Hey Friends!

new stuff happening this Winter!

The Thistle Institute Seminar Sessions!  3 -5 pm

We are launching February, 3 2013 with the first section being on Strategizing Decolonization. we have amazing folks signed up to facilitate. More information coming soon. It will be by registration only – contact us at to find out more!


Older news!

A freshly-minted Purple Thistle Institute will launch in place of the discussion group this October 2012! All sorts of scheming and building is taking place, namely we have organized a PTI collective – folks from the institute and the Purple Thistle community – that will work together to build an on-going counter-institutional space that fosters horizontal relationships around learning critical social theory and praxis. We are pumped!


Social Spaces Summit

what it is

A four day gathering about radical social spaces, S3 will bring people together that are doing work for radical social change.

who’s it for

Organizers of radical social centers, infoshops, libraries, student resource centers, co-ops, artist-run spaces, anyone who works in a physical space that aims for radical social and political justice.

The idea is to cross-pollinate, share resources, challenge our praxis, and gain skills.


October 19 – 22, 2012


Vancouver, BC – Unceded and Occupied Coast Salish Territories


There will most likely be fees of some kind and we are in the process of working this out, but our goal is to make it accessible for everyone.


Contact us with any questions:

To register, please visit  our registration page:

S3 has three main themes:

Anti-oppression   //  

Collective organizing   //   

Finding and Holding Spaces

As communities who run radical social spaces, we know about the vulnerabilities of the spaces we work to protect. Sometimes our spaces can fall apart because of structural and interpersonal violence playing out between collective members, sometimes we just don’t have the right tools for getting our shit organized, and often we are fighting against larger forces such as capitalism and colonialism that make it difficult both financially and politically to keep our spaces together.

The Social Spaces Summit is a forum where organizers of social spaces can come together to share skills, have some of the hard conversations, and make connections that will strengthen our movements, communities, and spaces.

Through these three themes of Anti-Oppression, Collective Organizing, and Finding and Holding Space, we want to address the successes and struggles that we all encounter as collectives and folks who are part of social spaces.

  • We recognize that any discussion of space in North America needs to begin with a serious engagement with the problem of colonialism. This summit will work toward creative solutions that end the injustices perpetrated by colonial states who have dispossessed indigenous people of their land, this land upon which our spaces reside.
  • Questions of accountability, and safety are essential in thinking through how to put processes in place to address structural and interpersonal violence, both within our collectives and in the movement more broadly.
  • We want to think through the relationship between our physical spaces and urban injustices such as gentrification. This means discussing complicity, as well as developing strategies for countering neoliberal development in our cities.
  • We want to share with each other ways to hold space that can be sustained in the long term, while avoiding some of the precarious forms of financial dependence that can often keep our spaces from thriving.

This is an opportunity for rethinking entirely how we inhabit social spaces. Whether we are taking money from the state to survive, whether we squat or share our spaces with radical openness, we all have a lot to feel great about! So let’s get together to challenge and learn from each other and celebrate what we have been up to, how we can get better, and imagine new ways of being in solidarity.

Call-out for proposals and workshops: Deadline September 1st!

The Social Spaces Summit is accepting proposals for workshops, skill-shares, and discussions based around the central themes outlined above. Our hope is that people will come to share tangible skills around struggles that affect us all.

In your proposal please include:

presenter(s) names, what community/artist/activist space you organize with, a brief description of the workshop.



we had an amazing three-week session last summer! Thank you to everyone who joined us!  see website here

we are not running one this summer (2012) but do stay tuned for news about what the PTI will become… exciting news!

PTIDG (on-going discussion group)

we currently run a discussion group that pretty much follows the same idea as the institute: we are into getting together with a bunch of folks to delve into rigorous material on radical ideas/theories and then talk about them. We’ll have a great time, meet good people, get our praxis challenged and hopefully build lasting and solid friendships.  We meet a couple times a month, on Sundays at 3 pm.  If you are interested in being part of the discussion groups contact Dani. thanks!


*call out for 2011*

Radical Change From Below

The Purple Thistle in East Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory is super-pleased to announce that in JULY 2011 we will be running a three-week summer institute.  We’d be thrilled if you would consider attending.


Hit us with an email at and we’ll send you a formal application and instructions.


Coming soon!


 The PTI will be something like an alternative university, or maybe better: an alternative‐to university. The idea is to bring together a bunch of engaged, interested people to talk about theory, ideas and practise for radical social change. We’ll have a great time, meet good people, get our praxis challenged and with luck refine and renew our ideas, politics and energies.
Importantly, the conversations will very deliberately cut across radical orientations – anarchists, socialists, lefties, progressives, anti‐colonialists, anti‐authoritarians, ecologists of all stripes are welcome. The idea is to work, think and talk together – to articulate and comprehend differences sure – but to find common ground, get beyond factionalized pettiness and stimulate radical ecological and egalitarian social change. We want to get good people with good ideas together to talk and listen to each other.


July 4th – 23rd, 2011


For the first two weeks we will be running 6 days a week with
Sundays off. We will be offering 8 morning classes of which participants will be able to choose up to four to attend. Then we will all have lunch together, then every afternoon community work placements will be offered. Evenings will be a mix of open‐space activities, shows, speakers and films.
The third week will open up a little with essentially the same class schedule, but instead of faculty‐run classes there will be participant‐led workshops, some combined events, and collaboratively we will build on the previous two weeks by developing some documentation: a website, a zine, a short movie and/or a book project. Participants are welcome to attend just the first two weeks, or all three.


We have put together an awesome roster of instructors and speakers including Astra Taylor, Cecily Nicholson, Carla Bergman, Manisha Singh, Am Johal, Matt Hern, Geoff Mann, Glen Coulthard and lots more. The classes will be fairly rigourous (loosely at an upper‐year university level) and include a certain amount of reading and some writing. Attendance is not mandatory and you can engage with as much or as little as you like. The classes include: Decolonization, Activist Art, Urban Studies, Deschooling, Understanding Economics, Contemporary Social Philosophy and Critical Theory.


The PTI is for anyone, of any age, but we will be giving priority to youth, racialized and lowincome folks. As mentioned the classes will be pretty rigourous intellectually, but please don’t let that scare you off. The language will not be overly academicized and as long as you like to read, think, talk and listen you’ll probably be OK. The one real requirement is that you are keenly interested in radical social transformation and come with a generous spirit ready to listen and collaborate.


The three weeks are priced on a sliding scale: $350 ‐ $500. This includes lunch six days a week. If you are coming from out of town, need a place to stay and want to kick down an extra $100 we will find you a good billet who will give you a bed and feed you. There will be a few bursaries available, but we are going to
need most people to pay at least the minimum.