Common Notions: Handbook Not Required
Directed by Carla Berman and Corine Browne (2016)
This documentary concerns a “youth liberation” space called The Purple Thistle a group of Vancouver BC young people ran between 2001-2015. This project was started by eight teenagers as an alternative to school. They involved a series of adult volunteers to sign the building lease, apply for grants and help them find mentors for their various projects.
The film features commentary by several activists and educational specialists who explain the phenomenal success of The Purple Thistle. They feel it’s a big mistake to exclude young people from the community by confining them to a classroom. At all levels, we need to focus more on teaching people to work collectively.
The only rules at The Purple Thistle were no alcohol, no drugs, no assholes (ie no racism, sexism or homophobia and clean up after yourself) and no sleeping (naps were okay). Kids at The Purple Thistle governed themselves via anarchist-based principles of consensus decision making and mutual aid.*
Most of the film focuses on on various creative projects Purple Thistle teenagers undertook.
The project was forced to close in 2015 due to funding cuts. (See letter to the community)
*The principle of mutual aid creates a safe space for people to ask for and offer help. It also promotes economic solidarity whereby no member of the community is allowed to go without.