Sharing stories of indigenous work on trauma in our communities

2019-12-17
By: John W Zeigler
Posted in: Stories

I facilitated  a circle at the First Church of the Brethren in the East Garfield community on Chicago's westside.When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. focused action in Chicago in the mid-1960s, First Church provided the Southern Christian Leadership Conference office space. In knowing this, the circle was indeed on sacred grounds.

The focus of this gathering was how do we share stories of indigenous work on trauma in our communities that can be shared and elevated. Approaches to trauma care has been a focus in Chicago for several years. The stories shared in this circle were of indigenous efforts in addressing trauma in their homes, on their blocks and communities. The participants ranged from elders from the community, recent immigrants from Mexico, students from DePaul, visitors from Rwanda, community police representative, former gang members and members from the church.

After pouring libations, to give honor to the ancestors and introductions, the participants shared their stories. The stories provided an opportunity to share the cultural nuances and communicate complex and sometimes ambiguous forms of embodied knowledge, understanding and wisdom. The particpants supported one another and provided opportunities to connect and work together. It was indeed wonderful to experience such a diverse, mosaic of peoples experiences knitted into a gift of healing.

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April Doner
01/14/20 09:49:16AM @april-doner:

John,

This is a fantastic account! Thank you so much for sharing it. Melissa Browning and I have been talking over this last year about ways that trauma-informed work and ABCD can work together, as there is one group in Athens, GA we have been working with who is applying a trauma-informed social work approach to a project with the library. We've been talking a lot on the "idea" level but I appreciate that your gathering shows how to bring it home in practical application... moving from the assumption that professionals are best equipped to address trauma into the realm where community members are activating their own and each others' capacities to address and heal it in their own spaces and ways.

I also love this as an example of how the asset of stories can be used to reveal and connect assets. And I think it is a good example of using ABCD not to shy away from real pain and injustices people and communities experience but looking at it directly using an asset based instinct to do something about it.


Dee Brooks
01/15/20 05:19:11PM @dee-brooks:

Thanks for the reflection, John... we've started developing Deadly ABCD (Indigenous Australia - Deadly = awesome) and I think the sitting, listening and conversing aspects of the development have already been seen as the way forward and I believe that if we keep open to trauma-informed practices as a starting place, the rest can build into the hopeful future of communities!


John W Zeigler
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