News / Toronto

YIMBY Festival celebrates 10 years of saying 'yes' to positive community engagement

More than 50 community organizations, from Civic Tech TO to the North American Native Plant Society, will be in attendance Saturday at Metro Hall.

Joshua Fernandes is helping to organize the YIMBY Festival on Saturday. He says the gathering can be an antidote to the negativity weighing people down.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Joshua Fernandes is helping to organize the YIMBY Festival on Saturday. He says the gathering can be an antidote to the negativity weighing people down.

When Christina Zeidler kept hearing "no" in her neighbourhood, she harnessed the power of "yes."

Tired of the NIMBY label placed on her and fellow West Queen West residents concerned about the area's redevelopment, Zeidler turned the dig on its head and launched the YIMBY Festival in 2006.

Years later, the gathering of grassroots community groups and activists is going strong, hosting its 10th edition Saturday at Metro Hall.

​"Real change happens right at that ground floor," project co-ordinator Joshua Fernandes told Metro. "(The groups) are inspiring, and it’s good to connect with networks of people doing different work, because it’s all an ecosystem.”

The day of workshops and discussions is aimed at helping citizens engage in their communities in positive ways. The schedule includes breakout sessions on creating a neighbourhood park group, a clothing repair class and a session on home energy saving tips.

More than 50 community organizations, from Civic Tech TO to the North American Native Plant Society, will be in attendance.

The format gives presenters and attendees alike a chance to "gather, exchange ideas and grow their networks," Fernandes said.

He feels the gathering can be an antidote to the negativity that sometimes seeps into activism.

"It's like holding a coal in your hand ready to throw it at someone; it’s just burning through your own hand," he said. "If you’re not part of the solution, or part of something positive, you’re the one feeling that pain."

How you can help now, courtesy of five YIMBY presenters:

• Send your New Year's Eve party e-vites through Echoage to include a secure donation link for Action Against Hunger.

• Bring used electronics to the festival so Free Geek can refurbish and sell at affordable rates or responsibly recycle them.

• Make fresh local produce available to low-income residents by donating to the Black Creek Community Farm and your local food bank.

The Broadleaf Theatre recommends pitching environmental policies, like lower wattage light bulbs or turning down the heat overnight, to your building's residents association.

• Send local packages on foot or by public transit with Good Foot Delivery, a charity providing work for people with disabilities.

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