Our University of the Streets Café public conversations are much like any you’d have with friends or family around a dinner table, except with more people, more points of view, and slightly more structure. Conversations are hosted by a volunteer moderator who is there to welcome everyone and keep things on track. To get things started, there’s a guest, or sometimes two, who get the ball rolling by sharing their ideas, experiences and questions. After that, it's all up to the participants.
Urban farming and gardening appeal to the well-meaning sensibilities of a growing “urban ag” movement, but to what extent does it harm both urban and rural communities? This public conversation considers the impacts of urban agriculture and whether the burgeoning practice of green alleys and community garden is essentially performative, stemming from privileged access to city spaces. Do large scale urban hydroponic and organic growing efforts live up to their promise of sustainable food and city living? Does urban agriculture prevent what could otherwise be a more substantial analysis of power centralisation? How could this work instead lead to a deeper recognition of the link between food and social control?
Mitchell McLarnon is gardener, project manager, course lecturer and PhD candidate at McGill University. He is also sessional faculty at Bishop's University. He serves on the executive council for the Canadian Association of Curriculum Studies and is on the editorial board of Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education. His research interests include: gender, social justice, homelessness, community-based, participatory and arts-based educational research methodologies, gardens, environmental and democratic education.
Jenna Jacobs has been farming for eight years since cofounding the Ferme coop aux champs qui chantent, an organic farm that prioritizes being a safer space for queer and trans folks. She holds a PhD in biology from UQAM. Mom of two kids, she has recently helped start an educational garden at a school in Lachute, qc.
Christian Scott is a mexican-canadian artist-researcher who works in the margins of academia, creative practice, and advocacy. They’re a PhD candidate in Concordia University’s INDI program and a collaborator of the Performative Urbanism Lab (PULSE). With an academic background in urban sociology and professional expertise in community planning and socio-environmental projects, they use poetry, soundscapes, body/movement, urban intervention and installation as mediums of exploration. They are interested in play-driven urbanism, feminist & queer theory, human/non-human interactions and interconnectedness, and the memory/identity/site link.
Herbalist, community worker, farmer and mother, Heather Elliott has been working to foster right relationships to land for close to two decades. Co-founder of the Montreal Permaculture Guild in 2008, she coordinated a network of collective gardens in Pointe Saint-Charles for six years. She also worked on peri-urban farms for eight years, co-founding a cooperative farm outside of Montreal. Heather is currently working on an M.Sc. on colonialism in the food movement, and working as a community clinical herbalist.
Mauricio Buschinelli is a graduate of Concordia University’s Community Economic Development program and the co-founder of a worker’s cooperative in urban agriculture, which operated for 3 years in the neighborhood of N.D.G. In the last few years he has been merging his engineering background and passion for teaching with his interests in social change, popular education and the intersection of technology and social justice. He is currently a teacher in the computer science department of John Abbott College.
Accessibility: The space is wheelchair accessible, but the ramp to access the main door is quite long, and the elevator to reach the 2nd floor where the conversation is held, can be finicky. There are gender neutral washroom adjacent to the space where the conversation will be.