The Power and Intricacies of Grounded Community by MASIS Student Rania Campbell-Cobb

In my studies at Goddard College I examine rooftop farming practices, food justice, innovative networks, urban community spaces, non-profit management, and community education. My studies are grounded within my life and work in Philadelphia. With every subject I dig into, I continually find that the power and intricacies of grounded community RaniaCCis present and of the utmost importance. American communities have become siloed and fractured. Our neighborhoods are increasingly separated by age, race, class, and political beliefs. Our divisions leave us weaker.

Philadelphia, like many post-industrial urban areas, is facing intersecting issues of community health, food insecurity, environmental degradation, and rampant inequality spread across neighborhoods siloed according race, class, and age. When our communities are fragmented, everybody suffers. Environmental issues kept out of view of the wealthy compound climate change. Racism, gun violence, and the school to prison pipeline are robbing us of insightful leadership, innovative ventures, and thoughtful collaborations. Julian Ageyman speaks of a movement Cloud9pic1for “just sustainability” that is at its core about helping both humans and the environment flourish. Our communities and ecosystems are more resilient with diversity, distributed resources, and innovations that develop in response to the ever-changing landscape. Change is the only constant and communities of all kinds are better prepared to observe and respond to change when diverse perspectives and skill-sets collaborate.

My work as founder and Executive Director of Cloud 9 Rooftop Farm in Philadelphia forms the grounding center of my studies in Social Innovation and Sustainability (SIS). Cloud 9 began as a dream to produce more healthy produce in Philadelphia, create beautiful green spaces, and mitigate urban environmental degradation. Through my studies in SIS, I have come to see the importance of developing diverse, cohesive communities, and the potential Cloud 9 holds as a force for collaboration, inspiration, and discourse across boundaries of race, class, age, and gender.

I have worked in organic farming and education for ten years. I find that the work of gardening and the joy of sharing food is a practice that can foster honest human connection. All humans eat. Growing food requires the aid of many hands. Side-by-side, covered in dirt and sweat, we toil towards a common goal, laugh at our humanity, and find the time to listen to one another, the birds, the neighbors, or our own thoughts. We connect. This semester I am digging deeper into this process of connecting to one another Cloud9pic2and to the land. There are plenty of forces in our economy, our food system, and our history that serve to tear us apart. In my studies I am working to develop Cloud 9 Rooftop Farm as a vehicle for diverse community cohesion, discourse that advances social justice, a tool for community food justice, and a method for deepened sense of place and stewardship.

More information on Cloud 9 can be found at

Posted in Community Building, Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Right Livelihood/ Making a Living, Social Innovation, Sustainability, Sustainable Businesses and Communities | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Social Innovation: Disrupting Paradigms by SIS Faculty Sarah Bobrow-Williams

The white policeman..finds himself at the very center of the revolution

now occurring in the world. He is not prepared for it – naturally, nobody is -and what is possibly much more to the point, he is exposed, as few white

people are, to the anguish of the black people around him…….

James Baldwin, Esquire, 1960

What is social innovation? What is sustainability? And, who gets to decide? These questions weave their way through our “SIS” conversations.

Sustainability is about negotiating balance so that neither human or natural life is compromised. When we veer away from the affirmation of life in our systems, be they social or natural, multiple points suffer downstream. According to Donella meadows, nature teaches us that the most awe inspiring intervention in a system is its inherent capacity to transform itself. Meadows likewise proposes that the most powerful leverage point in transforming social systems is disrupting paradigms.

I find myself asking, “what will it take to disrupt a paradigm that upholds the notion that the systemic gunning down of unarmed black men by state sanctioned guardians is justifiable?” It will take nothing short of embracing “Black Lives.” Hopefully the surfacing of “Black Lives Matter” is an indication of our inherent capacity to transform ourselves.

The capacity to transform ourselves, whether we call it social innovation, sustainability or disrupting paradigms, requires openness – a willingness to connect and integrate insights outside of ourselves. Openness is not simply about acceptance, it is about breaking down our immunity and allowing ourselves to engage from the very core of our beings in creative possibility. It is in this space of rawness, and vulnerability and in the spirit of connection, where the possibility for building new relationships and discovering innovative and sustainable ways of doing things emerge.

In what can be termed “the practice of social innovation” there is important work going on around how to facilitate genuine engagement that leads to sustainability – strengthening our capacity for connection and resilience. In the next SIS blog we will hear from Rania Campbell-Cobb,  a 3rd semester SIS student and the recent recipient of Goddard College’s Sustainability Entrepreneurs’ Grant. Rania is the founder of Cloud 9, a non-profit partnership that engages local residents, youth, and a core group of unlikely allies in urban rooftop gardening as a means of nurturing connections essential to re-envisioning new ways of living and being in community.

Posted in Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Economics, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Faculty, Right Livelihood/ Making a Living, Social Innovation, Sustainability | Tagged | Leave a comment

What Story Are You Changing?: A Special Event at the Residency

IMG_2436To launch Transformative Language in Action, a new anthology co-edited by GGI’s Ruth Farmer and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, students, faculty, and the public gathered for a special event to explore what stories we’re changing and challenging with our work, activism, art, and community-building.

The event kicked off with a panel discussion featuring Farmer, Mirriam-Goldberg, and other contributors to the anthology: GGI alumni, faculty members Katt Lissard and Jim Sparrell, and student Seema Reza. Additionally, Jennye Patterson, a current student, who is editing the anthology Queering Sexual Violence also brought her perspective to the panel on life-changing stories and story-changing lives. The panelists presented perspectives on the stories we subvert, revise or leave behind by sharing moments they’ve experienced in areas diverse as a cancer writing and arts group, public schooIMG_2431ls, the queer community, social change theater in a small south Africa country, a housing authority, a community college, and military hospitals.

The lively discussion that followed explored not only what story people are changing, but who gets (and doesn’t get) to tell the story, the role of mythology in our lives, the dangers of suppressing our deepest stories, and how and when to tell our stories. Transformative Language-1c

Transformative Language Arts in Action, published by Rowan and Littlefield, includes essays on and interviews with Goddard students, faculty, alumni, and others in the world who resonate with Transformative Language Arts, plus “snapshots” — small vignettes on what it means to be a transformative language artists — on writers, storytellers, activists, community leaders, performers, musicians, educators and others using the power of words to catalyze positive change in communities.

Posted in Coaching, Community Building, Creative Writing, Creativity & Imagination, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Fiction, journal-Writing, Memoir, Life Writing & Autobiography, Multiculturalism & Diversity Studies, Music, Mythology & the Oral Tradition, Queer Studies, Transformative Language Arts | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Faculty Residency Workshops Cross Boundaries in Psychology, Science, Culture, Religion, Politics, Community and History

The theme of our spring 2015 residency was Crossing Boundaries. Here’s a sampling of some of the workshops GGI faculty offered.

Francis Charet

Francis Charet

The Work of Stan Grof, with faculty member Francis X. Charet. Grof, a psychiatrist, is a leading representative of Transpersonal Psychology having worked in the areas of LSD research, altered states of consciousness and the incorporation of a spiritual perspective into the practice of psychotherapy. He has developed a method called Holotropic Breathwork that is widely used to uncover early experiences and to connect individuals to deeper parts of themselves.

What Story Are You Changing?: Challenging Dominant Stories Through Art,

Ruth and Caryn at Goddard

Ruth and Caryn at Goddard

Activism, and Community, with Program Director Ruth Farmer, Faculty Members Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Jim Sparrell, Returning Student, Seema Reza, Jennye Patterson, and Patricia Fontaine.  Join us for a panel discussion in celebration of the publication of the new anthology, Transformative Language Arts in Action. Come and consider how the work you are bringing. This event is also a book launch for Farmer and Mirriam-Goldberg’s co-edited book, Transformative Language Arts in Action, featuring all the panelists.

The Beloved Community: Transforming Boundaries and Achieving Sustainability in Our Activism, Work & Lives, with faculty members Caryn Miriam-Goldberg and Sarah Bobrow-Williams. In a 1957 speech, Birth of A New Nation, Dr. King said, “The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community.” Dr. King described The Beloved Community as achieved through integration, which is genuine inter-group and inter-personal living. Only through nonviolence can this goal be attained, for the aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of the Beloved Community.”

Shards of Memory’ & Imagination: Crossing, Migration, Transculturation, Hybridity…(Stamped on the Body?) with faculty member Karen Campbell. We’ll examine concepts of border crossing, migration, hybridity, transculturation, place, embodiment in artistic/medicinal/ economic/historical practices, linguistic/physical experiences, and theoretical debates; and in other areas relevant to your studies.

45768_477089016176_7186500_nSeeing Across Boundaries, with faculty member Lise Weil. Part 1 is a film screening of “The Labyrinth: The Testimony of Marian Kolodziej,” a thirty-seven-minute film devoted to the remarkable artwork of Marian Kolodziej, who was taken to Auschwitz in the first transport at age 17 and emerged four years later weighing 36 kilo. For fifty years he did not speak of this experience; during those years he became a celebrated stage designer in Poland. The stories emerged only when began to draw after a stroke at the age of 70. Once he began drawing he was unable to stop. The drawings became a way for him to keep his promises to friends who died in the camp and asked him to tell people what happened there. Part II focuses on “Othered Forms of Seeing”: Knowledge that comes to us through forms of perception that cross over into nonconscious, chthonic or invisible realms is not generally recognized or validated by the assumptions of Western mind. We’ll share vital information that has come to us through such forms of perception, which may take the form of clairvoyance, intuition, precognition, dreams, nonlocal mind, waking visions, or communications with spirits and with nonhuman beings. We will pay special attention to the language we use to describe these forms of seeing. Of interest to students

Image Theatre: Serious Play at the Boundaries of Body & Word, with faculty member Katt Lissard. Using a combination of Augusto Boal’s Image Theatre (an interactive Theatre of the Oppressed method) and the evolving creative process of The Winter/Summer Institute’s (WSI’s) experiment in collaborative international performance, we’ll explore communicating both without and with words. We’ll start with the body, empha304631_10150380193407744_264370680_nsizing non-verbal imagery and “physical dialogues.” We’ll also explore WSI’s notion of a “shared platform of ideas” and the use of “creative tasks” – drawing from our collective experiences (both good & bad) of the first few days of the residency: events, presentations, interactions, mealtimes and random conversations. Our time together will be fast and focused on learning some physically-anchored tools/methods for collaborative community building and problem-solving while also (maybe) making some engaging, provocative, and even entertaining, scenes – always keeping in mind that “politics must never come at the expense of aesthetics.”

Into the Woods and Over the Edge: New Ways to Write Critically & Creatively Through Mythopoetics, with faculty member Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. Myth, a word which encapsulates our dominant cultural narratives, tells us who we are, where we come from, and how we are to live our lives. “Poesis,” the Greek root word for poetry, means, “to make,” and more precisely, to remake language to bring the world alive in new ways. No wonder then that myth and poesis are irresistible to one another – historically (look at the whole oral tradition, which often uses poetic devices as vessels to hold myths), culturally (look at how cultures around the world across time combine myth and poetry), and epistemologically (look at how both poetry and myth embrace how we know what we know). Many contemporary writers continue this tradition as way to question and subvert cultural traditions by examining the cultural, religious, political and other myths of our time, and/or creating whole new mythologies that map out new stories (or recovered old stories) that show us how to live.

3100_67090926234_165631_nBoundary Making in Science, with faculty member Sarah Van Hoy. This workshop will explore the ways that scientific facts are constructed and deployed in the service of various political and economic interests. We will examine how European science evolved as an extension of colonialism and how this shapes the contemporary narratives we have about Science capital ‘s’. We’ll look at various theories and approaches in the field of Science and Technology Studies to see how we can use them to open up science and examine contemporary scientific debates.

Crossing Boundaries: Respecting Boundaries, with Faculty member Jim 45768_477089001176_7000879_nSparrell and returning student Robin Stone. In this workshop we will consider how to create ethical space for research that challenges dominant cultural narratives to explore personal, embodied human experience. We will discuss the process of ethical review through the IRB screening form, as well as developing questions, finding participants, creating a safe and affirming space, recording interviews, and presenting the results. Robin will present some video examples from her research.

Posted in Activism, African-American Studies, Arts-Based Inquiry, Community Building, Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Creative Writing, Creativity & Imagination, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Faculty, History & Political Science, Jungian Psychology, Memoir, Life Writing & Autobiography, Multiculturalism & Diversity Studies, Mythology & the Oral Tradition, Right Livelihood/ Making a Living, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goddard Graduate Institutes Graduate Complete Diverse Studies

Some of our graduates (from left): Kris Hege, Pamela McGrath, Laura Ely, Jayne Kraman, and Kathleen Cullen

Some of our graduates (from left): Kris Hege, Pamela McGrath, Laura Ely, Jayne Kraman, and Kathleen Cullen

We recently held another graduation for the Goddard Graduate Institute, featuring students who studied everything from gut health to a Brazilian martial art to online gaming. Here are the descriptions of graduating student presentations student gave at the February 2015 residency.

Feeding My Gut: Rediscovering life in the body, the earth and on the pla10414552_10203772795773895_1723762141935073295_nte, with HAS graduating student Jayne Kraman. This work explores my experiences and study in defining and living a nourished life. The focus is on life in the gut and its role in the health of all systems of the body. It also relates life in the gut with life in the earth and how that relationship determines not only personal and environmental health but also the fact that one does not exist without the other. The presentation will focus on how expanding concepts of integrative and ecological health includes their influences on each other and how they become each other. Overall the piece addresses how recognition of dynamic systems internally and externally creates the nourishment essential to sustainable living.

Flip Your Health On: The components of health individuals have direct access to and the pathway to change and transformation, with HAS graduating student Laura Ely. What are the components to physical health and how do we change to healthier practices? This presentation will look at the process of my exploration and we’ll go through parts of the final project workbook which explores key components of health such as diet, movement, mindfulness and elements of habit and change-making. The project workbook offers step by step guidance in the what and how of creating a healthy lifestyle, while the context paper examines more deeply the suggestions proposed in the workbook. The project takes the position that individuals have some degree of agency in relation to these aspects of health, while it is acknowledged that such agency is not absolute.

10547565_10152298742416274_6144446467016108004_nHealing the Heart: An Autoethnographic Study of How Capoeira Catalyzes Emotional Healing, with HAS graduating student Pamela McGrath. Healing the Heart depicts a journey of self renewal and recovery from trauma due to loss of a parent, and explains how others can reshape their own lives and recover from loss through healing movement. Through part of her research, Pamela interviewed teachers and students of the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira, and along w/video footage, and created and produced a short documentary film which will be shown during the presentation.

Love and Rage: Creating Survivor-Centric Justice in Opposition to Rape Culture, with IMA graduating student Kris Hege. Although it is true that there are some things that can never be fully restored after sexual violence, we as a society can do a lot more for victims than we do. This lack of responsiveness to the needs of victims is the product of a rape culture that tells us that sexual violence is normal and usually the fault of the victim. An array of long-term survivor support services that allow women the space to heal together and learn from each other at their own pace and on their own terms may be the next step in creating true restorative justice that is more concerned with the needs of victims than punishment of offenders, built on empathy and compassion for survivors, and committed to reversing the pervasive societal messages of rape culture.

Obesity and the Fallacy of the Self-Responsibility Model, with HAS graduating 10629773_10154491286865858_6417422899976062012_nstudent Michelle Warwick. Obesity is labeled as an epidemic in the United States. The mainstream prevention and treatment methods in solving this epidemic rely on the individual, by asking the individual to change their eating patterns, incorporate exercise, and reduce stress in their daily lives. I refer to this as the self-responsibility model. The self-responsibility model asks the individual to be the solution to the obesity epidemic, but this is problematic as it is the individual’s social structures that impede their access to wellness. This thesis & presentation is an interdisciplinary look at the origins of obesity and the critical role environment plays in obesogenic behavior. It explains why we must look beyond the self-responsibility model and change the conversation to consider first how we can manipulate the environment to create wellness changes for the collective. By looking at new questions, methods, and opportunities, obesity can become an epidemic of the past.

Online Games as Institutions of Dissent, with IMA graduating student Michael Carlson. A look at how online games, might be suited to manage complex, “real world” problems.

Regular Janes: Ordinary Girls Take A Giant Step,with HAS graduating student Kathleen Cullen. This presentation will examine how the practice of a Community Health Educator, through the integration of local professional talent and experience, can create and implement a community-based intervention program designed to address the numerous developmental needs of urban-living, adolescent girls and young adult females who lack agency, self motivation and direction using a “community as method” approach.

Posted in Child & Human Development, Coaching, Community Building, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Health Arts & Sciences, Life Sciences, Multiculturalism & Diversity Studies, Nutrition, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ezra Berkley Nepon Wins Leeway Foundation Transformation Award


Ezra Berkley Nepon, photo by Karen Kirchoff

According to the Leeway Foundation, which just awarded Ezra Berkley Nepon a 2014 Leeway Foundation Transformation Award,  “Ezra’s work an artist and activist comes from their hunger for stories and spaces that allow marginalized people to know they are not alone.” Leeway’s Transformation Award recognizes women and trans* artists and cultural producers whose work has impacted a larger group, audience, or community.

Ezra, a graduate of Goddard’s IMA (2013) and IBA (2006), established new ground as a people’s historian using Transformative Language Arts approaches to tell the stories of arts-based activism in their thesis, Unleashing Power in Yiddishland and Faerieland: Spectacular Theatrical Strategies for Resistance and Resilience. Ezra also has an article, “Zamlers, Tricksters, and Queers: Re-Mixing Histories in Yiddishland and Faerieland,” published in the new anthology, Transformative Language Arts in Action, and Ezra is the author of Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue: A History of the New Jewish Agenda. See more about Ezra at their website, and see the Leeway Foundation Announcement.

Posted in Activism, Arts-Based Inquiry, History & Political Science, Multiculturalism & Diversity Studies, Theater, Drama & Playwriting, Transformative Language Arts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Lise Weil on Dark Matter: Women Witnessing

45768_477089016176_7186500_nLise Weil is a writer, scholar and activist who teaches in the Goddard Graduate Institute.

On November 4 of this year, I launched an online journal, Dark Matter: Women Witnessing, in response to the unprecedented changes humans are facing in an age of massive species loss and ecological disaster. As most of the world goes on with business as usual, others are asking: “How do we live in these times?” Dark Matter is a home for the voices of these others; we welcome writing in all forms and genres, and artwork in all mediums, as well as dreams and visions responding to the urgencies of this time. The first issue included one article by a current Graduate Institute student, two by alums, and poetry by a MFA-W faculty.

Dark Matter arose organically out of my involvement in Embodiment Studies, a focus area in the GGI from which lots of compelling, groundbreaking student work is emerging. In Embodiment Studies, we attend to our lives as bodies in a physical universe, and I believe it’s exactly this awareness of the larger corporeal world in which our lives are embedded, and on which they depend, that’s going to have to grow if we’re to have a liveable future. This means, among other things, learning to listen to the voices of animals, plants, and the earth herself.

UntitledIt’s been exhilarating lately to hear and see so much silence being broken about human crimes against other human beings. Recently, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the murder of 14 women engineering students in Montreal, where I live, dozens of voices spoke out clearly and strongly in the media against misogyny in all the varied shapes it takes around the world. And, since the recent jury decisions in the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown by white police officers, millions have been out in the streets in the U.S. demonstrating about racism and police brutality. I dream of the day when we can mobilize the same kind of outrage on behalf of the earth that we are altering so radically and the species we share this planet with who are dying out as a result of human mindlessness and greed.

I was surprised by the volume and quality of the material I received for the first issue – with very little in the way of advertising. It became clear right away that Dark Matter was filling an important need. Responses since the issue went live have confirmed this. My favorite was from a reader who wrote “Be prepared to be exalted and heart-broken, as well as inspired!” Another wrote: “To me these writings are about finding sanity in an insane world.”

I want Dark Matter to continue to be a vehicle for growing our connectedness to the more-than-human world, and ultimately for healing our broken relationship to the earth. AND I want to continue to publish work by students and alumna of the Graduate Institute and other Goddard programs. I see a natural fit between Dark Matter and what’s at the core of a Goddard education: deep questioning, facing hard issues, going to the root of problems and looking for the right medicine.

Posted in Activism, Creative Writing, Creativity & Imagination, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies | Tagged , | Leave a comment