November 2022 Newsletter

In This Issue:


From the Director

Thirteen Truth School Catalogues.  Imagine that.  The School has offered the world thirteen catalogues packed with free movement-building classes since we began in 2017.   Thirteen catalogues with vivid, eye-catching covers that scream: we’re here again, open and dive into our many remarkable offerings!

Thirteen catalogues that have described over 400 classes and attracted well over 4,000 participants to sign up and learn, connect, grow, be challenged, informed, and supported to make concrete and effective social, political, and economic change in this beautiful but broken world.

AND on the cover of every single one of those thirteen catalogues—since day #1—we have printed the same message:

Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership
We do one thing.   Well.
We teach movement-building skills.
Class after class, week after week, month after month.
We prepare social change leaders to win movement struggles.

Those words are true.  But I would like to offer an updated version of those words now that we are five plus years into the work of the School.   We could say: We do one thing better and better.

It is true.

With over 400 classes behind us, held in five cities up and down the Connecticut River Valley as well as on Zoom, we have learned a great deal about what makes for a strong class, what helps participants connect and feel part of movements for change, what decreases self-consciousness in the learning process and increases openness and vulnerability as people learn together, and what makes for lively classes whether people are sitting in a circle in Easthampton, Massachusetts, or Zooming in from Austin, Toronto, Atlanta, Paris, or Cleveland.

Before every single semester, our trainers meet with Associate Director Amihan Matias and me on Zoom and discuss best practices for teaching movement-building classes.   We share ideas, talk about missteps, exchange suggestions, and provide each other with support so we continue to grow as teachers, change-agents, activists, and leaders.

We have said for some time that the Truth School is scrappy, spunky, and successful—all true.   We are also supple, responsive, and adapting to feedback, suggestions, and criticism.   We are not sitting on our laurels!   We are stretching and becoming!

So yes, the Spring 2023 Catalogue (which we are now creating) will still have the same words on the cover: We do one thing.   Well.

We will not be actually changing the wording on the cover—we love tradition and those original words still apply.

But we want you to know: we still do one thing.  And we are doing what we are doing better and better and better!

Thank you for being a part of the extended Truth School family.

In solidarity and with appreciation,
Andrea

 

Donate to the Truth School



NOVEMBER CLASSES

 

For complete information on all of our class offerings, and to register for a class, visit Truth School or click on the links for specific classes below. This Fall the Truth School will offer many classes on Zoom, as well as several in-person classes. Please note class locations when you register. All class times are Eastern Standard Time.

 

Black Women Suffragists: Singing Our Story
with Dr. Kathy Bullock
Tuesday, November 1, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Resting To Rise: A Daring to Rest Community Nap
with Benita Jackson
Wednesday, November 2, 4:00 – 5:15 PM
Going Beyond the Mirror: Expanding Your Universe with Literature
with Tiffany Jewell
Thursday, November 3, 5:00 – 6:30 PM
Open Mind, Open Heart
with Tasondra Jardine
Saturday, November 5, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Peace Inc.
with Keamo Mokone
Thursday, November 10, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
with Jennifer Moyston
Saturday, November 12, 4:00 – 6:00 PM

Health Disparities for African Americans with Breast Cancer and
Natural Medicine Approaches for Patients and Survivors

with Dr. Aminah Keats & Dr. Amy Rothenberg
Sunday, November 13, 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Narratives Not Told: The Agency and Philosophy of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

with Arden Santana
Tuesday, November 15, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Equitable Hiring Practices: Mitigating Bias that May be Excluding
your Best Hires

with Amihan Matias
Thursday, November 17, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Writing For Social Change
with Tanisha Arena
Saturday, November 19, 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Singing In the Spirit: African and African American Music Connections
with Dr. Kathy Bullock
Tuesday, November 29, 6:00 – 8:00 PM




What Participants Are Saying

 
'Amazing. Deep. Dense. Eye-opening. Inspiring.' --Class Participant, Calling in the Call Out Culture 'This was my first time at a Circle Practice session. I was moved by the flow of it all. Very intimate and raw emotions helped me stay engaged. The experience was amazing.' --Class Participant, Circle Practice: Learning the Basics

'I was looking for ways to better understand my blind spots around respecting and navigating cultural differences, and to learn skills for how to relate in a much more meaningful way to people who are different from me. The class provided that and so much more! --Class Participant, Cultural Humility and Cross-Cultural Communication


Featuring our Trainers

 Loretta Ross

Named 2022 MacArthur Fellow

 

The Truth School Congratulates You!!

The MacArthur Foundation recently announced that Loretta Ross, Associate Professor for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College, is a member of the 2022 class of MacArthur Fellows.

Loretta J. Ross is a reproductive justice and human rights activist re-framing reproductive rights within a broader context of human rights. Over her decades of grassroots organizing and national strategic leadership, Ross has centered the voices and well-being of women of color.

Ross is a key architect of the reproductive justice movement, which places reproductive decision making within social, economic, and political contexts. In 1994, Ross and other women of color designed the reproductive justice framework. It has three key tenets: the right to have a child, the right to not have a child, and the right to parent children in a safe and healthy environment. The framework includes access to clean air and water, affordable housing, food security, education, and maternal and infant healthcare. At the time, reproductive rights activism was overwhelmingly focused on abortion and the pro-choice/pro-life debate. This reflected the priorities and privileges of middle- and upper-class White women, who have economic means for and access to abortions and reliable medical care. With the reproductive justice framework, Ross and her fellow activists sought to account for human realities and address the systemic barriers childbearing people face across race, class, and other identifiers. In her co-authored textbook, Reproductive Justice: An Introduction (2017) Ross outlines the legacies of harmful legal and medical practices that inform the movement’s emphasis on reproductive autonomy. Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous people and people with disabilities were subjected to racist and White supremacist reproductive policies, including forced breeding of enslaved people and forced sterilizations of Indigenous and Black people. In 1997, Ross co-founded SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective to unite reproductive justice organizations across the country around the shared mission of educating policymakers about the newly articulated reproductive justice principles.

In addition to her seminal work in reproductive justice, Ross has contributed to many other social justice movements through her writing, speaking, and advocacy. She founded the National Center for Human Rights Education to offer education and training in combating racism, antisemitism, and White supremacy. More recently, Ross has turned her attention to social media and our increasingly fractured civic discourse. She models a more compassionate and inclusive approach to movement building and argues that education and dialogue around how to address harms that have been committed can bridge seemingly impossible gaps and advance social justice causes. With her pragmatic approach, political acumen, and strategic vision, Ross provides essential guidance on ways to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.

Loretta J. Ross received a BA (2007) from Agnes Scott College and pursued doctoral studies (2008–2009) at Emory University. Since 2019, she has been an associate professor in the Program of the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. Ross has held previous appointments at Hampshire College (2017–2018) and Arizona State University (2018–2019). From 2005 to 2012, she was the National Coordinator for SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. Ross is the co-author of Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice (2004) and the co-editor of Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundations, Theory, Practice, and Critique (2017). Her forthcoming book, Calling in the Calling Out Culture, is due out in 2023.

Published October 12, 2022, MacArthur Foundation

 

"Human rights play a central role in the geopolitical landscape and the future of democracies. We need to re-envision the ways in which human rights are understood and practiced to ensure we are able to address today's most pressing problems. I am delighted to receive this award to further the work of social justice." --Loretta Ross


Truth School Garden Party

 

After two days of torrential rain, October 6th was a beautiful and sunny day in Amherst, Massachusetts. Thank goodness, because this day would be a very special fundraising and friendraising party for the Truth School in Renee Moss and Eric Bachrach’s backyard. The party could not have been better, with over 60 people coming together to learn more about the Truth School. The food was great, the foliage and flowers were beautiful, and the sun was shining!  It was a diverse gathering of people of all colors and ages (the youngest was 3 months old) who were curious, interested, spirited, and happy to be together in person to hear more about the Truth School. The Truth School’s Founder and Director, Andrea Ayvazian, presented an update of the Truth School’s accomplishments and impact. Truth School trainers, Amihan Matias, Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, and Tanisha Arena served as a “Living Catalogue” offering truly spellbinding and deeply moving reflections on what they teach and why the Truth School matters. Folks left feeling inspired to take classes, teach for the Truth School, make a donation, or all three!  The party was a great success and those of us who attended knew we had just shared a very special experience. Community building! That is what the Truth School is all about!


Daily Hampshire Gazette

Gazette columnist Andrea Ayvazian: New book promotes dignity and respect for the human family

I am blessed to be surrounded by remarkable women friends who inspire me daily. Women who are leaders, visionary and brave, who set a high bar for the rest of us. Women who work daily to mend, repair, and heal this beautiful but broken world. Read more


"Sometimes just being yourself is the radical act. When you occupy space in systems that weren't built for you, your authenticity is your activism." --Eileen Welteroth


 

A World Where We All Can Breathe

by Amihan Matias, Truth School Associate Director

I love Naima Penniman’s poem, Gateway. She beautifully captures the essence of both the struggles and opportunities of this moment. Her words usher us towards the gateway of a new world, a world where we all can breathe. Breathing is essential. Breath is life and life is breath. Inhaling air, having it fill our lungs brings life-giving oxygen to every cell of our body so we can exist.

I deeply long for and imagine a world where we all can breathe – a world where we are all safe from harm, a world where others see the god in us, one that holds each of us as precious. And I wonder, how we will get there? What is the path? What is the work that will bring us to this world?

Read more


Donate to the Truth School

October 2022 Newsletter

In This Issue:


From the Director

Warning! This short article may be tedious, sound repetitive, and cause you to roll your eyes.

It is October again. And just as I have done for too many Octobers in the past, I am noting that my birthday is October 2nd and all I want from anyone, anywhere is a financial contribution to our beloved Truth School.

Okay, okay…I know some of you are totally sick of this shtick. But I will – with apologies – forge ahead.

Last year, my birthday really was something to celebrate (or mourn). I turned 70, and after I asked for contributions to the School that included 70, we received many gifts of $70 and it made our hearts sing.

Now, of course, I am turning 71 and it’s a big yawn and who cares.

But here I am with my shameless request again.

Should you want to make a contribution to the Truth School, we welcome your gift. $7.10 is most welcome, as is $71, as is $710, and frankly anything, anywhere in between, with 71 embedded in it or not!

How to give! There’s a Donate button below that is quick and easy. If you love paper, envelopes, and stamps, checks can be made payable to: Truth School and sent to our office: Truth School, 649 State Street, Springfield, MA 01109.

Whether you contribute to the Truth School or not at this time, let me lift a virtual glass to you and say THANK YOU…for reading this, for being part of the extended TS family, for teaching a class, hosting a class, attending a class, donating in the past, volunteering, WHATEVER! Thank you for being part of a movement-building School that IS making a difference – one remarkable workshop at a time.

With loving appreciation,

Andrea

 

Donate to the Truth School


Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month 2022 September 15 to October 15Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "Ther eis so much fear and hate. We must negate it with active, courageous love."


"Within the framework of Indigenous Peoples Day, resistance and protection of our lands and territories is a historical right of our Peoples. Today, we continue to demand respect for our individual and collective rights that have been violated since the invasion of Europeans. Indigenous Peoples have resorted to community as a key element not only to resist, but to overcome oppressive systems and to continue to claim our Indigenous identities." --Galina Angarova (Buryat), Executive Director Cultural Survival



OCTOBER CLASSES

For complete information on all of our class offerings, and to register for a class, visit Truth School or click on the links for specific classes below. This Fall the Truth School will offer many classes on Zoom, as well as several in-person classes. Please note class locations when you register. All class times are Eastern Standard Time.
 

If you register for a class but can’t make it, please let us know. Accurate information about class size is important for trainers to know for preparation and planning purposes. Thank you for this courtesy.

 

Embracing Joy in Challenging Times
with Dr. Patricia Romney
Saturday, October 1, 2022 | 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Treehouse Community Center, 1 Treehouse Circle, Easthampton, MA

Let’s Talk About Racism, Shall We?
with Jade Barker and Cate Woolner 
Sunday, October 2, 2022 | 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM | Zoom

Being an Ally, Not a Savior 
with Jana McClure
Saturday, October 8, 2022 | 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Treehouse Community Center, 1 Treehouse Circle, Easthampton, MA

Ladder 2 Leadership 
with Nikai Fondon
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
6:00 PM to 7:00 PM You are invited to a shared community dinner
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM Class
The Community Resilience Hub, St John’s Church, 48 Elm Street,
Northampton, MA

Keep the Light Bright! A Writing Workshop for a Community
with Something to Say

with Sauda Garrett
Thursday, October 13, 2022 | 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM | Zoom

Supporting Elementary-Aged Youth in Learning About and Taking Climate Action: Teacher and Parent Perspectives
with Benita Jackson and Kelly Junno
Saturday, October 15, 2022 | 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM | Zoom

Cultural Humility and Cross-Cultural Communication:
The Building Blocks of Racial Equity

with Amihan Matias
Part 1    Thursday, October 20, 2022 | 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM | Zoom
Part 2    Thursday, October 27, 2022 | 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM | Zoom

The Path to Enacting the ERA
with Kaz Andrews and Malie Geery
Saturday, October 22, 2022 | 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
First Churches of Northampton, Chapel, 129 Main Street, Northampton, MA

Slowing Down the Conversation:
One Step Toward Cross-Racial Coalition Building

with Imani Chapman and Franny Silverman
Sunday, October 23, 2022 | 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM | Zoom

Calling in the Call Out Culture
with Loretta J. Ross
Tuesday, October 25, 2022 | 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM | Zoom

How To Be a Stronger and More Effective Ally to the Muslim Community
with Tahirah Amatul-Wadud
Wednesday, October 26, 2022 | 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM | Zoom

Take a Walk in Sojourner Truth’s Shoes 
with Diane Liebert, Wendy Sinton, and Carlie Tartakov
Saturday, October 29, 2022 | 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Rain date: Sunday, October 30, 2022                          
Sojourner Truth Statue, Corner of Park and Pine Streets
Florence, MA



What Participants are Saying

"I felt a great sense of community wiht strong, empowered people rising above and working to educate ourselves and others to rid our world of microaggressions and other pathological patterns that keep our communities marginalized and in pain." --Participant, Microaggressions Class

"[The class] challenged limiting thinking... and narrow definition re: 'activism; [was] inclusive; affirm[ed] power of 'small' actions and clear intentions; [I] appreciated facilitator's preparation, energy, care, commitment to the class and subject" --Participant, Activism for Introverts and Highly Sensitive People



"To be hopeful in bad times is based on the fact that human history is not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." --Howard Zinn


Creative Ways to Support the Truth School: Truth school fan and friend, Berte Issler, had the great idea to give out Truth School catalogs as party favors for her 75th birthday!


"The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace." --Carlos Santana



Featuring our Trainers

 
Omkari Williams

Omkari Williams
Activism for Introverts and Highly Sensitive People

 
Our first class of the fall semester was the highly popular Activism for Introverts and Highly Sensitive People, facilitated by Omkari Williams, one of our new Truth School trainers. In this interview, she explains the different ways introverts and extroverts engage in the work of activism and why both types of activism are needed.

How did you come to offer your class, Activism for Introverts and Highly Sensitive People?
This workshop evolved out of a class that I did for an organization that deals with family services and has a strong social justice focus. With between 45% – 55% of the population identifying as introvert it felt important to present ways that those who do not necessarily feel comfortable center stage can make their critical contribution to the issues that we are dealing with both locally and globally.

What are activist archetypes and how did you come up with them?
The Headliner: The person whose face fronts a movement. So, the people you think of when you hear the word “activist.”
The Producer: The person behind the scenes helping to plot out the larger strategy.
The Organizer: Think of the person who makes sure the dessert table is perfectly stocked and perfectly run for the food drive at your kid’s school.
The Indispensable: All those people who make sure there’s coffee for the volunteers, who copy the maps for knocking on doors ahead of an election, who research where the bathrooms are on the march route, who keep the office from descending into a chaotic mess, who do the myriad unglamourous tasks that need doing with no fanfare.

The archetypes came to me as I was trying to explain how many different ways there are of being an activist. With my background as an actor I thought of how many different roles there are to be filled on a film, both in front of and behind the camera, and the archetypes evolved from there.

How is activism different for introverts?
I don’t think that activism itself is different for introverts. There are things that need doing no matter what and introvert or extrovert our focus is, or should be, on getting those things done. What I think is different is how we engage with the work. Our capacity, as introverts, to be around large groups is usually way less than that of extroverts. Since introverts tend to find being around lots of people draining, we have to pay attention to what we realistically can and cannot do and not compare ourselves to those extroverts who build energy off of being around others. It’s a lot about not comparing/judging what we do and simply staying in our lane and making the contribution that we are committed to making.

What do you recommend for activists who are introverts?
First and foremost, don’t compare yourself to others. We need the contributions of all people of conscience and good faith, and assessing our contribution as “too small to matter” does a disservice to ourselves and misses the larger point that each contribution is a drop that we need to fill the bucket. We are not doing this work alone and what we are doing matters.

Are there things you teach in your workshop that are also helpful for extroverts?
Actually, I believe that a lot of what I teach in that workshop is applicable to extroverts but let me give you just a couple of things.
1) I think that no matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert my Noah’s Ark rule is helpful. Spreading ourselves too thin is not just a risk for introverts, though we’ll likely experience the downsides sooner. Picking one or two areas of focus allows everyone to dive deeper, become more knowledgeable, and then use that knowledge to increase their impact.
2) I also think that my archetypes are helpful for extroverts because all extroverts aren’t the same any more than introverts are. Homing in on how you’re most comfortable moving through the world can inform the kind of activism you choose to engage with and help make it sustainable for you. No matter your type, sustainable activism is the critically important piece. There’s a lot to be done, we need people to be able to engage over the long haul.

Dr. Patricia Romney

Dr. Patricia Romney
Commonwealth Heroine Awardee

 
Dr. Patricia Romney, a Truth School trainer, founding board member of Amherst Neighbors, an active community supporter of A Better Chance Program, and the co-president of the Roger Wallace Excellence in Teaching Foundation has earned a Massachusetts Commission on the Statues of Women 2022 Commonwealth Heroine Recognition, as announced by state Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst. Commonwealth Heroines are women who have been chosen by their legislators for extraordinary acts of service. Congratulations from the Truth School, Dr. Romney!! This honor is so well deserved!



Daily Hampshire Gazette

Columnist Andrea Ayvazian: Lessons learned from the ‘Power Shuffle’

I am now of the age that when trying to put my hands on a certain piece of paper — buried somewhere in my paper-strewn home office — I end up finding random interesting items but not the very sheet of paper I was searching for.

It was during one of these excavations of a wayward pile of “important” papers that I found the instructions for an exercise I used to lead in workshops during the 1980s. Having been an anti-racism educator for decades, I used to crisscross the country leading workshops.

The instructions for the exercise I stumbled on by chance brought back painful memories. Read more



Truth School Covid-19 Safety Protocols

The Truth School has transitioned to a mix of virtual and in-person classes. We are committed to protecting your health and safety while you attend in-person Truth School classes, so we ask you to comply with the following COVID-19 safety Protocols.

Masks – We ask that participants wear masks during our classes.

Physical Distancing – We will arrange seating so that there is adequate spacing in between participants, and between trainer and participants.

Ventilation – We will provide ventilation in training rooms by opening windows. If a training site does not have windows that will open, we will provide an air purifier.

Illness – If you have any signs of a cough, cold, fever or are not feeling well, please stay home.

SanitizingWe will provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes at each class.


Donate to the Truth School