It's been a month since I participated in Healing the War Torn Soul Workshop with Ed Tick and Kate Dahlstedt in Massachusetts. It was a sad reality that so many wars were represented among participating veterans. I am proud to be a part of the healing process for the veterans who attended this workshop.
It was an amazing experience in many ways.
- I learned that by creating a safe and supportive community, it's possible to help bring our warriors—our veterans—home and reintegrate them into the community.
- It takes a large investment of time and commitment and this workshop is just the beginning of their journey home.
But the workshop also taught me some important lessons affecting the conception of my original idea to pair veterans with artists to tell their stories to the community. While I want to communicate these stories to the community at large and I want to create new opportunities for artists, I now know that I need to invest more time working with veterans first and foremost before bringing others into the equation. Therefore I've reconfigured or reconceived my original project. I will:
- Attend an upcoming workshop to learn the rituals used in Tick's workshop so that I can incorporate these into my programs
- Recruit veterans to participate in groups around Chicago that incorporate these rituals to establish a safe environment for veterans and only then will these groups transition to veterans sharing their stories orally or in writing, or simply be present for other veterans who are ready to share their stories
- Bring other artists into the process later, after a foundation of support is established whereby these new artists will help veterans tell their stories in a way that the veterans feel comfortable. Each team of artists become true partners with each veteran keeping him or her fully integrated in the process to the extent that s/he desires
- Recruit specific artists for this purpose after providing interested artists with background and training and
- Shape the creative team of artists to work with each veteran
- Remain connected to each team as they work forward in their storytelling
- Provide connections to venues where this art can be shared with the larger community