This is Bigger Than You: Che Kothari on Social Change

Che Kothari, Executive Director of Manifesto (right) and Skye Louis, NAN Coordinator.

 

On November 18, artists, cultural workers, and community builders interested in building a movement for social change gathered at 793 Pharmacy Ave. This event was presented by the Neighbourhood Arts Network and City of Toronto Arts Services featured Che Kothari, Executive Director of Manifesto Community Projects.

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What issues are you and/or your community facing?

Attendees toured the venue, the home of First United Pentecostal Church, which also hosts two large studios (once graced by William Shatner and Kelloggs Frosted Flakes) that are used for film shoots, commercials, and other activities.

Pastor Timothy L. Pickard of the First United Pentecostal Church.

The event started with Pastor Timothy Pickard of 793 Pharmacy and Sean Lehane of 918 Bathurst Centre speaking about their space, which is available for arts-related programming and space rental.

How do you define your community?

Sean Lehane, Executive Director of 918 Bathurst.

Che Kothari spoke of the importance of having a dream. The audience was invited to share their dreams-some of which include writing a book and starting an arts and literacy centre. Che spoke of his dream to become a photographer.

Speak to and involve your elders.

Youth space at 793 Pharmacy.

He realized his passion for photography on a family trip in South America at Carnaval, when the performers invited him to take pictures of them.  This caused him to realize that ‘the camera is a tool to get closer to people’.

Build a strong team with varying strengths.

He recognized Toronto as a cultural hub that has the best urban artists in the world, and wanted to showcase what the city has to offer. Through hard work, determination and help, he started Manifesto.

Clearly define your mission.

Youth space at 793 Pharmacy.

“Don’t just pick a cause and jump on it,” he advises. “It has to come from a place of passion and realism or you will burn-out.”

Don’t just pick a cause and jump on it. It has to come from a place of passion and realism or you will burn-out.

Here are Che’s tips for starting a movement for change:

  • What is the seed inside of you?
  • What issues are you and/or your community facing?
  • How do you define your community?
  • Don’t just pick a cause, it won’t last, it needs to come from within and be driven by passion and love.
  • Talk to people about what you are thinking about.
  • Hold a gathering to gain input and insight.
  • Learn about what has already been done.
  • Speak to and involve your elders.
  • Build a strong team with varying strengths.
  • Ask yourself who is missing from the table.
  • Drop your ego.  This is bigger than you.
  • Clearly define your mission.
  • Keep your message simple.
  • Engage Partners…even the unlikely ones.
  • Plan the work…Work the Plan.
  • Word is Bond.  Uphold your Integrity.
  • Take care of yourself within it all.  An unhealthy leader is of little use to the mission.
  • Aim for sustainability and stability.
  • Balance order and chaos.
  • Revisit. Refine. Revision. Repeat.

What are you passionate about?

Learn about City of Toronto’s cultural centres and museums rental space available here.

Find out more about the Jewil Project, one of the programming activities at 793 Pharmacy Ave, at http://www.thejewilproject.com/.

For space rental of 793 Pharmacy and programming inquiries, contact Pastor Timothy L. Pickard at 416-676-3113.

Aasana Sri is the Fall/Winter 2010 Communications Intern at the Toronto Arts Foundation.

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