Glebe Community Association celebrates 50 years
The Glebe Community Association (GCA) is throwing a whopper of a birthday this weekend when they celebrate 50 years of community activism, spirit and dedication to preserving one of the city’s most charming neighbourhood.
Saturday marks 50 years since the creation of the GCA and if we look back over the years, there’s a lot of celebrate.
“A great community doesn’t happen by accident,” says GCA past president and current chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee June Creelman. She and her crew of dedicated volunteers are planning an afternoon celebration this Saturday with live music, art and food, followed by a Sneezy Waters concert in the evening.
“There have been a lot of things that make our community so great that have been threatened and we could have lost,” she adds, referring to neighbourhood institutions including Mutchmor and First Avenue Public School, the Glebe Community Centre and the Sunnyside Public Library – all of which were threatened with closure over the years.
“All of those institutions that help keep a community strong, they were all threatened with closure, but in all cases people rallied, and spoke up, and made their voice heard and they were saved. I think that is some of the impact of the community activism.”
And while the GCA is known mostly for its community activism and advocacy, there are many social and cultural movements the organization started that have now come to define the area as a hub of activity. It was Creelman and crew who started the first ever Great Glebe Garage Sale in 1986 – with less than 20 households taking part. More than 30 years later, the sale is now one of the biggest of its kind in North America, which attracts close to 30,000 bargain buyers to the Glebe every year.
“Sometimes you just plant a little seed and it grows because it’s good,” adds Creelman.
Part of what has made the GCA so successful over the years, is the dedication and passion that Glebe residents have put towards maintaining the heart and character of the neighbourhood. From creating a space for constructive community dialogue to visioning committees like ImagineGlebe, the community organization has brought business, residents and the city together. She says a healthy community is one where both the business community and the residents work together towards a common goal. It’s really all about having a liveable, walkable, sustainable community – and the Glebe has it all. What impresses Creelman the most is how the dedication to community has remained the same from generation to generation.
“There has been a constant renewal of people involved,” she says.
“I think it’s easy to get people rallied around something for a short period of time, but to see the torch passed from generation to generation is something that is inspiring.”
Since the creation of the GCA, other Glebe organizations have spawned and grown in the neighbourhood, namely the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities’ Group, which has taken over the programming, social and cultural side of things. GNAG has developed youth programs, summer camps, and evening entertainment that have really enriched the Glebe in many ways. From movie nights to lobster dinners, GNAG has given Glebe residents plenty of fun over the years.
Saturday’s afternoon party will be a celebration of all of this – with live music, cake and an interactive art piece that will be created by residents and installed inside the lobby of the Glebe Community Centre. The piece is a series of letters that spell out, “Glebe is Community.” Participants will decorate each letter with yarn, tree bark, or other found objects. The installation is an art piece for everyone, by everyone.
“It really will be something if you are five-years-old or if you’re 95-years-old, you’ll be able to participate, you don’t need any art experience,” adds Creelman.
The family-friendly party runs from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. before the community centre turns into a concert hall with Sneezy Waters and His Very Fine Band whipping people into a frenzy of music and dance for the evening. Tickets for the concert are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. It’s a bit of a “throwback” concerts, says Creelman, as Sneezy Waters has been playing live shows in the Glebe for decades.
Creelman thanked all businesses for their support over the years, and thanked sponsors BMO at Lansdowne, McKeen Metro Glebe and Bloomfields Flowers.
The concerts starts at 8 p.m. Click here for tickets.
Happy Birthday, GCA.