Thursday, November 11, 2010

"I Changed My Whole Life": Ashley Gallo and Transformative Running

Current IMA student Ashley Gallo just finished the New York City Marathon, her first time running in this world-famous rite of passage, and in the process, raising nearly six thousand dollars for the American Cancer Society. But she also was running is also core to her Goddard studies. Ashley has been studying running as a source of personal transformation, a way to challenge the mythology of athletes, and to demonstrate how using our bodies for health and speed and strength is the birthright of people of all shapes and sizes.

Here's what she wrote on her American Cancer Society page:
I know I don't look like the typical runner. I never considered myself an athletic person and found even spectating most sporting events to be boring. I don't think I'm ever going to understand how football works and the idea of balls flying at my face is pretty much out of the question. But I always found the idea of becoming a runner someday really sensational. John Bingham, who is known in the running world as someone who runs uncompetitively slowly and for the sheer pleasure of the activity, said, "Everything changed the day I realized that if I were to become a runner, I would have to run with the body I had." So I began. I run based on intuition and because it is incredibly meditative; more prayer-like and holy than anything I have ever experienced. As someone committed to social work, volunteering in the community and helping others, running became the thing I do for myself; it is my connection to the world, it's my connection to my body. Running has become foundational in my construction towards a more holistic authenticity.

I finished my first marathon last year keeping three promises to myself. I wasn't going to stop, I wasn't going to walk any part of it, and I was going to cross all 26.2 miles. Now I am focusing on losing weight and I will be one of 43,000 people running the prestigious ING New York City Marathon this November. I want to see what it's like to run a marathon in a "different" body than the one I had run the first one in. The NYC Marathon runs through all five boroughs of New York, and I have heard people who have finished it say that it was an experience that truly made them proud to be an American. I am excited beyond belief to be a part of something so epic.

In writing about her journey, she says on facebook, "Marathons at some point have to come from the deepest parts of your bones."Ashley has shown us precisely this with her journey, of which she says, "I changed my whole life." Such changes cannot help but to ripple out positive changes to all who know her.

(Pictures from Ashley and her friends, including, from top, Ashley, the running, and after the race, one of her fellow runners, Chilian miner, Edison Pena).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What Our Grads Are Up To: Body Empathy & Touring On The Sly

From leading Body Empathy writing workshops in San Francisco to touring with drummers and a Ghana dance troupe through the Rockies, our graduates are rocking the real world.

On Nov. 13, Jen Cross, IMA-TLA who focused on erotic writing as a pathway to reinhabit the body, will co-present with Alexandra Cafarelli a workshop called "Body Empathy." Here's their description: "What if we could truly experience empathy for our bodies as they are – and then, by extension, for ourselves, as we are? As queer, genderqueer & trans survivors with a wide array of backgrounds and identities in a sexuality-/gender-restrictive culture, our self-protective tendency can be to “check out” by detaching mind from body to such great degrees that it can be dangerous. Physical activity and writing are two ways to check back in with your embodied self.
With deep respect for the privacy and variety in our personal experience of gender expression and our individual histories, this workshop will create safe space for participants to embrace our bodies as they are, and to write the stories our bodies have been wishing to speak, while allowing possibility for the integration of identity and physical presence. Using brief writing exercises and low impact body mindfulness exercises derived from improvisational theater, Zen meditation practice, and the internal Chinese martial arts, participants will have the opportunity to fully embody our gender complexity in a healing and playful environment." For more information, visit Jen's website,

Griffin Brady, a recent graduate in world music, cultural studies and ethnomusicology, has been touring with his group, On the Sly and the SAAKUMU Dance Troupe of Ghana, West Africa, heading toward the Rocky Mountains to drum and dance in the new year. In between gigs, Griffin and the community he's coalesced run the Slyboots School, offering workshops on Rhythm Study, Harmony Study, Melody Study, Improvisation Study and Composition Study. He also organizes the annual Slyfest each August. Listen to some of the music and check out one of the coolest, most whimsical and edgy websites around at www.onthesly.org

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hybrid Arts Learning at Goddard for Tiffany Beard

Tiffany Beard, a first semester student in the Transformative Language Arts concentration, just started a blog and wrote an article for in Washington, D.C. entitled "Hybrid Arts Learning Found At Goddard College." Here's a photo of Tiffany at the August residency sometime in the middle of her own learning discoveries. She describes herself as "The quintessential Renaissance Gal. An accomplished writer, singer, and performer; Tiffany is committed to helping fellow artists collaborate for social change." You can see Tiffany's blog here. Check it out!