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Shared Learnings

Homework: Moving Toward Compassionate, Trauma-Informed Schools

  • Apr 23, 2018
By:
Anndee Hochman

It was the little red trauma-informed schoolhouse.

Katherine Wickersham-Wade, the Nay’dini’aa Na’ Kayax (Chickaloon Village) clan grandmother who started the Ya Ne Dah Ah School, Alaska’s first Tribally operated school in 1992, might not have used that language. But she did envision a school that would wrap its students in Native ancestral traditions and Ahtna language, instill self-confidence and repair some of the damage inflicted by historical trauma—the disruptions to culture and community caused in part by railroad and road-building, coal mining and colonialism.

In 2005, the school graduated from its small, red-clad structure to a more modern 2,400 square foot building. Though still compact—it serves eighteen students, from toddlers to teenagers—it has become a powerful model of trauma-informed practice.


Community Capacity: Building a Movement from Within

  • Apr 20, 2018
By:
Anndee Hochman

Human services organizations and coalitions often talk about “making room at the table” for non-professionals, local residents and people with lived experience of poverty, addiction, mental illness or trauma.

But those organization leaders rarely spend time at the community’s tables—that is, the block parties and cook-outs, playgrounds and parks, neighborhood association meetings, parent-teacher organizations, Little League games and other grass-roots venues that are essential grounds for change.

For people in Buncombe County, NC, the question was: “How do we shift and learn about movement-making within communities rather than at the level of the agency?” Lisa Eby, communication and community engagement division coordinator for Buncombe County Health and Human Services (backbone for the MARC project), said in a MARC webinar focused on community capacity. “If we’re going to tip our communities toward greater resiliency…often the best way is to start from the inside out.”

For starters, that meant putting “community members” at the top of a list of essential partners, rather than as a postscript following the usual litany of health providers, human service organizations, school systems, law enforcement agencies and policy-makers.


Master Class: Training People to Spread Word about ACEs

  • Apr 16, 2018
By:
Anndee Hochman

When MARC leaders in Montana were training staff from local McDonald’s franchises, one senior manager scoffed at the notion of linking people’s unwelcome behavior to their early childhood experiences. “I think this is just going to give people excuses,” she muttered to the franchise owner after the trainers had left.

But the next day, that same manager defanged an encounter with an irate customer. “I wonder what happened to her,” she found herself thinking.

“She was able to deflect the anger, show compassion to this person and defuse the situation,” says Todd Garrison, executive director of ChildWise Institute, who conducted the training and heard the story later. “We say, ‘It’s not the behavior; it’s the brain.’ These things are sticking, and they’re changing people’s thinking.”

The Elevate Montana movement, launched in fall 2013, aimed to spread ACE awareness across a sprawling, thinly populated state. “We decided to create something we hoped everybody in the state would identify with and hold as their own, in the hope that it would become a social movement,” Garrison says.

That movement would need people as its conduits. So MARC leaders in Montana decided to train 18 people, selected from a group of 64 applicants, to become ACE “master trainers,” using the ACE Interface curriculum developed by Robert Anda and Laura Porter.

Leaders of Sonoma County ACEs Connection (SCAC) also wanted to grow a social movement, expanding awareness of ACEs beyond the “lunch bunch” of practitioners who met periodically to talk about adversity, resilience and the real-world application of those concepts.


Learning Collaboratives: Sharing Ideas, Building Momentum

  • Aug 24, 2017
By:
Anndee Hochman

What would a trauma-informed policy on staff absenteeism look like? How about a trauma-informed procedure for clocking in and clocking out? Would that be different for a hospital than, say, for a public school?

Questions like those—how trauma-informed theory translates to on-the-ground practice—were on the table during a recent learning collaborative session in Kansas City.

The collaborative, a project of the Resilient KC network, began in September 2016 to help teams from a range of organizations—in education, public health, mental health and business—share experiences, ask questions and build relationships in the growing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience movement. “The learning collaborative is a stepping-stone to becoming trauma-informed,” says Jasmin Williams, coordinator of Resilient KC.

