[URBAN NOTE] “An Honest Farewell: goodbye Honest Ed’s, hello Toronto’s diverse future”
NOW Toronto‘s Susan G. Cole reports on An Honest Farewell, this weekend’s ongoing festivities surrounding the closing of Honest Ed’s. I really do like this urban initiative, and I have been and will be taking part in it: I went to the community market in the old Bad Boys space just now, and tomorrow morning I will be doing the art maze. (Photos, among other things, will be coming from me.)
AN HONEST FAREWELL a festival celebrating inclusiveness, community and social innovation, at Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor West), Thursday to Sunday (February 23 to 26). $16.50 for some events. Buy tickets and/or register at torontoforeveryone.com.
We know it’s coming. We might even admit that it’s about time. But many of us are dreading it: that moment when Honest Ed’s goes down. Not the store – that happened last year – but the building, that crazy edifice festooned with neon that flashed garishly at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst.
But the Centre for Social Innovation is turning this sad moment in Toronto history into an opportunity. An Honest Farewell, their multi-day culture fest, celebrates the past, present and future with the accent on building a city that is joyously inclusive.
The fact that I’m talking to co-producers Hima Batavia and Negin Sairafi just days after U.S. President Trump has announced his travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries lends the project a new urgency. T.O. is always promoting its diversity, but with xenophobes taking over below the 49th parallel, protecting that inclusiveness takes on new meaning.
“My passport says Iran,” explains Sairafi, angered by the confusion the executive order has created. “So I can’t travel to the States. Then again, maybe I can. It’s a privilege to be able to travel and to have a Canadian passport, but it’s still ironic that I’m working on a project like this and having to face the reality of what people are going through around the world. It makes our work – and especially what we do after this – so much more important.”
When Sairafi mentions what comes after An Honest Farewell, she’s referring to the fact that the fest says goodbye to an iconic edifice but also launches CSI’s Toronto For Everyone (TO4E) campaign to build a city committed to inclusiveness.
But the focus for four days beginning February 23 is a cultural blitz that transforms the one-time bargain emporium into an arts extravaganza and venue for public debate on the city’s future.