From Weeds We Grow
Toasterlab worked with the STEPS initiative to develop the From Weeds We Grow web app, and used 360-degree cameras to capture content in Rowntree Mills Park for use in the web app.
Overview of Discipline, Context, Intention
From Weeds We Grow in Rowntree Mills Park is an interdisciplinary public art project that aims to encourage exploration and conversation around public space, while connecting community members to each other, to the arts, and to Rowntree Mills Park. Part of Arts in the Park 2020, this project is supported by the Toronto Arts Council through their Animating Toronto Parks program. From Weeds We Grow has led to the development of an interactive web app, free activity booklets, participatory art-making and storytelling workshops, and community events led by local community members, artists and facilitators.
From Weeds We Grow Web App
In partnership with Toasterlab, From Weeds We Grow culminated in a web app in the summer of 2020. Through Indigenous, artistic and community-based approaches, the app is an exploration of public space connecting community members to each other, to the arts, and to Rowntree Mills Park.
Through interactive 360-degree panorama features, video content, community stories and more, the web app celebrates the local residents of Rowntree Mills Park and the park’s impact on community well-being.
Rowntree Mills Activity Booklet
In collaboration with the Melting Pot Collective and contributing artists (including Debbie Woo, Marina Fathalla and Marjan Verstappen), digital and printed activity booklets were made available to the members of the community to further the storytelling of From Weeds We Grow. The activity booklets are filled with beautiful illustrations and fun activities that explore new ways to connect to Rowntree Mills Park.
Since the start of From Weeds We Grow, new programming and collaborations have brought more virtual and in-person workshops and community engagements for the public to deepen their connections to Rowntree Mills Park. From nature walks and poetry workshops, to water teachings and hands-on art-making workshops culminating in online exhibits, From Weeds We Grow continues to explore the Rexdale community’s relationship to the environment and each other in meaningful and interdisciplinary ways.
From Weeds We Grow was cultivated from conversations during a series of intergenerational workshops led by the STEPS Initiative, entitled Under/Current, which explored Rexdale’s connections to land, the Humber River, and the resilience of nature and community. From Weeds We Grow seeks to deepen the learnings from Under/Current and respond directly to community feedback to strengthen the important connections between nature, accessible public space, art and wellness.
We have learned from local residents that Rowntree Mills Park is a community asset that has been underutilized for over a decade. From Weeds We Grow aims to celebrate the park’s impact on community wellbeing, and encourages the enjoyment of the park as an inclusive and engaged public space to learn, create, and reconnect.
From Weeds We Grow was developed in 2020, and was also featured as part of Myseum of Toronto INTERSECTIONS Festival in 2021.
From Weeds We Grow is an ongoing project, and continues to develop new content for the Rexdale and Humber Summit communities.
Relevant Organizations and People
STEPS (Sustainable Thinking and Expression on Public Space) fosters dynamic and inclusive communities through public art and creative placemaking.
Melting Pot Collective is a Toronto-based digital agency providing specialized media and design services with style.
Arts in the Parks is a city-wide initiative that brings free, family-friendly arts events and activities to parks across Toronto.
Toronto Public Library provides Torontonians with increased opportunities for growth and success through access to technology, lifelong learning and diverse cultural experiences.
Rexdale Community Hub’s mission is to provide an accessible, welcoming space with collaborative, integrated services and programs to enrich every aspect of the community’s life.
Culture Days programs invite the public to get hands-on and behind-the-scenes to highlight the importance of arts and culture in our communities.
Park People supports and mobilizes community park groups, community organizers, non-profits, park professionals and funders who activate the power of parks.
Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe
Melting Pot Collective
Elder Renee Thomas-Hill