Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Abu Dhabi, UAE and Ottawa, Canada.
What brought you to Toronto?
After living in Alberta for a good portion of my 20’s, my desire for anonymity, escapism, and living a car-free life in the big urban city.
What neighbourhood do you live in?
Little Italy, Toronto.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a not-for-profit director and professional fundraiser.
How did you get started?
I started around 19 years old by throwing art and rap shows to raise funds for the community radio station and activist media groups I worked and volunteered with. From there, fundraising, development and not-for-profit management work organically came into my life as a way for me to build a career around themes of activism, altruism, empathy, community building and my connection to music and social justice. My work is an opportunity to facilitate impact in a variety of causes that concern and inspire me related to poverty alleviation, media and the arts as a tool for social change, women’s issues and youth engagement.
What’s your favourite thing about your neighbourhood?
That I know and say ‘hello’ to my neighbours and local business owners. The last sprinklings of authenticity and a connection to the original Italian immigrants of this neighbourhood, the old Italian men that walk around like they run the streets (because they do). I also love that most of my close friends in Toronto are a few blocks away and that I can coax them into running errands and coming on dog walks with me regularly.
What’s the last treasure you found?
A calendar from 1975 that was hanging in my parents abandoned apartment in Cairo for 41 years.
If you were going to eat your last meal in Toronto, where and what would you eat?
Bar Raval for 8am sharp when no one is there yet for a coffee, olives and boquerones to tie me over for the 1-2 hour wait at Maha’s Egyptian Brunch in the east end for their falafel eggs (a soft-boiled egg wrapped in falafel) and watermelon feta salad.
If you could have a sleepover with anyone who has ever existed, who would it be?
Alain de Botton – Author and founder of the School of Life. We’d drink hot bourbon drinks and have a long conversation about romanticism and the pleasures of sadness…in our nightgowns, while painting each others’ nails.
If your life was a TV show, what would be the theme song?
Time Away – Arthur Russell
The Boss – James Brown
What does Toronto need that it doesn’t have now?
More affordable housing, better bicycle infrastructure, a more inspiring and accessible waterfront. But also, to be less afraid to smile and interact more with strangers.