One name I’d always hear around Toronto in the early to mid-2000’s was “Andrew James”. During that time he was making a name for himself in the Toronto entertainment industry. Through S4 Entertainment, his artist development, artist management and event production company, he developed and managed some of the top urban Christian talent in the city, including rapper Promise and R&B princess Roshana. He also published a nationally distributed music magazine called Inspired and after watching the film “Drumline” founded The Drum Off billed as Toronto’s #1 Drum Competition. Today, there are a number of black Christian entrepreneurs in Toronto doing their thing in music, media and events, but Andrew James was one of the first to do it.
In recent years, he wrote his first book ‘Bird Words: Inspirational thoughts for everyday life in 140 characters or less‘ and produced Urban Gospel talk show “City Gospel Presents” which airs weekly on the Miracle Channel.
Along the way he married his wife Juli-Anne, who is a force in her own right. An HR Communication Business Analyst by day, similar to her husband, she’s also a published author releasing her first book in 2016 after years of writing for theatre productions, entertainment websites and blogs. ‘Every Day Wisdom‘ is an inspirational book that takes readers on a 90-day journey in developing faith and wisdom in their lives.
All of these life, business and creative experiences have brought them to their latest venture, Streams Community Hub.
Andrew and Juli-Anne James now live in Shelburne, Ontario, just outside Toronto. It happens to be the fastest growing community in Ontario and the second fastest growing community in Canada. With 30% of the population between zero and 19 years of age, the James didn’t just find a community on the rise; they found an opportunity.
“There is an immense sense of pride in the culture and heritage of the Shelburne. There are friendliness and cooperation here. There is support for buying local. But, there is also unspoken, unaddressed poverty. There is a culture shock taking place as a result of the rapid population increase. There is a drug problem threatening the youth and a lack of opportunity and accessibility to activities to deter them from falling victim to the threat,” they said of their new home.
The first phase was to host their first Creative Arts Summer Camp this past summer. They ended up hosting 50 children from 28 households.
The next phase is a coffeehouse and community space that provides youth with arts training and skills building, volunteer opportunities, work experience, conselling and a fun place to hang out, as well as a variety of services for adults.
The vision is clear.
“We envision a community coffeehouse where every dollar spent (and donated or granted) flows directly back into the local landscape by connecting people, investing in the youth and enriching lives through arts-centered activity and education”.
In order to fund their vision, Andrew and Juli-Anne have entered the Aviva Community Fund competition where members of the community can vote on projects to receive funding.
For more information about the Streams Community Hub or to vote, visit avivacommunityfund.org. Voting is open until Friday, October 18 at 12pm.