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Unity Market Cafe & Studios

Not the end of an era....just the end of the chapter.

I have sat here, at this keyboard various times broken hearted, putting off putting it into words. Unity Market was a thing of wonder and meant so much to so many people over the years.

Shane "L.S." Dennis and I go back quite a few years now, so of course when he started the new venture, I was down. Even if that venture was garden projects, Vegetarian cuisine and weekly garbage pickups.

It didn't look the same at the beginning but it always had the same vibe. I remember the front room having a few more doors, and the day we moved in that giant, really heavy fridge. Watching it come together was an amazing thing, seeing how everyone had come together to help bring the vision to life. I still remember painting the 'Unity' painting that you can still see in the picture above. I remember it was pretty cool night and Jordi and John on the tables, Shane on the BBQ while I painted away.

My next memory that jumps out at me other than bags of carrots and geo domes would be the opening Art Show that I got to be a part of. I dropped a handful of artwork and it was here where I think I have had made my best and biggest sale... My Neighborhood Watch Sign painting in exchange for free coffee for life. Even now sitting here, I still figure I got a sweet ass deal.

There were a couple rough years in the early days, which lead to a handful of amazing chef's in the kitchen, a stint on the Board of Directors for me and from what I recall one really cold, really wet cleanup fundraiser where Shane was longboarding around the city picking up garbage as we went. The community involvement, the food, the clean ups, and the programs looking back now, was such a diverse and amazing group. I remember that I was at Unity Market so often that many of the people there still thought I was living in Barrie.

It was here that Barrie Hip Hop would really soar. Prior to this there were the nightclubs, the crews, the sets, the record shop and even a tiny little Graffiti shop but it was Unity that would bring the majority of them together with artshows, concerts, classes, recording sessions and what would become the epic legacy known as 'The Cypher.'

It would be through Unity and the help of Shane that I would be introduced to The City of Barrie with a community event where we would paint garbage cans that would be placed around the city. It would be here that I would go on to paint over a dozen murals for the city and make a few handshake deals that would never come to fruition(Barries legal wall built near Georgian College, and my Heritage mural). My favorite mural that would come out of these times would clearly be the Unity Market mural welcoming everyone in along the parking lot.

Moving along we have the Jazzfests, the Canada Day Events and a handful of concerts but for me it would be Unity Market that would step in and save what I consider my Barrie Legacy: Paint the Park. On year ten, I remember the city wanted out, wanted to cancel the event and with the help of Unity Market we gained full control of the event. The final four years of Paint the Park would be epic with many of Ontario's finest emcees, dj's and graffiti writers to bless the event or afterparty.

I will end this with "The Cypher". Looking back I could never guess how many I attended but I remember my daughter going from sleeping in her car carrier to rocking her adidas suit to scratching, drumming and talking on the mic, the weekend adventures with the wife, and the late nights after shows. It would be here that I would get to see many of my friends turn into lyrical monsters, growing in skill each week.

It's sad that I cant swing by anymore and drink coffee in the sun, or eat my super plain grilled cheese or sneak a beer on the upper patio.... but I am happy I was a part of something so epic.

Thanks Shane and everyone for the great ride!

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