Urban transformation: How to grow trees from clay

Evergreen Brickworks to open its doors

It was almost 20 years ago that Evergreen first turned the earth in Toronto, leading tree-planting activities in the Lower Don Watershed. Several planting seasons later, the vision for a community environmental centre that inspires and equips visitors to live, work and play more sustainably began to form. Finally this Fall after years of planning, ideation, inspiration and plain hard work, Evergreen Brick Works will be open to the public for the first time.

Evergreen’s inspired Founder, Geoff Cape is no stranger to MaRS. In 2007 Geoff was awarded the prestigious Schwab Foundation “Canadian Social Entrepreneur of the Year” Award, which was presented during the SiG@MaRS’ Social Entrepreneurship Summit.

Geoff Cape, Social Entrepreneur of the Year
Geoff Cape, Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2007

At Net Change Week 2010 we lured Geoff back again, this time in the name of social technology. The creative minds at the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab donated the use of SEED – a virtual forest installation – and we projected it across the MaRS concourse. Throughout the week hundreds of people planted virtual trees in the digital forest, and Evergreen pledged to match all faux flora by planting real trees as part of their urban greening program.

Now, in a city plagued with mayoral debates, it’s good to know that the folks at Evergreen will warm up our Fall. Evergreen and its volunteers have been conducting naturalization and restoration projects at the Don Valley Brick Works Park since 1998. In 2004, Evergreen was granted permission by the City of Toronto to redevelop the Don Valley Brick Works industrial pad and buildings.

Evergreen Brickworks Design

Evergreen Brick Works will be a year-round destination for experiential learning, collaboration, fun and celebration on the themes of nature, culture and community. Intended to transform the way we think about our cities, the innovative facility will demonstrate and promote practical solutions that make our communities sustainable and more livable and our urban lifestyles healthier.

A welcome addition to Toronto’s cultural and environmental landscape, Evergreen Brick Works represents the best that social entrepreneurs can bring to a city. Built and retrofitted with the best in green design technology, economically self-sustaining through social enterprise initiatives and collaborating with non-profit and for-profit social purpose businesses to provide solutions for local and international environmental problems.

Evergreen Brick Works is inviting all Torontonians to their launch on Saturday, September 25 from 8am. They’re at 550 Bayview Avenue, south of Pottery Rd. The day kicks off with a Farmers Market and then the Grand Opening Ceremony will be at 2pm.