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.
The cooperative movement’s history is closely linked with the proliferation of female leadership in social movements. What are the ways in which cooperatives have empowered women to defy subjugation and drive social change, including poor and immigrant women? This public conversation considers how the values which underlie the cooperative movement challenge entrenched patriarchal structures. How do coops recognize needs and vulnerabilities and in so doing reduce precarity and counter obstacles to social and economic justice? What are examples of women-led resistance and what do these tell us about the cooperative movement’s role at the centre of transformational change?
This conversation is co-presented by À nous les quartiers / From the ground up
Marie-Lise Bergeron has 40 years of involvement in the community sector in the context of organizations that work with persons with disabilities. She is a founding member of the housing coop Sation No 1 and is a member of the Board of Directors of FECHIMM, on her 4th mandate. She is frequently interviewed on Universal Accessibility, an inclusive and democratic approach. She is currently working on an UA guide, writes about UA and has contributed to the UA development plan of her housing cooperative.
Kavitha Culasingam is a community organiser with le Centre des femmes d'ici et d'ailleurs, a space that provides direct assistance and where women of various backgrounds can build links and solidarity among themselves that recognized their respective experiences. The Centre uses a collective management approach that ensures a feminist and egalitarian perspective.
Beatriz Hoffmann-Kuhnt is a Master’s student in Educational Studies at Concordia University. Her research interest is centred in Adult Education and approaches to Transformative Learning, policy, social justice and community sustainability for underserved and vulnerable communities. Her digital-storytelling project with Logifem aims to create safe spaces for homeless women to engage in discussion about their definition of “home”, with the ultimate goal of advocating for policy and systems change around social housing in Quebec.
Myriam Zaidi has been involved in social justice work in Montreal for over 10 years. She considers herself to be an organizer more than anything else-from social movements to the workplace, she is always looking for ways to make spaces (big or small) more liberating. She is also a researcher in the field of social movement learning, intersectional feminist pedagogies, and popular education. She currently works as a human rights educator.
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.