David White: Deconstructing “The White Man’s Indian” In Favor of Cultural Respect and Equality for All

10444379_712734498788545_9102908171576252971_nDavid White is working on his MA in Individualized Studies at Goddard‘s Graduate Institute.

My work has always been about exploring the ways in which identities are constructed, and how those constructions shape the beliefs and experiences of those who choose – or are forced – to embody them. For example, I’m currently working on my thesis, which is an analysis of the primitive/modern dichotomy created by white America during the industrial age (1860-1920) in an effort to establish the modern American identity. Though this process was really quite complex, I believe that its success depended heavily on Western society’s cultural construction of a binary opposite that wasn’t simply an Other, but an anachronistic Other – and there was arguably no better symbol of pre-modern America than the Native peoples who inhabited the land before first-contact.

Simply put, through stereotype, myth, and rhetoric, the dominant culture created a universal Indian (primitive, savage, and decidedly non-Christian) to symbolize the past that they were attempting to define themselves apart from – or in some cases embrace – during the push towards modernity.

While this is in many ways a historical research project, my goal is to not simply belabor the sins of America’s past, but rather my hope is that I can demonstrate how this now archetypal “white man’s Indian” was constructed and perpetuated, to shed light on the variety of ways that it has impacted the lives of Native peoples and cultures, and emphasize how it can and should be deconstructed in favor of cultural understandings that are more realistic and respectful.

Despite being separated by over one hundred years, there are many similarities between the industrial era and the present day, particularly when it comes to white constructions of ethnic or racial identities. So, while I do hope that my work can contribute to the academic, social, and political dialogs around Native or Indigenous representation, autonomy, and self-determination, my goal is to emphasize that these cultural constructions of the Other are not unique to Native/Western relations, or limited to the past, but rather they remain an all too common element of American culture that carry profound and lasting effects for the individuals and groups onto whom they are applied.

As someone who is not of Native heritage, and whose work has until recently been focused on mid-to-late 20th century American history and culture, this work has had a significant impact on my perspectives on everything from research methodologies and federal policy to cultural appropriation and the construction of historical narratives. Though, if I was asked to identify one thing that surprised me the most, it would have to be when I began to accept that I am no more immune to falling for or creating unrealistic identities of an Other than anyone else would be. While I was well aware of the complexities of colonial history and the nuances of the American empire, it was only after months of research that it occurred to me that I had been relying on my own version of the Native/Western binary system in which I had cast the Western majority as the tyrannical villain and the Native minority as the peaceful and unfortunate victim. Though this perspective was certainly well-intended, it also reduced hundreds of enormous and wildly diverse groups into two inaccurate and unrealistic camps that are no more useful than the archetypes of cowboy and Indian. It was somewhat startling to recognize this in my writing, but I think that this is the point at which my work took a turn away from romantic and idealistic rhetoric, and towards becoming what I hope it will be: the kind of honest analysis that is capable of contributing something important to the struggle for equality in the United States.

Having always been the type of person that needs to figure things out for themselves, rather than follow a prescribed list of resources or course syllabus, and the environment and faculty at Goddard have offered the flexibility and patience required for taking a somewhat esoteric or under-developed idea and turning it into a solid work that is the culmination of my own ideas and passion, rather than just something that meets some universal criteria for graduate education. My thesis goals are ambitious, I admit, but if there’s any institution that will give me the tools and support needed to achieve them, it’s definitely Goddard.

Posted in Activism, Anthropology, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, History & Political Science, Identity, Methodology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Britta Love: How Sex, Drugs and Embodied Magic Can Change the World

10547593_10203100469327295_9106848512309123943_nI’m in the IMA Consciousness Studies program, exploring how sex (intentional/conscious sensuality) and drugs (psychedelics) can be used to facilitate healing and spiritual experiences. This semester I’m exploring some embodiment studies ideas around intuitive touch and other embodied knowledge, adding breadth to the more traditional academic research I did the last two semesters and using some of my own experiences as research to pull from as well. I’m excited to be doing work that examines and breaks down some of our traditional dualisms such as mind/body, spiritual/physical, and sacred/profane.

We live in a culture where sex and drugs are taboo topics we often giggle about – but rarely take a closer look.  I believe we are often driven towards intoxication and intimacy because they are some of the most accessible ways to facilitate what we call “altered” states of consciousness – states that can be healing and lead to spiritual awakening when used intentionally.  However, since we get little instruction in our puritanical society, our use of sex and drugs is pretty unintentional and tends towards dysfunction.  I hope that through doing this research and sharing it with a wider audience, we can start to change that.

