Unveiling the Rosehill Expressway sign. Photo by C.W.

COMMENT: The “creative activism” behind the Rosehill Expressway launch

(PHOTO: Unveiling the Rosehill Expressway sign. Photo by C.W.)

A huge thank you to my neighbours in Bryanston Gate, Fairwinds and Poole Creek Village for helping to open the Rosehill Expressway on Sunday afternoon.

The event was a tongue-in-cheek “celebration” to bring attention to traffic safety issues in our community.  You could call it a piece of “creative activism”.  

It all started last Saturday when about a dozen neighbours — most of us strangers — got together at the local coffee shop to come up with ideas on how to put pressure on City Hall to pay more attention to our community concerns.

We’ve been writing letters to our councillor and city staff for the past 18 months since we found out about the pending closure of Johnwoods Street.  It was time to take things up a notch.

We didn’t want to do the typical picket sign protest.  We wanted something that could bring neighbours together in something more participatory, more fun.

My neighbour Mike Lomond built the Rosehill Expressway sign, and carried it up the hill from his home near Rosehill and Burnaby.
My neighbour Mike Lomond built the Rosehill Expressway sign, and carried it all the way up Rosehill from his home near Burnaby Street to the corner of Johnwoods Street.

 

So Mike built a sign, Rochelle created a poster, Joe wrote a press release, Carol rallied her neighbours in Bryanston Gate, Cathrine, Samantha, Kim, Kevin, Carrie, Kim, Cheryl (and others!) knocked on doors and gathered signatures on a petition, Jon brought a sound system, Sean organized a street hockey game, Martin brought some tables and chairs, I came up with a speech, The Grounds donated some hot chocolate, my daughter painted faces, and over 40 people came out for the unveiling of the “Autoroute Rosehill Expressway” sign.

We met a lot of new neighbours, collected nearly 500 signatures on the petition in one week, and had some great conversations about how to deal with the traffic situation. We had some excellent media coverage too:

Thanks to everybody who took part. Even if our creative activism falls on deaf ears at City Hall, it was a constructive exercise in community building.

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