Website allows you to upload your community memories
Story catchers also capturing Torontonians’ video tales
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Jan. 22 for Town Crier.)
A city comes alive through people’s memories and stories.
That’s the idea behind Leasider Adil Dhalla’s new website www.mycitylives.com that launched Feb. 3.
He describes it as Google maps meets YouTube. Dhalla has trained “story catchers” to videotape people telling personal tales and then link them to an interactive map on the website.
It’s a way to get to know the city, communities, streets and specific landmarks.
“We are trying to encourage people to live and shop local and to support the economy, arts and culture and reinvigorate a sense of pride in the city,” says Dhalla from a French coffee shop on Bayview Avenue. The public can also access the website by uploading a video talking about
their favourite pizza place, a concert they attended in the city or memories
of playing in a schoolyard.
Adam Ben-Aron, co-founder of My City Lives, has his own memories of Leaside.
“I grew up playing baseball in Leaside at Bayview and Eglinton at Leaside High School,” says Ben-Aron. “The (field) fence is like the Green Monster. Balls go over it and hit cars and then you get enraged drivers stopping and yelling.”
But founders aren’t limiting the kind of tale you should tell. Dhalla asked his grandmother for a story and she spoke about memories of Sunnybrook Park in her native Gujarati, Indian dialect.
“We’ve been very conscious that this isn’t our story of Toronto,” he says. “It’s everyone else’s.”
Simon Rabyniuk is one of the story catchers who films people telling tales. “One of the videos I shot was in Kensington Market on top of a parking lot. A friend described how she and another friend spent the summer sitting on top of the parking garage with their feet dangling over (talking),”
Rabyniuk says. “My excitement is capturing those moments. That’s where the life of our city is.”
The site has launched and will be updated as new content is created or uploaded.