Talking Truth was initiated in fall 2015 to support and build on understanding of climate disruption. Our experiential workshops employ storytelling, reflective writing, discussions and mindfulness exercises that foster a world that is socially transforming.
We explore options for taking action while connecting our inner lives with this weighty global challenge we all face. Artifacts of the reflective writing exercise are housed in the University Archives as a "time capsule" documenting our campus community's personal responses to climate disruption. We have collected hundreds of these writing samples, both in the workshops and sometimes from classes in which faculty members administer the exercise.
We now have a planning team of eight people: two faculty, two librarians, two staff members, a doctoral student and an undergraduate intern. We meet most intensively before the next semester begins to plan the coming series of experiential workshops.
We have a dedicated Sustainability Fund for the UMass Amherst Libraries, but refreshments were provided by one of our campus partners. This could be done much more cheaply, but the fund is healthy. So, for instance, we bought copies of the speakers' books to give away at events, and offered honoraria. Most speakers would have come for free, but we wanted to show our gratitude.
Our budget for 2016-17 was as follows:
- Honoraria for speakers: $600
- Books to distribute at events: $500
Fall 2016 series:
Holding Earth: Mindful Climate Action : A weekly 30-minute mindfulness practice followed by sharing of resources, action-based opportunities and ideas.
A Conversation about Climate Change: Thought-provoking prompts guide a climate-related conversation. Includes time for sharing resources, action-based opportunities and ideas.
Author reading and discussion : "What We’re Fighting For Now Is Each Other: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Climate Justice ." Author and activist Wen Stephenson offers an up-close look at individuals who are laying everything on the line to build and inspire the climate justice movement. Free book to the first 40 people to arrive!
Film screening and discussion : "How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change ," directed by Josh Fox. A funny, tragic, inspiring documentary that introduces a host of climate change “warriors” while examining the intricately woven forces that threaten the stability of our planet.
Experiential workshop : Including mindfulness exercises, storytelling, and reflective writing.
Spring 2017 series:
Holding Earth: Mindful Climate Action: A weekly 30-minute mindfulness practice followed by sharing of resources, action-based opportunities and ideas.
Finding Work with Meaning in the Anthropocene: Panel Discussion: Gain insights into your personal journey toward forward-thinking work in sustainable living and community building within the fields of education, entrepreneurialism and green building.
Meeting Our Ancestors: Exploring the Future Through the Present Moment: A sacred “deep time” practice session, inspired by the work of activist and Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy. In this workshop we will consider how we might act like ancestors of future generations and reinvigorate our commitment to climate justice action.
Beyond Doom and Gloom: Including Solutions to Climate Change in Teaching: Live webinar for faculty presented by the Disciplinary Association Network for Sustainability. Learn to access expert guidance and curricular materials to engage your students in current and future solutions. This webinar is applicable to any course, in any discipline; discussion to follow.
Finding Your Life Purpose: Career Workshop: Reflective writing, group discussion and practical steps to support career exploration. The group is led by contemplative career coach and mindfulness teacher Jennifer Earls, M.Ed., Dance with Life Consulting.
Poetry Reading and Creative Writing Workshop featuring Don Ogden, author of "Bad Atmosphere ." A free copy of Ogden’s book will be given to the first 20 participants to arrive.
Green Building Tour: Get the inside stories of the new Design Building, renovated Old Chapel, South College addition, Integrative Learning Center and others.
A combination of the planning team members were on hand to run these events; noo additional staff were needed. Our sole challenge was that our small room at the library only holds up to 47 people, and some events were very packed!
Climate change is a very delicate topic. People involved in planning and facilitating need to be very good listeners.
About This Library
The UMass Amherst Libraries are a key partner in teaching, learning and research. The 1,450-acre campus is 90 miles from Boston and 175 miles from NYC and serves 30,037 undergraduate/graduate students. There are ample opportunities for students, faculty and staff to learn about sustainability and practice sustainable living in a collaborative environment. With more than 300 sustainability courses, we are a destination of choice for teaching and learning around sustainability. Part of our campus-wide mission is to produce citizens who serve as leaders in their fields working to create a just, healthy and sustainable world.