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​Reconstructing Resilience @ OCAD University

by Alia Weston and Vicki Clough

On January 15th 2016, we had the privilege of hosting the (Re)² Reconstructing Resilience symposium and art/design exhibition at OCAD University. Our aim was to engage participants in reimagining the meaning of resilience and sustainability within contemporary society. Resilience, here, referred to a community’s ability to creatively adjust and sustain itself in light of rapid and occasionally negative change; while effective sustainability integrates multiple dimensions including economics, ecology, politics and culture. Through the event we were able to highlight thought-provoking initiatives and ideas, which challenged us to think more deeply about how we, as a society, rise up to face challenges and make change. Examples presented crossed a range of subjects from climate change and bioremediation; community empowerment and social justice; to sustainable art and design practice.

We both learnt a great deal from this experience. First, (Re)² illustrated, to us, that successful sustainability involves far more than being ‘environmentally aware’, and emphasized the importance of diverse perspectives. It lifted sustainability out of a narrow ‘green’ category, and demonstrated the significance of examining it more deeply, from different angles i.e. economics, ecology, politics and culture. Furthermore, it illustrated the myriad of ways that sustainability is being addressed at this moment, in communities all around us; and how our local communities are innovating and collaborating with other communities and cultures on a global level. Second, (Re)² emphasized the value of integrating a lens of art/design to promote critical engagement with multi-disciplinary, and/or challenging issues. We already acknowledge this value, but (Re)² enriched our connection to this. Sustainability can be a vast and overwhelming, but we observed how creative dimensions of the event made the issues more tangible and accessible to people. Ultimately, though, we both learnt that it’s not that difficult to facilitate a community building experience.

We believe that (Re)² successfully facilitated a cross pollination of ideas, generated connections between participants, and catalyzed opportunities for collaboration that have lasted beyond the event. To support this engagement, we thought very carefully about how to make the event meaningful for our participants. We did so by ‘walking our talk’ and integrating our theme of creative resilience in as many ways as we could, from sourcing refreshments from local businesses, like social enterprise Loft Kitchen, to co-designing recycled seed-paper name tags with student group grOCAD. We aim to further develop connections made at (Re)² by showcasing works presented through our online publication:
Special thanks to everyone who contributed to the event in any way. The (Re)² collection of talks, art works, and interactive participatory installation were presented by: Valarie Carew; Hala Chaoui; Tanya Chung Tiam Fook; Ian Clarke; Gilad Cohen; grOCAD; Singithi Kandage; Kelly Kornet; Loft Kitchen; Anna McIntyre; Soyang Park; Elyse Portal; Clelia Rodriguez; Rob Shirkey; Sarah Tranum; Lindy Wilkins; Cyril Williams.
[Re]² was generously funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and was hosted by the Impact Economy Research Hub (IERH). The IERH is the research division of the Impact Collective, OCAD U’s Art & Design Social Innovation Project, which is funded by RECODE. For more information contact Dr. Alia Weston:

Dr. Alia Weston is Assistant Professor of Creative and Business Enterprise at OCAD University, and a co-director of the Impact Collective, OCAD U’s Art & Design Social Innovation Project.
Vicki Clough MFA is a curator, writer and maker with a focus on socially engaged art projects and Impact Collective Lab Activation Coordinator and Research Assistant in Creative Entrepreneurship at OCAD U.

Mar 23, 2016 | Tags: , ,