Tools for Transversality

A Talk with Gary Genosko

Part of A Potential Toronto
Initiated by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry
More info:

Thursday 29 November

Room 103
Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design [Building], U of T
230 College Street

1. Forming collectives that allow people to relate to each other in new ways. 2. Establishing connections that allow individuals and groups to collaborate within and against hierarchical division. 3. Undertaking experiments in institution-building, direct action, and cultural production that subvert, or surpass, societal constraints.
The groups, ideas, and actions spotlighted in the A Potential Toronto series addressed these three ongoing practical tasks and theoretical concerns.

One of the concepts that has been used to think about these three dimensions, and their relation, is “transversality.” In this talk, Gary Genosko will address Félix Guattari’s concept of transversality. Gary revisits transversality’s original application in a psychiatric clinic and follows its subsequent deployments by Michel Foucault as a resistant force.

A Potential Toronto opened with a talk on the concept of “commonism” as a possible macro alternative to capitalism. The series wraps up with a talk on “transversality” as a micro-political logic for remaking social practices.

Gary Genosko trained as an interdisciplinary scholar in philosophy, environmental studies and social and political thought. After many years as an independent intellectual, he took a post at Lakehead University where he is Canada Research Chair in Technoculture Studies and Director of the Technoculture Lab. He has published extensively on Félix Guattari’s life and work in The Guattari Reader, Félix Guattari: An Aberrant Introduction, The Party without Bosses: Lessons on Anti-Capitalism from Guattari and Lula da Silva, and the three volume collection Deleuze and Guattari: Critical Assessments. He also edits The Semiotic Review of Books.

A Conversation about Worker Co-operatives

Part of A Potential Toronto
Initiated by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry (TSCI)
More info:

Thursday, 15 November 2007
7:30 – 9:30pm

Toronto Free Gallery
660 Queen St. East
(w. of Broadview, e. of the Don Valley Parkway)

‘A Potential Toronto’ wrap party immediately afterwards, with DJs Dorian and Dorian.

Music, cereal, a vibrator, a website, and a cup of coffee: these are just a few essentials that can be bought in Toronto at a worker co-operative – a worker-owned and democratically controlled organization that makes or sells a good or service. Supporting a worker co-op is supporting an alternative economy.

What worker co-ops exist in Toronto? How are worker co-ops different from traditional workplaces? To what extent does this alternative business model escape, subvert, or resist capitalist conventions of competition, hierarchy, and growth? What potentials do worker co-ops offer as an alternative way to reorganize work life?

Join us for a conversation guided by these questions. J.J. McMurtry, a social theorist with an interest in co-operativism, will open the conversation. Participating, will be guests from The Big Carrot, Come As You Are, Blocks Recording Club, Anarres, and Planet Bean.

We invite anyone involved in or curious about the local co-op movement and alternative ways of organizing working life, to join us to talk about their experience, community, challenges and hopes regarding workers’ co-operatives as alternative economies – and how it might fit into a potential Toronto.

About the guest co-ops and speakers

The Big Carrot Natural Food Market has been a Toronto worker-owned co-operative since 1983, specializing in GMO-free and environmentally safe groceries. The Big Carrot also offers a range of community food services, including cooking classes, free nutritional store tours, free weekly lectures on health and the environment, and a customer service department available to answer questions customers might have about their food choices.

Come As You Are has been proudly worker-owned and operated for 10 years . Having the distinction of being the only co-operatively run sex shop in the world, Come As You Are believes in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others. Offering a wide-array of sex toys, books, videos, and a monthly series of in-store educational workshops, their mandate is to be a sex-positive sex store serving a wide range of clientele.

The Blocks Recording Club, aka ‘The □□□□□□ Recording Club,’ is an artist-owned worker’s co-operative with the goal of working together as a musical community to help members record and release music that they as a community generate. Blocks believes that working together they can accomplish far more than they ever could working apart and further, that by moving closer to a co-operative economy they are helping, in whatever small way they can, to minimizing the harmful effects of capital in the world.

Annares worker co-operative provides a range of technology services that focus primarily on opensource technology, developing websites using the Drupal content management framework. Annares came together because they believe computers and the internet should be a tool to community building and activism, not a hindrance. They believe in using opensource software for ethical and anti-corporate reasons, and because of its affordability, flexibility and effectiveness.

Planet Bean is a co-operatively owned and managed, fair trade coffee roaster and coffee shop in downtown Guelph. For Planet Bean, fair trade means they have negotiated a fair price with their co-op growers and paid an extra premium for investments in their communities like education and health care. Ecologically grown means that their coffee is grown in the shade of tropical forests, which protects habitat for creatures including many of our migratory songbirds. It also means that farmers and drinkers of their coffee are not exposed to harmful chemicals. Co-operatively produced means they put job creation and democracy into their bottom line.

J.J. McMurtry holds a doctorate in Social and Political Thought from York University. His research focuses on linking contemporary social, political and economic theory with the practice of co-operatives and the social economy using a life-theory perspective. J.J. has published works on social theory, politics, literature, and the social economy in scholarly and popular media. He has also been active in a number of movements and organizations for over two decades including co-operative businesses, a research firm, unions at the local and national level, as well as various community and volunteer organizations.

Queer Publics

A Conversation with Paul Couillard, Deirdre Logue, John Paul Ricco and Jason St-Laurent

Part of A Potential Toronto
Initiated by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry (TSCI)
More info:

Friday, 9 November

Toronto Free Gallery
660 Queen Street East (w. of Broadview)

In Toronto, queer publics have a powerful creative and political presence. LGBT artists have worked hard to construct counter-publics by working collaboratively, building production networks, and constructing events. These practices challenge regimes of heteronormative identity and capital competition through their emphasis on forms of intersubjectivity beyond couple, family and state, and politics based in desire rather than regulation. How might the codes, protocols, laws and imperatives of heteronormativity, interiority, and the public/private divide be refused and reconfigured?

What creative potentials for redefining intersubjectivity emerge through the formation of queer publics, and counter-publics? How does the production of minor spaces and practices change the life of the city? And when these spaces are subsumed by dominant practices and politics, how can queer publics re-politicize themselves? Local curators, artists and educators Paul Couillard, Deirdre Logue, John Paul Ricco and Jason St-Laurent talk about the erotic, aesthetic, ethical, and political potential of queer publics.

Paul Couillard has been working as an artist, curator, and organizer since 1985, focusing on performance art with forays into video, installation, and holography. He has created well over 100 solo and collaborative performance works in more than a dozen countries, often working with his partner Ed Johnson. Couillard was the Performance Art Curator for Fado from its inception in 1993 until 2007, and is also a founding co-curator of the 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival, both based in Toronto.

Deirdre Logue’s film and videos address how it is that women organize their images and identities for mass consumption, and how this reflects or distracts from our knowledge of the individual. She is interested in both queer and feminist theory, early video and performance art, psychoanalysis and psychosomatic illness. Deirdre was the Executive Director of the Images Festival of Independent Film and Video from 1995-1999, the Executive Director at the Canadian Filmmakers’ Distribution Centre from 2001-2006, and is currently the Development Director at Vtape in Toronto.

John Paul Ricco is a queer theorist, curator, and sometimes performance artist. Author of The Logic of the Lure (2002), his work is dedicated to thinking the ethics, politics and aesthetics of social-sexual space. He is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History, Media Theory and Criticism at the University of Toronto, and curator of “Queer Here, Queer Now,” a three-part exhibition of contemporary queer video, opening in January 2008 at V-Tape, Toronto.

Jason St-Laurent is an artist and curator based in Toronto and currently working as Director of Programming for Inside Out Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival. He has curated more than 50 projects in Canada, Finland, Estonia, South Africa and Mexico.

Organizing Strategies

A Conversation with Anarchist Free University, Multistory Complex and Planning Action

Part of A Potential Toronto
Initiated by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry (TSCI)
More info:

Thursday, 1 November

Toronto Free Gallery
660 Queen Street East (w. of Broadview)

Actualizing potential requires practicing the art of organization. How do we do what needs to get done? What strategies for mobilization and community involvement work? What blocks the flows of these strategies and diminishes the potential to get things done? Anarchist Free University, Multistory Complex, and Planning Action talk about how they organize and why they do it the way they do it.

Anarchist Free University is a Toronto based Free University and volunteer-run collective which organizes a variety of courses on arts and sciences. Anarchist U is run using various anarchist principles. These principles include consensus decision-making, decentralized organizing, and a non-hierarchical structure in classes and meetings. Teachers are seen as resources of knowledge rather than as authoritarian figures. There is no single street address for the school; rather different classes and meetings take place in different community centres and homes throughout the city.

Multistory Complex aims to democratize urban planning processes through public education and engagement in urban planning issues and decision-making. Multistory Complex facilitates citizen engagement through education, community-based action research, collaborative policy, planning and design initiatives, and partnership building. Taking an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to these issues, Multistory Complex works with social service agencies and community groups, artists’ and other worker collectives, cultural organizations, architects, planners, educators and researchers to encourage innovative planning practice and increase public engagement in planning issues and decision making . Current and recent projects include Street Food Vending Project, Mobile Studios, and condo BOOM!

Planning Action is a group of urban planners, architects and activists who work with diverse communities of Toronto struggling against economic, cultural, and ecological injustice to open spaces for people to imagine, transform, and enjoy the city. Planning Action collaboratively promotes social and environmental justice by planning for affordable housing, food, public transportation, public space, accessible education and recreation for all residents and workers of the city. Most recently, The Amazing Race Place is a collaboration between several community organizations that aims to build a progressive sense of place and cultivate local citizenship in the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park community. In 2007, its inaugural year, local area residents embarked on one-day scavenger hunt for local history.The event connected the present day community with local social history. It highlighted significant people, places and events in South East Scarborough, and celebrated efforts to build greater equity, justice and environmental sustainability.