This week UforU ran its first field trip – up to Dr. Jed Meltzer’s ‘brain lab’, or the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Centre. What happens when we leave our geographic, intellectual, or culinary comfort zones? And, how does the seemingly every day act of eating lunch contribute to choice?
Story written by Ryan Collins-Swartz
It was just after one in the afternoon on a Tuesday and our group had just walked out of Baycrest, after a visit to the Rotman Brain lab with Jed Meltzer. Being on Bathurst street during lunchtime, it seemed like the most sensible thing to do would be to go for bagels.
One of the questions UforU is testing is how new knowledge and relationships can lead to changes in aspiration and action. I was curious how today’s field trip well north of Bloor, outside everyone’s geographic comfort zones, might change our attitudes and feelings. Much like how travelling can make you more open to new ideas, meeting new people, and getting lost. We were exploring these questions with a streetcar, a bus, and a brainlab in our city.
We walked in the sun and stopped outside What A Bagel. Craig lit a smoke and gestured for us to go in without him. We told him we were happy to wait and he insisted we go ahead.
“What can we order for you?” I asked.
“I’m easy. Whatever. Something vegan.”
Both myself and Margaret interjected with some surprise, “Craig, I didn’t know you were vegan. How long have you been a vegan for?”
“Well. Off and on. I’m not fully vegan, but if I can chose what I eat, then I am vegan.”
As we ate our bagels, I thought about my own privilege in being able to largely control what I eat. I thought back to going to the What A Bagel at lunch in the 7th grade armed with the $5 bill that my dad slid under my door before he left for work in the morning. It seemed so obvious. Of course not everyone that wants to eat vegan can eat vegan.
After stepping off the streetcar back at the Meeting Place, I reflected on my own lesson from the lunchline. The idea of intention kept coming to mind. In past UforUs we were testing giving the environment to intentionally learn and do something new. Today was a more powerful exercise in intention. The intention to decide to go on a trip outside the neighbourhood, to step foot on the streetcar to travel 45 minutes, to ask questions to a neuroscientist, and to decide what to have on a bagel.
The city is an endless classroom and we at UforU will continue to look for ways to be its students. Food for thought.