Committed to social change and a better world?
Interested in connecting with like-minded people in a deeper way?
Need a pause from the daily grind to reflect and regroup?
Come to the GTA/Toronto Jam! Apply on-line today!
What’s the Toronto Jam?
Think of when musicians get together to jam. They meet, experiment and play off of one another, and create beautiful new music. Now imagine instead of music, it was stories, experiences, projects and ideas being shared. Jams are open-ended and unscripted gatherings of about 30 diverse and multigenerational changemakers who spend a week reflecting, sharing, building community, and creating new possibilities.
Why should I not miss this?
On a daily basis, many of us do too much and pause too little. Rarely do we get to step back and really check in with ourselves and with each other.
The Jam is an opportunity to have those authentic conversations we may not usually get to have: about the dreams that drive the work we do, the struggles that we move through, and the magic that keeps us going.
Is the Jam for you?
Do you have a relationship to social change (as an activist, artist, healer, parent, entrepreneur, community worker, or any other way)… Do you want to consciously evolve your work and your role? Then, Yes!
Do you have a relationship to community… Do you want to cultivate honesty, authenticity, vulnerability, openness to solving conflicts, and non-violence… Do you want to dream bigger or connect more across issues and communities? Then, Yes!
Do you have a relationship to yourself? Do you want to develop a kinder, truer, more holistic connection to yourself? Then, Yes!
What happens at a Jam?
Take what you think you know about conferences, retreats, and symposiums and throw it out the window. Each Jam is unique, but you can expect a blend of facilitated dialogue, reflection, play and movement, artistic expression, deep inquiry, games, music, and meaning-making.
As participant-facilitators (or facilitants!), we don’t arrive with any specific content, and in that sense, jams are truly unscripted. We do arrive with a process that we invite participants into, one that we adapt and change as the needs and desires of the group emerge. We don’t start off with an agenda of activities; rather we start off with a super draft tentative flow that emerges out of participant applications and learnings from past Jams.
The belief behind Jam processes is that amazing co-creating, meaningful learning, and fantastic jamming will occur when each participant is supported in sharing as much of their story, their experience, and their truth as possible.
We believe there is the potential for greater connection and creativity when people’s truths and experiences bump up against each other–and when we can embrace this bumpiness as an example of our diversity. By slowing down, by deeply listening, we can create a new understanding of ourselves, our relationships with others, and even of the bigger forces in the world. And then we get to bring that home.
That’s why we also say that a Jam works on three different levels of change: the internal, the interpersonal, and at the systems level.
On an internal level, we give ourselves space to reflect on our personal stories, to learn and unlearn, to take off our masks, to seek our next growing edge, to recharge, and to renew.
On an interpersonal level, we come together to discover common ground and celebrate differences. We take time for conversations that allow us to bridge our divides (race, class, gender, etc.), and take an honest, courageous, and loving look at our connections and disconnections with one another.
On a systems level, we link issues that aren’t commonly linked to find new intersection points and gain a clearer vision of the whole. We examine our work and role within the bigger picture, and deepen our capacity to affect meaningful change upon leaving the Jam.
Who comes to Jam?
Jams are for everyone. The beauty of the jam lies in the mix of people who show up.
We look for a vibrant diversity in…
… experience (from 'just starting out' to 'been at it for years')
… roles (from 'person on the ground' to 'director and founder'; from 'entrepreneur' to 'non-profit' to 'healer' to 'philanthropist' to 'parent' to 'organizer' to 'urban farmer' – to so much more)
… passions and focus (education, immigration, technology, food security, health, arts, labour, green architecture, indigenous issues, community media, trauma recovery, globalization, etc. etc.)
… identities and worldviews (e.g. class, race, religion, sexuality, gender, age, dis/ability, ethnicity, etc.)
You can read more about past Jams and other Jams worldwide here: http://www.yesworld.org/connect/jams/
Who’s behind the Toronto Jam 2016?
The Toronto Jam is organized and facilitated by a team including YES! staffer Shilpa Jain and the following Toronto community change-makers (all YES! Jam Alumni):
brigid tierney is a fiery montrealer turned west coast dreamer turned toronto transplant.. She came to the Jam through her creative facilitation community and found a profound connection and hard to name feeling in the air that has grown louder and more beautiful ever since. She has a masters in cultural studies and communication, likes to fight the good fight and works on the daily at the intersection of film, community and youth engagement.
Karen B. K. Chan
Karen B. K. Chan is a sex and emotional literacy educator in Toronto. She is dedicated to having conversations about sexuality and feelings that are real, transformative, and kind. In the last few years, she shifted personal priorities from being good to being warm, from being right to being more forgiving, and the Jam has been a big part of all that. BK works full-time at Toronto Public Health, half-time in her private practice, and all the time on not taking herself too seriously.
