Crossing County Lines: Reflections from a Truth School Participant

by Celia Lang

I have attended five Truth School classes since June 2017 and I am moved to share some thoughts and reflections with the wider Truth School “family .”  I was first made aware of the Sojourner Truth School classes through local ally organization emails and Facebook posts. My initial attraction was to learn for myself some new activist and movement-building skills, but Truth School has offered me so much more than that.

As a 30+ year resident of Northampton, I was glad to see class locations south to Springfield and north up through Greenfield.  The simple act of finding my way to class locations in towns that I do not frequently visit challenged my comfort zone, offered new opportunities for me to meet other activists up and down the Pioneer Valley, and to recognize that valuable cross-county dialogue and building individual and organizational allies is happening all over the Valley.

In addition to learning new skills at Truth School, I hope all those involved know the great success there is in people realizing their own personal activism goals by simply getting involved in the classes.  This open, welcoming format encourages everyone on every level to show up, to get clear, and to get active. We are making connections with each other, making plans, and making our voices heard.

In Springfield, I attended Organizing Beyond Silos at the UMass Center.  Even though it’s only 20 minutes from my home, I had not been in downtown Springfield in over a year. The Truth School got me there. I knew no one when I walked in the room, and left feeling inspired by a new crew of Springfield area activists I might not have ever met. Since that first workshop, I have seen these same activists at other community events.  Also in Springfield, I attended Poetry as Resistance & Inspiration at Arise for Social Justice. I had known about Arise for 20 years, but had never stepped into their office until I went to this Truth School class. At both classes, I ended up exchanging email addresses and connecting with others to follow-up on ideas shared.

Up in Greenfield, I attended Rise Up & Speak Out and again found myself in a room with people I might not have ever met if not for Truth School. Over and over, I see how the Truth School offers time and space for individuals to connect, share expertise, and build momentum for many local and global issues in need of champions.

In Northampton, I attended Publish or Perish and Old People! Expressing Our Radical Selves in the Final Third of Life. In all the classes, I appreciated the expertise of the facilitators, and the diversity of their backgrounds. It is great to see academics from the five colleges and clergy from the community, as well as so many others, sharing their expertise. In the introductions around the room in each class, I have been struck by how participants came crossing town lines, age, and experience differences to meet, to share, and to build communication and activism skills.

These classes cannot happen without facilitators willing and able to organize a class, however we all seemed to come with our own expertise, opinions, stories, and struggles to share.  For that opportunity to network with each other, I am grateful to Truth School.

If I had the time I would have attended all 46 of the classes this fall! The class descriptions in the catalogue all looked great. I make a commitment to a small donation for each class I attend and I have become a champion for the organization, promoting the Truth School though my own networks.

There is more work to be done. I am looking forward to the winter cycle of classes and will, in the future, challenge myself to submit a class proposal for consideration, too.

Thanks to everyone for making this happen!

Note from the Truth School: Thank you, Celia! Students like you make our school a wonderful community-building resource!

We love hearing from our students and learning about your experiences in our classes. If you would like to submit a reflection, please email it to you post about your experiences on social media and would like to share those with us, please tag us with @truthschoolma on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

One Reply to “Crossing County Lines: Reflections from a Truth School Participant”

  1. Love this commentary! And loved facilitating the workshop in Greenfield thatCelia attended ( Rise up/ Speak Out) and iwill follow up shortly with some more ideas for the next cycle. In the meantime, deeply resonant holiday to you all!
    Molly Scott

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