Monday, April 20, 2009

Check Out the Perpetual Goddard Slide Show!

We just uploaded a long and continuous slide show of images of Goddard, which you can see on the right side of the screen. Hope you enjoy these images, and come join us and add more of your own vivid memories, insights and passions to the Goddard community.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Filmmaking, Poetry and the Disobedient Body: Alexandra Hartman

Alexandra (Alex) Hartman came to Goddard to change directions in her life. She planned to lead writing workshops when she left Goddard, but something more local soon emerged: the body. “The IMA encourages students to find our own direction by trusting the process and following our study wherever it takes us. So I’d repeat to myself, ‘Trust the process, trust the process,’ and when things got strange and I didn’t know why I was reading about cannibalism or scarification, I’d repeat, 'trust the process,' until those words became a mantra.”

What emerged for Alex was a deep study of what it meant to live in a body, particularly a body with a tendency to be disobedient. "As part of my process of struggling to emerge as a grown person, I kept running into all of these shoulds and should-nots that related to my body. I began to see them as obstacles to my growth, and I realized how much of my life was spent listening to my fears. But when I started listening to what I really wanted to do, lots of times it was stuff I wasn't supposed to do, and I had to think hard about who was telling me what to do and why, what were the consequences, and why did I need to break rules?”

As an artist, poet, and long-time professional web designer, Alex communicated fluently through images, color, texture and voice. “Film was a really good amalgam of all I was into, but I didn't want to go into filmmaking. I didn't think I had enough time, but I kept hearing this voice in my head that said, 'You must make a film.' And I don't usually hear voices in my head.” Alex took a semester off, taught herself filmmaking, blogging on her progress and posting her efforts until she was ready to come back and put together a body of her body-oriented work.

The result was a 33-minute film called The Word Made Flesh, which coalesces, with the help of Duke Ellington's appropriately-named signature song – “Body and Soul” – 11 short films. She blended footage from found home movies, vintage soft-core porn and educational films, music, and her own filmmaking. Her study also drew on the fields of embodiment studies, psychology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, women's studies and poetry, “and how everyone is looking at the body in those fields.”

Did making this film and coming to Goddard bring Alex the change she sought? “Oh, hugely! It allowed me to be who I am and to be as strong as I can be. I'm not the same person I was when I came to Goddard – I was timid and tentative, and now I'm operating on my own accord.”

See Alex's film, and the blog she used to chronicle her process of teaching herself filmmaking, her poetry, sources, video and visual concepts and much more at Alex's website.

Pictures of Alex, and several stills from her film, The Word Made Flesh.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Marriage of Spiritual Memoir & Community Workshops: Suzanne Adams

When Suzanne Adams started IMA's Transformative Language Arts concentration, she was already changing her life as a freelance writer and suburban stay-at-home Houston mother in a household of males. While she didn't know what she was shifting toward, she had a sense that this change involved creative writing, community work, and spiritual growth.

She soon herself immersed in writing as a spiritual practice, studying spiritual autobiography, and TLA as a tool for social change and personal growth for girls. One faculty member with an evangelical Christian background suggested Suzanne explore healing stories within the framework of Christianity; another faculty member, who specialized in feminism, prompted Suzanne to write about feminist theology and mythology. Another faculty member’s expertise in workshop facilitation was invaluable in furthering Suzanne’s goal of offering expressive writing workshops in the community. By the end of her studies, she wrote Reclaiming the Lost, a powerful body of essays on spiritual questioning and questing, writing as a calling, and how her changes catalyzed profound changes in her marriage. Accompanying the memoir was a study of mythology, theology, history, literature, sociology and psychology as it related to her topic; and a practicum focused on expressive writing for teenage girls. The writing especially allowed her to write herself into voice, identity, and stronger connections with her family, female divinity, and the wild.

Since graduation, Suzanne was admitted into the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, where she found strong encouragement to revise the essay collection toward a memoir about how one spouse's spiritual development can actually strengthen, and not necessarily, tear apart a marriage. She found even more support from her husband who, after reading her essays, even ones that weren't very flattering of him and their relationship, said to her, “This is your story, and I think you've written it in such a way that would help others, and I encourage you to continue this work.” Suzanne says that his response, “helped us to work for more transformation along the way.” She soon starts working with Farnoosh Moshiri through Moshiri's Studio 16, a highly competitive writing workshop. She's also presenting "The Sacred Knowledge of Myth," a workshop at the Power of Words conference at Goddard College Sept. 3-7, organized by the TLA Network.

She also started leading workshops in her community. “It's All About You,” a workshop fostering empowerment, self-discovery and self-esteem for middle school girls, that she first piloted as her TLA practicum at Goddard, is now on its feet at a Houston area middle school as a project of ARTreach, a local grassroots arts organization. Adams is in the middle of facilitating two 90-minute sessions twice a week for five weeks, helping girls negotiate media influences, discover their voices and visions and dismantle damaging messages through writing and art exercises and discussions.

Suzanne found her time at Goddard turbo-charged her quest to write and seek spiritual connection. “When I finally got there, that (being at Goddard) was the biggest catalyst of all. I was taking little baby steps up until that point, and the transformation that came propelled me full-speed ahead,” Suzanne explains.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Right Livelihood

The term "Right Livelihood" may be rooted in Buddhism, but it's particularly relevant in a time of economic crisis, and many people needing to re-evaluate how they make a living and new ways to do work in the world. Right Livelihood connotes using your gifts, talents and experience to serve your community, doing work of meaning. In the IMA program, we focus quite a bit on Right Livelihood and how you can design a course of study that enhances how you interface with your work, community and passions.

Over recent semesters, here's a list of Right Livelihood workshops offered at residencies:

* Right Livelihood Panel (featuring faculty and students): What do we mean by this term, and what are ways to bring right livelihood to our current work, create new work, and help others find their own right livelihood?

* Connecting with Community: Making a Living Doing What You Love: How do you make meaningful connections with organizations, businesses and institutions in your community, and how do you nurture and grow those connections in search of relevant, important work that helps you enhance your gifts and also make a living along the way? This conversational workshop will include lots of tips as well as information and handouts on strong proposals, resumes, background material and more.

* Grant-Writing For Your Education and Work: An exploration of grant-writing resources, strategies, follow-up and other considerations, including ample information on where to find arts-based grants, awards and fellowships.

* Finding Your Calling & Making a Living From It: Two-part workshop on bringing to the surface more of what you feel called to do for a living, and then investigating how to begin and sustain an ongoing dialogue with that calling, including using tools such as writing, art, business plans, mapping, visualization and more.

* Planning, Facilitating and Assessing Workshops and other Other Arts-Based Community Projects: Come discuss how to set up workshops, coaching and consulting projects in your community, including ways to make contacts with local organizations, institutions and businesses; how to design and publicize (or assist the hosting organization with publicity) your group; screening participants; developing facilitation arts and skills; and general assessment information.

* How & Why You Do What You Do: Ethics from the Inside Out: All community work has ethical connotations, and how you handle those ethical questions that come up greatly influences the effectiveness of any work you do in your community. Come learn about the ethical dimensions of your work, and join us for a discussion of possible issues you might encounter, how to navigate your way through to the benefit of all, and why community work entails such ethical considerations in the first place. We'll have time for trouble-shooting, role-playing and lots of inspirational stories about how to make your practicum truly rewarding for all involved.

* Whole-Self, Real-World Facilitation: This workshop focuses on how to bring all of your wisdom and intuition to the real and outrageously dynamic world of facilitation. We’ll discuss how to forge a clear understanding of your own motivations and expectations; the role of the facilitator overall and as it applies specifically to you; the importance of sticking to that role (listening versus trying to rescue or fix); and intervention, confidentiality, and resource management for issues bigger than the group. Come share your experiences, callings, gifts and challenges in being facilitated and in facilitating at this interactive workshop.

* How to Do Arts-Related Work & Transformative Language Arts In Your Community: People, Places and Practical Possibilities: Panel discussion featuring students and faculty on specific ways to work with various populations, and approaches such as poetry therapy, journal therapy, educaitonal drama autoethnography, narrative theory, storytelling and coaching.

* Writing Business Plans for Changing the World:
Begin creating your own business plan for launching the work of your dreams into the world, and look at how to further develop that plan over time, find needed resources, and start your own right livelihood.