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.
To what extent are community organizations complicit in the power structures they claim to challenge? This public conversation considers what happens when expertise and financial privilege are among the barriers to entry for those who wish to work towards the pursuit of social justice. How does inequality seep into the pores of non-profit organisations, and how does this promote further exclusion, including the fortification of race privilege? What is the nucleus of a community sector reality in which depoliticized language of empowerment and innovation weakens the potential for transformational change? How does careerism and professionalisation become more highly valued than knowledge earned through lived experience?
Liz Singh is a street worker and filmmaker who lives in Montreal. She works for Head and Hands and PLURI. She also facilitates workshops including workshops on Harm Reduction, Anti Oppression and Safer Drug Consumption.
Oumalker Idil Kalif is a sociologist and has spent over ten years working in community, private and public sector organizations in Canada. Growing up in Petite Bourgogne (Montreal) and born in Djibouti, Idil is also a project manager and a tutor working primarily with racialized youth in Montreal. She has lived in Montreal for over 30 years and is particularly focused on issues related to racism, immigration, migration, access to quality education and inequalities. Idil seeks to support efforts toward a deeper understanding of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia in Quebec.
Margot Silvestro holds a PhD in sociology and has been active in community action for the past fifteen years, through autonomous initiatives such as La Pointe libertaire, le Centre social autogéré, la murale La Pointe All-dress and Bâtiment 7. She has also worked for two community tables and some community organisations.
Moderator: Élise Ross-Nadié is fascinated by numerical culture, politics and popular education. For the past ten years, she has been a member of autonomous collectives while active in the Quebec community and feminist movements. Most recently she has worked with members of the academic world in relation to her own graduate work in media studies. She is most specifically interested in violence in virtual applications, artificial intelligence and the politics of accessibility in multi-modal interfaces.
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.