Books and Bikes along the Don River

Story and photos by Jun Nogami

This past Saturday was the fourth annual reading line event, where people gathered to enjoy hearing from authors reading from their works, as well as riding from venue to venue by bicycle. The setting and theme for this year's ride was the Don River.

The first venue was the Childrens' Peace Theatre amplitheatre in Taylor Creek Park. The co founders of the Reading Line are Janet Joy Wilson and Amanda Lewis.

Funding came from the Toronto Arts Council, ECW Press, as well as the Trans Canada Trail.

Also introduced at the beginning was Daniel, who was going to record peoples' impressions of the day as an "Analog Street View", to be contrasted with the automated view of the world provided by Google.

Marvin Macaraig, the bike hub coordinator for Scarborough Cycles welcomed us to his part of the city, and talked about how their programmes help introduce new, often underprivileged people to the benefits of cycling. Favourite quote: " cycling binds people together".

Adwoe Badoe is an author from Ghana via Guelph. Rather than reading from her recent novel, Aluta, she chose to read us a children's story from an earlier book.

Catherine Hernandez read from her novel, Scarborough, that captures different views in a series of vignettes narrated by different characters. She also told us about the time she made a fireman cry.

Then it was time to cycle down the Taylor Creek ravine towards our next venue, the Evergreen Brick works.

Amanda on the move.

Janet Joy takes the low road.

Riding along the trail.

At the Brick Works, we had an indoor venue where the first author, Robert Burley gave a slide show peek into his recent book  (Enduring Wilderness) documented the many green spaces that thread throughout the city. He showed some before and after pictures of the Don Valley in the area of the brick works that were particularly striking.

The second author, Alissa York, read from her novel, the Naturalist. While the story is set in the Amazon, she said that the germ of the idea came from her glimpses of the wild Don River that see would see suddenly flash by while riding the subway across the Prince Edward Viaduct.

The final presentation was by Nadha Hassen, who talked about her studies of the relationship between mental well being, and the availability and accessibility of open space for everyone.

Then it was time to move on once again.

Toronto's finest escorting us down Bayview.

The final stop was at Corktown Commons.

Janet Joy thanks the police.

Toronto Danforth MP Julie Dabrusin reminds us of the importance to tell our MP's about cycling as a component of transit in the city.

Then Ayalet Tsabari read from her book The Best Place on Earth, which was set in Israel. She felt a need to write as she couldn't find any work that was relevant to her experience as a Jew of Yemeni origin.

Next up, Jane Farrow, who put together a book called Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer. She reminded us of how Toronto was not always so welcoming to the LGBTQ community, and how in turn that community helped make the city the wonderful and diverse place that it is today.

Her colleague Jake Tobin Garrett read from his contribution to the same book.

Finally Councillor Kristin Wong-Tam reminded us that Corktown Commons was just a small part of the legacy of Councillor Pam McConnell, who passed away a few weeks ago.

Our organizers take a final bow.

Thanks to Janet Joy and Amanda, all the authors, and the volunteers for a great day of riding and reading.

The Reading Line also acknowledges support from Evergreen Canada, Park People, Gravity Inc., Curbside Cycle, and Fuel+.  Bookstore partners included Book City Danforth, Queen Books, A Different Booklist, and Another Story.

For more information on any of the speakers or books, consult the Reading Line website.


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