Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

See also Site Map

Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis





The Dufferin Grove Experiment


Over years, the staff at Dufferin Grove Park asked their management if the park could be designated as an area for experiment and trying things, including learning through mistakes. The answer was always no. But in retrospect, for fifteen years that’s exactly what happened anyway.

When we first got started, we put names up on a frieze along the rink clubhouse walls, adding names as more and more people contributed their work or their ideas. After a few years we ran out of room. We could have started a second row, and even a third one, but it began to seem like boasting, both for the people whose names were on the frieze and for the park: “see how popular we are!” So we stopped.

2005 parks friends' dinner in the clubhouse

A picture gallery of work

staff meeting 2006
Dufferin Grove staff responsibilities:

-- updated in February 2010, the list was originally submitted May 2006, in a report requested by the director of Recreation.

The programs developed in uneven but continuous steps, with the park kids taking the most active role at the outset (see CELOS slide shows). Other unexpected influences were from a progression of homeless park users acting as park guardians, and even from basketball/jailbird guys who worked to keep fights (and weapons) out of “our” park.


Mayor Hall at the oven opening 1995

Dave pushing back the fire, 1995

checkers by the oven, 1996

Dave putting up the cafe tiles, 1996

Aileen with youth helpers (sort of), 1997

Mario Zanetti, John Sewell, clubhouse meeting, 1997

Patty and park potatoes, 1997

Nora, Jason, Lily in the sink kitchen, 1998

Kathryn, the baking teacher, 1997

pizza day, 1997

basketball guys working at the oven, 1999

maintenance staff building playground fence, 1998

David and friends painting playground mural. 1997

Everyone knows of some community group which subdivided into five or six committees with great ideas, then dwindled to a few people with far more on their task list than they had time for -- and finally the group disappeared. There are not enough volunteers motivated to do all that unpaid work for the benefit of others.

And why should there be? In the case of public spaces, we have a tax-supported civil service. We pool our money to pay municipal staff to make parks work well, among other things. So from the very beginning, it seemed best to work hand in hand with park staff at Dufferin Grove, and to encourage good people to apply for those part-time park jobs.

To read more: links below.

a welcoming, comfortable, well-organized rink clubhouse

staff can help kids get their skates on right

building second oven with Alan Scott, 2000

group lunch for oven builders, 2000

Portuguese card club 2001

marimba night at the rink house, 2001

"Fate of the park" meeting, 2001

experiment p.2

experiment p.3

Content last modified on June 03, 2022, at 02:12 PM EST