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Walla Walla: Collective Action and Data Drive Trauma-Informed Change

  • Aug 25, 2016

By: Larke N. Huang, Ph.D., Director, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity; Rebecca Flatow, Office of Policy, Planning, and Innovation; Mary Blake, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

Six cities were invited to SAMHSA for a listening session to present their innovative approaches to addressing trauma.  This blog is part of a series that highlights community approaches in selected implementation domains and how each city is working to create safer and healthier places to live, learn, work and play.

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.”

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.