Black Urbanism TO aims to increase the participation of Black people in community development to advance the collective cultural, economic and social interests in the neighbourhoods we call home.
Black Urbanism TO is a vessel to amplify the soul of Black communities.
Black Urbanism Toronto (BUTO) was born from love, respect, and hope for the vibrant community of Eglinton west, affectionately nicknamed little Jamaica. The once-thriving Caribbean cultural and economic center became negatively impacted by the construction of the Crosstown LRT.
Residents and businesses found themselves displaced; storefronts sat vacantly, sidewalks and entryways to stores blocked by construction equipment and materials. These disruptions resulted in the loss of vital foot traffic and severely impacting the communities ecosystem.
To salvage what remained of “Little Jamaica” after just a few years into LRT Crosstown construction. Co-founders Romain Baker and Dane Williams enlisted Theo Adjei’s help to produce an engaging and gripping documentary highlighting the forgotten history of Eglinton west. However, the documentary revealed the jarring fate of historically black spaces, “Erasure.”
From the documentaries, glaringly bleak reality Black Urbanism TO was born. Officially founded in 2018, Black Urbanism TO aims to increase the participation of Black people in community development to advance the collective cultural, economic, and social interests in the neighbourhoods we call home.
OUR IDEOLOGIES, BELIEFS & PRINCIPALS
PEOPLE • PLACE • CULTURE
Trust • Respect • Integrity
PARTNERSHIP • COMMUNITY • UNITY
LIBERATION • AGENCY • POWER
Co-founder & Chair of BUTO
I’m a descendant of many West African peoples but ethnically Jamaican – still on a journey of self-discovery. I’m a musician, student of history, a pan-Africanism believer.
Co-Founder & Dir of Partnerships
My name is Dane Gardener-Williams; I would describe myself as a simple person. I enjoy getting to know people and what foundationally drives them daily.
My name is Yohana Mebrahtu, and I believe that everyone, especially those with fewer resources, should benefit from the changes happening in our neighbourhoods.
DIR OF POLICY AND URBAN PLANNING
I am committed to honouring the legacy of my heritage by continuing to integrate Afrocentric methodologies in planning, policy, and decision-making processes.
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
My name is Olusegun Villasa. Olu for short. Studied urban planning, love local economic development: avid lifter, runner, and a big advocate of investing (Buy the Dips!).
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
I’m a long-time organizer for Black communities in Toronto & an aspiring playwright/writer! The liberation and advocacy for marginalized people is my life’s purpose
DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Ingrid is a very passionate and creative spirit who has a love for the arts, design, history and research. She possess extensive experience in the field of Apparel Management, which includes production, marketing and retail.
I’m a social butterfly & tree hugger. I’m part of a movement of young black leaders committed to bettering black communities, ecosystems, & businesses in Canada.