Workshops — Thursday

W1 — Presence, not Escape: Self-Care as Self-Activism

Stephanie Briggs, Naropa University and Community College of Baltimore County, Maryland
David Hewitt, Community College of Baltimore County, Maryland
Patricia Rennie, Community College of Baltimore County, Maryland

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”― audre lorde

Many feel being grounded exists in finding balance between personal and professional life. But are self- care and work mutually exclusive? Or are these two interconnected in subtle ways that allow synergistic growth?

As our work during these demanding times requires our deepest compassion and conviction, we can learn to see self-care as a radical act, rejecting guilt, societal values, and fear, to build inner foundational strength. Our ability to “do the work” can be and needs to be bolstered by the work we do on ourselves. Participants will explore different aspects of self-care through discussion and practice so that as we return to work and life, we can continue the hard work of increasing justice and humanity in communities.

Walking. Hippocrates once called walking “man’s best medicine.” Walking, over distances ranging from the length of a meditation hall to the many miles of a pilgrimage, is a core component of traditions of contemplative / medicinal / educational praxis in myriad cultures worldwide. Not only in contemplative but also in some warrior traditions–notably Chinese Bāguà Zhǎng and certain Japanese ko-ryū (classical) arts–learning to walk properly, with balance and awareness, is given paramount importance. And of course, walking as an act of protest has a powerful history across many cultures. This simple act of necessity, walking, can also become a powerful exercise in self-care and in connecting with one’s own body and spirit, with Nature, and with the community.

Proprioception. Self-care can be complex. Many times, it is only through the kindness of an individual or community that we experience much needed care.  How do we give ourselves the same support? Movement-based practices provide insights into how we perceive care and how to selflessly care for ourselves. Using concepts based on proprioception, defined as “one’s own” and coined by neurophysiologist Charles Scott Sherrington in 1906, participants experience the division between receiving and transmitting sensory information from their surroundings and others (exteroception), while also sending/incorporating internal organ signals (interoception or brain processes) (Kramer). This self-awareness practice will reveal the value of self-care.

Creative Writing. Figley (2002) stated, “The very act of being compassionate and empathic extracts a cost under most circumstances. In our effort to view the world from the perspective of the suffering, we suffer” (p. 1434). Creative writing externalizes this pain, stress, and suffering, allowing us to understand feelings and heal from difficult experiences. This mindful writing flows naturally without thought, opening space to name, observe, and consider unrecognized feelings so that emotional and physical well-being can be restored. Regular practice of mindful creative writing can become a powerful part of restorative self-care.

This interactive workshop will explore the history of contemplative work as both pedagogical and empowering, and how proprioception, walking, and creative writing, as mindful, skillful practices, serve as individual and communal forms of self-care.

W2 — Creating a Community of Belonging: Fostering Authentic Relationship Inside and Outside the Classroom

Jennifer Dessus, Office of Inclusion & Diversity, Saint Joseph’s University
Ann Green, Saint Joseph’s University
Jill Welsh, Faith-Justice Institute, Saint Joseph’s University

As African American legal theorist Patricia Williams writes, “Creating community . . . involves this most difficult work of negotiating real divisions, of considering boundaries before we go crashing through, and of pondering our differences before we can ever agree on the terms of our sameness.” The work of creating and sustaining a community includes the work of creating inclusive spaces where members are able to establish their sense of belonging that is respected and valued for the richness it brings.

Saint Joseph’s University’s Faith-Justice Institute recently sponsored a series of three talks to foster continued informed dialogue on racial justice, particularly with service-learning students. “Engage 45” were forty-five minutes of conversation held on three dates that begins with a faculty expert presenting some tools for understanding race and racism. A theme woven organically throughout was the need for communities to foster belonging.

This workshop will model different activities that the institute and its faculty employ to prepare students for work among communities and to promote justice across campus. As a three part panel presentation, we will include writing and reflection that promote critical thinking and an intentional look at how we interact and experience the communities we belong to. The workshop welcomes those seeking to establish relationships and connections across lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability.

Our intersectional approach includes teaching techniques for active listening and culturally humble engagement. Workshop participants are invited to consider how power, privilege, and our individual blind spots affect the engagement of those entering the group who may be dissimilar from those that originally were members of the community. For community partners, our workshop will model ways of encouraging writing about difference, which may produce client and volunteer stories for newsletters, social media, and other venues.

