The Truth School feeds my heart and my head.
Classes remind me that we people of conscience and kindness are not alone. It is our regions’ most significant new gem. – J.M. Sorrell, Truth School Participant
All Truth School classes are FREE.
Please register for classes you plan to attend. Registration helps to make sure we have enough interest to run a class and the trainers to prepare.
From any register button select the courses you plan to attend. We’ll send you an email reminder with all the details you need.
Movement for Movement Leaders: Tai Chi for Relaxation & Conflict Management
When: Saturdays, October 20 & 27, 2018; 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Each session consists of three (3), 1-hour segments – 1:00 to 2:00, 2:00 to 3:00, 3:00 to 4:00. Participants can come for any or all of the segments.
Location: Lathrop Community Meeting House, 1 Shallowbrook Lane, Northampton
|Tai Chi is best known in Western circles as a series of slow, flowing movements, designed to increase balance, flexibility, and relaxation through increased mind-body awareness. While this is accurate, it is also incomplete. Tai Chi originated as a very effective martial art, where practitioners gain advantage in conflict through deep practice in true relaxation and a candid assessment of our individual desires to control outcomes, rather than steer them. The self-defense system requires relaxation, profound centeredness, and a supple response to conditions around us. Application of the practice offers all participants a new lens for viewing day to day interactions and conflicts; this allows us to advance the work with less strain and resistance. The personal experience of the practice itself is rewarding to no end as well. It just feels great to move this way.
The training will be accessible to all, as we will approach it in hour-long stages:
Stage 1: Relaxation and Grounding: Looking at Traditions of Meditation and Qigong, we will practice a set of simple sitting or standing exercises designed to relax and clear out the clutter of the mind (open to all.)
All participants will walk away from the training with a set of exercises they can practice at home.
Trainer: Jeff Rosen, CFO Solidago Foundation, and Director YMAA Western Mass School of Tai Chi Chu’an
Effective Mentoring of Young People of Color
When: Sunday, October 21, 2018, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: St. Philip’s Church, 128 Main Street, Easthampton
|This workshop will focus on the needs that young people of color bring to relationships with mentors and the sensitivity that must be used when speaking with and guiding young adults from targeted communities. Sharing lessons learned from their decades of experience, Miss Thulani and Miss Olivia will offer examples, guide participants away from common pitfalls, and share stories that will help illuminate “what works and what doesn’t.” Lively, participatory, and filled with wisdom and practical strategies, this workshop welcomes all with questions and experiences to share.|
Trainers: Thulani Davis, Director of Programming, Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble, Hartford, CT. Miss Thulani is an activist for women’s rights, affordable education for all children, and civil rights for all; and Olivia Ilano Davis, Founding Artistic Director, Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble, Hartford, CT. Miss Olivia created Spectrum in Motion in 1982 as a dance education program (ages 4 – 17) celebrating people of color and the American experience. She has now guided two generations of young people and is a teacher, mentor, educator, counselor, and, called by some, “mom” to hundreds and hundreds of young adults.
Making Positive Change: Exploring Internalized White Supremacy in Predominately White Communities
When: Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Location: Treehouse Community at Easthampton Meadow, 1 Treehouse Circle, Easthampton
|A workshop for white people to explore our understanding of whiteness from the inside out. How do we consciously and unconsciously embody our role in racism? How do we internalize white supremacy? Our conversation will include an exploration of racial identity development and how we can affect positive change. Please come with an open heart and a willingness to sit with contradiction.|
Trainer: Phyllis Labanowski, Activist, Artist, and Antiracism Educator
This class has reached capacity.
Writing With Fire: Using Narrative for Advocacy and Change
When: Thursday, October 25, 2018, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Location: Mason Square Branch, Springfield Public Library, 765 State Street, Springfield
|In this workshop, participants will learn to write bold, compelling narratives that instigate change and social advocacy in both the digital sphere as well as in our communities. Together, we will create a safe space where we will learn how to mobilize the most effective aspects of our unique voices in the service of those who are not heard.|
Trainer: Epi Arias, Writer and Independent Researcher
Creating the New Society
SERIES CLASS: This is a four-part series. Participants are expected to attend all four classes.
Thursday, October 25, 2018, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 1, 2018, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 8, 2018, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 29, 2018, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: Holyoke Public Library, Board Room, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke
|In this hands-on, four-part series participants will dream a future where some present dysfunction in society has been resolved, remember the final steps of how we got there, identify possible trailheads for that path in 2018, develop a strategic plan, and take some first steps to make that dream a reality. Using spiritual imaging, art, motion, and collaborative group process, participants will learn to build a new society in the shell of the old, in a way that will make your heart sing. The four classes will follow this outline:
Week 1. Overview: What is constructive program; identifying dysfunctions in today’s society; imagining a better future; creative tension.
