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  • Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs Young

Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs Young

  • 21 July 2021
  • (EDT)
  • 31 August 2021
  • (EDT)
  • Online
  • 3


This thorough introduction to Transformative Language Arts (TLA) encompasses the personal and the global, the contemporary and the historic, and how TLA can be practiced through writing, storytelling, performance, song, and collaborative, expressive and integrated arts. Each week includes short readings, a lively discussion, a Zoom meeting, and invigorating writing prompts to help you articulate more of your own TLA callings.

Every week includes opportunities to engage in TLA - whether that engagement be simply perusing a site and learning about a movement, organization, watching a video, or listening to a podcast. Weekly writing prompts give you room to work and play through what you know, are coming to know, and how this knowledge cross-pollinates with what you do and who you are.

This class is also required for TLA Foundations Certification.

To order a copy of The Power of Words: A TLA Reader (required text for class), please scroll down.

Week by Week

Week One: TLA history, fields and traditions

An overview of theory and practice, including genres, arts and community practices, ethics, and your own values informing your TLA. Explore TLA in many forms–from poetry therapy to social change theater to healing storytelling–and share what ignites your soul and work.

Week Two: TLA in Service: health, healing, spirituality, and personal growth.

We’re explore how TLA can help people find their way home through health or emotional crises or wounds, spiritual callings, and many manner of personal growth. Starting with the personal, and recognizing how the personal is political, we look at ways in which TLA can foster health, healing, and homecoming, and also some of our cultural biases and blindnesses about such directions.

Week Three: TLA as Catalyst: community, culture, history, and social change.

We’ll look at TLA in relation to community-building, culture-shifting, history-revisioning, and social change, and particularly explore what it means and can mean to be part of various communities.

Week Four:  TLA and Right Livelihood: Ways to Make a Living and a Life.

What are our callings for how we make a living and how we live a life? We’ll dive into how TLA intersects with our life’s work (whether that work relates to a paycheck, volunteering, or other aspects of our life), and develop plans for where we’re led to go.

Week Five: TLA in Action: Facilitation, Consulting, Collaboration, Coaching and More.

Looking at the ethics of our work, art, and community involvement, we’ll discuss and write about the specific forms of TLA we do and want to do.

Week Six: TLA and You: Plans, Visions, and Maps.

Deepening our plans for the work, art, and community-making ahead, we’ll clarify what’s right for us to pursue next, what support and tools we need along the way, and the future envision.

Who Should Take This Class

This class is ideal for a wide variety of people, including professionals who want to infuse TLA into their teaching, counseling, pastoral work, arts collaboration, and community work; writers, storytellers, performers and other artists who want to develop their facilitation of writing, songwriting, expressive arts, drama therapy and community theater, collaborative arts, storytelling, and integrated arts; and perspective or current students or alumni of TLA studies.


This is primarily an asynchronous, online class, which also includes weekly Zoom meetings. The bulks of the class work will occur via the online platform, Wet.Ink. Each week, a new class will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work.

Additionally, students are required to attend at least five out of the seven weekly Zoom meetings (see schedule below). The Zoom meetings allow us to network and connect, and for participants to learn from each other in real time discussion.

From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

All Zoom classes meet on Wednesday from 3-4:30 PM, EDT.

1. Wednesday, July 21

2. Wednesday, July 28

3. Wednesday, August 4 

4. Wednesday, August 11 

5. Wednesday, August 18 

6. Wednesday, August 25

7. Wednesday, September 1

Required Text: The Power of Words: A Transformative Language Arts Reader, edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Janet Tallman. You can purchase the text on Amazon.

About the Teacher

Joanna Tebbs Young, MA, MFA is author of the award-winning biography of Vermont historian, Lilian Baker Carlisle, and has both a memoir and personal essay collection in the works. She holds a BA in History from Castleton University, and an MA in Transformative Language Arts and MFA in Creative Nonfiction, both from Goddard College. 

A writing coach since 2009, Joanna is also a facilitator for Vermont Humanities Council and teaches online for the Transformative Language Arts Network. Historical articles written during her time as columnist and feature writer for the Rutland Reader can be found here. 

"The Transformative Language Arts Network" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. P.O. Box 873 Lansdowne, PA 19050 USA

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