On a glorious Sunday afternoon in late June 2019, about 150 of us – PARA-normals, neighbours, friends, and the odd passerby – gathered to dedicate eight new laneways in the PARA neighbourhood. Led by a trumpeter and trombonist who enlivened the parade with New Orleans-style tunes, we snaked our way from laneway to laneway.
At each site Paul Maclean, the chair of PARA, read a brief and beautiful citation that paid tribute to the person, activity, or organization recognized by the laneway and connected their contributions to enduring and universal themes: speaking truth to power (Morley Safer), rights activism (Alan Borovoy), neighbourliness (Joe Bertucci), enduring racism (the Huggins family), cultivating friendship through cultivating gardens (Via dei Gardini), philanthropy (Beatrice Minden) and celebrating the comedy of life (Wayne and Shuster).
At each laneway, someone who was close to the honouree spoke, movingly, about the importance of having a named laneway to serve as a permanent reminder of those people, activities, and organizations that had gone before. We ended at the Jewish Folk Choir Lane, where a group of the choir’s alumni sang songs of resistance and solidarity that had been part of the Choir’s repertoire during its heyday. Relaxing at a lovely reception after the event, I couldn’t help but think: this is what PARA is all about. In recognizing and sharing the past, we build community here and now – and for the future.
For more information on the stories behind the naming of these laneways, visit our past newsletters here.