Call For Proposals

Conference on Community Writing,™ Online 2021

“Weaving Narratives for Social Justice Action in the Local, National, Global”
Dates: October 21-23, 2021

DeepThinkTank Topics: Counterstories of Antiracist and Decolonial Work; Writing as Self-Care; Environmental Justice; Disability Justice; and Rethinking Philanthropy

Deadline for proposal submissions: Friday, February 5, 2021

The Coalition for Community Writing invites you to co-create with us in community, to explore collaborations, and to weave narratives for action in the local, national, and global at our fourth biennial Conference on Community Writing.

In 2021, the Conference on Community Writing will be held online and will engage the theme Weaving Narratives for Social Justice Action in the Local, National, Global.

As we plan to gather virtually in 2021, communities across the globe are addressing the legacies of systemic racism and xenophobia; police violence and racism in the legal and justice systems; housing crises and food shortages; and white supremacist extremism.  They’re doing so during a global pandemic that has killed over one million people and exacerbated racial and economic disparities.  Communities across the globe are fighting the brutal consequences of climate change and environmental racism, as hurricanes, droughts, fires, and corporations displace hundreds of thousands.  

At the same time, communities across the globe are naming and building on their long histories of resilience, joy, and persistence, reclaiming the wisdom of ancestors and generations of activists whose knowledge and rituals can teach paths forward. Communities of different peoples once pitted against each other are strengthening and reviving their interconnections based on a shared sense of humanity, possibility, and transformation.

We invite you to gather online from locations across the globe to examine how our lives are simultaneously local, national, and global. Some elements of the program will highlight the DC-Maryland-Virginia region, where the conference had planned to meet in-person.  Local, national, and global issues visibly coalesce in this region; interwoven stories of opportunity and constraint are writ large. While we offer this region as one thread in the conference theme, we invite you to examine how interconnections weave into stories everywhere.

We come together as community activists, writers, scholars, and educators to share stories and counterstories that address these injustices. We come together to highlight the strengths, beauty, and knowledge of these communities, and to create a space for coalition building and action.

CCW focuses on writing as a framework to explore how change happens. In the work of social change, writing is necessary, contemplative, therapeutic, coalition-building, and action-based. People coordinate strategies, celebrate successes, design curricula, preserve the past, proclaim manifestos, compose grant proposals, measure outcomes, collaborate across expertise, and much, much more. They create space to pause, reflect, meditate, connect with allies, and then act. In each instance, through their writing processes and products, writers convey the values of who they are, and a shared vision for what will come. By exploring, affirming, and questioning writing processes and artifacts, CCW participants name and examine concrete moments of social change, and by doing so, chart a path toward justice. 

CCW affirms that expertise about community writing flows from many different directions and standpoints. CCW brings together community residents, activists, nonprofit leaders, writers, poets, journalists, digital storytellers, mindfulness teachers, school teachers, students, scholars and more, who all theorize, enact, and write the stories of community change.

We welcome submissions and proposals for workshops, presentations, and creative displays and performances that consider questions and topics such as:

  • Community writing that addresses local/national/global injustices.  How does community writing address systemic racism, sexism, immigration status and ableism; environmental and health injustice; economic injustice, and barriers to civil rights and equity for all people?
  • Counterstories that reframe how communities are portrayed.  Who writes resistance in and for communities? When and how do writers weave local, national, and global analyses to leverage power and/or resistance? 
  • Community healing.  How do people write through trauma and pain, and who supports them in this work? How do communities create room for self-care, meditation, and healing?
  • Community power and justice. Who are the actors? What kinds of agency do they claim? How do they create change? 
  • Community writing for policy change. Who writes the policies (local, national, global) that affect communities? Whose narratives are those policies based on? Who is seen and not seen? 
  • Community writing to build and break boundaries and divisions. In naming a “community,” how does community writing define, build, and break boundaries and divisions? When do these moves work productively for justice and equity; when do they reinforce divisions and imbalances of power? 
  • Interdependence of all people. How do community writers navigate the profound interdependence of all people across neighborhoods, nations, and continents?
  • Visual and media arts.  How do community writers use genres such as podcasts, graffiti, and theater to tell stories of community?

Deadline for proposal submissions: Friday, February 5, 2021

We welcome proposals that discuss praxis, theorize, and offer methodologies related to any of these questions or that interpret our theme in any number of ways.  Aca­d­e­mics of all lev­els, community partners, public intellectuals, activists, and students involved with engage­d pedagogy, research, activism, and social change are invited to submit a proposal that discusses how you’ll help us under­stand how writ­ing func­tions in the local, national, and global to inform, empower, and trans­form.

If you envision another format for your presentation that is not included here, propose it!  We’re always excited to mix things up!

Please note, you may be asked to pre-record your presentation.

Concurrent Sessions

A 45-minute panel session consists of 3 speakers presenting for about 8-10 minutes each, offering plenty of time for Q and A.  Presenters may propose full panels or individual presentations (8-10 minutes) that will be combined by the Conference Planning Committee. For full panels, please be sure to specify the individual presentation title for each speaker, if applicable. We are hoping to avoid the “read paper” and strongly encourage talks that are more interactive and dynamic.

Roundtable Discussions

In a 45-minute roundtable, selected participants (often experts in a given field) engage in a focused discussion on a specific theme with one or more facilitators guiding or moderating the dialogue.  Roundtables should be proposed as full panels, but with the full time used for discussion among presenters and audience members.  Roundtable discussion proposals should include a list of talking points, discussion questions attendees may be asked to consider, and an explanation of the practical relevance of the discussion.

Interactive Workshops

Workshop sessions will consist of 90 minutes of interactive presentation and collaborative work with the audience.  We encourage workshop facilitators to include both academic and non-academic stakeholders for community writing.  Thus, successful workshop proposals will provide a theoretical background, a discussion of community context, a presentation of fruitful collaboration, and practical tasks for the audience that the workshop panel might facilitate. Experts lead interactive and educational sessions designed to help attendees learn new skills and processes that they can apply in their own lives and neighborhoods and at their own institutions or places of work. Past workshops have included sessions on fundraising, organizing activism, contemplative practice, and building relationships between college and community.

Creative Displays and Performances

Artistic and/or performative expressions including digital storytelling, visual, audio, photography, and kinetic ideas of community and change. Please include in your proposal the time requirements for the proposed creative display. These will be pre recorded with a designated time on the schedule for Q&A.

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Proposals for all formats should be 250-500 words. The proposal portal will open in December, 2020. Submission deadline is February 5, 2021. To submit a proposal or find conference information, visit the conference website: www.communitywriting.org.  Check back regularly for updates.

For questions about the conference, email Conference Local Chair, Phyllis Ryder (pryder@gwu.edu), or Conference Director and Program Chair, Veronica House (communitywritinginfo@gmail.com).

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