Trainer: William Spademan is Executive Director of Common Good, a Pioneer Valley nonprofit promoting community-centered democratic economics.
Liberation Through Education: A Workshop for Everyone Who Teaches
When: Saturday, October 27, 2018, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: Nueva Esperanza, 401 Main Street, Holyoke
|Who are we in our roles as teachers, paraeducators and students preparing to teach others? How does who we are determine how we act in our learning communities? In this workshop we will focus on our own social identities so that we can come to a deeper understanding of how oppression is perpetuated, often unintentionally, and what concrete tools we can use to interrupt it. The workshop will bridge pedagogy and practice by pairing experiential activities with purposeful dialogue about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Incorporating social justice principles, especially in schools focused on measured achievement, is essential. Anyone who teaches and wants to understand how to use their position of power to create social change is encouraged to attend.|
Trainers: Erin Joy Seibert, Artist, Activist, Educator, Social Worker; and Susan Kennedy Marx, Activist, Educator, EDD in Counseling/Administration, and Trainer for Justice
Sister Districts! Strategic Organizing in Our Valley
When: Sunday, October 28, 2018, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Location: Lathrop Community Meeting House, 1 Shallowbrook Lane, Northampton, MA
|Lilly will share a transformative model she developed through the MA Sierra Club for leveraging Valley climate activists to bolster grassroots legislative lobbying in strategic districts across the state. Learn this simple, replicable model, and use it to strengthen your state-level movement.|
Trainer: Lilly Lombard, State-wide organizer for the MA Sierra Club
Change Happens at the Speed of Trust
When: Saturday, November 3, 2018, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Lathrop Community Meeting House, 1 Shallowbrook Lane, Northampton, MA
|We strive to bring positive change to the world, but sometimes our organizations feel anything but positive. Some people joke that social movements on the left have perfected the “circular firing squad.” But, does it have to be this way? In my experience, making positive change can be fun, healing, and transformative. In this interactive workshop, we will explore ways to increase trust and accountability in social change organizations, to create thriving, effective movements where people feel supported to achieve their greatest good.|
Trainer: Jade Barker is a Co-operative Activist, Trauma Educator, Trained Mediator, and Board Leadership Development Consultant
Activism That Works
When: Sunday, November 4, 2018, 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Location: Community Music School of Springfield, 127 State Street, Springfield
|Many of us are horrified by this administration’s attacks on immigrants, the environment, health care, voting rights, women’s rights, and more, and we would like to do something to stop the damage – but what? There are countless requests to sign petitions, attend protests, boycott products, etc. Which are worthwhile, and which a waste of time? In this workshop, Betsy Leondar-Wright will share five criteria for what makes public action effective. The criteria are drawn from research as well as from her own social justice movement involvement over many years. Together the group will evaluate resistance efforts now in progress. Participants will leave with ideas for action steps to protect whatever each individual values most in this country.|
Trainer: Betsy Leondar-Wright, long-time activist and Professor of Sociology, who writes and teaches about social movement strategy.
Guided by the Spirit: How Faith Motivates and Sustains Social Activism
When: Saturday, November 10, 2018, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Alden Baptist Church, 649 State Street, Springfield, MA
|People of faith often report that their faith motivated them to become active in social movements for justice, equity, peace, and earth stewardship. Others say that it is their faith that sustains them as they engage in the hard work of standing up for the values of inclusion, equality, fairness, compassion, and generosity. In this gathering, open to people of all faiths and to those who do not ascribe to any faith but are curious, questioning, or seeking, we will discuss how we experience spiritual energy moving through our lives, what compels us to work for change in this beautiful but broken world, and where we find sustenance, hope, and the strength to be active in struggles for peace, justice, care of creation, and the civil rights and civil liberties for all people. Highly interactive and all are welcome!|
Trainer: Rev. Dr. Karen-Louise Rucks, Associate Minister, Alden Baptist Church, and Executive Director of Advancement, Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester, MA
Unpacking the Man Box: Cross-Gender Dialogue About Masculinity and Movement-Building
Series Class: This is a two-part series. Participants are expected to attend both classes.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Location: Greenfield Community College, East Building, Room E110, 1 College Drive, Greenfield
|Through personal reflection and cross-gender dialogue, we will examine the socialization of boys and men, discuss how masculinity affects all people regardless of gender, and explore the impact of gender on our work as activists. Together we will generate ideas for how to individually and collectively “unpack the man box” and dismantle patriarchy as we develop our activism.|
Trainers: Steven Botkin, who has been providing leadership in the field of engaging men and boys for violence prevention, positive masculinities, and gender equality for 35 years and in 15 countries as founder/director of the Men’s Resource Center for Change and Men’s Resources International, and now as Senior Consultant for MERGE for Equality; and
James Arana, social worker, community organizer, and group facilitator with 35 years experience working in the U.S. and internationally through the Men’s Resource Center, Men’s Resources International, and MERGE for Equality, as well as other organizations to prevent violence and promote dialogue across race, class, and gender.
