Gender Bender

We’re in interesting times here.  As far as thoughts around gender go, we’re in some pretty unchartered territory. It’s becoming more acceptable for men to love other men and women to love other women and for men to turn into women and women to turn into men.  More women are doing the jobs that men used to do and more men are doing the jobs that women used to do.  For the first time in history it also seems that men are starting to question what it means to be male instead of just being it.

It can be argued that this revolution started in North America with the right for women to vote but really got going during the sexual revolution when the pill let women take control of when they wanted to have children and sex and didn’t have to worry from month to month if they would lose their jobs.  Read the article about how the McCormick family fortune almost solely funded the creation of the pill which changed and still changes lives for all sorts of women.  In Small Histories I also look at a different revolution, of how the Pride Parade started and the history of the Rainbow Flag.

The more you think about gender and the people that break the rules the more confusing it can all seem — what exactly is male?  or female?  What is learned from our society and what is controlled by the different hormones or genes in our body?   There are so many things learned in our society that favour being either one or the other, male or female.  It’s acceptable for boys to be wild, even aggressive, while girls are bogged down with appearance as soon as they can walk and talk.

Maybe it’s not so black and white.  While this issue has a smattering of thoughts and ideas around gender, The Blok unfortunately couldn’t cover all the different possibilities.  There are all sorts of ways to be and we believe as long as you are not hurting or taking advantage of anyone there is no reason why you can’t be whatever you want to be.  It would be nice to think of gender not as an all exclusive club but a great big party that we’re all invited to.

Creation/Recreation

How do we get through the winter in Canada? Some of us find that being creative breaks up the long months of winter.  It feels healthy to challenge the mind to come up with new approaches to doing routine things.  But our bodies get sluggish in winter too. One way to avoid getting bogged down in winter is to lose yourself in exercise, where you can switch off your sadness, get rid of the chills, and warm up your bones. Being part of a community, working towards a common goal, getting out and skating on the ice, seeing and talking with other people, despite the weather, also helps chase the winter blahs away.  Anything that gets us off the sofa and out of our own heads, I think, has just got to be good for us.

In this issue, I’ve looked back at our local community centre — the hub of recreation for our neighbourhood, and dug up the story of its namesake, Mary McCormick.  This led to finding out about the origin of the playground movement in Toronto. Remarkably, our local plot of land has been pumping up residents’ heart rates for decades, with various sports teams and wide-ranging programs for children. And it continues to do so.  If you tracked the movement of people up and down Brock Ave. or Sheridan, I’m sure that most of them would be heading to the rink, the park, or the community centre.  Did you know Brockton has its own hockey team?  Read on to find out about it.

I’ve also focused on what’s been building in the past few years with the Friends of McCormick Park.  These lovely folks give their time to make the park a more engaging place for all and with their creativity and hard work, continue to make this neighbourhood a better place to live.  They’ve helped with the renovation of the park, including the introduction of a cafe and the building of a skating rink. Also, they’ve brought in bocce and the little free library through bake sales.  In this issue, I want to help tell their story and encourage others to join them in their efforts to keep improving our park and our community.

This being the sophomore issue of The Blok, it was a real challenge.  I thought that I could make this into a monthly zine, and I was always cursing myself when week after week I couldn’t get this issue together.  But now here it is, although some articles are put out later than I had originally planned. Mike Mulqueen wrote a wonderful article encouraging locals to get out and skate on the McCormick Rink, and as you read this it is melting away.  There is an article on The McCormick Minstrels, a local minstrel troupe in the 1920s, to celebrate Black History month, which has already passed. But the story is still fascinating and hopefully encourages us to celebrate diversity more than just one month of the year.

Thanks for reading.  If you can see yourself writing or making something for this and want to be a part of it, please get in touch.

Thanks also to all the contributors, and to Amada Estabillo for her help crafting some of these stories and thanks as well to her mother Karen Estabillo, who has donated her time editing all of the articles for both of these issues and deserves much praise!

Last thanks to Aimée Bomers, my 7 year old daughter who created the “Bird Playground” collage above.

Roots/Routes

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I moved into Brockton 8 years ago, 4 months before my daughter was born.  To be honest, it wasn’t our first choice in neighbourhoods; it was what we could afford.  Since then I’ve watched our neighbourhood grow as my two children grew.  I’ve walked the streets with strollers, scooters and bikes, seeing houses change hands and new stores, restaurants and galleries take up empty store fronts along Dundas, College and Bloor Streets.

I realize now how lucky I was to land here.  There is so much about this neighbourhood that is interesting.  It’s such a mix of people of different cultures and ages with so many different interests and professions.  There is a lot going on here.

Now Brockton feels like home.  The sidewalks and park benches are familiar friends.  Strangers are now neighbours. But even though I’ve been living here 8 years, I feel like I just scratched the surface.  There are decades of history to explore, there are stories in every kitchen, and with a turn on every street corner there are new faces and new experiences to discover.  Starting this magazine, the Blok, I hope to find out more about this wonderful place and its inhabitants and share it with anyone that wants to spend time with it.

For this first issue, I chose the theme Roots/Routes.  I wanted to focus on the history of the neighbourhood and highlight how the area is defined by the routes that border or run through it.  There are some fantastic personal stories to explore and some other surprises along the way.  This issue only touches on the some of the history here and the thousands of years of history before European contact is sadly not included, but I hope that this is a starting point for conversations between friends, family and neighbours about this neighbourhood.  Please enjoy!

Jason Bomers

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