“There is just garbage everywhere” says Masooma Shah, 17. “There is nowhere to hang out. It’s dirty, or in the library…no one lets us talk there,” says Zarnab Afzal, 16.

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“Picture This” Bench, R.V. Burgess Park, Thorncliffe
by Emerging ARTivists

The Emerging ARTivists

 are making some changes to their local park and Design by Nature is lending a hand. Tired and frustrated by the lack of welcoming spaces and litter in the area, the arts youth group in Thorncliffe decided a little art might instill a sense of pride in their community. The project is called “Picture This” – a large framed bench made with salvaged materials. The larger frame will be made of several individual frames, each uniquely designed by the youth. The goal is to bring attention to litter in the park and offer a safe and welcoming refuge to passerby’s.

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Andrew Chiu and Car Martin leading a design charrette for youth.

Design by Nature has been working with the STEPS Initiative since last fall of 2013 to bring the project to life. We recruited Andrew Chiu to lead the youth in a design process. Andrew is an architectural designer, painter and artist and one of the founding members of Toronto Public Space Committee and Open Cities – grassroots organizations that promote urban inclusivity and diversity. He is also actively involved with Art Starts and a key member of the De-Fence Project.

Currently, “Picture This” is well underway. The City of Toronto has given the bench a big “thumbs up” and the final installation will happen sometime in late September, 2014. In the meantime, Design by Nature and Trashswag will be helping the youth scavenge the city for salvageable materials left on the streets for the #100in1 day festival on June 7th. Check out our 100in1day intervention to learn more.