W3 — Women's Writing Pilgrimage: A Decade of Writing Community

Marie Anne Maier, Artistic Director of Black Sheep Theatre and Community Director of the Writing Across the Curriculum program’s Writing Across Communities (Women’s Writing Pilgrimage), Appalachian State University
Georgia Rhoades, WAC Director, Appalachian State University

The Writing Across the Curriculum Program at Appalachian State University began the Women’s Writing Pilgrimage ten years ago to create a women’s writing and performance troupe composed of university and community women.  This group, with a community director, Mary Anne Maier, has offered annual readers’ sharing theatre performances. The Writing Pilgrimage each year embarks on a series of workshops led by one of the women, leading us in activities such as storytelling, readings, movement and visual arts based on a theme that comes from a personal place. The impetus for this group has always been to bring community and university women together in the spirit of consciousness-raising and creativity, to produce performances that express our explorations and discoveries.

Our monthly sessions are led by participants and reference a wide variety of artists and theorists (such as Rachel Stone, Rebecca Traister, Jon Kabot-Zinn, Ram Dass, Ptolemy, Doris Lessing, Georgiana Houghton, and Lynn Lifshin).  Our troupe is composed of ten to twenty women from both aspects of our university town community in the mountains of North Carolina. We include university professors, freelance artists, lawyers, expressive therapists, homesteaders, and retired professionals, and our work with each other has strengthened us through sharing our disparate and common experiences.

In this workshop, we will present segments of performances by the troupe from past sharings and prompts to elicit writing and sharing from participants.  These elements of the workshop may include song and movement. The goal of the workshop will be to lead participants in producing original work and to discover how it might be presented.  Our agenda will be as follows: Introductions and rationale for workshop, including history of the program; short performances from WWP scripts; writing prompt for participants and time for writing; direction for shaping and brief rehearsal time; presentations by groups.  If there is time, we’ll have a discussion for feedback and questions and answers.

W4 — Doing the Work / Bridging the Gap: High School and College Writing Partnerships

David Allen, College of Staten Island CUNY
Deirdre Armitage, College of Staten Island CUNY
Rosanne Carlo, College of Staten Island CUNY
Sharifa Hampton, College of Staten Island CUNY
Contessa McNulty, NYC Department of Education
Harry Thorne, College of Staten Island CUNY
James Torta, Curtis High School
Christine Zappata, NYC Department of Education

The presenters discuss their 4-year collaboration, #SIWrites: Amplifying College Success, which brings together high school and college teachers to gain valuable insight into the inner-workings of the writing curriculums across institutions. As a group, they have hosted several professional development workshops on writing with topics such as syllabi development, incorporating research in writing, and developing habits of mind for college-readiness. Additionally, they offered observation days for high school teachers at the college, and professors have taught mock lessons at the high schools. For the past two years, the collaboration hosted an orientation for high school students to give them a sense of what college will be like through panels, mock classroom sessions, and a campus tour. The center of our work upholds a commitment to underserved populations to improve the quality of schooling in our public schools, and also may attract struggling students to consider attending college.

The question driving our workshop is: How can we (high school and college partners) gather to do the work to prepare students to transition to college?

This workshop offers a theoretical background on high school and college writing partnerships, a discussion of our community context in Staten Island and presentation of our fruitful writing collaborations, and interactive activities and materials that audience members can learn from in order to start or strengthen their own college / high school writing partnerships.

W5 — From the Streets to the Archives and Back Again: Doing History in Philadelphia

Sophia Bell, St. John’s University, Queens
Elizabeth Kimball, Drexel University
Amanda Moulder, University of San Diego

History is for everyone. Each one of us has a personal history that connects with our larger national history.  Our goal is to connect with the history of early Philadelphia in new ways, because Philadelphia is so symbolic of work in democracy. You don’t need to know anything about it; instead, just come with a desire to write and think about some materials that we will share.  We’ll be looking at a series of little-known documents that were written between 1760 and 1810. These documents represent diversity in a variety of forms, from multilingualism, to the presence of indigenous people, to the first established rights of African Americans. We’ll pair these old texts with images and sounds, to make our understanding of them multi-dimensional.  The goal is to connect with how ordinary people took on the work of building community and envisioning a country –whether or not they were included in the work of the “founding fathers.” And then we will talk and write about how they matter to each of us today. If you have been looking for a deeper connection in your work, we think you’ll enjoy this workshop.