In doing so I think this becomes a much bigger topic than individual healing and spiritual growth.  The “awakening” and reconnecting to our human tribe and planet earth that many experience through these altered states is what we so urgently need at this time of global crisis.  I believe these experiences can be powerful catalysts to make that crucial shift in our societal consciousness.

IMG_0069Through some of my recent work in embodiment studies I’ve come to realize on a personal level how much intuitive information and knowledge we have on a daily basis that often gets ignored – before it even fully reaches our awareness.

It amazes me that through doing an academic program I feel I’m learning to fine tune and trust my own personal intuition. My research has had real-world implications for my day-to-day ability to “tune in”.

I can’t imagine many other places I could be doing this work.  Goddard is an incredible place and I’ve learned and grown so much in this past year.  I’m working more intensely than I ever have – because we have the freedom to follow our passion wherever it takes us and the passion drives the work.  You also have an incredibly inspired community around you of other self-driven people who are all highly motivated by their personal vision of how they can contribute to a better world.  It’s an ethos that makes coming to Goddard residency something really magical.

Posted in Activism, Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Epistemology (how we know what we know), Philosophy & Neurophilosophy | Tagged | Leave a comment

Kris Hege: Survivor-Centric Resiliency Support for Sexual Assault Survivors

KrisHPhotoWoCGoddard is more than a school or an institution, it is more than a campus and faculty and staff. It is a garden where seeds of passion and inspiration are planted, nourished, and grow, sometimes wildly, into extraordinary forces of healing, empowerment, and justice for ourselves, our communities, and the world.

I came to Goddard (for Individualized MA study) with a deep sensitivity to the ubiquity of rape culture in the United States and the resulting pervasive message that sexual violence is encouraged, normalized, and ultimately the survivor’s fault. Knowing that technology has played a significant role in the dissemination of these violent and oppressive messages in our society, I hoped that I might find a way to use my experience from nearly 20 years as a computer programmer and data analyst to employ technology to do something in opposition to rape culture; perhaps through discussion groups, online activism networks, or some educational platform.

At the same time that I started at Goddard I also started doing some alternative (restorative) justice volunteer work on a Circle of Support and Accountability (CoSA) through the Brattleboro Community Justice Center. In that capacity I became very interested in questions surrounding justice. What is justice? How is justice created? What are the strengths and limitations on traditional justice criminal justice models? How are punishment and justice related? What are some alternative justice models? Do any of these models serve sexual assault survivors? What kind of model might better serve sexual assault survivors? To answer these questions I surveyed several theories of justice and examined a wide range of criminal justice practices both traditional State-run systems and alternative community-based options. I also continued my engagement and critically examined the CoSA work I was doing. I began to question the victim-centric philosophy of the restorative justice model in cases like murder or sexual violence where what has been taken or destroyed can never truly be restored. I began to envision what justice might look like from a truly survivor-centered community-based perspective. This raised a new question: Can a new victim support service for battered women be developed that engenders the political, philosophical, and grassroots spirit of feminist-run rape crisis centers; provides individualized long-term support and care like restorative justice Circles of Support and Accountability; and maintains itself in a volunteer run, non-professionalized, and self-sustaining model like Alcoholics Anonymous and other peer-support networks?

Through all of this I have envisioned and am in the earliest stages of implementing a self-sustaining, volunteer-run, community-based, survivor-centric resiliency support network for sexual assault survivors in my local community. This network will work closely with and extend the services of local crisis intervention organizations to add long-term peer-support to their catalog of survivor resource options.  The network will work with survivors in direct opposition to the inherent injustice of rape culture to provide a more just and compassionate community response to sexual and domestic violence. Additionally it will draw on the tremendous emotional, spiritual, and psychological healing power that comes from women supporting women.

As excited and hopeful as I am about this project, I am equally excited and passionate about the Goddard model of adult education. Each semester I am inspired by students and faculty who are true visionaries doing amazing work in the world. As a representative on student and academic councils I have also had a unique opportunity to get more deeply involved in this institution founded on the idea that self-directed education can help build a more civil and just society. I have seen this community that sometimes seems so dispersed live up to that philosophy by pulling together with tremendous compassion and courage in the face of injustice.

Posted in Activism, Community Building, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jody Frey: From Place-Based Arts to the Art of Justice

for CarynThere is nothing more beautiful to behold than a person who has just discovered courage.

After graduation and a full recovery from the IMA program’s happy exhaustion (studying place-based arts), I began looking for ways to sustain the academic fitness I had developed. On a dare, I sat for a Law School Admission Test. On the strength of those scores and my B.A. (Sterling College) transcript, I applied to and was accepted by three New England law schools; but on the strength of my Goddard IMA experience I have opted instead to take Vermont’s alternative route to a Bar license: law office study, or “reading law.” This lengthy part-time apprenticeship model requires a successful application to the Board of Bar Examiners, a sponsoring attorney, and a good deal of academic discipline, because the burden of scholarship and documentation of learning is largely on the students.

My sponsoring attorney’s practice is dominated by family law matters such as divorce, parentage, and relief-from-abuse proceedings. These are typically highly transformative life events that completely rearrange one’s worldview. The ride is rarely gentle. In my own divorce I experienced firsthand the way competent and compassionate legal representation will mercifully hasten the resolution of a matter, and thus clear the way for emotionally spent people to get on with what really matters: the journey forward into the rest of their lives.

There’s a kind of inherent duty that comes with having earned a degree:  I ask myself, Now that I have it, what shall I do with it?  In the arts classes I teach at Sterling College, I frequently draw on my degree work by incorporating themes I learned from my Goddard advisors: Ellie Epp’s embodiment studies, Ralph Lutts’ place studies, and Jim Sparrell’s attention to story.  I teach my students that as artists we develop our bodies’ knowledge and skills, we situate our work in the context of places we have been or wish to be, and we voice our stories through our work.  My law office studies suggest that empathetic legal practice involves similar and parallel concepts: embodiment studies teach me to understand how another body feels, which aids in mediation and negotiation. Place studies help me understand how traditions of culture influence perspectives and dictate behaviors. Attentive, non-judgmental listening helps me to dispel confusion and sort out people’s goals, two important steps on the road to resolution.

Posted in Activism, Community Building, Creative Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Workshops at Fall Residency

One of Jim Sparrell's photos

One of Jim Sparrell’s photos

With the Goddard Graduate Institute’s first official residency just over, we wanted to share with you a sampling of the kinds of workshops faculty and students offered at the Plainfield, Vermont campus between Aug. 8-15, 2014. Our residency theme, “Climate and Climate Change,” threaded through many of these workshops (note: HAS = Health Arts and Sciences MA, IMA = Individualized MA, SIS = Social Innovation and Sustainability Program).

Barbets, Bulbuls, and Bee-eaters: A Bird’s Eye View of Ecological Resiliency, Complexity, and Beauty in Vietnam, with faculty member Jim Sparrell. This workshop traces a trip to Vietnam last August in which I found myself contemplating questions of monoculture, pollution, nature and commerce, and the mind-blowing beauty of the natural world in anunfamiliar setting. Cat Tien National Park was the site of one of the most severe applications of Agent Orange in the country; while its effects continue to be evident today, the park is also teeming with diverse wildlife. I will discuss how critical thinking and shifting perspectives can lead to an emerging global ecological consciousness that is less anthropocentric.

Breaking the Taboo: Healing with Sex and Drugs, with IMA-CS student Britta Love. Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll goes the old adage… some may be able to conceive of music as a healing modality but sex… and drugs? Yet transcendent sex is as old as time itself, sexual healing is more than just a Marvin Gaye song, psychoactive plants are almost universally used throughout human cultures (as well as by animals!) and many currently Schedule I drugs are suddenly enjoying a renaissance in legitimate medical study for a range of disorders with surprising results. Come find out more with a short presentation

Britta Love

Britta Love

followed by group discussion.

C.G. Jung and the Making of a Psychology of Consciousness, with faculty member Francis X. Charet. This workshop, film and discussion will explore the rise and development of Jungian psychology using the film Matter of Heart and discussion. Areas that will be covered: the methods Jung used to explore the psyche, the theory of the collective unconscious, complexes and archetypes, the practice of interpreting symbols, dreams and their relation to myths and to the meaning of life.

Capoeira as Expressive Art Form, with HAS student Pamela McGrath. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art and dance form dating back to the 1500’s when enslaved people from Africa were brought to Brazil by the Portuguese people. The movements of Capoeira are flowing and spontaneous when combined with a partner. The movement practice is combined with music and individual style, providing an outlet for creative expression and connection with the self and with others. This workshop is a hands-on movement class for participants to join in. Basic movements, history, music and other elements will be covered, no experience necessary. Wear comfortable clothes to move in, shoes are optional.

One of Stephen Locke's weather photos

One of Stephen Locke’s weather photos

Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempests, and Thunderous Skies in Word & Image, with faculty member Caryn Mirriam- Goldberg. With climate change comes far more powerful and threatening weather, something Caryn has been writing poetry about for years as part of a collaborative project with weather chase and photographer Stephen Locke. Caryn will share images of such storms while reading poems accompanying each image. She’ll also discuss the nature of collaborative arts projects, what she’s learned about sustaining long-term collaborations, and how such collaborations can push us to create new and surprising (especially to ourselves) work. See some of the images she’ll be sharing at http://tempestgallery.com, and http://www.icecubepress.com/2014-books/chasing-weather

Community Art and Climate Resistance, with visiting scholars Jenny Romaine and Rachel Schragis. The artist is by nature an activist, expressing their perceptions and provoking us to respond. Similarly, community art, rooted in collective experience and connection to place, expresses a collective identity that has the power to both convey unseen realities and challenge prevailing opinions and discourse by speaking to our shared humanity in a unified voice. The work of Jenny Romaine, Visual Theater Artist and Rachel Schragis, Visual Artist and Arts Organizer, leverages the potential of community and art to reflect our collective experience and inspire deeper connection and unified action by making evident those elements of life that are common to all and asking us to consider how we are all impacted by issue affecting us.

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Sarah Van Hoy

Ecological Medicine, with faculty member Sarah Van Hoy. This workshop will explore some of the principles of ecological medicine in the context of a broader landscape of health care as well as studies happening here at Goddard. What constitutes ecological medicine? How is it defined and how might it be further defined? How is your study an example of ecological medicine and/or how could ecological medicine be a lens for exploring what interests you?

Embodiment Colloquium, with faculty member Lise Weil. The embodiment colloquium is an informal gathering held every residency to investigate and promote the new field of embodiment studies. Come with tales about your semester’s adventures in embodiment. The session will begin with an introduction to embodiment studies and a brief question period.

Hope and Fear in the Face of Eco-Disaster, with retired faculty member Ralph H. Lutts. Hope has been a motivating factor, as has fear, in efforts to address environmental hazards from climate change to environmental pollution, nuclear war, and the over-exploitation of natural resources. This workshop will examine the tension between hope and fear as people responded to impending eco-catastrophe through the twentieth century to the present day. We will review the history of these events and the lessons they teach that can help us to deal with pressing issues today, particularly climate change.

I’m Not Racist, with faculty member Sarah Bobrow-Williams. This workshop will explore how avoiding issues of race and privilege undermines attempts at creating inclusive relationships, organizations and institutions. Participants will consider ways to shift both personal behavior and to address structural obstacles to creating equitable and inclusive environments. The workshop will draw on materials from critical race theorists and scripted scenarios from witnessingwhiteness.com.

Interpreting and Translating Culture(s) in Research & Community Practices: Who Am I, Who Is the Other, and How Do We Collaborate? (Two-parts), with faculty member Karen Campbell and IMA student David White. A hands on, 2-part workshop exploring concepts of culture, bodies, identities, health, stories, memories, in relation to place/land, language, nations, globalization and … whatever else you may bring. We’ll work in small groups according to interests/areas of inquiry and will offer resources for bringing different perspectives to your work.

Manufactured Landscapes, late-night film with faculty member Katt Lissard. Manufactured Landscapes is about the work of artist Edward Burtynsky. Known for his large scale photographs of manufactured landscapes – quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and the massive Three Gorges dam – Burtynsky creates strikingly beautiful art from civilization’s materials and debris. Directed by Jennifer Baichwal, the film follows him through China, as he shoots the evidence and effects of that country’s massive industrial revolution.  Manufactured Landscapes encourages shifts in our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it, without simplistic judgments or reductive resolutions. (Zeitgeist)

Resource Rich: When enough is enough, with IMA student Willa Conway. How much is enough and will we ever have it? What does it mean to be resourceful? How do we take stock of what we have and what we need? What are the messages that we have been taught about money? How does becoming aware of our beliefs about resources relate to creating more sustainable, just communities?

Stories of Resilience: Playback Theatre as Tool and Practice, with faculty member Lori Ayelet Wynters. “It takes courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in the moment there is life, and in change there is power” – Alan Cohen. Journey together in improvising our experiences and stories of life. Learn to listen deeply and intuitively, open to the body’s knowing, play, express and reveal yourself, shift the habitual, note connections and relationship, explore awareness. Say yes to life. This workshop is open to anyone wanting to experience and explore improvisation and connection using our voices, intuition, body, music, poetic play and metaphor, as taught through the forms of Playback Theatre, an improvisational storytelling theatre developed in 1975 and practiced worldwide.

Trusting Your Gut, with HAS student Jayne Kraman. A workshop focusing on the life that resides within your gut (intestine) and how to foster a symbiotic relationship with it. Digestive issues mirror lifestyle and self-care and result in a multitude of effects. This workshop explores those effects and how your relationship to how and what you consume can change them. The focus is on a food based approach to healing and long term health. While supporting gastrointestinal research will be covered, the emphasis is on nurturing your innate sense of being in sync with how your digestion affects your life.

Understanding Local and Regional Climate Change: Implications for Water Resource Management in the Lake Champlain Basin, with visiting scholar Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, Vermont’s State Climatologist. Water fluctuations affect us all, as individuals and our economy. One of the impacts of our changing climate will be on this precious resource. State Climatologist and University of Vermont Geography Professor Lesley-Ann Dupigny Giroux shares her insights on how climate and climate change influence flooding, droughts and water use decisions across the state.

Wild Words: Writing for Healing and Growth, with HAS student Robin D. Stone. Writing has proven physiological and psychological benefits, including a strengthened immune system and stress reduction. This workshop will explore the therapeutic aspects of writing. Participants will work from guided prompts, using various modes of writing as ways to overcome past obstacles, consider present circumstances and face future challenges. Sharing work with others will be encouraged but is not mandatory. Bring a notebook and pen/pencil.

Posted in Activism, Anthropology, Coaching, Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Creative Writing, Creativity & Imagination, Death and Dying Studies/Pastoral Care, Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Faculty, Filmmaking, Health Arts & Sciences, Identity, Jungian Psychology, Methodology, Multiculturalism & Diversity Studies, Mythology & the Oral Tradition, Narrative Medicine, Poetry, Residencies, Shamanic Studies, Sustainable Businesses and Communities, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Students at the New Goddard Graduate Institute

New students incoming to the Goddard Graduate Institute's fall 2014 residency in Plainfield, VT. Photo by David Hale, on left.

New students incoming to the Goddard Graduate Institute’s fall 2014 residency in Plainfield, VT. Photo by David Hale, on left.

As the Goddard Graduate Institute launches its first residency, we welcome these new students who just began with us. The GGI is the combination of the Individualized MA, Health Arts and Sciences MA, and new Social Innovation and Sustainability MA programs. We welcome new students, who met together for this photo on August 8 in front of the fabled Goddard Clockhouse at the Plainfield, Vermont campus.

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The Place That Knows You: A Poem for Ralph Lutts

Ralph opening a gift from the faculty, a ceramic wine cooler

Ralph opening a gift from the faculty, a ceramic wine cooler

Ralph Lutts taught at Goddard for 20 years and was instrumental to the Undergraduate program, the Goddard Graduate Institute (serving as one of the key faculty in forming this institute), and to many environmental studies initiatives, college service projects, and more. Here is a poem Goddard Graduate Institute Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg wrote for Ralph to honor him:

The Place That Knows You

 

In the woods, the trails you helped recover know you.

The trees too, green to green, stripped bare or heavy

with blossom as well as the slow moss that cushions

your familiar steps and patterns of exploring. Layers

of shadow on shadow trace your shape. The light in

between, crowded with fliers and fallers, edges your

stories. The air welcomes you back, and the graveled roads.

The memories in the walls — the Cottage, the Manor,

the Community Building — heard about how Rachel Carson

lit the lantern for us, the trails of the old witch trials,

small towns in the Blue Ridge that made and shops

and gatherings out of the bones of history. The cafeteria

recalls what you said about bacon, being multi-placial

and human scales of home. Dewey dorm carries your tales

of why the mail carrier won’t chance your driveway,

Ralph and Caryn in recent years

Ralph and Caryn in recent years

and how you became the world’s expert on Bambi.

The students who threaded the library rows or followed

what you taught in the Clockhouse are better for

being with you. The faculty and staff, the Bohemian

Waxwings in one particular February tree, the snowstorms

that cycled through, the surprising thaws altogether compose

this grateful place that knows you, that will always know you.

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