University of the Streets Café
The University of the Streets Café organizes public conversations in cafés and community spaces across Montreal. The program is free and open to participants of all ages, all backgrounds, and all levels of education. Without grades or diplomas, the University of the Streets Café reinvents the idea of the ‘university’ by creating spaces for lifelong learning, critical thinking, knowledge-building and community engagement in local neighbourhoods.
Fall 2013 Conversations
When: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Where: Café l’Artère, 7000 Parc Ave. (corner Jean Talon), Parc Metro
Organized in collaboration with: MOBmontréal
On November 3rd, the citizens of Montreal will head to the polls with countless corruption scandals fresh in their minds. While for many, the revelations of the Charbonneau Commission are cause for widespread disillusionment, others see it as a call for action. How can we as citizens take this opportunity to play a greater leadership role? With the cracks in our current system on display for everyone to see, what steps are needed to overcome apathy and achieve real participatory governance? Rather than only looking to politicians and civil servants for the answers, this public conversation invites Montrealers to collectively reimagine the future of their city. Together, we will ask tough questions about our existing democratic culture: What is working and what is not? What alternatives exist? And, how can we find the time, the energy and the influence to ignite meaningful change?
As a Program Coordinator for Katimavik, Cédric Jamet works with young professionals and new immigrants to create contexts for experiential learning throughout Quebec. He has also long been an active participant in RuePublique, a grassroots organization that deals with issues of sustainability in Montreal, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between the urban imaginary, community building and active citizenship. Currently, Cédric is helping to design 100in1day Montreal, a one day event that seeks to empower the citizens of Montreal to create the city of their dreams.
Jeremy Kahn has 18 years experience in creating systems to manage community governance. PlanNet, one such system designed for the City of Minneapolis, empowers members of the community to work together, via a web browser, to suggest and follow through on improvement strategies. Jeremy continues to experiment with new test projects using social media models and strives to share these systems internationally through his work with Communilateral.
Principal designer at atelier TAUTEM and a LEED accredited professional, Owen Rose is originally from Vancouver and has been living in Montréal since 1996. Having completed his Professional Masters of Architecture at McGill University in 2001, he continues to develop his knowledge of sustainable design along 'ecosensual' lines. As President of the Board of the Montréal Urban Ecology Centre, he participated in the publication of four research reports on the integration of green roofs in Montréal, a publication on urban vines (green walls) and a publication on urban agriculture.
Jimmy Ung has been moderating with University of the Streets Café for several years surrounding themes related to Art and Community engagement. He has worked as a leadership facilitator with an NGO and as a political advisor to a Member of Parliament. He currently works in Ottawa as a program officer with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and is enthused about this conversation's potential to meaningfully engage citizens about their democracy.
When: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Where: Le Milieu, 1251 Robin St. (corner Beaudry), Beaudry Metro
In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama described 3D printing as having “the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” Already, this technology has been used to print toys, rocket engine parts, prosthetic limbs and even a couple of guns. Enthusiasts are declaring this the start of desktop manufacturing: a revolution that will enable each of us to produce our own goods on our own terms. Will 3D printing usher in significant change on the scale of the printing press or the steam engine? Or, is this just another case of exaggerated optimism in the face of new technology? In this public conversation, we will discuss the impacts 3D printing could have on our economy, our environment, our aesthetics and our daily lives. If a revolution is coming, whose terms will it be on and who serves to benefit? Can we, as consumers, researchers and community members, shape the way new technologies influence our societies – or do the technologies shape us?
During his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Concordia University, Keroles Riad had the opportunity to assemble and work with both a reprap and a stereolithography 3D printer. Starting this fall, Keroles will be undertaking graduate studies. His research seeks to develop new materials for 3D printing that are photostable in order to enable the technology to achieve its full potential.
Pascale Malaterre is a prize winning new media artist whose work has been nominated for many international awards. Before starting to explore cyberspace in 1996, she worked with video, electroacoustic, multi-disciplinary multimedia performances, and operatic installations. Pascale was a collective recipient of the Opus Prize (John Cage event 2002), was selected for the Prix Italia (an international competition) and was a semifinalist at RIDM - HTMlles in 2012. With 3D printers and CNC technology, she hopes to become a widely renowned eco-feminist artist … in an erotic world without disasters!!!
Moderator:Jamie Robinson is a lover of information and people. In her work she focuses on community building, experiential learning, and alternative economies. Jamie first became interested in 3D printing after (mis)reading an article in the Economist several years ago. She has been watching this technology develop while studying technological revolutions of the past and is interested in the challenges and possibilities technological innovation presents.
