During times of great change, such as our current pandemic, there's always a great need for language arts facilitators of all kinds -- writers, artists, healers, activists, therapists, and more -- to facilitate welcoming spaces for people to connect, create, and organize.
This 6-week class can help you develop the skills needed to facilitate both distance and in-person transformative language arts experiences for a wide variety of cultures and communities. By immersing yourself in a variety of facilitation traditions, approaches, techniques, best practices and philosophies, you can discover and enact your life's work and art in facilitating workshops, classes, meetings, and coaching sessions. We'll focus especially on embodying compassion in action -- including when facilitating on Zoom, online, and other formats--through how we approach facilitation, as well as design, promote, assess, and learn from the workshops and other sessions we lead.
TLA can be a powerful change agent in the world, reaching far beyond workshops, coaching, performance, and other forms of traditional TLA work. We’ll explore how creating intentional communal spaces, taking an inward look, and working across vast definitions of “difference” (including race, religion, gender, class, living with ability or health challenges, and more) can help foster greater cohesion and expression in a fragmented culture. We’ll also learn how to navigate difficult situations and people more smoothly and compassionately, as well as how to joyfully sustain ourselves in our own individual TLA callings.
The Art of Facilitation Series: Facilitation is a life-long art of presence, engagement, and ethics. By immersing yourself in a variety of facilitation traditions, approaches, tools, techniques, best practices, and philosophies, you can discover, embody, and enact your life's work and art in facilitating workshops, classes, meetings, coaching and consulting sessions. "The Art of Facilitation: Roots and Blossoms of TLA Facilitation" (Nov. 4 - Dec. 15, 2021) explored designing, organizing, facilitating and assessing relevant, effective, and creative sessions (this class will be offered again next winter). "The Art of Facilitation: Facilitating Change and Community" focuses on fostering community and working with various populations for transformation, discovery, and liberation. You may take the classes in any order.
Week 1: FACILITATING FOR COMMUNITY: In a fragmented and polarized society, TLA facilitation has the potential to create life-giving communities which nourish, sustain, and build bridges across many disparate cultures. We’ll talk about various methods of deepening community, including food, rituals, celebrations, and creative collaboration. We'll put special attention on building and holding community in video, audio, and online classes.
Week 2: FACILITATING FOR CHANGE: What kind of change are you called to facilitate? You will define what change means to you, as well as engage in inward reflection on motives, expectations, and dreams. In addition, we’ll discuss how to handle when that change actually happens, and how to better prepare for unexpected challenges that might arise. We'll also explore how to facilitate during our current global challenges so that more have access to share their voices and visions for the future.
Week 3: A WIDE EMBRACE: Working with difference: across race, religion, ethnicity, nations, and gender -- as well as who is less and more impacted during the pandemic -- entails great self-awareness and ongoing self- and other-study, particularly in understanding our own privilege and challenges.
Week 4: COMPASSION IN ACTION: Working with people living with learning differences, disabilities, serious illness (mental, spiritual, physical), can often lead us into challenging places. We'll look at what we need to know when approaching such communities and individuals, where we can find resources and support, and especially how to remain in our role as facilitator and maintain compassion for ourselves.
Week 5: FACILITATING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT: Being in relationship with humans sometimes means entering uncomfortable places and impossible situations, all even more prominent while also in relationship with change around the world and locally. We'll delve into working with challenging people and difficult scenarios, including best practices for navigating such moments with grace and compassion.
Week 6: THE LIFELONG ART OF FACILITATION: Because the art of facilitation is a whole-self, full-hearted calling, one of our tasks is to embrace continual learning, growing, changing. How do we keep ourselves fresh and alive amidst such important work? And how do we grow our facilitation heart while facing personal, economic, and community challenges during a pandemic? We’ll talk about practices and strategies that can enable us to continue to bring wisdom, compassion, and rest to the people we serve.
Katt Lissard is artistic director and co-founder of The Winter/Summer Institute (WSI), an international HIV/AIDS & Theatre for Social Change project based in NYC and Lesotho, Africa. WSI’s process is built on collaborative dialogue and theatre-making with/in communities and across cultures. A former Goddard faculty member with extensive TLA experience in the Goddard Graduate Institute, Katt currently teaches in BMCC’s Center for Ethnic Studies department in New York. She’ll present on facilitating theatre for social change across cultures and boundaries.
Caleb Winebrenner is a storyteller, poet, and educator. He holds an MA in Educational Theatre. At both the high school and college levels, he crafts his classes to be engaging events for everyone. Caleb has been a member of the TLA Network Council for several years, and he is chair of the 2019 and 2020 Power of Words conference. He will address how to facilitate and teach for different learning styles and accommodating special needs, speaking both as an educator and from his own experiences of living with cerebral palsy.
Suzi Q. Smith is a nationally recognized slam poet and coach (and one of the most well-known performing poets in the U.S.) and is currently the co-chair of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs. Performing in the U.S. for over a decade, she has shared stages with Nikki Giovanni, the late Gil Scott Heron, and many more. As a community organizer, Suzi began her career working for a civil rights organization in Denver. An educator whose primary language is poetry, she has taught creative writing, poetry, spoken word, public speaking, MC school, and social studies, and has worked extensively with youth. Suzi's served as a Teaching Artist with Youth on Record, and as a coach of Denver Minor Disturbance Youth Poetry Slam, resulting in two international championships. Suzi has worked in many diverse environments: elementary schools, middle schools, traditional and alternative pathways high schools, hospitals, residential treatment centers, prisons, and more. She will address how to build adaptive and inclusive facilitation models that allow you to respond to the needs of the population you serve.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg (bio below) will speak on facilitating difficult situations and challenging individuals and communities.
This class is intended for all who facilitate or want to facilitate TLA, whether it takes the form of writing, storytelling, spoken word, drama, debate, public speaking, organizational storytelling, or other areas. While focusing on workshop facilitation, this class will also help students better facilitate TLA in other settings, including classrooms, coaching sessions, meetings, and more. Because learning to facilitate well is a lifelong art, this class is aimed toward all who seek to deepen their facilitation practice, whether they are a beginner or seasoned facilitator. The class meets students wherever they are.
This class encompasses weekly discussions (with a guiding question each week), creative writing prompts, readings, podcasts and videos, and ample resources. There will also be four live video-conferences with people who can bring to the table vast experience with a wide spectrum of communities. Zoom video-conference sessions (which can be done easily on computers or phones), which will be held for 90 minutes for four Sundays -- the first two and last week Sundays of the class -- at 8 p.m. EST/ 7 p.m. CST/ 6 p.m. MST/ 5 p.m. PST -- 6/28, 7/5, 7/26, and 8/2 -- also allows time for students to discuss and practice aspects of facilitation.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, is the founder of Transformative Language Arts and the author of 23 books, including Miriam's Well, a novel; Everyday Magic, memoir, and the forthcoming How Time Moves: New and Selected Poems. Her previous work includes Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust and six poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather. Mirriam-Goldberg has facilitated community writing workshops widely since 1992 with diverse populations throughout the Midwest, the U.S., and in Mexico, including people living with serious illness, intergenerational communities, women living in public housing, teens and young adults, and humans at large in big-life transitions. She offers one-on-one coaching on writing and right livelihood. She co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats with Kelley Hunt and the Your Right Livelihood training with Laura Packer. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin. Her Patreon campaign to create transformative writing, workshops, and podcasts and offering patrons weekly inspirations is here.
Joy Roulier Sawyer is the author of two poetry collections, Tongues of Men and Angels and Lifeguards as well as several nonfiction books. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have been widely published. Joy holds an MA from New York University in Creative Writing and a master's degree in counseling. Her extensive training and experience as a licensed professional counselor and in poetry/journal therapy gives her special expertise in facilitating expressive writing workshops. Joy was selected by poetry therapy pioneers to revise and update Arleen McCarty Hynes’ groundbreaking textbook, Biblio/Poetry Therapy: The Interactive Process. For over a decade, she’s taught at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop, the largest literary center in the West. Along with her other creative writing and poetry classes, Joy helps facilitate Lighthouses's Denver Public Library, Arvada Library, and Edgewater Library’s Hard Times workshops, designed for those experiencing homelessness or poverty, as well as the Writing to Be Free program, an outreach for women transitioning out of incarceration. She has also taught at the University of Denver and in the TLA MA program at Goddard College. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
During the pandemic, both Joy and Caryn are facilitating workshops, meetings, and collaborate projects through Zoom, Google Docs, email, and various online formats, including writing workshops for people living in extreme poverty, with serious illness, and who are facing other challenges.
The Transformative Language Arts Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit firstname.lastname@example.org