Skip to content

Common Notions: Handbook Not Required

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - 5:00pm
Community Partner(s)

Common Notions: Handbook Not Required

Carla Bergman, Corin Browne and John Collins | 
Canada |
 2015 | 
39 minutes


PG (Coarse language)

For almost 15 years, the youth-run arts and activism space, the Purple Thistle, has been home for a variety of activities, from guerilla gardening to DIY publishing and screen-printing. Common Notions: Handbook Not Required is not only a celebration of the Thistle’s achievements, it’s a manifesto for the youth liberation movement. An array of alternative education advocates and scholars including Astra Taylor, Gustavo Esteva, and Madhu Suri Prakash, as well as local organizer Khelsilem, make a compelling case for democratizing knowledge and re-imagining our current systems of education. They argue that institutionalized schools, as we currently know and understand them, offer an extremely narrow and commodified definition of what it means to teach and to learn. Consensus decision-making, inclusivity, and a strict “noassholism” policy are just some of the Thistle’s guiding principles. Last year, the Thistle officially closed its doors. But this isn’t necessarily all bad news. Youth members and staff facilitators say the spirit of the collective will carry on in different permutations. After all, the Thistle was never meant to be an institution, but a path to a different way of experiencing the world. -SC

Preceded By
Chloë Ellingson | 
Canada |
 2016 | 
15 minutes

The legacy of residential schools and other government-initiated assimilation efforts have left many Indigenous languages across Canada in an endangered state. Raising the Words is a lyrical portrait of six stalwart Mohawk speakers in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, approximately 200 km east of Toronto, who are empowering a new generation to revitalize and reclaim their traditional language. -SC


Carla Bergman

Carla Bergman is a filmmaker, mom, writer and activist. She is the co-director of EMMA Talks, a speakers series by women. Carla has joyful threads in many initiatives and projects near and far, with incredible artists, thinkers and activist. She co-directed the Film: Common Notions: Handbook Not Required, was one of the editors of the AK Press book: Stay Solid: A Radical Handbook For Youth and is currently working on a book about Joy.


Corin Browne

Corin Browne is a filmmaker, media educator, and community engaged artist who lives, works and parents in east Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territories. In addition to independent film work, primarily in non-fiction and news magazine formats, Corin is the co-artistic director of Housing Matters Media Project and co-director of EMMA Talks, a women’s speaker series. She was a founding member of the nationally recognized Summer Visions Film Institute for Youth, and is the Resident Filmmaker at Templeton Secondary School where she has been joyfully mentoring young media makers for an entire generation. Corin's most recent film, Common Notions: Handbook Not Required, is the first though her new production company that will focus on feminist and social justice documentary projects, Joyful Threads.