If you want to bring me in to speak I prefer to work through a donation/gift economy. My hosts usually cover my expenses. If it’s and extended stay for a conference or series of workshops my wife Karen usually travels with me. We prefer a double bed and a separate bathroom if at all possible. We don’t need to stay in a hotel and are open to staying with friends of our hosts.
My programs are a way to bring important issues into the conversation. All of the programs below can be given as keynote presentations or workshops. The workshop format is more personal and longer in length. The keynote may cover more ground but may not go as far in depth.
All of the programs are interactive and provide art work, pictures, music, and video clips. They are challenging as well as thoughtful and entertaining. Each presentation leaves the participants with valuable tools to continue the conversation once our time together is finished.
Chasing A Different Carrot
The word SUSTAINABILITY seems to be all over the place these days. Whether we’re talking about products, services or growing food, sustainable living is a hot button topic. But what does it really mean? In a world full of green products and green design, are we really pursuing a sustainable existence?
Mike Sliwa left his teaching career to pursue a sustainable life. He left his home, cars and most of his possessions behind in order to pursue a life of simple living. This unique program gives you a firsthand account about someone who really did ” leave it all behind.”
Mike’s lessons can be implemented into a variety of different circumstances. Whether you’re a school, business or any organization/institution, Mike has something to offer those interested in streamlining, simplifying and being sustainable.
His approach is a refreshing look at what’s possible in a world that can be stressful, chaotic and expensive. This is not another talk about “going green.”
Rather, it’s an invitation to explore possibilities and happiness.
Who Is This White Guy Talking About Diversity?
In a world full of racism, homophobia, and misogyny do we really need a white, heterosexual, male talking about the need for diversity? Do we need someone with a life of privilege speaking with us about multiculturalism? In other words, do we need another white straight man telling us how it is? Certainly not.
Mike Sliwa is a man of privilege. His journey from prodigal son to living a life of resistance is one to share. As a former high school teacher, Mike walked away from a career that he loved in order to pursue a life of learning. Talk about privilege, yes indeed. Is using ones privilege to gain a foothold in resistance to the status quo a sound approach? Is “walking away” a form of resistance? Is speaking about injustices that one personally benefits from helpful or harmful to those who experience oppression? These are a few of the conversations that arise after hearing Mike and participating in his presentations.
Mike has given multiple TEDx Talks, presented at different conferences including The White Privilege Conference, and developed workshops for numerous educational and business institutions. Speaking about a wide range of topics over the last seven years Mike has found that all roads lead to a common place. This place is not a solution or a resolution to the problems our societies or cultures face, rather it’s an observation and the beginning of a much needed conversation that involves everyone and requires immediate attention.
This is not your everyday diversity presentation. It will challenge you to the very core of your beliefs concerning how we live our daily lives. You will leave with a question that will need an answer. It’s up to you to ask others this question in order to keep the conversation going. Because with no dialog there can be no action.
This presentation is perfect for university students including incoming Freshman. It’s also a great program for social, economic, and environmental conferences and classes. Finally, the workplace is a center piece of this presentation so businesses would benefit from its wide array of topics as well.
Growing Up Green
From the moment we enter the world many of us are taught to live a life that is not only unsustainable but also unhealthy and wasteful. We weren’t given a choice. We were brought into this world and taught how to lie it and be successful. Unfortunately the consequences of such a life has left the world and its species in a state of emergency. Pollution, poor food choices, climate change and an array of other challenges has left us a world where the young will grow up in a much different set of circumstances than many of us did.
Mike Sliwa is a former teacher who left his career and possessions behind to forge a life that is simple and more sustainable. Growing Up Green is a culmination of knowledge, triumphs and failures, and experiences of a man in search of solutions. Mike’s journey will empower you and your students to take small steps that can lead to enormous consequences on our ever changing planet.
This hands on program allows both students and teachers to collaborate in activities that can easily be implemented in to your current curriculum. The pillars of our current education system have a foundation that can be built upon by using common sense practices and exciting new possibilities.
It’s time to grow and Growing Up Green is a great place to start.
In most settings learning begins with the answers and the questions seem to follow. When a teach presents a lesson many times they give the students information and then ask or answer questions about what they’ve presented.
