We were very sad to hear of the passing of a dedicated park person and friend, Kristen Fahrig, who was indeed the Heart of MacGregor Park. Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, Councillor, Ward 18, Davenport expressed our shared sadness at the loss, stating:
“I had the pleasure and humbling opportunity to work with Kristen Fahrig over the years. She was a passionate artist and community member who poured her heart and spirit into the MacGregor Park community. Her vibrancy and deep care for nature and creativity will live on for years to come.”
Anna Hill a former Park People employee who worked with Kristen through the Weston Family Parks Challenge wrote a few words reflecting on Kristen.
Kristen Fahrig was a special kind of park hero in that she recognized the potential of an underutilized park to become a vibrant community green space. She galvanized both organizations and individuals around her vision of MacGregor Playground as a centre for artists and community gardeners. Founder of the Botanicus Art Ensemble, which grew out of the MacGregor Park Art Club. Kristen formed partnerships with organizations like the Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club to engage local youth in hands-on environmental programs in three new teaching gardens. She worked closely with her councillor, civil servants and local residents to ensure that park programs responded to the needs of the neighbourhood. The renovation of the MacGregor Fieldhouse into an all-season facility, a project Kristen kick-started by funding a feasibility study through a Trillium grant she obtained, will continue to completion next year through our Capital Projects staff, supported by the Councillor.
A working artist with a studio at 401 Richmond, Kristen’s many years of artistic practice informed her approach to community development. Keenly aware of how art can heal the lives of people living on the margins, Kristen made people from all walks of life feel welcome. Whether launching a non-profit, welding a wrought iron gate, or saving seeds, Kristen brought great determination and creativity to the task at hand. Kristen will be remembered as a true Toronto Park Hero for transforming McGregor Park into the heart of her community. A honey locust tree has been planted in the park in her honour and a plaque will be installed there and in the Teaching Garden.
An exhibition of Kristen’s last body of work will be held from February 3rd to 25th at Loop Gallery, 1273 Dundas Street West. Further details will be posted to loopgallery.ca. In lieu of flowers, please send tax-deductible donations to the charity CELOS, the Center for Local Research into Public Space, specifying that the donation is intended to be used to complete the MacGregor Park Arbor/Archway. Initial forging workshops and the design for the arch can be seen at www.botanicusart.com