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The Art of Facilitation: Facilitating for Change & Community // with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg & Joy Roulier Sawyer

  • 02 June 2021
  • 13 July 2021
  • Online
  • 13

This 6-week class can help you develop the skills needed to facilitate both distance and in-person transformative language arts experiences for a wide variety of cultures and communities. By immersing yourself in a variety of facilitation traditions, approaches, techniques, best practices and philosophies, you can discover and enact your life's work and art in facilitating workshops, classes, meetings, and coaching sessions. We'll focus especially on embodying compassion in action -- including when facilitating on Zoom, online, and other formats--through how we approach facilitation, as well as design, promote, assess, and learn from the workshops and other sessions we lead. 

TLA can be a powerful change agent in the world, reaching far beyond workshops, coaching, performance, and other forms of traditional TLA work. We’ll explore how creating intentional communal spaces, taking an inward look, and working across vast definitions of “difference” (including race, religion, gender, class, living with ability or health challenges, and more) can help foster greater cohesion and expression in a fragmented culture. We’ll also learn how to navigate difficult situations and people more smoothly and compassionately, as well as how to joyfully sustain ourselves in our own individual TLA callings.

The Art of Facilitation Series: Facilitation is a life-long art of presence, engagement, and ethics. By immersing yourself in a variety of facilitation traditions, approaches, tools, techniques, best practices, and philosophies, you can discover, embody, and enact your life's work and art in facilitating workshops, classes, meetings, coaching and consulting sessions. "The Art of Facilitation: Roots and Blossoms of TLA Facilitation" (Nov. 4 - Dec. 15, 2021) explored designing, organizing, facilitating and assessing relevant, effective, and creative sessions (this class will be offered again next winter). "The Art of Facilitation: Facilitating Change and Community" focuses on fostering community and working with various populations for transformation, discovery, and liberation. You may take the classes in any order.

Week By Week

Week 1: FACILITATING FOR COMMUNITY:  In a fragmented and polarized society, TLA facilitation has the potential to create life-giving communities which nourish, sustain, and build bridges across many disparate cultures. We’ll talk about various methods of deepening community, including food, rituals, celebrations, and creative collaboration. We'll put special attention on building and holding community in video, audio, and online classes.

Week 2: FACILITATING FOR CHANGE:  What kind of change are you called to facilitate?  You will define what change means to you, as well as engage in inward reflection on motives, expectations, and dreams. In addition, we’ll discuss how to handle when that change actually happens, and how to better prepare for unexpected challenges that might arise. We'll also explore how to facilitate during our current global challenges so that more have access to share their voices and visions for the future.

Week 3: A WIDE EMBRACE: Working with difference: across race, religion, ethnicity, nations, and gender -- as well as who is less and more impacted during the pandemic -- entails great self-awareness and ongoing self- and other-study, particularly in understanding our own privilege and challenges. 

Week 4: COMPASSION IN ACTION: Working with people living with learning differences, disabilities, serious illness (mental, spiritual, physical), can often lead us into challenging places. We'll look at what we need to know when approaching such communities and individuals, where we can find resources and support, and especially how to remain in our role as facilitator and maintain compassion for ourselves.

Week 5: FACILITATING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT: Being in relationship with humans sometimes means entering uncomfortable places and impossible situations, all even more prominent while also in relationship with change around the world and locally. We'll delve into working with challenging people and difficult scenarios, including best practices for navigating such moments with grace and compassion.

Week 6: THE LIFELONG ART OF FACILITATION: Because the art of facilitation is a whole-self, full-hearted calling, one of our tasks is to embrace continual learning, growing, changing. How do we keep ourselves fresh and alive amidst such important work? And how do we grow our facilitation heart while facing personal, economic, and community challenges during a pandemic? We’ll talk about practices and strategies that can enable us to continue to bring wisdom, compassion, and rest to the people we serve.