Communication 101: How to Speak Your Truth and Listen from the Heart
When: Thursday, November 15, 2018, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: 40 Center Street, Community Room, Northampton, MA
|We all want to be seen and heard, but sometimes we can get so caught up in our perspective and thinking about what’s right/true/just that it’s hard to connect with others who don’t share our way. Social change and breaking down silos of difference requires us to develop skills in communicating across the aisle and not be afraid to know and be known by people who span the whole range of diversity. This class will be a combination of didactics, discussion, and experiential learning through the practice of mindful speech and mindful listening.|
Peacekeeper Training for Marches and Other Actions
When: Saturday, November 17, 2018, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Bethesda Lutheran Church, East Church UCC, 455 Island Pond Road, Springfield
|This highly interactive training will include discussions of the role of peacekeepers at marches and rallies, the tenets of nonviolence, how and why codes of conduct are created and followed, responding to hecklers, and how to support demonstrators who are having a hard time or are hurt. Using a combination of discussion, readings, small-group work, and role plays, the workshop will focus on the practical tools a peacekeeper needs to be effective and help defuse difficult situations that arise in public protests. [Note: To participate in this Peacekeeper Training, you must have already taken a full-day Nonviolent Direct Action Training, and been part of a demonstration where people risked arrest. You do not need to have been arrested yourself – just present at an event where nonviolent civil disobedience occurred.]|
Trainers: Mary Link, Nonviolence Activist, Organizer, and Trainer; and Cate Woolner, Professional Conflict Resolution Practitioner and Trainer
Climate Justice: Viewing Climate Change Through a Lens of Social Justice
When: Thursday, November 29, 2018, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Location: Montessori School of Northampton, South Campus, 42 Bates Street, Northampton
|Most of us are familiar with the environmental effects of climate change, but have you thought about what a changing climate will do to people? Van Jones, a social justice champion and news commentator says it best: “In order to trash the planet, you have to trash people.” In this workshop, participants will learn how climate change disproportionately affects people of color, women, people living in poverty, and immigrants. Participants will learn about what is called “the people side of the environment,” how climate change amplifies inequality and violence – and what you can do to influence positive change. All are most welcome; come listen, learn, and share.|
Trainer: Annika Johnson, a high school junior who lives in Northampton, and is always looking for ways to make a positive difference in the world.
Re-Imagining the Practice of Social Justice: Bringing Head, Heart, and Hands to Our Work
SERIES CLASS: This is a two-part series. Participants are expected to attend both Saturday sessions.
Saturday, December 8, 2018, 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Saturday, December 15, 2018, 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Location: Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke
|The influence of the dominant culture in the U.S. on social justice activism and organizing often goes unnoticed. In our culture, busyness, mind over heart, getting immediate results, and overestimating one’s individual power to produce and control are valued more than BEING. In this experiential workshop, participants are invited to explore the principles of evolutionary leadership and the implications for enduring social action. Through a combination of exercises and dialogue, participants will consider and make meaning of taking action from the heart center, acting boldly in the face of uncertainty, and surrendering the fruits of action, patience, and fierce compassion.|
Trainer: Rose Sackey-Milligan, Contemplative Educator for Social Action
Sisters, Faith, Activism, and Struggle: Learning From and Supporting Each Other in the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Communities
When: Saturday, December 1, 2018, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: 40 Center Street, Community Room, Northampton, MA
|Three women from different faith traditions – Naz Mohamed, a Muslim woman; Pamela Schwartz, a Jewish woman; and Ann Turner, a Catholic woman – come together to discuss how their relationships to their faith share a common purpose in their work for social justice. With Andrea Ayvazian as moderator, we will share how faith can inspire and fuel the stamina necessary for resistance.|
Trainers: Pamela Schwartz, Director, Western MA Network to End Homelessness, former Northampton City Councilor, and long-time activist for social justice; and 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 understand of each other. Her hope is to provide comfort to those who fear Islam and Muslims; and Ann Turner, local writer of over 50 children’s books, a Catholic convert who sees her activism as a light in the world and a witness to justice.
