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Meet a unique storyteller

Concordia’s University of the Streets Café invites speakers to launch ‘rich and invigorating’ community conversations
October 26, 2016
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By Alex Megelas

Jimmy Ung: "My belief is that we can learn more about our own story by opening ourselves to other peoples." Jimmy Ung: "My belief is that we can learn more about our own story by opening ourselves to other peoples."


At a dinner party, there’s often someone whose unique stories command the attention of everyone around them.

Now, imagine a series of events which begin with the rich personal narratives of invited guests, followed by a moderated exchange and an opportunity to share your own thoughts and stories.

Concordia’s University of the Streets Café is a program of the Office of Community Engagement which aims to bring in people from all walks of life to start public conversations around topics of interest to all Montrealers.

The participatory event series is open to everyone and takes learning off campus and into the city’s community spaces.

Meet some of the contributors to our fall 2016: City Nights season!
 

Anna Jane McIntyre

Guest of Talking Through Time: How do we engage in purposeful exchanges across generations?

Tuesday, November 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. at La Place Commune (7669 Querbes Ave.). Moderator: Laura Cardenas. Guest: Anna Jane McIntyre.

Anna Jane McIntyre: "I want people to come away with a feeling of community and inspiration. Carpe diem!" Anna Jane McIntyre: "I want people to come away with a feeling of community and inspiration. Carpe diem!"

What’s your story?

Anna Jane McIntyre: I am a visual artist and teach printmaking. The mother of a toddler son named Inigo, I am a feminist, a curious micro-activist and an INFP (introversion, intuition, feeling, perception).

I am mixed-race but identify/am identified as black. I am an immigrant to Canada but have been here since I was two. I have lived in Saskatchewan, B.C., Ontario and Quebec. Currently, I live in Saint Henri.

What inspires you about the city night?

AJM: Although I am currently a highly diurnal animal, I love the nighttime. I especially love those transitional times when the light is changing. Twilight gives a magical glow to everything.

Once the night descends I always get a jolt of energy to do things. Before becoming a mother, I lived a lot of my day during the night. I love working on creative projects while the city is still and sleeping. I like that hushy, almost sacred feeling that comes from doing things with others close by but not awake.

It can almost be like travelling, exploring your daytime city and nighttime city — they are so different. Now that we are edging into colder weather, I think of city night hangouts as being warm and cozy, little beacons of safe fun spaces.

What is your favorite hangout spot in Montreal?

AJM: My number-one paradise is my studio, then my apartment and teeny tiny yard. But also I love libraries and parks and bicycling by the canal and pick-up soccer games and dark house music dance floors and early morning bed fort hangouts with my son, looking at books and having ridiculous conversations.

What can people expect from the conversation you’ll be taking part in?

AJM: My wish for this conversation is that we come together as we are in all our glorious imperfections and share our learnings from this university of life. I will be sharing how I distill life and meaning from experiences through art and philosophy. I want people to come away with a feeling of community and inspiration. Carpe diem! 

I am hoping the conversation will be rich and invigorating, with useful insights and some good laughs to boot.

 

Jimmy Ung

Moderator of An Eye for An Eye: What is the true impact of punishment?

Wednesday, November 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Café L’Artère (7000 Parc Ave.). Moderator: Jimmy Ung. Guests: Marie Beemans, Jean Marc Bougie.

What’s your story?

Jimmy Ung: I was born in Montreal from a family of Cambodian war refugees who arrived in Canada in the early 1980s. Growing up, I was always drawn to people and curious about how the world worked. It’s why I studied industrial relations and international cooperation, and worked in international development, politics and education.

More recently, I’ve been exploring how the arts and storytelling can play key roles in supporting and inspiring positive social change.

Last year, I set out on my motorcycle and travelled from Montreal to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. I invited 150 people from 18 countries to share their stories by taking photographs that represented them.

I had the opportunity to exhibit these photo stories in Montreal over the summer and have also made a photo documentary book out of this experience titled Americano. My belief is that we can learn more about our own story by opening ourselves to other peoples.

What inspires you about the city night?

JU: The culinary scene. I’m very much a night person, so I enjoy eating out late at night, alone or with friends. I think you can learn a lot about the personality of a city by looking at which restaurants remain open past midnight!

