IU East Mindful Explorations presents two citizens who used writing to find hope through connection

Indiana University East’s next Mindful Explorations event presents co-authors Byron McCauley and Jennifer Mooney from 4-5 p.m. on Thursday, October 21, in the First Bank Richmond Community Room, located in Whitewater Hall.

Jennifer Mooney stands next to Byron McCauley in a bookstore

Jennifer Mooney and Byron McCauley are the authors of Hope, Interrupted. They are the next featured presenters for IU East’s Mindful Explorations event on October 21.

The presentation is free and open to the public. All campus visitors must wear a mask while in buildings.

McCauley and Mooney are the writers of Hope, Interrupted: America Lost and Found in Letters. Their presentation, “Writing Resilience: Finding Hope through Connection,” will showcase how two engaged citizens used writing as a tool to connect, to deepen their relationship, to make sense of a difficult time, and, overall, to enhance their resilience.

There will be a question and answer session following the presentation as well as a book signing by the authors.

The event is sponsored by IU East’s Writing Program, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Communications Department, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Mindful Explorations, courtesy of the William H. and Jean R. Reller Endowment.

Kelly Blewett, assistant professor of English, said the presentation coincides with the National Day of Writing the day before, on Wednesday, October 20. Throughout the day, the Writing Program will electronically display student writing contributions in Whitewater Hall and post to Twitter at @IUEast.

Students will collectively reflect on how writing helps them to deal with life when during times of loss and disruption—by helping to process emotion, enabling connection with others, and even fostering resilience.

The public is invited to contribute to the National Day on Writing. Community contributions will selected and also displayed in Whitewater Hall and on IU East’s Twitter page as part of the National Day of Writing. To participate, visit https://go.iu.edu/47PG for the writing prompt.

“We are also collecting short comments from voices in our own community about the role writing has played in 2020. We invite anyone who is interested to respond to this short prompt. We would be thrilled to include your thoughts on the role of writing, especially during difficult seasons.

On the National Day on Writing, October 20th, we will be sharing community responses to the prompt in Whitewater Hall as well as over social media.”

Blewett added the Mindful Explorations presentation is one that interests several groups on campus, and will appeal to individuals as well. Mooney and McCauley are writers who are communicating across identity differences including race, religion, gender or region of origin. The book is also a faculty book group pick for the fall semester.

“The goal of both events this October is to share how writing really helps us all deal with difficult times,” Blewett said. “The last year has been tough, and, for many, writing has been a tool to help process emotion, connect with others, or to organize next steps. We are bringing Jen and Byron to campus because they model how to use writing in all these ways, and their book is an example of how they used writing in 2020 to, as they put it, ‘keep hope alive.’”

Hope, Interrupted unfolds as a series of letters between communications specialists Byron McCauley and Jennifer Mooney. McCauley is black and grew up in the south while Mooney is Jewish and grew up in Ohio. For both, Cincinnati is a touchstone.

After George Floyd’s death, McCauley texted Mooney: “I feel like we are living through history. I think we should start writing it down.” She texted back “Ok, I’ll start tomorrow.” Politics, pandemic, and protest dominate the letters, alongside more personal topics. Overall, the book models the type of generous dialogue Mooney and McCauley feel is needed today. “We wanted to get people talking,” Mooney said. “You can look at people a lot different than you and realize that you both love your children and you both love your country, and you can start there.”

Blewett said McCauley and Mooney show how connection can help people to overcome obstacles.

“Their book, Hope, Interrupted, is a collection of the letters that they wrote to each other over the course of 2020. They came out of the experience more committed to their friendship and more hopeful than they would have been otherwise, which is a beautiful thing,” Blewett said. “We are really excited that they want to be with us to share some of the letters they wrote to each other.”

Mooney was born in Canton, Ohio, and raised in Cincinnati. She was taught fierce independence at a young age with one of her first spoken words being “responsibility.” Her business career included more than 20 years as an officer, vice president, and award-winning executive for Time Warner and its predecessors. Community involvement has been central including eight years on the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, the nation’s oldest human rights organization. She consults in internal-external communications. She holds a B.A. from Albion College (Michigan) and an M.A. from Union Institute and University-Vermont College. She is married to Don Mooney and together they have four daughters.

McCauley is a husband and a father who loves America and always strives to make tomorrow better than yesterday. As a veteran journalist, he has been an award-winning reporter, editor and columnist writing about the intersection of politics, race, social justice and free enterprise at The Cincinnati Enquirer. As a communications executive, he has helped businesses and nonprofits tell their brand stories and with power and clarity. The son of a single mother who was a high school teacher in Louisiana, McCauley has also worked in education advocacy and reform, lobbying state legislators and crafting national policy. He has seen too many bright students fall through the cracks because of lack of adequate support and resources. He holds a master’s degree in public relations from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana Tech University. He and his wife, Jill, have three daughters.