part of portrait of Eli by Riva Lehrer

Retreats & Classes

With more time--ranging from a half-day retreat to a 15 week class--Eli encourages multi-layered learning within community.

Storytelling Retreat // Disability Retreats // Trans Issues Class // Freak Show Class // Media Images of Disability

Retreats facilitated in a variety of settings, including conferences and community gatherings.

Classes taught to undergraduate students on college campuses. Could easily be adapted to graduate students or community groups.

Retreats designed to range from a half day to two days.

Classes designed to range from 1-15 weeks.


Stories in Community

Description:
Which stories do we tell about our embodied experiences of race, disability, violence, class, gender identity, and sexuality? What words, ideas, images emerge from the hollow center of our bones, from the marrow itself? How do these stories shift, settle, or become tangled over time as our bodies change? Through poetry, discussion, journal writing, and, of course, the telling of—and listening to—story; we’ll spend the day with these questions.

We will delve into the ways our stories not only repeat, but also contradict, each other. We will create space for the telling of privilege as well as oppression. We will acknowledge the power of story to reach across chasms of power, to struggle against willful unknowing, to stand on fault lines between people most similar, and to insist upon wholeness.

Format:
Facilitated discussion, small group work, journal writing.

Length:
1-2 days.


Back to Top


Disability Retreats

Eli has designed and faciltated a number of retreats for disability community. These have included:


Grieving Our Losses, Celebrating Our Gifts

Description:
As disabled people, what are our losses personally, politically, and spiritually? What are our gifts? All too often, living with disability is framed as tragic or heroic. Neither stereotype allows for our actual grief and joy. Through storytelling and ritual, art and meditation, movement and music, we will explore and grieve what we have lost as a result both of ableism and of living in our particular bodies. At the same time, we will also explore and celebrate our gifts, paying attention to how we transform shame and build pride.



Breaking Isolation, Building Community:
A Gathering for Disabled and Deaf Trans People and Our Allies

Description:
Disabled and Deaf trans people often live in great isolation, rarely getting an opportunity to talk openly and in depth about our experiences of being trans and disabled--whether our impairments are physical, cognitive, learning, or psychiatric. Come join us for a day long gathering of conversation and connection about our lives. We could talk about our disabilities, the endless struggle for accessibility, our gender(s) and how gender intersects with our disabled bodies. We could have conversation about how we feel; the range of our emotional lives; our frustrations, joy, shame, pride, and internalized hatred. We could share our experiences as lovers, parents, friends, and family members. We could celebrate our tenacity, survival, and the victories of every self-determined moment--the topics are endless.This gathering will be facilitated, but the agenda for the day will be set by the participants. Come ready to talk and listen, connect and break our isolation.


Back to Top

Trans Issues, Identities & Politics class

Description:
This course examines some of the cultural and political issues gender variant, transgender, and transsexual peoples face in the U.S. It looks at these issues both as they appear today and as they have evolved over the last century. Topics that are addressed include: 1) conceptual frameworks around gender, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation; 2) medicalizing/pathologizing of trans identities and bodies; 3) media representations of trans people; and 4) politics of trans liberation.

Format:
15 week, 3 credit course first taught to undergraduates at the University of Vermont. For more details, download the syllabus as a PDF.


Back to Top


Freaks and Bodily Difference:
Using Disability History as a Lens

Description:
Using the history of the freak show, this course explores ways in which bodily difference has been named freakish over time and how people who have been named freaks -- disabled people, people of color, fat people, bearded women, LGBT people, and others -- have both benefited from and been exploited by that naming. Through reading, film, discussion, and small group work, it explores the history of the freak show in the U.S. through the lens of race, colonialism, and disability. It focuses particularly on three questions: 1) Who were the people who worked as freaks in the freak show, and how did they become freaks? 2) What can we learn about bodily difference, exploitation, and resistance by studying the freak show? and 3) How does the freak show of the 1840s to 1940s manifest today?

Format:
5 day, 1 credit mini-course first taught to undergraduates at Oberlin College. For more details, download the syllabus as a PDF.
2 week, 3 credit course taught to undergraduates at Ryerson University. For more details, download the syllabus as a PDF


Back to Top


Thinking Critically About Media Images of Disability

Description:
Representations of disability abound—in news, television, film, and the Web. In this course, we study these images, thinking critically about the ways disability is represented in mainstream and disability media. We ask the following questions: 1) How are systems of power, privilege, and marginalization embedded into these representations; 2) What ideologies and assumptions do they reveal; and 3) What are the relationships between disabled people and these images. And because disability and ableism are intrinsically linked to other categories of identity and systems of power, we will also be studying class, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Format:
15 week, 3 credit course first taught on-line to undergraduates at Ryerson University. For more details, download the syllabus as a PDF.


Back to Top