Barry Pollard told the San Diego Trauma-Informed Guide Team (SD-TIGT) how a small group of exasperated residents had rattled the corporate gates and won.
During the “trauma-informed journey” portion of January’s SD-TIGT meeting—a regular feature in which a member or guest shares challenges, triumphs and lessons learned in the course of implementing trauma-informed practices—Pollard, founder of San Diego’s three-year-old Urban Collaborative Project (UCP), told how residents in Southeast San Diego were disgusted by the condition of a local Food4Less store: wilting produce, dirty aisles, poor security.
At first, he said, community members felt hopeless. “It took me 45 minutes to convince them that they could actually do something.” A letter-writing campaign to the CEO of Kroger led to conversations with the company’s executive team and resulted in a million-dollar makeover of the store.
Meetings of the San Diego Trauma Informed Guide Team (SD-TIGT) now start with a moment of mindfulness.
That could mean a breathing exercise or a quick round-robin with each participant saying a positive word before the group dives into that day’s agenda, says Heidi Echeverria, Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) project manager. “We’re trying to make it a habit to start with positivism. Taking the time to do this creates a calm environment and a lightness among members.”
Cultivating trauma-informed practice, both within SD-TIGT and throughout the San Diego region, has been the focus of the first year of the MARC grant. For MARC project leaders, that meant doing their homework, thinking carefully about roles, time frames and language before each meeting.
When Rosa Ana Lozada trains probation officers in San Diego County, she asks, “How many of you have heard the term ‘trauma-informed care’?” Then she says, “The good news is that you’re already doing it. This is how we hope you’ll be more mindful about how to do it.”
The four-hour training, which covers early childhood trauma and its reach across the lifespan, behavioral symptoms of trauma and effective strategies to avoid re-traumatizing youth, has reached more than 700 of the county’s 1100 sworn probation staff.
Lozada is Chief Executive Officer of Harmonium, Inc., a 40-year-old nonprofit that provides education, intervention and prevention services—all through a holistic, collaborative lens—to boost well-being in children, youth and their parents or caregivers. For her and other members of the San Diego Trauma Informed Guide Team (SD-TIGT), the probation officers’ training is just one of the region’s multiple, simultaneous paths toward community resilience.
The Health Federation of Philadelphia serves as a keystone supporting a network of Community Health Centers as well as the broader base of public and private-sector organizations that deliver health and human services to vulnerable populations.