Women, War and What they fed the children.

"There is no greater burden that carrying an untold story."      Maya Angelo                                 

Eighty percent of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people are women and children. Eighty percent!

In order to humanize these statistics, we are gathering stories of women and their children from around the world who have experienced or live in war impacted areas – and we include many who are not normally cited – in the United States we will collect stories from Native Americans whose reservations fit the profile of post conflict societies and whose lives are burdened by a legacy of trans-generational trauma – we also include some inner city stories from places like New Orleans which at one point had more killings that Iraq at its peak. There are many places in the developed world that meet the criteria as war zones that do not get much press in that context. In our look at war, we find little difference in the narrative of those living in a defined war zone or post conflict setting than the narratives of people/women living in inner cities.   

In our project, we asked ourselves how do/did these women cope and care for their families and themselves. How do their children fare? -- their daughters -- their sons who are most at risk to be murdered or imprisoned. The challenges are different for each. What are the lingering symptoms of encountering the severe stress of war? What unknown aspects of self were called up by these circumstances? What do they want the world to know?


The Calming breath

Psycho-neurobiology tells us that traumatic stress from an incident or living in a highly stressful environment or under highly stressful in conditions puts our bodies into survival – fight, flee, run like crazy or hide -- which is the sympathetic nervous system at work.  When Fight or Flee is the constant, the parasympathetic nervous system is weakened and it is this system that makes self soothing hormones available.  One of the first and best ways to strengthen the self soothing system is by consciously slowing the breath – used in disaster areas and war zones with great success. 


Spirit Houses

If you want to create a Spirit House or learn about the tradition, see Steve Kinne's article.  

Here's how one of us did this.  We will call her Barbara, who didn't want to build a spirit house from scratch (some people will) so she looked around for an appropriate structure.  Nothing there in her house but while walking in the pasture she found/remembered a birdhouse...perfect, that would do.  Only not that specific bird house. It was occupied and she didn't want to evict the birds that were already living there so she took the idea and went to yard sales and feed and garden stores and looked on line until she found a bird house that fit for her Spirit House.


Who We Are

Where the personal story can be safely explored and expressed.


Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is an arts driven non-profit educational organization that serves the Personal Story.

We are Peace Builders working with the individual and community.

We come to our clients by invitation and with them develop culturally relevant programs.

The goal is resiliency and capacity building.

We use spoken word, writing, arts processes and music to extend  language, to give shape, form and voice to the unspoken and make coherent the life story.  

Our goal: to empower people through their own personal work with story to work in community

               extend experience toward understanding the richness in exchanges of cultural difference. 

Our desire is to nurture relationship, encourage learning and teaching through community involvement through the processes of telling the Story.  

We provide lay people the means to become Narrative Arts Facilitators so they can better serve community. 

While our work is highly therapeutic it is not psychotherapy.  Our processes lie closer to anthropology, and spirituality with its mythological underpinnings.

Students who dive deeply into the depths of the personal story, emerge in the human story.  

We invite you to invite us.

Cruise the web page and stay tuned.