What is your favourite hangout spot in Montreal?

JU: I like walking along Plaza St-Hubert, exploring the humble shops that are mostly owned by Montrealers of diverse ethnic backgrounds. It feels like a big friendly village where stories from all around the world meet.

What can people expect from the conversation you’ll be taking part in?

JU: Dostoyevsky once said: “You can measure the degree of civilization of a society by entering its prisons.” I think people can expect to have the opportunity to share thoughts about the true impact of punishment, a subject that often isn’t discussed very profoundly.

I personally believe that compassion can be a logical and perhaps more effective approach to thinking about how we confront or support people who have been excluded from society.
 

Afra Saskia Tucker

Moderator of Seeking Down-time: Have we forgotten how to rest?

Thursday, November 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Temple Emanu-el-beth Sholom (4100 Sherbrooke St. W.). Moderator: Afra Saskia Tucker. Guests: Thibault Du Chéné, Rabbi Lisa Grushcow. 

Afra Saskia Tucker: "My experiences have encouraged me to see the lighter side of life." Afra Saskia Tucker: "My experiences have encouraged me to see the lighter side of life."


What’s your story?

Afra Saskia Tucker: I'm a seeker, born in Quebec but connected to the wider globe through family, friends and the internet.

On the one hand, I take life very seriously, which for me has meant self-reflection, knocking on people's doors and a lot of travelling and learning in foreign spaces. On the other hand, these experiences have encouraged me to see the lighter side of life.

Sometimes it can't get better than enjoying another's sincere laughter with something salty and a special bottle of wine.

What inspires you about the city night?

AST: When I lived in Milan — a historical landmark yet also a lively industrial urban space — I was fortunate to live close to the centre.

I would spend many late nights walking through different neighbourhoods to experience the city during the calm of night, which differed dramatically from its lively daytime persona. Except for street cleaners it would be mostly vacant. This gave me a feeling of ownership and agency in a place which often bore down on me with its pressing demands.

Montreal nights feel different, particularly in the summer when many folks are up till late, drinking in the good life of a city full of festivities and casual encounters. So I guess depending on the city, I will draw different kinds of inspiration from its night!

What is your favourite hangout spot in Montreal?

AST: I love grabbing an espresso with my husband at the counter of Lili & Oli on Notre-Dame. It's part of our evening walk in the summer and we often don't stay longer than 10 minutes, but the accumulation of these 10 minutes over time there makes it feel like a 'hangout'!

I also like hanging out in the lounge and reception area of the Anglican seminary where I work, having lots of meandering philosophical and theological conversations with the students!

What can people expect from the conversation you’ll be taking part in?

AST: We will be talking about rest and the Sabbath. The demands of productivity and activity that assail most of us often direct us to think about rest as a means to recharge for ensuing bouts of productivity and activity.

Hopefully this conversation can shift the emphasis towards the value that rest and the Sabbath hold for their own sakes, which can help us evaluate if we're really benefiting from them to the degree that we could. The guests will be tackling this topic from the perspectives of psychology, mindfulness practices and faith traditions.


Tolulope Ilesanmi

Guest of Stories of the City Night

Saturday, December 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Café L’Artère (7000 Parc Ave.). Moderator : Miriam Fahmy. Guests: Tolulope Ilesanmi, Noga Emmanuel.

tolu-250

What’s your story?

Tolulope Ilesanmi: I chose to become a cleaner straight from business school, and then discovered that cleaning was much more than meets the eye.

What inspires you about the city night?

TI: The quietness, shifts in attention and energy. The renewal and transformation it involves. 

What is your favourite hangout spot in Montreal?

TI: I love to discover new places and experience the city in many different ways, so I have no favourite hangout spot in Montreal per se. I once hung out on the mountain for the night and the next night I hung out in a homeless shelter. I sometimes hang out in solitude in my house, go to a board meeting or spend the night cleaning a church downtown. I love the variety of experiences which Montreal offers.

What can people expect from the conversation you’ll be taking part in?

TI: To start to shed light on the experiences of cleaners — one of the groups of key players in the night — and explore their work, literally and metaphorically.

 

The next University of the Streets Café public conversation takes place tonight, October 27, at Aux Deux Marie (4329 St. Denis). Check out the complete fall schedule.

 



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