Kyle Bella and Our Viral Lives

Kyle Bella, who recently graduated from the Social Innovation and Sustainability MA program, recently shared his graduating student presentation virtually after presenting “Our Viral Lives” — an online archive he launched in December of 2014 — during his February 2018 graduation weekend. He explains that this archive “….has collected stories about the HIV/AIDS crisis, sexual health, and the shame and stigma that continue to shape our conversations about sexual health. I wrote about what goes into making a digital archive, how informal archives are better for social equity, how emotionality should guide writing histories of the present, and how utopia is important in understanding the world we want free from HIV.”

In reflecting on this journey to his work, he writes eloquently about his journey:

In 2006, I left high school to go to college early at Simon’s Rock. I developed such a deep foundation for intersectional thinking, driven by a feminist understanding of the world and an ongoing passion for LGBTQ rights. In 2009, I ended up at Goddard College. By 2011, I was beaten on the street and what could have ended my academic career turned into the catalyst for deeper thinking about race, gender, sexuality, and class. I earned a BA in 2012. I bounced around from Louisiana to NY to Philly to San Francisco back to NY without really finding home.

I joined the IMA program at Goddard soon after getting my BA, left for two semesters to the MFA in Creative Writing but left after I felt like I was doing a project bigger than myself. Then I went back to a Social Innovation and Sustainability focus without really feeling like I belonged there but then I recognized this is the kind of work I was supposed to do. I am able to both recognize systems of inequality and offer actionable ways in which to change these systems through storytelling.

And here I am today with an MA, with a project that’s always been about more than myself, that has been nourished by more than myself, that is about the nameless and faceless in a way that I can sympathize with because I feel that in a way my own project is about the recognition of a new kind of generational power, a call back to action, not through militancy but mourning.

We obviously live in a world that values neither militancy nor mourning. That takes the power of storytelling for granted. That renders marginalized voices on the fringes of society. But the reality is that the people that have most shaped society since 1981 have been the people that died from AIDS-related complications and the folks that took up a call to remember and remake a better world in their images.

We might not to imagine this truth, because it is so structured on the notion of absence, a lack of presence, our own capacity to reconstruct. But this is where we are and what this ultimately means.

Visit his “Viral Lives” archive here where you can hear his presentation while following along through his evocative PowerPoint.

Posted in AIDS/HIV Studies, Creative Non-Fiction, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Death and Dying Studies/Pastoral Care, Queer Studies, Sexuality & Erotic Studies, Social Innovation, Social Media | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Podcast: Lisa Evers and the Comfort Quest

Listen to a lively interview with Lisa Evers and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg in which Lisa discusses her Comfort Quest, a revolutionary new way for people struggling with pain and discomfort to aim their attention toward greater comfort and peace.

You can read further information about Lisa’s work in “The Comfort Quest by Lisa Evers,” and “Creating the Comfort Quest to Address Pain.”

Posted in Goddard Graduate Institute, Health Arts and Sciences, Jungian Psychology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What Love, Transgressions, and Lucidity Have to Do With Real Education: James Sparrell’s Commencement Speech

GGI Faculty member James (Jim) Sparrell speaks about how “learning itself if fundamentality relationship, and this is one of the ways a Goddard education challenges traditional education” in his commencement address at the Spring 2018 Graduation Ceremony. Listen to Jim talk about Goddard’s education in relation to how to live, including the need for fierce lucidity, being loved even while transgressions, and other aspects of what makes for enduring and meaningful education. He talks about wild and wide turns in life lessons including spray paint, finding the nearest bakery, wood ducks, and transparency in life and cups, along with how sometimes education leads to rubbing “….the fur of dominant culture the wrong way.” Listen to the speech here.

Posted in Comedy, Community Building, Education, Graduation, Progressive Education, Transgressions | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Podcast: Conflict Resolution, the Power of Numbers, and the I-Ching

Today, we launch our podcast series, featuring interviews with GGI students, alumni, and faculty. Here is faculty member Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg interviewing student Ryan Richards. Listen to the podcast here.

Ryan Richards, a Health Arts and Sciences student, shares his visionary work in bringing together Chinese philosophy, conflict resolution, the power of numbers to be effective symbols, and the kind of contemplative education that can empower individuals and build communities. “Primarily, everyone wants to be heard. You can’t resolve any conflicts without an open arena where people can communicate,” he says, explaining how a new approach can help people find a middle ground where spirit and matter, and science and symbols can meet. He’s currently working toward a thesis as well as an interactive webpage where people can learn, meet, and discover greater ways forward. He says of the Goddard approach, “This is the only program where you can pave your own path.”

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Faculty Workshops at the Spring 2018 Residency

Francis X. Charet, faculty

The AI Revolution: Will Machines Think and Dream? with Faculty Member, Francis X. Charet. The emergence of Artificial Intelligence and its technological applications raises some fundamental, intriguing and troubling questions. We are now entering a stage of modern technology that moves beyond machines that can correlate massive amounts of information, do complex tasks faster and with more precision that surpasses human capacity. Machines are being programed to replicate human neural networks that allow them to correlate information, analyze data, and make judgments on a scale and in a way that seemingly demonstrates independent capabilities. Artificial intelligence is transforming modern medicine, manufacturing, and even education. Will it be put to destructive ends as Stephen Hawkings, Bill Gates and Elon Musk have warned. Will machines eventually attain consciousness as we know it? Will machines think? Will they dream?

