Five Big Questions We’re Asking This Year in Toronto

Photo of Kensington Place laneway by bricoleurbanism
Photo of Kensington Place laneway by bricoleurbanism

The Spur festival comes to Toronto this April. We’ll be cutting through the chatter on topics ranging from privacy in the era of big data, to showing the world what happens during a war. Rather than being envisioned as a series of lectures, we conceptualize the festival as a “live-issue” of a magazine. We explore a a consistent theme via a weekend of debates, conversations, books readings, walking tours, literary cabaret, parties and more.

The common thread of the Spur festival is the value of a longform conversation. We are not afraid to ask big questions of our speakers and audiences. We also know that the answers to these questions are going to require collaboration across lines of partisan politics, ideology, medium, and geography.

Get your tickets now! And check out five of the big questions we’ll be asking this year in Toronto, from April 3 to 6:

1. Who owns our Secrets?
We’ll be asking that controversial question at our opening event. Brent Bambury, host of CBC Radio’s Day 6, will moderate a discussion with former Assistant Director of CSIS Ray Boisvert, Dr. Michael Geist, Dr. David Lyon, and Micheal Vonn.

2. Are laneways the key to the next stage of Toronto’s development?
In five cities across Canada, we’re asking “What does this city look like in seven years?” The Toronto edition of this series invites experts Leigh Gallagher and Brigitte Shim to make a case for laneways as the key to Toronto’s next phase of urban development. Shawn Micallef moderates.

3. How is big data being used to create and shift policy?
Dubbed the Nudge Unit, this session will look at gentle shifts in public opinion through the manipulation of cognitive biases. Bloomberg View’s Christopher Flavelle explores the topic with The Mowat Centre’s Jennifer Gold, and Rotman School of Management’s Dilip Soman.

4. How do you responsibly photograph a war zone?
In Art & War, internationally renowned photojournalists Rita Leistner and Mike Kamber join with Newsweek photo editor Jamie Wellford to discuss the practice and problems of taking photographs in war zones.

5. Can big data help to create a resilient economy?
Vice President at TD Wealth Management Kim Parlee moderates Indicate This! Big Data and the Resilient Economy. She’ll be chatting with  Corporate Knights’ Sean Flannery and Kyle Balkisson, about which areas of the economy that socieity must focus on (and which areas are simply a distraction).

These questions are just a small handful of what we’ll be talking about for the four days we’ll be in Toronto. We look forward to working together to come up with some big answers. Get a festival pass now, for only $150!


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