Prior to 1990, the rundown buildings on Bleecker Street were managed by City Home, and Diane Frankling was employed as the building manager. Diane worked with tenants to successfully campaign for conversion of the building into a housing cooperative, with Diane remaining as the co-op manager until her death on March 25, 2011.
Diane’s involvement in cooperative housing movement spanned four decades, but it was here at Bleecker Coop that Diane’s best work was done as she set about working with the members to create an inclusive and vibrant community that offers safe and affordable housing, and much more. Diane didn’t just talk about diversity, she was fearless in taking a stand on issues of diversity and inclusion. Under Diane’s leadership, Bleecker was the first cooperative in Canada to priority house people living with HIV/AIDS in the early 1990s, and Bleecker Coop has been recognized with more two dozen awards for excellence in management, social change, urban greening, diversity and inclusion, and youth leadership.
Diane’s death has had a profound impact on the members, staff, and communities that call Bleecker Street Coop home. The Bleecker Coop Memorial Project is an opportunity to memorialize Diane Frankling, and to celebrate 20 years of living in cooperative community through collaborative large-scale art making.
BLEECKER COOP MEMORIAL PROJECT TEAM
Red Dress Productions is proud to lead this project in partnership with Bleecker Coop. Our team includes lead artist Anna Camilleri, co-lead artist Tristan R. Whiston, community artist Heidi Cho, ceramic artist Enrique Campos, photographer Katie Yealland, culinary artist Michael Dion, events and outreach coordinator Ryan Hayward, youth apprentices Dorian Johnson, Emily Jones and Domanique Grant, and intern Andrew Henderson.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the citizens of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and the Cooperative Housing Federation of Toronto.
ABOUT BLEECKER COOP
Located at the intersection of Regent Park, St James Town and the Church-Wellesley Village, Bleecker Street Cooperative Homes is a 254 unit non-profit housing cooperative. While our mandate is to provide safe and attractive housing at an affordable cost, our goal has evolved into providing educational and social programs for our members as part of the housing that we offer. Half of our 254 units are rent-geared-to-income while the other half are market rent units. Bleecker Street Coop also provides the services to its members and the community at large including member education workshops, programs and social events, a free computer learning centre, karate club, out of town excursions for children and adults, and meeting space for non-profit community groups.
We have consciously worked to create a community based in equity and anti-oppression. People of varied ethnic and cultural contexts and family compositions, and many children call Bleecker Street Coop home. Our events bring our membership together in a fun and relaxed way: arts programming, parties, field trips and workshops help individuals find common ground, leading to new friendships and creative ideas for new coop initiatives.
Coop Housing Federation of Toronto Awards
- Youth Awards ~ 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 2010. Recognizes coops commitment to providing youth with leadership opportunities and life enriching programs.
- Garden of Distinction Awards ~ 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010. Recognizes coops that create ecologically friendly green spaces for the coop and larger communities to enjoy.
- Living In Diversity Awards ~ 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010. Recognizes coops that make a special effort to celebrate the social and cultural diversity of their coops through programs and community events.
- Long Term Contribution ~ 2010. Awarded to Bleecker Street Coop and founding manager Diane Frankling for her role in creating Bleecker Coop, the most successful and celebrated housing cooperative in Canada.
- Jim McDonald Award for Social Change Awards ~ 2000 and 2008.
- Excellence in Management Award ~ 2000.
- City of Toronto Clean and Beautiful City Appreciation Award ~ 2006.
- Canadian Treatment Action Council, Glen Hillson Award ~ 2007. In recognition of the coop's commitment to the health and human rights of people living with AIDS/HIV.
- Bleecker became an official City of Toronto Artsweek venue in the fall of 2002. Coop spaces were converted in to galleries and the works of our membership were exhibited. Artsweek Festival was dismantled in 2007, however Bleecker Coop has continued to host its own annual festival including a multi media group exhibition and a performance event.
- Bleecker Street Cooperative partnered with Images Festival 2008. Video artists Leslie Peters and Dara Gellman lead an intensive video making community art project with cooperative youth. Nine new short video works were screened at the festival.
- Bleecker Cooperative is the proud home of two large-scale community engaged public artworks: Scape, 2007, 18’ x5’, and Mosaic: A Community Tribute, 2006, 18’x8’. Both projects were led by Red Dress Productions. Over 300 cooperative members and neighbouring community members were engaged in the conceptual development and building of these mosaic works.