Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has an unwavering vision of the future she wants to live into.
Her most recent challenge "…To forge new and unconventional partnerships with the goal of building a Culture of Health that benefits all" provides a strategy for living into a safer, healthier community.
Her challenge hit home for me given a recent experience I had.
Mobilizing action can be intimidating. Creating a movement even more so. John Hagel provides the following definition of a movement: “an organized effort mobilizing a large number of independent participants in a grassroots effort to pursue a broad agenda for change.”
He indicates that there are two key ingredients in movement making: 1) compelling narratives and 2) fostering creation spaces. In Buncombe County, we are experimenting with both of these notions.
For years, Teri Barila had tried to coax newspaper reporters in Walla Walla, Washington, to write about brain science, ACEs, and resilience. They didn’t bite.
Then, on a crisp December evening, 1600 people—many of them inspired by years of community organizing—crammed the town’s largest venue for a screening of Paper Tigers, James Redford’s documentary about the dramatic reboot of a local alternative school after its principal became an advocate of trauma-informed care. Suddenly, reporters and editors “were not only interested, but almost ecstatic over the story of the film,” Barila says. “There was such a diverse audience—not just education or law enforcement, but the entire community. That was a strong message.”
Paper Tigers is one of a handful of films that MARC communities and others have used to raise awareness, engage new partners, and help drive their efforts toward trauma-informed change. In Philadelphia, the ACE Task Force hosted a marathon double-feature of Paper Tigers and Professional Caregivers: Their Passion, Their Pain that included Skype interviews with the film-makers. In Kansas City, a community organizing campaign focused on health equity used The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of our Nation to generate questions and energy.
MARC advisor Kathryn Evans Madden, who helped lead the Raising of America Kansas City Coalition, says that such films, when used effectively, should only be part of a community’s plan. “The goal is good organizing; the movie is just a tool,” she says. “You need to think about what you’re asking people to do: what is the key message, and how will you rope all that energy into a powerful next step?”
This May, the Alaska Resilience Initiative partnered with the Alaska Native Policy Center at First Alaskans Institute & the Native Village of Chickaloon to convene a gathering of Alaska Native and Native American people from every region of Alaska who work on & care about issues of child and intergenerational trauma and resilience. The goal was to seek input that would be used to guide the Alaska Resilience Initiative, the training-of-ACEs/Resilience trainers and the curriculum used to present on ACEs/resilience, and the overall framing of and approach to this work.
The following was written by Jennifer Hossler and originally posted here on ACEs Connection, 7/11/2016.
A jigsaw puzzle, no two segments alike, that comes together to form a bright picture only when the whole community helps to assemble it.
The Buddhist image of “Indra’s Net,” a web in which a jewel at each juncture reflects all the other jewels (and is reflected in them), demonstrating the infinite connectedness of the universe.
The branching patterns found in human capillaries, cedar fronds, and a head of Italian broccoli.
When wrestling with ideas like adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma, health and community—and how they relate to each other, metaphors like these help carry abstract concepts down to earth and make them accessible to a range of audiences. So when the Buncombe County ACE & Resiliency Collaborative in North Carolina wanted to explain community resilience and inspire people to make it happen, they partnered with the FrameWorks Institute of Washington, D.C., to find just the right “sticky” metaphors and images.
Carpenters have table saws. Painters have camel-hair brushes. And social-change advocates have coalitions.
Coalitions—unions of people and organizations working to shape outcomes on a specific issue or problem—are tools, not ends in and of themselves. When they work effectively, they wield clout greater than the sum of their parts: They can broaden buy-in, tackle a broad range of goals, and benefit from the diverse viewpoints and strategies of their members.