Seventeen hundred miles to the west, in the Columbia River Gorge, a similar learning collaborative has been meeting since 2012. There, the learning group grew from various agencies’ efforts to learn about and adopt the Sanctuary Model. “It served as a place to share what was working and what was hard,” says Claire Ranit, MARC project manager for the Resilience Network of the Gorge (formerly Creating Resiliency in the Columbia River Gorge).


Taking ACEs to School: Trauma-Informed Approaches in Higher Education

  • Jul 11, 2017
By:
Anndee Hochman

“What happened to you?” isn’t just a question for therapists to ask their troubled clients. It’s a question that should inform the work of physicians, nurses, lawyers, educators, social workers and public health advocates from the time they are learning their professions to each real-world encounter.

That’s the hope of the Philadelphia ACE Task Force (PATF), whose workforce development group released a toolkit to help faculty across a range of disciplines weave content on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience into new or existing graduate curricula.

The release of the online toolkit coincided with an October 2016 event that brought together local faculty and administrators in higher education, along with funders and leaders of government and private non-profit agencies, to learn why the next generation of the work force must examine all they do through a trauma-informed lens.


Curiosity and Reciprocity: Engaging Community in the ACE and Resilience Movement

  • Jun 26, 2017
By:
Anndee Hochman

In an all-day workshop that Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) advisor Laura Porter was leading with community organizers and parents, she told the story of a woman from the Congo who had to leave her homeland. Before the woman left, she had a dream about living in the United States.

The woman said she imagined opening her door, letting her children run free, hearing them laugh and play. She envisioned people asking one another, “How are you?” without any compulsion to evade by answering, “Fine. I’m fine.” And, she added, “I could go with my children to the store and not have to be afraid that they would be arrested for being black.”

Porter was struck by the woman’s words—a vision of safety and belonging that is rarely voiced out loud. “As we’re engaging people, that dream is just under the surface,” says Porter. “When we touch on that, we touch on something very powerful: the core values…that go beyond political strife or individual experience. We can touch an aspirational world.”


By the Numbers: Using Data to Advance the ACE and Resilience Movement

  • May 02, 2017
By:
Anndee Hochman

The postcards said a lot more than “wish you were here.”

Last spring, Boston’s Vital Village Community Engagement Network created postcards highlighting key data from a survey of parents in the Boston Medical Center pediatric waiting room.

“Our goal was really to engage people,” says Boynton-Jarrett. “It was very helpful for us as a team to begin to see the data we collected shared in real time, rather than collecting for two or three years, summarizing it in a big report and putting it on a shelf.”


Service Clubs in the ACE and Resilience Movement: Reaching Out with Facts and Stories

  • Feb 03, 2017
By:
Anndee Hochman

Before Claire Ranit spoke to her local Rotary Club, she needed to know if her listeners would be elephants or riders.

Ranit, MARC project director for the Columbia River Gorge, was referring to a model of behavioral psychology outlined by psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. In Haidt’s metaphor the conscious mind is a rider on the back of an elephant, while the elephant galumphs along on instinct and impulse.

“The elephant is a big, powerful animal—the emotional side of things,” Ranit explains. “The rider is the analytical piece that makes decisions and guides the elephant where it needs to go.”


Artists in the ACE and Resilience Movement: Creative Avenues to Change

  • Dec 28, 2016
By:
Anndee Hochman

They began with a song and ended with a poem. In-between, there were photographs and giant graphic renderings, movement exercises and a “human pulse” formed when 90 people stood in a circle and squeezed each other’s hands.

At a June summit in Whatcom County, Washington, titled “Our Resilient Community: A Community Conversation on Resilience and Equity,” the arts played a starring role.

Kristi Slette, executive director of the Whatcom Family and Community Network, one of two Washington sites participating in the Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) project, says the arts—music, dance, sculpture, storytelling—can help audiences understand trauma, resilience and hope in a visceral way.

“When the research and the data don’t pull you in, interacting with the arts communicates with people in a way they’re open to,” she says. “It extends our reach.”


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