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Art of Designing for/with Community
The Store Front Story


TheStoreFront Community has been a completely grassroots social research project in community building by Ghazaleh Etezal with activating an empty storefront (at 957 Bloor West, near Dovercourt) and building a network. The vision was to connect people to place to projects to programs to presentations for public awareness and to build a self-sustaining replicable model for neighbourhoods.

The mission was to design an example for innovation in economic development After convincing the landlord to reduce the rent from $3000 to $800 and talking her way to getting seed money from president of OCAD, Ghazaleh made it her Independent Study to make this classroom idealist concept a reality: making an empty storefront a place where people can get more information and contribute more information for designing for/with the neighbourhood. It was what the class thought the best way to design for change.

From May 2008 until now, Ghazaleh has been activating the space by saying yes to whatever came her way without having an infrastructure in place. The process was organic and it grew by word of mouth and the project took on its own life as she invested all her energy in trying to build community through a vision. The challenge for Ghazaleh was building a sustainable model for its future while allowing activities to happen in the space. She knew she didn't want the space to be anything that already existed, and with that, she faced funding challenges for the project to cover capital costs.

By having rent covered by support from ThinkTankToronto, Bloorcourt Village BIA and Bloor Improvement Group (BIG), Ghazaleh has voluntarily allowed the space to approach community building by having multiple uses over the last 7 months of presence in the neighbourhood:

1. Community think-tank and
communication network
2. Design and marketing for neighbourhood
3. Resource hub (local, city, global)
4. Space bookings for events,
meetings and activities

You can see examples of the above and be more updated on the latest updates at With the support and collaboration of the network Ghazaleh has decided on a future plan for maintaining the concept of TheStoreFront, not in one space, but multiple spaces. Before that announcement is made, please feel free to email suggestions for what you’d like 957 Bloor West to be as a business to Ghazaleh’s new vision for the implementing a strategy for community building is going virtual but staying local, and 957 will be in the hands of the lucky new business owner who decides to take over the most talked about storefront in this area. Stay tuned!


























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