Real Dialogue Happening – F.O.H. Kicks Off Monthly Meetings

Lire cet article en français "Un véritable dialogue s’installe: Les Amis de la rue Hutchison débutent des réunions mensuelles"

FOH Meeting July 3rd 2013

Since it was formed in June, 2011, the Friends of Hutchison have become a real fixture in Outremont and Mile End. They have organized two hugely successful community events at the Mile End Library and have participated in the Journée des bon voisins on St Viateur in 2011 and 2012.

One of the suggestions that repeatedly came up during their June event this year was to scale down the meetings. While it’s impressive to see a standing-room-only crowd, a handful of media cameras, and lineups at the microphone, that’s only one way to create dialogue. The other way is to host a series of small monthly get-togethers with smaller groups and lots and lots of great conversation. attended the first meeting that was held last week, Wednesday, July 3. Held at the Mile End Library, it was attended by 16 people, evenly split between Hassidim and non-Hassidim, francophone and anglophone, men and women.

The group spent approximately 20 minutes getting to know each other. All expressed a desire for dialogue and dismay that community relations have deteriorated so much in Outremont.

During their introduction, one francophone couple who have been living in the neighbourhood for over 6 years expressed their shock at the animosity shown towards the Hassidic community. For them, however, it was precisely because of the atmosphere created by the many Hassidic families with children that they chose to live in the this neighborhood.

Solutions? Maybe. Dialogue? For Sure!

After this the ideas began to fly. Here is a brief resume of three of the suggestions that seemed to have some traction

  • Good Neighbour Gardeners: A Hassidic participant explained that when some people complain about the state of Hassidic property and gardens, they might not realize that the families simply don’t have the time or the means to upkeep their property better. He suggested that we form a Good Neighbour Gardens group. Targeted homes would receive a letter offering to help maintain their gardens. Perhaps some Hassidic boys or girls could weed gardens and plant flowers. Some participants wondered if there could be some city grants for this, or if the plants and flowers could be donated.
    • Friends of Hutchison have since written the city and are waiting to hear back. Hopefully it’s not too late to start something for the summer of 2013!
  • Green Alleys: Another Hassidic woman wondered if the alley between Hutchison and Parc avenue could be better maintained, or even made green. She said she would rather see her children play in the alley than on the sidewalk. Also, people get impatient when the children play on the sidewalk, but if they could run around in a safe alley it would be better for all.
    • Friends of Hutchison will get in touch with the local Eco-Quartier and see if there’s anything we can do with this alley. It’s a commercial lane so options may be limited.
  • Sidewalk Bussing: A resident raised the issue of buses on local streets. He wondered if the Hassidim could replicate the successful “Trottibus” system that École Bussonière uses. This is where a group of volunteer parents goes door to door gathering children to walk to school. Because parents are often home with their other children and so are unable to be volunteer walkers, it was suggested that maybe grandmother could do this.
    • Friends of Hutchison is going to try and work on this for September 2013. Perhaps a pilot project could be started with the closest school.

It was a great meeting and it was great to be part of a new era of coexistence in the neighbourhood. The date for the next meeting has not yet been announced, so check back here for news and details. If you would like to get in touch with Friend of Hutchison you can go to their Facebook page here or write

2 comments (1 comments in English, 1 comments in French)

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  1. Gordon Martin
    July 10, 2013

    Good summary of the meeting. Thanks. Fortunately the prejudices in this community are restricted, albeit necessary to confront. Interesting how negative attitudes of one or two people can create and bring together a community. And a spirited one at that!