This is my final post on lectures from last week.
I wanted to showcase two projects that Dr. Marc Spooner presented at the creative conversations meeting a week ago. The first is a video, Community Voices featuring homeless people in Regina.
In the context of last Monday’s presentations the video provides those who are homeless with a forum to speak about their needs. This video is a response to top down programing that examines concerns like poverty without the opinions of those suffering. Instead, this video gathers ideas from those who use programing which gives a need and a problem to solve in order to fill it. Dr. Spooner mentioned that some of the comments from this video have been well received by those who provide services, prompting some changes.
During the lecture Dr. Spooner asked a very telling question before he presented copies of the Survival Guide to the audience: ‘ask yourself, is this your Regina?’ The Survival Guide is a map which features places in Regina where one can find food, clothing, shelters and needle exchanges to name a few (The Leader-Post has a version on their website in PDF). This project again emphasizes action, providing a useful product for the people who need these services.
I actually found this map over the summer at the Cornwall Centre. I had not heard of it but I have always liked maps, and found this one intriguing. The theme of the Survival Guide was fascinating to me because, as Dr. Spooner suggested, this was not my Regina. I spent a lot of my summer exploring the city and trying to find unfamiliar spaces. So for me the Survival Guide was a look into the movements, places and communities associated with Regina’s needy.
I think Dr. Spooner’s work is very practical while also quite revealing of homeless and marginalized people’s lives. It is important to see people, to hear them and be aware of other stories in Regina. Prosperity in Saskatchewan may rise in some corners but there are fundamental inequities in Regina occurring without resolution and we should not forget it.
Finally, this past Friday I attended a lecture at the University of Regina titled: Green Leviathan Reborn? Authoritarianism and the Contradictions of Ecological Crisis presented by Dr. Simon Enoch. The discussion was largely about in what ways the environmental crisis is creating political stress which fosters authoritarian regimes. The piece I felt was interesting, in the context of this blog, was his discussion of consultation processes. Dr. Enoch argues that the design of these consultations seem to subdue doubts, by providing numerous experts, with many reports in hand. Saying ‘no’ to the preselections put before the group is not an option you can choose. Speaking against the consultation is set up as a strike to the group because the consulting experts have done research and understand what the people (audience/community) want. Through the process facilitators can divide groups into acceptable pragmatic and sensible people and marginalize ‘extreme’ view points.
I have become increasingly aware of how the consultation process shapes opinion rather than takes opinions. There have been several such meetings in Regina of late and I would say people should take care and know what is important to you. Not all consultations are bad, rather scrutinize each on its process, openness and egalitarianism.