In 2001 Matt Hern founded the Purple Thistle Centre with seven teenage friends looking to start an alternative-to-school community institution for youth on the Eastside of Vancouver. They were looking to start a new kind of place – not a school or youth centre or college or studio, but something else entirely.

The pack of them were sitting around Matt’s kitchen table trying to figure out what this place might look like and eventually he asked what they were doing when they were happiest, when they were thriving. They started talking about painting, writing, making films, building websites, sculpting, publishing zines, performing their poetry and spoken word, making comics : being creative. So they figured – lets start a place to do that.

So they did, and since then it has blossomed/exploded into a major and many tentacled thing. It really is a piece of work.

We run a 2500 sq/ft resource centre that has a ton of supplies, tools, materials, classes and workshops,  and its all free.  There’s a library, bike fixing shop, computer lab, silkscreening room, animation facility and lots else.  And maybe best of all, the whole thing is run by a youth collective that controls all the day-day operations and really runs the place.