Hearts in Action, Four Weeks In

Above: Our mind map of a new definition of sustainability.

Talking Truth has hosted four of our weekly workshops, Hearts in Action: Creative Responses to Climate Change! We have practiced art and creative writing; learned about the efforts of environmentalists across the globe to build a dialogue about the climate crisis; and added our own voices to it. We have shared our thoughts, fears, and ideas, and seen them reflected in others sitting beside us.

Hearts in Action is co-hosted with Paperbark Magazine, an environmental humanities publications starting up at UMass.

I have felt my creativity sparked and my boundaries pushed. These weekly meetings have kept me in touch with nature amidst the challenges of a busy college schedule, and having a designated time to pause, reflect, and express myself is one of the most important additions to my college career.

I know that our weekly events will only continue to grow richer, more thoughtful, and more intentional as our experience grows and as we welcome in new people. In only four meetings, we explored:

  • The Golden Record: what would you put on an artifact that will outlast humanity and be our legacy?
  • Definitions of sustainability: what is our personalized and comprehensive definition of the much-used and increasingly vague term, “sustainability”?
  • Performing a water ritual: how can we honor the water in our lives, even while Hurricane Harvey devastates?
  • Creating personal flags: if we were to make a flag touting our beliefs, what would it look like? What would it mean?

My favorite workshop was when we learned about the Golden Record, a fascinating project that launched a “record” of some of Earth’s sounds (and images) into space, with the intention that it would outlast our species and be our legacy. When Emily, an MFA student and one of the facilitators, asked us what we would put on the Golden Record, I was stumped. When humans are gone, what is the essence of humanity that I believe needs to be preserved? The very first instinct I had was to somehow say, “We’re sorry.” But moving beyond that, I was able to enter a space of love for the Earth. I envisioned adding the sound of trickling water, or time lapses of seed and infant growth. By the end of the exercise, I was in tears. So much of our planet Earth is unique and precious. So much of it needs to be preserved – how can you distill it in one artifact?

Hearts in Action will continue to be held every Monday afternoon (through 11/27/17) from 4 – 5 pm in the Science and Engineering Library in the 3rd floor conference room. We would love to see more new faces in the coming weeks!


Announcing the Fall 2017 series

Fall 2017 Series

Talking Truth: Finding Your Voice Around the Climate Crisis

TalkingTruth Fall 2017 (flyer)

“Hearts in Action: Creative Responses to Climate Change”
Art making, creative writing and contemplative practices
Mondays 4-5pm, Sci and Engineering Library

Reading of Kinship of Clover with author Ellen Meeropol
Thurs. 9/28 7pm, Sci and Engineering Library

Nature Experience with the Outing Club
Fri. 9/29 12-1, Majestic beeches next to Durfee Conservatory

Green Building Tours with Ludmilla Pavlova, Senior Campus Planner
Thurs. 9/14 and 10/5 4-5:30, meet in the lobby of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library


Talking Truth in the News

We set up a Talking Truth booth at the Amherst Sustainability Festival on April 22, 2017. Great way to get climate change “out in the open!” Here are two articles about the Fest: Sustainability Comes to Amherst and Sustainability Festival in Amherst sets the tone for Earth Day.

At our booth, community members wrote a response to the question, “How do you feel about climate change?” Their responses have been added to the hundreds of others written by UMass students, faculty, librarians and staff which are all housed in the University Archives on the 25th floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. This project is inspired by Joe Duggan, doctoral student in Australia and the creator of Is This How You Feel?

A Night of Reflection & Bravery!

Thank you for the great crowd who came out for “Finding Your Life Purpose: Career Workshop” on Thursday,3/2.
This was a reflective writing, group discussion and practical steps to support career exploration. The group was led by contemplative career coach and mindfulness teacher Jennifer Earls, M.Ed., Dance with Life Consulting.

Attendees began the night with a meditation to pull them into a state of mindfullness and introspection. The room was quiet as all soaked up the healing energy Jennifer put forth as they prepared to delve into thinking about their futures!

As Jennifer coached participants through thinking about their personal dreams and their dreams for the Earth, intersections of both love and fear were made apparent.  There was a beautiful willingness to experiment, seek partnership, and open up to each other among the attendees. Certain words such as “uncertain”, “stuck”, and “lost” were met with “engage”, “restore”, and “community” as everyone talked to their partners and groups.

