Date and Time: Feb 10 - Feb 12
Location: Various Venues

Words In Action features professional training for a writing or writing-adjacent career, with a focus on the intersections of art-making, activism, and community-building. The theme for our third annual festival is Eco-Art & Digital Storytelling.

Participants in this year’s Words In Action festival will receive instruction in ecoperformance, digital storytelling, community arts praxis, and intercultural dialogue. Each workshop features hands-on instruction in designing, producing, and publishing short digital stories that raise awareness about ecological issues. Along the way, you’ll learn the nuts and bolts of creating video for social media platforms. Participants will leave with skills they can use to create audiences for their art, convey their message to their target demographic, engage in artistic community, and, hopefully, pay the bills!

Workshop Registration

This conference is free and open to the public but space is limited; to register, please email Conference Organizer Dr. Emily Carr at [email protected] with your preferred workshops for Feb 11 & 12. If you prefer to attend one-day only, please include that information as well.

All participants will be pre-assigned to workshops.

Each workshop runs for a total of five hours and you are committing to BOTH sessions. So if you register for Brooke Hessler’s digital storytelling workshop on Saturday, you are committing to both the morning and afternoon sessions and you CANNOT register for Elizabeth Doud’s ecoperformance workshop.

We will do our best to schedule you for your assigned workshops, to accommodate one-day participants, and to make space for folks on the waitlist.

Featured Artists

Read extended bios below.

Elizabeth Doud, Currie-Kohlman Curator of Performance, Ringling Museum of Art

Michelle Tea, Founder, Your Magic

Brooke Hessler, Media Artist and Scholar In Residence, StoryCenter

Rick Dakan, Professor, Ringling College of Art & Design

Schedule of Events

Friday, Feb 10

5 – 6:30 pm | Writing the Forbidden with Michelle Tea & Emily Carr at Bookstore1

Join award-winning memoirist, post-punk performance poet, and Tarot reader Michelle Tea and love poet, beach witch, and writing professor Emily Carr for an evening dedicated to Writing the Forbidden.

Please RSVP via the Bookstore1. The event is free & open to the public but space is limited. 

Saturday, Feb 11

9-11:30 am & 1-3:30 pm | Brooke Hessler | Digital Storytelling as Story Work for Makers & Mentors | ACE 201

Our workshop is a deep dive into co-creativity: we will make and share short, snapshot-based videos from personal photos or moving images with voiceover narration, then practice using those digital stories as touchstones for reflection, dialogue, inquiry, and collaboration. Our approach is designed with community partnerships in mind: laying the groundwork for future, more intricate video editing projects using fundamental techniques and free video editing tools. We will also view sample projects on the community arts/digital storytelling spectrum–to spark your thinking about creative options–and discuss some important considerations for ethical, accessible, and inclusive story work.

9-11:30 am & 1-3:30 pm | Elizabeth Doud | A Little Bird Told Me the World is Ending: Ecoperformance Narratives for Complex Times | ACE 218

What is eco-performance?  What is the role of performance in the climate movement and how does performing arts practice influence how we imagine our present and future in this biosphere?  Workshop time will be spent defining ecoperformance modalities, looking at case studies of ecoperformance projects and approaches and unpacking these questions and other tensions at the intersection of arts, climate change, ecology and environmental justice.

4-5:30 pm | Conference Welcome & Alumni Panel: Thriving as an Artist in Times of Chaos | HCL 8

Distinguished alumna Sam Krell, Liss Monti, Jo Nguyen, and Daniel Dykiel share their original creative work, talk about post-graduate life, share tips and tricks for thriving as artists in the “real world,” and answer your questions! We’ll end with a brief reception and welcome to the conference.

Sunday, Feb 12

9-11:30 am & 1-3:30 pm | Michelle Tea | Witch Radio: Making Magical Podcasts | ACE 201

This workshop will discuss podcast-making in general, with a special emphasis on how to make compelling, bingeable shows that explore magic. From tech gear to storytelling tips, we will think about the whole of podcasting. Time will be provided for q&a, for maximum helpfulness.

9-11:30 am & 1-3:30 pm | Rick Dakan | Designing Games About Climate Change | ACE 218

For decades activists and academics have debated the potential for games to persuade and educate the people who play them. Can a well-designed game help players understand a complicated and deeply important topic like Climate Change? Maybe! Building on the academic work of Cameron Kunzelman’s 2022 book, The World Is Born From Zero: Understanding Speculation and Games, participants in this workshop will create short video games that explore three different approaches to climate change game design: system modeling, affective engrossment, and intervention simulation. No game writing or programming experience needed.

About the Artists

Michelle Tea has been reading tarot for over 30 years, and is the author of the popular tarot how-to Modern Tarot: Connecting with Your Higher Self Through the Wisdom of the Cards. She is the producer and host of the Your Magic podcast, which was selected in Best Of lists by Marie Claire, Mashable, Vulture, The New York Times and Vanity Fair. Your Magic features personal stories, DIY spells, tarot readings and interviews with artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, Kathryn Hahn, Roxanne Gay and others. Her live tarot call-in show, Ask the Tarot, lived at Spotify for one year and is in the process of moving to Tik Tok. Tea teaches tarot workshops, as well as writing workshops. She is the author of over a dozen books, and the recipient of awards and fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, PEN/America, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and others. She is the creator of Drag Queen Story Hour, the Sister Spit performance tour, Mutha magazine online and other cultural interventions. She is in the process of creating a tarot app and writing some books.

Brooke Hessler Ph.D. is a media artist and scholar in residence at StoryCenter, the international nonprofit organization that pioneered digital storytelling for community arts education and activism. For 20 years she has also been a researcher, professor, and tutor of digital storytelling, most recently at California College of the Arts and in the Pixar Story Xperiential/826 Valencia partnership for youth storytellers. Her community collaborations have included museums, libraries, art institutes, social justice organizations, multilingual learner advocates, and survivors of terrorism and natural disasters, Brooke has mentored faculty and students on four continents in the practice of story work: the use of stories and storytelling as a form of inquiry toward personal and social transformation.

Elizabeth Doud is a Florida-based arts organizer and artist with over 20 years experience as a performance presenter, producer and educator, with an emphasis on international cultural exchange, climate arts and language education. She is known as a tenacious advocate for new performance with a professional mission to facilitate climate arts and eco-justice activism.  She has worked widely throughout the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean, and co-created Climakaze Miami with FUNDarte in 2015, an annual climate performance and dialogue platform.  She led the Performing Americas Program of the National Performance Network from 2005-2018, and was the Artistic Director of the Cultura del Lobo Series at Miami Dade College from 2009-2011. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. in Performing Arts at the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil.   In 2019, she became the Curator of Performance at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL.

Rick Dakan is a writer, game designer, and educator from Sarasota, Florida. He has written dozens of tabletop role-playing game books, written and designed for several hit video games, authored four novels, and most recently co-wrote Writing Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror for Dummies (2022). He teaches creative writing and game design at Ringling College of Art and Design, where he also oversees the annual Anyone’s Game tabletop game design conference (Feb 17-19, 2023).


Funding for Words in Action has been provided by the Division of HumanitiesEnvironmental StudiesGender Studies, and the Creative Writing Fund c/o the Legacy Challenge.