Guiding Values in TLA Practices


by Melissa Rose


“The growth of TLA as a movement and academic field is having, and can further catalyze, profound effects on our culture, such as exploring how language can begin to break through cultural, political and historic agendas, and through the personal fear, rage and despair that disempower individuals and communities. TLA seeks to preserve the richness and diversity of language itself, and the intimacy of human-to-human contact in an increasingly technological age.”

Often times when I am describing my work as a TLA student, I am met with intrigue and curiosity about what exactly TLA is. The answer is broad, because TLA is such a fluid and malleable practice that can easily be molded to fit the community it serves.

Writing, storytelling, theatre, and music can work towards community-building, cultural and ecological restoration, and personal development. Transformative Language artists, scholars, facilitators, and consultants facilitate in many venues, including community centers, schools, prisons, health centers and hospitals, businesses, research facilities, and retreat centers.”

This is one of the elements of TLA that makes it so wonderful. It can exist almost anywhere expression and language is invited. While describing the method we each use for our own TLA practices may vary, the TLA Network has designed a set of guiding values that encompass all of the work regardless of the details.

As we more forward as practitioners and students in TLA, having a firm grasp on the guiding values that fuel our TLA experiences will help us stay grounded in the work we do. While the situations, communities, and details of our TLA experiences may be unique, the values that we strive to hold those experiences to do not change.

Guiding Values

  • Cooperation — collaborating for the good of all.
  • Community-building — fostering community among those of us in the field, and sharing tools and for strengthening our local communities.
  • Empowerment — working in ways that help people, organizations, businesses, institutions and communities further empower themselves.
  • Sustainability — developing sustainable ways to do this work we love, build community, and sustain our individual and collective health.
  • Collective Wisdom — recognizing that we each hold a piece of the truth, and together, we can best honor the love and wisdom guiding us.

Interested in learning more about TLA? Consider getting a certification in Transformative Language Arts from the TLA Network or take one of our classes. 

Learn more about the history of the TLA Network and its founder, Caryn Mirriam Goldberg

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