Sarah Bobrow-Williams

Creating and Keeping the Beloved Community in Our Activism, Work and Lives, with Faculty Members, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Sarah Bobrow-Williams. “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said. What does it take to make and sustain such a community where we work, live and strive for justice? Caryn and Sarah – from their varied experiences in organizations, arts-based initiatives, campaigns, workplaces, and institutions – will explore the values and practices of cultivating of facilitating and upholding beloved communities. We’ll then discuss andtrouble-shoot various scenarios to consider ways to navigate through conflict and clashes for the good for the community, and we’ll end the workshop with a writing prompt to consider ways to infuse the philosophy of keeping the belovedness in community through specific practices. This workshop is especially pertinent for all SIS and MA-TLA students as well as for anyone working with others for change.

Embodied Metaphors: Rupture and Repair in the Individual / Social Body, with Faculty Member Sarah Van Hoy. In this workshop we will look at the poetics of rupture and repair and how these metaphors occur in the language and practices of medicine and culture. We will examine the role of metaphor in medicine (and cognition generally) and the social shaping of embodied experience. Bring your ideas for rich conversation.

Feeling What’s Happening: Calming the Nervous System, Faculty Member, Lori Wynters. At times we can be stressed, in a state of “fight, flight, freeze,” with an overactive nervous system, raising our cortisol levels, which can impact sleep cycles, muscular, cardiovascular, immune and digestive systems and our every day thinking. We’ll explore the physiology of stress and experiential somatic practices from Somatic Experiencing, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, yoga, dance and breathing practices that can soothe the nervous system and stimulate the “relaxation response”, supporting the body’s re- centering and mending disconnection.

What Does It Mean, to Heal? with Faculty Member, Lise Weil. We are living a moment in which brokenness, division and disease are being exposed as never before, when healing is necessary—and possibly available—as never before. If cancer tells us it is senseless to consider human disease apart from the diseased earth, ecological devastation is the symptom of a diseased culture. Three powerful recent books—Eva Saulitis’ memoir Becoming Earth, Deena Metzger’s novel A Rain of Night Birds and Lidia Yuknavitch’s novel The Book of Joan—come to the question of disease and healing from a deep understanding that human and earth body are indissoluble. “What does it mean, to heal?”

Katt Lissard and Karen Campbell

Phony Scholarship: How to Prevent your Research from Spiraling off into your own private Disney World, with Faculty Members, Karen Campbell & Katt Lissard. Most of us approach our academic work searching for sources that confirm what we already believe and thus risk allowing our research to become distorted or less-than-challenging – or just plain dull. This workshop focuses on critical thinking, writing, ethics and research, or how to ensure your research findings come closest to representing the truth that is currently available and allow you to get deeply involved in discovering what you might not already know! We’ll tackle short readings from different perspectives on various topics, practice identifying key points, comparing, contrasting, and reporting. Topics include epigenetics, embodiment, consciousness and research methodologies (other topics if you request them in good time). Imagine a team of crack reporters trying to break a story. Or Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys teaming up to solve the mystery. Bring your magnifying glass, compass and a handy piece of twine!

Posted in Faculty, Uncategorized, Workshops | Leave a comment

Graduating Student Presentations at the Spring 2018 Residency

A Joyful Noise: Reclaiming my Christian Voice, with IMA-TLA graduating student, Tracy Murphy. Please join me as I present the work featured in my thesis, “A Joyful Noise: Reclaiming my Christian Voice.” In this presentation, I will walk through some of the content from my context paper including influential voices and commentary on Christian feminism and progressive theology, as well as my individual practices in Transformative Language Arts, with an emphasis on the sacred power of music making. I will also be sharing many pieces of the main section of my thesis, my creative work, “Letters to God.” In an attempt to reclaim the Christian label, I have written this work to expand the narrative of who a Christian is by blending my love for and journey with music, faith, and community. I extend a special invitation and welcome to those who feel skeptical or critical of Christians, because, well, I am too! This presentation is an open and fully welcoming space for people of all or no religious affiliations.

Beyond the Veil: Horror, Boundaries, and the Descent into the Underworld, with IMA graduating student, Sarah Coflan. “The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” -E.A. PoeThe horror genre has often been dismissed as cheap and exploitative -sometimes dismissed as such by the creators themselves. As a lifelong, self proclaimed ‘horror geek’, however, I have found the horror genre to be a wellspring of valuable insight, both personally and culturally. In my presentation, I will draw comparisons between the act of engaging with a work of macabre art, and with the storytelling tradition of a hero’s descent into the Underworld. We will visit various incarnations of the Underworld, and see where it has left its mark on our culture. We will look at the Horror genre, both historical and contemporary, and examine specific films in greater depth.

