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Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street

Below the Radar

A knowledge mobilization podcast

Amplifying ideas that are flying below the radar. We talk environmental and social justice, arts, culture, community-building and urban issues with featured guests.

This podcast is produced by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement as a part of our Knowledge Mobilization Project @ 312 Main — encouraging the meaningful exchange of ideas and information across communities.



Seth Klein - Episode 27

Seth Klein served for 22 years (1996-2018) as the founding British Columbia Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a public policy research institute committed to social, economic and environmental justice. He is now a freelance researcher, writer, consultant and speaker, and an adjunct professor with Simon Fraser University’s Urban Studies program. He is currently writing a book on mobilizing Canadian for the climate emergency.

Seth is a founder and served for eight years as co-chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a network of over 50 community organizations in BC campaigning for a comprehensive poverty reduction plan in BC. He is a founder and served for 10 years on the advisory committee of the Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families campaign (and was co-creator of the methodology for calculating the living family wage, now used in about three dozen Canadian communities). He is an advisory board member for the Columbia Institute’s Centre for Civic Governance and is a founder, advisor and instructor for Next Up, a leadership program for young people committed to social and environmental justice.

Seth’s research deals primarily with climate policy and climate justice, fiscal policy, taxation, welfare policy, poverty, inequality, economic security, and job creation. His research reports can be found on the CCPA’s website; and his policy commentary can be found primarily on the CCPA-BC’s blog.

Jerry Zaslove (left) and Nermin Gogalic.

Jerry Zaslove and Nermin Gogalic - Episode 26

SFU Professor Emeritus Jerry Zaslove is a teacher and writer who studied Comparative Literature at Western Reserve University and the University of Washington. Since 1965 at Simon Fraser University he has taught Literature and Humanities, influenced but not limited by the traditions of the relationship of social radicalisms and the arts, the worlds of psychoanalysis and aesthetics. He is the Founding Director of the Institute for the Humanities and has published numerous essays and monographs on the subjects he loves and teaches. Currently Simons Fellow in Graduate Liberal Studies. A volume of his collected essays Untimely Passages: Dossiers from the Other Shore, 1965–2015 is in preparation.

Nermin Gogalic is a Vancouver based writer from Rijeka (Croatia) with a special interest in identity politics and the city. He is currently a student in Graduate Liberal Studies at Simon Fraser University.

Photo credit: Ivo Van Der Bent

Amitav Ghosh and Olive Dempsey - Episode 25

Amitav Ghosh is one of the world’s top South Asian literary stars. He was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire. His most recent book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, appeared in 2016. The Great Derangement was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016 and was given the inaugural Utah Award for the Environmental Humanities in 2018. Ghosh’s most recent novel, Gun Island, is due to be published in 2019. (Read more)

Olive Dempsey co-hosts the podcast Big Bright Dark, which explores the questions we face, the fears that haunt us and the possibilities that rise before us in this time of great human and planetary uncertainty all while exploring how these things might be reasons to create, to be in community, to be honest and vulnerable, to find the bright spots, and become wiser versions of ourselves in the process.

Architects for Social Housing - Episode 24

Architects for Social Housing (ASH) is a Community Interest Company from London, England, that organizes working collectives for individual projects. Their unifying principle is that refurbishing and increasing the housing capacity on London’s council estates, rather than demolishing and redeveloping them as properties for market sale, is a more sustainable solution to the housing needs of London’s communities. The founding members are Geraldine Dening and Simon Elmer. Between mid-July and mid-August 2019, Architects for Social Housing hosted four public workshops at Pollyanna Library and drafted a manuscript for a forthcoming publication as part of a research fellowship with 221A.

Samir Gandesha - Episode 23

Samir Gandesha is the director of the Institute for the Humanities at SFU and an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities. He specializes in modern European thought and culture, with a particular emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. Recently, Samir has written about authoritarianism and the neoliberal personality, along with other theoretical work. He is currently editing a book entitled Spectres of Fascism (Pluto Press, 2020), co-editing (with Peyman Vahabzadeh) Beyond Phenomenology and Critique: Essays in Honour of Ian Angus (forthcoming, Arbeiter Ring, 2020), and preparing a manuscript on the “Neoliberal Personality.”

Kai Nagata - Episode 22

Kai Nagata is a fourth-generation British Columbian whose roots are in the Shuswap, Gulf Islands, and Lower Mainland. His last name translates roughly to “everlasting rice paddy,” which was probably a lot to hope for in feudal Japan. In his spare time he enjoys archery, camping, fishing and hunting. As a journalist he covered an all-out mafia war, the rise of the Orange Wave, and a blind British lute virtuoso’s quest to set a world record jumping motorcycles. He held positions at CBC and CTV, and his writing appears in the Toronto Star, the Tyee, DeSmog Canada, the Vancouver Sun and elsewhere. He moved into digital content and strategy in 2012 and has advised candidates or elected officials across the political spectrum, as well as clients in advocacy, education, First Nations government and the private sector. Kai is committed to building democracy through nonpartisan citizen engagement. He believes in fact-driven debates and speaking truth to power. He currently is the Communications Director for Dogwood BC.

Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. She is the director of the philosophical documentaries What Is Democracy?Examined Life (TIFF 2008), and Zizek! (TIFF 2005); the author of the American Book Award winner The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age; and a co-founder of the Debt Collective. She has written for The New York TimesThe London Review of BooksThe GuardianThe WalrusThe Bafflern+1, and many other outlets. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a former touring member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Her new book, Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, will be out from Metropolitan Books in early 2019.

Cover of "On This Patch of Grass: City Parks on Occupied Land".

Matt Hern is a community-based activist and organizer who teaches urban studies at SFU, Cape Breton University, and UBC. He is the co-founder and co-director of Solid State Industries and has written books including What a City is For: Remaking Politics of Displacement (MIT Press, 2016), Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life (MIT, 2018 with Am Johal and Joe Sacco).

Selena Couture is an Assistant Professor of Drama at the University of Alberta. Her research and work examines intersections of performance and Indigeneity, particularly regarding uses of Indigenous perforamnces as a way to tell Indigenous histories eroded by colonialism with a parallel inquiry into colonial performance and the construction of whiteness. Her research has been published in Theatre Journal, Performance Research, Canadian Theatre Review, as well as a chapter in Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas.

Darcie Bennett - Episode 19

Since completing her PhD in sociology at UBC, Darcie Bennett has worked at the intersection of non-profit management, legal advocacy, and social science research. In 2006, Darcie joined Pivot Legal Society as a community-based researcher and went on to hold several positions including Child Welfare Campaigner, Campaigns Director, and Interim Executive Director. She also spent two years as Director of Marketing and Communications for Ecojustice Canada. In 2018, Darcie completed a graduate certificate in executive coaching from Royal Roads University. Today, as a certified executive coach and consultant, Darcie supports individuals, teams and organizations to live their values sustainably and achieve their goals.

Baljit Sangra - Episode 18

Baljit Sangra is a Vancouver based filmmaker who has been working on documentaries, corporate videos, feature films and factual entertainment. Her passion is exploring social and cross-cultural issues. She has now directed/produced the documentary “Because We Are Girls” in association with NFB (National Film Board of Canada). She has also directed/produced Many Rivers Home a personal story that focuses on Seniors in assisted care and looks at the end story of life for OmniTV. In addition, she has directed/produced the documentary Warrior Boyz in association with NFB and Canwest which examines the long running gang scene unique to the Indo-Canadian enclave of the Lower Mainland. Warrior Boyz premiered at Doxa and was nominated for three Leos. Baljit also directed an A&E for CityTV and Channel M called VIVA! for several seasons.

Photo by Fernando Alvarez

Hilda Fernandez - Episode 17

Hilda Fernandez Alvarez was born and raised in Mexico City. She practices Lacanian psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy in Vancouver, Canada, since 2007. With a solid clinical experience in the field of psychotherapy, throughout her clinical trajectory, she has worked in the medical and mental health fields alongside a private practice. Currently, she has a private practice in downtown Vancouver, and has worked for the past fourteen years as a psychotherapist at SAFER, part of Vancouver Coastal Health. In Mexico City she worked for eight years in the National Rehabilitation Program within the Central Hospital of the Mexican Red Cross.

Photo by Josh Berson

Libby Davies - Episode 16

Libby Davies is a former Canadian politician from British Columbia. She moved to Vancouver in 1968 and served as a city councillor from 1982 to 1993, then represented the federal riding of Vancouver East from 1997 to 2015 under the New Democratic Party banner. She was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2016 and was Canada's first openly lesbian MP.

Madeleine Shaw - Episode 15

Madeleine Shaw is a social entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of Lunapads, a founding Canadian BCorp that specializes in sustainable menstrual products. She is also founder and Board Chair of United Girls of the World Society, a registered charity that produces G Day, a national event series for tween girls and their adult supporters. She is also the founder of Nestworks, a family-friendly shared work/life space launching in 2019/2020. Madeleine blogs about her adventures in social entrepreneurship at

Ginger Gosnell-Myers - Episode 14

Ginger Gosnell-Myers, of Nisga’a and Kwakwak'awakw heritage is passionate about advancing Indigenous rights and knowledge, while breaking down barriers between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. Ginger was the City of Vancouver’s first Indigenous Relations Manager where she was central to advancing Vancouver as the world’s first official City of Reconciliation, and from 2013-2018 worked to bridge Indigenous policies, programs and relations. Through her work with the City, she identified tangible opportunities across all City departments to advance reconciliation. Guided by Ginger’s leadership, more than 75 initiatives were launched in the first four years. Key to this work was Vancouver recognizing that it was on unceded Coast Salish territories – the only government in Canada to officially recognize this. Also integral was implementing the 28 out of the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action, and strengthening the relationship between local First Nations, the urban Indigenous community.

Geoff Mann - Episode 13

Geoff Mann is a professor and undergraduate programs chair in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University, where he also directs the Centre for Global Political Economy.  His most recent books are In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy and Revolution(Verso, 2017) and Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future, co-authored with Joel Wainwright (Verso, 2018). He and his family live near Trout Lake, in Vancouver.

Adrienne Smith - Episode 12

Adrienne Smith is a transgender human rights activist and drug policy lawyer. They recently settled a BC Supreme Court case which guaranteed access to opiate replacement therapy for prisoners in BC jails. Adrienne appeared at the BC Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada where they argued about the deleterious effects of mandatory minimum sentences for women, indigenous people, and drug users. At the CLC, they advocate for transgender inclusion in our unions and workplaces.

Stephanie Allen - Episode 11

Stephanie Allen is the director of the Hogan's Alley Society, and Vice-president at Catalyst Community Developments Society and #46 on the 2018 VanMag Power 50 List. In this episode Am Johal and Stephanie discuss affordable housing, the pros and cons of not-for-profit real estate development, the nature of ownership and property, along with a look at the fight for Hogan’s Alley and the recognition of the erasure of black culture from Vancouver through city development.

Sharon Gregson - Episode 10

Sharon Gregson is the provincial spokesperson for the popular $10aDay Child Care Plan in BC. She works with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC travelling throughout the province presenting the $10aDay Plan as the solution to BC’s child care chaos. She is a former two-term elected Vancouver School Board Trustee with 30 years of experience in the child care sector. Sharon is a feminist, passionate about the rights of women to access affordable child care services, the rights of children to high quality early years experiences, and the rights of early childhood educators to be well-paid for the important work they do.

Sarah Blyth - Episode 9

Sarah Blyth is former Chair of the Vancouver Park Board Commission and Founding member of the Overdose Prevention Society, an organization that has inspired many overdose prevention sites across Canada and around the world and saves lives every day. Read more about the Overdose Prevention Society.

Megaphone - Episode 8

Megaphone creates meaningful work for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. We produce a high-quality monthly magazine and annual calendar that low-income and homeless vendors sell on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria to earn income and build community. Read more

Hives for Humanity - Episode 7

Hives for Humanity is a non-profit organization that encourages community connections through apiculture, more commonly known as beekeeping. Through mentorship based programming we create flexible opportunities for people to engage in the therapeutic culture that surrounds the hive. Read more

Binners' Project - Episode 6

Binners’ Project fosters social and economic inclusion, builds community resilience and stronger networks, and engages on sustainability issues. Through our programs, they empower binners as part of the circular economy — building a community from the bottom up. Read more

Patricia Reed - Episode 5

Patricia Reed is an artist, writer and designer based in Berlin. As an artist, selected exhibitions include: The One and The Many, CUAG, Ottawa; The Museum of Capitalism, Oakland; Homeworks 7, Beirut; Witte de With, Rotterdam; HKW, Berlin; and Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart. Read more about her work and experience.

Bob Williams - Episode 4

Bob Williams is an urban planner and former provincial MLA and cabinet minister. His leadership, inspiration and action over the past 60 years have helped to improve and transform B.C.'s rural and urban communities, and the lives of its citizens. He has also been involved with BC’s forestry industry for five decades, including as Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources in the Dave Barrett government. 

Ellen Woodsworth - Episode 3

Ellen Woodsworth is a writer, organizer, and international speaker and consultant on urban issues. A former Vancouver City councillor, Ellen is passionate about working for social justice, economic equality and environmentally sound planning. Ellen is also the founder of Women Transforming Cities International Society and Co-Chairperson. She works to make cities work for self identified women and girls working all over the world from local neighbourhoods to global gatherings like UN Habitat 3.

Bill Tieleman - Episode 2

Bill Tieleman is one of BC's best known communicators, political commentators and strategists. Bill is a political panelist regularly on CBC Radio and TV in BC and with other media. Bill has been Communications Director in the B.C. Premier's Office and at the BC Federation of Labour. Bill owns West Star Communications, a consulting firm providing strategy and communication services for labour, business, non-profits and government.

Maria Dobrinskaya - Episode 1

Maria Dobrinskaya is the BC Director, overseeing the work of the Broadbent Institute in British Columbia. A creative political strategist and effective communicator, Maria is committed to expanding the political arena and increasing the access and involvement we can all have with our governments. Maria has over fifteen years of political experience; she’s worked for government, she’s run a governing political party, and she’s been involved in numerous campaigns at the local, provincial, and federal levels, in both electoral and issue-based politics.

Maria is a regular media commentator on both municipal and provincial politics. Before working in politics and government, Maria spent over a decade in Vancouver’s hospitality sector.

Find out more about the work of our partners & join the online discussion in SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement Facebook group!