The Thistle Institute is a project out of the Purple Thistle Centre, located in Vancouver, BC (Coast Salish Territories).  The PTI was launched as a Pilot Project–  a three-week intensive — in July, 2011and co-founded by Am Johal, Matt Hern and Carla Bergman.


A freshly-minted Thistle Institute will launch in place of the discussion group this October 2012! All sorts of scheming and building is taking place, namely we have organized a collective – folks from the institute and the Purple Thistle community – that will work together to build an on-going counter-institutional space that fosters horizontal relationships around learning critical social theory and praxis. We are pumped!




Meet the organizing collective of the Thistle Institute                                        

Carla Bergman

carla is a community artist, writer and organizer who lives with her partner and two unschooling kids in east vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories. She is the director of the Purple Thistle Centre and a maker of zines.

Cecily Nicholson

Cecily has worked with women of the downtown eastside community of Vancouver since 2000. Cecily has instructed courses in international relations and women and gender studies at SFU and UBC. She has collaborated most recently as a member of the VIVO Media Arts collective, the Press Release poetry collective and the No One is Illegal, Vancouver collective. Her first book “Triage”, a collection of poetry, was published by Talonbooks, 2011.

Dani Aiello

Dani Lives on the east side of Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory, where she does community organizing at The Purple Thistle. She is nerdy on cities, political economy, squashing the state, beer, and likes to take her crab trap out with friends. She is currently doing her Masters in Human Geography at SFU.

Manisha Singh

Manisha is an educator, activist, artist and yoga teacher who received her doctorate in communication from Simon Fraser University.

Am Johal

Am is a social activist who has worked in politics, human rights and journalism.  He was Chair of the Impact on Communities Coalition, is a co-founder of UBC’s Humanities 101 program and has worked as an advisor to two provincial cabinet Ministers.  He has an MA in international economic relations from the Institute for Social and European Studies and is starting a PhD in Communication this summer.

Anthony Meza-Wilson

Anthony enjoys wilderness, collectivity, and kindness. He currently organizes with the Purple Thistle Centre, the Eat the Rich! Community Kitchen, the Toast Collective, and Gallery Gachet. When left to his own devices beyond the purview of industrial capitalism he has a tendency to pet cats and eat raspberries.

Khelsilem Rivers

Khelsilem is a time-traveling Indigenous magician of epic proportions. An evolved Indigenous who has transcended and regressed past contemporary and traditional labels.
Rumoured to be from this territory and from the world at the same time.

hari malagayo alluri

hari believes in movement and craft. arriving in south vancouver, coast salish territory since the age of 12, he works at poetry, community, facilitation and filmmaking. 


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