At work something similar may occur. You’re told what do do and then asked if you have any questions.
We are going to start with the questions in the hope that we can create better lessons.
Whatever the learning environment, be it school, work or play, learning is vital to improvement and success. Education Backwards provides a unique opportunity because it allows learning to come from any direction instead of the traditional top to bottom model. If students, employees and athletes have the opportunity to contribute, that potentially opens the door for a wider variety of ideas and a better opportunity for success.
Julia Garcia was a student of Mike Sliwa. Today the teaching is mutual. They’re breath of knowledge is richer because they are collaborators.
What this model of learning requires is the importance of listening to those you may not consider your equal in the work environment. With teaching there is an us vs them mentality that we are ingrained with. We know better. We have more experience. We are the adults. Clearly in the education system that approach is flawed. How do we know? Look at the results.
Trust Me I’m White
White privilege hurts white people. It’s obvious that any kind of privilege hurts those who do not have it but the privileged group rarely examines how it impacts them negatively as well.
Mike Sliwa is a white man that believes responsibility is a two way street. Addressing white privilege isn’t about laying a guilt trip on people, it isn’t about pointing fingers or making excuses. It is instead a challenge to address and look at how a world, country and community suffer from inherent privilege and its apparent aftermath. It’s about responsibility and what that looks like when having inherent privilege.
Privilege impacts our institutions, like schools and government. It impacts our organizations like our charities and religious groups. It impacts our businesses and our personal well being. White privilege is therefore systemic in scope.
Bring Mike into your school, business or organization and begin a conversation that unifies, strengthens and builds trust.
Escape The Rat Race
Michael and Karen Sliwa left their careers, and possessions behind. They dropped out of the hustle and bustle and dropped in on a life full of leisure and natural beauty. They exchanged a credit score for a vegetable garden. They decided to stop chasing a paycheck and start chasing a different carrot.
Join Mike and Karen for few hours as they lay out a rode that is less travelled. They will share with you the decisions they made and the consequences of their choices. Living a life full of new choices has left Mike and Karen in a position to give back. Let them share the triumphs and pitfalls of a journey that continues to emerge. Learn how you could emerge from a life that seems chaotic and stressful.
Escape The Rat Race is an intense individualized discussion and game plan that will leave you with some legitimate alternatives. This workshop is a starting point of a process that touches our core beliefs about how the world works and our role in it.
If you are an individual, couple or family who wants to pursue real change please consider bringing Mike and Karen Sliwa into your home. For more information about Mike and Karen please have a look at their blog which is linked below.
Blog: Chasing A Different Carrot
From the moment we are born until we leave the nest our lives seem to be on auto pilot. We do what we’re told and eventually come to a point where we are off on our own.
So many of us go off to college and quickly find out that we are required to think our way through, not only class but the social phenomenon that is university life. From balancing our budget to choosing classes, from being social to finding a routine that allows for academic success, all of these areas require important critical thought.
Thinking Required can be a one day intensive workshop or a keynote address that provides a foundation for those beginning a life of higher learning. Once inside the ropes student will engage in:
-Debt and strategies to deal with it
-Balancing the social with the emotional toll of class
-Stress and its friends despair and depression
-Finding alternatives to destructive behavior
-Redefining success in a way that supports your ambitions
The college experience can be rewarding and memorable. It is my hope that it becomes life changing and a platform for you to excel.
The Disease of Whiteness
If you want to move to the next level of exploration in the conversation of race, dominance and oppression this program will give you the opportunity. The Disease of Whiteness is a keynote presentation followed by a workshop. During the keynote, the argument and groundwork of whiteness as a disease is presented. Afterwords there is a question and answer period followed by an hour workshop to process the information presented.
This will be a difficult but much needed conversation between people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. This will not be an attack on white folks but rather and discussion of what it means to live in a world dominated by white supremacy. We will investigate both personal and systemic consequences as well as past, present and future implications of the disease itself.
The Disease of Whiteness will provide a better understanding of how whiteness impacts us all, whether we’re white or a person of color. It will require participants to move outside of their comfort zone and one step beyond.
I’ve given this presentation to both schools and businesses. Whiteness and the implications of dominance are worthy of deep conversation. Please consider this program if your organization wants to take an important step towards solidarity and justice.