Truth School Response to Coronavirus (for now)

Dear Truth School Family,

I am writing to you now, on behalf of the leadership of the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership, about our response to the coronavirus crisis and how to keep folks safe as we move forward.  

This crisis is evolving and changing rapidly, so this is our best response as of today, March 11, 2020.

Please watch our website and our Facebook page for up-to-the-minute alerts and updates.  We will post new information as the situation changes and if we need to make further adjustments.

As of today, here are our thoughts with regard to moving forward with Truth School classes:

* All Truth School classes will be held, with the considerations, guidelines, and stipulations outlined below.

* Anyone planning on attending a Truth School class who has concerns or fears about participating and chooses to NOT attend the class because of the coronavirus, we support you fully.  We understand.  Please make your decision about participating in the class or not based on what is right for you medically and emotionally.  You have our full support, whatever you decide We ask that if you feel sick, you do not attend a TS class.

* If a Truth School trainer is ill or does not feel safe teaching the class, the class will be cancelled.

* If the site where the class is to be held does not want us to gather a group there, the class will be cancelled.  (We will not be moving classes to other locations.)

* Our classes are generally not large.  The Host, providing logistical support for the class, will ask all participants to sit safe distances from one another.  The Host will also have cleaning materials to disinfect surfaces that people might touch.

* Trainers are being asked to keep the class participants in a large group and suspend small group work, role plays, huddles, and anything that would require participants to be in close proximity or touch one another.

* Again, please check our website and FB page frequently for last-minute changes, announcements, and cancellations.  That is our best and fastest way to reach you!  (We will not be sending texts or making phone calls should classes be cancelled.) We do not want anyone appearing at a class that is cancelled because you did not get the news.  

Thank you for your vigilance.  And know that all of us at the Truth School are very eager to pull in together in a close and caring fashion emotionally–in terms of supporting and connecting with one another–as we are required to practice social distancing and literally keep each other at arm’s length.

We want to do everything possible to move forward in as safe and prudent a manner as we can.  We honor your personal decisions about what is best for you, and we will be monitoring this situation hour by hour.

Thank you for your involvement with the Truth School.  We value each one of you so much.

Warmly and my best wishes to you,  Andrea

Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian

moving through fear

Truth School class, Labyrinth Through Fear, met at the Pan African Historical Museum USA in Springfield, MA in late January. Together, they created a poem:


Bold human expression
Holding in the cradle of compassion
Out of Nowhere, Nothing answered, Yes!

Stand still, the forest knows where you are
Light keeps on breaking
As I face the danger in my fluttering heart
A changed changer
I continue to continue
Despite all the evils
Systems that do not value life or well-being
I remain steady as a three-legged cauldron
Let me sit here with you
Be brave to walk alone
Be brave with and for others

In addition to lines composed by workshop participants, our poem includes excerpts from the following poets: Lucille Clifton, David Waggoner, Monique Wittig, and Zi Ye

a house party success!

Wildly Successful Truth School Fundraising House Party!
– from Truth School Director Andrea Ayvazian

Our heartfelt thanks to Lynn and David Barclay of Northampton for hosting a fundraising party in their very beautiful home in Northampton.  They rallied a big crowd of neighbors and friends and with delicious food and apple cider flowing, we settled into a great program.  Three trainers–Rose Sackey-Milligan, Jade Barker, and Lindsey Peterson–spoke about their Truth School classes and folks asked questions about the classes, the School, and more.  We set a goal of $5000 for the evening and checks are still coming in.  We are very very very close to our goal as I write this so I am sure we will reach the $5000!  Two couples who arrived with their checks to the School already written tore them up and wrote larger checks.  It was an evening filled with hope, inspiration, community, laughter and deep appreciation for the Truth School!  Thank you again Lynn and David, and hooray for our team!
yummy food too 🙂

big news

From the Director

Well hold on tight! The Truth School is growing and changing and wow, good stuff is happening and more changes lie ahead!

One big change happened this Fall when we moved our office from Race Street in Holyoke to State Street in Springfield.  The office is now embedded in the Alden Baptist Church where I serve as an Associate Pastor.  We love being in a downtown Springfield church with the buzz of the city all around us, and we cherish the support the Alden Church family provides the Truth School!  Thank you Alden!

Another change that has happened is that we have expanded our Partners Program and we are excited about that.  Truth School Partners have been, for the last three years, houses of worship up and down the Pioneer Valley who support the Truth School by providing the School with an annual financial gift, promoting our classes by including us in announcements and newsletters, and offering free space for Truth School classes and meetings.  We have 13 formal Partners and we will be reaching out to more houses of worship in 2020.  But a change occurred this fall, our first NON-house of worship became a formal partner and we are delighted.  River Valley Co-op in Northampton gave the Truth School a $1500 contribution, plus they have been promoting our classes and have offered their board room as a free space for us to hold classes and/or meetings.  We welcome the River Valley Co-op as a formal Truth School partner, and we will be reaching out to other groups and nonprofit organizations to partner with us as well!

And the final (really really really) big change I will highlight at this time is the School is stepping out on faith and growing up (in a way)…the Steering Committee has made the decision to break away from our fiscal sponsor, the Institute for Policy Studies in DC, and become our own 501(c)(3) organization in 2020.  We are deeply grateful to IPS for being our steady parent the first three years of our existence!  IPS stepped in immediately, when we were just a twinkle in the eyes of the school founders and took us on as their movement-building school—and for that we will be forever grateful!  But it is time we manage our own money, pay our trainers ourselves, and take on our own financial management.  Our lawyer has filed the paperwork, which is extensive (as many of you probably know!) and we are now waiting to be granted our own nonprofit status in the spring of 2020 (we hope).  All fingers and toes are crossed that this will come to pass without glitches and setbacks.

The Truth School is now three years old!  Happy Birthday Truth School!  And you, dear extended Truth School family, have made us the success that we are!  We are growing and growing up, changing and becoming more stable and effective—while still remaining light on our feet and committed to our original vision and purpose.  Thank you for all you do and give—and for being part of this remarkable little gem, the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership!

Happy New Year to each one of you and many many thanks,

Showing Up Whole in Racial Justice Work: Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

[siteorigin_widget class=”SiteOrigin_Widget_Headline_Widget”][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class=”WP_Widget_Media_Image”][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class=”WP_Widget_Media_Image”][/siteorigin_widget]

Books to Read

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

White Guys on Campus: Racism, White Immunity and the Myth of “Post-Racial” Higher Education by Nolan L. Cabrera

Where Do We Go from here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King Jr.

[siteorigin_widget class=”WP_Widget_Media_Image”][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class=”WP_Widget_Media_Image”][/siteorigin_widget]

Some Notes from the Evening


Anti-racist work as calling

Children can’t imagine being something they haven’t seen – be white allies

Race is an invention; to move through it, not get stuck in it.

Tell stories. Empathy moves people to action. White people: Listen. Don’t ask people of color to tell their stories over and over again, it re-traumatizes.

Chaos or Community?

History shows that every wave of progress is met with a wave of push back. We are in the push back. And history shows us that every wave of pushback is met with another wave of progress.

Undoing whiteness is spiritual work – what is our worth without it, what is our value without it.