Need some music in your life? Recollectiv Music Group is coming to Toronto

BY: ROBIN LY

Toronto’s Recollectiv is not your typical musical troop.

It is a group where people living with conditions such as dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acquired brain injury (ABI), Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease can come together to create and experience music.

But it’s also about improving group members’ quality of life, what Recollectiv’s founder, Ilana Waldston, says is about, “Rediscovering joy by making music.”

Waldston’s mother lives with dementia – and like others living with chronic conditions – her mother spends a lot of her time with doctors, social workers, and other professionals.

“[My mother] was a very vibrant, active woman,” Waldston said. “As her disease progressed, she lost so many of the activities she loved … singing [is] one of the few things left we can share that makes us both happy.”

Waldston sees Recollectiv as a way for individuals to focus on what they can do, as opposed to what they have lost.

“The main takeaway of Recollectiv [is to] touch others’ lives through group music making, something so fundamental and universal that elevates everyone’s quality of life,” Waldston said.

Recollectiv is inspired by the California band The 5th Dementia, created by couple Carol and Irwin Rosenstein.

Irwin Rosenstein, who practised real estate law, lives with Parkinson’s and early dementia. After his diagnosis, the couple realized Irwin Rosenstein’s memory, energy, and well-being improved when he played and taught music to others. This is backed by research, music therapy alters the chemistry in the brain by stimulating the release of dopamine, which effectively increases energy and improves mood.

In addition to The 5th Dementia, the couple created the non-profit MusicMendsMinds (MMM) whose mission is to support the mind and spirit of those affected by neurological disease, cognitive decline, and PTSD through musical groups. There are currently nine MMM affiliated bands in the U.S., mostly based in California, with other bands forming in the Philippines, other U.S. states, and the organization has been a supportive partner with Recollectiv.

The organization has also inspired a documentary, to be released this summer:

Back in Toronto, Waldston says finding activities for her mother has been difficult.

A trip to the symphony, an outing both Waldston and her mom previously loved, became challenging when her mother began to sing or talk along with the music, something generally not appreciated by fellow audience members.

It’s that stigma and feeling of non-belonging surrounding neurodiversity that Recollectiv  hopes to neutralize in the future.

“I want [the public] to realize that people with cognitive challenges are just like them; they deserve to feel good about themselves, have friends around them who care and, above all, have some fun,” Waldston said.

Waldston hopes Recollectiv, which is a project of Smile Theatre Company, can lead to the creation of new groups and communities where people can access support and share a joyous activity together.

“I have lived long enough to know that life is short and unpredictable,” Waldston said.  “You can’t fix a lot of things that cause people pain but if you can bring happy moments back into their lives, that’s a huge achievement.”

Recollectiv will meet in Central Toronto on Saturday afternoons in an accessible and barrier-free location. There is no cost for participation, and anyone who wants to sing and or play an instrument, regardless of any physical or neurological diversity, are welcome to join.

For further information about Recollectiv and to register go to: http://recollectiv.ca/home.

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Robin Ly is a Bachelor of Social Work student at Ryerson University graduating in spring 2018. She has been completing her fourth year placement with BIST and loves that she’s able to get back into writing to talk about advocacy, awareness, and transformative change.
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The BIST guide to FREE Toronto fun – the quiet times, fewer crowds edition

By: RICHARD HASKELL

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit vendor
PHOTO: FLICKR

With traffic jams and massive street festivals taking over our city this season, it’s easy to think that every corner of Toronto is jammed-packed crowded, all the time. But fear not, it is possible to enjoy Toronto and avoid large crowds and too much noise. Here’s how:

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit

Are you an art connoisseur, or are you more in the category of, “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like?” No matter, there’s bound to be something to appeal to everyone at the annual Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit. Held every year since 1961, the exhibit features 500 artists in a variety of art forms including painting, sculpture and ceramics. WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

July 4, 5 and 6, Nathan Phillips Square
100 Queen St. West, 416-408-2754
info@torontooutdoorart.org

ROM Walks

Are you one of those people who have lived here for years, but don’t really know much about the Toronto’s history or architecture? Then one of the twice-weekly ROM Walks may be just the thing to get to know the city a little better. Walking tours are held Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings between June and October, each one exploring a specific neighbourhood or location, such as the Old Town, Yorkville, the Annex or the Necropolis Cemetery. Walk themes are cyclical, so if you miss one, the same walk will be repeated a few weeks later. CALL FOR ACCESSIBILITY INFORMATION: 416 586-8097.