Bringing Inner Experience to the Fore: First Person Consciousness and the Value of Subjectivity, with IMA-CS graduating student, Emily Wrede. Consciousness is that from which everything else springs forth for us as humans. It is that which animates us, enables us to have thoughts, and allows us to have a sense of self. This presentation will explore the process through which I discovered the value of and importance of incorporating what occurs in our inner worlds into approaches to understanding consciousness and the human condition. Drawing mainly from personal experience and briefly from the work of certain contributors to the fields of psychology, philosophy, neuroscience and contemplative traditions, I will explore how incorporating inner experience into an understanding of consciousness draws attention to the need for a paradigm shift, one which is arguably already underway.

“Comfort Quest”- Nursing Pain through a Transformative Lens… Our Heroine’s Journey, with HAS graduating student, Lisa Evers, RN. Attempting to numb our pain is yielding tragic results in society today- Pain continues, Addiction rages, and People are dying! My hypothesis is that the current pain scale is fueling the opioid crisis. Pain is viewed as the enemy, with the single goal of silencing it, at any cost. By flipping the pain scale, I am offering a new Vision- “Comfort Quest” where valuable energy is focused on real solutions- uncovering root causes, understanding pain’s messages, and empowering the body to heal. This study draws on physical, mental, and social well-being are cultivated. Neuroscience, quantum physics, energy medicine and positive psychology as well as intuition and offer feminine wisdom

Engaging Youth: Connecting to Identity, Place, Community, and Nature for a Sustainable Future, with SIS graduating student, Kate Aubin. Systemic racial and social injustice, planet altering climate change, and widening income inequality are so-called “wicked problems” that disproportionately affect youth and especially youth of color. Most discussions of solutions to these issues do not consider the potential for youth leadership. In this presentation I explore why it is vital for youth to assume leadership roles and examine ways to cultivate civic engagement and agency among youth. I will explain how civic engagement can be sparked in youth through positive youth development. I will talk about a workshop I designed and taught to a group of high school aged youth that asked participants to reflect on their relationships with nature, their connections to community, their understanding of personal identity, and their sense of place. I will also speak about my own civic engagement journey and how that grounded my research and informed the development of the workshop.

Occupy Age Movement, with HAS graduating student, Tammy L. Marshall. Ageism is alive and well in America and throughout the world. The notion of ageism impacts every industry. This presentation will uncover how our youth addicted society has impacted healthcare, the field of Long Term Care and the concern for those living with Dementia. There will also be a connection made as to how the loss of the divine feminine in healthcare plays a significant role in keeping Ageism alive. This presentation offers research as well as a personal quest to speak truths.

Our Viral Lives: Telling HIV/AIDS Stories That Matter, with SIS graduating student, Kyle Bella. At the end of 2014, I launched the online archive Our Viral Lives, which sought to tell digital stories about the HIV/AIDS targeted to an under 35 LGBTQ population most affected by the crisis. In the process of creating this archive, I confronted ethical questions about representation of different marginalized communities, informed consent, and information system storage. But the project took on a new dimension as it entered written form. It also became a primer for making the emotional legacies of artists, activists and political visionaries from the 1980s and 1990s alive in the 21st century. This latter exploration pointedly asked the question, “How do we do HIV/AIDS stories that have impact in our present day communities?”

Shomriel Sherman with fellow study Tracy Murphy

Seeing in the Dark: Illness as Illumination, with IMA-TLA graduating student, Shomriel Sherman. My thesis approaches pain and illness as a quest, a chance to honor and learn from the darkness, rather than attempt to hide, ‘cure,’ or bury what is found there. This presentation will provide a space for discussion around embodied experiences of illness, dialogue with pain and dis- ease, and the points of intersection between individual struggles and the larger world. I will share excerpts from my thesis as well as talk about aspects of my creative process. I will also bring along some visual aids, poems and objects that have proven helpful to me along the way.

Posted in Activism, Aging Studies, Collaborative Arts, Community Building, Creative Non-Fiction, Creativity & Imagination, Goddard Graduate Institute, Health Arts and Sciences, leadership, Life Sciences, Nursing, Spiritual Memoir, Spirituality & Religion, Sustainability & Place Studies, Tammy Marshall, Tracy Murphy, Youth Development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Social Justice Tours with Alumni Dan Kaminsky

New York City attracts a lot of tourists interested in history, culture, and big city adventure, but too often such tours hide some of the more vital history of the social justice issues inherent to every landmark. Dan Kaminsky, a graduate of the Social Innovation and Sustainability Program, is addressing that in an original way.

He explains, “Social Justice tours ( uses walking tours as a medium to create dialogue about social justice issues in NYC. This season (which ended in Nov) we had four tours (Trump tour, gentrification tour, environmental justice tour and people’s history tour). Next season we are hoping to add three more (surveillance tour, vegan food tour and queer resistance tour).” He invites people to both visit the website and share their emails to get updated when the tours start up again in May, and visit the organizations Facebook Page:

You can also see a video of what people are finding on his Trump tour here. Dan also recently spoke on a podcast with Mike Higgins, his collaborator in this organization, from FUREE:…/social-justice-tours-draft-2… 

Posted in Activism, Social Change, Social Innovation, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment