and put teams together and so on, means that some things will get pushed aside for a bit, but at the very least set up a Facebook group so you can get a fan base going! We're waiting!
Anyone with information about Ottawa's team is welcome to post it here or contact Miss Vicky. We'll promote the heck out of them once we find out what's actually going on! And do join us at the Sandy Hill Arena on December 1 at 5pm for the game...
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