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Neighbourhood Watch: Kensington Market (2 of 2)

"Community Vehicular Reclamation" (Jon .)

From: Jonathan Rothman
To: Denise Balkissoon
Re: Neighbourhood Watch, Kensington Market

Is it getting delicious in here or what? I feel you, of course: Doubles at Patty King! Vegan chocolate banana bread from I Deal Coffee (totally fooled me, an aggressive, opportunistic omnivore)! Cheese everywhere! Fish Shak! And you gotta love that 4 Life Naturals team. Final morsels: La Palette's horse, which I've yet to try, is organic, local, and the weak spot for at least one hardcore no impact low consumption vegetariactivist bandleader I know. And while Akram's sandwich-pressed lamb shawarma could be bigger, the love and zataar that goes into that man's food... I think we agree: food and unity a perfect Kensington make.

Joni, huh? Well, this paradise is already paved. I agree the market may not be overwhelmed yet, true. (Though I would love to know the stats on how much local buying the Kensington lofters do. Produce, sure; hair care products ... ya think?) One architect I talked to worried the bylaw and historical district nod won't likely save anything, that the face of the market will continue to change.

Then again, we're talking about a place so supportive of indie businesses that it can support not just one but two of the following: used-bikeseller-refurbisher/Frankenbike creators (George of Parts Unknown, Mike The Bike), alternative media and disinformation hubs (Uprising and the new Global Aware shop) and pot cafes fer coughing out loud (Roach-o-rama and now Sublime Coffee). So I have more to do than worry.

(My favourite Kensington act of anti-branding:

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bluespotting. (Image by Martinho)

Whether it's the cap to a standing pipe, an entire wall or a single brick, the visual connection it gives the 'hood inspires unity and creativity -- one of the things the Market does best, and one that should keep the Gap and Roots a few khaki legs back, no matter what a recent Village Post article speculates.)

But I do wonder about whose interests we're really serving when the old guard--men selling work boots, say--lose business when cars can't park because of PSK (the car-free point of which actually provoked derision from a local or two, to my semi-surprise). Oh, I wouldn't change that event one bit. (I even want to put up a sign on my lawn. Something like this.) I'd love a car-free market full-time, says my gut--but I'm not the one who signs for the egg deliveries.

J

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"Fashionista" (24by36)

From: Denise Balkissoon
To: Jonathan Rothman
Subject: Neighbourhood Watch, Kensington Market

It totally shows how much of a city kid I am that when the topic of delivery trucks vs. Pedestrian Kensington was first mentioned to me, I was like "oh, good point." But there has to be a way to allow in commercial vehicles while cutting down on people who just can't be bothered to take the TTC. A permit system, where each store owner and resident gets a certain amount of permits, maybe?

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One trend that does sadden me is the fashionification of vintage in this town. When I was in high school, I'd spend a whole day in Kensington going through piles of musty jean jackets, searching for treasures. RIP, Acme--my now long-gone favourite stop on Kensington Ave., where I snagged an awesome 50s Sears corduroy dress and, one of my best finds ever, chrome kitchen containers (I just adore the one that says "Grease"), a full set for $50 (I later spotted the same ones on Queen East for $100).

Happily, Courage My Love is still around, and Exile is ok, I guess, although it does seem like more of a novelty shop these days. I do have a love for Bungalow, but it still follows the trend of "curated" vintage that's been sweeping Toronto. The selection is great, but the thrill of finding something special for cheap cheap cheap seems to be gone.

"Courage" (Parke)

I have to disagree with you on two points: one, if lofters don't buy every little thing they use in Kens, they aren't sinners, are they? Isn't that why people live in cities, so we can get corn tortillas in Kensington, four kinds of feta on the Danforth and cheap designer sunglasses at Pacific Mall?

And two: sorry, but as a Scarborough girl with Trini parents, I have to tell you--the doubles at Patty King are weak. Come out to the 'burbs sometime and I'll show you what real doubles are about.

Thanks for the fun chat--it's definitely reminded me why I have such a long standing love for the nabe. Let's meet up for a snack (or seven).

denise

From: Jonathan Rothman

To: Denise Balkissoon

Re: Neighbourhood Watch, Kensington Market

Permit system, huh. I wonder if certain days or times could be guidelines or rules for when deliveries (or Hummers, what have you) can and can't crowd the market's narrow streets.

On the demise of truly cheap vintage fashion, we commiserate. I still wear my pink-on-black "Sherman Arnold: Tribute to Elvis" t-shirt from a grade nine trip to what was then Black Market. It cost two bucks, about as much as some of the "sassy" fridge magnets at Exile--still, nice folks run that joint and I wouldn't say they price-gouge by any stretch.

Perhaps I wasn't clear: I have no probs with Kensington Lofters shopping outside the Market bubble! You mentioned that the influx of such residents helped local businesses; I wondered how much local shopping they really do, is all. As for doubles, I will admit it: I've only ever had one from Patty King, and come to think of it, it was a tad bland. I usually go for goat bone soup or somesuch thing. With Ting.

My favourite quote about the market came from Tyson at Uprising: "Kensington is a microcosm", he said. For Toronto, Canada, the world. You find everything here--and everyone. Maybe that's the reason it already felt like home. I may not want to join those who camp in the communal front yard that is Bellevue Square Park, but can you imagine what the neighbourhood would look like without the come-one, come-all vibe of that place?

Snacks are in order ... soon!

J

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