When: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Where: La Tasse Gamine, 5658 Parc Ave. (corner Saint Viateur W), Bus #80
In the post baby-boomer era, the job market operates in an entirely different way. The numbers of temporary jobs and non-traditional working arrangements are climbing steadily, making permanent positions seem like a dying breed. The question remains: is this the way of the future or a trend worth fighting against? Contract work can be engaging and offer attractive, customizable working conditions. Yet, it can also lead to a loss of continuity within organizations, low wages, and a lack of job security. How does the rise of these “flexible” jobs affect the health of both the individuals in them and the organizations they staff? What are the professional and personal impacts of depending on contract work? This public conversation, invites us to share our personal experiences with precarious labour and to focus on how, in this economy, we can ensure that we continue to honour an individual's time and energy.
Yaël Filipovic is an education curator. Her work combines her interests in contemporary art, community development, activism and pedagogy. Over the last six years, she has moved across Canada working in various art galleries and museums. As a native Montrealer, she is a tourist in her own city.
Solomon Krueger researches and facilitates innovative practices for creative self-expression, social empowerment, and organizational resilience. He’s personally familiar with the woes of contractual work and finds comfort in entrepreneurship and dancing.
When: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Where: Café Ubuntu, 695 de Liège St. W (corner Bloomfield), Bus #80 / #193
What’s your class? You know, your social class? Does it inform your politics or shape your identity? In Canada, most people identify as middle class, regardless of their income and occupation, the receding social net and eroding social gains. But are we really all just middle class? According to the Occupy movement, we might be. Its ideas of privilege and disparity have re-entered public discourse, but, still, it speaks of the 99%, the overwhelming majority—not the working class. So where and who is the working class in our techno-driven, service-based economy? In the absence of one, who fights for working class rights? Are class and class struggle irrelevant notions in our daily lives? In this public discussion, we will focus on what social class means to us, to society and to politics in Quebec and Canada today.
Sergio Martinez studied Philosophy in his native Chile and got a master degree from McGill University. He recently retired from teaching at Centennial College in Montreal. He has been active in politics since the time when he was a high school student. After the 1973 military coup in Chile he was forced into exile, first in Argentina and then in Canada where he has lived since 1976.
Alex Enkerli describes himself as “an informal ethnographer with a formal training in ethnographic disciplines”. He currently teaches sociology and international community service at Concordia while doing field research with local community organizations. Fascinated by social dynamics, he works at supporting social change through people’s own initiatives.
When: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Where: Coop la Maison verte, 5785 Sherbrooke St. W (corner De Melrose), Bus #105
There was a time -- perhaps a mythical time -- when the path to a good and meaningful life seemed pretty straightforward. You grew up, did well in school, found a job, got married. Satisfaction came from your family, neighbours, religion and the knowledge that you were following well-trodden pathways. Now we have choices. We are independent. Arguably, we have access to more technology, information and opportunities than ever before. But at what cost? Despite the privileges we are afforded, depression, anxiety, and addictions appear to be on the rise. Does a sense of meaninglessness and disconnection lie beneath the surface? Why do individuals who have so much still feel compelled to search for something more? Is this a new problem, or an essential part of the human condition? More importantly, is there anything we can do about it? Together, through this public conversation, we will examine the voids we are trying to fill and share the struggles and victories we have each encountered on our personal quests for meaning.
Jason Najum is a Concordia graduate, writer, and lover of the bigger picture. He writes and blogs about current events, and his work has been featured in the Montreal Gazette. His aim is to bring a fresh perspective and deeper look to today's issues. Jason is author of the recently self-published book Delusions of Grandeur, a personal essay and cultural critique that examines some of the big questions facing today's generation.
Andrew Ryder is a licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Concordia University. His research involves the relation between individuals and their cultural context, and the implications of this relation for mental health and well-being. Recent work has explored how culture shapes the experience and expression of depression and anxiety in China, Korea, and Japan. This conversation gives him a chance to reflect on the culture and well-being in the 'Western World', especially here in Canada.
Rachel Speiran is a community engagement and sustainability consultant. Her work continuously evolves and revolves around the social and cultural dimensions of Capital S and small s "sustainability". She is committed to authentic and inclusive communication and the humanization of socio-cultural sciences in sustainable community economic development initiatives.
When: 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: La Centrale, 4296 Saint Laurent Blvd. (corner Marie-Anne), Mont Royal Metro
Organized in collaboration with: La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse
Considering the term was invented less than twenty years ago, the Cougar has entered our cultural imagination in a big way. From renowned celebrity cougars like Demi Moore and Kim Cattrell, to reality shows like Extreme Cougars, to countless references in music, movies and TV, it’s clear that, as a society, we are fascinated by these sexually-charged older women. Who is the real person behind this stereotype and why does she fascinate us so? Where do our judgments about her, be they positive or negative, come from? Why do we point, stare, applaud or laugh? What makes us feel entitled to make comments and pass judgment? Is she just asking for it? This public conversation considers our long-standing practice of categorizing and dismissing older women and seeks to better understand our current obsession with the cougar. Why does her choice of clothing matter to us? Why do we care who she sleeps with? More significantly, beyond extreme visibility or invisibility, can we make a space for older female sexuality in our society?
Dayna McLeod is a video and performance artist whose work has shown internationally. She is currently at Concordia University pursuing an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Humanities. Dayna’s research examines how over-40 feminist performance artists use the body (their own or bodies-for-hire) within their practices. As part of this research, McLeod embarked on a one-year performance that investigated the stereotypes of a ‘cougar,’ a woman over-40 who aggressively demonstrates her (hetero)sexuality, by wearing nothing but animal print clothing, 24/7. www.daynarama.com
Allison Gonsalves teaches humanities and educational studies to enthusiastic Cégep and university students. In her spare time, she enjoys singing in a choir and making music with friends. She likes thinking about ways to create learning spaces for big ideas and paradigm shifting
When: 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: Café du MAI, 3680 Jeanne Mance St. (corner Léo Pariseau), Bus #55
Organized in collaboration with: MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels)
In 2011, Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) launched a poster campaign to raise awareness about the negative effects of racially simplistic Halloween costumes. Taking inspiration from this campaign and the controversy it caused, this public conversation will consider the unique reality of racism in Quebec. Why do pranks, comments and costumes that would seem outrageous in other parts of North America fly under the radar here? How do these repeated incidents of cultural insensitivity impact the experiences of people of colour? Is it possible to take a stand against cultural appropriation and racism without being labeled as hypersensitive, excessively politically correct, or worse, Anti-Quebec? Together, we will examine the limits of acceptability, the persistence of stereotypes and the costs of reducing a culture to a mere stereotype. What role do our media play in all of this? How can we move from pretending everything is okay to acknowledging and educating ourselves about the challenges we face and the steps required for them to be overcome?
Nydia Dauphin is a Food Justice Advocate. Of Haitian heritage, she was born and raised in Montreal. She enjoys blogging about Canadian and international social and political affairs related to the right to food, food justice and structural racism. In addition to holding a B.A double major in Economics and International Development Studies from McGill University, she holds a M.Sc. in International Studies from the University of Montreal.
Anurag Dhir is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Social Equity & Diversity Education Office at McGill University. His work involves developing programming for community-based learning and engagement as launching points for transformational leadership, social change and personal inquiry. Anurag is currently completing an M.A. in Education and Society in the Department for Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University.
When: 7 to 9 p.m.
Venue: La Petite Cuillère, 3603 Saint Denis St. (corner De Malines), Sherbrooke Metro
From kindergarten to post-secondary, grades are a source of anxiety for all involved. Students worry that one bad test score will ruin their GPA. Parents fear that less than perfect grades will destroy their child’s future. Teachers and professors struggle to provide accurate and meaningful feedback, while being confronted by pressure from students and administrators alike. In a time of grade inflation and credentialism, are these numbers and letters really worth the stress they cause? Are they conducive to learning? Do they provide an accurate reflection of a student’s progress? In spite of these questions, educational institutions the world over continue to use this method to motivate and monitor learning. What is behind our unrelenting reliance on grades? By depending so heavily on this particular form of evaluation, what are we teaching our young people? Despite their flaws, are grades still a useful tool? What other options exist? This public conversation invites both grade givers and grade receivers to think critically about grading and to collectively imagine alternatives.
Alex Enkerli has been teaching ethnographic disciplines at a variety of academic institutions in the United States and Canada. Teaching at Concordia’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology since 2006, he started working as a freelance researcher in 2009, integrating his academic life with hands-on action. Raised by a constructivist and an occupational therapists, he often perceives grades as an obstacle to learning.
Charles Gedeon is a highly involved member in the Concordia undergraduate community but despite his love for campus life, he can't seem to get his head around the grading system whatsoever. Often playing up B-'s and shooting down A+'s, Charles is desperately trying to find a way to transform the system, and loves discussing any ideas around doing so.
As Concordia’s Community Relations Coordinator, Eryn Fitzgerald has successfully managed to stay in school without ever having to worry about grades. She loves learning but like many people, becomes a grade-hungry monster when enrolled in a course. Eryn wants to hear from you about how to escape this tragic fate as she moderates what is sure to be an enlightening conversation.
When: 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: YWCA Montreal, 1355 René-Lévesque Blvd. W (Corner Crescent), Lucien l’Allier Metro
Following the tragic deaths of Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd and similar cases across the continent, sexual assault, rape culture and the particular risks presented by social media are receiving widespread attention. Despite the airtime given to this issue, how many of us fully grasp the concept of rape culture and the social practices it critiques? How has the rise of social media changed the terrain? What about the internet enables people to communicate opinions they wouldn’t dare express in public? Recognizing that rape culture pre-exists the internet and that schools, parents, peers and the media at large all play a part in condoning sexual assault, this public conversation invites us to brainstorm solutions to a problem that often seems insurmountable. Is rape culture online just a symptom of the bigger problem or a particularly pressing issue that needs solutions and strategies of its own? In the face of the trolls and hate-speak that permeate the World Wide Web, what steps can we take as community members to promote a culture of consent?
Julie Michaud is the Centre for Gender Advocacy's Administrative Coordinator. She is also active with the Centre's A Safer Concordia campaign that works to create resources for survivors of sexual assault, dispel victim-blaming ideas and build a culture of consent and accountability.
Bianca Mugyenyi is the Programming and Campaigns Coordinator at Concordia University's Centre for Gender Advocacy. In addition to educational work around the nature and importance of consent, the Centre's Sexual Assault Centre Campaign recently succeeded in lobbying the University for a Sexual Assault Resource Centre.
Linda Overing loves a good conversation, always. She especially enjoys facilitating interactions that are critical, dynamic, challenging, tinged with humour and, most crucially, respectful. She has a BA in Philosophy, with a Minor in Education, and is presently pursuing a PhD in Educational Studies.
Time: 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: La Ruche d’Art, 4525 Saint-Jacques St. (corner Lenoir), Place-Saint-Henri Metro
Few things can make a social situation more awkward than someone casually mentioning a religious affiliation or mystical ritual. In our secularized society, we are free to hold spiritual beliefs, engage in spiritual practices, or reject them altogether, but we struggle to talk openly about these choices. Rather, they are to be expressed in the privacy of one’s own home or shared within the confines of a like-minded community, not put on display for others to see or hear. What are the implications of hiding this significant piece of our identities? Is our fear of making others uneasy, of being judged or evangelized, stopping us from engaging in meaningful dialogue about our most life-motivating convictions? This public conversation invites all participants, religious, atheist, agnostic or none of the above, to share their stories - stories of rich exchange across spiritual divides and stories of badly strained relationships. Together, we seek to uncover what makes the topic of spirituality so uncomfortable, whether this is something worth changing and, if so, how we might begin to heal the centuries of wounds that underlie this sensitive subject.
Afra Saskia Tucker grew up in an immigrant, non-religious household in anglo-Quebec where the socratic ‘dialectic’ model of inquiry and discourse significantly shaped how she approached her earliest explorations of religion and spirituality. Afra’s spiritual and religious life components developed gradually over time, as she integrated Daoism, Christianity, and a variety of intuitive, holistic, and creative practices and beliefs into her present outlook, which she considers central to her selfhood and to her relationships with others.
Charlotte Martin McCaffrey comes from an evangelical Christian background where she was explicitly taught, at home and church, to share her beliefs. An avid reader and deep thinker, she began questioning these beliefs as a young adult and became an atheist in her early thirties. Still, Charlotte sees spirituality as a natural product of human evolution. When she isn’t busy raising her two daughters, Charlotte feeds her spiritual being by communing with nature and through yoga.
Suzanne Amro is a full time high school teacher who specializes in the instruction of English Language Arts and Ethics and Religious Culture. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from McGill University and a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Concordia, where her focus was on Applied Ethics with an emphasis on the practice of dialogue. For the past two years, she has been involved in Compassionate Listening training.
Jan de Bakker
Charlotte Martin McCaffrey