Announcing New Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Faculty

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce that Heidi Pitlor and Laura van den Berg will be joining us as full faculty on our upcoming retreats and workshops, and that Lily Hoang and Frederick-Douglass Knowles II will be our newly appointed Summer 2016 Teaching Fellows.  More about our new faculty and teaching fellows and their talented work in fiction, editing, publishing, nonfiction, poetry, and performance can be found below:

49zoqdckHeidi Pitlor received her B.A. from McGill University in Montreal and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She eventually became an editor and later a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories since 2007. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Ploughshares, The Huffington Post, and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers.

LauraCandidPhotoLaura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. Her first novel, Find Me, published by FSG last yearwas selected as a “Best Book of 2015” by NPR, Time Out New York, and BuzzFeed, among others. Find Me was longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the author of two collections of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009) and The Isle of Youth (FSG, 2013). What the World was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The Isle of Youth was named a “Best Book of 2013” by over a dozen outlets, including NPR, The Boston Globe, and O, The Oprah Magazine; a finalist for the Frank O’Connor Award; and received The Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the 2015 Bard Fiction Prize. Laura lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dog, and she is currently at work on a new story collection and a new novel, both forthcoming from FSG. Beginning in the fall of 2016, she will be a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard.

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Lily Hoang is the author of five books, including A Bestiary (winner of the inaugural Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s Nonfiction Contest) and Changing (recipient of a PEN Open Books Award). With Joshua Marie Wilkinson, she edited the anthology The Force of What’s Possible: Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. She is Director of the MFA program at New Mexico State University. She serves as Prose Editor at Puerto del Sol and Editor for Jaded Ibis Press.

Frederick-Douglass Knowles IIFDK is a poet, educator and activist involved in community education and the performing arts. He has competed on two National Poetry Slam Teams and served as the 2011 Connecticut Slam Team coach. His works have been featured in Poems on the Road to Peace: A Collective Tribute to Dr. King Volume 2Peabody Museum of Natural History by Yale University Press, The East Haddam Stage Company of Connecticut, The 13th Annual Acacia Group Conference at California State University, Folio –a Southern Connecticut State University literary magazine, Lefoko –a Botswana, Southern Africa Hip-Hop magazine and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora by Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College where he infuses English Composition with social injustice.

Please give a warm welcome to our new CWW Faculty!  We’re excited to have such wonderful writers join our team!

~ Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

Cambridge, MA Fall 2016 Creative Writing Workshops & Craft of Writing Seminars!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce our new series of creative writing workshops and craft of writing seminars in partnership with the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Cambridge, MA!  The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is thrilled to return to Cambridge and to offer an exciting range of courses for our Boston-area writers.  Our featured faculty this fall includes Jade Sylvan, Rita Banerjee, Laura van den Berg, and Diana Norma Szokolyai.  Information on classes, meeting times, and faculty are listed below.  Courses are $40 each and those who register for 5 or more classes will receive a 10% discount on registration.  Two kinds of classes will be offered this fall at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA): craft of writing seminars and writing workshops.  In craft of writing seminars, students will learn about a particular craft issue, study and discuss examples of contemporary creative writing, and will do an in-session writing prompt.  For creative writing workshops, students will bring in new and in-progress creative work to be reviewed and critiqued during class.

Registration for our Fall 2016 creative writing workshops and craft of writing seminars will open on the Cambridge Center for Adult Education website on July 27, 2016!  Since 1938, The Cambridge Center for Adult Education has offered a most diverse menu of courses to adults in Cambridge and surrounding areas, and it aims to give people the opportunity to explore their interests and nurture their talents and potential.  We’re proud to collaborate with the CCAE!

Location:  

Cambridge Center For Adult Education
56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Time:

Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm, September 10 – December 10, 2016
(Registration is now open on the CCAE Website!)

