Regent Park Reflections

regContributed by Kathy Flaxmann
In mid May this year independent producer Jenn Mason enjoyed a cappuccino and shared a blueberry muffin at the Paintbox Café in downtown Toronto.  It’s a busy spot and there was a small line up for the menu, featuring some organic and gluten free treats.  Jenn was joining writer/director Gabrielle Zilkha and their publicist for a strategy session just before Gabrielle was interviewed by Regent Radio: the two were garnering coverage for their film, Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana, a documentary that was showing that weekend at a Cineplex.
For Jenn who grew up in Cabbagetown, the trip to Regent Park was a chance to reflect on the changes to the area since her childhood.  “I remember it being really closed and cut off and,” she says.  “It was somewhere I just never would visit or have a reason to visit.”
Major contrast today, when, not only is there the buzzing Paintbox, there’s a host of other attractions, including a large community swimming pool.  The area. rebuilt and revitalized in 2012, is inviting and in many ways hip.  During the muffin/cappuccino trip, Gabrielle chatted with another filmmaker, someone successful, like herself.  “I checked out the Daniels Spectrum for a fashion show I produced for Mikael Kale about two years ago,” Jenn notes.  “It’s great to see an area of Toronto take on new life. This is such a wonderful city.  Now it has one more hub.”
In fact Jenn and Gabrielle collaborated with the Regent Park Community Arts Centre about three years ago for a photography fundraising project they did together called A Thousand Words.  “This community has some excellent tools, like the Arts Centre and the radio broadcasting facility,” Jenn states.
“Regent Park, with its mix of condos and affordable housing and terrific grocery shopping and café is now a place to visit.  I’m happy about that,”  Jenn adds.

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