Pressing Issues

PRESSING ISSUES is a student-led course that is fully immersed in external projects and opportunities that are ongoing during the semester. The goal of Pressing Issues is to come together to conduct research, share knowledge, and work within the field of contemporary publication. There is one assignment: TO MAKE A PUBLIC.

In September 2017, a group of OCAD University students enrolled in  Pressing Issues took a weekend field trip to Port Hope, Ontario. Working under the collective name Toronto Timewarp Chronicle (TTC), we ran a pop up studio in which participants could contribute stories about Port Hope by writing on manual typewriters, talking with student facilitators, or drawing. The result is the newspaper, Report Hope, which you can view and read here:


We were invited to do this project by Critical Mass Centre for Contemporary Art during their mini MEGA Steamroller event during the Cultivate Festival. A list of prompt questions was generated in response to the conceptual parameters of the Canada 150 grant which supported mini MEGA. Questions ranged from introductory queries like “How long have you lived in Port Hope?” and “Tell us a Port Hope legend, folktale or myth” to more focused questions about agriculture and labour histories. Some of our questions such as “What happened to the water here?” and “What opportunities exist for artists here?” attempted to bring the responses into more political territory. Since this project is funded by a Canada 150 grant, we wanted to pay particular attention to our presence as uninvited settlers on the Williams Treaty Lands of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, Scugog Island First Nation and the Chippewas of Beausoleil First Nation, Georgina Island First Nation and the Rama First Nation ( Our questions about land stewardship and indigenous histories largely went unanswered.

Even though we did not get specific responses to all of our questions, participants were eager to engage with the project. The stories, art and ideas of dozens of people have been collected in the following pages. Throughout the chapters of this paper, we have included our original questions with the hope that they may spark ongoing discussion, community gatherings, and research within Port Hope.


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Shannon Gerard works across a variety of media. She writes and draws books, crochets soft sculptures, makes prints, and produces large-scale installations that incorporate stop-motion animation and wheatpaste. Employing play as a research strategy, her work with the Carl Wagan Bookmobile emphasizes the materials and ethos of independent publishing as social-political engagements. Shannon is an Assistant Professor in Publications and Print Media at OCAD University.

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