Collective Blog

new book!


Hey folks!

We’re super excited to tell you about a project we’ve been cooking up!

Here’s some background: We published Stay Solid! back in April 2013, and in the winter of 2014 a couple of us from the editing crew held a youth reading group about the book. Pretty much the first thing we noticed during the discussions was that a huuuuge part of our daily lives was completely missed: we didn’t do a chapter on Food!SSRG4

Food ties into every aspect of our lives. We’re kinda glad we missed it, because now we — some of the reading group crew — get to go into more depth about it and put a book together on the topic!



Here is an early table of contents so you can see what we are thinking. We have brainstormed tons more, but this is to just give you a taste of what we are up to!

  • Animal Rights and Food
  • Food Solidarity
  • Land and Food
  • Body Politics and Food
  • Class and Food
  • Youth Oppression/Liberation and Food
  • Care and Food
  • Food as Medicine/Illnesses and Food
  • Access to Food

We will be doing a call-out soon for contributors to this book — especially to youth.

stay tuned!
~ sylvia and carla and some other cool kidz


Common Notions: Handbook Not Required –The Story of the Purple Thistle.


Common Notions: Handbook Not Required –The Story of the Purple Thistle.

common-notionsA new documentary is being made by radical educator carla bergman and community engaged filmmaker Corin Browne! The film will be exploring common notions of youth liberation, education & grassroots social movements, through the story of the The Purple Thistle Centre!

More about the Film

The Purple Thistle has become a project that inspires folks from all over the world to try and create similar projects with youth in their communities. The Thistle is very unique and truly run by the people who use it, so as community engaged artists we draw from almost 20 interviews with youth, Thistle alumni, adult directors and radical education theorists. The film weaves together interviews with theorists Matt Hern,  Astra Taylor ,Gustavo Esteva, Khelsilem Rivers, carla bergman and Madhu Prakash and with Thistle founders, and as well as current collective members, Genevieve Robertson, Sylvia Mcfadden, Keith Lennig, Maya Motoi, aly dela Cruz, Savanna Todd and Sadie Couture.  The film will include visuals of Thistle events like collective meetings, art openings and an educational trip to Mexico, to craft a lively and critical narrative.

The documentary explores themes of the disappearance of communityspace, social isolation and hyper individualism that results in the exclusion of youth from the world. Our interview subjects point to the crucial role that counter-institutions play in addressing these problems. We’ll explore why is it important to have spaces to practice the world we want to create and the need for free spaces (free to use the space, free to be yourself). To do this, we’ll look closely at the elements that make the Thistle work such as the ideas of meeting youth where they are at; trust; the process of Deschooling, or learning how to learn outside of institutions; collective and horizontal organizing; and the nuts and bolts of running a collective – the “rules” of the “de-institution”.

Through telling the story of the Thistle we begin to explore larger ideas of capitalism, education, radical generosity and the gift economy.

two things we are fundraising for are:


  • mentoring youth pod projects. when we set out to the film we wanted to ensure youth were telling the story with us so we included a space for shorter “pod” films to be made! we have an animation made by Thistle youth on Horizontality and how it applies to the Thistle and a Youth will be making one on Deschooling.
  • accessibility: we will strive to make our film accessible for many different learners! For example, we will include closed caption and audio described video.

**To see the trailer and to help out with the fundraising campaign visit here: **


BioRemediation Workshop TOMORROW!!

This Sunday, June 29th from 12-3pm Emeraude Bonard will be running a workshop as a follow-up to Leila Darwish’s bioremediation workshop, in hopes of reconnecting with the community around polluted sites. Yay community action!

This workshop will go over the life of the Parker Gardens & together we will decipher how air pollution affects community gardens. There will be a powerpoint presentation inside, followed by a garden and community walk. Please dress to be outside! There will be snacks and hot tea provided.

Come one, come all this Sunday to step into a hands-on introductory course to bioremediation & take community action.



friends! The Purple Thistle Centre will be holding down the “Thistle Street” at Car Free Day Commercial Drive this sunday! june 15, 12-5 pm
                  we are on Napier Street at commercial.

dWe’ll have free food, mint and lemon water, a couch and other seats, and lots of art supplies! we will have Stay Solid books for sale too!
from 1-4 pm Suzan will be on site to offer three one-hour bookbinding workshops (free): Pamphlet stitch is a simple binding that is easy to learn (see photo below). it’s great for zines.
Come visit the .Guerrilla Gardeners of the Purple Thistle. too and see what they are up to this summer and how you can get involved.


But, mostly just come say hey. (and get a rad button!)

*most every thing is free-of-charge!
*in one area of the Thistle Street, some of the rad and incredible artists from the thistle will be selling their activist beautiful art!



The “Streets of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh” shirts by Khelsilem Rivers!


a note by Khelsilem:


The “Streets of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh” shirts are ready!

The Streets of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Series is a look at the original places and their names in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh homelands. You might know of places like Deman, Granville, Davie, Commercial Drive, Hastings.
But do you know where Xwmélts’tn or Átsnach is?

Place is a hallmark of identity. In order for Vancouver to exist, it involved an erasue of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh place, and thus identity.

Reclaim. Rename. Reoccupy.

$30 T-Shirts in men’s and women’s sizes. All proceed goes towards the Skwomesh Language Academy and the upcoming language immersion house starting in September.


you can contact Khelsilem Rivers or purchase them here from the Thistle paypal!

<—(it’s on the left there, it says donate, but don’t worry just say you want to buy a shirt and perhaps email Khelsilem too)!


the Thistle is thrilled to support Khelsilem by printing the shirts!

*special thanks to aly and sam


Thistle Library Update!


The Purple Thistle’s book and zine library had been culled, reorganized, and restocked with new radical books. We received generous donations from a bunch of rad presses including South End Press, PM Press, City Lights Books, Minor Compostions, Semiotext(e), Arsenal Pulp, RE/Search Publications, Fernwood Publishing, Microcosm, and more! We have also received some wonderful donations from collections of individuals in Vancouver. We are really excited about some of the new titles and old gems we have dug up. Materials can be signed out using our very straightforward sign-out system. Look for the clipboard in the library if you want to borrow anything.

IMG_9893Contact us if you are interested in donating books we are looking for books, zines, and comix about deschooling/unschooling, anarchism, DIY culture, decolonization/indigenous struggle, youth liberation, radical ecology, anti-racism, gender justice, weird fringe culture, and more! In particular we would like to grow our collection of rad kids and young adult books. In the cull we have pulled out a bunch of books for giveaway. If you want some free books they are located in the entryway to the Thistle.

IMG_9889The Thistle Library Crew is meeting every Monday at 5:30 pm if you want to stop by and get involved!

trust each other so we can be fearless — by carla bergman


Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple — or more difficult. Difficult, because to trust children we must trust ourselves — and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted. – John Holt

I trust kids. I am not being trivial here; it’s true. I trust how much they unabashedly trust, especially the adults in their lives.  And we (us adults) gotta step up to that trust from kids around us and not only give trust back, but keep their trust in us by not fucking with it! The innate trust from kids gradually gets sucked out of them in all corners of society, including home. Why? Because of the largely accepted notion that kids are not to be trusted. I think this is one of the most damaging and brutal forms of discrimination against kids/youth.

But how do we trust each other, up front and in real concrete ways?  Like Holt says, it’s both simple and difficult. In a practical sense, and how this works in my day-to-day life is I believe that if you give over trust to someone in a social setting like the Purple Thistle, then most people will rise to the occasion and do well by each other and themselves. Think about yourself for a second: what does it feel like when someone thinks super well of you, and trusts you to do your best and all of that happens up front, without you having to “earn it” or “prove it”?  It can feel strange and scary for sure, but it can and does feel incredibly freeing, and make you feel capable, too.

Giving folks, and especially young folks that trust up front is a terrific and important place to start. In fact, I think it’s the most important foundation for a strong and caring community. I am not talking about the kind of trust you would build over time in your long-term core relationships, but something more in line with care and respect, like friendship. I think without a starting place of trust, our foundations are weak, and then all kinds of problems can grow from that lack of trust in each other.  In contrast, when I’m trusted, I do better: I’m going to step up and do well by that trust.  So, I think starting with something simple like: “I trust that the folks who I am working with will do their best” is a terrific place to begin to rethink our practices and the ways we treat each other.

 But what does that look like? It happens in all kinds of subtle ways, and it’s relational.  A concrete example that separates the Thistle from many other youth projects is that each youth on the collective has keys to the space and are free to use them anytime. The youth don’t have to go through some big formal interview process, or sign over their life to have a set.  A lot of bureaucratic procedures like this are really based in distrust, I think. We just ask that if you’re new to the space, to just hang out a bit and get to know us first — and sometimes, you get the keys on your first night there. This little practice—along with others based on trusting people up front—help create wonderful environment of shared trust and kindness, a space filled with friendship where people are supporting each other.

At the Thistle, what I have noticed is that this kind of trust gives us an ability to be brave, to try new things, to take a chance and to be vulnerable.  This kind of trust in each other doesn’t mean we don’t mess up, no, in fact, it actually means we fail sometimes, but that failing happens with a lot of support and care!  With a foundation of trust, we are free to learn, to grow and to do the best we can.  And at the Thistle, that sometimes means causing some good, decent trouble.

with friendship! carla




Seed Bombs and Bike Tours!

Want to learn how to make seed bombs?

The Guerrilla Gardeners of the Purple Thistle welcome you to join us on

Wednesday May 7th, 1pm-4pm,

for a workshop on making seed bombs with native pollinator and food plants. One of our rad gardeners, Ben, will be showing us how to use clay to bind seeds together to make little packages of goodness to throw on open soil. When the rain comes, the seeds sprout and BAM! mini garden.

We’ll be inside the Thistle, so ring the doorbell and come on up!

Sunday May 11th, 11am-2pm,

We will be taking a bike tour around east van to throw our seed bombs. Ben and John will be showing us what spaces make good mini garden locations.

We hope to see you there!!

Seed Bomb Workshop 2014

Featured Thistle Artist: Opening and Coffee House! Saturday, March 29th, 7 pm- 9 pm


Savanna Todd is our first Featured Artists and we are thrilled to show you all her work.


Teen Daydream: works from the sketchbooks and bedroom of Savanna Todd

The opening and coffee house will be Saturday, March 29th, 7 pm- 9 pm

  • everyone welcome and it’s free!
  • there will be snax, good music, inspiring art, and rad folks — oh, and some special signature gluten free cup cakes!

about the show, by Savanna:

“This collection of line drawings, paintings and textile pieces include parts of a body of work that I’ve been working on over the past two years. The installation piece was made specifically for this show.

I am super grateful to be part of the Thistle and to be able to hone my skills there, to meet rad folks, learn from each other and do this show! Thanks to Kristin, the Thistle collective, my family and friends for supporting me to do this fucking rad and complicated work!

I really loved choosing the layout of the exhibition in conjunction with the message I am hoping to convey. Art is weird. I hope you enjoy this show, feel a bit challenged by it and leave with some questions!”

– savanna

savanna poster