Socially Engaged Art

Venture Commons

Added on by Zachary Gough.

How can we build an alternative economy from the grassroots up? How can our dreams of collective power and mutual aid flourish into the reality of new cooperatives and shared initiatives?  How can the spirit of the commons, shared resources that we care for and that nourish us all, live in the present day? How can we develop ecologically sustainable, community-driven, democratically governed and restorative and resilient initiatives that empower us and can stand the test of time?

  • Create your own collective initiative, commons or cooperative enterprise

  • Learn about the construction of a real sharing economy

  • Stay connected with a learning community of like-minded anti-capitalist doers

  • Join a reading group on these issues

  • Attend monthly workshops from guest experts!

From community gardens to free schools to workers’ and housing cooperatives to start-ups to informal support networks, we are seeing a turn away from an economy of competition and towards an economy of relationships. Refusing the idea that anything that is valuable can and should be measured by money, people around the world are assembling to build a better future now.

This 12 week course gathers a group of committed learners to tackle these questions, grow our skills to manage cooperatives and to spark pilot projects that enliven our community with the ethics and values of the commons. During our weekly meetings we’ll discuss assigned readings that focus on ideas and examples for building a new world of cooperatives and commons in the ruins of an environmentally destructive capitalist empire. Additionally, we’ll convene monthly for one-day masterclasses presented by guest experts. Enrolled co-learners also commit to developing a research/action project to be presented to the group near the end of the course. 

Venture Commons* is imagined as the first stage in the development of a radically different form of community-centred “entrepreneurship.” Where the forces of profit and power have their MBA (Masters of Business Administration) degree, we want to craft a form of collective educational care that graduates passionate and courageous people ready to help build a cooperative, common future for all. 

While there is a nominal administrative fee associated with this course, no interested participant will be turned away for lack of funds. The initiative is based on the principles of critical pedagogy and community-empowering learners: the facilitator is not a teacher but rather tasked with helping the co-learners reach their individual and collective goals.

*We’re adapting the term “Venture Commons” from Dmytri Kleiner, who came up with the term “venture Communism”.



Economics of Mentorship

Added on by Zachary Gough.
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Workshop description:

In this workshop, we will use our time together to unpack some of the non-monetary exchanges, trades, barters, and swaps between mentee and mentor. I will briefly share some of my thinking about economics, relationships and art in reference to my work, and facilitate an opportunity for participants to do the same. Then, drawing from, and looking at our past and present experiences with mentorship, we will learn some things from each other that will allow us to better sheppard good, successful, equitable mentorships for our personal and collective benefit. Our brainstorming and discussion will serve as the research for the group show exhibition that we will create by the time the workshop is over.

How to Give a Workshop (a Workshop)

Added on by Zachary Gough.

November 9th, 2015

 Sid holds the document of the conversation his break-out group had during the workshop. 

Sid holds the document of the conversation his break-out group had during the workshop. 

After the Tatamagouche Free School (2015) on Waldegrave Farm, some of us thought that we could use a workshop on how to give a workshop. If our workshop-giving skills were more effective, we’d be more effective at sharing our numerous talents, interests and skills in ways that don’t replicate power relations too-often present in our normal learning environments. Moreover, if more of us felt qualified to lead workshops for our neighbours, we might continue to grow a culture of sharing through the tradeschool platform. In this workshop we’ll talk about what makes a good workshop, and what makes a bad workshop, and we’ll brainstorm ideas for new workshops and structures for what those workshops might look like. Bring your memories from past workshops and ideas for future workshops.

A big part of the message of the workshop, and the form that the workshop took to reflect that message, was to train ourselves to design our workshops in such a way that they draw out the expertise of the participants in the room. Rather than being the sole authority on a particular subject, the workshop facilitator provides opportunities for students to share their knowledge and experiences. The teacher then, becomes the steward of a learning environment, that respects and values each person present. Moreover, it allows students to build on their own understanding of the topic, starting with what they already know.

To avoid falling down a meta wormhole, I employed a ‘timeout’ strategy, where we’d do a component of the workshop, as listed on the workshop plan, then, after it was over, I rang a bell to signify a moment where the group could reflect on what we did, why we did it and how it went. After the reflective conversation, I rang the bell and - game on - on to the next activity. I posted the plan for the day on a big sheet of paper in a visible place, so that participants could see our progression through the workshop.

During the workshop we recorded our thoughts on large sheets of paper, which I turned into a zine. 

This Workshop was co-presented by the Radical Imagination Project and Trade School Halifax

J.L. Ilsley High School Artist-in-Residence

Added on by Zachary Gough.

For the 2015-2016 school year, I am the Artist in Residence at J.L. Isley High School in Spryfield, Nova Scotia. Facilitated through Arts Express and funded by the United Way Social Capital, my work will be grounded in the unnamed community arts space at the school. I'll be working with students, staff and the community more broadly. Go Judges! 

ART 131 Intro to Drawing

Added on by Zachary Gough.

Auto Pilot Drawing Machine assignment given to my Intro to Drawing students in ART 131 at Portland State University, College of the Arts, School of Art and Design. 

From the Syllabus: An introduction to observational, expressive, and formal modes of drawing. Critical approaches drawn from art history, aesthetics, and art criticism are examined relative to these modes of drawing to establish methods of evaluating art and placing one’s own work and that of others in an historical context. Emphasis is on strategies, methods, and techniques for translating three-dimensional form and space onto a two-dimensional surface using the language of line and value, and the illusion of depth and texture. Mark making and its expressive and descriptive qualities are examined. 

Drawing is arguably the most spontaneous and immediate form of visual expression. Intimate or distanced, expressive or technical, drawing is a vast visual language that opens easily to the creative process. This directness is conducive to connecting the hand, head and heart. This course is an introduction to the materials, techniques and thought processes of drawing. Through primarily dry, black and white media, this course is structured around a series of assignments that will give students first hand experience in a wide variety of approaches. We will explore formal visual elements such as line, value, texture, light, shape, space, perspective, and composition as well as introduce some conceptual approaches to drawing. We will draw. No experience necessary. 


Citizen Journalism

Added on by Zachary Gough.

What stories do we think are newsworthy? How can media production reflect our civic responsibilities to political, economic, social and environmental engagement? How can we position news media as a collective action, and embed the actions of our neighbours and ourselves into the media landscape? In this course, we will collaboratively produce an issues-focused radio talk show with KPSU, and in doing so, explore some of the qualities of radio, uncover the basics of reporting, immerse ourselves in Portland’s issues, and develop the technical skills necessary to create a radio show. Each of us will become a correspondent to a particular body of issues for the show and make news stories about that issue. 


Citizen Journalists are :
asey Colton, Kara Erny, Joel Cano, Zachary Gough, Simogne Hudson, Scott Poole, Danny Shapiro

Thanks to:
Pete Banjo, Rozzell Medina, Amanda Hudson, Mike Murawski, Kristian Foden-Vencil