HOW WE LIVE IN CITIES launched a new ecology hub at the 2016 BIG on Bloor Festival. It dedicated part of the festival as an environmental educational site with a series of participatory, multi-disciplinary art and culture events. The projects explored ways to animate, enhance and improve the experience of living in cities.

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How We Live In Cities

Presenting the West End Green Asset Map. The map is developed as a research program and realized as a start-up initiative at the BIG on Bloor Festival. The map identifies west-end green space and key environmental advocates and is intended to foster on-going ecology projects. Drop-in and mark your location, add a comment, and help explore ideas to foster a West End Garden Corridor. The West End Garden Corridor proposes to link green spaces in a series of Walk Here routes. Each will be envisioned to develop gardens, plant trees, install art, and fosters community engagement programs along its development route.


How We Live In Cities

A relay of 3 hour-long events of participation, performance, art, culture and ecology:

AKIN Collective

The AKIN Colouring book is an on-going curated project of original drawings contributed to by over 60 Toronto artists. At the festival, example pages and drawing materials were provided for festival goers to colour. The project is part of Akin’s mandate to support artists by fostering opportunities and affordable workspace for creatives.

AKIN Projects is a nonprofit arts programming organization that offers both creative and professional development opportunities to members of Toronto’s artistic and cultural community. Its sister organization, AKIN Collective, provides studio and shared workspace in a friendly atmosphere for about 160 members with locations Parkdale, Bloordale Village and Junction Triangle.

Bees On Bloor

Toronto has elected to become the first Canadian BEE City in response to declining and endangered bee populations. BEE Aware, BEE Alive, hands-on BEE Friendly projects at the festival builds interest, informs and encourages support for garden habitats.

• Magnifying glasses to examine bees, pollen and wax honey-comb patterns.

• Create and wear garden and grass crowns made with live flowers.

• Add chalk-drawing petals to Bees on Bloor stenciled sidewalk flowers.

Botanicus Art Ensemble

BEE with Botanicus Art Ensemble for their gardeninspired, theatrical extravaganza: arts activities culminated in a Bumble Bee Flash Mob at the BIG on Bloor Festival.

The Botanicus Art Ensemble supports diversity and strengthens community through the arts – from botanical arts and gardening to music, storytelling, theatre, promenade, puppetry, costume, sculpture and visual art.

The mission is to continue to grow and nurture the artist within each individual and take these multifaceted voices to the international stage.

Civil Streets

BIG / BIA / Civic Studies campaign for traffic calming. Colour in, glow-in-the-dark, SHARE BLOORDALE safety backpacks for – WALK, RIDE AND DRIVE, SAFE AND CIVIL STREET – and it’s yours to keep, free! Accompanying artist made example exhibition.

Cloud Of Doubt

Regarding belief: explore your thoughts. A list of wide-ranging statements are offered to viewers as a list, a poem, a minute out of time – and an opportunity to admit your own response to them. Agreement, indecision or dissent, are recorded in a representative mark and colour. Dyan Marie performs the list as poetry on the half hour.

Above hangs the Cloud of Doubt, a sculpture embedded with blinking LED lights in a construction made from archival plastic water bottles. The Cloud will be paraded, rolled and passed hand-to-hand through the festival on its way to the How We Live In Cities site.


CITY DOCTORS (not actual doctors) is an interactive, satirical project which positions a collective of local artists as expert advisors on how to live in cities. Welcoming all queries from visiting participants, the members of EQUALATERAL was on site to prescribe idiosyncratic and highly subjective advice on how best to navigate the everyday complexities of our shared urban landscape. Following a one-on-one consultation with a city doctor, participants will walk away with a personalized set of instructions for how to troubleshoot their urban quandaries and maximize the experience of living in the city.

Fungi Unveiled

Based on a love of wild edible foraging and a mission to educate the public about the endless benefi ts mushrooms and fungi have in ecosystems and our everyday lives. Fungi Unveiled presented an exhibition with a wide variety of fungi examples accompanied by hand-on activities: pen and mushroom ink drawings and stamps, question and answers and find-out-more library.

