December 2022 Newsletter

In This Issue:


From the Director

Tired.

That’s the word I have heard from three good friends recently who are all leaders in their fields…all prominent women doing good, hard, needed work and all at the top of their game.   They are tired.

Not only are they tried, but one of these women said to me, “I am worried about my staff, each person is working very hard with burn-out nipping at their heels.”

Fatigue, burn-out, depletion.  Ask leaders, activists, directors of nonprofit organizations, and organizers how they are doing and you may well hear some form of feeling spent.

Blame it on the pandemic, blame it on the effort devoted to the midterm elections, blame it on Trump, blame it on one-disaster-after-the-next news cycles, blame it on the grinding nature of poverty, racism, and oppression in all its forms…

Whatever the reason, leaders, activists and organizers are weary.   And we need to name it and pay attention to it.

We need to increase our self-care.  Remember: self-care is not self-indulgent.   Self-care is your lifeline to being more effective in everything you do.

Activists are good at doing—we are programmed to be active, to show up, to make plans, to lead the way, and to keep on keeping on.   But we are human beings, not human doings, and doing less and resting more has huge rewards for our mental and physical health and actually for our work overall.

As New Year’s Day approaches and you are tempted to make New Year’s Resolutions, consider NOT adding another thing to your day/plans/schedule.   Give yourself permission to not commit to more visits to the gym or losing ten pounds.   Think about committing to doing less, to being lazy (which researchers tell us is good for our brain and heart), to sitting around, to being unproductive, to day dreaming and napping.   Consider finding ways to deepen your breathing and slow down your heart rate.   Unclench your fist and exhale.

I am a pastor and clergy have a saying that “ministers always preach the sermon they need to hear.”   So I am talking to you, Andrea Ayvazian.   Quit being so busy and tired.  And I am talking to you, dear Truth School extended family.   Quit being so energetic, hard-working, and industrious.

Being a mile wide and an inch deep means everything is being short-changed and fatigue is usually the by-product.

Here’s to a New Year where we let go, just a bit.  Still passionate, still engaged, and still active, but with a light in our eyes and a spring in our steps because we are continuously refilling that well inside with things that nourish us.

Here’s to a New Year that has less anguish and more joy, fewer late nights and more rest, diminished stress and more inner calm.

We are in this for the long haul.  So take good good good good care of yourselves.

With loving support,

Andrea


Donate to the Truth School


The truth is powerful and it prevails. - Sojourner Truth


DECEMBER 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 at registrar@truthschool.org. Accurate information about class size is important for trainers to know for preparation and planning purposes.
Thank you for this courtesy.

 

Creating Exciting Consciousness-Raising Events for social change with Netfa Freeman December I @ 5:00-6:30pm EST FREE! Register at truthschool.org/events

Branding Critical Race Theory with Tom Chang December 3, 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm EST Online Event FREE! Register at truthschool.org/events

Ladder 2 Leadership with Nikai Fondon December 6, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm EST Online Event FREE! Register at truthschool.org/events

From Here to Equality: Exploring the Case for Reparations With Jade Barker December 8, 2022 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST Online Event FREE! Register at truthschool.org/events

Music of the Civil Rights Movement 1940s - 1960s With Dr. Kathy Bullock December 15, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST Online Event FREE! Register at truthschool.org/events

Circle Practice to Mark the Winter Solstice With Strong Oak Lefebvre December 21, 2022 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST Online Event FREE! Register at truthschool.org/events


Giving Tuesday Please consider giving to the Truth School Click on this to support the Truth School or go to: www.truthschool.org


What Participants are Saying

 
"Dynamic! A thorough enlightenment of true history that we all should have in schools." Participant Black Woman Suffragists - Singing Our Story "The ideas were far ranging and highly applicable." Participant Equitable Hiring Practices "She is astonishing in her ability to understand and articulate the honest and life-giving complexities of the issues she tackles, moving us out of confusion. Not an easy task. Done with extraordinary grace, and deep wisdom of life, humans, and the hard, ongoing issues we all face and live within. The hope that emerges from her wise sanity is made of strong fibers, and strenghens us if we let it. I am profoundly grateful." Participant Calling in the Call Out Culture


I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept. - Angela Davis


And Still We Rise
Women of Color Leadership Forum
Starting in January!

 
And Still We Rise 6-Month Leadership Forum for Women of Color Prepare to be inspired, renewed, fortified, and transformed! Third Saturday of each month - January to June 2023 10 am to 1 pm Starting January 21, 2023 register at www.truthschool.org


"There is divine beauty in learning... To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests. And so are you." - Elie Wiesel



Thank You For Your Generous Support Beveridge Family Fund Bud Ackerman fund Hornor Skinn Charitable Fund Markam Nathan Fund Samuel Rubin Foundation TJX Foundation Women's Fund of Western MA Anonymous Family Foundation


"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" - Maya Angelou


Daily Hampshire Gazette

Several years ago, when I was the senior pastor of a hilltown church, I invited a local harpist to play Christmas Carols during our big Christmas Eve service. The harpist did a wonderful job, the harp music added so much to the festive service, and the congregation loved it.

The next year, when a group of church leaders gathered to plan the Christmas Eve service, someone mentioned possibly having harp music again. I was surprised when, after the idea of having harp music was suggested, a group member said, “We must have harp music, we always do that.” We had done it once.


The Truth School wishes you a Happy New Year 2023


Donate to the Truth School

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