W6 — Strategies and Tactics in Learning Network Designs for Writers Inside and Out of Carceral Spaces

Lucie Anderson, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks
Jody Hassell, Blossom House, Fairbanks, Alaska
Katherine Leinberger, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks
Eleanor Lynch, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks
Kendell Newman Sadiik, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Juneau
Sarah Stanley, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks

Our workshop draws from strong relationships in a community-based, and statewide, learning network called LION (Learning Inside Outside Network). We will open with the application of Paula Mathieu’s strategies and tactics, a framework that theorizes how we understand time and space in the work the network does inside and outside of university and prison classrooms. This workshop will be worthwhile to anyone who wants to develop a start-up kit for their own location in collaborating with incarcerated writers. Our goal is to increase quality access to education for people who face incarceration in our communities.

Theoretical Framework/Community Context (Framing and Introductions 20 mins)

We will open by sharing a 6-minute learning glass video of Paula Mathieu as she outlines the synergies and contrasts between tactical and strategic approaches in community writing. After listening and learning with Paula, where participants are asked to do some writing about how they understand these ideas in their context, and if they choose, to share where they are coming from, we will apply strategies and tactics to participants developing their own start-up technology kit. We will emphasize that cultivating leadership in these designs is our goal and we will workshop designs together to increase the multiple perspectives in the room.

Practical Tasks (Defining and Reflecting 70 mins)

We will designate three areas in our workshop room, with each area having two facilitators present. At each area, participants will spend 15 minutes designing and collaborating on a draft aspect of their start up kit. At each table, we will have resources from LION. We intend to include bad examples as well as stories (as references–participants will be creating) in which tactics and strategies of LION can be read as still being developed.

  • Brand logo/name
  • Dialogue agreements/practices
  • Technologies/introducing the work

Facilitators at each table will listen to the designs being created, and will kindly ask for examples to share out with the wider group to highlight the activity of the session (15 mins). We will conclude the workshop with reflections from participants who will share what they plan to do when they return to their location (10 mins).

W7 — Writing for Social Change: Launching Writing Workshops in Jails, Schools, and Communities

Helen Dorado Alessi, Herstory Writers Workshop
Jonelle Butler, Hofstra University
Amber Davis, Herstory Writers Workshop
Erika Duncan, Herstory Writers Workshop
Dawn Littles, Herstory Writers Workshop
Dathonie Pinto, Herstory Writers Workshop
Yvonne Teems, Hofstra University

This workshop provides a model for a successful university-community partner collaboration that has allowed a community writing workshop to expand its reach into local jails, struggling schools, and diverse communities via a collaboration with a university. Presenters, which include the nonprofit writing workshop founder, workshop facilitators, university students, and a university researcher, describe the day-to-day challenges they have faced and overcome in achieving their goals.

The majority of the workshop will focus on the approaches that the partnership has taken to teach new facilitators and to identify productive placements, and the experiences of new facilitators in their placements. After each brief presentation, presenters will pause to ask audience members to describe their own experiences and to identify key questions we all must consider when engaging in collaborations with multiple stakeholders and marginalized populations. Our goal for the workshop is for presenters and audience members to work collaboratively to construct a tool that we can all use: a heuristic, or a list of key questions and considerations, to be used in developing university-community partnerships and community writing workshops.

Presenters begin by situating audience members in its community-based research epistemology. We believe that successful collaborations between community partners and university researchers require a feminist methodology (Powell & Takayoshi, 2003) that values inclusivity, reciprocity, and egalitarian decision-making (Cushman, 1996; Mathieu, 2005). In community-based research and community-university partnerships, it is imperative that both community and university knowledges (Parks, 2016) are valued.

Next, presenters situate the audience in the local context. The community organization operates writing circles in jails, struggling school districts, and diverse communities throughout the region.

Writing circles generate stories that address multiple social justice causes: immigrant youth write stories about crossing the border; young women write about their paths to incarceration; college students write about their experiences with systemic racism, and many more. The organization partnered with the university to develop a facilitator training institute whereby students and community members learn the workshop facilitator method side-by-side and then move into placements in jails, communities, and schools.

We then describe the facilitator training institute that recruits undergraduate and graduate students as well as community members to engage in an intensive, semester-long facilitator training program. The presenters describe the challenges they have faced in gaining acceptance of the curriculum at the university as well as the benefits that students have experienced in learning the method alongside community members.