Sundays, 2-4 p.m. and Wednesdays 6-8 p.m. until October
Various locations, 416-586-8097
ROM Walks Brochure (PDF)

Music in the Garden

If classical or world music is your thing, then be sure and investigate the Music in the Garden series in the Music Garden at Harbourfront until mid-September.This summer’s concerts are so diverse, there’s bound to be something for everyone. WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

Various times and dates
Toronto Music Garden, 475 Queens Quay West
416-973-4000, info@harbourfrontcentre.com

Art Gallery of Ontario – Free on Wednesday Nights

Speaking of art, there are times when we may just need a bit of solitude – some time for quiet reflection away from the tribulations of everyday life. And what better space to find it than at the Art Gallery of Ontario?  Marvel at the Old Masters or discover something new you’ve never seen before in the beautiful Frank Gehry Redesign building on Dundas St. West near McCaul WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

Wednesdays, 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West (near McCaul)
416-979-6648

Outside the Art Gallery of Ontario
PHOTO: FLICKR

 

Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery is presenting numerous exhibits over the summer, including Vasco Araujo: Under the Influence of Psyche, Akram Zaatari: The End of Time and Pedro Reyes: SanatoriumWHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

231 Queens Quay West *Queen Quay is one-way only from Bay St. to Lower Spadina Ave. due to construction – see contruction updates here *
416-973-4949, info@thepowerplant.org

Heritage Toronto

Those particularly interested in Toronto’s history should definitely check out the walking tours offered by Heritage Toronto. Most are held Saturdays and Sundays and are about an hour and a half in length. While the walks are free, a donation at the end is always welcome.

Various times and lcoations, 416-338-1338

People on a Heritage Toronto Walk
PHOTO: BLOGSPOT

Toronto Outdoor Club

Like keeping active? The Toronto Outdoor Club runs hikes throughout the city which are mostly free, guaranteed to help keep you fit, and let you discover new areas of our green city. You need to register for a hike in advance, and they fill up quickly. NOT WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

Toronto Outdoor Club
info@torontooutdoorclub.com

 DID WE MISS ANYTHING? SEND US ANY TIPS ON FREE, ABI SURVIVOR FRIENDLY EVENTS HERE

Your BIST guide to FREE Toronto summer fun: THE CROWD-LOVING EDITION

By: RICHARD HASKELL

PHOTO:
PHOTO: TORONTO MEDIA COOP

It’s summer, and as the song goes, “the livin’ is easy.”

It’s a time for patios, hanging out at the beach and cool drinks. And because winter was particularly harsh this year, we can appreciate the longer days and warm temperatures that the season invariably brings that much more.

But what about things to do during this all-too-brief period? Luckily for us, we happen to live in one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the world with a plethora of events going on all summer long, and best of all, many of them are free!

Salsa on St. Clair

July 19 – 20, St. Clair Ave. West from Winona Dr. to Christie St.
(416) 744-8200, info@tlntv.com

If you find it impossible to resist swaying to the evocative rhythms of Latin music, then the tenth annual Salsa on St. Clair is definitely for you! Head over to St. Clair West from Winona Drive to Christie Street to see several blocks transform into a showcase of Latin life. Check out their survival guide here.

Break dancing at salsa on St. Clair
PHOTO: SALSA IN TORONTO

 

Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival

July 8 – August 3, various locations, (416) 391-5608
Official launch: July 8, 12-2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m., Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. West (at Bay)
Caribana Parade: Aug. 2, Exhibition Place and Lakeshore Blvd. West

Most Torontonians are familiar with the famous Caribana festival held every August. This year, it has not only expanded, but also has a new name – the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival – running between July 8 and August 3. It’s an exciting blend of Caribbean music, cuisine, revelry and visual and performing arts, and is the largest festival of its kind in North America. Check out the Caribbean Carnival’s survival guide here.

Pilaros Taste of the Danforth

August 8-1o, Danforth Ave from Broadview to Jones
(416) 469-5634, info@tasteofthedanforth.com

The Taste of the Danforth has become an enormously popular event during its 21-year-run, attracting more than 200,000 visitors who come to enjoy Greek food, entertainment and dance.

PHOTO VIA FLICKR
PHOTO: FLICKR

Waterfront Blues Festival

July 11-13, Woodbine Park (Lakeshore Ave. East and Coxwell Ave.)
(416) 698-2152

Got the summertime blues? Head over to the waterfront to check out a great combination of Canadian and international talent, including established and emerging artists. This year’s line-up year includes Juno Award winner Jack de Keyzer, Sugar Ray Norcia (of the Bluetonnes) Otis Clay and Johnny RawlsIrene Torres and the Sugar Devils and the Brant Parker Blues Band.

Beaches International Jazz Festival

July 18 – 27, Woodbine Park (Lakeshore Ave. East and Coxwell Ave.)
(416) 698-2152

Nothing goes together like jazz music and the summer.  At the Beaches International Jazz Festival, featured artists include soul/funksters Ron Littlejohn and The Funk Embassy, Latin guitar master and world music artist Johannes Linstead and the Swing Shift Big Band.

North York Festival

August 9, Mel Lastman Square (Yonge North of Sheppard)
5100 Yonge St.,  416 500-0007

If you want international all in one place, look no further than the North York Festival in Mel Lastman Square. In addition to live music, dance and singing competitions, a fashion show and magicians, there will be tents set up celebrating Chinese, Korean, Persian and Russian cultures.

