From last Thursday's Toronto Star. link:
4 CITY BLOCKS
TheStar.com | living | Abattoir, temple co-exist in 'hood
Abattoir, temple co-exist in 'hood
Old buildings with great architecture give area a New York City feel
May 08, 2008 04:30 AM
Eco-entrepreneur and world traveller Allison Greenbaum draws strength from the four blocks surrounding her Walnut Ave. apartment, just east of Strachan Ave. and near King St. W.
Greenbaum, 33, returned to Toronto a couple of years ago after living in California and bouncing through Southeast Asia for several years.
Standing just over 5 feet, Greenbaum gives off an exuberant yet peaceful energy. She works from home, so she has time to seriously acquaint herself with her neighbourhood, including a nearby Buddhist temple where she goes to settle her nerves when her business gets a bit hectic.
"When I came back from travelling for seven years, I wanted to do something big," she says. Greenbaum is taking pains to reduce her own impact on the earth and wanted to offer people a way to enjoy their city in an environmentally friendly fashion.
She created her own business, The Little Green Book of Big Savings, a tidy coupon book costing $20 and stuffed with more than $4,000 in savings.
Stores do not pay to advertise. She sells the books on consignment in shops in her neighbourhood and also across the city.
The coupons get users discounts on facials, Thai massage, yoga classes and organic produce. For more information, visit the website thelittlegreenbook.ca.
"Everyone is struggling financially and maybe they don't know how to live green," she says. The Little Green Book is a guide to finding affordable, eco-friendly and organic services across the city. "This book really spells it out."
WHERE SHOULD WE START?
Greenbaum researched her neighbourhood before our walking tour starts at Stanley Park, off King St. W. The park is a hub of constant activity. "It's always full of kids."
We head south on Walnut Ave. to Wellington St. W. A sharp, thick smell wafts under our noses and we pick up our pace.
"This location is also nicknamed King and Swine," she says, referring to the pig slaughterhouse at the base of her street. "You got a whiff there but usually it's really lingering.
"I love looking at historical buildings and this was built in 1908," she says pointing to one section of the abattoir. "But I don't like the smell. Sometimes people come over and ask `where is the barn?'"
OTHER HISTORICAL BUILDINGS?
"When I go for a walk I like to go here, Greenbaum says, waving her arms at a patch of older homes as we walk east on Wellington. "They are really old buildings with great architecture. It gives it a New York feel," she says.
The corner of Wellington and Niagara St. is home to the Old York Bar & Grill. "It's kind of like a hidden gem," and is close to another favourite watering hole, the Foggy Dew. "In the summer the patio is always packed."
IS THERE ONE PLACE YOU LOVE?
"We are approaching my sanctuary," Greenbaum says as we head north on Niagara to the Fu Sien Tong Buddhist Temple. "When I need a break, I come to this temple ... and come inside and it's really peaceful."
The outside courtyard is packed with stone carvings of various sizes.
"Isn't it gorgeous? Let's count how many statues there are," she says.
We count about 26. "They are so intricately carved and you can see new things every time.
"I just come here and I just pretty much stand right here and say, `Buddhas, give me strength.'"
SHOW ME A HIDDEN SPOT
We turn off Niagara and into an alley that backs onto the townhouse that holds Greenbaum's apartment. Her kitchen window looks down to the alley. "This right here used to be a dive bar but has been transformed into an artist's space," she says of a nondescript building with steel bars on the windows. Unfortunately, says Greenbaum, drug addicts use the alley to get high and it's common to find needles.
Then her thoughts take another route.
"A creek used to come through here and run down to the lake," she says pointing to the ground. It was called Garrison Creek.