Claudia Guerra on the Soul of Place, Community, and Cultural History

Claudia Guerra came to Goddard to study Consciousness Studies and left to go onto a job as San Antonio’s first cultural historian. She speaks here about Duende, the deep soul of place and community, and how this speaks to her studies at Goddard and her work as a cultural translator in her community.

Claudia describes her work in the community as story harvesting: helping people identify places of importance to them to better see the collective scope of the community as she has worked with people to find where the soul of San Antonio is. Working between communities and developers, city officials and planners, and people of different ethnic backgrounds, she explains, “What I’m really doing is translating — I’m really a cultural translator — translating to citizens what the city is trying to do, and they can tell me what they think is happening to their lives, and I can translate that back to policy-makers, here’s what the community wants you to know.”

Listen to her whole podcast here.


Posted in Activism, Community Building, Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, History & Political Science, Identity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sound Medicine and Healing Pilgrimages with Angela Blueskies

Angela Blueskies graduated from the Goddard Individualized MA program almost a decade ago, focusing her studies on pilgrimages, and in the process, taking and writing deeply about pilgrimages from Spain to Peru. She offers sound medicine, ancestral healing, shamanic work and ceremonies, and related services. Her new website highlights her work and philosophy.

Central to her Goddard studies and life path, Angela also leads people on retreats and pilgrimages through her business “Heart of the Mother Retreats,” which she co-leads with her wife, Helene Garrovillo. Their journeys take groups to such places as the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and to the Sacred Valley of Peru. In her blog, she writes about her guiding values and experiences (read more here).

Angela describes her background as such: “Born in the gentle mountains of Appalachia, Angela Blueskies is a visionary musician, medicine woman, and facilitator who carries deep understanding of the healing powers of music and the Earth.  For over 25 years she has followed the call of the heart in the path of conscious awakening, a path that has taken her around the world and shaped every facet of her life and work.  In the past decade, Angela has devoted her path to supporting others in the journey of healing and transformation, creating spaces and experiences that allow for deep connection to self and Spirit.”

Read about Angela’s pilgrimage studies here.

Posted in Anthropology, Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Pilgrimage Studies, Shamanic Studies, Singing & Songwriting | Tagged | Leave a comment

Micah Mortali: Launching the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership

Micah Mortali, a current Goddard Graduate Student, came to the Health Arts and Sciences program with the vision of starting an mindful outdoor leadership program at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. In short order, he’s done just that, working with fellow yoga teacher, musician, and outdoor educator Mark Roule to design and teach the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership. (Check out Micah and Mark talking about Nature Deficit Disorder in this video.)

The program offers two certifications, Level 1. Forest Community, and Level 2. Aligning With Nature, both taking the form of 10-day residencies, which focuses on nature meditation and observation, council practice and group facilitation, forest bathing and mindfulness, naturalist instruction, science and evidence, and outdoor skills. As the Kripalu website explains:

Now, more than ever, Mother Nature needs us to honor, value, and protect her. As Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guides, we can be powerful catalysts for strengthening our and our clients’ bond with nature and, in doing so, improve the chances that our communities will steward the natural systems we all depend upon for our health and well-being.

But a funny thing happened on the way to developing this new school of leadership school: Micah was contacted by a publisher on his work, and he’s not under contract to write a book on re-wilding. Now he’s creating a thesis program that includes materials for the school, plus a book, both of which come from his passion for helping people come home to themselves and the earth.

Micah comes by this calling naturally. As director of the Kripalu Schools, he is a 500-hourKripalu Yoga teacher, and he’s been leading wilderness retreats and  education program for two decades. He brings an approach drawing from yoga, nature, Ayurveda, and mindfulness into his work, life, and family. He also brought this to the spring 2018 GGI residency, where he offered a workshop that brought people into the woods — “Awake in the Forest: Practices for Deepening Your Bond with Nature” — to explore their connection with the earth.

Learn more about the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Living here.

Posted in Bioregionalism, Environmental, leadership, Yoga | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Education to Find the Promised Land with Lori Wynters & Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Lori Wynters and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, both faculty in the Goddard Graduate Institute, come to mythology and midrash — the Hebrew tradition of reading sacred texts with new eyes to re-vision our guiding narratives — from different angles. Lori is a rabbi, and Caryn is a writer, who focuses on midrash in many genres. Here, they talk about all of the above, and especially the story of the Exodus, which Caryn recently wrote a novel about, Miriam’s Well, and especially what this means for students seeking to craft new guiding stories for their lives, work, and community.

Midrash, Lori explains, looks toward what’s in a text as well as what’s silenced or outside the frame of the text, speaking to the possibilities of creating new narratives with greater relevance for our lives. In looking at Midrash as part of our education, Lori and Caryn speak about the Exodus story as a symbol is being both in the desert, lost and wandering, and in the promised land at once. “What is the land of milk and honey within all of us?” they ask.

In looking at what people discover in Goddard Graduate Institute programs, Lori explains, “When people complete a Goddard program, their lives have changed — they’re more deeply developing their potential of who they might be…We sit with each other’s visions and help each other look around the corner and see what that vision might open up to create new possibilities for new lives that are sustainable and connected.”

Listen to much more here.

Posted in Collaborative Arts, Creative Writing, Experimental Education, Faculty, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies, Fiction, Goddard Graduate Institute, Identity, Mythology & the Oral Tradition, Mythopoetics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tribute to Margo MacLeod

Margo MacLeod, who directed Goddard’s BA/MA program from the early 90s to 2001 and the IMA from 2001 to 2008, and who hired most of the current GGI faculty, died peacefully on April 2 after a brief illness at her home in Austin, Texas. Margo was a beloved mentor to many. Below are a few reminiscences and testimonies from current GGI faculty and alums (one of whom also happens to be faculty).

Lise Weil, Faculty:

I recall a cabaret act performed in the Goddard cafeteria some twenty years ago when Margo was director of the BA/MA program. Margo emerged from the kitchen with a garbage bag tied around her head, trailed by a long line of female students similarly hatted, all belting out songs from Sister Act. Margo in a garbage-bag wimple had never looked so perfectly herself. It was clear to me in that moment that a Mother Superior was exactly what she had been, since I first arrived at Goddard, for both faculty and students —and a Mother Superior she would continue to be in the years to come. Margo’s love was big and her vision was spacious. When you came to her with a problem you could be sure it would be considered from all angles (This could be exasperating when you wanted badly for her to take sides.) Margo’s aspiration was always the highest good; she was the least ego-driven leader I have known. She was our Mother Superior.

Karen Campbell, Faculty and alum BA/MA‘96:

Margo was a wonderful advisor who loved to walk and talk – a great way of helping a nervous student to relax into sharing barely formed ideas. My snail-mailed pages were strewn with her purple penned “IR” (Ignorant Reader) – her genial, almost humble way of prodding me to unravel and re-examine my blithe use of jargon. She ruminated alongside my packets for pages, gently proffering different perspectives, encouraging risks – go where I feared. I read and re-read her letters (I still have them now after 25 years). When she later evaluated my progress as a faculty member, she would spend an hour or more chatting, wondering how she could support my development. An expert on Vermont ponds, she’d bring me as deck hand to help launch her beloved handmade boat, and we plunged into some really remote and chilly ones. And – keen to promote environmental health – she had me accompany her on research into Vermont’s first compost development (on an extremely warm summer day!). She even patiently tried to teach me to drive her vast boat of a car, never showing signs of panic when I couldn’t estimate the breadth of the machine as I jerked along narrow winding roads… and then shared hilarious hours reminiscing, her beloved Scotch in hand. When we couldn’t meet in person we’d have long Skype chats. Gosh, there’s so much I miss.

Sue Ann Commissiong, IMA 2007: 

Margo was my mentor at Goddard. Gentle woman…quiet heart and yes a “knowing” that moved so smoothly beyond our time. I am honored to have known her and be touched by such an unforgettable human being…a lady of great heart and spirit. May her journey onward be as bright and evergreen as her genuine smile…

Sally Koering Zimney, IMA 2005:

I am finally taking some time to write about Margo MacLeod– a mentor of mine who passed away recently. Though it’s been years since I’ve seen her – and even then, our time together was so short – she holds a place in my heart as a gentle and wise guide. Margo had an aura about her that both intimidated me and pulled me in. She was my advisor/mentor in grad school, and I remember feeling lucky and nervous that I had been assigned to her. And I will never forget this: Heading into my second semester, I was feeling so overwhelmed by aallll the ideas (a refrain in my life that has continued!)… I felt lost and panicky. She gently (but so clearly and strongly that I had no option to do otherwise!) suggested I go silent for 24 hours so I would stop bouncing around in my brain and focus in. Me, silent? Uh… ok. It was hard. But I still remember the AHA moment, about 22 hours in. Eureka! Finally. I rushed into her office, all red-faced, harried, and wild-eyed and shared with her my insight. She calmly nodded at me, smiled, and said, “Yes.” And then we got to work. As if she knew exactly what I was moving towards. She probably did. She seemed to know everything. And not just all the ‘things’ you’re supposed to know, but big, grand unknowable things, too – and through that radiated this contentment and patience, as if she held the secrets within her. I was all frenetic energy, and she was quiet wisdom. She was what I needed at that part of my journey.

Last year, I was so honored and a little baffled when she reached out to me for advice on some speaking and teaching she was doing. It meant so much to me. I hope I offered a little something of what she needed.

I am thinking of her long-time partner, and friends and loved ones… They have lost a friend. But for some reason I am imagining Margo as content and wise as ever.

Mercy Morganfield, IMA 2005:

I loved Margo. She was my second reader in grad school and my friend after I graduated. Even when she knew she wouldn’t be with us much longer she was calm and graceful. With that beautiful spirit of hers shining. The world was a better place because she was here. Her passing has left a void in my heart. I am so happy to have known her.

This morning I received news that the Director of the college I attended for both undergraduate and graduate work died peacefully yesterday.

Sara Wright, IMA 2002:

Margo MacLeod intimidated me as a student (and I was not young either) but I admired her honesty and integrity. She certainly appeared to be a stern presence; and as I remember her she was always dressed in black.  But I also knew from Lise Weil, one of my feminist/writer professors, that Margo loved animals.

When graduation approached I arrived at Goddard with my little terrier, Star, who was my closest family member. No human family members would witness this most important graduation (As a matter of fact, this late entry into graduate work seemed to be something of a source of ridicule to my grown children. My mother simply dismissed my college work with a chilling silence.)

I am severely dyslexic with numbers and directions; I do everything backwards and navigating the daily world is an unbelievable challenge. I cannot open water bottles or doors; driving is almost an impossible nightmare, and using the computer even today is also a frightening experience, creating mindless anxiety. My heart starts pounding uncontrollably the moment I try to do anything new.

If it hadn’t been for Margo’s approval I wouldn’t have made it through my first semester at Goddard because I was terrified of the computer and submitted all required work by handwriting it. In today’s mechanized world I am a total outsider.

My experience at Goddard with Margo at the helm, (including my experience with Lise Weil whose cat essay motivated me to choose her as an advisor) helped me develop into the writer I have become.

When I arrived for my final graduation I discovered that Margo had given permission for Star and me to approach the podium together to receive my degree. Star was jubilant and barked excitedly when applause began, so the two of us walked up the aisle, obtaining “our” diploma together! What other school official would sanction such a partnership?

I will remain indebted to Margo MacLeod for the rest of my life for this act of unbelievable generosity. Something of Margo’s warm hearted animal spirit will live on through me until I die. Thank you Margo. May the animals you so loved be with you on this next stage of your journey.


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Feminist Solidarity Workshop with Students Anna Weick and Hayley Lewis

Returning students and activists Anna Weick (SIS) and Hayley Lewis (IMA) teamed up to host a workshop about feminism and gender liberation at the Spring 2018 Goddard Graduate Institute residency. This workshop, “Feminist Solidarity: Engaging an Intergenerational, Inclusive and Intersectional Approach to Change,” engaged students and advisors alike in a collaborative discussion about how we can support each other’s work towards feminist and gender liberation. This is the first in what will be a series of workshops centering feminism and women’s spaces.

Some questions we asked ourselves in preparation for the workshop, during the workshop, and after:

  • How can we as feminists and gender liberationists resist cooptation of our movements and lives?
  • How can we envision a future that accommodates all of us?
  • How can we build intergenerational and inclusive feminist spaces?
  • How can we tell stories of the ways injustice shapes our lives?
  • How does community media and art support the work to resist cooptation?

Using ideas from the workshop and the discussions we had together, Anna made a mini zine that is available for download here. Once you download, print it out one sided in landscape mode and follow these directions, making one cut and folding it into a small booklet. This small but mighty zine has made its way across the country in just a few months! We hope you will share this zine but also, we hope you will make your own zine(s) and share your brilliant and beautiful ideas about revolutionary feminism and gender liberation.

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

Waking in the Forest, Survivor Magic, Plant Medicine, Feminist Solidarity, and Movement and Meaning: Student Workshops at the Spring 2018 Residency

Here’s a sampling of some of the workshops presented by students at the Spring 2018 residency in February at Goddard College:

Micah Mortali near the Goddard Woods

Awake in the Forest: Practices for Deepening Your Bond with Nature, HAS student, Micah Mortali. In this workshop we will explore the practice of Shinrin Yoku or ‘Forest Bathing’, which is the practice of immersing all of our senses in the forest atmosphere. We know that today much of the developed world is experiencing a sharp increase in non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) which are cause by lifestyles with poor diet, high stress and lack of movement. Breathing and walking mindfully in nature is a powerful tool for managing stress, boosting our immunity and lifting our spirits. Be sure to dress warm and be ready to move.

Anna Weick with Graduating Student Tracy Murphy

Feminist Solidarity: Engaging an Intergenerational, Inclusive and Intersectional Approach to Change, with SIS student, Anna Weick & IMA Hayley Lewis. How can we envision a future that accommodates all of us? Politics and language are changing fast and often divide more than they unite. Where does feminism fit in, and what can we do to remember that we’re all on the same team? This workshop is open to everyone, and will explore contemporary and future visions for gender liberation and feminism. What does this look like for each of us, and how can we build intergenerational and inclusive feminist spaces? How can we tell stories of the ways injustice shapes our lives? We will be envisioning new ways of building together through a reflective discussion. There is room for all of us. We’ll think about ways to resist cooptation and support grassroots feminist activism together, and consider the role of independent and community media in making this work visible. A group mini-zine will be created with reflections and ideas from participants willing to share.

Movement and Meaning, with HAS student, Rusti Poulette. This participatory workshop will include awareness games (from Theatre of the Oppressed) and a mix of somatic group practices to playfully investigate the meaning behind our movements. We’ll become curious about how we orient ourselves to space and to each other and we’ll explore the patterns of connection and disconnection that shape our bodies and our world.

Survivor Magic 101: Embodied Writing as Spellcraft, with IMA-TLA student, Jojo Donovan. How can we use writing to re-enchant our relationship with our bodies? What unspoken language is hiding in our guts and our bones and our fleshy folds? How can we translate that body-brilliance into prayers and kaons and incantations – to remind us of what we’ve survived, to return us to sensation amid a culture of desensitization, and to prick our skin and soul back into alertness to the wild new worlds our survival makes possible? Using guided meditation, body-mapping, group discussion, prompt writing, and free-writing, we will each tap into our own embodied wisdom to craft poems/spells/love notes to read to ourselves in moments of struggle, self-doubt, and dissociation.

Stefania Pantinella in One of Her Gardens

Embodied Plant Medicine Part I: Tasting, with HAS student Stefania Patinella. Healers and medicine people across history and culture have used direct, embodied communication with plants to tap into the powerful medicine they hold for the human body, mind and spirit. In this workshop, we will practice such direct knowing by tasting an extraction of a medicinal herb and using our senses, intuition, heart and imagination to listen to and learn something about it. The plant will be unknown to you so you can approach it without preconceived ideas. We will then share our individual experiences as a group, and begin to weave a collective story about this plant’s medicine. Finally, I will reveal the name of the herb and talk about its materia medica–its history of use, medicinal qualities, origin, botany and folklore–so we can tie our personal experiences into the plant’s wider tradition.

Posted in Activism, Community Building, Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Ethnobotany, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies, Goddard Graduate Institute, Health Arts and Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies, Life Sciences, Plant Medicine, Residencies, Social Innovation, Sustainability, Sustainability & Place Studies, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment