Word Travels is developing a new program called School of Thought. The first gathering will be held in Calgary April 19 - April 24. Educational in nature—there will be 8 events, which will bring poets and social activists together to share ideas and exchange perspectives with an ‘audience.’ The ‘audience’ will be comprised of students, writers and anyone from the community interested in the evolvement of languages. We will extend an invitation to special interest groups as well as high schools, junior high schools and both universities. This program is intended to stimulate discussion and create an open forum of educational space in the community.

There are two segments to this instalment of Word Travels.

Between April 19 - 21 there will be evening presentations at Wine-Ohs, where the poets will present work based around the concept of Languages: Lost & Found. The intention is to focus the group thought in on one very specific idea. From this focused intension the poets will develop their own philosophical point-of-view, and poetical discoveries, which they will then unfold into the discussions held in Part II. The poets involved in will also be participants in the weekend events.

On the weekend, April 22 - 24, we plan to expand to Festival Hall. Like a workshop discussion circle, or salon, ideas will be at the forefront of this aspect of the educational gathering. All presentations will be followed by discussions. We plan to create a circle of possibility—educational and inspirational. The circles will be facilitated, or mediated, by a speaking guide well-acquainted with the developments and consequences of languages lost and found. The entire process will be interactive, and live-streamed for an on-line audience to view and make comments on.

The poets, experts and activists will be invited to speak as a means to stimulate ideas—a la TedTalk (only longer). The community/ audience will then be invited to participate in the discussion—which will be punctuated by a series of bells/ chimes/ and gongs. The community will be participants, and will be given the opportunity of sharing their ideas.

On Saturday, April 23 we will also present a reading in Inuit, a book launch in Cree and English (with First Nations drummers), as well as a workshop in Klingon. Students from Willow Park School (who have been involved in our Word Travels in-school program will be invited to present their work).

The Discussion:

There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world today. However, about 2,000 of those languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers.

The most popular language in the world is Mandarin Chinese. There are 1,213,000,000 people in the world that speak that language. New languages are also being developed—for film, technology, et cetera. Where do languages come from? Why do we need language? What does language mean to us?

What is there connection to the earth? What influence do the indigenous languages have on the new languages being formed? How many languages can you speak? How many languages do you read in, think in, and dream in? What has happened to our language – with technology? Acronyms? Abbreviations? Text speak? What are the other ways we communicate? Fan speak? Whistle speak? Gesture speak (Indigenous)? Brail? Alphabets? Sounds? Vibrations? Frequencies? Et Cetera. This will be developed by a volunteer brainstorm group over the next few months.

The entire community will be invited to participate in all of the events. There will be no program and all marketing will be electronic, apart from posters and handbills.

This is an non-profit organization run by volunteers. For the first three events we have invited three different literary organizations in Calgary to partner with us – Single Onion, Woolf’s Voices and Ink Spot Collective – to involve as many Calgary groups as possible.