At the end of the night, many reflected on how surprised they were to have opened up to strangers about their goals and dreams about entwining their personal passions with ecojustice. The resounding sentiment was: “You can connect to people so quickly when you are vulnerable and share your passions, which are in a sense your true self.”

Gazing 5 minutes at a climate change headline

Every Monday 3:00-3:45pm in room 1638 of the Du Bois Library, we gather for “Holding Earth: Mindful Climate Action.” Yesterday we listened to excerpts of this NYT article, “Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just 1 Famine, but 4.” Then we gazed for 5 minutes at slide #2.


This exercise was inspired by Thomas Huebl, who explains more here (3:45 minutes)

Says Huebl, “This is a spiritual practice that helps us to expand our awareness into the bigger We-space. We relate to current world events – and often this is experienced as ‘negative news’. That means this event triggers in me so much discomfort that I want to turn away. If enough people are able to perceive and feel what we are doing to each other right now on the planet – that is the basis for a change.”

The Talking Truth goal here: To respond to climate change and co-create change from our conscious awareness.

Spring 2017 series!

Unless otherwise indicated, all events take place in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, UMass

The theme of the spring 2017 series is “Living and Working with Purpose in a Time of Climate Disruption.”


Holding Earth: Mindful Climate Action
Mondays, 1/30-5/8, 3:00-3:45 p.m., Room 1638
Weekly 30-minute mindfulness practice followed by sharing of resources, action-based opportunities, and ideas.

Meeting Our Ancestors: Exploring the Future Through the Present Moment
Friday, 2/24, 12:30-2:00 p.m., Campus Center, Room 917

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. The group is facilitated by Tim Beaucage, graduate advisor/teaching associate at UMass Amherst.

Beyond Doom and Gloom: Including Solutions to Climate Change in Teaching
Wednesday, 3/1, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Room 2601

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
Thursday, 3/2, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Room 2601

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
Thursday, 3/23, 7:00-9:00 p.m., Room 2601
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
Thursday, 4/13, 4:00-5:30 p.m.,
Meet in the lobby of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library
Get the inside stories of the new Design Building, renovated Old Chapel, South College addition, Integrative Learning Center and others. Led by Ludmilla Pavlova, senior campus planner.

Finding Work with Meaning in the Anthropocene: Panel Discussion
Wednesday, 4/19, 7:00-9:00 p.m., Room 2601
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, with Ofer Sharone, Assistant professor, Sociology, UMass; Sara Schley, Co-founder of sustainable consulting firm Seed Systems; Ezra Small , UMass Sustainability Manager; Sarah Hebert G’13, Trinity Solar employee; and John Fabel, Building & Construction Technology adjunct faculty member, UMass.

Other associated events:

A Climate for Change: Research, Reflection, and Action around Climate Change
Saturday, 4/1, 4:00-5:00 p.m., Lower Level, W.E.B. Du Bois Library

Participate in our reflective writing exercise as part of the Libraries’ spring Climate Change event, which will also include a Sustainability Showcase, speakers, and refreshments. The full event is from 4-7 p.m.

Town of Amherst Sustainability Festival,
Saturday, 4/22, 10:00-4:00 p.m, Amherst Town Common
Find representatives from Talking Truth in the Climate Transformer area.

For more information, contact Madeleine Charney mcharney@library.umass.edu, 413-577-0784 or visit:  https://www.facebook.com/TalkingTruthUMass/ and https://blogs.umass.edu/talkingtruth/.

Talking Truth is co-sponsored by the Office of Civic Engagement and Service-Learning, UMass Amherst Libraries, Department of Environmental Conservation, and Psychology of Peace and Violence Program.

Talking Truth is endorsed by the following UMass Amherst entities, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, UMass Climateers, Eco-Rep Program, Biostead Initiative, Contemplative Pedagogy Working Group, Spiritual Ecology and Regenerative Systems Initiative, and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

Experiential climate change workshop Fri. 11/4 12:30-2:00

Talking Truth: Finding Your Voice Around the Climate Crisis presents…

An experiential climate change workshop
Fri. 11/4 12:30-2:00
26th floor of the Du Bois Library, UMass
Free and open to all

Storytelling, reflective writing, discussion and more.

We will then all go to the #noDAPL speak out on the Goodell Lawn at
2:00 (organized by students from Divest and the Native American Students Association)