Schedule:

September 10:
“What’s At Stake in your Poetry, Fiction, & Nonfiction Manuscripts?”
with Diana Norma Szokolyai (writing workshop)

September 24:
“Science : Fiction – Building Literary Worlds”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

October 8:
“Revision Strategies for All Genres”
with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

November 5:  
“Time in the Short Story”
with Laura van den Berg (craft of writing seminar)

November 12:
“Spatial Poetics”

with Diana Norma Szokolyai (craft of writing seminar)

December 3:
“Emotion and Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

December 10:
“Writing Yourself Naked”

with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

 

Featured Faculty:

LowRes-DSC_0340-Edit-2Jade Sylvan (they/them/their), called a “risqué queer icon” by The Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Jade’s most recent book, Kissing Oscar Wilde (Write Bloody, 2013), a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris (sponsored by a travel grant from The Foundation of Contemporary Arts), was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award.  Other work has appeared in The Washington PostBuzzfeedThe Toast, Mudfish, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and many other publications.  Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  They are currently overseeing the production of their first full-length stage play, Spider Cult the Musical, opening June 24th, 2016 at Oberon Theater in Harvard Square.

RitaBanerjeeRita Banerjee received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington.  Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, Poets for Living Waters, The Monarch Review, The Fiction Project, Quail Bell Magazine, Jaggery, Catamaran, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Amethyst Arsenic, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, Chrysanthemum, and has been featured on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.  Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, is forthcoming from Spider Road Press in October 2016.  Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, she is currently working on a novel and a book of lyric essays.

Laura van den Berg
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is the author of the novel Find Me, longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize an selected as a best book of 2015 by Time Out New York and NPR, and two story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, both finalists for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her honors include the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jeannette Haien Ballard Writer’s Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and an O. Henry Award, and her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. She has taught fiction at institutions including Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, the Warren Wilson M.F.A. Program for Writers, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. At present, Laura is a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, MA, with her husband and dog.

Diana Norma Szokolyaidiananorma is a writer/interdisciplinary artist/educator and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Based in Brooklyn, NY, she is author of the poetry collections Parallel Sparrows(honorable mention for Best Poetry Book in the 2014 Paris Book Festival) and Roses in the Snow (first runner-­up Best Poetry Book at the 2009 DIY Book Festival). She also records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers. Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Szokolyai’s work has been published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, and Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as anthologized in The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering and Teachers as Writers. Szokolyai earned her Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University and her M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut, while she completed coursework at the Sorbonne and original research in Paris for two years. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

CWW Spring and Summer Writing Application Retreats Deadline: April 15, 2016

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is excited to be hosting three retreats in spring and summer 2016!

The first, our Spring in Newport, RI Yoga & Writing Retreat, is slated to take place April 22-24, 2016 in Newport, RI.  Participants will work on new and existing writing projects alongside award-winning authors Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction) and Jade Sylvan (fiction, nonfiction), and practice yoga with Elissa Lewis.  For more information and to apply to our Newport retreat, visit cww.submittable.com.  Applications for this retreat are due April 15, 2016.

Our Summer in Barcelona and South of France Writing Retreat is slated to take place July 18-26, 2016.  Participants will spend three days in Barcelona, Spain and four days in Narbonne, France.  They will work on new and existing writing projects alongside award-winning authors Bret Anthony Johnston (fiction), David Shields (fiction, book-length essay), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction).  For more information and to apply to our Summer in Barcelona and South of France Writing Retreat, visit cww.submittable.com.  Applications for this retreat are due April 15, 2016.

Our Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat is slated to take place July 28-August 5, 2016.  Participants will work on new and existing writing projects alongside award-winning authors David Shields (fiction, book-length essay), Alexander Chee (fiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction).  For more information and to apply to our Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat, visit cww.submittable.com.  Applications for this retreat are due April 15, 2016.

Newport Writing & Yoga Retreat 2015 – April 5, 2015

While some of the participants enjoyed a session of Energizing Yoga with Elissa, Norma slaved away in the kitchen making French toast for the Farewell Brunch. Rita made red pepper scrambled eggs. Mimosas and fresh fruit made the Farewell Brunch a delicious one.

During the meal, the faculty and writers sat around the table and discussed writing goals for the future. We even vowed to stay in touch and have been hosting mini workshops each week on the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop NING member network (learn more about that here).

We were sad to see everyone leave, but can’t wait to see them at our upcoming retreats in Paris and Granada!

– Emily Smith

Newport Writing & Yoga Retreat – April 4, 2015

After Energizing Yoga with Elissa, Stephen introduced “Theater of the Impossible.”  In Stephen’s “Theater of the Impossible” workshop, we talked about the most satisfying components of watching a play: seeing the impossible unfold before us or watch as it is staged. Instead of thinking of a script as a blueprint, Stephen encouraged us to consider the script “recipe” a challenge and to think outside of it.

After Stephen’s class, Kathleen reviewed the manuscript revisions during a second session of “Reviewing Your Manuscript for Publication” and read from her own book: With Robert Lowell and His CircleYou can watch Kathleen read here:

The writers took a much deserved break after Kathleen’s class and explored historic Newport during the afternoon.  Workshops resumed with Stephen’s “Against Aristotle: New Structures for New Stories.” We discussed the traditional Aristotelian story structure. Then we began breaking the rules with new ways of storytelling through interpolation (like Charles Mee’s Iphigenia 2.0), tessellation (like Carson Kreitzer’s Flesh and the Desertand the looped stack narrative (like Jason Grote’s 1001).

Norma finished out the day of workshops with a second session of “Your Voice: Bringing your Page to Performance.” We shared our work salon style in the living room. Both Claire Ince’s performance piece and Saundra Norton’s can be heard below.

At the end of the night, we made an impromptu group performance in response to “Too Many Cooks”—a crazy parody of sitcom opening credits.

– Emily Smith

Newport Writing & Yoga Retreat – April 3, 2015

We started Day 2 bright and early with Energizing Yoga taught by Elissa Lewis. Our belief is that yoga can clear and prepare the mind for writing during the day. Elissa rounded out yoga with aromatherapy using a citrus-scented essential oil.

The first set of workshops began with Rita Banerjee‘s “Literary Taboo.” Each participant drew two pieces of paper from a bowl with a word like “crocodile” or “femme fatale” on each. Each sheet also included a list of taboo words, which each writer was forbidden to use in writing about the words they had selected. For example, a writer who drew “spaceship” wasn’t allowed to use the words “portal,” “fly,” “aliens,” or “planetary.”

In Stephen Aubrey‘s “Weirding the World” workshop, we learned that the script isn’t a flat work of literature or a description in poetry of another world but rather another world passing before us in time and space. While language is part of this world, the rest of it is space. And before we populate space, we must create it.  During the afternoon, some writers stayed at the house to work on their pieces. Others explored Newport’s beaches and enjoyed the warm spring weather.

Executive Art Director Diana Norma Szokolyai taught us to own our voices during “Your Voice: Bringing your Page to Performance” in the evening. We watched performance poets like Anne Waldman (Uh-Oh Plutonium!) and Saul Williams (List of Demands) and then practiced using unusual instruments to add depth to our own work. Participant Claire Ince took to the thumb piano and Saundra Norton used a music box to add mystery to her poem (see Day 3 post for their work).

The final workshop for the day, “Developing Your Manuscript for Publication,” was led by Kathleen Spivack. The participants were asked to read their work out loud. After carefully reviewing each participant’s manuscript and giving individual feedback, Kathleen assigned a revised draft due from everyone for the next day.  After a hard day’s work, the whole group went out to dinner at the Brick Alley Pub in historic downtown Newport!

– Emily Smith

Newport Writing & Yoga Retreat – April 2, 2015

After arriving at the Newport, Rhode Island retreat location—a Cape Cod style home nestled into a quiet neighborhood near the beach—we kicked off the retreat with a champagne toast and the Welcome Dinner. Our delicious dinner was catered by Pasta Beach and made by a chef from Bologna, Italy. We had food for days!

After dinner, CWW Executive Creative Director Rita Banerjee and Executive Artistic Director Norma Szokolyai broke the ice with the Evocative Object workshop. Each participant was asked to randomly pick an object out of a bag, then attempt to write a description of it. Trying to guess each person’s object inspired future writing and a lot of laughter! To our surprise, many of the objects (like a mini topiary) were wedding favors.

