Category Archives: place-based education

Teaching Sustainability: Focus on Fair Food and Ecojustice with Rev. Noelle Damico

Rev. Noelle Damico

Rev. Noelle Damico (United Church of Christ) is an activist educator and movement builder with the Alliance for Fair Food.[http://www.allianceforfairfood.org/]. She coordinated the 2 million member Presbyterian Church USA’s involvement in the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s Campaign for Fair Food [https://ciw-online.org/], among many other food justicecampaigns. This podcast takes place in an actual class setting, my Religion and Ecology class at Agnes Scott College, a historic women’s liberal arts college in Decatur, GA. Noelle joined us via Skype in our unit on connecting issues of economic justice to the larger topic of sustainability.

What is often missing in mainstream discussions of the organic food movement is workers. Noelle takes us through the founding of the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s campaign and the “sea-change” it brought, and continues to bring, in the food system, to create a system that works for all people. Issues of safety, forced labor, human trafficking, gender violence, poverty wages, wage theft, and worker abuse are all parts of the history of injustices that CIW addresses.

A worker-driven social responsibility model begins at the work site, determined by the workers who become organizers and change-agents through marches, education tours, hunger strikes, boycotts, and other direct actions. Joining CIW are faith leaders and students as partners. One outcome on university campuses has been the cutting of contracts with Taco Bell on over 25 campuses. The current Boycott Wendy’s campaign [http://www.boycott-wendys.org/] seeks to continue to move companies beyond their “corporate responsibility codes” to real food justice. The CIW campaign has shown that changing the conditions in the field is at the root of a sustainable food future.

Pedagogy is an action verb here. On my campus the tomatoes in our dining hall are part of the fair food system; Aramark was (reluctantly but eventually) one of the signers. But our Aramark dining staff continue, through their own worker-driven campaign, to fight for fair wages and a workplace that offers respect and human dignity (through their union, SEIU). Though unionized, their struggle is difficult. Thus, fair farm and campus food workers are connected.

As part of the class students engage in a practicum with the campus Office of Sustainability in a variety of areas (climate change events, organic farming, National Audubon wildlife site, bees, and also economic justice with the campus Living Wage Campaign). One student working with the campaign joined the Aramark union steward and me on the WRFG Labor Forum, as well as our Economic Justice Teach-In. She also assisted with our “love poster” action in the dining hall for the staff—big posters we are hanging each week, signed with notes of appreciation and affection by community members, for each dining services staff member.

Theme music for Nothing Never Happens is by Aviva and the Flying Penguins and Lance Eric Haugan. Additional music is by Paul Myhre: “Dreams of Winter Sans Guitar (2019).”

My audio engineers are: Reagin Turner, China Wilson, and Megan Simmons. I can be reached at tpippin@agnesscott.edu.

U-Lead Athens: Educating Un(der)documented students

“United, Unafraid, Undefeated, Unstoppable Leaders.” That is the description by the students of U-Lead Athens. Since August 2014 they meet every Thursday night at Oconee United Methodist Church, on the boundary of the University of Georgia (a university that bans undocumented students). Mentors and allies from the university (the UGA Undocumented Student Alliance) and the community gather to eat and study and plan for the future. Their mission statement states that they assist high school and recent graduates in preparing for college, identifying schools that are open to un(der)documented students, and applying for scholarships and other financial support. U-Lead Athens is a sanctuary, in the many meanings of that term, providing a supportive community.

In August 2018 my daughter Jacy and I visited U-Lead on a Thursday evening and interviewed current college students who returned to visit or volunteer, some current students, the director of volunteers, PhD student Nikki Luke, and two of the co-directors, Prof. JoBeth Allen and Prof. Betina Kaplan. The conversations set the context of the discrimination and anti-immigrant laws in Georgia, the activist work of students and allies to change these laws and provide access to higher education and in-state tuition, as well as working on justice issues around TPS and DACA status. The students shared their stories, their art, and their hopes and challenges.

Equal access to education is a human right. To support U-Lead Athens, click here:

https://www.uleadathens.org/donate

Resources:

U-Lead Athens website home page:

https://www.uleadathens.org/

Eileen Truax, Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream (Beacon, 2015)

Jose Antonio Vargas, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (HarperLuxe, 2018).

Laura Wides-Muñoz, The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means to Be an American (Harper, 2018).

For information about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals):

https://www.uscis.gov/archive/frequently-asked-questions

https://www.nilc.org/issues/daca/daca-litigation-timeline/

Resources for Irwin Leopando Podcast

Buber, Martin. I and Thou. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. Touchstone, 1971.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage. Rowan & Littlefield, 2000.

Kirylo, James D. Paulo Freire: The Man from Recife. Peter Lang, 2011.

Kirylo, James D.and Drick Boyd. Paulo Freire: His Faith, Spirituality, and Theology. BrillSense, 2017.