Next, we describe a community-based research project that we designed to help new facilitators improve the writing that takes place in their workshops. Interested in generating a rubric that facilitators can use to help them guide their students, a research team of facilitators, students, and professor created a Dynamic Criteria Map (Broad, 2003) that new facilitators have found to be a useful teaching tool (Moss, 1994; Ewert and Shin, 2015; Janssen, Meier, and Trace, 2015).

Finally, newly trained facilitators describe their experiences facilitating workshops in the jail, struggling public schools, and with non-English-speaking youth. They characterize challenges to this work and the tools that they use to overcome them.

W8 — Writing for Change: A Workshop for Working with Nonprofits

Emma Brenner, Saint Joseph’s University
Aimée Knight, Saint Joseph’s University  
Kelly O’Malley, Saint Joseph’s University
Shannon Pepe, Saint Joseph’s University  
Max Rosenfeld, Saint Joseph’s University

Faculty and students have opportunities to address immediate real-world needs in their own neighborhoods. This workshop features a pedagogical model in which students pursue answers to current community-driven questions regarding digital media practices. Local nonprofit and community-based organizations are welcome to attend this workshop with the possibility of forming a semester-long university/community partnership.

The Beautiful Social Research Collaborative has run over 90 community-engaged research projects in the past nine years. Students and faculty from the collaborative will begin this workshop by showcasing recent projects that 1) serve the needs of community partners and 2) can be accomplished by students in one semester. Examples range from professional writing to digital production, including advocacy campaigns, social media audits, website design, digital storytelling, data visualization, video production, and social media content creation.

Participants in this fast-moving workshop will 1) learn ways to issue a successful call for community partners, 2) sketch out a potential project with a community partner, 3) discuss goals and objectives of their project, 4) participate in a brief role-playing activity to further define projects with “mock nonprofit partners” through the use of research questions, and 5) engage in a final Q&A with undergraduate students from the Beautiful Social Research Collaborative.

The study of social media as public writing connects students with audiences and issues beyond the walls of the classroom. When combined with engaged pedagogy, social media platforms can connect students with a network of publics and counterpublics, including activist groups and grassroots organizations, some which may reside right in our own neighborhoods. In Tactics of Hope: The Public Turn in English Composition, Paula Mathieu writes, “By exploring and taking part in the public works of activists and writers in the streets teachers and students of composition have much to learn and contribute to public discourse” (28). As David Dadurka and Stacey Pigg acknowledge, “we have only begun to show how social media can play a dramatic role in academic contexts and what value they hold for teaching students how to acquire literacies that will benefit their professional and civic lives in college and beyond” (17).

W9 — Workshop on Grants and Fundraising

Dominic Dellicarpini, Center for Community Engagement, York College of Pennsylvania
Eli Goldblatt, Temple University
Jessica Restaino, Montclair State University

This workshop will provide a chance for participants with a community-based project in mind to think about the purpose of seeking outside funding, the approach to foundations and donors, and the internal structure of a partnership that makes for successful fundraising.  These internal structures include dynamics between and among board members, staff, community members, donors, granting agencies, and more. We can provide no easy answers, but we hope the type of questions we raise will help clarify the process and de-mystify the non-profit search for sustainable funding. The session begins with brief introductory remarks from the facilitators, who have worked on a variety of projects involving literacy, women’s health, and economic development in urban and small city settings. The bulk of our time will be spent in small groups discussing preparation toward and strategies for seeking money in service of participants’ projects.  Please come with a one page description of 1) the problem you are working on, 2) the participants involved, 3) the proposed project, 4) possible resources you could tap, 5) how you would know the project has accomplished your goals.  Not one page for each–one page for all five.

We stress that any community/campus partnership needs to be fully evaluated by all parties for hidden hierarchies or unrecognized privileges. Working relationships among partners can be severely tested before, during, and after receiving funding.

SATURDAY 3-HOUR WORKSHOP (LIMITED ENROLLMENT): Zines!: An Introduction to DIY Community Publishing

The Soapbox staff 
Jason Luther, Rowan University

DIY, independently-made print publications like zines, chapbooks, and comics are an essential format for some of the most transgressive (and often intimate) messages authors circulate in their communities, especially in cities like Philadelphia. In this workshop, an artist and zinemaker from The Soapbox, a nonprofit community print shop based in West Philadelphia, will discuss zine culture and DIY publications, sharing examples from their collection. Then, participants will dive in and get a feel for making a zine of their own.