When Victoria Barrington posted a message on Bunz Trading Zone, seeking a graffiti or street artist to paint her garage door, she didn’t have anything in particular in mind. The door had been tagged, and Victoria saw it as an opportunity to create something beautiful. “There are a lot of kids in the community and they often play in the alley, and I always thought it would be nice if we could pretty up our alleys so they’re a usable fun urban space to be in.”

At first, she wasn’t sure where to find an artist who would be willing to paint her garage door, but after being introduced to Bunz Trading Zone – the prolific and engaging online community where dreams are built from tokens and tall cans – it seemed obvious this was where she’d find a way to bring magic to the alley.

Within a few minutes of posting her trade of street art for “LCBO gift cards, tall boys (people seem to like those), or something else of your choosing,” the messages began to pour in. “I had a ton of replies. All of them were super talented and I really liked the work of Andrea Manica. She was the only woman artist who replied and I really liked the idea of supporting an up-and-coming female artist. I loved her portfolio, so we got in touch and met for coffee and agreed on a trade (gift cards and a cooking lesson).”


Between the time that they met, and when painting began, the devastating shooting in Orlando’s PULSE nightclub took place.

“She wanted a community-focused image; something that would bring people together,” says Andrea. “I decided I would create a tribute for the people we lost. I painted 49 rainbow-coloured roses, one for each person who was killed.”

Andrea enjoys incorporating floral design into her work, and she felt that the rose, often the flower chosen to honour deceased loved ones, was the right flower to work with.

“Painting it felt very powerful and emotional. I had just read an article that showed each person who had died, with photos and some details about their lives. I thought of them as I painted each flower. At one point two of my friends were helping me, and we all identify as queer. It made me feel proud and that what we were doing was very important, even though we were in a little alley and in a way the painting seemed to be just a small gesture.”


As soon as Victoria posted the photo of her new garage door, people in the Bunz community began to respond. The image has so far received three thousand likes, along with hundreds of loving messages. It’s obvious that Andrea’s touching piece has warmed many hearts.

Each time someone walks down that alley, they will remember the victims of Orlando, and pause to think. For the children playing skip-rope or street-hockey, they will ask their parents what those roses mean, and over dinner, important conversations will be had. “We may not be able to make big, sweeping changes, but together we can all do small gestures that get noticed. It’s those small gestures that make the world a better place,” says Victoria. How very true.