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 edges 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

Where the personal story can be safely explored and expressed.         

Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is an arts driven non-profit peace building organization that serves the Personal Story. We find that peace is a possibility the more we know ourselves and each other through narrative. We work by invitation with individuals and communities to create culturally relevant programs.  The initial program is to give form to the  personal story with and additional program of Self-care to sustain gains made in the storytelling process. The goal is resiliency and capacity building.

We use writing, spoken word, arts processes and music in the belief that all arts extend language in ways especially in creating the coherent personal story.  We start with a very specific approach to aid people in giving  voice and image to the individual story which is then extended, explored and contained in the family story -- immediate and trans-generational  -- always referring back to the collective historical context in which our stories are held. these stories are then posted in multiple platforms in the belief that as we begin to know the personal story, we find the human story that belongs to all of us.

Our goal is to empower people  to work in community in order to transcend the suffering that results from adverse events and conditions. Our goal is to extend understanding and respect cultural practices: we are very interested in how different communities and cultures meet the challenges of being human.  

Our desire is to nurture relationship, encourage learning and teaching through community involvement.  

We provide lay people the means to become Narrative Arts Facilitators where it would best serve them and their communities. 

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

We invite you to invite us.