I have often wondered why the east side of anything seems to be less attractive, poorer or seedier. My hundred year old neighbourhood on the east side of Toronto, currently undergoing a resurgence with an influx of young children and couples, still suffers from an open display of narcotics and prostitution. And this display takes place in the very alleys I find so quaint. So, the neighbours got together and decided to take back the alleys by holding regular events, starting with a “Rally in the Alley” pot luck and the “Alley Olympics” to follow.
The enthusiasm for the event is high and culminated in a local art gallery where we all crammed in, spilling out onto the road, to discuss options with the police and local politicians. Our local crime is low on their radar, but high on ours as it is in our face. Other communities have had success by taking ownership of their neighbourhood. We are doing the same. Perhaps using my camera to document what is going on and publishing it on the various sites springing up to support the program will make a difference.
We had a party in a back alley, amongst graffiti and disorderly gardens only seen by those who live there or taking a short cut and don’t really care. People brought food and barbecues for quite the array of dishes. The highlight for me was watching the kids paint each other’s faces.
Shooting was a little challenging as it was mid-afternoon with a blazing sun. And I always worry a little about taking pictures of other parent’s kids, but at this event it wasn’t an issue. I don’t think anyone recognizes me without a camera in front of my face.
For the most part I stuck with my 24-120mm f4 allowing me to enjoy the food and the heat without too much equipment. The turnout was great and I have high hopes that we can, in fact, take back our alleys.