Shor, Ira. When Students Have Power: Negotiating Authority in a Critical Pedagogy. University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Teaching as “Vocation”: Part Two of a Conversation with Irwin Leopando

In Part Two Leopando continues to explore the theological influences on Freire’s thought and activism that sustained him through exile and institutional work (in government and higher education). We discuss the institutional boundaries on using a Freirean method in the college or university classroom, and I admit to being a “failed Freirean.” We talk about what it means to live into as much democracy as possible in our classrooms, and acknowledge the restraints of institutional time (the semester length), grades, the tenure process, and other academic demands. In the end, Freire calls us to accountability—to risk and to dream, and to live into our “vocation.” Tune into the podcast for a fuller definition of what Freire meant by such a theologically infused term as“vocation,” and how this vision forms the basis of his pedagogy of freedom.

Special music at the end of each segment is ”Prayer for Immigrant Children” (2018) by Paul Myhre: 

https://www.reverbnation.com/paulomyhre

Freire and Faith: Part One of a Conversation with Irwin Leopando

Irwin Leopando is Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College, (CUNY) in Queens, NY. He is the author of the book we discuss in this podcast, A Pedagogy of Faith: The Theological Vision of Paulo Freire (Bloomsbury, 2017). Leopando came to study Paulo Freire (1921-1997) in graduate school classes with his dissertation director, Ira Shor. Leopando’s interest in dialogical pedagogy extends into his own teaching of English composition. Also as one who grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, Leopando shares this faith affiliation with Freire.

In Part One of this podcast Leopando talks about his first encounters with Freire in Shor’s classes through Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Leopando became curious in how Freire’s Roman Catholic faith and his own experience of childhood poverty influenced his activism and his pedagogy in the political and social context of Brazil. Liberation theology and the Christian-Marxist dialogue were major influences on Freire’s thought. Democracy requires the literacy of the poor. And a democratic classroom requires the drive to help the learner grow into their own agency.

Resources for the Victoria Rue Theatre as Pedagogy Podcast

Victoria Rue’s website:

http://victoriarue.com/

Victoria Rue, Acting Religious: Theatre as Pedagogy in Religious Studies (Pilgrim Press, 2005).

Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-Actors, trans. Adrian Jackson (Routledge, 1992).

_____, Theatre of the Oppressed (Urizen, 1979).

Sandra Butler and Barbara Rosenflum, Cancer in Two Voices (2nd Ed., Spinster Ink Books, 1996).

Joe Chaikin, The Presence of the Actor (Theatre Communications Group, 1972).

Maha Elgenaidi, founder of the Islamic Networks Group (ING):

https://ing.org/maha-elgenaidi/

Vsevold Meyerhold, Meyerhold on Theatre (Bloomsbury Meuthen Drama, 1978).

Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference:

https://ptoweb.org/

Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror (Anchor, 1993).

Viola Spolin, Improvisation for the Theatre: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques (3rd Edition, Northwestern University Press, 1999).

Theology Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:

James H. Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation (Orbis, 2010).

Beverly Harrison, Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics (Beacon, 1986).

_____. Our Right to Choose: Toward a New Ethic of Abortion (Beacon, 1983).

Carter Heyward, God in the Balance: Christian Spirituality in Times of Terror (Pilgrim, 2002).

Dorothee Soelle, Thinking about God: An Introduction to Theology (Wipf & Stock, 2016).

Additional resources for theatre of the oppressed:

 Bell, Lee Anne, Storytelling for Social Justice: Connecting Narrative and the Arts in Antiracist Teaching (Routledge, 2010).

Melisa Cahmann-Taylor and Mariana Souto-Manning, Teachers Act Up!: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities through Theatre (Teachers College Press, 2010).

Cohen-Cruz, Jan, Local Acts: Community-Based Performance in the United States (Rutgers, 2005).

Hannah Fox, Zoomy Zoomy: Improv Games and Exercises for Groups (Tusitala Publishing, 2010).

Katherine S. McKnight and Mary Scruggs, The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2008).

Stanley Pollack and Mary Fusoni, Moving Beyond Icebreakers: An Innovative Approach to Group Facilitation, Learning, and Action (The Center for Teen Empowerment, Inc., 2005).

Michael Rohd, Theatre for Community, Conflict & Dialogue: The Hope Is Vital Training Manual (Heinmann, 1998).

Mady Schutzman and Jan Cohen-Cruz, Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, Activism (Routledge, 1994).

