In 2011 we began to investigate other kinds of pedagogical approaches by running the Purple Thistle Institute, a three-week gathering titled RADICAL SOCIAL CHANGE FROM BELOW. http://thistleinstitute.ca/

It was something like an alternative university, or maybe better: an alternative-to-university. The idea was to bring together a bunch of engaged, interested people to talk about theory, ideas and practise for radical social change.  The conversations deliberately cut across radical orientations – anarchists, socialists, lefties, progressives, anti-colonialists, anti-authoritarians, ecologists were all welcome. The idea was to work, think and talk together – to articulate and comprehend differences sure – but to find common ground, get beyond factionalized pettiness and stimulate radical ecological and egalitarian social change.

It went great: three weeks of classes in the morning from folks like Astra Taylor, Cecily Nicholson, Carla Bergman, Am Johal,  Geoff Mann and Glen Coulthard, then community workplacements in the afternoon, then events, films, parties and beaches in the evenings. It was a terrific time and gave us all kinds of new ideas for organizing.

Now a group of folks has taken that momentum, holds regular events and discussions, and is hosting a Social Spaces Summit: do check it out.

Matt Hern