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.
Different spaces allow for different forms of social involvement and lead towards varying forms of collective decision-making: parent committees, exchange forums, neighborhood assemblies, municipal councils and public consultations. We can also connect to the increasing impact of social movements that invoke the need for increased transparency and access to data. In line with this, elected officials are also considering ways to allow citizen access to public services data.
Our structures and movements are a direct expression of our fundamental commitments to democracy and our populations ultimately hold the power to choose representatives that reflect their interest in informed social decisions. However, when information becomes more complex, a deeper capacity for analysis is required and public officials are not necessarily able to teach us how to make sense of data. As such, we can question the capacity of citizens to engage in an informed manner with the available information.
Do citizens hold the necessary competencies, tools and knowledge to take part in democratic process and lead our communities?
Frédéric Lapointe founded, in 2011, the Ligue d’action civique, of which he is currently the president as well as member of the board of directors of Transparency International Canada. Frédéric works on promoting shifts in the structures of our political institutions and fights against municipal corruption. He has been engaged politically for the past twenty five years, as a student leader and as a member of groups such as Force Jeunesse and within the quebec sovereignist movement. Frédéric is a consultant in evaluation at Université de Montréal.
Jean-Noé Landry is the Executive Director of Open North and has extensive experience in democracy building at an international level - having worked in twelve countries over the past fourteen years on the development of capacities in political processes alongside local civil society organizations.In 2009, he co-founded Quebec Ouvert and Montreal Ouvert, two citizen-led initiatives that have successfully engaged the municipal government in taking on a policy on open data.
Noémie Brière-Marquez is the coordinator of the Forum jeunesse de l’île de Montréal. She works on promoting environments that further citizen participation and particularly that of youth, leading them to take on an increased role in Montreal’s institutional decision-making, especially as it relates to citizenship education amongst high-school youth. Her expertise and studies have led her to develop an expertise in political and civic participation.
Accessibility info: Temps Libre is on the ground floor. The space can be accessed through an accutely slopped garage entrance south and adjacent to the entrance on de Gaspé Street. An elevator can then be used to access the level on which the conversation takes place. In proximity to the space, there are wheelchair accessible washrooms equipped with grab bars.