Toronto Jam

Over the course of a week, 30 changemakers come together to jam - experimenting, playing off of one another, and creating new possibilities. Toronto Jams are open-ended and unscripted gatherings for reflecting, sharing, and building community.

Image of Toronto Jam

What’s the Jam?

Think of when musicians get together to jam. They meet, experiment and play off of one another, and create beautiful new music. Now imagine instead of music, it was ideas and experiences being shared. Jams are open-ended and unscripted gatherings of 30 or so changemakers (ages ~18-40) who spend a week reflecting, sharing, building community, and creating new possibilities.


Why should I not miss this?

On a daily basis, many of us do too much and pause too little. Rarely do we get to step back and really check in with ourselves and with each other.

The Jam is an opportunity to have those authentic conversations we may not usually get to have: About the dreams that drive the work we do, the struggles that we move through, and the magic that keeps us going.


Is the Jam for you?

Do you have a relationship to social change (as an activist, artist, healer, parent, entrepreneur, community worker, or any other way)… Do you want to consciously evolve your work and your role? Then, Yes!

Do you have a relationship to community… Do you want to cultivate honesty, authenticity, vulnerability, openness to solving conflicts, and non-violence… Do you want to dream bigger or connect more across issues and communities? Then, Yes!

Do you have a relationship to yourself… Whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at self-care, do you struggle or feel ease with your relationship to yourself… Do you want to develop a kinder, truer connection to yourself? Then, Yes!


What happens at a Jam?

Take what you think you know about conferences, retreats, and symposiums and throw it out the window. Each Jam is unique, but you can expect a blend of facilitated dialogue, reflection, play and movement, artistic expression, deep inquiry, games, music, and meaning-making.

A Jam works on three different levels of change: the internal, the interpersonal, and the systemic.

On the internal level: we give ourselves space to reflect on our personal stories, learn and unlearn, take off our masks, seek our next growing edge, recharge, and renew.

On an interpersonal level, we come together to discover common grounds and celebrate differences. We take time for authentic conversations to bridge our divides (race, class, gender, etc), and take an honest, courageous, and loving look at our conflicts and relationships with one another.

On a systemic level, we link issues that aren’t commonly linked to find new intersection points and gain a clearer vision of the whole. We examine our work and role within the bigger picture, and deepen our capacity to affect meaningful change upon leaving the Jam.    


Who else comes to Jam?

Jams are for everyone.  The beauty of the jam lies in the mix of people who show up.

We look for a vibrant diversity in…

… experience (from 'just starting out' to 'been at it for years')

… roles (from 'person on the ground' to 'director and founder'; from 'entrepreneur' to 'non-profit' to 'healer' to 'philanthropist' to 'parent' to 'organizer' to 'urban farmer' – to so much more)

… passions and focus (education, immigration, technology, food security, health, arts, labour, green architecture, indigenous issues, community media, trauma recovery, globalization, etc. etc.)

… identities and worldviews (e.g. class, race, religion, sexuality, gender, age, dis/ability, ethnicity, etc.)

You can read more about past Jams and other Jams worldwide here.


Who’s behind the Toronto Jam 2014?

The Toronto Jam is organized and facilitated by a dynamic team of Toronto community changemakers (all YES! Jam Alumni):


Image of Lisa Thacker

Lisa Thacker's been places (east, west, south, and north, if you count Haliburton) and done things (writing, classical Indian dance and drumming, practicing/teaching yoga, HIV/AIDS advocacy, pop-up chai stands, and surfing <–once, but it counts).  She's an artist, friend, aunt, daughter, wife, maker, baker, library fanatic, and most recently, a student of midwifery. 


Image of Brigid Tierney

Brigid Tierney is a fiery montrealer turned west coast dreamer turned toronto transplant (and lover). She came to the Jam through her creative facilitation community and found a profound connection and hard to name feeling in the air that has grown louder and more beautiful ever since. She has a masters in cultural studies and communication, likes to fight the good fight and works on the daily at the intersection of film, community and youth engagement.


Image of Karen B.K. Chan

Karen B. K. Chan is a sex educator. She is interested in re-imagining sex, desire, and eroticism as radical ways to get us closer to the world we want to make. These days, she's learning how to be warmer, and last year's Toronto Jam was a big part of that. BK works full-time at Toronto Public Health, half-time in her private practice, and all the time on wonder and play and a kind of inner peace.


Image of Adeline Cohen

Adeline Cohen arrived in Canada from France 7 years ago with a mixed bag of aspirations, a vision for personal growth and a desire to be part of bigger movement affecting positive change. With an Austrian mother and a Tunisian father, she found in Toronto the city that answered her need to blend into a big melting pot of origins, believes and lifestyles. She is an avid cook, a gardener, a mind explorer and a fellow artist at the most odd hours. 


Image of Pauline Sok Yin Hwang

Pauline Sok Yin Hwang ( lives to re-connect us with our bodies, ancestors, Earth, and each other. She loves dancing, piano, writing, farming, hiking, creativity, giggling, and emotional intelligence. In her day job, she creates 'care for caregivers and changemakers' via traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture, massage, nutrition, herbs, meditation and self-care workshops. She is a longtime community organizer and facilitator, whose passions lie at the intersections of spirituality, activism and healing.


Image of Rehana Tejpar

Rehana Tejpar is an East African Indian, Uruguayan and Muslim mother, dancer, theatre artist and community arts facilitator dedicated to staging stories of social importance, and evoking community dialogue. Rehana is passionate about co-creating community learning projects and theatre productions with young people, especially young women and has worked in Canada, Kenya and India. Most recently, Rehana was the Director of Programs for Lost Lyrics. She has facilitated the co-creation of several community theatre productions with children and youth including Let’s Talk About Rex! in Rexdale, Toronto. She co-wrote the plays Unshackling Education and Maiz and co-choreographed Go Pluck Yourself and Love Flows Down. She is currently an artist in residency at Aluna Theatre.


Image of Shilpa Jain

Shilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India, where she served as coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network. All of her work seeks to uncover ways for people to free themselves from dominating, soul-crushing institutions and to live in greater alignment with their hearts and deepest values, their local communities, and with nature.


Image of Nisha Ahuja

Nisha Ahuja <>, actor, theatre creator, and Yogic & Vedic/Attmic Energy Medicine practitioner, has performed and created classical, contemporary, and original work across Canada, the Netherlands, and India. She was an actor with the National Arts Centre Resident Acting Company and toured her one-woman shows, Yoga Cannibal and Un-settling, and is developing The Besetting of Reena Virk with Subtle Vigilance Collective and her excerpts of her pla  Cycle of a Sari will be published in Playwright Canada Press’ anthology Refractions: Solo.  She is currently developing Maan-i-fest and Straight as Jalebi. nisha is dedicated to deconstructing colonial boundaries between art, traditional medicines, spirituality, and politics.



How did these Jams start?

YES! co-created the first Jam in 1999, bringing together 30 people from 20 countries.  It came out of YES!'s work on youth leadership for nearly a decade, a growing understanding of 'yes-and' improv, Open Space Technology, and the power of co-learning.  After several more World Jams, facilitators began to organize local and regional Jams in their countries. Now teams of Jam alumni and like-hearted partners organize place-based and thematic Jams all over the world. In the past year, Jams have taken place in India, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, the Philippines, Nova Scotia, Toronto, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Tennessee, and on themes such as Evolving + Emerging Economies, Arts for Social Change, Healing Our Movement Ecosystem, and Transforming Education.  New Jams are currently being organized in Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Israel, Vermont, and on additional themes/identities of LGBTQ and Law for Social Change.

YES! is based in California, USA, and each Jam is co-organized by a diverse team of partners, specific to that location or theme.  The Toronto Jam grew out a short program in 2012 first organized with YES! by Rehana Tejpar and Lisa Thacker, which then led to a longer Jam in 2013 co-organized by Rehana, Lisa, Brigid Tierney and Nisha Ahuja.  The 2014 Jam is being co-organized by a collaboration of alumni from the 2013 Toronto Jam.


Read more about YES!'s mission, values and approach.


Sounds great!  What now?

Click here to APPLY for the Toronto Jam today!