What's New

Moving toward the ACEs tipping point: Communities, their ACEs initiatives and ACEs billboards

  • Aug 22, 2016

David Bornstein, a columnist for the New York Times, posted the third of a three-part series (Putting the power of self-knowledge to work) about communities that are integrating trauma-informed and resilience-building practices based on ACEs science. (Part one —Tapping a troubled neighborhood’s inner strength, and part two — How community networks stem childhood traumas.)

It’s a terrific series, with information that we can all use, and I highly recommend reading them all. 

Some members of ACEsConnection appear in the series. (Laura Porter, Teri Barila, Dr. Vincent Felitti were in the first two). 

And so many, many more don’t appear, which is all to say that it’s just incredible how many people and communities have started along this ACEs journey in the last few years. By “many people", I mean the 10,359 people who are members of ACEsConnection (as of this writing), plus hundreds of others who haven't found us yet. By "many communities”, I mean the neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, regions, states and nations, which number in the low hundreds now.

Once they decide to embrace ACEs, some communities embark on a guided journey, and have participated or are participating in the Sanctuary Institute’s certification program or the National Council on Behavioral Health’s Trauma-Informed Learning Community. Others are part of initiatives, such as Building Community Resilience and the Change in Minds initiative. Most communities start on their own. A few people hear about ACEs science, the light bulb goes on, and they say, “This knowledge can help us finally solve our most intractable problems! Let’s get started!”

Montana’s an example of a self-starter. Todd Garrison learned about ACEs science in 2008 and jumped on the small ACEs bandwagon that existed at that time. He'd been doing fund-raising and project development with Montana-based Intermountain, a 100-year-old organization nationally recognized for its work in treating children with emotional and mental health issues. 


Seeking Unconventional Partnerships in Buncombe County, NC

  • Aug 08, 2016

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.

Movement-Making in Buncombe County, NC: Opportunity-Based Narrative and Creation Spaces

  • Aug 08, 2016

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.

Using Film to Mobilize Action

  • Aug 02, 2016
Anndee Hochman

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?”

Guidance from Alaska Native & Native American gathering on trauma & resilience in Alaska

  • Jul 18, 2016

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. 

Communicating with Metaphors: How to Simplify the Complex

  • Jul 05, 2016
Anndee Hochman

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.

Developing Effective Coalitions

  • Jun 01, 2016
Anndee Hochman

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.