Workshops — Thursday


W1 — From the Streets to the Archives and Back Again: Doing History in Philadelphia

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

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.

W2 — Meditating on the Work, Embodying Activism: Cultivating Breath and Body Awareness to Grow a More Holistic Writing Praxis

Abby Orenstein, University of the Arts
Nicole Turnipseed, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Combining principles of yogic and meditative practice with pedagogical tools for contemplative analysis and literate activity, this workshop aims to interrogate together how we might more consciously invite bodies into writing spaces. Participants will be led through meditative-writing activities to perceive the yogic thinking within composition theory/writing pedagogy, and together we will explore, practice, discuss and design mindful breath, movement, and writing activities for personal and pedagogical use. With careful attention to the potential that privileging sensory perception of normate bodies can also exclude and other, the activities are designed as gentle invitations to be with one’s own body, and are entirely modifiable.

W3 — Writing for Social Change: Launching Writing Workshops in Jails, Schools, and Communities

Laurel Janssen Breen, Herstory Writers Workshop
Erika Duncan, Herstory Writers Workshop
Amber Davis, Herstory Writers Workshop
Dawn Littles, Herstory Writers Workshop

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.

W4 — Writing for Change: A Workshop for Collaborating with Nonprofits

Aimée Knight, Saint Joseph’s University
Emma Brenner
, 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).

W5 — Convening of Writers-in-Residence (closed meeting in Writers Room)

Facilitator: Kirsten Kaschock, Drexel University
Anna Arcello, University of Massachusetts Amherst
April Conway, University of Michigan
Candace Epps-Robertson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Amanda Fields, Central Connecticut State University
Michelle Lafrance, George Mason University
Danielle R Littman, University of Denver
Janel McCloskey, Drexel University
Carol Richardson McCullough, Writers Room
Amy Patterson, Clemson University
Teigha VanHester, Illinois State University

The Writers-in-Residence will gather to co-create a plan for a collaborative real-time response to the conference. We will discuss the strategies that will help us create an online mosaic of pieces culled from panel, deep think tank, and informal discussion— and to imagine together a larger picture.


W6 — Social Innovation and Community Writing: Mapping Convergences, Challenges, and Futures

Séan McCarthy, James Madison University
Dawn Opel, Michigan State University
Joined virtually by Jeff Grabill and Erik Skogsberg (MSU Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology

Broadly defined, social innovations are “new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs and create new social relationships or collaborations.”* This roundtable will explore definitions, applications, challenges, and benefits of social innovation projects and networks, and how this emerging concept relates to the Coalition for Community Writing (CCW). Throughout the session we will address questions such as the following:

  • Why explore social innovation as a term of value to the CCW?
  • What is the relationship between social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and transdisciplinary research–and how are these terms applicable to CCW practitioners?
  • How does social innovation show up in current community writing projects? Since it is fundamentally an inter- or transdisciplinary practice, how can community writing methods (and those of writing studies writ large) contribute to social innovation coalitions?
  • How can academic infrastructures be adapted to host and sustain cultures of social innovation?
  • Finally, coalitions, or networked communities and organizations, are often drivers of social innovation projects. How can we envisage the CCW as a pioneering ethical, sustainable, and creative social innovation? 

 *Robin Murray, Julie Caulier-Grice, and Geoff Mulgan, “The Open Book of Social Innovation,” Young Foundation/NESTA, March 2010.

W7 — Doing The Work / Bridging the Gap: High School and College Writing Partnerships

Rosanne Carlo, College of Staten Island
David Allen, College of Staten Island
Deirdre Armitage, College of Staten Island
Contessa McNulty, NYC Department of Education
Harry Thorne, College of Staten Island

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.

W8 — Strategies and Tactics in Learning Network Design for Writers Inside and Out of Carceral Spaces

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

W9 — Presence, Not Escape: Self-Care as Self-Activism

Patricia Rennie, Community College of Baltimore County
Stephanie Briggs, Community College of Baltimore County
David Hewitt, Community College of Baltimore County

“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.

W10 — How Editors Can Build Solidarity and Help Change Scholarly Publishing in Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacy Studies: A Roundtable Discussion

Don Unger, Co-Chair, Spark
Sherri Craig, Co-Chair, Spark
Candace Epps-Robertson, constellations
Paul Feigenbaum, Community Literacy Journal 
Laurie Grobman, Reflections: A Journal of Community-Engaged Writing and Rhetoric 
Deborah Mutnick, Reflections: A Journal of Community-Engaged Writing and Rhetoric  
Steve Parks, NCTE: Studies in Writing and Rhetoric
Iris Ruiz, Latinx Writing and Rhetoric
Donnie Sackey, enculturation


W11 — Grant Writing and Fundraising

Roslyn Rogers Collins, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan NJ
Dominic Dellicarpini
, Center for Community Engagement, York College of Pennsylvania
Eli Goldblatt, Temple University
Jessica Restaino, Montclair State University
Michael Roberson Reid, Host/Creative Director of The Punk Rock Barbershop podcast

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.

FRIDAY 2-HOUR WORKSHOP: Community Writing and Food Justice: Storytelling and Writing with Farmers, Gardeners, and Sankofa Farm High School Interns

Sarah Moon, Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Eileen Schell, Syracuse University
Stephanie Wade, Bates College

This interactive workshop/session explores farms and gardens as sites for writing that enable farmers and gardeners to share the cultural work of agriculture  and that enable writing teachers to work towards food justice. While the rise of urban agriculture, community gardens, and other efforts to build food resilience continue to provide good alternatives to the industrial food system, gentrification and other market forces threaten these efforts. This workshop considers these threats and ways we can intervene via community writing projects. 

We will begin with short presentations that will offer historical and contemporary perspectives on the relationship between academic institutions and alternative agriculture and that will describe community gardens as sites for social justice and community writing. We will continue by facilitating a writing workshop to provide feedback for high school student interns from the Sankofa Farm. After our workshop, we will consider almanacs as a flexible model for developing local, seasonal, public writing projects that serve food justice, so participants will have time to develop their own farm and garden-based writing projects. 

Because Sankofa Farm is rooted in relationships with long-standing African-American communities and more recent West African communities in Philadelphia and is committed to food sovereignty, we encourage people of color and scholars that feel connected to this cultural work to attend.

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

sponsored by Rowan University Writing Arts Department and College of Communication and Creative Arts

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.
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