Dr. Marc Lewis is a renowned neuroscientist, author, blogger – and recovering opiate addict. He joined our UforU series from abroad with his event on why addiction is not a disease, and why everyone has to start thinking about addiction – and addicts – a little bit differently. His event prompted a range of responses, and brought forth a lot of questions about addiction, choice, and self-perception. Click here to see more.
David Dennis is a Naturopathic doctor, a registered psychotherapist, and a faculty member at The Centre for Mindfulness Studies here in Toronto. He believes that treating the whole person – body and mind – is the most effective approach for helping clients achieve wellness and happiness. He shared some of his theories and strategies for healing and mindfulness, using quirky props like Chinese finger traps and raisins. Click here to see more.
Our own resident filmmaker Brit started this session by discussing the basic elements to a story – the beginning, the middle, and the end – and playing clips from popular movies to help emphasize her points. Then she turned us loose, encouraging members to utilize different props in order to make their own short stop-motion animations! Some members really got into the process, like Jeff and Mike, who painstakingly plotted and drew their film from scratch. The results were awesome, though, and members loved creating something to show others. Click here to see more.
Dr. Weinstein, a professor of philosophy at the University of Waterloo, is an expert on multiple time dimensions, causality and rational decision-making. At this particular event, Steven helped members understand why we make the decisions we do. Using a “thought experiment” as an example, members saw first-hand how sometimes the same question can be phrased two different ways to create two totally different outcomes. Members connected this to their real lives, discussing things like marketing, rationalization, and survival. Click here to see more.
Vera is a Toronto-based artist, writer, and performer who has been doing stand-up comedy at open mics all around the city since 2009. She brought her expertise and passion to UforU, not only sharing her own top tips and tricks for comedy, but also encouraging members to have a go at writing and performing their own five-minute sets as well. Although timid at first, members were excited to share their own “comic moments” with the group, and by the end of the hour, almost every member had performed. Click here to see more.
Over the course of an hour, Filippo showed members how to energize the mind and soothe the soul using scents and essential oils. Members mixed their own blends using oils, vials, and guidance provided by Filippo. Filippo showed us the real-world applications for oils, from healing cuts to relaxing after a long day, and members asked questions about their own ventures as well, such as creating scented candles and reducing headaches. Click here to see more.
Brenda Wastasecoot, a PhD candidate at University of Toronto and a member of the York Factory Cree Nation, believes that mapping out our past memories on paper can aid emotional healing. Drawing on her own past experiences as the youngest of ten children born along the Hudson Bay railway line in Northern Manitoba during the residential school system, her research explores the use of memory mapping as form of storytelling, individual healing, community building and education, and a culturally-inclusive healing strategy. Click here to learn more.
Dr. Reid is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at University of Toronto, with a primary research focus on star formation. He visited UforU during an exciting time: just earlier that week, scientists had observed gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of spacetime. Members were excited to theories about the expanding universe, hear about the potential life on other planets, and learn about the methods we’re using to try to communicate with other civilizations. Click here to see more.
Dr. Jed “Jedi” Meltzer (as coined by a member, Jeff) provided a “double-date” for UforU: a personal tour of his brain laboratory as well as a one-hour event at The Meeting Place. His discussion focused on the brain and aging: the myths, the realities, and what they mean for us. Members found the talk intriguing and asked many questions, and as one member said, “I didn’t believe that the brain ages, but now I’m convinced!” Click here to see more.
This week, Leysa Cerswell joined us along with her friend Shelley to talk about mindful communication. Some members were confused – what exactly does “mindful communication” mean? – but Leysa explained it as “talking with awareness in conversation, and connecting with others.” Together, Leysa and Shelley guided members through various meditative exercises and listening techniques, and gave examples of common pitfalls to mindful conversation. One member, Jeff, was excited to have the list of pitfalls; “now I can finally tell people what they’re doing!” Click here to see more.
We turned the Meeting Place into a concert hall! Chambermusician and concertmaster Marie Bérard visited The Meeting Place with her 300-year-old violin to serenade members with excerpts from Bach. After the concert, we joined Marie in a more intimate setting to discuss music and musicianship, and talk more about what music means to us. Click here to see more.
Gordon Todoschuk will tell you: he isn’t an “author,” he isn’t a “writer,” and he isn’t “over” his addiction. But he is an ex-carnie, an entrepreneur, and a storyteller who sells his self-published novel outside of Union Station every single day, rain or shine. Members came to chat with Gordon and his girlfriend about his experiences, his writing, and his self-publishing. Click here to see more.
We took a trip to the library – a library of people! University of Toronto’s annual Human Library allows members of the community to “check out” a person for a 25-minute conversation. Our group spent a day at the historic Hart House, and talked to an immigration lawyer who immigrated herself, an ex-soldier who once fell 6 stories, and a kid nicknamed “Mr. Misunderstood.” Click here to see more.
Canadian journalist Eric Walberg has experienced the action most of us have only read about. He’s lived in places like Soviet Russia and Egypt during the revolution, and worked as a UN adviser, writer, translator, and regular contributer to journals across the globe. Members and staff alike came together to listen to Eric’s take on Russia, the Middle East, modernism and post-modernism, and modern-day terrorism: who really are today’s terrorists? Click here to see more.
The UforU group took a field trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario for a day of art and culture! We took a free volunteer-led tour through the gallery, viewing works from artists like Warhol, Rembrandt, and the Group of Seven. Members explored at their own pace and enjoyed the nice day and good company, for a successful day at the Gallery! Click here to read more.
Canadian Slam Poetry Champion Ian French believes that everyone has a story, and the more fucked up, the better. Ian visited UforU to perform some of his award-winning slam poetry pieces, and to run a one-hour workshop around writing poetry. Members, staff, and even some previous speakers joined Ian for a creative exercise in writing their own poetry from prompts. One member, Peter Townsend, found the event “really worthwhile,” and even got a chance to share some of his own published poetry. Click here to see more.
Anna Reid and Stacey Bird visit UforU to teach us all about Food Justice: your right to grow, buy, and eat healthy, affordable food in the city. Members will also be planting their own sprouts and seeds, and learning more about the various community gardening initiatives around Toronto. Click here to see more.