CUPE Local 1356 Blog

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1356. We have three Collective Agreements as Local 1356, 1356-01, and 1356-02. The membership is comprised of the full-time and part-time workers of York University the Local website is at This Blog will include Local information and information garnered from sources other Universities, Colleges, Post Secondary/Tertiary Education and news sources supplying information.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Activist School Newsletter #2

Spring 2005

1. Introduction
2. Pilot Wave Events this Summer
3. Curriculum
4. Fundraising
5. Resources
6. Getting involved

1. Introduction

Welcome to the 2nd e-newsletter of the Centre for Living Democracy: the Activist School*! It's been awhile since you last heard from us - we've been tilted into the wind completing proposals to secure some funding support - it's slow going.

This newsletter will be short and sweet. For more information, visit the website at . New content for the website is currently awaiting translation and will soon be uploaded onto the site.

We welcome your feedback and your participation in the growing dialogue about what the Activist School must be to serve the needs of social movements. Please send your thoughts to

[We are still in search of a new name. For now, we are using the "Centre for Living Democracy: the Activist School". Please let us know if you have ideas for a new name. Send your suggestions to ]

2. Pilot Wave Events - Summer 2005

As you may recall, in Montreal last August the Activist School Steering Committee endorsed the development of several pilot projects during the coming year. One of these is a "wave" of multi-day political education events, with one each in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, and the Prairies or BC. These will be organized regionally, but will have some shared programming.

The "wave" events will in some cases build on existing programs and in other cases (such as in Ontario and in the Maritimes) create wholly new programs and curricula. We plan week-long schools hosted by the Tatamagouche Centre and the Dalhousie Black Student Advisory Centre in Nova Scotia in June 2005 and in Ontario hosted by the Catalyst Centre in July 2005. A two-day course co-sponsored by the Prairie School for Union Women and the Activist School will be offered in Regina in June. We are also exploring a weekend-long mini-school in Ontario or Quebec in late summer of 2005. This event will serve as a collective evaluation of the "wave" series and a planning session of the launch of the pan-Canadian Activist School in the summer of 2006. All of these plans are, of course, dependent on funding that has yet to be secured. More details on these regional activities will be made available in future e-newsletters.

Two additional major projects were approved by the Steering Committee last summer: 1) reclaiming Black activism in Canada and 2) developing English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum with a community engagement focus:

Akua Benjamin and Nathan Okonta have led an active group that is organizing for Black History Month and beyond. The multigenerational organizing group has been meeting regularly to discuss a number of projects and events related to reclaiming black activism. The group has persuaded the City of Toronto to put out a poster on Black activism and These were launched at an event on February 10 in Toronto. The poster has been designed and a prototype printed and plans for a booklet on the history of Black activism are underway. Research funding requests are being prepared for a full-scale book. There is a speaker's list and speakers will go to schools and organizations over the coming year, leading up to a planned conference on Black activism in 2006.

A working group has recently begun meeting to implement a project to gather past and present curricula related to ESL and political education. The group plans to build upon past work done in this area by labour, community groups, and ESL instructors and develop new ESL curriculum with a community engagement focus. The working group is being led by Amy Go of CCNC and is supported by the Catalyst Centre and a number of other individuals and organizations with experience in this area. If you know of past and present curricula (across Canada and elsewhere) relevant to this project or have experience in this area & would like to get involved, please contact Jin Huh (

3. Curriculum

The Curriculum Committee is compiling a list of curriculum resources (courses, workshops, and manuals) to be used in the planning of the "wave" of activities taking place this summer. These resources are being organized according to curriculum themes, identified at the curriculum meeting held in March 2004, such as Vision(ing) for the Movement We Want; Thinking Strategic / Planning Strategy; Analysis Of Power; Creating Real Links / Coalitions; Movement History; and Understanding Economics, to name a few. From this organizers of the regional activities will gain a better sense of the wealth of resources available across the country and can draw upon them as needed. At the same time, the Curriculum Committee will identify the gaps in available curriculum resources based on needs identified during Consultas, where communities express their educational and organizing needs. To meet these needs and fill the existing the Curriculum Committee will work in collaboration with the regions to design new curriculum that can be shared across the country.

4. Fundraising

The Activist School received $20,000 from the Atkinson Charitable Foundation ( to continue the development of the Activist School and to prepare a business plan. We will be seeking funding from a few sources for an 18-month development phase which will support national activities in the summer of 2005, evaluation of the successes, failures and best practices in the fall of 2005, and the design and planning for the launch of the pan-Canadian Democracy School in 2006.

5. Resources

Some links to resources and websites relevant to the Activist School:

Colours of Resistance
Colours of Resistance (COR) is a grassroots network of people who consciously work to develop an anti-racist and multiracial movement against global capitalism. They offer a number of excellent "Organizing Tools" and "Articles and Analysis" on their site.

Activism with Heart: The Voices Against Violence Project
For all those interested in how Theatre of the Oppressed can be used to examine important social and political issues this article is worth a read. It describes a project in which an educational psychology class at UT Austin used Theatre of the Oppressed to examine sexual violence on campus.

Its About Time: The Coolest Portal on Fighting Hate Crime
This is the Council for Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) portal on hate crimes, where you can learn about hate crimes, order resources and also to report hate crimes. This is one of the resources developed during the course of the 'Say No To Hate Crimes' project, funded by the National Crime Prevention Strategy.

The Story Revolution: How Telling Our Stories Transforms the World
A speech by Arlene Goldbard, a leading American thinker and writer on community arts, advocating a new center for local stories at Ukiah Players Theater in California.

"Action Will Be Taken" Left Anti-Intellectualism and Its Discontents
Some provocative thinking about the relationship between activist action and the need for critical reflection by Lisa Featherstone, Doug Henwood & Christian Parenti

Popular Education For Social Change - Part I: Theory/Practice
This is the syllabus for an annual course in popular education given at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. The Catalyst Centre was contracted to deliver the course for the third time. Excellent reading lists.


Ten Thousand Stories: Judy Rebick's Blog:

Thoughts on popular education, storytelling and activism for a possible better world

6. Getting Involved

Contact the following for more info:
Atlantic Canada -- Steve Law, Tatamagouche Centre
Quebec - Corvin Russell,
Ontario - Catalyst Centre: or
Prairies -- contact Matt Adams @ Catalyst for now
BC -- Karen Mahon, Hollyhock Leadership Institute


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