Café Collab is a collaborative partnership with the Participatory Cultures Laboratory, situated within the Institute for Human Development and Well-Being (IHDW) at McGill's Faculty of Education; and McGill's Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE). After their first year in action, Café Collab held its culminative event in the SSMU Building. With forty staff, students and faculty in attendance, Café Collab took the opportunity to present some of the rich media pieces and conversations that emerged during workshops in the 2016/2017 academic year.
Project Leader Parker Finley saw a need in the McGill community to facilitate dialogue between historically under-serviced student groups and McGill's Student Services. The purpose of Café Collab is threefold: one, to provide a creative workshops space for student groups to gather and collectively identify their needs and concerns; two, to examine and communicate students' experiences through participatory media-making methods that convey their key messages (in this case: cellphilms, meme-making, collective storyboarding, and fairy tale writing); three, to host a public dinner two weeks following each workshop where students and staff from Student Services attend, cook together, and discuss the media pieces as a way to generate solution oriented actions.
Another strength of this project is its use of participatory media-making activities as a way to communicate the student groups' key messages to Student Services. These media pieces create the distance necessary for both parties to come together and have difficult conversations while listening intently to each party's views around the various topics addressed. This part of the project was initiated by Ashley DeMartini, a doctoral candidate of Dr. Claudia Mitchell, founder of the Participatory Cultures Laboratory and Director of the IHDW.
Next year, Café Collab will look to build on its current momentum. Café Collab is open to suggestions for workshop themes from the McGill community. Please send your suggestions to the CONTACT listed below. Visit the IHDW photo album on the Faculty of Education's facebook page to see more photos.