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A documentary exploring common notions of youth liberation & grassroots social movements, through the story of the The Purple Thistle
A documentary exploring common notions of youth liberation & grassroots social movements, through the story of the The Purple Thistle
155 backers pledged CA$ 9,386 to help bring this project to life.

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CA$ 9,386

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Click on the external Trailer <-- for closed captioning. Thanks!

We have been working on this story for 3 years now and we are almost done!

Please help us get this important film finished! Your contribution will help fund our documentary, Common Notions: Handbook Not Required --The Story of the Purple Thistle.

Any little bit will help, and we appreciate anything you can give, thank you!

who we are
We are the filmmakers*, carla bergman and Corin Browne. carla is the director of the Purple Thistle, a writer, parent, and activist. Corin is a community engaged artist, parent and filmmaker and has been a film mentor at the Thistle for several years. This documentary is about the common notions of youth liberation and grassroots social movements. We tell the story of the The Purple Thistle Centre -- a groundbreaking youth-run arts and activist community centre in Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver, BC, Canada). 

behind the scenes
behind the scenes

Purpose of 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 Suri 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 community space, 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. And ultimately we hope to create a narrative that defines and explores a set of common notions that we can build a social movement upon. Common Notions are a set of relational norms that come out of the community, out of relationships. As opposed to an ideology or ethical blueprint, common notions are: trust, friendship, radical generosity, mutual aid, self-determination and collectivism as the path to youth liberation.

Our post-production period will also include a handful of important youth interviews and the final edit script. As well, to ensure we work in the spirit of the Thistle, we have engaged a group of young folks who were interested in learning about documentary filmmaking as “pod producers”. These youth will be mentored by seasoned professionals on both camera and editing in the making of the film.

Below is exactly what you will be funding

  • post production costs
  • 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.

how we will distribute our work

  • A Thistle celebration and screening
  • Creation of a website and social media campaign (facebook, twitter, etc)
  • Guerrilla screenings in East Van and Local Indy Theatres: Rio, Pacific Cinematheque.
  •  Alternative education conferences
  •  Social change/radical conferences
  • Look for local screening venues at festivals
  • Community access cable
  • Sell copies of DVD, or digital downloads, at conferences, on web page, and at the Thistle.

here are some further links about the Purple Thistle (and rewards!)

Stay Solid: A Radical Handbook for Youth

Sylvia's photos!

Thank you so much for your support! We are very excited to share this story with all of you!

shots from interviews!
shots from interviews!

*over the next little while we will list all the folks who have helped with this project. but, for now just know that many community friends, of all ages, helped out along the way: from filming, to talking about the issues with us, to asking the awesome questions, and of course, for generously allowing us to film (especially the Thistle collective) -- we are grateful for them all!

A big shout out to the Paul and Bay Foundation, especially Fred Bay,  for their generous support

AND! thanks to Moby for the use of his music!

Risks and challenges

as always, finishing up any project can be immensely difficult, but we have a terrific team of supporters and colleagues, namely our brilliant editor, John Collins, to help us see it through. We are deeply committed to finishing this film with all of your support, plus both of us have many finished projects under our belts and we will do this no matter what!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 5 or more About $5

    hey thanks! we will send you a rad patch or a button from the Purple Thistle.

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    Pledge CA$ 25 or more About $23

    Hey, you rock! thanks! we will send you a digital download of the finished film and a rad button or patch from the Purple Thistle.

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    Pledge CA$ 60 or more About $56

    you're so amazing! thank you! for this we will send you digital download of the finished film and a copy of the Stay Solid Handbook for Youth, book AND a rad button or patch from the Purple Thistle

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    Pledge CA$ 100 or more About $93

    HOLY MOLY! THANK YOU!! we love you! for this amazing support we will extend an invite to a screening that is closest to you and we'll send you a digital download of the finished film PLUS we will give you a thank you in credits.

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    Pledge CA$ 500 or more About $466

    YOU ARE SERIOUSLY A SUPER STAR! we will extend an invite to a screening that is closest to you and we'll send you a digital download of the finished film PLUS we will give you a thank you in credits. AND, because you're a super star, we gift you a rocking photo-shoot at the Purple Thistle with the amazing photographer and pod producer, Sylvia McFadden!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 1,000 or more About $932

    WE CAN'T EVEN BELIEVE HOW AWESOME YOU ARE -- THANK YOU!!
    so here's what we will give to you:
    1. We will extend an invite to a screening that is closest to you!
    2. We'll send you a digital download of the finished film
    3. We will give you a thank you in credits.
    4. We will gift you a rocking photo-shoot at the Purple Thistle with the amazing photographer and pod producer, Sylvia McFadden 5.Selection of books by The Thistle, Matt Hern, Gustavo Esteva, and Astra Taylor, selection of RAIN zine.
    6. AND a personal workshop at the Thistle run by one of the Thistle collective members or mentors (screenprinting, darkroom photography, film editing, painting or drawing)

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Funding period

- (30 days)