In 2001 I founded the Purple Thistle Centre in with seven teenage friends looking to start an alternative-to-school community institution for youth on the Eastside of Vancouver. We were looking to start a new kind of place – not a school or youth centre or college or studio, but something else entirely.

The pack of us were sitting around my kitchen table trying to figure out what this place might look like and eventually I asked what they were doing when they were happiest, when they were thriving. They started talking about painting, writing, making films, building websites, sculpting, publishing zines, performing their poetry and spoken word, making comics : being creative. So we figured – lets start a place to do that.

So we did, and it blossomed/exploded into a major and many tentacled thing. It really was a piece of work. We ran a 2500 sq/ft resource centre that has a ton of supplies, tools, materials, classes and workshops,  and was all free.  We ran some giant and beautiful gardens that we built on unused industrial land around the centre. There was a library, bike fixing shop, computer lab, silkscreening room, animation facility and lots else.  And maybe best of all, the whole thing was run by a youth collective that controlled all the day-day operations and really ran the place. Sadly, it closed in 2015 after 15 years. Its time had come.

There’s plenty more to explain, but to check it out please go to: www.purplethistle.ca



Matt Hern