We seldom stop to think how Media Literacy is connected to history, especially when considering the mundane & commonplace elements of life. We take for granted the shop windows with their signs, logos and advertisement claims. But what if we could see a shop window that allows us to see another time, taking us back decades into the past century ? Especially fascinating if the shop window featured a declaration in a language that is disappearing – showing us the cultural layers of a city through text, typography & language in the form of a piece of Mass Media that is a cultural artifact
“Butter, Cheese, Cream, Eggs — Fresh Every Day” are the unremarkable words spelled out by the Yiddish sign on the window of 29 Baldwin St. . But the hand-painted letters, an advertisement for the former Mandel’s Creamery, are possibly the last surviving remnants of Baldwin Village’s former life as a landing spot for Jewish immigrants.
The sign is believed to date back to the 1940s, and was preserved even after Mandel’s was taken over by John’s Italian Caffe decades ago. But John’s recently closed, and a new tenant moved into 29 Baldwin. Last month, large decals announcing the arrival of a bubble-tea shop were plastered across the storefront, and the Yiddish sign was nowhere to be seen. Rumours circulated that the new tenants had chiselled it off. (Ben Spurr Toronto StarStaff Reporter, Sun Jul 12 2015)
Media Literacy can help extend cultural awareness and a sense of history. In this case, the new tenant, the Formocha tea shop’s owner Daniel Li, was very welcoming to maintaining the window, as had John’s Italian Cafe. The incorporation of the Jewish signage into a Taiwanese establishment honoured the past and exemplified the Canadian ideal of multiculturalism.
This was a generous expression of Canadian values. In terms of Mass Media and Business Interest, the store’s identifiable brand has added a unique element. It demonstrates corporate citizenship that enhances the brand and reaches out to the community at large. Furthermore, this good news story provides an example of Mass Media and Marketing being used in a socially positive manner.