Guest Teachers

Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams, MA-TLA, is a poet, teaching artist, and proven culture change strategist. Her storytelling work facilitates healing, creating literary art, consciouses-raising, and advocacy. Yvette's recent work is a digital poetry chapbook, Something Old, New, Borrowed, and The Blues. Her essays, poems, book chapters, and articles are located in various publications and contribute to the discourse on women's leadership, race-relations, personal and community transformation. Yvette walked multiple career paths as a former C-Suite bank executive, a management consulting firm CEO, and as President of an international education institution for organization and leadership development. While in these leadership roles, she maintained a creative writing practice. She is on the editorial board for the publication Practising Social Change and Board Chair for Alternate ROOTS, a Southern-based social justice organization for artists and cultural workers. Yvette is a highly sought after executive coach, and her leadership and mentoring experience feature in a 2001 Harvard Business Case study. Bradford Literary Agency represents her writing work. 

Caleb Winebrenner is a storyteller, poet, and educator. He holds an MA in Educational Theatre. At both the high school and college levels, he crafts his classes to be engaging events for everyone. Caleb was a member of the TLA Network Council for several years, and was chair of the 2019 Power of Words conference. His work addresses facilitating and teaching for different learning styles, and accommodating special needs. In all of his work, Caleb speaks both as an educator and from his own experiences of living with cerebral palsy. @via_poetica.  

Who This Class is For

This class is intended for all who facilitate or want to facilitate TLA, whether it takes the form of writing, storytelling, spoken word, drama, debate, public speaking, organizational storytelling, or other areas. While focusing on workshop facilitation, this class will also help students better facilitate TLA in other settings, including classrooms, coaching sessions, meetings, and more. Because learning to facilitate well is a lifelong art, this class is aimed toward all who seek to deepen their facilitation practice, whether they are a beginner or seasoned facilitator. The class meets students wherever they are.


This class encompasses weekly discussions (with a guiding question each week), creative writing prompts -- all in a forum where we can post our writing and respond to one another for greater community and learning, plus readings, podcasts and videos, and ample resources. There will also be three live video-conferences with people who can bring to the table vast experience with a wide spectrum of communities (including our two guest teachers, and Joy and Caryn). Zoom video-conference sessions (which can be done easily on computers or phones), also allow time for students to discuss and practice aspects of facilitation. Zoom calls will be held June 6, June 20 and July 11, from 7-8:30 p.m. CST / 8-9:30 p.m. EST / 6-7:30 p.m. MST / 5-6:30 p.m. PST. 

Teacher Bios

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg PhD, the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, is the founder of Transformative Language Arts and the author of 23 books, including Miriam's Well, a novel; Everyday Magic, memoir, and the forthcoming How Time Moves: New and Selected Poems. Her previous work includes Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust and six poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather. Mirriam-Goldberg has facilitated community writing workshops widely since 1992 with diverse populations throughout the Midwest, the U.S., and in Mexico, including people living with serious illness, intergenerational communities, women living in public housing, teens and young adults, and humans at large in big-life transitions. She offers one-on-one coaching on writing and right livelihood. She co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats with Kelley Hunt and the Your Right Livelihood training with Laura Packer. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Joy Roulier Sawyer is the author of two poetry collections, Tongues of Men and Angels and Lifeguards as well as several nonfiction books. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have been widely published. Joy holds an MA from New York University in Creative Writing and a master's degree in counseling. Her extensive training and experience as a licensed professional counselor and in  poetry/journal therapy gives her special expertise in facilitating expressive writing workshops. Joy was selected by poetry therapy pioneers to revise and update Arleen McCarty Hynes’ groundbreaking textbook, Biblio/Poetry Therapy: The Interactive Process. For over a decade, she’s taught at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop - the largest literary center in the West. Along with her other creative writing and poetry classes, Joy helps facilitate Lighthouses's Denver Public Library, Arvada Library, and Edgewater Library’s Hard Times workshops, designed for those experiencing homelessness or poverty, as well as the Writing to Be Free program, an outreach for women transitioning out of incarceration. She has also taught at the University of Denver and in the TLA MA program at Goddard College. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

During the pandemic, both Joy and Caryn are facilitating workshops, meetings, and collaborate projects through Zoom, Google Docs, email, and various online formats, including writing workshops for people living in extreme poverty, with serious illness, and who are facing other challenges. 

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