This Changes Everything Writing Retreat August 16, 2014

Rethinking Schools and the Zinn Education Project are partnering with an exciting project: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. This “multi-platform” project includes the new book by Naomi Klein (No Logo, The Shock Doctrine), a feature documentary inspired by the book, and an ambitious outreach strategy to share the ideas behind these works with educators and activists, starting in Fall 2014.

 Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.

 […] We have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. We have been told it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it—it just requires breaking every rule in the “free-market” playbook: reining in corporate power, rebuilding local economies, and reclaiming our democracies.

 We have also been told that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to this challenge. In fact, all around the world, the fight for the next economy and against reckless extraction is already succeeding in ways both surprising and inspiring.

Jacket copy, This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein


thischangeseverything_collageThe premise of the project is that dealing with the climate crisis requires us to fundamentally rethink how we organize social and economic life. No doubt, this is scary and overwhelming. But this work has a hopeful dimension.

Imagining solutions to the climate crisis involves imagining solutions to a host of other social problems, from economic inequality to public health to job creation to indigenous rights—even to the quality of the food we eat. As the This Changes Everything team writes: “Climate change is more than an issue, it’s a message, one that is telling us that many of our culture’s most cherished ideas about our place in the world—from the quest for endless economic growth to the assumption of Western supremacy to the limitless capacity of humans to dominate nature—are no longer viable.” Rethinking Schools editorializes: “Confronting the climate emergency … demands that young people exercise their utopian imaginations to consider alternatives of all kinds.”

The team behind This Changes Everything understands the central role that education will play in enlisting students in the work of exploring the roots of the climate crisis, considering possible solutions, and coming to see themselves as climate justice activists. That’s where our This Changes Everything Writing Retreat comes in.

We hope to seed articles for Rethinking Schools magazine, and lesson plans that will be posted at the This Changes Everything and Zinn Education Project websites. Participants will come with either classroom-tested lessons relevant for addressing the climate justice themes in Naomi Klein’s forthcoming book This Changes Everything or detailed plans that can form the basis of materials that can be shared at the This Changes Everything and Zinn Education Project websites. We anticipate that this will be a weekend of lively conversation, focused writing, and at least the beginning of imaginative curriculum that will be shared with teachers throughout the English-speaking world.


Linda Christensen and Bill Bigelow will lead the K-12 teachers’ writing retreat.

The K-12 teachers’ writing retreat will be led by Linda Christensen and Bill Bigelow. Christensen has taught for more than 40 years and directs the Oregon Writing Project. She is a Rethinking Schools editor, and is author of Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word and Teaching for Joy and Justice. Bill Bigelow taught high school social studies for many years and now is the curriculum editor for Rethinking Schools and co-directs the Zinn Education Project. He is author or co-editor of many books including Rethinking Columbus, Rethinking Globalization, A People’s History for the Classroom, and the forthcoming A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching About the Environmental Crisis.

Dates and Details:

All lodging and food will be covered. Participants will be responsible for their own transportation to Portland, Oregon, although there will be some limited support for teachers for whom transportation costs would be a burden and make participation unlikely.

Participants must be able to attend the full retreat, which begins on Friday afternoon, Dec. 12 at 2 pm and runs to noon on Dec. 14, 2014.

Sept. 8 Applications are due by 11pm PST
Update: The application deadline has past. We are no longer accepting applications.
Oct. 15   Notices sent out to applicants about selection decision
Dec. 12-14   Retreat


Please upload a Word or PDF document with responses to the following questions. The document should be a maximum of three pages with size 12 font, Times New Roman.

  • Personal statement. Briefly, please tell us a little about yourself. Include your teaching background, article and/or curriculum writing experience, and social/environmental justice activism. Feel free to add anything else you’d like to mention.
  • If you have taught about the environment and/or the climate crisis, please describe that work.
  • Why would you like to participate in the Zinn Education Project/This Changes Everything Writing Retreat?
  • Please tell us something about your formal writing experience—e.g., articles you’ve published, lessons or other curriculum you’ve authored, etc.
  • What is your involvement with social justice education activism and organizations—e.g., Rethinking Schools, the Zinn Education Project, Teaching for Change, the Teacher Activist Group network, teacher union activism, etc.?
  • Please include at least one sample of an article or piece of curriculum that you have written.
  • Because we want the Writing Retreat to be racially and ethnically diverse, please indicate how you identify racially and/or ethnically.

Questions can be sent to

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