We are in the process of transferring these pages to a wiki, to make it easier for our community to collaborate in posting. Have an early look.
Since our unsettling experience in August, when we ran out of park money to pay staff, we've resolved to be extra careful not to get into that situation again. One of the recurring expenses is the monthly printing of the newsletter (now in its fifth year) at Quality Control Printing, right next door to the Bata Shoe Museum. The kind and careful people at Quality Control charge just 3 cents a page. At that price, the first print run of 200 copies costs just $46, and usually we only have to do two printings a month, since many people read the newsletter on the park web site. But even that small cost mounts up.
One solution: over a year ago, friend of the park Bill Wright let us know that he would pay for a print run here and there, and he helped that way a number of times when park money was short. Lately, when someone has asked how they can help the park, we've asked if they wanted to take Bill's idea, and sponsor a part of a newsletter issue. This idea seems to be working. Last month the first run of the newsletter was paid for by Ted England, the second by Andre and Kelly Rosenbaum, and part of the third by Robert Fones and Elke Town. This month the first printing was paid for by Lena Ford, aged five. Lena had her birthday party at the park. Beforehand, she had told her parents, Gail Glatt and Bill Ford, that she wanted to give something to the park. The three of them hatched a plan. Lena made a slit in a shoebox and decorated it, and she put it on the picnic table when her party began. Guests had been asked to cut back on the birthday presents and make a donation to the park when they came to the party. With the money that Lena collected in the shoebox, she was able to not only sponsor the October newsletter, but also to give us a little fund for buying kids' skates at garage sales, to lend out at the rink in the winter. Six pairs so far, and we'll get more. Way to go, Lena.
A few years back, Jutta Mason decided to retire from applying for any grants for park activities, because she didn't want to twist what happens here in the park into a pretzel for the funding applications anymore. However this is the year of exceptions. A visit last fall from Sandy Houston of the Metcalf Foundation resulted in a conversation about writing a book, about this park and about parks in general. The conversation was brokered by John Broley of the G.H.Wood Foundation (remember the roller towel dispensers in public washrooms that had the slogan: "G.H.Wood, Sanitation for the Nation"?). John Broley has been a steadfast friend to the park for a number of years, and he thought the Metcalf Foundation might be interested in what goes on here. He was right: they have just given us a grant to research and write our book. This means that most of the laid-off rink staff from the winter are now busy researching the history of Toronto parks, at the city archives. They're coming up with lots of good stories and pictures. (The point of the book is not just a good-old-days story-telling, but also an inquiry into what our parks were meant to be, and what can be done to keep them being that way).
The research group's funding is augmented by the third and final year of the Jane Jacobs Prize which Jutta got this March, funding which also allows a political science student to try and unravel the mysteries of the city parks budgets over the last 90 years. But that's not all.
This website was developed thanks to a generous grant from the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation.
Last fall, Leslie Toy, a park friend who works for the Toronto Food Policy Council, told us about a city of Toronto one-time grant program called the "Food and Hunger Action Project." There were grants available for community kitchens because the provincial government had given the city a kind of "rebate" of about $10 million for exceeding its workfare targets. It was too complicated to just give that money to the families who had been cut back in their social support money, so the city decided to put the money toward food instead. That seemed like a sign to us. We had been wanting to put a slightly bigger kitchen into the zamboni garage alcove for several years, since the converted slop-closet that we currently use in the rink house is very small. We had already got an estimate with drawings from Nigel Dean (the neighbourhood contractor and friend of the park who helped build the bake-ovens). Also the G.H.Wood Foundation had paid for Richard Boehnke, a public health consultant, to make a report for us on our food safety arrangements. So we were ready, and this grant program seemed like a fit - until we saw the city's application form, which was 46 pages long. Good grief! But three of the part-time park staff said they would help us work on the application, as a way to learn how funding applications are filled out. (They learned more than they ever wanted to know.) If it hadn't been for the bravery of Anna Bekerman, Jenny Cook, and Caitlin Shea in the face of paperwork, the grant would have never been submitted.
Park manager James Dann wrote us a letter of support, and on December 17, with 10 minutes to go before the deadline, Anna Bekerman sprinted across Nathan Philips Square into city hall, went up the elevator, hurried along a hallway, and laid our great big fat application package down on the table in the designated room. 46 pages to say: "Please give us $20,000 to build a better park kitchen."
And then in the middle of March we found out we were approved for the grant. One reason we got it, perhaps, was that the G.H.Wood Foundation wrote us a letter saying that they would give us a conditional grant of $8000 in addition, if we were approved for the city grant. Another example of their steadfastness.
For the complete kitchen story, read about our Zamboni Kitchen.
Our long-time park friend Pat MacKay topped up this good fortune by giving us another $500, some of that to build some nesting boxes for birds in the native-species gardens, and the rest to go toward a dishwasher/sanitizer in the new kitchen. There are still some expenses not covered, but the community pizza-day income should take care of that.
The parks director, Don Boyle, maintains that it's not possible to get those figures. We maintain that "not possible" is not the right answer. Mike Hindle, the supervisor in charge of maintaining our park, asks: why do we want to know? Besides the obvious housekeeping reasons -- for a taxpayer, it's a serious concern if the people who look after our park don't know what they're spending -- here are two other reasons:
A neighbourhood that wants a good park has to take care of the park. To take responsible care of the park we have to know, in clear detail, how our taxes are being spent here. A Parks Department is entrusted to look after the citizens' interests, and it must be accountable. During the remainder of January, we will energetically try to help the Park staff come up with the budget information we need for our "citizens' hall" meeting. For more information, please call the park clubhouse at 416/392-0913, and leave your name and number.
The new kitchen will have some space for park friends who need a starter kitchen to set up small food operations. We're particularly interested in street food. If you - like so many people coming to this city - used to sell food on the street in another country, and you brought giant cooking pots with you but you haven't got the capital yet to set up a public-health-approved kitchen and get restarted here in Toronto, call the park (416 392-0913) and leave your number. We'd like to talk to you.
If you want more detailed information about the Friends of Dufferin Grove Park expenses and income, you can open a PDF of our 2002 Expenses and Income Report.
In the past seven years, almost $350,000 has been raised for programs and additions to the park, not counting grants that have come to other groups operating out of the park, like Clay and Paper Theatre. Much of the money that was raised has gone to our "youth odd jobs" programs, which paid young people for doing all kinds of useful work in the rink and around Dufferin Grove Park and Christie Pits.
Some of the money was raised through food sales at festivals but most of it came from funds people can apply for, such as the Trillium Foundation and special City of Toronto funding programs.
Two years ago the rules for such funding began to seem too peculiar and Jutta Mason, in particular, decided her fund-raising days were over. She could not stomach the application processes any longer. Occasionally, however, an unsolicited grant has come, most notably those of Pat MacKay, the G.H.Wood Foundation, and an anonymous grant brokered three years ago by John Sewell (we still have no idea who gave it). In addition, the Maytree Foundation has been open to occasional common-sense requests, without a standard application form. These kinds of help are inspiring, and they bring back the sense of adventure to the projects that go on here in the park.
The main day-to-day financial support for running the park and the rink comes from the regular budget of the city Parks Department. Our budget is under threat, and one hopes that the city will come to recognize what is here before it vanishes.