Introducing the Shift Lab: Brandon Wint
Curious about the folks who are participating in the Shift Lab? Wonder no more! Over the next three weeks, we will feature each of the Core lab team members (12 in all) as they tell us their thoughts about social innovation, racism and poverty in Edmonton, and why they joined the Shift Lab. Yesterday, we met Soni. Today, meet Brandon Wint. You can also check out Brandon’s bio here.
My name is Brandon Wint and I am honoured, pleased and excited to offer my perspectives to the Edmonton Shift Lab’s core group. I come to the Shift Lab as someone who has only lived in Edmonton for 16 months. My feelings and perspectives on the city are still in a deeply formative stage. As a relative newcomer to Alberta, the context of the Shift Lab gives me the opportunity to examine, in diverse and creative ways, the make-up of the city and the ways in which its structures of power produce racist and unjust outcomes for many of its residents.
As a black person looking to create a sense of “home” and safety within Edmonton, understanding the city in these terms is a personal and social imperative.
As a professional, full-time poet, arts-educator and performer, my financial and existential sustenance depends upon my ability to re-imagine the world and express these re-imaginings in a way that expands the potential for justice and love in our world. I do not know, concretely, what feelings and outcomes the core group will facilitate, but I genuinely look forward to the opportunity to re-imagine the ways it is possible to meet the social, emotional and financial needs of racialized Edmontonians. I am very much looking forward to feeling my own perspectives of justice and equity challenged, augmented and expanded by the members of the core group and the stewardship team. I am not under the impression that the Shift Lab is composed of a group of heroes. I cannot promise that our willingness to discover and interrogate the intersections of race and poverty will undo centuries of racial violence, but I am hopeful that the collective energy of the group can, by its very nature, help to shift consciousness in such a way as to make more room for Indigenous people and People of Colour to live and thrive in accordance with their natural, inherent dignity as human beings.
Perhaps, in many ways, my primary relationship to the world is as a poet. As a poet, my interest is to examine the subtleties of the world and the nuanced forces that hold it together. From there, my imperative is to use my intellect and empathy to articulate something meaningful about these connections. The Shift Lab, and, I suppose, the concept of social innovation, is intriguing to me because they demand that I participate in a process of understanding social and urban forms of inter-connectedness. The Shift Lab, to me, is a deeply poetic entity in that sense. The Shift Lab, like poetry, demands that I express my interpretation of the way ideas like race and poverty are connected. Unlike poetry, however, The Lab also demands that I experience this process with other people. In the way that the Shift Lab implores me to examine the intersections between two or more complex realities, it is like every poem I’ve ever written. In the way that it asks me to write this poem with others, in a city whose impact on me changes every day, this experience will be unlike most I have had in my life. It is an opportunity I’m excited to explore. Hopefully, if we manage to create, by some feat of unity, ingenuity and dedication, something beautiful and useful, Edmonton will share in this excitement. I look forward to the months ahead.