W1 — Weaving Inclusive Communities through Black Feminist Waymaking
Sherri Craig, Virginia Tech University
Talisha Haltiwanger Morrison, University of Oklahoma
Black women have unique histories of oppression and subjugation in the United States. As such, their experiences in higher education remain particularly gendered as well as raced. This has been true in broader society and within higher education settings, including in Writing Studies. Black women faculty and professional staff are frequently expected to perform the same or additional work as others, often for less pay, and experience numerous racial microaggressions (Kynard, 2019; Witherspoon Arnold, 2015), particularly at institutions with a professed desire for diversity but without a material commitment to inclusion and change. The stress of their everyday work and living environments necessitates Black women academics’ varied approaches to relationship building and waymaking as they navigate their institutional settings. Waymaking allows Black women to forge a path, or, literally, “make a way,” to success by establishing relationships that work against the white heteronormative commonplace expectations of behavior and communication in favor of creating a “homeplace” (hooks 1989). As waymakers, Black women in the academy work within their classrooms and local communities to create new and more inclusive “homes” in hallways, offices, classroom corners, coffee shops, community buildings, parking lots, and other spaces. These efforts provide relationship-building and collaboration opportunities with Black women students, professional staff, and community members that offer interactions of support, kinship, and validation.
This workshop offers insight into the waymaking methods of two Black women in different faculty and administrative Writing Studies positions who have attempted to create “homeplaces” as diverse subcommunities that support alternative literacies of academic spaces within their respective historically-white institutions. The presenters share how they apply Black feminist approaches to build community both on- and off-campus and invite participants to consider the challenges and possibilities of waymaking in their own institutional and community-based work.
During several interactive activities in the workshop, participants will:
- Receive a framework for Black feminists’ waymaking and learn how to apply it to institutional and community-based spaces.
- Engage with a series of questions to reflect upon how the waymaking framework can be useful. Questions include: How can people who are not Black women engage in waymaking without co-opting the work? and How have you contributed to Black women feeling “out of community” through your institutional and community-based work?
- Collaborate with workshop leaders and other participants to work through a series of realistic scenarios to explore waymaking from their own positionalities.
- Make a plan for enacting waymaking in their communities.
This series of activities and framework we would impart support an approach to community engagement that undermines white supremacist approaches. Ultimately, the overarching goal of the workshop is to encourage everyone to examine their spaces as potential opportunities to relation and to write with and for communities through a Black feminist lens.
W2 — Writing Workshops as Brave Spaces for Writers in Confinement
Tobi Jacobi, Colorado State University
Alex Kinnaman, Community Literacy Center Colorado State University
Nathan Renshaw, Community Literacy Center Colorado State University
As author of Doing Time, Writing Lives, Patrick Berry writes, “reading and writing construct a contextual now that we all can inhabit” (14, emphasis in original). We propose an interactive workshop that invites participants to more deeply consider and experience the contextual nows and brave spaces of workshops facilitated with writers in confinement. As Berry argues, it is such “acts of composing and becoming that lead to deeper engagement with the world and one’s place in it [and] describe the value of being present” (14) are too often overlooked in efforts to articulate the successes and impacts of community writing programs behind bars.
The Speakout! writing program is a community-centered literacy project in Northern Colorado that sponsors and publishes the writings of confined persons in a biannual journal. Weekly workshops inspire much of this writing. Yet many of the stories shared in workshops never reach print. Writers are put on locked down, transferred to different institutions, or released, and their names are lost to us. Their stories, however, take hold in the memories and the bodies of those who shared the collaborative space with them, becoming part of a larger effort of authoring our own collective narratives through an ongoing contextual present.
This matters, because although writers choose their words (within censorship that institutions mandate), it is the (unconfined) reader who must decide to pay attention. Attending to the contextual now of writing workshops shifts our focus from reliance on anticipated external impacts to the present moment, a now worth paying attention to. During workshops, narratives, voices, and ideas come together to create a poem, a story. The power of this performative act (whether shared or held close), we argue, lives not only in the potential pages of a journal, but also within the bodies, minds, and communities of those who experience the “now” of the words performed, a muscle memory carried forward into future hours, months, and pages penned by the collective.
