My new realization through the street festivals. - MIKAFleur

My new realization through the street festivals.

This year, the Taste of Little Italy Street Festival concluded successfully with favorable weather. It was our second festival since moving to Little Italy. True to its name, the festival boasted a vast array of food vendors. Next to our booth, there were free prosciutto samples and Ontario wine tastings, while directly across, a restaurant offered BBQ and margaritas. We set up outside our store, guiding visitors and serving Japanese tea, a task I've been in charge of every year. Observing the diverse crowd, I felt a true sense of living in a metropolis like Toronto.

Honestly, I hadn't enjoyed the festival in previous years, perhaps due to a lack of personal involvement. However, a significant realization hit me this year, possibly due to the high number of wheelchair users who seemed genuinely happy. Our store has six steps to climb before entering, which poses a significant barrier for those with walking difficulties. Despite this concern, we decided to move because we liked the interior and overall feel of the place. We do assist customers with strollers or canes, but during busy times or when we don't notice, we often miss the opportunity to help. Likely, customers in wheelchairs just look up at our windows and pass by without entering.

Toronto is a beautiful city with wonderful restaurants and shops, but many places have accessibility issues, such as restrooms located in basements or entrances with stairs. These issues are not just personal but societal. In the past, poor vision was perhaps more detrimental than physical mobility issues until glasses were invented. Similarly, while high-performance wheelchairs are now available, many still face daily challenges.

The risk of losing the ability to walk is higher than we might think. If I lose the ability to walk, I would likely visit restaurants less frequently since their restrooms are often in the basement, and I might not visit friends' houses as often because they have stairs. This isn't a personal problem but a societal one. While it's impossible to eliminate all stairs or relocate all restrooms, there are many redevelopment issues, but new buildings are realizing spacious lobbies and accessible restrooms.

This year’s Street Festival was a significant discovery for me. It emphasized the potential of flat, street-level engagement. Reflecting on my previous disinterest, I realized the importance of being an active participant. I also recognized the need for more permanent public restrooms despite the challenges in implementation.

The Japanese movie "Perfect Days" not only has a wonderful story and great acting but also serves as an advertising strategy showcasing beautiful public restrooms designed by Tokyo designers, emphasizing their importance. While we initially planned to reduce our participation in outdoor markets, we now aim to actively participate in markets that align with our purpose. While we can't alter our store’s structure, we aim to contribute in other ways.

Enjoy the various street festivals across Toronto this month and have a wonderful summer!

Japanese movie: Perfect days 

Festivals & Event: City of toronto