The Knottwood Community League was formed on Mar. 14, 1977, at a meeting in Satoo Elementary School, where the residents resolved to provide programs and a community hall for the three neighbourhoods of Ekota, Menisa and Satoo. That same year, the existing board trucked in a house and placed it on a foundation. The intent was to use this temporary structure for a couple of years until the community could build a new Hall, but with limited funds and changing boards, the temporary hall has remained in place for the last 45 years.
Growing up in this community I have seen it evolve. When my husband and I decided to move back and raise our family here, we soon became active community members. About seven years ago we began seeing a decrease in community engagement and involvement in programs and events. With changing demographics, some of the concerns were: the lack of accessibility of the existing community hall, crime rates increasing exponentially, and decreased engagement. A new community hall needed to be built, but before that could happen, we needed to build the community first. With this idea, we created the Community Rejuvenation Project.
The initial step of the project was revising the League’s branding. This began by updating our League mandate, imaging, and creating a new website. The name of Knottwood, in the mind of the Board and for many in the community, has always been interpreted as a theme of natural forestry like other communities in Mill Woods (ie. MILLhurst, LAKEwood, WOODvale, and now Ward Karhiio). Based on this, and lead by a professional branding firm, our thought of a knot in a tree expanded to signify a central point, which brings our neighbourhoods of Menisa, Ekota, and Satoo together to a core where we all as a community circle around and join together.
The focus over the few years has been engagement, infrastructure improvements, program creation, and building a new Community gathering place. Construction on the new Community Centre began in late 2021 and the grand-opening is this September on Community League Day 2022!
The Community Rejuvenation Project continues today and not only have our programs helped to decrease crime, but they’ve also provided Knottwoodians with a strong sense of pride and community spirit. One of the first programs we implemented was the Knottwood Bench Program. In efforts to make our neighbourhoods more walkable, we purchased community benches that have been placed in various locations around Knottwood. Knottwood residents adopted the benches, painted them however they like and placed them in front of their homes for people to use. These benches have helped to:
- make Knottwood a more friendly place where people can sit, enjoy the views, meet new people or take a break,
- promote a sense of pride in our community by adding unique benches for all to enjoy,
- make Knottwood more walkable, encourage community building and help reduce social isolation and loneliness,
- encourage our neighbours to get outside and be more active,
- positively contribute to the safety of Knottwood as people who invest in their community watch out for one another,
- engage as many people as possible in our neighbourhood and share ideas about other ways we can evolve and improve our wonderful neighbourhood through continued community revitalizations.
Public art adds enormous value to the culture of a community and contributes to community’s identity. The additions of alley art and gardens benefits our environment by fostering community pride and a sense of belonging, builds relationships between neighbours and businesses, and increases property value. Art and gardens, are not only beautiful and brighten your day, but they are also an integral part of creating a safer community. Alleys have been historically used for deliveries and trash pickups, but now are generally underused and therefore assumed unsafe for means of travel or gathering. We’re going to change this! We’re excited to begin the Knottwood Alley Art and Garden Project, encouraging community members to help give a sense of life and vibrance to what otherwise may be boring space. This new initiative can change the vitality of our neighbourhoods, causing us to slow down, pay attention to the world around us and to engage with our environment. Whether you’re planting a garden, painting a mural or building a piece of artwork, we want to see it! It could even be as small as stringing some lights & having some small flower pots on your fence.
Many other initiatives continue to bring community members together, increase pride and discourage crime: Community Safety Walkabouts, Beautiful Yards and Holiday Lights Competitions, Community Garage Sales, and Block Parties.