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The Galactic Cow: Conversations about teaching, the Universe, and everything


May 24, 2024

In Fall 2023, I gave a talk at the second annual Higher Ed in Prison conference organized by the Tennessee Board of Regents, as part of their work with the Tenneesee Higher Education in Prison Initiative.  This was the first keynote I gave outside of the Pacific Northwest region and I thoroughly appreciate the experience.  

I am learning that each time I am asked to stretch into something new or unfamiliar, my work gets stronger.  I understand it better, how it connects in so many unexpected and unexplored directions.  We are bound by our unresolved trauma, our untended grief, in so many ways.  We are also bound by joy, love, creative endeavor, and care.  

A spiritual teacher once said told me that the constant tension between the One and the Many is a Divine Dichotomy and that feels truer and truer everyday.  I often wonder if balancing our connections between joy and anguish are also part of that Divine Dichotomy.  Connecting in only one way or the other denies us the full experience of our humanity, but honoring them equally can seem an impossibility.

We spent the majority of our time in a short workshop, so I’ve included only my opening and closing remarks.  As this was a conference about higher ed in prison, my talk was directed to corrections educators, and currently and formerly incarcerated scholars and teachers, but its message is applicable in all learning spaces.