When I asked what was going on inside the poolroom at The Piston Broke last Wednesday night, I was told there was a “social enterprise called ‘Unlearn’” set up there.
I didn’t know what to think. A group called ‘Unlearn’ at a university event seemed paradoxical to me.
In fact, “what is Unlearn?” was a question that I heard being asked throughout the night.
It was curiousity that prompted me to investigate a little further inside the poolroom. The amount of material the group had was impressive. The group also had lots of merchandise on hand, including quality t-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with graphically designed ideas and quotes representing Unlearn’s core principles. The proceeds from the merchandise were put towards the production of educational DVDs to be distributed to schools. These DVDs are designed to provoke real thought and critical analysis from the viewer.
And that is Unlearn’s foremost goal: “To provoke thought to inspire and encourage positive change.”
I spoke with the group’s leader and founder, Abhi Ahluwalia. When I asked what “Unlearn” means, he answered me with a question.
“What does it mean to you?”
I had to watch their slideshow before I could answer that question properly, but I think I got it. Unlearn is a group based on washing away negative stereotypes and preconceived notions, and to replace this void with positive thinking. Eventually, group members hope such thinking can evolve into tangible, positive change.
Ahluwalia took a minute to jot down my input. He made me feel like my response really mattered to him and the movement. As he did, he explained that there are no wrong answers, that Unlearn and its designs are open to interpretation.
“Unlearn means different things to different people,” he said. “The meaning is always changing, it’s evolving.”
“It’s about removing barriers, opening one`s mind by increasing consciousness. It’s about questioning what we know, and answering the question ‘why?’ If you are genuinely trying to learn something, there are no stupid questions.”
Ahluwalia summed it up nicely for me.
“We really want to recognize and challenge our beliefs, and push past the stereotypes and to recognize the common ground amongst all of humanity. But, also to appreciate and celebrate our differences, because in the end we are all equal.”
You can find Unlearn on Facebook, and also at www.unlearn.com