It’s been almost a year since we announced the official opening of the CSI Community Living Room – a community experiment that provided a platform on which community initiatives could thrive, a new innovation in our 10th year in the Regent Park community. The CSI Community Living Room was a gathering space, a community event space, a financial platform and grassroots funding infrastructure, as well as an entrepreneurial engine designed to support local residents, meet them where they were at, and inspire and catalyze them to build community wealth in Regent Park. It has been a tremendous success in terms of community outcomes – the community marketplace, the Moonlight Market, Everything Entrepreneur, Tuesday Tunes, and so much more. Community projects, small businesses, and neighbourhood joy and belonging have emerged, forged through the power of trust, the willingness to say yes, and the permission to dream of what makes a better community.
The current economic climate is very real – recovery is a long road, and there isn’t a lot of excess, anywhere. Sadly, the economic realities of offering a free space for all with inadequate funding have forced us to make the decision to close the CSI Community Living Room and move on from our work in and with the Regent Park Community.
Community impact still does not have a sustainable business model. CSI remains committed to exploring possibilities, designing models and changing the systems associated with securing and underwriting community impact.
We love Regent Park! We are so proud of the work we have been able to do with and in the community (check out our 10 year impact report released in 2022). We have made many friends and learned many things that we will be forever grateful for.
A big thank you to the people who have helped make this happen through generous funding: Artscape and the Toronto Artscape Foundation, The Daniels Corporation, The Canadian Internet Registration Authority, Toronto’s Main Street Innovation Fund and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, The United Way of Greater Toronto, The City of Toronto. And an especially big thank you to all of our wonderful community partners and friends.
We are disappointed, and we’re sad that our role in the community has come to an end. We will take time to reflect on our experience, our impact, our relationship to Regent Park, and what comes next for us. We know that the change will be hard, but there is a silver lining: change and innovation go hand in hand, and there is opportunity for positive change here.
We are looking forward to supporting leaders from the community and other organizations as they step into new roles, and continue to be a part of the incredible work happening to strengthen the revitalization of Regent Park through the Social Development Plan and across the whole community.
We are especially excited to cheer Artscape on as they step in to connect more deeply to the Regent Park community, and find ways to continue to unlock the Daniels Spectrum building as a community serving asset alongside community partners. As such, Farid Jalil – Hub Manager with Artscape, will be animating the space moving forward, and will continue efforts to make the Artscape Lounge an accessible space for community members on an ongoing basis.
CSI, and our fantastic Director of Community Wealth and Special Projects, Denise Soueidan-O’Leary, will continue to pursue Community Wealth Building projects and collaborations, and are open to new opportunities in the spring of 2023.
Help us celebrate our time in Regent Park with a proper send off at our What’s Next Fest! Please join us February 23 at the CSI Community Living Room.