The Toronto Biodiversity Series supports Fungi Unveiled through the “Mushrooms of Toronto”, available online and in libraries across the GTA

Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Arts

The Gardiner Museum is Canada’s national ceramics museum, and one of the world’s great specialty museums. They are committed to making a contribution to the medium they celebrate, as well as the community they serve.

The Malleable City is presented at the festival featuring a hands-on, family event allowing guests to create gardens and cityscapes made in clay.

Graven Feather

Graven Feather is committed to building connections with artists and the community and feature a Tiny Letter Press with hands-on opportunity to make garden related imagery and tree prints. We’ll have our smallest antique printing press inked and ready to go for How We Live In Cities. Using pre-set designs made from wood and metal type you will get to print on a variety of papers.

Learn how to print like a pro and take home beautiful mini prints Graven Feather is an art hub located in the heart of Queen West next to the beautiful Trinity Bellwoods Park. Geared towards both artists and the art-loving public since 2011, this bright and cheery environment is at its root a functioning studio for its artists, as well as a workshop, retail, and gallery space.

Insect Zoo

The chorus of 1000 crickets were released to sing for the BIG on Bloor Festival audience. Visitors walked by the How We Live In Cities site and listened to the beautiful mating sounds created by natures best string symphony.

Empathy for the large world of small creatures was encouraged; noticing local ants on the sidewalk, bees in the garden, streetlights attracting moths, questioning why grasshoppers disappeared from local parks. Festival attendees also explored our tiny insect zoo, featuring local insects captured and released the same day. Bee specimen were courtesy of The Bee Shop and the live crickets from Earth Echoes Reptile Center.

Inuit Art Rubbing

William Huffman of Dorset Fine Arts, a division of West Baffi n Eskimo Cooperative, curated a series of original slate sculptures from which festivalgoers could take inspiration to create their own prints from rubbing a variety of unusual surfaces.

The artists represented are part of the Cape Dorset community, a hamlet on West Baffin Island in Nunavut, that is home to some of Canada’s most acclaimed Inuit creators. The Cooperative’s Kinngait Studios is the oldest fi ne art print shop in Canada and is unique for its focus on the art and artists of Cape Dorset.


Sonic Lab

Interactive music experiments which utilize new technology, equipment and instruments, allowing for a communal creation of organized sound. Lead by alternative musicians based in Toronto from varying in different genres and skill sets, coordinated by Kvesche BE.


Play, experiment, explore: create and play a piano using fruits! Play with robotics projects using arduinos, open-source micro controllers, that allow anybody to be creators and invent technologies to help you and your world. |

Mind Exchange

Bring a book, take a free book. Special call for children’s books. Mark your page: make your marker with a How We Live In Cities original bookmarker stamp project. Recycling project with Marjolein Winterink,

Sip and Paint

Never painted before? No Problem! At How We Live In Cities hub, festival-goers explored garden themed ecology project through painting, guided by a friendly professional instructor. People were offered step-by-step instruction to create an original painting of a honey bee to take home with them. All materials free, including bee nectar; a refreshing potion made of honey water, local flowers and herbs.

Textile Art

Free Art Fridays Toronto places artwork on streets for any member of the public to enjoy and take home. During the festival participants made their own friendly textile art piece to wear or hang up at home using recycled, contributed and found materials.

With opportunities to learn about how the creative process refl ects and advances personal health, while fostering a healthier environment. Project organized by Shyla Tibando.

Toronto Wildlife Live Painting

Watch the creation of a habitat for Toronto based animals, bees and flowers take form. Live painting by local artist, Jordan McKie using alternative canvases to create an engaging environment and presentation of art.


This project is made possible by the generous support of

CastlePoint Numa Greybrook.

Appreciation also goes to MP Julie Dzerowicz and the Federal Government’s Summer Student Program enabling HOW WE LIVE IN CITIES to hire Tony Lien and Michela Sutter and to the BIG organization festival team and to all our programmers, artists and others who contributed.


How We Live In Cities
is a civic studies organization that responds to urban situations
with ecology, culture and art initiatives.

For more information Contact How We Live In Cities
Dyan Marie, / 647-973-2349
Darren Leu,