Orit Sarfaty: I provide oversight and direction to Evergreen’s and Evergreen Brick Works’ overall programming efforts across the country. Our work is guided and informed by the organization’s overarching goal: to drive urban innovations that make Canadian cities more livable, green and prosperous.
Creating spaces where people can gather, share ideas and reimagine communities is vital in advancing how we build and shape thriving cities of tomorrow—together.
TM: Tafelmusik’s Messiah audiences will be supporting Evergreen’s Don River Valley revitalization project. What role does this project play in countering our current climate emergency and the ever-increasing development of our city?
OS: Since its creation almost 30 years ago, Evergreen has been committed to the ravines in the Don Valley—from its ecology and trees to most recent placemaking efforts in bringing art into the Lower Don Trail.
Evergreen Brick Works itself is a leading example of how we must build cities differently. In 2010 we transformed an abandoned brick factory into a thriving community hub. We have worked closely with the city and led community and city efforts that have seen nature return and thrive to the Don Valley Brick Works Park. This park is a natural oasis and demonstrates the need for balancing densification and natural spaces.
Toronto is poised to be a world leader in how cities build in innovation into greenspaces, achieving park space that is inclusive of urban design and city systems growth and change. This kind of park space is essential in creating low carbon flourishing cities of the future.
Thank you for your support in continuing this important work!
Mural at Evergreen Brick Works. Photo by Claire Harvie.
TM: Is there a cultural component of the Don River Valley project? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
OS: Yes, one of the most recent projects is the Don River Valley Park Art Program, a curated series of temporary public artworks along the Lower Don Trail. Launched in 2017, we invited local, national and international artists to create site-specific projects that speak to the many histories and present-day realities of the Don Valley and its surrounding communities – looking at the land from ecological, cultural, industrial and Indigenous perspectives and more.
Throughout the series, visitors may come across sculptural installations, murals, billboards and dance or sound performances. Each project has its own timeline, with some lasting many years and others for just a day. We also offer talks, walks and research workshops lead by artists.
The Don River Valley Art Program is a hub for art in Toronto, where visitors can return time and again to find new commissions and events unfolding where art meets the natural environment. We see the possibility in connecting the public to this landscape through art.
TM: Member’s of Tafelmusik’s Chamber Choir will be performing choruses from Messiah at your Winter Village at Evergreen Brick Works on December 7. How does music play a role in the festivities at the Village?
OS: A great space allows many people to interact with it in different ways throughout the year. Cultural events like music, exhibits and art are a powerful way of bringing people together. Musical performances in particular activate a space and engage the community in a very accessible and meaningful way. We can’t wait to hear your voices fill the historic kiln building during the Winter Village!
Evergreen Winter Village. Photo by Hayley Davidson.
TM: What’s one thing we can each do to make a difference in our city?
OS: Cities are ultimately about people. In an age of social media and streaming entertainment systems — especially in cold weather — staying home has natural appeal. You can make a difference by gathering in public spaces. That can be Evergreen Brick Works or a neighbourhood celebration. Joining other Torontonians together builds trust and community through shared experiences.