Chalk Challenge, Week 18

What would you fill in this thought bubble?

Thought bubble filled with...?

Thought bubble filled with…?

With everything we are surrounded by, information, people’s ideas, news from around the world, things we learn about firsthand, there are some things we are drawn to or end up focussing on. What kinds of things do you think about the most? What makes it into your thought bubble?

For this week’s chalk challenge, chalk a thought bubble with or without something you think about. 

Share the contents of the thought bubble with us as a comment here on this post, on our Facebook page, Twitter, or at


Chalk With S: What’s an Equality?

It is an interesting moment for me to talk about equality. I have spent the last few days holding my breath and grieving for Nairobi, for everyone suffering at the hands of those who do not believe in respecting differences. While this was especially close to my heart, every day, all around the world, such tragic incidents occur, demonstrating the need for an understanding of diversity, and an appreciation of the same. When I discuss these issues with others, I often use the word ‘equality’.

At the chalk art festival in Victoria, one of the children I spoke to was asking me about the CWM piece. I explained the concept of the ideas being mobilised by words, concluding with “and they can now move towards ‘equality’, and talking about it’, as I pointed to the blocks that formed the word. The child paused and stared at the Idea character on a Word boat for a bit, appearing to consider the story in front of her. She then asked, “what’s an equality?”


I stopped chalking immediately and joined her in staring at the characters I had been drawing. This question I had not anticipated. It was my turn to consider. How could I explain this word without using a zillion other complicated words, and convey its meaning to this child, who was looking expectantly at me? Without being able to Google, “how can I explain the word equality without using a zillion other complicated words and convey its meaning to this child who is looking expectantly at me”?!

I offered, after what I hope was not too long a silence, “equality means being nice to everyone even if they are different in some ways”. She responded “oh”, and nodded, processing my explanation and staring a bit longer. I talked a bit more about how different ideas are needed for the conversation on social equality.

Perhaps the essence of a word can get lost in complicated language at times. Jargon, and words frequently associated with the key word are used, but the underlying message the word seeks to convey can be obscured by a haze of complex terminology. While exploring various meanings and aspects of a word is important to avoid generalisation and oversimplification, sometimes a back-to-basics approach can work to make the message accessible to more people. The question I was asked also forced me to evaluate my own actual understanding of the word, how much more I have to learn about it, and how the world needs to get better acquainted with it.

The same goes for many, many other words. With CWM, I look forward to learning more about the words I think I know, and exchanging ideas with you 🙂

Chalk With S: Who Doesn’t Know The Cinema?

Do you prefer the “who knows” or the “who doesn’t know” question format, when being addressed in a group situation? Personally, I favour the former. I find it more forgiving and less accusatory than the latter. It allows those who know what the speaker is talking about to express this, without putting those who don’t know on the spot. The latter, however, happened this past Sunday when I was at a film panel discussion.


I attended the ‘Who Are We, Cinema?’ event on the weekend, presented by the UBC Alumni Association in partnership with the Vancouver Queer Film Festival 2013. I was thrilled to be back in a Film Studies-ish setting: a cinema-turned-presentation space inviting thought-provoking conversations. I could not wait to hear the very interesting panellists speak.

They organisers were excited to share the “first festival PechaKucha-powered event”. PechaKucha! Isn’t that fantastic?? Well… not having paid attention to that part of the event summary, I could not figure out why I was meant to be enthusiastic about this – I, erm, did not know what PechaKucha was.

I was hoping it would explain itself as the night went on, but the host addressed the issue.

“Who here does not know what PechaKucha is?”

The hands that rose, some confidently, most hesitantly, comforted me.
Me? I sat very still, arms crossed and stoic, suddenly panicky about getting caught for being unaware of something that might be in that dreaded category of ‘common knowledge’.  I noticed a few people around me who looked like they wanted to raise their hands, but thought better of it.

This is all I needed to know: PechaKucha is a presentation style. Twenty slides shown, twenty seconds for each. Why was that so difficult to admit?

Even if I am overthinking the effects of the “who doesn’t know” question, I feel it can suggest an exclusivity, however unintentionally. Once I had understood this term that was being tossed around, I found the whole event within my reach again. Then, I could proceed to enjoy the slides, some of them from films I have found striking and memorable (one in particular, the 1996 Canadian film, Les Feluettes).

I am interested in what you have to say about how the phrasing of questions can make you feel more or less included in similar spaces. Write to us, or comment if you have thoughts on this.

You and I can have another one-on-one chalk next week 😀
There will be loads of chalky goodness between now and then, which you can read about in our previous post. Stay tuned for all of that, including some chalk time with H!