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.