To the people of Toronto, city parks are not something that the city government simply provides. They are a passion that engages ordinary citizens acting as commoners. A great example is the Homegrown National Park, a new green corridor in the heart of Toronto that the David Suzuki Foundation is building with the help of 21 “Neighborhood Park Rangers” and 14 partner groups.
Taking inspiration from authors Richard Louv and Douglas Tallamy, who have written about our extreme alienation from nature and its negative effects on our well-being, the Homegrown National Park is building green space along the path of a “lost river” in Toronto, Garrison Creek, that was built over many years ago. The project also wants to connect all the “islands of green” in the city into an interconnected ecological space.
What makes the Homegrown National Park so unusual is its mobilization of citizens. The idea is not just to build another park – which would be a fine and welcome mission -- but to re-connect people to nature. It aims to help people step up to the responsibilities and pleasures of acting as stewards of their own urban spaces. Volunteers are invited to plant native trees and shrubs, cultivate spaces for birds and butterflies, and help people grow food in their backyards and balconies. You can watch a video of the project here. (Thanks for the alert on this project, Paul Baines!)