Hunger Pangs and Bio-Navigating the Counter-Intuitive Food System with Jennifer Arlia

Jennifer Arlia and passion fruit

Jennifer Arlia and passion fruit

Jennifer Arlia writes in her thesis, “I love to eat. But anyone who knows me, even if just for an hour, knows this.” Food, an intricate part of culture and identity, especially since for Jennifer, who is part of an Italian family, but she also suffered from food allergies, some  triggered by the very foods that was part and parcel of her daily life and Italian heritage.

Her experience led her to study what it means to eat intuitively for health and

One of Jennifer's portraits of dinner with her happy reflection

One of Jennifer’s portraits of dinner with her happy reflection

life. At the same time, she was was also drawn toward her roots as a visual artist, particularly as a photographer. What do do with all she wrote, read, researched, and photographed? She found her answer in creating a website for her thesis project, Hunger Pants: Bio-Navigating the Counter-Intuitive Food System.

Her website explores three major interdisciplinary areas related to her topic, which she nicknames ComFet (Commodity Fetishism related to food), MoPro (Modes of Production, Skill and Food Origins), and Intuit (Intuitive Perception related to eating). Throughout her thesis, she interweaves slide shows of her startling and vivid photography, occasional recipes for dishes such as “Chicken Soul Soup,” and ample research combined with life expeirence. She also shares her bibliography and annotated bibliography, and thoughtful reflection on writing her thesis. In her powerful photo essay, “Life and Death on the Farm,” she writes:

Another of Jennifer's photos

Another of Jennifer’s photos


The farm, also true for other platforms in nature, takes on a broad spectrum of life and death. It is utilitarian and functional, giving to while being part of the wider ecosystem. It is a set of unwritten rules, formed out of systematic (and aesthetic) relationships. Basking in the sunlight or shrouded in fog, the allure of the farm stems from its declaration of life – erotic, vibrant, sentient – and its welcoming of death.

See Jennifer’s whole project right here.

Posted in Activism, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Food Studies, Nutrition | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Rewriting Our Personal Mythologies with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, acting program director and founder of Transformative Language Arts, talks about how students at Goddard often rewrite their personal mythologies. Watch this short video, part of a new series filmed by Alexander Love, based on interviews with GGI students and faculty.

Posted in Mythology & the Oral Tradition, Mythopoetics, Narrative Medicine, Narrative Therapy, Poetry, Singing & Songwriting, Transformative Language Arts | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Language of Our True Work with Students Britta Love and Seema Reza

Current students Seema Reza and Britta Love talk about finding the language to articulate their work in the world. Watch these short videos, part of a new series filmed by Alexander Love, based on interviews with GGI students and faculty.

Posted in Transformative Language Arts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Social Innovation: Disrupting Paradigms by SIS Faculty Sarah Bobrow-Williams

The white policeman..finds himself at the very center of the revolution

now occurring in the world. He is not prepared for it – naturally, nobody is -and what is possibly much more to the point, he is exposed, as few white

people are, to the anguish of the black people around him…….

James Baldwin, Esquire, 1960

What is social innovation? What is sustainability? And, who gets to decide? These questions weave their way through our “SIS” conversations.

Sustainability is about negotiating balance so that neither human or natural life is compromised. When we veer away from the affirmation of life in our systems, be they social or natural, multiple points suffer downstream. According to Donella meadows, nature teaches us that the most awe inspiring intervention in a system is its inherent capacity to transform itself. Meadows likewise proposes that the most powerful leverage point in transforming social systems is disrupting paradigms.

I find myself asking, “what will it take to disrupt a paradigm that upholds the notion that the systemic gunning down of unarmed black men by state sanctioned guardians is justifiable?” It will take nothing short of embracing “Black Lives.” Hopefully the surfacing of “Black Lives Matter” is an indication of our inherent capacity to transform ourselves.

The capacity to transform ourselves, whether we call it social innovation, sustainability or disrupting paradigms, requires openness – a willingness to connect and integrate insights outside of ourselves. Openness is not simply about acceptance, it is about breaking down our immunity and allowing ourselves to engage from the very core of our beings in creative possibility. It is in this space of rawness, and vulnerability and in the spirit of connection, where the possibility for building new relationships and discovering innovative and sustainable ways of doing things emerge.

