On Friday April 27 at 8:00 am the TSES crept onto the Ryerson campus and paid for three hours of parking. During the day different TSES volunteers stopped by and casually dropped money in the meter, hoping not to call too much attention to the giant van that had been illegally parked all day. Somehow we managed to avoid the angry arms of parking enforcement and contently opened up at 5:00 pm.
The evening began slowly. The wind was chilly and the campus was busy. Bundled masses moved quickly through the streets, many carrying a suspiciously large amount of boxes. As luck would have it, it was residence move out day! The day when the seeming freedom that one year of living outside of the family home has provided to university freshman comes to a mutually exciting and depressing close. From time to time a busy family was lured into the van for a moment or two. Usually parents asked questions while their offspring rolled their eyes ate cookies and awkwardly looked at something. Others acted the part of their new adult selves, informing their parents that “this kind of thing” happens all the time at university. It did however seem that parents and young adults alike were in complete agreement about the uncertainty of the future. They asked us at the TSES what the best thing we could hope for was, how we thought Canada would deal with the challenges to come, and how we would suggest the country create a sustainable economy. Wildly unprepared to lead the country, we answered with the honest truth that it seems right now, Canada’s future is up in the air.
After some much needed beverages and rest we rolled the van quietly into Kensington Market the following morning. The delivery trucks grudging made room for us and didn’t even complain when we spent the day taking up a valuable parking spot. At 6:00 we nervously edged the doors open into the narrow and busy street. Directly across from the van the rest of the participants in the Crossections exhibition were putting the finishing touches on their installations in Double Double Land.
As usual, we had incorrectly anticipated the crowd. Kensington Market in Toronto is a rather notorious hot spot for hippies, punks and youth- the TSES’s most consistent audience. We had imagined that after we made it clear that people could come and hang out in the van that we would be overrun with new companions and conversations. In reality, people continued along on their routes, apparently uninterested in a camper van full of music and free food. The crowd creep was slow, but then as the dusk became evening and music became louder a steady stream of people came not just to look around but rather to sit down and engage in long conversations. The visitors were not just from the nearby drum circle but rather all different walks of life. Researchers, teachers, musicians, bankers and artists all sat in the van. People came and life but the dialogues passed from one group to another. We debated the role of education and the environment, the international visibility of Canadian issues and or course oil. We also talked about our families, pregnancy, day jobs, and our friends. To try and summarize these conversations would be foolish. The fluidity of our dialogue, from the personal to the political, epitomizes the core ambition of the TSES. These issues are not just abstract ethical questions but rather tangible, tactile things that interweave into our lives in ways we cannot anticipate.