Understanding the SpeakOut! workshops as brave writing spaces means recognizing their dynamic nature and potential to inspire creative and critical expression through prompt writing and collective listening that deepen understanding of our own and others’ life experiences. Brave writing spaces also foster the sense of community that emerges through the struggle to write and import of pausing to hear one another, to recognizing how we are all part of a temporary chorus of voices in a community based upon supportive feedback, inclusion free from coercion, and the absence of strict rules of (writerly) engagement. Writing activities and prompts are typically broad enough to allow each writer to develop their own interpretation, leading to genuine cathartic expression. After writing, sometimes everyone is eager to share; other times only one writer speaks up; regardless, a bond is formed through the sharing of newly borne words. Workshops allow writers to connect with each other and themselves in a way that is often not accessible in day to day life, especially while incarcerated. Brave writing spaces become a contextual now that celebrates language as a powerful tool for connection and community.
Our 90 minute workshop will invite writers to participate in three activities:
- A SpeakOut! writing workshop customized for CCW attendees,
- A discussion of aims and methods of designing literacy programming committed to
sponsoring brave spaces, and
- The development of preliminary plans for community-centered writing workshops in their own contexts.
W3 — Trust and Collaboration as Counterstory
Uche Anyanwu, Towson University, GIVE
Carrie Grant, PhD, Towson University, GIVE
Thea Robertson, Towson University, GIVE
Zosha Stuckey, PhD, Towson University, GIVE
Trust is an integral part of relationships among non-profit organizations, the communities they serve, and their partners and collaborators. As we reassess current practices in philanthropic work, we recognize the role that inequity, unconscious bias, and traditional institutional rules play in how communities & universities trust and mistrust each other. To enact successful counternarratives, writers need to constantly check the pulse of their relationships with communities so they can be as reciprocal and equitable as possible. If there is no trust or understanding, then the writing will not adequately represent the needs of the community.
For us specifically, the women of Towson University’s (TU) Grant Writing in Valued Environments (G.I.V.E.) program, we recognize the historically asymmetrical relationship between TU and the Baltimore area, as assets have been funneled to the university and little has been reinvested into Baltimore. This has led to a community that distrusts the university and doubts our investment in their future, creating a barrier to building strong and sustained collaborative relationships. At the same time, G.I.V.E. recognizes the institutional privilege that is extended to our organization as a result of TU’s name and influence in the area. In order to combat the inequity that is inherent in our dynamic, we leverage our privilege on behalf of our partner organizations, while consciously granting them as much power in the process as possible and appropriate. Our methods include centering assets and strengths-based approaches over pathology and deficit-based ones. This includes humility, the ability to value diverse forms of “expertise,” the courage to step in at appropriate times even if risky, and knowing when to just move on. We ensure that our partners are able to lead us and inform us of how we can work with them to support their goals and advance their values—instead of forcing them to fit our own expectations.
In this workshop, undergraduate and graduate interns for G.I.V.E.—accompanied by two instructors—will ask participants to assess their own relationships with the populations they work with or want to work with, identify potential roadblocks, and learn applicable methods that will aid them in creating more trust, equity, and mutual benefit. Through short presentations, interactive discussion, and case studies, we will encourage participants to think about their work from a perspective centered on trust, and then guide them in creating a framework/action plan that they can immediately apply to their own experiences during and after the workshop. The goal is to produce more effective, honest writing and community collaborations that advocate instead of dominate. As envisioned in Edgar Villanueva’s Decolonizing Wealth and in Dayvon Love’s “Baltimore Awakes,” this work is part of the philanthropic revolution that is shifting the balance of power to underserved communities.
W4 — Power Analysis for Activist-Adjacent Writing Project
Organizers and Facilitators:
Rebecca Bayley, Associate Media Contributor, Independent Media Association
Nyonu Branch-Watkins, Associate Editor, Independent Media Association
Brynn Fitzsimmons, PhD student (English – Rhetoric and Composition), University of Kansas | Associate Editor, Independent Media Association
Andrei Stoica, Founder and Managing Editor, Independent Media Association
Power analysis—a common activist strategy for identifying both visible and invisible systems of power that impact a given issue, support (or disguise) violence, or maintain a system—is a crucial tool for many activist projects that are targeting specific goals or issues. While power analysis is often used for direct, explicit activism, in this workshop, we will explore how power analysis can support community writing in an even broader context. Specifically, we consider power analysis as a tool for citizen journalism within the Kansas City-based citizen journalism project, Independent Media Association, and from there will consider how power analysis might be a useful tool for other activist-adjacent writing projects, including certain service-learning projects.