In what can be termed “the practice of social innovation” there is important work going on around how to facilitate genuine engagement that leads to sustainability – strengthening our capacity for connection and resilience. In the next SIS blog we will hear from Rania Campbell-Cobb,  a 3rd semester SIS student and the recent recipient of Goddard College’s Sustainability Entrepreneurs’ Grant. Rania is the founder of Cloud 9, a non-profit partnership that engages local residents, youth, and a core group of unlikely allies in urban rooftop gardening as a means of nurturing connections essential to re-envisioning new ways of living and being in community.

Posted in Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Economics, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Faculty, Right Livelihood/ Making a Living, Social Innovation, Sustainability | Tagged | Leave a comment

Are You An Undiagnosed Visionary? Sarah Van Hoy on How Goddard Cultivates Visionaries

Are you an undiagnosed visionary? GGI faculty member Sarah Van Hoy speaks here about what kind of education people who, guided by their own visions, need to grow their roots and fruit. Watch this short video, part of a new series filmed by Alexander Love, based on interviews with GGI students and faculty.

Posted in Activism, Community Building | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Pamela McGrath: The Brazilian Martial Art and Dance Form of Capoeira, Healing, and Community

As part of my thesis project, I am creating a short documentary film that is a blend of video footage and interviews that document how the Brazilian martial art and dance form of Capoeira acts as a form of healing movement to cultivate community and foster resilience in youth. The interview process started last winter and the interviews consist of both student participants as well as master teachers from as far away as Brazil and as close as Maine, where I live and train Capoeira.

The primary focus of my research is emotional trauma from loss. When I started out in my research of how healing movement can cultivate community and foster resilience in youth to help heal emotional wounds, I learned that there wasn’t much existing documentation out there to pull from, and therefore needed to create my own. Throughout the interviewing process, I was able to capture this research and document it through video. Along with these interview clips, I’m beginning to blend them with video footage I’ve collected over the years, from Brazil, California, New York, New Jersey and more. In order to capture a wide variety of style and teaching methods, as well as student diversity, I was able to travel to many different states and meet new and experienced students.

10533165_10101813565392269_7333630462614846194_oI think there are lots of arts-based programs that currently exist that allow youth to heal and grow from their practices. My goal is to show that not only the movement of Capoeira does this, but also the natural combination of music, language, singing, and instrument playing that is also vital to the art form. Together, the movement and arts work together to create room for healing and growth. In other martial arts, there is no music component that exists. In some visual and creative art forms, there is no music. In some dance forms, there is no language component. The list goes on, but my contribution to the greater community is that the art form of Capoeira and its unique blend of arts, allows it to naturally be a healing method for emotional turmoil.

There have been many magical moments during the creation of this documentary film, some being the answers that I’ve received during the interviews. Although I had a goal of receiving answers to my questions that would help in my research, I learned about different perspectives and view points from the interviewees. I also learned that many of the interviewees have had a personal experience or trauma that had led them to find Capoeira as a means of self expression and personal healing. I didn’t find this surprising, but rather interesting and exciting as that is the path that led me to this art form—the loss of my mother. The more and more I speak with people and learn about their life experiences, the more I learn about how traumas have impacted their lives and what they did for themselves in order to move forward from sometimes horrific and life-changing experiences. This is the work that I hope to help children and youth with in the near future when my degree at Goddard is complete.

Goddard holds a special place in graduate education, in my opinion. I don’t feel that I would have been able to do this work at another college or in another program. Goddard has given me the opportunity to evolve within my research and path, and this is something I greatly appreciate. As we all change and evolve in our personal lives, it was important for me to know that my educational path evolved with me, and was fully supported by all of the advisors that guided me along the way. Growth, expansion and evolution are encouraged, and because of this and the support of the faculty and advisors, I feel it makes for a very rich experience and education that you can’t find anywhere else. All of the residencies that I’ve been to have opened my eyes and mind to new topics, meeting new people and seeing new perspectives. The low-residency model has also been a perfect match for me as I am able to work on my own at home with the energy and support I’ve received from the residency. The friendships I’ve forged over the past couple years have such strong bonds, and we all work to support each other throughout the semesters. The Goddard experience is truly profound and has made me a stronger thinker, writer and researcher.

Posted in Arts-Based Inquiry, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Filmmaking, Transforming Trauma | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Susan Sakash: Cultivating a Solidarity Economy Within the New Orleans Local Food Systems

9636672209_d5b859de9f_zI came to Goddard knowing that I wanted to study alternative economies. After a decade working in non-profit fund development, I wanted to figure out how to shift these skills and tools towards developing democratic strategies for building community wealth that challenge, rather than reinforce, the inequities of a capitalist system. Though my studies have taken many paths, the overarching drive behind my Goddard studies is to step up my commitment to doing whatever I can, on a individual and community level, to put pressure on the fissures opening within the decaying system of neo-liberal capitalism by lifting up and making visible post-capitalist relationships and exchanges that are happening everywhere, in both highly visible and less noticed ways. A tall order for sure, but one which Goddard has encouraged, challenged and helped me focus!

This semester I am diving deep into new territories even as I also round out some of the alternative economies research I started in G2. Specifically this semester I have been immersing myself in the writings of popular educators, critical pedagogues, and participatory action researchers to understand how these liberatory practices have spurred and activated social change and community self-determination particularly within marginalized communities in the U.S. South.  By tracing the ways that the roots of institutionalized racism are intertwined with inequity in our schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces, these practices empower people to create community-based solutions and advocate for change.

The tools and strategies of critical pedagogy and popular education models speak to me as a kind of community-envisioned and enacted social innovation and one which I believe can be employed to move forward developments within what is being called the solidarity economy, particularly as it plays out in the local food system here in New Orleans. Inclusivity and attention to race and class-based inequity are essential to creating a truly just and sustainable local food system in this city AND to ensuring that the new New Orleans is one that all New Orleans has had a hand in making.

Towards that end, I am particularly interested in the role of youth, and particularly young people of color, in defining what the solidarity economy looks like here in New Orleans. Do young people resonate with the language that has been developed by proponents of the solidarity economy framework as it currently exists in the U.S.?  If not, what are the words, phrases and images they would use to describe the kind of economic future they envision as workers and leaders?  What does meaningful work look like here in New Orleans and how does the local food sector (and the New Orleans food and culture tourist economy as a whole) need to shift to ensure young people have a place at the table?

Towards that end, part of my thesis will be a toolkit of workshop modules and strategies 7938512512_cd14f3909a_zfor young people and their mentors to use as they develop their economic identities within, and visions for, a local food system reoriented towards principles and practices that value people and our planet over profit.  This semester I am collaborating with the Grow Dat Youth Farm, a four-year old organization that nurtures young leaders through the meaningful work of growing food on a four acre urban farm in New Orleans’ City Park ( Part of our collaboration entails the creation and facilitation of a series of workshops for their leadership program and staff professional development.  And as important, these workshops will advance the organization’s goals of deepening young peoples’ knowledge of personal financial literacy, the history of cooperativism and mutual aid as a form of community resistance and self-determination in the South, and access to employment and leadership opportunities in the growing local food movement in New Orleans.

As a newcomer to New Orleans, I am continually blown away by the long and rich legacy of community efforts to build and rebuild the parts of this city that are broken thanks to the equally long legacy of institutionalized racism.  Every day I read or hear of how people have come together through story circles, street performance, alternative economic exchange, and creative protest to share knowledge, resist oppression, and offer scaled solutions.  Every day I feel motivated to seek out these moments and instances of hope and add my efforts to the mix to counter the steady stream of social entrepreneurial (yet ultimately still capitalist) rhetoric and urban redevelopment planning papers that threaten to widen the gap of haves and havenots all in the name of progress and rebuilding. These simultaneous, contradictory messages are maddening as much as they are motivating; I can’t help but use these on-the- ground, daily lessons to inform my perspectives on social innovation and sustainability.

susan2008Being in the inaugural class of the MA Social Innovation and Sustainability program gives me the opportunity to help shape the framework and definitions that will define the kinds of students and studies in years to come. At the same time, being in residency with folks from Health Arts and Sciences, Transformative language Arts and Consciousness Studies, allows my thinking to be pushed even further as I strive to incorporate embodiment and performance studies, as well as community trauma recovery, into my understanding of economics and system change. For every moment that I wish I was being given more outside direction, there is a companion moment in which I deeply appreciate the freedom I have been given to explore the totality of the pressing issues that we face as a society.

Posted in Social Innovation, Sustainable Businesses and Communities | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment