Monday, February 6, 2012

The Everything Roof

Our Story                                      

The About Face Collective is working to create a community rooftop garden and learning space with a twist: the creative structural elements of the garden will be designed and built by local artists and youth using recycled and reclaimed materials. Together with Skate4Cancer's "You Are What You Eat" program, Sketch Working Arts for Street Involved and Homeless Youth, and the Centre for Social Innovation, The About Face Collective will create a unique, inspiring, visually exciting space to promote urban farming, green lifestyles and integrated community engagement.

We are seeking to create a 2200 square foot deck on the roof of the Centre for Social Innovation, Annex location at 720 Bathurst St, Toronto. The deck will hold raised beds, vertical gardening structures, community lounge and education area, all surrounded by green roof space. Our layout considers plotting for food production while also providing adequate amount of space for community use, events and educational programming.

The Impact                                   

This rooftop will have long lasting environmental and social impacts. Here's a quick look at what we can achieve with this project:

Environmental Impact: Converting black tar rooftop space into green space helps reduce storm water runoff and also the "heat island" effect which contributes to smog and poor air quality in urban spaces. Not to mention, more plants in any situation equals more absorption of CO2, also leading to more breathable air.  We'll also be putting rain barrels on the roof which will help conserve water. And, last but not least, we'll be growing food, selling it in the building below and using it on-site in educational programming, effectively ELIMINATING the emissions it normally takes to transport produce into urban areas!

By showcasing the creative and functional possibilities of materials often thought of as disposable, we hope to inspire waste reduction. Not only will we reduce landfill waste ourselves, but also to inspire others to see the amazing aesthetic and practical potential that exists for recycling and reusing.

Social Impact: We'll be giving youth, artists and other community members unique educational and employment opportunities throughout this project. Educational programming will be offered in the initial development process in the form of workshops, so that interested community members learn about different stages of creating a rooftop garden.

We're teaming with local artists including the crew at Sketch Working Arts for Street Involved and Homeless Youth. We'll be offering paid residencies to youth who are passionate and artistic but are encountering barriers to employment. These opportunities give them unique and exciting job experience which can help launch them into future careers in creative or environmental sectors. 

Our regular scheduled programming, in partnership with Skate4Cancer, will take the form of half-day educational sessions for school and community groups. Programs will focus on agriculture and urban gardening education, sustainable art and design, nutritional information and simple, healthy food preparation. The programming will seek to show the food process in its full cycle, from seed to meal. We will take a creative approach to food education, integrating art, nutrition and sustainable possibilities. Fun!

The space will also be open to the general public and available for rental for special events, workshops and gatherings. It will serve as a unique and artistically inspired space that will appeal to a wide variety of communities in the GTA. 

What We Need                             

We've already hosted a successful fundraiser,  gained the support of Live Green Toronto, The Big Carrot, and lots of support from our own community members. We're applying for grants and sponsorships like it's our job, but we still need support from you! We've got some dough to go to reach our full fundraising goals to cover our budget of $240,000

Where does that number come from? Well, not only are we creating the rooftop deck, but we also need to build all the necessary drainage equipment and underlying infrastructure to make sure the deck can support the weight of the garden and green roof elements. This requires not only quality equipment, but also services from sustainability specialists, including architects, engineers and contractors.  We'll also need to construct appropriate access to the roof (right now there's only a ladder; eek!). 

As mentioned, we also want to employ youth and local artists (with decent wages!) to help design, build and bring artistic sensibilities to the space. We believe in the value of creative work and in the potential for artists to bring important social and environmental issues to light, to make them exciting and attractive to the community. 

We'll also need to buy tools, create educational resources, and of course seeds, plants, lightweight soil alternatives and other garden-related items. It all adds up fast!

Other Ways You Can Help          

Please help us spread the word! Share our campaign with your friends who care about the environment, art, youth, culture, food, health, the Earth, and, well, EVERYTHING

If you're in the Toronto area and would like to volunteer your skills to this project, holler! Add your passion to our growing group of diverse and passionate community members.

Perks will be sent at the close of the campaign.

Relevant perk links: