Improvisation, Amelia Earhart, and the Process: Amelia Bane’s Graduation Speech

GGI Alumni Amelia Bane’s graduation speech at the February 2017 commencement explored not just how to give a speech, but the power of improvisation, dwelling in uncertainty, and trusting the process (as opposed to going with the flow). Amelia is a stand-up comic who has performed widely at clubs, festivals, and other venues. Her study at Goddard focused on improvisational techniques for people living with attention deficit challenges. Here’s her very funny and moving talk in which she even managed to quote Michelle Obama and Melania Trump at once.

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Creating the “Comfort Quest” to Address Pain with Lisa Evers

goddard-libraryThe focus of my study in the HAS program is rooted in my experience as an RN for 30 years and my observations that we are failing in our battle against pain and addiction in society. As such, I decided to look at the problem differently, and instead of fighting against pain, I propose that we aim toward what we want: comfort. This will harness all the energy which we have been wasting in an attempt to suppress our pain, and use it to support our quest to feel more vitality daily, thereby improving our quality of life. I contend that the secret will be to actually start feeling again — listening to our bodies’ messages (pain, pleasure, etc), instead of silencing the pain and driving our emotional/ spiritual injuries deeper. As Carl Jung writes, “That which we resist, persists.”

I have already created “Comfort Quest” which depicts a new scale, to replace our current pain scale. My scale shows 10 as the goal (smiling face), with 0 as the tearful end of the scale. After all, don’t we all hope to be a 10? In addition to sharing these cards with patients, colleagues and friends, I am planning qualitative research this semester to investigate patient’s perception of their pain/ comfort using each scale and asking ultimately which scale they feel will help them towards an improved quality of

I plan to further share this new concept with my colleagues and ultimately envision it being used nationally as our scale for guiding pain management. Yet our question will be, “How Comfortable do you feel right now on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being Most Comfortable?” Simply being able to envision comfort as a possibility gives patients a new lease on life. They are often so trapped in the pain cycle, that they don’t see a way out.  Neuroplasticity demonstrates that new pathways can be learned/ reprogrammed, so why not with a positive focus?

“Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.” -Albert Einstein

Goddard has provided me with a nourishing environment in which to plant my seeds of this new vision, Comfort Quest. From day one, I was working on my hypothesis and building my thesis; each step along the way has been instrumental in this exploration. None of my time has been wasted; it’s all been important research. It encourages me to examine my thoughts and to look through other lenses as well (scientific, philosophical, psychological, political, cultural, etc). I’ve dug deeply into the roots of our current pain crisis, and believe/ feel to the core of my essence that I just share this with society in a positive fashion. There is no more room for shaming or silencing our pain… we need to feel it and move through it, ultimately releasing that which no longer serves us. Goddard supports this quest and most importantly reminds me to trust myself and to be brave in my journey to grow and share my message.

As Socrates taught us, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”


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Faculty Workshops at the Spring 2017 Residency: A Sampling

IMG_1459Deconstructing and Reconstructing Social Innovation and Sustainability, with Faculty Member Sarah Bobrow-Williams. What do we – members of the SIS Program – mean when we say Social Innovation and Sustainability? Some of us may use similar definitions. Others may find that existing and/or commonly used narratives do not fit or reflect the work they are doing or wish to do. This workshop will present varied definitions and derivations of Social Innovation and Sustainability (theory and practice) and engage your input for thoughtful and thought provoking discussion. An intended outcome of the workshop is to identify varied dimensions and applications of Social Innovation and/or Sustainability theory and practice and to identify opportunities for students to share in writing throughout the semester, how they are applying particular dimensions to their work or how the theory is being used and applied in the field. For example, a student might write a brief description of how they are using design innovation in their work, or, how IDEO is promoting the use of design innovation in civic engagement arenas. These summaries could be shared through Worlds of Change or in other college publications and/or print media.

Disrupting Status, DSCN0690Rank and Hierarchy through Improvisation and the Body (Parts I & II), with Faculty Members Karen Campbell and Katt Lissard. In Paul Klee’s sketch, Two Men Meet, Each Assuming the Other to Be of Higher Rank, the image is of two naked men, each attempting to bow as close to the ground as possible, since neither is clear on the position the other might occupy in society’s rigid hierarchy. This graphic critique, along with much of Klee’s work, was eventually labeled “degenerate” by the ascendant Nazi regime and confiscated. Klee’s sketch is a visual jumping off point for this workshop’s embodied, improvisational exploration of status, rank and hierarchy in the present moment of societal reckoning and potential peril. Our three-dimensional, corporeal inquiry asks: Is it possible to “look at” the deep, complex issues of racism, white privilege, gender spectrum antipathies, misogyny, immigration and class boundaries using theatre but no (or few) words? In this two-part workshop, we’ll explore our own impulses, reactions and assumptions without relying on language to explain, argue or justify. Instead, we’ll see what we discover through the Image Theatre work of Augusto Boal, the improvisational Status Games of Keith Johnstone, Anne Bogart and Tina Landau’s Viewpoints (a composition technique), along with the collaborative theatre-making processes Karen has been using in Japan and Katt has been using in Lesotho, Africa. In the first section, we’ll create a “physical vocabulary” together – guaranteed to be fun, expressive, inspiring and (hopefully) liberating! In the second, we’ll put that “vocabulary” to use as we attempt to break down our own structures, barriers and biases. EVERYONE is welcome! No theatre experience necessary.

13652890_10153821037836235_2050485886347209539_oEmbodied Poetics of the Heart, with Returning Students Julia Fenton and Stefania Patinella and Faculty Member Sarah Van Hoy. This workshop will be a celebratory exploration of the heart. We’ll be growing our relationship to the heart by connecting stanzas of meaning: heart medicines, heart metaphors, heart poetry as diagnosis. We’ll meet: plants for when the heart is being torn to shreds, plants for when the heart is overflowing with giddy butterflies, plants for a heart that has been swallowed by a black hole and plants that make your heart sing. Into this we will weave some of biomedical information on the heart’s nervous system, research linking emotional distress and heart disease, electromagnetic heart-field communication, and gleanings from the Chinese classics.

The Faith Cure: Can the Mind Heal the Body? with Faculty Member Francis X. Charet. There is a growing amount of interest in the mind/body connection and the impact that various forms of mental effort have in influencing certain physiological processes. What evidence is there of such an influence and what might this mean for a revisioning of human health, treatment, and well being?

340117_3397770185700_273585814_oLanguage of Art to Love, Witness, Resist, Transform, with Faculty Member Lori Ayela Wynters and Returning Student Kelly McDowell. This workshop will explore a broad range of art making as a vehicle for resistance, truth-telling, empowerment, healing, re-calibration and transformation. We’ll look at interdisciplinary art installations, performances, engagements, including but not limited to visual, dance, song/music, writing, storytelling, and take time throughout the residency to explore art practices for navigating this upcoming time.

IMG_0488Writing and Refuge in a Time of Disruption, with faculty member Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and IMA-TLA returning students Shomriel Sherman, Tracy Murphy and Summer Graef. Coming together to write, to find and strengthen our individual and collective voices in a time when so many social and eco-communities are threatened, can help us co- create a refuge. There we can replenish our inner well and recommit ourselves to our work, art, and community. In this experiential workshop, we’ll write our ways toward shelter from the storms of our time to reconnect with what we love, what we grieve, and how we can make and hold space for one another to see more clearly our deepest callings and most effective actions in this time. We’ll also share individual approaches, considerations, resources, and questions. Most of all, we’ll use this workshop time to immerse ourselves in the refuge we write and create together.

Jim Sparrell, faculty

Wings in the Air, Feet on the Ground: How Complicating the Climate Change Narrative can Disrupt Denial and Despair, with faculty member James Sparrell and SIS-TLA returning student Shawn Crawford. Join Jim and Shawn for a discussion exploring the complexity of climate change. Our goal in the workshop is to move beyond generalization (e.g. belief vs. unbelief, or reviewing the carbon cycle) to consider specific and local effects of a changing climate. Jim will discuss scientific research related to avian ecology in coastal marshes and Hawaii, while Shawn will discuss his local water resources in northern Utah from the perspective of a naturalist interested in policy advocacy. We will consider our experience of the natural world in the context of relational knowing.

Posted in Activism, Arts-Based Inquiry, Community Building, Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Creative Non-Fiction, Creative Writing, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Health Arts and Sciences, Identity, Memoir, Life Writing & Autobiography, Mindfulness, Social Change, Storytelling, Theater, Drama & Playwriting, Transformative Language Arts, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Graduating Student Presentations: Worker Cooperatives, Finding Food, Design for Social Change, and Healing the Soul

12711008_10103117253620669_4887823144492233746_oAsking, We Walk: An Exploration in Organizing, Cooperatives and How to Live, with Graduating Student Dan Kaminsky. This presentation will look at the worker cooperative as a form of anti-capitalist social change. We will then delve into a bit of the hard skills I looked at, namely conflict resolution and facilitation in an effort to bring about desired social change.

Desire, Discards, and Design for Social Change, with SIS Graduating Student Nicolette Stosur-Bassett. This presentation explores the role of human-centered design and design thinking in addressing wicked problems. Academically rooted in critical discards studies, post-Marxist commentary on consumer capitalism, and an exploration of waste art as a social reflection, 15400339_10211720719398550_5454538948849843663_nthe thesis is enacted in the world through ReuseCHI: a tactical urbanism and guerrilla marketing project that challenges social conceptions of function and value. This praxis is presented in a magazine-style format, encouraging novel avenues of engaging the fascinating topic of waste. (Nicolette will present virtually using a YouTube link with Kelly McDowell playing the link in person)

Healing the War within the Soul, with IMA Graduating Student Charlie Pacello. A comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach, analysis, and process for healing the war within the soul. This presentation will discuss the issues related to PTSD and moral injury; the heart of darkness and the war on the soul experienced by many in our veteran community; the nature of evil and why we make the bargain with the devil; and the pathways to redemption looked through the lenses of spirituality, literature, archetypal psychology, dream analysis, theater and ritual, and historical figures who made the transition to become peaceful warriors. Lastly, we will learn how15107204_10211270235494472_7401581020590448212_n we translate our lives into the mythic story of the hero’s journey, where our suffering can be transformed, our consciousness expanded, and our souls healed by connecting to the myth that lives through us.

Beyond the Plate, a Journey of Finding Food, with Graduating Student Michelle Stone. I will be discussing modern food related issues and my personal journey with finding and reconnecting with natural food.

Posted in Activism, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Food Studies, Social Innovation, Transforming Trauma | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why I Marched: Joanna Tebbs Young

20170121_140334Joanna Tebbs Young, a graduate of GGI in Transformative Language Arts, recently published an article on “Why I Matched” in the Rutland Reader, where she’s a regular contributor. She wrote,

…..I, along with everyone else there that day, believe in the well-being of my fellow human beings and the planet on which we live. I stood there that day to express my support for everyone’s right to quality and affordable health care, to not be discriminated against, to have control over our own bodies, to live in safety, to love and be whoever we are born to be, to be equally educated, and to worship (or not) as we wish.

Read her whole article here, her other columns here, and learn more about Joanna’s work at her website Wisdom Within, Ink.


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Women’s March: New York City by Kelly McDowell

img_2998So many Goddard students and faculty participated in the January 21st Women’s March in marches across the country. This series highlights some of those marches. Kelly McDowell is a Social Innovation and Sustainability student who attended the New York City march. Here’s her accounts:


Kelly McDowell, center, with two friends Rachel (left) and Kaitlin (right)


I was at the Women’s March in NYC where approximately 400,000 people attended.  I marched in solidarity with Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQI Community, Healthcare rights and Climate Change.

I also marched with wo social justice warriors in their own fields. My friend Rachael works for the NY Department of Education in their legal department and also with my friend Caitlin who is a social worker in Brooklyn, and her husband is a lawyer working in Brooklyn as well for social justice in their community.

During my march I witness many examples of Radical Art Activism through posters, chanting and impromptu dancing.  As a student in the Masters of the Arts in Social Innovation and Sustainability in the Global Fashion Industry, which is female dominated and a huge world polluter.

~ Kelly McDowell, New York City march


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Women’s March in Washington, D.C. with Jan Booth.

So many Goddard students and faculty participated in the January 21st Women’s March in marches across the country. This series highlights some of those marches. Here are notes on being part of the Washington, D.C. march by Health Arts and Sciences student Jan Booth. Also see Taina Asili’s experience in the D.C. march posted several days ago.january-2017-034

Big things were born out of that day of global Women’s Marches. Three things stand out for me personally:

  • The sheer size of the crowds who wanted to be at the DC March

There was little cell reception, so we weren’t aware of just how big an area the March covered as we walked in from the rally bus drop-off at RFK Stadium. We could hear an increasing roar from the crowd as we approached the back of the Capitol, and saw people everywhere…but it wasn’t until I was able to stand up on the steps of a medical vehicle that I caught a glimpse of the massive crowd extending from our side of Independence all the way across the Mall, across Constitution Ave., and into those side streets towards the White House. There was massive determination, tremendous good will, fierce and funny signage, and a surprising number of families.The fact that we couldn’t actually march, because there were too many people jam-packed everywhere, was an ironic victory. Smaller streets and pop-up routes were established for marching, which got things moving and re-energized. Most of us couldn’t hear the speakers, so we engaged with the people in the crowd around us. Given the mass of people and the uncertainty of the logistics, it was good that everyone we encountered kept it cool…even amidst the fierceness. There was something visceral about the sheer physicality of that many people all together in that space — the opposite of isolation and detachment. When we got home and saw reports of all the marches around the world, I was stunned and heartened.

  • The opening-up of a new and energized conversation with my extended family about intersectional feminism

We had 18 family and friends in for the March from all across the country, including my daughter and three of our nieces. Mostly white, mostly women, mostly straight, with a core of nurses and social workers. As we shared stories, conversations, and postings from news & social media later that evening, it became clear that there were other significant narratives developing that were challenging us to go deeper. More waking up. It has since produced a steady burst of new conversations among our extended family and friends about intersectional feminism and privilege and political vigilance, for a start. Lots of other questions — How effective are marches, what about all the pink pussy hats, the exclusion of pro-life women’s groups, generational differences in resistance, the privilege of peaceful protest, how to be an ally, where is common ground with Trump supporters, recognizing variations of white fragility, why haven’t we been at BLM protests,how to stay focused with all the urgent issues… More layers peeled back, more understanding, more listening. Lists of new reading are shared, new ways to engage with grassroots organizations outside of our usual tribes…and new layers of willingness to be uncomfortable and challenged. Family bonding over power, pussies, and privilege!

  • The grassroots, organic evolution of the Women’s March leadership and where we go next

We see new coalitions, old hurts, uncertain alliances, and fresh leadership emerge from the grassroots. Watching those four fierce women come together was powerful for me — Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland are a whole new face of leadership compared to what I saw coming-up in marches in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s the new normal and the way forward, from what I can tell. Like with any birth, it’s messy and unpredictable, too. I’m riding the waves of inspiration and fear and fatigue and determination, like so many others during these first weeks of traumatic Trump leadership. I’m trying to stay woke, keep listening, stay engaged locally in my community, build bridges, and stay steady. I’ve found it essential to balance out the urgency of social media and news cycles with the big picture mythos from people like Michael Meade…especially his recent talks on inauguration, fear, and the rise of the Feminine. Interestingly, tracking the bigger story at play here keeps me firmly connected to my own soul and spirit life.

~ Jan Booth, Washington D.C. march

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