Wednesday, November 4, 2009

DROP FEES for a Poverty-Free Ontario...

The Case for Accessible and Quality Education

-In Febuary 2007 there was a poll done that showed that 75% percent of Ontarians agree that tuition fees should be reduced

-Ontario undergraduate university tuition fees have increased 195% since 1990. Ontario tuition fees are now highest in Canada

-Depending on the program, tuition fees are set to increase anywhere from 20 to 36 percent over four years. The highest tuition fee hikes in Canada

-This is much faster than inflation, It would take 40 years for inflation to catch up to the average undergraduate tuition fee.

-Ontario is ranked last for per-student funding in Canada.

-We are charged high ancillary fees and we face growing class and tutorial sizes, this is also a symptom of underfunding

-There has been a steady decline of provincial and federal funding for post-secondary education over the last 20 years. This has resulted in the provincial government and individual university and college administrations replacing the lost funding with tuition fees and other user fees. In the early 1990s, user fees accounted for an average of 21 per cent of an institution’s operating budget. Today user fees cover almost 50 per cent of the institution’s budget.

-Ontario's policy of tuition fee increases is a political choice that the government has made, and it deviates from other provinces that have frozen and reduced tuition fees. In fact, some countries such as Ireland, Brazil, Sweden ,and many more, do not charge any tuition fees for education.

-the main barrier to education is still tuition fees despite OSAP. “Researchers at the University of Guelph found that 40% fewer students from low-income families were attending University after tuition fees rose.” –Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

-The average student graduates with a debt of $30 000 dollars after and undergrad degree

All this and still our education is compromised!! U of Guelph cut a bunch of programs just last year including WOMEN'S STUDIES and is planning on cutting ORGANIC AGRICULTURE. Everywhere we look, they are cutting can't be for lack of funds given our tuition hikes. STOP POCKETING OUR MONEY BITCHES!!

The Recession Question

-According to a Statistics Canada report released earlier today students aged 15-24 faced the second highest summer unemployment rate on record at 19.2%, furthering concerns that many students will not have enough money to make it through the year.

-Most economists project a continued rise in unemployment over the next year and next summer things could be worse

-$3.3 billion Cdn, was the bailout offered to the auto industry last year by the federal and provincial government in December of last year. A similar amount is what it would cost to eliminate tuition for 2009! Student debt is a total of $13 billion in Canada. Where’s our bailout?!

-70% of job postings require post-secondary education

This last point makes it obvious how tuition fees are contributing to the cycling and worsening of poverty. With the price of everything escalating, and more and more costs falling on bottom majority, how can one get a job if they can't afford to go to school? If a person has access and chooses to take out loans, they will face years of paying off a debt, continuing the cycle of financial stress.

This situation is worse for women, who make on average half of what men make. And if you are a non-white woman, the average is less (non-white men make on average more than white women, but less than white men). Taking that with the fact that unemployment is much higher for non-white people, we see the same cycles perpetuating themselves. These groups will likely take much longer to pay back their loans, if they are so fortunate to land a decent paying job. This results in more interest accumulation which means that they pay MORE than white males for the same education.

Food for thought. If you are interested for more check out the Canadian Federation of Students and participate in your local NOV 5 DAY OF ACTION festivities.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Post-AMC Reflection

Media is everything. It's music, performance, radio, internet, TV, Youtube, microphones, tape recorders, note pads, computers, networks, magazines, newspapers, word-of-mouth and of course, people. Most importantly, media is a social justice tool. This is the avenue used to organize, to spread the word in times of need, to hold perpetrators accountable and to garner support.

But for the media to work for us, we have to reclaim it from its current role as big-business-politico-advertising minion. They've monopolized the media!! aah!!

The Allied Media Conference (AMC) was 3 days of workshops based precisely on empowering the people to reclaim the media to further social justice and community growth. From building your own radio antenna to writing tips for journalism to using music in activism to communicating with prison inmates, tools and discussions abounded.

Don't you fret, CKC would not leave you hanging: watch out for upcoming workshops on stencil making, media reclamation and a CKC-Leftist Lounge collabo party hopefully with such revolutionary hiphop warriors Rebel Dias, Peak Soil, Climbing Poetree and more...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Critical Knowledge Collective is going to the Allied Media Conference!


The Allied Media Conference is a gathering of people to expand and promote open thought and dialogue. This conference brings individuals and organizations together on equal level to share creative ways to propagate ideas, values and messages into the world.

Running on its 11th year, the Allied Media Conference will be held July 16th through July 19th on the Wayne State University campus in Detroit, Michigan.

The conference consists of several workshops and activities that teach various subjects on building media, from giving insight, to lessons in policy, to topics in popular education. The methods make a collective all-encompassing learning experience that covers all mediums of information delivery.

The goal and purpose of the Allied Media Conference is to build savvy persons that have the tools and abilities to create powerful media. This gathering not only paves the way to create media, but to endow a sense of meaning and inspiration in people.

We (the Critical Knowledge Collective) are aiming to gain skills in building uncensored and provoking news that is free from corporate control.

We will learn, in a vast array of ways, methods for creating critical media.

Unlike mainstream media, we are not bound by the guidelines of popular culture and rather than mould the masses, we aim to exploit reality and demonstrate it to the world.

To get involved, learn more or just browse, go to

or contact us at

Friday, June 26, 2009


When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was "direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful." Boy, no pressure there. But let's begin with the startling part.

Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation... but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don't poison the water, soil, or air, and don't let the earth get overcrowded, and don't touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food, but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn't bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING.The earth couldn't afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint.

And here's the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done. When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse.

What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world." There could be no better description.

Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in school rooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums. You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen.

Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, business people, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers,weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, theCreator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, re-imagine, and reconsider.

"One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice," is Mary Oliver's description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots.

Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown - Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is calledthe world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals.

The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history. The living world is not "out there" somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy.

We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failedregulators on how to save failed assets.Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant.

We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can't printlife to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future,selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product.We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering.

Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a wayto be rich. The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono.We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours.

Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe - exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a "little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven."

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, ofcourse. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn't stay up all night.They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn't ask for a better boss.

The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life dependson it.

* * *Paul Hawken is a renowned entrepreneur, visionary environmental activist, and author of many books, most recently 'Blessed Unrest: Howthe Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming'. He was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters by University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., in May, when he delivered this superb speech.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Standing For the Majority

Who are we?

We are a small group of community members and University of Guelph students who are concerned with mainly bringing attention to and criticizing capitalism, consumerism, corporatization, and the mainstream media. We see these phenomena to be at the root of nearly all environmental destruction and systematic poverty. Above all, we seek to demonstrate the interconnectedness of all these things, and do our part to move these facts to the realm of ‘common knowledge’. In doing this we experiment with different forms of activism broadening the scope of people we reach and entice to act. We encourage, endorse and participate in many forms of engagement ranging from spoken word, music, dance, drawing, discussion, writing, tabling, and broadcasting.

What we do…
Correct misinformation spread by the mainstream media, while providing a more complete picture of world events

Promote critical thinking about issues of importance to the public good

Bring attention to the roots and many forms of systematic oppression

Promote discussion that identifies societal problems and works toward solutions.

Why do we do this?
To build fair, healthy, sustainable, communities

To engage people in the politics that shapes our lives and the lives of others

To create a culture that questions and analyzes the norms and the information they are presented on a daily basis.

How do we do this?
We organize! Relevant documentary screenings, host guest speakers and discussions, put on shows and collaborate often with other community and university groups such as Haiti Action Guelph, the CSA Human Rights Office, Guelph Queer Equality, Guelph Peace Alliance, Young Communist League and the CJ Munford Centre.