After analyzing feedback from our month-long research project this summer, which looked at four GTA communities that are underserved by existing media outlets, we decided to first focus on Scarborough. Despite the community’s sizeable population of more than 630,000, it gets lost in the daily churn of the news cycle. And when Scarborough does get mentioned in the news, residents complain that reports focus on gun violence and other criminal activities. At the same time, local publications haven’t been able to keep up with Scarborough’s growth to accurately reflect residents’ — that is, your — daily lives.
Right now, I’m going from east side to west side, and from uptown to downtown — all within Scarborough, of course — to interview community leaders about what I should investigate. (You can also tell me what to cover by filling in this survey, and I’d love if you passed it along to friends and family, too.) I’m already seeing common themes emerge, including concerns over transit, affordable housing and street safety.
As you well know, Scarborough usually gets a bad rap in traditional media and sometimes even in popular culture. Those stories dwell on crime and grime in the community, which was once nicknamed “Scarberia” and “Scarlem.”
So, help me fill in gaps in news coverage here. The conversations I have with community members will drive my storytelling, whether that’s a deep dive into the Scarborough subway extension, or a photo gallery highlighting artwork in Scarborough’s alleyways and underpasses.
In exchange, every week via my newsletter (sign up here!), I’ll provide fresh updates on your community, profile local leaders, highlight hidden gems and share upcoming events.
Speaking of events, you can also catch me around town as I connect with folks across Scarborough. Next week, I’ll be attending local candidates’ debates for the upcoming municipal elections, so come say hi if you see me (scroll down for more information on the debate dates and locations). And if you haven’t already voted in the advance polls, be sure to cast your ballot on Oct. 22!
I’ll also be available for a quick chat every Wednesday from 3 to 4 p.m., either in person at the Scarborough Civic Centre library or online via Twitter (I’ll announce how I’ll be hosting these office hours ahead of time). If you want to set up a longer meeting, give story tips and feedback, or just shoot me a friendly note, reply to this email.
I look forward to all of your messages — especially if they’re shout-outs to Scarborough!
Brenda Thompson has been living in Scarborough for almost 20 years, and transit is a major concern for her. As co-chair of the grassroots organization Scarborough Transit Action, Brenda can often be seen on Line 3 Scarborough (better known to locals as the SRT or RT) and TTC buses serving the community, trying to engage transit riders in a conversation about their needs.
“I find it frustrating that as a transit rider in Scarborough, if I’m trying to get to Malvern or I’m trying to get to [University of Toronto] Scarborough or to Rouge Park, it can take me up to an hour to get there by bus. And I’m transferring buses,” she tells me. “I think it’s an assault on our dignity. I think we have a right to certainly get where we need to go quickly by public transit, and we have a right to have a comfortable ride.”
Let’s meet up
I’ll be at these election-related events next week, and hope to meet some of you there:
- Monday, Oct. 15: Meet-and-greet with candidates of Scarborough-Agincourt at Bridlewood Mall’s Centre Court, presented by Scarborough Civic Action Network. 5 to 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 17: All-candidates town hall for Scarborough Southwest at Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, presented by the East Beach Community Association. 7 to 9 p.m.
- Thursday, Oct. 18: Meet-and-greet with candidates of Scarborough Rouge-Park at Malvern Presbyterian Church, presented by Scarborough Civic Action Network. 6 to 8:30 p.m.
- Anytime: Join me in The Discourse’s new, dedicated Facebook group for Scarborough residents (and vote on your favourite group name)!
- Author Catherine Hernandez’s debut novel, Scarborough, has been optioned to be made into a film. Check out this callout for a film crew, which includes paid positions for a production designer, assistant director and graffiti mural artist. Preference will be given to applicants who grew up in, or currently live in, Scarborough.
- The winner of this year’s Toronto Book Award is David Chariandy, for his novel Brother. David grew up in Scarborough, and both his debut novel Soucouyant and second book Brother are set in the community. Brother also won last year’s Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.
- Ekow Nimako was one of many artists featured as part of Nuit Blanche’s Scarborough projects. If you didn’t get a chance to see his amazing sculptures built from Lego pieces, don’t worry — Ekow is prolific and exhibits often. Check out his website for more information, which features this video explaining his approach. [end]