To ground our discussion, we will share experiences working with Independent Media Association (IMA), a Kansas City-based citizen journalism project. Beginning in July 2020, our work has offered Kansas Citians the most complete footage and other reporting from the protests and other demonstrations leading up to and following Black Lives Matter activists’ 21-day occupation of Kansas City, Missouri City Hall. Our position as (citizen) journalists has allowed us to help push the other way as well—using our lines of questioning and reporting to further activist inquiry and investigation into city, police, and other systems of power in Kansas City. In doing that work, power analysis became a way of developing and framing both reporting strategies as well as interview questions, which in turn became foundational to how we train new citizen journalists within IMA.
Structure of the Workshop:
Theoretical framing: This workshop will begin with brief theoretical framing (from the graduate student working with IMA) for both our project overall and for our use of power analysis specifically. Specifically, that framing will connect this workshop to public rhetoric, feminist rhetoric, and abolitionist thought as well as brief discussion of citizen journalism as a type of community writing.
Overview of IMA and Power Analysis: We will offer a brief overview of IMA as well as specifics of how we adapted and use our (modified) power analysis format. While we recognize our project is specifically citizen journalism, we’ll focus on examples and experiences that could connect to other community writing projects that would consider themselves activist-adjacent.
Power Analysis Workshop and Discussion: Participants will complete exercises similar to traditional power analysis exercises, but will modify these for writing projects that may be activist-adjacent, may need to accommodate writers engaging multiple social issues that change over time, and/or may need to be usable as a tool for writers as they are in the process of (learning) writing.
This workshop is targeted at community partners, and we will offer iterations of our materials for both community writing teachers and facilitators developing project-wide structure and versions that can be handed to community writers as tools for them to use as they do their own writing.
W5 — The Restorative Properties of Listening: Critical Listening as Community Healing
Sponsored by The Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition
Kelly Concannon, Nova Southeastern University
Autumn Bishard, Nova Southeastern University
In this collaboratively facilitated workshop, we (a graduate student and faculty member) emphasize how critical listening can be created when we carefully and collaboratively engage in multiple literacy practices (Rosenberg and Emma Howes; Ratcliffe). Students and faculty at Nova Southeastern University partnered with Just for Today, a local halfway house that assists women in recovery. Our motivation was to pilot a “sponsorship program,” where we engage with women through weekly meetings. The goal of the project was to provide resources for women who self-selected to be “sponsored” in order to reach their educational goals–mainly in obtaining a GED. Following the work of scholars like Vieira in “Writing’s Potential to Heal: Women Writing from Their Bodies,” we highlighted how various elements of our program promote “women’s experiences of physical healing, with the public sharing of body-based writing being especially empowering” (20). Our curriculum emphasized goal setting, mindfulness, self-love, and was intended to allow participants the ability to show up; to heal by taking control of their literacies.
Given the sensitive nature of our community work (most participants are from a state-mandated public rehab facility), we need to maintain the anonymity of the women who participated and the integrity of our relationships with them, but we intend to include these women’s perspectives by sharing some of their recorded reflections on the program. In addition, we will provide our reflections as facilitators who assisted in the project development and implementation. These reflections will offer commentary on the overall effectiveness of the collaboration and sponsorship program.
The project was effective because I (Kelly) was able to cultivate a relationship with the women on a weekly basis through yoga and meditation. Additionally, it was effective because I (Autumn) took on a leadership role and utilized my identities to more directly connect with participants. Thus, much of our emphasis will be on creating an analytic for doing community-outreach work rather than speaking for women regarding their experiences in our sponsorship program. To this end, we will focus on how to cultivate relationships through reciprocity, connection, and engagement. Our hope is to present the activities that we conducted with women who participated in the sponsorship program, which includes a grounding meditation, guided reflections, and goal setting.