Theatre as Pedagogy: A Conversation with Victoria Rue: Part One

Victoria Rue is a professor, author, playwright, theatre director and workshop leader, and Roman Catholic womanpriest. She has taught at San Jose State University from 2004 to the present in Comparative Religious Studies and Women’s Studies. In the Fall of 2018 she will be at Dar Al Calamar University College in Arts and Culture (http://www.daralkalima.edu.ps/en) Palestine as a Fulbright Scholar. For Rue learning is an encounter with the self and others, and theatre is a way to engage the whole person in critical thinking and engaging stories. She uses theatre as a way to teach cooperation, community building and somatic learning (embodied pedagogy). Through theatre games, improvisation, writing exercises, and the performance of plays, Rue creates learning communities that explore new possibilities for social change. Her work addresses issues such as HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, lgbtq issues, and homeless youth. With Augusto Boal, Rue sees “theatre as rehearsal for revolution.” According to Rue: “Theatre is an arena in which we can dream what we want in our society.” Her book, Acting Religious: Theatre as Pedagogy in Religious Studies (Pilgrim Press, 2005) has both theory and practical examples of her pedagogy and theatre work. For more information see her website: www.victoriarue.com

In Part One, Victoria talks about her theatre background and the major influences on her work.

 

Resources for Theatre of the Oppressed

Theatre of the Oppressed: Explore Further!

Applied and Interactive Theatre Guide: http://www.tonisant.com/aitg/

Beautiful Trouble website: Theatre of the Oppressed: http://beautifultrouble.org/theory/theater-of-the-oppressed/

Cardboard Citizens (U.K.): http://cardboardcitizens.org.uk/

Center for Performance and Civic Practice: http://www.thecpcp.org/

Centre for Applied Theatre: http://centerforappliedtheatre.org/

CTO Rio (Boal’s original group): http://ctorio.org.br/novosite/

The Forum Project: http://theforumproject.org/about/

The Freire Institute: http://www.freire.org/

The Freire Project: http://www.freireproject.org/

Improv Encyclopedia: http://improvencyclopedia.org/references/Games_for_Actors_and_Non-actors.html

interAct: http://www.cla.csulb.edu/departments/communicationstudies/interact/

International Theatre of the Oppressed Organization: http://www.theatreoftheoppressed.org/en/index.php?useFlash=0

Jan Sanskriti Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed: (India):

http://www.janasanskriti.org/

Just Act: http://www.gasandelectricarts.org/Gas_%26_Electric_Arts/HOME.html

Mandala Center for Change: http://www.mandalaforchange.com/

Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed: http://ptoweb.org/

 Playback North America: https://playbacknorthamerica.com/

The Centre for Playback Theatre: http://www.playbackcentre.org/

International Playback Theatre Network: https://www.iptn.info/

Sojourn Theatre: http://www.sojourntheatre.org/

Theatre of the Oppressed (TOP) Lab: http://www.toplab.org/

Marc Weinblatt: Part Two: Theatre for Systemic Change

In Part Two: Theatre for Systemic Change, Marc talks about his experiences with Forum Theatre and Legislative Theatre in addressing community issues. With over 30 years experience, Marc shows the successes, opportunities, and future vision of his theatre work.

The Mandala Center for Change: “Founded in 1999, the Mandala Center is a multi-disciplinary arts education organization dedicated to community dialogue, social justice, and societal transformation.”

www.mandalaforchange.com

Read the article by Marc Weinblatt & Cheryl Harrison, “Theatre of the Oppressor: Working with Privilege Toward Social Justice,” pp. 21-21 in “Come Closer”: Critical Perspectives on Theatre of the Oppressed, eds. Toby Emert & Ellie Friedland (Peter Lang, 2011).

 

Theatre of Liberation: Marc Weinblatt of the Mandala Center for Change: Part One

“Theatre is a form of knowledge; it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.”—Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed

Marc Weinblatt has been a professional educator, theatre director, activist, and workshop facilitator since 1980 having extensive experience with both adults and youth. An internationally recognized leader in the use of Augusto Boal’s renowned Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) to stimulate community dialogue and social change, Marc has worked with diverse communities ranging from police to homeless youth, grassroots organizers and laborers to University deans. Internationally, he has worked with activists in Norway, Holland, and Canada, youth workers in Guatemala, refugees in Azerbaijan, ex-combatants in Northern Ireland, construction workers in South Africa, slum families in India, community workers in the Republic of Congo, and victims of war, among others, in Afghanistan. Marc was named “Cultural Envoy” by the U.S. State Department for his work in the Congo in spring 2010. Marc regularly facilitates T.O. based diversity / anti-oppression workshops in a wide variety of contexts across the U.S. with a commitment to bringing a deep sense of spirit and humanity into social justice work. He also directs the multi-generational Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble which incorporates T.O. and Playback Theatre techniques to generate community dialogue on burning social issues. One of Augusto Boal’s “multipliers”, Marc has trained thousands of people in the use of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques through his classes and annual week-long intensive trainings since the early 1990′s. Marc is also a dedicated father of 4 beautiful boys. (bio from the Mandala Center for Change website: http://www.mandalaforchange.com/site/about-us/our-team/)

In Part One: Theatre of Liberation, Marc shares his theatre background and outlines Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) and Playback Theatre (founded by Jo Salas and Jonathan Fox). He draws examples from his experience with homeless and lbgtq youth.