PHOTO: NORTH YORK FESTIVAL
PHOTO: NORTH YORK FESTIVAL

 Toronto Buskerfest

August 21-24
Downtown Yonge Neighbourhood (Yonge and Dundas area)

Whatever way you feel about street entertainers, you can enjoy their talents at the Scotiabank Buskerfest – come see jugglers, impersonators, musicians and acrobats from all over the world.

PHOTO: FLICKR
PHOTO: FLICKR

 

Free Movies!

Yonge-Dundas Square

Every Tuesday until Sept. 2, at dusk
416-979-9960

Who doesn’t enjoy a good movie? This summer, the City Cinema tradition continues at Yonge-Dundas Square with free outdoor movies presented every Tuesday evening until September 2. Among the movies scheduled are Trainspotting, Little Miss Sunshine, and Almost Famous. If Dundas Square isn’t your thing, you can check out free screenings at these venues:

St. James Park

Every Thursday in July and August, 9-11 p.m.
120 King St. East (at Jarvis)

PHOTO: TOUCHSTONE PICTURES
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? PHOTO: TOUCHSTONE PICTURES

 

David Pecaut Square

Every Wednesday in July and August
224 King St. West (at Simcoe)

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is presenting a series of films about “The Biz” – show business that is, every Wednesday during July and August. Must sees: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Searching for Sugar Man

Westjet Stage at Harbourfront Centre

Every Wednesday in July and August
235 Queensquay West
(416) 973-4000, info@harbourfrontcentre.com

This season Harbourfront has got it all when it comes to summer flicks, we’re talking Kissing Jessica Stein, Funny Girl and Mean Girls and oh so very much more!

Summer at Harbourfront

235 Queensquay West
(416) 973-4000, info@harbourfrontcentre.com

Other than free movies, Harbourfront is the place to go for free events during the summer. You can dance on the pier, try a tai chi or yoga class or check out one of the festivals including South Asia Calling, China Now, Habari Africa Festival, Expressions of Brazil, Taiwan Fest and the Hot and Spicy Food Festival.

STAY TUNED FOR THE BIST GUIDE TO FREE SUMMER FUN, PART 2 – THE QUIET, LESS CROWDED EDITION 

 

 

Your BIST guide to World Pride!

gay pride parade rainbow banner

World Pride has hit Toronto!

Thinking of going to Pride? Here’s the BIST low-down on what’s happening at Pride, with a highlight on some events we think may be more ABI survivor friendly:

Clean and Sober Proud Place – Friday, Saturday and Sunday

WHAT IS IT: A space to hang out and catch performances by local community artists in a drug and alcohol free space.

  • Paul Kane Parkette, 58 Wellelsey St. East (just east of Yonge St.)
  • FREE + WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE; VENUE WILL BE LOUD

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 What it Means to Be Seen – Photo Exhibit – Friday, Saturday and Sunday

WHAT IS IT: A photo exhibit featuring LGBTQ communities from the 1960s to present. See how much things have changed and stayed the same.

  • Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St. (south of Gerrard, east of Yonge St.)
  • FREE + WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE; EVENT SHOULD BE QUIET

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Family Pride – Saturday and Sunday

WHAT IS IT: Just as it sounds – a family-centred Pride celebration! Set up in the Church Street Public School, Family Pride provides tons of free activities for kids, plus gives parents an opportunity to chill and relax in the quietest, and least crowded space on Church Street. BONUS: FREE DRINKS AND SNACKS AVAILABLE!

  • Church St. Public School, 83 Alexander St. (1 block North of Carlton, just east of Church)
  • FREE + WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE; GENERALLY NOT TOO LOUD

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pride1

 

UFCW Canada Pride – Saturday, starts at 10 a.m.

WHAT IS IT: The United Food and Commercial Worker union (UFCW) is hosting a Pride celebration for its members, their friends, family  and basically any community-oriented person who wants to indulge in the spirit of Pride. There will be refreshments, snacks, music, arts and cultural activities.

  • Sheraton Centre Hotel, Civic Ballroom and Foyer, 123 Queen Street West (west of Bay St.)
  • FREE + WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE; EVENT LIKELY TO BE SOMEWHAT LOUD
  • If you’re planning on going, you’re encouraged to sign up here

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Proud Voices – Saturday, Sunday, starts 11 a.m. – readings and performances throughout the day

WHAT IS IT: Listen to readings by some of Toronto’s best LGBTTQ writers. Saturday  features readings by established Toronto women writers, and Sunday it’s the men’s turn. 

  • Glay Day Bookshop, 598 Yonge St. (just North of Wellesley)
  • FREE; NOT WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE
  • ** FREE NIGHTTIME CABARETS SATURDAY + SUNDAY at 8 p.m.! **

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BIST TIP: Getting to Pride from east of Church St. is a lot easier than coming from the west end. But regardless of where you’re coming from – expect crowds. Don’t drive. If you can, walk bike or take the TTC!

  • Avoid Wellesley Station and the surronding area. You will find taking a longer way around to where your going will take less time than managing your way through the crowds.
  • There will be fewer crowds at: Sherbourne Station, Yonge / Bloor station, College Station or Dundas Station – again, it’s worth walk!

For more information: World Pride Toronto