Do not be daunted...

I  saw this at the check out desk at the hospital and was deeply touched: 

Do not be daunted
by the enormity of the world's grief
Do justly, now. love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
neither are you free
to abandon it!

The Talmud

watching and reading

I am always pleased to see that articles, films and video (You Tube) support our work with traumatized people.

This an inspiring piece... How many of us use the common sense we developed/learned as mothers (parents) or nurturers in our professions?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BvL8bAkRDE

Please send your favorite pieces that relate to our mission -- even if vaguely. This piece was sent by a colleague in Minneapolis.

 

PS don't forget to look at our registered clinical nutritionist Preeti Sharan's work on the use of probiotics for depression. You can scroll down for her blog on this topic. 

 

Ashlar Up-date

I just returned from Germany where I experienced applied Narrative Exposure Therapy at the University of Konstanz.  This method  has been successfully administered to traumatized people in "hot spots" around the world for years.

This system was developed at the request of the UN and  is rarely taught  (once in this country that I know of) -- I was hoping to take a later class because of the Harvard Global Mental Health credential program I begin in Italy in November,  but there is no "later class" scheduled -- they are too busy to teach outside the those they train in the field and at the university. So I went even though it makes this Fall an insanely busy season. Now, Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts will be on of the few places where this method is taught.

Why did I want this training?  There are four reasons. 1. It works to resolve trauma quickly -- 4 to 12 sessions -- tried and true over many years and thousands of people and it uses a visual/arts process -- most impactful. 2. The NET system is grounded in neuroscience of trauma based on years of studies they have conducted in the field -- the brain studies are articulated in ways easily available for lay people to understand and explain the often paralyzing symptoms that happen to a traumatized person and why NET is so effective. 3. They believe that lay people are intelligent and ready to educate and remediate severe trauma in their own communities once they are trained and supervised. The greatest  underutilized resource in our communities able to educate and remediate trauma are people who live there.  4. This system of NET is culturally relevant --  every society has a story telling tradition:  story telling is inherent in us as human beings.  We are hardwired to tell our stories.  Was I just repetitious yes. Why? We need to "get" the importance of  the narrative, personal and collective  --- yours, mine and ours.  

I will be teaching this system to community people in Alaska, Louisiana, New York and California -- to begin with. I am collaborating with these folks to adapt Narrative Arts to the cultural needs of the communities which are combat veterans, Native Americans, African Americans who live in violent communities and other interested lay people.  While the Konstanz folks call this therapy it does not fit the definitions we have in the U.S.  for psychotherapy. However, it is therapeutic and remediates severe trauma. We also teach EFT and other tapping techniques whose efficacy has stood up to vigorous studies.  We offer support in how  to structure community programs as well as how and where to look for funding. 

The Harvard Global Mental Health Program will provide me with untold riches.  I am looking forward to that and will bring my experiences back here.

As the Ashlar non-profit is moving toward completion, we soon will be ready to receive funds to create educational materials -- animations and the Calming Breath CD's -- Breathe New Orleans is our first. We expect more health people to join our Advisory Board  and will grow to include more resources available for the asking.  In fact, we are available for information on all things sever Trauma Stress.  Additionally,  we will be able to fund trainees in our traumatic stress holistic programs that will take place in retreat.  We  have several arts projects in the offing.  Thanks to everyone for your support.     

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious..." Carl Jung

As I am reading:  HEALING INVISIBLE WOUNDS, paths to hope and recovery in a violent world by Richard Mollica, MD, I find myself deeply touched -- over and over --  and wishing this were required reading by?... whatever Authority others (who have not read this book) accept. This may read like a book review but "hold it" gently in gratitude that people like this man exist. 

An example of his thinking: beauty and nature are not adjuncts to healing but are essentials. Common sense, eh?  Richard Mollica speaks for all of us who share these values

prose poem for today

There is a brokenness out of which comes the Unbroken,
Shatteredness out of which comes the Unshatterable.
There is a Sorrow beyond all grief
which leads to Joy 
and a Fragility out of whose depths emerges Strength. 
There is Hollow Space too vast 
for words through which we pass with each loss,
out whose darkness we are sanctioned into being. 
  There is a Cry
deeper that all sound
whose serrated edge cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.”                                     Rashani

Family Independence Initiative

We Believe

FII’s work with cohorts of families in cities across the country shows that low-income people can advance together if we:

  • Make resources and funding available more directly to people, not just institutions
  • Allow families the freedom to determine their own paths, instead of taking direction from case managers and social workers
  • Encourage and reward personal initiative, instead of penalizing or reducing eligibility for help if a family makes progress
  • Support and promote mutuality and building social capital, instead of helping individuals outside of the context of their families and communities
  • Honor resident leadership and expertise, instead of professionals and outside intervention
  • View families as consumers with valuable feedback entitled to hold services and programs accountable, instead of needy victims
  • Direct Outcomes From FII’s Approach 

FII’s approach has been demonstrated in several cities across the country. Families in these projects show significant near- and long- term economic gains as well as a host of other outcomes that show increased control over their lives and choices for the future.

In Boston:

In June of 2010 152 individuals, including 81 children, from 35 families enrolled in FII’s Boston demonstration project. In just six months by working together they made tremendous progress toward the goals they set for themselves. Outcomes include:

  • 13% increase in average household income (excluding subsidies and FII payments)
  • 22% increase in average savings
  • 25% of children improved grades
  • 20% improved attendance

The families are pursuing a range of initiatives to move forward and are focused on quality of life issues like more time with their kids, for themselves, building relationships, better access to food, self care, and education. The families reported over 500 initiatives and positive “sparks” from June to December of 2010. Families are also taking steps to raise their credit rating by getting financial counseling, paying bills on time, and reducing debt. 

Read more about FII–Boston

Control & Choice

Everyone wants control over their circumstances and a reasonable set of choices for their children's futures. FII operates under the assumption that, like most middle and upper class people, most low-income families are capable of taking tangible steps towards establishing control and choice in their lives. What these families lack is sufficient capital and access to opportunities and information that are more readily available to the middle and upper income.

looking for new models for health care

Treating the Cause, Not the Illness [OPINION]

The New York Times, David Bornstein, 07/28/2011

Five decades after the war on poverty, a work force that can systematically address the social causes of illness is still to be built. Health Leads offers a model of how it might work

Who We Are

                  

We make art in order not to die from the truth.

Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is a U.S. 501c3 non-profit arts organization designed to serve the personal story and address the trauma it may contain. Our work is educational and skills driven -- grounded in thirty years of community based experience.

We use photos, interviews, and teach guided writing (Writing Through the Body).  For those people for whom revealing identity is unsafe, we use multi-media memorial building to contain and share the story in an abstract or symbolic form. Our goal is Witnessing and facilitating the creation of a coherent narrative for our students toward well-being and resilience. 

Following from our initial work with Story, we collaborate with students to create a culturally relevant Self-Care program facilitated by them and supervised when necessary by skilled professionals.

We invite you to invite us to your community.