A statement from two people to a much larger community:
We warmly welcome you to the inaugural edition of The Elements Experiment online space. Thoughts on religion, the secular, and public spaces are ever-present in Canada, with young people having some of the most compelling and provocative ideas. This has been quite a year for The Elements Experiment, which is supported by the Inspirit Foundation and the Religion in the Public Sphere initiative at the University of Toronto. Over the course of the past year, we have created a project that aims to curate and publish the work of young people who care deeply, and who express these thoughts in many different ways, about the issues of religious diversity, secularism, and the public sphere in Canada. This online space, alongside a conference to be held on October 25th 2014, aim to facilitate a national conversation, where young people are speaking about the same issues, but in different languages: each of us comes with our own set of values, perspectives, and visions. The Elements Experiment aims to inspire multi-disciplinary, multi-perspective, and multi-faceted conversations where our contributors feel a sense of shared ownership over our public spaces. Given that interest in these issues has been increasing rapidly in public media, academic centers, and creative hubs, we are certain that now more than ever, it is essential to open up a new space, where value is placed in the thoughts of young people, who are so central to shaping their individual communities, as well as Canada as a whole.
We are sincerely delighted to be showcasing such a diverse collection of work this edition. With videos, art, photography, and writing, these creators are breaking the boundaries of how thoughts on religion, the secular, and public spaces are communicated, and how they interact with these creator’s lives. This diversity speaks to how there is no singular universal way to experience the world around us, but in actuality our relational selves kaleidoscope reality into innumerable understandings. The variety of the works we are showcasing here speak to the necessity of diversity in describing the public, private, and secular in an enchanted, politicized, and individualized way. We are honoured to host the creations of these young people.
In addition to this diversity of expression, we believe that an intentioned ethical engagement is profoundly evident in our first set of publications. It is our hope that you, the young person, as an artist, an activist, a practitioner, a citizen, or a community member, will be inspired to share your own thoughts with us, in whatever way you chose to express them. By creating and submitting a piece that communicates your own reflections on the issues that we all care so deeply about, you will be contributing to a space that was imagined by a small group of people, for a much larger community. We invite you to think about your experiences of pluralism, diversity, citizenship, and community, in a way that inspires you, and to share these thoughts with us, so that we can document your thoughts in a space that is premised on valuing our contributor’s lived experiences.
— Ayesha Valliani & Judith Ellen Brunton