5 Tips for Maintaining Wellness in the Struggle by Taina Asili

pic51Taina Asili, singer-songwriter, activist, and touring artist — and a graduate of the Transformative Language Arts program,  recently shared a deeply thoughtful and inspiring post, featuring tips she and Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm came up with after being inspired by a talk by Aviva Romm, MD at the Oct. 23 Connecting For Change conference in New Bedford, MA. Taina writes,

As women of color, our obstacles are huge, our work is urgent, and the negative effect of stress on our bodies is severe. And despite all this, there are many ways we have learned to care for ourselves that we already incorporate our lives, inspired by the wisdom passed on by our ancestors, elders, community and our own creative Spirits.

Taina and her band y la Banda Rebelde, “combine powerful vocals with an energetic fusion of Afro-Latin, reggae and rock. The six-piece ensemble from Albany, NY, led by Puerto Rican vocalist Taina Asili, offer a sound that spans continents, exuding strength of Spirit, inspiring audiences to dance to the movement of rebellion,” according to her website. Check out the post here, and also a free download of Taini Asili’s song “Freedom.”

Posted in Activism, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies, Multiculturalism & Diversity Studies, Singing & Songwriting, Transformative Language Arts | Leave a comment

GGI Faculty Member’s Project Highlighted in Film Festival

wsi2009DVDfrontThe Contamination Waltz, a short film about the Winter/Summer Institute (WSI) — which GGI faculty member Katt Lissard is artistic director of — was just named an official selection of the 28th Annual Dallas VideoFest (October 12th-18th). Here’s a description of the film, which focuses on the role of Multiple Concurrent Partnerships in the spread of HIV:

Since 2006 WSI has been making theater in Lesotho (a land locked country inside of South Africa) as part of the regions fight against HIV/AIDS. This short video offers a look at WSI’s creative process with student performers and theater professionals from three continents. Set against the beautiful landscape of Southern Africa the video also gives a glimpse into the traditional culture of rural villagers who participate in and watch the performances

Katt Lissard

Katt Lissard

WSI is a collaborative, international HIV/AIDS theatre project based in New York City and Lesotho, southern Africa. You can check out the Festival here: http://videofest.org/ and watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skI7Zi4_Luo

Posted in African Studies, Arts-Based Inquiry, Community Building, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism & Diversity Studies, Theater, Drama & Playwriting, Transformative Language Arts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Linda Porter Brings Together Menopause and Martial Arts in Workshop and Thesis

Linda Porter, a Black Belt in Karate and current student in the Goddard Graduate Institute looked toward her own life experience to find the main focus for her studies: the confluence between menopause and Karate. That focus is not only central to her thesis project, in process right now, but to her work in her community in Bristol, Maine, recently featured in the Lincoln County News. She’ll be teaching a workshop on martial arts and menopause at a local community center later this month.  Read more about Linda’s journey and her upcoming workshop here.


Posted in Health Arts & Sciences | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Art, Sustainability, the Materials Economy and More with Nicolette Stosur-Bassett

NSB_charity1I’m fortunate to have been raised in a family environment that really valued education. I was privileged growing up to attend a variety of learning institutions where I was exposed to diverse pedagogies, many of which valued independent study and self-learning at their core. That being said, 4 years of public high school left me jaded and disappointed by years of forced learning and irrelevant expectations; I didn’t know what t I was learning or why, and was left wanting with questions on the application of my learning in real world (and its even real-er job market).

I was living in Vermont when I found out about Goddard. Attempting to explain Goddard’s IBA program, someone told me, “You can study whatever you want!” “Whatever you want?” I asked in disbelief. That spring, I attended the graduating presentation of a student whose work explored the female orgasm. The presentation traversed her own sexual history, the politics of women’s bodies, historical medical research informing popular understandings of women’s health, and the cultural context of women’s sexual liberation. Her presentation was interesting, well-researched, and strikingly original and I was proud to see her graduate at Commencement.

Whatever you want, really.

NSB_charity3I was drawn to Goddard for its opportunity. The opportunity to study and explore topics of personal interest, the opportunity to engage with your learning in the real world, the opportunity for self-development that independent study forces students to confront.

As an undergrad in Goddard’s Individualized Studies program, I was first interested in exploring alternative business structures; I wanted to develop a cooperative business that championed a convergence of the arts, performance, community space, skills-based learning, tool-sharing, and a shared commitment to sustainability. I integrated my creative energies into my studies through academic research on design, color theory, creating spaces, place-making, set design, and the built environment. Seeing economic sustainability as a central tenant of my work, I began to explore unique business models, taking queues from the corporate world, nonprofit sector, sustainable innovators and small community businesses. I attended conferences and lectures, organized internships, took a job in the industry and was able to incorporate all of these lived experiences into my Goddard curriculum.

I had envisioned my undergraduate thesis as a month-long, community-based, pop-up art emersion in New York City, where I was living at the time. Unable to accommodate my ambitions in the city’s competitive rental market, I instead focused my efforts on writing a comprehensive exploration of sustainable business in the United States. I conducted interviews with business owners and thought leaders around the country, researched the capitalist economic paradigm, explored government subsidies to industry, challenged dominant forms of economic measurement (GDP) and offered my take on sustainable alternatives that benefited people, planet and profit.

Not only did I graduate informed by a wealth of practical, relevant and timely knowledge (that I sought out and thought through myself), but because of Goddard’s Being, Knowing, Doing pedagogy, I also graduated with professional experience in my field, something very few Bachelor’s graduates can say. Goddard prepared me for the professional world by providing invaluable opportunities to see how my ideas translated into potential career paths. The college’s independent study approach has prompted me to question, with academic integrity, the very foundations of my personal and professional ambitions. Through the accountability, determination, clarity of thought and perseverance necessary to conduct an independent study, I have become much more thoughtful in my considerations, confident in my ability to integrate insights across diverse disciplines and take pride in my time/project management skills – all of which were a direct result of my learning at Goddard. I know how I think, how I learn, the time it takes for me to complete projects, how to draft a course of study – all skills that have translated seamlessly into my professional career.

Left with questions unanswered, I recently enrolled in the Social Innovation and Sustainability MA program and am excited to explore topics that emerged during my undergraduate coursework. After careful consideration in selecting a Master’s program, I chose Goddard because it was the only institution that would let me study my passions and provide a healthy work/life balance. So far, my SIS work has involved academic 1925283_10152415935785172_1524247482458486679_nresearch on the materials economy, creating/curating a waste-based photo series, event production, professional outreach and development, personal branding, web design, designing an economic impact study, application design – and I’m only halfway through my second semester! (More info at dynamic-nicolette.com)

At this point, I plan to pursue post-graduate doctoral research and know with absolute certainty that without Goddard, I probably would have never even graduated undergrad. Goddard has given me opportunities to rigorously explore my own learning and provided me with a community that’s worth its weight in gold. I have learned to be a better person: to be more patient, more understanding, consider unknown positions, be respectful and think systemically because of Goddard. This experience has been one of the best of my entire life.

Posted in Activism, Creativity & Imagination, Social Innovation, Sustainability, Sustainable Businesses and Communities | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Power of Words Conference Celebrates Transformative Language Arts


Jimmy Santiago Baca and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

The 12th annual Power of Words conference, held Sept 17-21 at Unity Village in Kansas City, MO., brought together over 110 writers, storytellers, artists, activists, educators, change-makers, health professionals and visionaries to explore how writing, storytelling, performance, and other arts can change our world, our communities, our lives for the better. The conference, founded at Goddard College, is now a project of the Transformative Language Arts Network, which has a partnership with Goddard that grants scholarships for any Goddard program to people who complete the TLA Network’s certification program.

The conference featured over 50 presenters, including one of the world’s most beloved poets, Jimmy Santiago Baca, who himself found the power of words when many years ago, in the middle of a botched robbery and about to kill someone, he heard a voice that told him not to or he would never be a poet (read TLA founder and coordinator Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s account of his story and other such turning point stories in the Huffington Post).

Sha Cage performing

Sha Cage performing

Other highlights included a mesmerizing performance by Sha Cage and E.G. Bailey, founders of the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, actors, producers, writers, activists, and musicians who presented not only their stunningly-embodied spoken word work but a mosaic of projects in their community, particularly with young people. Darren Canady, an award-winning playwright, acted out scenes from his work, bringing us powerful portraits of what it means to be African-American in rural America as well as how issues of race and power effect gay and trans people in various situations. Xanath Caraza performed her poetry in three languages: English, Spanish, and her native Aztec, and even led the audience in calling out Aztec goddesses in a particularly musical poem.

Laura Packer (photo by Kelly DuMar)

Laura Packer (photo by Kelly DuMar)

The conference kicked off with “Songs and Stories from the Heartland: Take Five,” featuring a combination of seasoned and young performers sharing their work. Michael Murphree and Natanyael  each shared their original music, a combination of rock, folk, and jazz. Jazz singer-songwriter Stephanie Moore dazzled us all with her off-the-charts scatting and wide vocal range. Storytellers Priscilla Howe and Laura Packer performed original stories of great wit, creativity, humor, and surprise. On the other end of the conference, the closing performance featured poet Annette Billings and her life-giving, passionate and vivid poetry as well as singer-songwriter Joy Zimmerman, who brought many of us to our dancing feet with her powerful and lyrical music. In between, there were dozens of workshops and

Unity Village

Unity Village

performances that explored topics such as how to make a new life in song, dance and writing after a debilitating and catastrophic health issue (Amy Oestreicher in her one-woman show); re-envisioning democracy (Diane Silver in a thoughtful workshop); grief, ritual and improvisation as a creative and political tool (mia susan amir and Freddy Guiterrez in an interactive performance), and hidden storytelling skills for right livelihood and community (Doug Lipman). See all the workshops here.

Stephanie Moore and Natanyael

Stephanie Moore and Natanyael

Held in a stunning location featuring many fountains (Kansas City is known for its fountaions), rose gardens, and trails, conference attendees also found moments of replenishment and beauty. Goddard College was proud to underwrite a reception and meet with alumni, prospective and current students thanks to admissions counselor superb Chip Cummings, and the TLA coordinator and Goddard Graduate Institute faculty member Katt Lissard.

Information on the next conference, on the coast of Maine, can be found here.

Posted in Arts-Based Inquiry, Community Building, Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Creative Writing, Creativity & Imagination, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies, journal-Writing, Memoir, Life Writing & Autobiography, Multiculturalism & Diversity Studies, Narrative Medicine, Narrative Therapy, Poetry, Poetry Therapy, Power of Words Conference, Queer Studies, Singing & Songwriting, Spiritual Memoir, Transformative Language Arts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beauty, Practice, and Enlightenment: Justin Kagan and Consciousness Studies at Goddard

IMG_9247I started thinking about the traditional relationship between beauty and practice and this unintentional detour gave way to the path I’m on now. By the end of this thesis, I intend to produce a theory to contribute to the immense body of knowledge that is Consciousness Studies, a theory that identifies the aesthetics of our consciousness and how different forms of practice, often informed by world traditions, develop consciousness differently.

My study began with some very big questions: What is enlightenment? How do we achieve it? How do we teach it?

My thesis is focusing on the relationship between consciousness, practice, and aesthetics. Specifically, I’m engaging the idea that there is something we can do to develop our consciousness and that the aesthetics of this practice have an affect on our experience. I am pulling from various world traditions to help elucidate this idea, identifying the aesthetics of their practices to provide commentary on how we approach our own ongoing development. For example, Zen meditation and New Age meditation  look and feel different. I am seeking to show how differences in aesthetics of practice like this change the context of our development and therefore affects the aesthetic of our developed consciousness. In short, the context of our practice determines the entire look and feel of the consciousness we develop from it.

Initially, the low residency model is what drew me to Goddard. I think a related question worth answering is what kept me at Goddard. The first residency was the coldest winter Vermont had seen in a some time and although I was prepared with all my gear, it was still a very foreign experience for this Florida grown boy. On top of the weather, I was working through my own issues of physical injury from a very recent car accident and the emotional questioning that comes with any significant investment of time and money. Anyone who has been to a residency at Goddard knows the ineffable magic of the space created there. Every single encounter is filled with the opportunity to discuss something interesting. Goddard students aren’t just studying the knowledge in their field; we’re creating it! So a meal at residency isn’t just sitting down to eat with friends — it’s an open discussion of interwoven scholarship giving rise to new views on old subjects and application of traditional knowledge to new views.

The most important thing I learned about myself at Goddard is that I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Goddard gave me the opportunity to explore my own interests and find their intersection in the academic world. I was able to study religion, culture, art, aesthetics, consciousness, philosophy, alchemy, meditation, pottery, yoga, and so much more. This has shown me how much I want to continue on this path, but also how much I want to share with others. I am working towards a college teaching position where I can help others find their paths and passions.

In a sense I feel I have answered some of my initial questions, at least as they pertain to my own experience: Enlightenment is awareness and knowing — knowing who I am and being aware of my place in this world. We each achieve it on our own path and in our own right. To be taught enlightenment is to learn how learn openly and consciously.

Posted in Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Philosophy & Neurophilosophy, Spirituality & Religion, Yoga | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bioneers’ Cultivating Women’s Leadership Training and Our Collective Power: Sarah Bobrow-Williams

10505616_10204715569545760_7509515869597883328_nSarah Bobrow-Williams, founder of the Social Innovation and Sustainability MA program and a faculty member, was part of a small group of women selected for Bioneers’ 2015 Cultivating Women’s Leadership training, held July 20-25 in Northern New Mexico, led by Nina Simons, Toby Erzlich, and Elsa Menendez to bring together women of diverse cultures, ages, and backgrounds. The training combining contemplative, interactive, creative and ritual practices emphasized finding ways to move through obstacles and to gain greater self-awareness, power and sense of purpose in a community of women. Although Sarah has done extensive trainings, workshops and study in women’s, community and environmental leadership and related topics, she found this training particularly good at helping her and the other women find the time and space for personal reflection as well as community-building. Sarah writes of her experience:

Rooted in values of respect, humility, creativity, intentionality and inquiry, CWL created a space for me to look at my relationship with myself and with other women in ways that made my purpose more vivid and enabled me to see how to strategically move beyond the legacy of bias and devaluation of woman (and all marginalized people) that prevents me from fully knowing myself and others and embracing our collective power.

Sarah found the daily integration of art, movement, mindfulness and storytelling with guided discussions on both internal and systemic challenges further developed her ocamorafacilitation and leadership capabilities. She says, “I experienced profound connections in both group and personal interactions that allowed me to lean into my own vulnerability and the vulnerability of others and to explore and embody new forms of leadership and self-identity with greater ease, in fact with joy; I experienced new sources of inner strength and inspiration from others.”

The training specifically connects “personal awareness practices with increased capacity to be bold and effective multi‐cultural leaders in the world,” according to its website. See what alumus have to say here.

Posted in Community Building, Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Environmental, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Faculty, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies, Multiculturalism & Diversity Studies, Social Innovation, Sustainability, Sustainable Businesses and Communities, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment