Completed Classes, Fall 2018

We The People: The Struggle to Defend Our Constitution and Our Democracy
When: Sunday, October 14, 2018, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: 40 Center Street, Community Room, Northampton

This class will be centered on movement-building. We will discuss the movements across the country to restore our democracy to the people and to defend our Constitution at this critical moment in history. We will also focus on what we can do to help these movements at the national, state, and local levels.
John Bonifaz
John Bonifaz


Trainer: John Bonifaz, Constitutional Attorney and Co-Founder and President of Free Speech For People

Is It A Good Match? Learning How to Approach and Write to the Right Funders for Your Project
When: Thursday, October 11, 2018, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Location: Springfield Central Library, Community Room, 220 State Street, Springfield

Many grant proposals are rejected because they are not a good match with the grantmaker. Participants will learn how to identify the good match indicators and how to determine a funder’s problem-solving approach, underlying beliefs, and political ideology. Because this information affects what is presented and emphasized in a proposal, grantseekers will discover how to read between the lines and find the “hook” – the connection between one’s project and a prospective funder – and how to write their proposals in a way that the funder can hear.
Deborah Koch

Trainer: Deborah Koch, Author of How to Say It: Grantwriting: Write Proposals ThatGrantmakers Want to Fund. Deborah Koch is an accomplished trainer, writer, and grantseeker, raising millions of dollars for higher education and community nonprofits, and teaching hundreds of people how to do the same.

A Conversation with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum: Come With Questions, Listen and Share
When: Saturday, October 6, 2018, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: Puerto Rican Cultural Center, 413 Main Street, Holyoke, MA

This special gathering is a chance to speak informally with one of the most well-known and admired voices speaking and writing about race in America today, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. This conversation, moderated by Rev. Andrea Ayvazian, will begin with Dr. Tatum offering some thoughts about race relations in this country today. The remaining hour will be devoted to questions from the gathered group. We anticipate a candid conversation and lively back and forth with Dr. Tatum, a dynamic speaker and bestselling author. Come with questions, or simply to listen to Dr. Tatum share her perspective and to hear the questions from your neighbors and friends and the thoughtful answers by a great scholar and nationally recognized leader.
Beverly Daniel Tatum
Beverly Daniel Tatum

Trainer: Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, President Emerita, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA, and author of the bestselling book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and Other Conversations About Race. In 2014, Dr. Tatum received the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology, the highest honor presented by the American Psychological Association.


Labyrinth Through Fear: A Gift Event
SERIES CLASS:This is a three-part series. Participants are expected to attend all three classes.
Saturday, September 22, 2018, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Saturday, September 29, 2018, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Saturday, October 6, 2018, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: The Pan African Historical Museum USA, Tower Square, 1500 Main Street, #2, Springfield, MA

This three-part workshop series offers participants the opportunity to transform the energy of fear and adversity into courage and hope. Through movement meditation, free writing, storytelling, and theater activities, unknown gifts of the Labyrinth will reveal themselves. This fear I face/ is a deeper breath I take/ is the courage I share. The gift of fear, small or large, is a daily gift. Taking the risk to face fear invites and supports us to move, step by step, through a constricted space into the next level of fearlessness, confidence, and transformation.  All are welcome, there are no-pre-requisites for this class, just come with an open heart.
Janet Aalfs
Janet Aalfs
Ingrid Askew
Ingrid Askew

Trainers: Janet Aalfs, Poet Laureate Emeritus of Northampton, MasterMartial Artist and Integrative Dance Instructor, Founder and Director, Lotus Peace Arts at Valley Women’s Martial Arts

Ingrid Askew, a theatre maker, cultural activist, and the Executive Director of Crossing the Waters Institute for Cultural Exchange. Ms. Askew lives in the Pioneer Valley and also in Cape Town, South Africa, where she facilitates theatre-making projects with community activists and artists. Her most recent project is “Labyrinth Through Fear” which she developed with Janet Aalfs.

Social Activism for Senior Citizens
When: Thursday, September 13, 2018, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Location: Greenfield Public Library, LeVanway Room, 402 Main Street, Greenfield

In this class, Katharine will present a model for social activism and volunteerism for senior citizens that is emerging from the national Village Movement. The class will engage participants in discussing their experiences of volunteerism and what kinds of social activism and community building are particularly suited to older people who are aging in their own homes. Come ready to share your experiences, and with questions.

Trainer: Katharine Baker, retired family therapist and business consultant, currently a founder and president of the Board of Directors for Northampton Neighbors, a “virtual village” that promotes aging in place for seniors.

[This class is capped at 15 people.] Register

Exploring Islam: Our Faith, Culture, and Practices
When: Saturday, September 15, 2018, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Location: 40 Center Street, Northampton, MA

This interactive class will focus on dispelling myths and misinformation about the Islamic faith. Questions including the difference between cultural “norms” and religious practices, and why the media misrepresents Muslims so consistently will be explored. The workshop leaders will also speak to the question of what makes Muslims react the way they do when the Prophet Mohammed is disrespected. You are invited to bring questions about Muslims and areas of confusion about Islam to this gathering. The workshop leaders welcome a lively back and forth discussion and exchange.

Trainers: Dr. Mohammad Ali Hazratji is a student of Islam and describes himself as “a traveler of the spiritual path.” Dr. Hazratji has lectured in the Pioneer Valley on various Islamic issues and participated as a speaker on multiple interfaith panels in the aftermath of 9/11. He has been active in interfaith activities, refugee medical relief work overseas, refugee re-settlement programs, and programs for promoting peace and understanding among people.

Naz Mohamed
Naz Mohamed

Naz Mohamed, who is a firm believer in interfaith dialogue as the most effective way to share her faith with her neighbors and community, and thus increase knowledge and understanding of each other. Her hope is to provide comfort to those who fear Islam and Muslims.


African and African American Heritage Men’s Affinity Group
When: Sunday, September 16, 2018, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Location: Alden Baptist Church, Parlor, 649 State Street, Springfield, MA

This Affinity Group gathering will explore the experiences of men of African and African American heritage and our roles in society from past to present. During our time together we will engage in honest sharing and open dialogue. We will also discuss the lessons that can be learned from Sojourner Truth – her work, words, witness, and wisdom and how what she said and shared during her remarkable life can influence our lives today. African and African American heritage men of all ages are welcome.

Trainer: Dr. Marcus Ware is the Head of School at Springfield Commonwealth Academy in Springfield, MA. Dr. Ware holds a Doctorate in Education in Education Leadership and Administration from the University of Hartford. Previously, Dr. Ware held positions in the Springfield Public School System, Curry College, Eagle Hill School, and The Williston Northampton School. With more than a decade of experience in working with students, Dr. Ware is content knowing that he gets to act on the “pay it forward” philosophy – giving back what he has learned over the years coupled with the experiences he has been afforded by those he refers to as mentors. He strongly believes that people should be lifelong learners, and believes in the power of Affinity Groups as gatherings where one can learn about one’s heritage and, in the process, learn about oneself. 


Fundraising: Focusing Your Questions
When: Thursday, September 20, 2018, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: Brightwood Branch Community Room, Springfield Public Library 359 Plainfield Street, Springfield

In this class on fundraising, Liz Wills-O’Gilvie and Jennifer Ladd will give each person (or each team) the opportunity for specific coaching, brainstorming, and input from others to help you with your particular fundraising questions and issues. We encourage teams of people to come together from an organization, and we also welcome those who come individually and want to listen and share.
Jennifer Ladd
Jennifer Ladd

Trainer: Jennifer Ladd, Donor Organizer and Co-Founder of Class Action


March For Our Lives: Gun Violence and Student Leadership, Where Do We Go From Here?
When: Sunday, September 23, 2018, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: First Churches, 129 Main Street, Northampton

In March, students took to the streets to demand common sense gun control legislation. In July, our calls were answered as Extreme Risk Protective Orders were signed into law in Massachusetts. What’s the next step for students in the movement toward gun control? Taking to the streets once more, this time to canvass and take back the house this fall. We will discuss the basics of how to canvass for a political candidate (including how you can get involved in the action) as well as our experiences as youth activists in adult-dominated activist communities. Together we will develop strategies for youth to improve our experiences in activist spaces, amplify our voices, and increase united youth power as we work to end gun violence. Participants will leave learning concrete skills including how to register to vote, how to vote absentee, and how to write press releases.
Cherilyn Strader
Ben Moss-Horwitz

Trainers: Cherilyn Strader and Ben Moss-Horwitz.

Cherilyn and Ben, both students at Northampton High School, together organized the Pioneer Valley March For Our Lives, and both are members of and organizers with the Pioneer Valley Students For Gun Control.


The Peace Puzzle: A Group Bridge-Building Experience
When: Thursday, September 27, 2018, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: Greenfield Public Library, LeVanway Room, 402 Main Street, Greenfield

The Peace Puzzle is a challenging and fun interactive geometric puzzle, solved simultaneously by groups who work in clusters of six. The structure of the puzzle offers players an opportunity to viscerally experience the positions of other players. The Peace Puzzle is an experiential learning tool that gives players the language to discuss sensitive personal, cultural, or political issues. It also enables individuals from opposing perspectives to gain deeper insight and respect for differing points of view. The goal of our time together is to empower people to safely share deep issues or concerns. Come with an open mind and ready to play.

Trainer: Ben Goldberg, Environmental Educator and Sustainability Specialist

Listening Across Divides: A User-Friendly Dialogue Format
When: Saturday, September 29, 2018, 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Location: St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 128 Main Street, Easthampton

In this class, the dialogue model of the Public Conversations Project (now known as Essential Partners) will be presented and demonstrated. A tightly structured format is used to enhance our ability to listen across differing perspectives. Five questions are used to clarify positions and provide a road map for deeper insight. The goal is not to achieve consensus, but to support more nuanced discussion and potentiate problem-solving. In a highly polarized environment, we see bridging divides as a first step toward mutual understanding and as a possible basis for finding a common way forward.
Norma Akamatsu
Norma Akamatsu
Gail Perlman
Gail Perlman

Trainers: Norma Akamatsu, Clinical Social Worker focused on reconciliation in families and communities
Gail Perlman, a retired mediator and conflict resolution facilitator and a member of Community Conversations of Western Massachusetts, a group focused on strengthening the ability of rivals to have productive conversations in our deeply polarized democracy.

NOTE: This class has reached capacity! If you want to sign up, you’ll be put on a waiting list and we’ll let know you if there is space for you on Friday September 28th. Thanks for your interest!

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