Healing Justice: Social and Political Re-Imaginings through Somatics and Applied Theatre
When: Sunday, December 2, 2108, 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: Community Music School of Springfield, 127 State Street, Springfield
|This class will explore healing justice as a vital component to our social change movements. We’ll begin by grounding in the origins of the healing justice movement, as it arises from the voices and experiences of marginalized folks. Then, via somatic awareness and applied theatre practices, we will explore the ways in which we have been socialized to be agents of oppression. In heightening our relational and societal awareness, we can practice better engagement with others, as agents of justice in our everyday lives. Together, we will recognize the ways in which healing is inextricably tied to our movements for global justice.|
Trainers: Cheyenne Palacio McCarthy, Applied Theatre Practitioner and Social Justice Artist; and Adin Buchanan, Social Justice Educator, and Truth School Community Liaison
Poetry: How Pain Becomes Beautiful Power
When: Thursday, December 6, 2018, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: Community Music School of Springfield , 127 State Street, Springfield
|In this class Michaelann Bewsee and Jennifer Ladd will share poems we know and will have time to write our own poems as well. We encourage each person to bring a poem that has moved them deeply, that has helped them name something. We will share those poems and then take time to write our own poems that we will read to one another (if people wish to do that), without critique. The focus of the gathering is on hearing and creating poems that speak to transformation. We will be witness to each other’s poems of transformation to strengthen our work for change.|
Publish or Perish: How to Write for and Get Published in the Mass Media
When: Saturday, December 8, 2018, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Location: 40 Center Street, Community Room, Northampton MA
|In this class, we will explore how to write short opinion articles for newspapers, magazines, and online sites. The focus of our work together will be on developing useful skills for composing articles that will attract the interest of editors and express a strong point of view.|
Trainer: Dr. Michael Klare, Former Director, Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies, currently Senior Research Fellow, Arms Control Association, Washington DC. Dr. Klare is also the Defense Correspondent for The Nation.
Telling Your Public Story
When: Sunday, December 9, 2018, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 128 Main Street, Easthampton
|In this workshop participants will develop their own public narrative for social change, experience the power of telling that story, and hear others’ stories. The goal of the workshop is to give participants the skills and confidence to share their own stories to build community and motivate people to action. This workshop is adapted from a framework developed by Marshall Ganz and others. We welcome new activists who would like assistance shaping their public story and experienced activists who would like a refresher on the power of story to build community and move people to be part of movements for change.|
Trainers: Dr. Gloria DiFulvio, the co-founder of Valley Action Group – a local group dedicated to mobilizing people in the Pioneer Valley to support one another and act during these difficult political times. By day, she is a faculty member in public health, where her work involves the use of stories for community change; and Dr. Mary Hannah Henderson, an independent anthropologist who writes about community organizing and social justice education. She has been coaching new and seasoned organizers since the late 1990s, when she began learning from and working with Marshall Ganz.
Activists Greet the Light: Celebrating with Freedom Songs
When: Saturday, December 15, 2018, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Treehouse Community at Easthampton Meadow, 1 Treehouse Circle, Easthampton, MA
|Working and living for justice can be nourishing in our best moments, yet we’re sometimes drained when struggles get hard. Come learn and sing freedom songs from around the world that will brighten spirits, welcome returning light, and recharge batteries so we can keep going in movements that bring justice. Group singing is well-proven to achieve these goals!|
Trainer: Eveline MacDougall, Founder and Director, Amandla Chorus
What Do You Stand For?
When: Tuesday, December 18, 2018, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Location: Greenfield Public Library, LeVanway Room, 402 Main Street, Greenfield
|Knowing the deepest truth of what you truly stand for empowers you to embody and work towards the biggest dreams you have for the world. And, when you show up as the powerful change maker you are, others are drawn and inspired to collaborate and join with you. Bring to this workshop a written description of a project or campaign you are working on and, if possible, come with a few of the people you are working with.|
Trainer: Vivienne Simon is a life-long campaigner for international environmental and human rights, retired lawyer, life coach, and Sugar Shack Alliance activist and legal advisor.