Adeline Cohen B
Adeline has studied and been fascinated by the intersection of food, culture and sustainability for the past 15 years. Her plate growing up was filled with a mix of Austrian, Tunisian and French cuisine. Her curiosity has grown ever since. She aspires to co-create sustainable change within the food system and found in the Jam as safe place to start being courageous, take risks and let herself be seen. She now tries to bring her learning to the real world… and to be forgiving. She is an avid cook, a gardener, a mind explorer and a fellow artist at odd hours.
After 10 years of designing and leading artful leadership programs within the not-for-profit sector, Rehana became disenchanted with the conventional ways of work in organizations that left her feeling disengaged and creatively stifled. She kept sensing the need for organizations and people who work within them, to be more engaged and to live in greater alignment with their values and purpose. Rehana co-founded bloom consulting as a container to design and facilitate participatory leadership processes in organizations, to rejuvenate creativity in individuals, teams and communities and to host conversations that matter. She works with people in a way that invites them to be authentic, explore their creativity and build trusting relationships. She is a passionate mother, dancer and theatre artist, and loves being in nature.
Shilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India, where she served as coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network. All of her work seeks to uncover ways for people to free themselves from dominating, soul-crushing institutions and to live in greater alignment with their hearts and deepest values, their local communities, and with nature.
By day, Jeff Carolin is a criminal defence and tenant lawyer in Toronto, Canada. By night (weekend, “vacation”, etc.) he explores his fascination with the intersection of group process/facilitation and movement/community building. He’s also currently fascinated by the way that his brand new daughter is teaching him a whole new understanding of the concept of vulnerability.
Arabi a daughter of the Tamil diaspora, was born on Dish with One Spoon Treaty Territory aka Toronto and has ancestry rooted in Sri Lanka. She is a passionate youth culture worker who aims to create dialogues among and within young people from various backgrounds and experiences. Raised in Toronto’s west-end neighbourhood of Rexdale with many years of experience as a facilitator, mentor and youth leader to her peers and community, Arabi has collaborated with many organizations across Turtle Island and beyond. Arabi is passionate about photography, yogic medicine, traditional knowledge and yummy food. She is also a student at York University pursuing Indigenous Studies with a focus on Human Rights and Equity. Her belief in solidarity and her feelings of compassion continue to motivate her in her journey.
Location, Travel and Costs of Attending
The 3rd Toronto/GTA Jam will take place at Mansfield Outdoor Centre, in Mansfield, Ontario. Participants will be sharing rooms in doubles and triples and delight in delicious and nutritious, primarily vegetarian, food for the Jam.
Travel costs are the responsibility of the participants, though we will help in arranging carpools from around the city, to the best of our ability.
The tuition for the program is $650 which breaks down into $375 for lodging and food and $275 for program (materials, childcare, stipends for organizers and facilitators).
We never want money to be a barrier in participating in a Jam, so we will do everything we can to make it work for you to attend. Some partial scholarships and work trades are available. We can also create a monthly payment plan that works for you. Additional donations above the event price are welcome and help us provide scholarships to support the broad spectrum of participation on which this event thrives (they are also tax-deductible).
We look forward to welcoming you to the JAM. If you have any questions, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can apply on-line.
Apply today! We look forward to Jamming with you.
By the way, how did these Jams start?
YES! is celebrating its 25th year of service this year. The first Jam was co-created in 1999, bringing together 30 people from 20 countries. It came out of YES!'s work on youth leadership for nearly a decade, a growing understanding of 'yes-and' improv, Open Space Technology, and the power of co-learning. After several more World Youth Leadership Jams, facilitators began to organize local and regional Jams in their countries. Now teams of Jam alumni and like-hearted partners organize place-based and thematic Jams all over the world. In the past three years, Jams have taken place in India, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Morocco, Nova Scotia, Toronto, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Alabama, Vermont, New Mexico, etc. and on themes such as Evolving + Emerging Economies, Arts for Social Change, Healing Our Movement Ecosystem, Law and Social Change, and Transforming Education, and with specific communities like the LGBTQ*/Queer Jam.
YES! is based in California, USA, and each Jam is co-organized by a diverse team of partners, specific to that location or theme. The Toronto Jam grew out a short program in 2012 first organized with YES! by Rehana Tejpar and Lisa Thacker, which then led to a longer Jam in 2013 co-organized by Rehana, Lisa, Brigid Tierney and Nisha Ahuja. The 2014 Jam was co-organized by a collaboration of alumni from the 2013 Toronto Jam, and 2016 is a collaboration of alumni from 2014.
Read more about YES!'s mission, values and approach: http://www.yesworld.org/who-we-are/values/