Following the workshop, we broke for the night and got some sleep in preparation for the exciting workshops held on Day 2.

– Emily Smith

Brooklyn Yoga, Aromatherapy, & Writing Workshop – January 31, 2015

Jan 31 Creativity through the Senses Workshop copyapply YOGA &  AROMATHERAPY & WRITING Workshop

SPECIAL DISCOUNT: REGISTER BY FRIDAY 1/30/15 AT NOON FOR ONLY $60 (after, workshop fee is $85)

This workshop is intended to invigorate and relax the mind and body, as well as open the senses and creativity centers of the mind and body.  After the yoga and aromatherapy sessions, participants will learn specific tools to improve and shape their writing to make it irrestible to read (whether it is fiction, nonfiction or poetry).

Our “Winter Workshop For Creativity Through The Senses” offers a relaxing and inspiring triad of experiences and is open to all levels of yogis and writers.  Join CWW’s Diana Norma Szokolyai and Elissa Lewis for a day that will allow you to:

* Immerse yourself in Yoga Sequences that Invigorate & Restore.
* Learn about how Essential Oils can inspire you to create, heal the spirit, and open up the chakras for living in harmony with your surroundings.
* Inspire your writing (for all levels & genres of writers) with a workshop on Writing for the Senses, Making your Reader Feel.

More information:
In preparation for the workshop, please wear comfortable clothing, and bring materials to write with (paper, pen, or laptop if that is your preference).  The center provides yoga mats, blocks and cushions, but if you prefer to bring your own, you are welcome to.

Our schedule will be as follows:
12:00 invigorating yoga  (with Elissa Joi Lewis)
12:30 aromatherapy workshop: we will learn about the therapeutic & healing uses of essential oils, as well as sample and explore how they can open our creativity through the senses (With Diana Norma Szokolyai & Elissa Joi Lewis)
1:45 break
2:00 restorative yoga (with Elissa Joi Lewis)
2:30 “Writing for the Senses, Making Your Reader Feel” writing workshop and feedback session (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)
4:00 Workshop Ends

We are doing this workshop in partnership with the wonderful Family of Light Holistic Center in Ditmas Park.  Please register directly throughout Family of Light by calling, emailing or visiting their website. http://www.familyoflight.center. SEATS ARE LIMITED. CONTACT US TO PREREGISTER.  $85 ( $60 if you register by FRIDAY at noon) 717 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11218.   (718)928.7771 (347)587.9344 support@familyoflight.center     www.familyoflight.center apply

Christina Ruotolo, CWW Château de Verderonne Retreat Participant, featured in The Writer Magazine

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 7.08.06 PMChristina Ruotolo, a participant at the  Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2014 Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château at Verderonne, has been featured in The Writer Magazine!  In addition to presenting her new creative writing and enjoying hors d’oeuvres and cocktails with her fellow workshop participants, Christina found inspiration for her work when reading The Writer at the Château de Vederonne.  She also very much enjoyed the literary and cultural tours of Paris and Chantilly with the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop as well as her daily yoga classes with Elissa Lewis.

Christina Ruotolo, 36, is a published poet and nonfiction writer who hails from eastern North Carolina.  In 2014, she started a nonfiction blog, The Grief Project, after the loss of her mother in 2013, her father in early 2014, and a miscarriage a few months after that. “I used the blog as a way to navigate through my grief one thought and one word at a time. I want others to share their stories of grief and how they deal with the ups and downs that grief in all forms entail.” When not writing, Christina is an adjunct English instructor and Writing Consultant at Pitt Community College, a Barnes and Noble employee, and hard at work on a poetry chapbook and her first screenplay. If you would like to submit your story of how you dealt with grief to Christina’s blog, please visit the website, www.thegriefproject.blogspot.com.

CWW Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Writing Cleanse

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This past weekend, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosted a Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Writing Cleanse at Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Manhattan, NY. The purpose of this event was to allow participants the chance to enjoy a weekend of yoga, juice cleansing, and writing workshops before the holiday season began. With the help of yoga and juice cleansing, the participants were able to cleanse their minds and spirits, and in turn were able to focus their renewed energy on the two workshops hosted by CWW members.

The event began on Saturday, November 22. At the Shala, guests removed their shoes and moved into the yoga room to begin the cleanse. The first part of the event was forty minutes of yoga with Elissa Lewis, our yoga instructor. Elissa led the group through various yoga exercises, each designed to help circulate breathing and to eliminate any stress the participants might have been carrying before they came to the workshop.

After that, the participants were treated to a juice cleanse. CWW co-director Diana Norma Szokolyai, CWW Editorial & PR intern Alex Carrigan, and Norma’s husband, Dennis Shafer, presented three different types of organic fruit and vegetable juice for the participants to drink. They could choose between a carrot-apple-ginger mix, a carrot-celery-apple mix, or “The Hulk,” a concoction of cucumber, spinach, celery, apple, and carrot. Participants enjoyed this naturally sweet and delicious way to take in loads of nutrients and cleanse their digestive systems.

Jessica Reidy led our first workshop, titled “The Art of Withholding in Creative Writing.” This workshop was designed to have the writer use action and sensory details to convey exposition. This involved two different exercises. The first exercise was about writing about a person meeting a lover for the first time, but writing two versions.

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The first version would be writing as if you are telling a friend, the second telling your father. Jessica’s next exercise began with her having the writers draw a tarot card from a deck. The writer then had to write a piece based on the image of the card, without knowing what the card meant.

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Norma then led a workshop titled “Sense of Smell, Memory, and Narrative.” On Saturday, Norma read the famous excerpt from Proust’s Swann’s Way, and everyone relived the the exquisite “madeleine” moment, so quintessentially demonstrative of the power of the olfactory bulb to produce strong recollections.  Proust was so ahead of his time, and who knew that contemporary neuro-cognitive science would confirm what he had written so eloquently–that sense of smell is a powerful memory trigger?  She then passed along some essential oils for the participants to either rub on their hands or waft. The exercise was to take the smell and write about what memories and emotions they recalled, using the scents to get deeper into writing sensory details. These included recognizable scents like peppermint and lavender, but also included a fusion scent that Norma withheld the name of until after the writing was done. By using a scent of unidentifiable nature, the writers could pull out memories and different ideas, ranging from pieces about gardens to markets in Egypt.

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Sunday, November 23rd saw the second day of the workshop. Like before, Elissa led forty minutes of yoga, followed by a juice cleanse. Norma led the second part of her “Sense of Smell, Memory, and Narrative” workshop. This time, a wide variety of scents were laid out for the participants to choose from. They could apply some to their skin or smell them, and then choose one to write about, with the restriction of keeping the “scene” or “action” in the piece to one minutes at most. As Norma explained, studies have shown that the part of the brain that processes smell is linked to long term memory, and the memories that are recalled are usually vivid and emotionally-charged.  Norma’s unique idea for these”olfactory prompts” got the creative juices flowing for everyone, and some wonderfully rich pieces of poetry and prose were written by the participants.

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photo (15)Jonah Kruvant then led a workshop called “The Art of Revision.” Jonah’s exercise was all about how a piece can change the more you work on it, structured in three parts. The first part had the writers spend twenty minutes writing as many details about a room as they can. The second part had them write a paragraph about a person in the room, with the rule that the person had to be of a certain occupation that couldn’t be specifically stated.

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The last part was to spend five minutes writing three sentences about the person in the room, but convey their emotional state. The idea was that in each new version of the story, the writer had to choose the most important details to include and to also practice brevity.

Everyone left the workshop with something new. Some left with new juice recipes to try out, others had pieces of writing to expand upon or use in their writing projects, and some left feeling refreshed. We hope that those who came enjoyed their time and participate in another yoga and writing retreat we hold.

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Thanks to the CWW members who helped organize and run the event (from left to right: Jonah Kruvant, Elissa Lewis, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Jessica Reidy, Alex Carrigan)