Workshop participants will complete writing exercises that ask them to engage with the concepts of critical listening through practices of empathy. This workshop focuses on the various complexities of cultivating empathy and vulnerability in a sponsorship program; therefore, participants will be introduced to key concepts related to empathy and vulnerability and will be encouraged to brainstorm how they might utilize these skills in cultivating outreach projects. Attendees will engage in a series of reflective writing activities which afford participants to create and re-create their own stories about how they have created or not created effective relationships. By engaging in these various activities, the major take-away for workshop participants is to understand how critical listening, reflexivity, reciprocity and collaboration through feminist practice can create new stories and solidify multiple relationship.
W6 — Perilous Narratives: Writing Activism and Pedagogies of Change
Sarah Snider, Marian University
Noa Fleischacker, Tight Lipped
This workshop session will focus on activist and pedagogical methods for using writing and art to raise awareness, break silences, and spur action across communities. Noa Fleischacker, co- founder of the Tight Lipped podcast and public organizing project on chronic vulvovaginal and pelvic pain, and Sarah Snider, Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing at Marian University, will lead the audience in imagining practical ways of moving from writing about sensitive personal and political concerns to action inside and outside of the classroom. The workshop will provide a forum for discussion and planning among and between community and university educators.
Audience members will learn from Noa Fleischacker about the formation, organizing work, and impact of Tight Lipped’s podcast series and zine (as well as workshops, book clubs, community building events, and educational resource list) in raising public awareness and lobbying for the advancement of medical practices surrounding chronic vulvovaginal and pelvic pain conditions that are often societally stigmatized and faced in silence. Sarah Snider will share pedagogical practices for utilizing Tight Lipped, materials from the Undocupoets movement, and other contemporary activist writing on politically or personally sensitive topics to help students to conceive of fresh ways of employing narrative writing to reshape their communities and public spaces.
Combined, these presentations will demonstrate the fruitful employment of writing and art on what are often considered taboo or hazardous subjects, sparking the audience to consider how they might combine writing, teaching, and collaborative organizing action to effect practical change in their communities. Audience participants will be tasked with answering Audre Lorde’s key question in “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”: “What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?” Using their individual responses, attendees will move into small guided groups of community activists and classroom educators to form and share ideas and methods for bringing about social change through public writing and education, potentially laying the groundwork for future collaborations. This workshop session thus serves as an antidote to societally imposed silence and responds to Lorde’s call “for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.”
W7 — Community Writing as Transdisciplinary Social Innovation
Jo Benjamin, United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County
Paul Feigenbaum, Florida International University
Séan McCarthy, James Madison University
Innovation methods are often pursued with a single, monetizable product as their desired endpoint. We instead seek to cultivate social innovation toward systemic, sustainable social change. In using the phrase “social innovation,” then, we do not propose this workshop as an approach to community work that privileges the new and “moves fast and breaks things.” Rather, we understand social innovation both as a lens that builds on methods and knowledges we already practice in our field, and as a bridge that facilitates more effective coalitions across the borders of disciplines and departments, institutions and communities.
More specifically, practices of experimentation, collaborative design, relationality, and empathy have long been fundamental to the ethos of community writing. Yet, looking at the academy more broadly, we argue that despite institutional rhetoric about interdisciplinarity, traditional disciplines and their associated methods of knowledge production and dissemination still prevail. (And though we resist these strategic forces, they clearly impact how we practice community writing, impinging on our capacity to enact egalitarian ideals and to most effectively hear and learn from the collective and inclusive wisdom of diverse groups). The academy will not be able to respond effectively to the “wicked problems” of our time—global pandemics, mass incarceration, racial injustice, rising economic inequality, and climate change, among others—unless we—in the most inclusive, trans-disciplinary, trans-institutional, trans-community sense of we—can effectively draw together and build on the great work already happening in so many places and yet so often invisible outside those places. Ultimately, we believe that by orienting its practices toward social innovation, community writing—as a broad, highly diverse and inclusive coalition of practitioners operating in spaces all over the world—can lead the way in supporting these trans-formations. This workshop is about taking (modest) steps in this utopian direction.
Our approach to inclusive, transdisciplinary social innovation is grounded in principles of design justice (Costanza-Chock, 2020) and appreciative inquiry (Cooperrider, 2008). Like the ethic of community writing, design justice is a bricolage of responsive and inclusive methods that seeks to empower communities, that centers the voices of those most directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process, and that emphasizes ongoing, evolving, and collaborative processes rather than fixed ends. And appreciative inquiry is an approach to organizational change that weaves together stories of what most inspires and energizes people about their work, and then builds from there. After presenting a conceptual background and illustrative examples of our approach, we propose to work with attendees on building social innovation toolkits so they can implement social innovation initiatives within their local contexts. These toolkits will include:
- Assets-based storytelling that leads to envisioning what it might look like to maximize these assets for all stakeholders in a coalition.
- Inclusive and critical approaches to design methods such as design thinking.
This workshop reflects ongoing social innovation design research and practices currently being undertaken by on-campus and off-campus stakeholders in and around three very different institutions—James Madison University, Michigan State University, and Florida International University.
W8 — Writing as Co-Creative Community: Microcosm and Developmental Playground
Patti H. Clayton, PHC Ventures; NC Campus Compact
Kathleen Edwards, University of North Carolina Greensboro
Kelly Misiak, United Way
Mary Price, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
Writing as community—not only in, for, or even with community—is a counter-normative practice (at least for higher education) … and therefore has potential to transform us, from individuals to systems. It is a practice facilitators have engaged in—reflectively and critically, together and with others—for over a decade. We are a diverse group of community engagement practitioner-scholars with substantial experience of co-authorship (with undergraduates, graduate students, community organization leaders and staff, community members, campus professional staff, faculty, and administrators) who are committed to authentic co-creation in our writing and our work more generally. We succeed in walking our “co-” talk to varying degrees as power and positionality exert their influence … and therefore we learn to make the implicit explicit and to see more clearly the constraining and enabling systems we shape and are shaped by. Writing as community is both (a) a microcosm of the forces that support and hinder justice in communities local to global and (b) a developmental playground within which we can build capacities as agents of change whose actions—intentional and unintentional—contribute to justice and injustice and support one another in the change-work we undertake more broadly.
In this workshop facilitators will gather from participants and share ourselves a wide range of examples of writing as community, each of which will be examined to highlight one or more key tension points or lessons learned related to justice (e.g., power, equity). From our own experience, for example, we will consider the co-authorship of a book chapter by several members (both community- and campus-based) of a complex community-campus partnership; the production of a reflective essay and a primer by a community of practice whose members brought different professional identities and experience levels; the writing of an article with 10 co-authors (including doctoral students, professional staff, faculty, and international thought leaders from around the US) and an exploratory white paper with 9; and the co-creation of a poem about co-creation. We will invite participants to critique such stories with us, examining them through the lens of a variety of conceptual frameworks we collectively bring (e.g., mentoring communities, critical theory, network analysis, virtual communities, indigenous studies, feminist studies). We will co-generate a set of promising practices for writing as community in any context, with a particular eye to the ways in which we can build our capacities to make visible and move beyond the systems of power and privilege that we ourselves participate in co-creating with the seemingly small choices (in language, feedback, etc.) associated with co-writing and thus that we ourselves have the responsibility to change in the service of justice within all of our communities, micro to macro.
Any and all who are interested in co-writing, whether based in communities or on campuses, are most welcome. The session is designed to draw on a wide range of experiences with “co-” across a wide range of writers, types of writing, and purposes for writing and to generate actionable ideas for co-writing across a wide range of contexts.
W9 — HRM Storytellers: Developing and Delivering a Peer-led Storytelling Program for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence
Jocelyn Broadwick, House of Ruth Maryland
Colleen Darney, House of Ruth Maryland
Norwood Johnson, House of Ruth Maryland
House of Ruth Maryland’s (HRM) storytelling project, HRM Storytellers, began in 2015 as a way to utilize the benefits of narrative storytelling as a part of the healing journey for victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) and to allow for a positive experience to come from their trauma. Since then, HRM Storytellers has joined with local and national partners, including Baltimore Center Stage, Listen To Your Mother, and Toastmasters International, to provide opportunities for survivors to learn how to creatively construct their personal stories of IPV, increasing their sense of meaning, purpose, and control over their experiences.
HRM believes that IPV survivors have the most to teach us about how to have healthy communities. Guided by principles of trauma healing, HRM Storytellers emphasizes peer support, collaboration, and empowerment and invites survivors to join in the organization’s mission to confront the attitudes, behaviors, and systems that perpetuate violence by sharing their stories with the larger community in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland.
Recently, HRM Storytellers transitioned from being staff-led and peer-supported to being peer-led and staff-supported. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when no rounds of the in-person storytelling program were able to take place, a core group of previous graduates worked collaboratively with HRM’s training and clinical staff to develop an 8-week storytelling curriculum created entirely by survivors, for survivors. This group represents the diversity of those affected by IPV in terms of age, race, and gender and gives voice to the often-silenced 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men, who, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have reported experiencing severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Today, these same graduates instruct new cohorts of storytellers as peer leaders and co-facilitators as hired staff of HRM. They also engage the community on issues related to IPV by sharing their stories through paid, professional speaking opportunities at the request of community groups and organizations via HRM’s “Request a Storyteller” program.
In this interactive workshop, HRM Storytellers graduates and HRM staff will review the step-by-step process of developing our peer-led curriculum involving deep listening sessions (individual and group), the resourcing of storytelling expertise through strategic and creative local partnerships, and the integration of the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care’s practices for trauma-informed peer support. Additionally, attendees will have the opportunity to actively experience and participate in various features of the curriculum including opening and closing grounding exercises, small and large group discussion, and in-session writing. Attendees will also participate in sharing exercises centered on envisioning various techniques to recognize, make visible, and empower the marginalized and stigmatized populations that inhabit their communities. Lastly, they will hear powerful excerpts of our storytellers’ stories of surviving IPV, revealing the transformative and resilient nature of this work.
W10 — Cultivating Political Friendship: Racial Counternarratives Through Community Publishing
Julia Egizio, Lewis University
Cassidy Fontaine-Warunek, Lewis University
Janise Hurtig, Community Writing Project/DePaul University
Lou Ann Johnson, Second Baptist Church/Community Lifelife Ministries
Sheila Kennedy, Lewis University
Salvador Martinez, Lewis University
Tom McNamara, Lewis University
This interactive workshop offers a framework for community publishing that works to dismantle racial injustice and distrust in communities shaped by histories of segregation and disinvestment. The workshop will feature students involved in a partnership between Lewis University, a Chicago-area institution with community engagement as a core value, and two long-term partners: Second Baptist Church in Joliet, IL and the Community Writing Project (CWP) in Chicago. Second Baptist is the oldest Black church in Joliet, founded by former slaves in 1880, and CWP coordinates writing groups in Chicago communities of color.
At Second Baptist, Lewis undergraduates have collected oral histories from long-time members in support of the congregation’s efforts to publish a history of its activism. At CWP, students have led writing groups and provided editorial support for the CWP publication Real Conditions. In this workshop, students and representatives from Second Baptist and CWP will offer lightening presentations that address the following: How do narratives from Second Baptist and CWP counter racial distrust, offering frameworks for rhetorical resistance rooted in “political friendship” (Allen 2004)? How does the CWP offer a model for writing groups rooted in emancipatory education (Ayers et. al. 2016, Hurtig and Adams 2010) potentially generative for other organizations?
The bulk of the workshop will invite participants, through impromptu writing and small-group discussion, to reimagine their own community writing. Specifically, participants will imagine how their own community writing might offer counternarratives to damaging racial narratives that have been built through policy into our communities (Fleming 2008, Martinez 2020).
W11 — Community Listening: Workshopping Possibilities of Local, National, and Global Action
Organized and led by:
Jenn Fishman, Marquette University
Romeo García, University of Utah
Lauren Rosenberg, University of Texas at El Paso
Sally Benson (University of Arizona), Kyle Boggs (Boise State University), Alexandra Cavallaro (California State University, San Bernardino), Mitzi Ceballos (University of Utah), April Chatham-Carpenter (University of Arkansas, Little Rock), Keri Epps (Wake Forest University), Wendy Hinshaw (Florida Atlantic University), Adam Hubrig (Sam Houston State University), Terese Guinsatao Monberg (Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, Michigan State University), Andrea Paolini (University of Pittsburgh), Katie W. Powell (University of Arkansas), Wyn Andrews Richards (Washington State University), Mary P. Sheridan (University of Louisville), Katie Silvester (Indiana University), Erica Stone (Middle Tennessee State University), Karen Tellez-Trujillo (California Polytechnic University Pomona), Patty Wilde (Washington State University Tri-Cities), Todd Womack (University of Michigan, Flint)
This workshop is an invitation to all community writers, from those who hear the phrase “community listening” and feel curious—What is that? Do I do that? Wait, I do that!— to those already deeply committed to studying and enacting community listening as a means of always-emplaced, deeply imbricated communicative action.
We invite you to attend—to join and participate in—a set of simultaneous conversations about community listening led by the editors of two yoked collections, Community Listening: Stories-So-Far and Possibilities of New Stories and Community Listening in Action, and facilitated by collection contributors.
Our hope for this workshop is as great as it is simple to state: Through sustained conversation, we hope to nurture new and ongoing efforts to acknowledge as well as engage in the ever-emerging practices of community listening.
How will this event work?
We will start by offering conceptual SWAG or shared ways of getting conversations, deliberations, and inquiries into community listening started. Next, we will move into virtual small groups to allow for real-time exchanges about different facets of community listening, including:
- Across and through the Arts
- Coalitional Work
- Communicating Across Divides
- Haunting Reckonings
- Place-Based Examples
- Prison Literacies
- Technologies of Listening
- Transnational Human Rights
We will conclude with an act of collective after-listening, a virtual write-on-site that will give session participants an opportunity to compose their thoughts, reflect on immediately past and more distantly prior conversations, and write either publicly or privately in response. If time allows, there will also be follow-on conversations.
W12 — From the Fire Station to the Middle School: Theorizing and Applying the Debrief Genre
While the term “debrief” is widely used as a shorthand for “discussion” in all kinds of situations, in this workshop, we explore the more technical debrief genre, borrowed from procedures in Crew Resource Management (CRM) and used in high-consequence environments such as the military, emergency response, medicine, and aviation. In these worlds, the debrief is a ritualized conversation after a call, training operation, or similar group action in which everyone who participated discusses what happened and what they might have done differently. The purpose is to reflect on how the group, as a whole, can collaborate and perform more effectively next time.
We first turned to this strategy when, as faculty advisors of an undergraduate community-literacy cohort, our group was struggling to stay connected. The undergraduate volunteers designed and taught a writing course in a local middle school’s extended day program, which engages students after school while their parents work. Facing this challenging work–and lacking infrastructure, such as regular group meetings–our cohort struggled to collaborate in a sustainable way. To address this challenge, we drew on Angela’s first-hand experiences with the debrief genre as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. As a communicative ritual that helps high-stakes teams collaborate more effectively, the debrief strategy holds much promise not only for our undergraduate cohort, but also, we believe, for other types of community-engaged work. In this interactive workshop, we’ll introduce the debrief strategy, facilitate an example of the debrief, and invite participants to join us in imagining where, when, and how the debrief might best inform community-engaged endeavors.
W13 — Who Would You Let Listen to Your Memoir? Stretching the Audience for Community Writing
Alison Turner, Independent Scholar
Shahrzad Sajadi, University of Massachusetts Boston
The Herstory Writers Network is a unique empathy-based method with a 25-year history of memoir writing that helps writers “turn their intimate stories into works of art created so that others can hear.” As recent CCW/Herstory Fellows who learned, practiced, and facilitated the Herstory method over the last year in community-based writing groups with writers as varied as unhoused trans folx and women to Syrian women who were child brides, we saw an opportunity to bring these personal narratives to a more public platform. Last summer, while showcasing and celebrating the brave writers who wrote their stories in the spirit of personal positive change and beyond, we encountered several issues that are natural to bringing together stories across difference and people across diverse backgrounds. In this workshop, we will talk with participants about Herstory methods, lessons learned, and ways to navigate conflict rather than avoid it and celebrate the challenges in the process of community writing for those who run or wish to launch community-based memoir writing groups.