Supporting students, educators, school staff, and school-based clinicians to effectively implement trauma-informed crisis recovery and renewal strategies.
Strategies for Mending Our Wounds:
Recovering from School Crisis through Art and Ritual
One of our project’s central tenets is to listen and learn from educators: what do they need to recover from a school crisis? How might we create spaces for educators to experience their own processing so that they might be more resourced and supported to support students and their colleagues?
On January 7 2021 and June 3 2021, we gathered with you and hundreds of others (school based professionals including instructors, administrators, community-based organizations/school partners, caregivers) in the middle of a challenging school year and to end the school year and start the summer by centering our recovery.
Our virtual institutes focus on our joy and healing in the context of collective loss so many of us are holding as well. Offering repeated workshops based in art and ritual (marking time and emotion), our programming was rooted in knowing that grief is love made visible.
We explored storytelling and coherent narrative construction, movement and embodiment, visual art, music shared and learned rituals focused on art and movement that support recovery and renewal after and through school crises, and more. We heard from you that you loved having space just for you to experience storytelling, just for you to be in your bodies, just for you to be practicing art therapeutics.
Thank you for making time for you! We hope to continue to offer these institutes throughout our project.
- Provide an opportunity for educators and other school professionals to learn new ways in which they can utilize ritual to recover and renew to support their community after a big thing (crisis event).
- Create a safe, generative, and regulating experience for educators, school-based mental health providers, and people who tend to the emotional well-being of youth.
- Engage participants in evidence based, art centered, ritual activities that positively impact the process of recovery and renewal after a crisis.
- Support participants in imagining new ways to incorporate ritual and art into their personal practice in crisis recovery.
Archived Materials from Our Institutes
Summer 2021 Institute Keynote
After the Labor Pains of Educating in a Pandemic: Fiercely Protecting our Recovery and Renewal
by Dr. Stephanie Cariaga
Dr. Cariaga opened our day with her vision for how ritual can help us as educators mark this time of crisis and grief into a time of recovery and renewal, a birth for our new selves and new understandings of who we can be in our profession and in our humanity.
Stephanie Cariaga, PhD, has served the wider Los Angeles community for over thirteen years as a high school and middle school literacy teacher, founding member of the People’s Education Movement, and now an assistant professor in teacher education at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Rooted in radical feminist epistemology that centers wholeness, healing, and intimacy, her teaching and research examines the intersections between healing justice, critical literacy, and critical teacher sustainability. She is inspired by her best teachers, daughter Laila and son Catalino.
Learn more about Dr. Cariaga’s work:
- Towards Self-Recovery: Cultivating Love with Young Women of Color Through Pedagogies of Bodymindspirit (2019)
- The Pedagogy of Mind, Body, and Spirit with Dr. Stephanie Cariaga (Leading Towards Equity Podcast Episode)
- Collaborating to Capture Community Resilience (2015)
- Research as Healing (2015)
Appreciation to our Institutes’ Faculty
Thank you to the following partners and changemakers for generously sharing their wisdom and teachings with educators on January 7, 2021 and June 3, 2021:
- Ana Rosa Najera, LCSW, Lumos Transforms
- Stephanie Cariaga, PhD, California State University, Dominguez Hills
- Shirley Johnson, LMFT, MA, Soulistic Wellness
- Michelle Mush Lee, MA, The Whole Story Group
- Francine Ostrem, PhD, LMFT, Psychotherapeutic Art Interventions for Navigating Trauma
- Tanya Suzuki, MS, PPS, The People’s Education Movement
- Liz Solis, MAT
- Brittany Tanner and Ayesha Wakefield, Be Imaginative
Participants had the opportunity to attend workshops on the following recovery practices:
My Body is a Vessel: Reclaiming Self-Care in the Face of Crisis
Recovery and Renewal Practice: Movement and Embodiment
Our physical bodies carry us through all the events of our life. The physical body absorbs every moment, and remembers all that occurs, even when the thinking mind attempts to forget. This workshop will give experiential time to practice some restoration and grounding practices to support and thank our bodies, as well as support participants in creating self-care plans. This session explores how crisis impacts participants, how they can take care of their bodies in the middle and after a crisis, and how to create a lifestyle that supports them through crisis.
Facilitator: Shirley Johnson, LMFT, MA
Shirley is a licensed psychotherapist, energy healer, and yoga teacher based in Oakland, California. Passionate about self- care and connecting to intuition as a form of political resistance and spiritual practice, Shirley leads a number of workshops supporting people to trust their inner wisdom and align with their inner healer.Shirley brings 10 years of yoga teaching experience and certifications in Vinyasa, Prenatal, and Kundalini Yoga. She holds a Master’s in Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) and works with individuals and couples in her private practice. She has been studying various energy healing technologies the last 15 years, and brings explorations of codependency recovery, depression, sexuality, and race into her work. She has taught in seven different yoga teacher trainings and enjoys interweaving psychology and yoga. She has taught in various settings and to different communities, including toddlers, teens, families, adults, and mature age folks. She truly believes if you have a body and can breathe, then this practice is for you! Shirley loves to support practitioners with developing a strong nervous system and a resiliency to be their authentic selves in this world. For more info, you can visit her website at: www.soulisticwellness.com
We Are The Whole Story: Collective Healing and Storytelling Beyond Trauma
Recovery and Renewal Practice: Storytelling and Coherent Narrative Construction
Narratives are created by a constellation of stories. As stewards of collective health, it’s so important to identify strategic stories of healing: stories we know need to be told that share a common narrative about the urgency of rest, repair, and collective radiance during these improbable times, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and POC leaders and communities.
This narrative session introduced leaders to a framework for cultural strategy and engages in fun personal storytelling activities. In this space, we honor that each of us arrives at this moment with complex histories, cultures, and identities. And although we are not representatives for all who share those identities, there are lines of memory and experience that bind us. We explored those connections, and asked these powerful questions: What strength is there in connecting our stories? What do I need to move beyond trauma? How do we use culture and storytelling to name our suffering, while also inspiring narratives of hope and healing?
Facilitator: Michelle Mush Lee, M.A. Education, Equity, and Social Justice
Mush is a writer, cultural strategist, and CEO of Whole Story Group, LLC, a narrative-based professional learning team founded on the principles of cultural equity, transformative leadership, and wholeness. Mush’s writings and talks have been featured on HBO, PBS, AfroPop, Summit Series, Social Venture Network, National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE) and the Berkeley Communications Conference. A Harvard University, Project Zero Fellow, Mush is frequently a featured speaker on contemporary culture, racial justice and women of color in leadership. Her writing is published in All the Women in My Family Sing, an anthology of essays by women of color at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Mush serves as a Cultural Affairs Commissioner for the City of Oakland, CA.
What Color is Your Heart Today? An Intentional Practice of Checking In
Recovery and Renewal Practice: Art-based Therapeutics
This workshop invites participants to connect with current-moment feeling state through drawing, painting, and/or building. A simple question, “What Color is Your Heart Today?”guides the exploration and expression of the present state of mind. After processing the hands-on art experiential together, educators will be able to view hearts made by children across the developmental spectrum and ask questions about implementing this accessible art process in the classroom.
Francine will also explain the scientific, and personal, rationale for offering this meditation. She has implemented it for 11 years in her psychotherapy practice called PAINT (Psychotherapeutic Art Interventions for Navigating Trauma). PAINT, with Lincoln, is the recipient of an ACEs Aware Grant from the Office of the California Surgeon General and the Department of Health Care Services. PAINT is currently offered in more than 10 schools from pre-K through high school, including counseling-enriched classrooms.
Facilitator: Francine Ostrem, PhD, LMFT
Clinician, teacher, trainer, and supervisor, Francine Ostrem devotes her mental health practice to children and families impacted by trauma and chronic stressors, including autoimmune conditions, Type 1 Diabetes in particular. Ostrem, Ph.D., LMFT, Expressive Arts Therapy Specialization, works at Lincoln, a mental health non-profit in West Oakland, and as part of a research and clinical team at the Madison Clinic for Pediatric Diabetes at UCSF.
She is also in private practice in Berkeley. Ostrem is the developer of Psychotherapeutic Art Interventions for Navigating Trauma, PAINT, a school-based mental health initiative that seeks to reduce the negative impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences through the science of relationship and expression. This trauma protocol has been fully translated to telehealth.
Activating Imagination: Reenvisioning Visual Narratives of Healing
Recovery and Renewal Practice: Digital Image-Making as Creative Expression
Art activates the imagination. It invites us to acknowledge our whole being, encourages us to move, to feel, to laugh, to cry, to question, to consider, to reach, to rise. Art can act as a force of healing as it fires a connection between mind and body. It moves, it generates meaning, it provides pleasure, it acts as a vehicle for self-expression, it creates opportunities to imagine your wholeness. Walidah Imarisha reminds us that, “Our ancestors dreamed us up and then bent reality to create us.” How can you be a good ancestor to yourself? How can you engage in this ongoing battle that paints us as fragmented, broken, defective and see your wholeness, your strength, your humanity? What will you bend reality to create?
This workshop will invite participants to explore how visual arts, and more specifically graphic design, can become a transformative practice, a healing behavior. Participants will be invited to tap into their creative expression and identify a way to document their journey to and through healing. Through an introduction to visual prompts, constructing idea boards, and simple design tools participants will embrace possibility and let wholeness pour through.
Bay Area native Liz Solis has been working with youth for over fifteen years as a mentor, advocate, and educator. As the daughter of immigrants and a woman of color, she is committed to empowering students who have been historically underserved and marginalized within our educational system. With experience in both public and independent schools, Liz draws from many communities and experiences in her work. She currently serves as the Interim Dean of Academics at Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA, but, most importantly, she solo parents three beautiful beings.
Liz has also been a life-long artist, doodling her way through school and many, many meetings. Four years ago, she released a toxic relationship with her partner and her workplace. It was in that moment of transition, of vulnerability, of pain, that her personal healing journey began and she’s been documenting it through art. After many years of neglect she’s embraced her creativity and continues to grow and learn each day. She looks forward to sharing some of her learnings in community.
The Song Remedy
Recovery and Renewal Practice: Music Making as Meaning Making
We will facilitate a virtual healing circle and space for community to learn, reflect, share tools and engage in grassroots collective healing to support ourselves, our families and those closest to us. In the spirit of cycle breaking we are co-creating a space for us to resist systems of oppression that consistently attack our mind, body and spirit by cultivating a practice of care that is accessible to those in our community who wouldn’t usually participate. We practice ritual, hold space, we empower ourselves and each other through dialogue, affirmation and lyrical remedies.
Brittany Tanner and Ayesha Walker will open our space with the honoring of our ancestors, they will hold space for community dialogue, then they will walk us through the creation of powerful healing affirmations — while creating a collective song that Brittany will sing to us as it remedies our hearts, minds and souls.
Facilitators: Brittany Tannor, Vocalist and Ayesha Walker, Youth Development Specialist
Artist, mother, and business owner, Brittany Tannor is a Bay Area resident passionate about enriching the community through therapeutic ritual arts. Founder of The Song Remedy, which is both a healing circle and a place in which we use our HE(ART) to transform ourselves and our community. As a member of SOL Development and a co-founder of the collective Be Imaginative (a collective of artists, healers, and community leaders who are dedicated to healing black and brown communities through multidimensional storytelling), Brittany uses her voice as a healing agent for the community.
Ayesha Walker is an exceptional mother, social entrepreneur, artist and intuitive life coach. She is an alchemist, creating opportunities for herself, family and community to transform pain into passion and empathy into action. She is the co-founder and CEO of Be-Imaginative, a collection of artists, healers, and community leaders who are dedicated to healing black and brown communities through creative storytelling. Ayesha is an agent of change, with a background in youth development, nonprofit organizations, as well as over 15 years of experience in media production, brand development, and performing arts. She has a history of working in secondary and post-secondary education. Ayesha has founded several multimedia programs including Youth Radio’s multimedia youth training program, UCLA’s multimedia department within the Community Programs Office, and Richmond California Preparatory Academy’s digital media course. She began her career in photojournalism at Youth Radio in 2005. She has covered photographic essays from the Democratic National Convention’s, Women’s Leadership Forum with keynote First Lady Michelle Obama, to the First Lady Michelle Obama’s very first commencement speech at UC Merced, and so much more. In 2008, she became the youngest member of the Richmond Arts and Cultures commission. In 2012 Ayesha became President Barack Obama’s Delegate for the democratic party. She currently sits on the board of directors for The Remedy, a non-profit dedicated to healing communities through musical therapy. She is a board member of The Song Remedy, a non-profit dedicated to healing our communities through music. She is also on the advisory board of POWR, which has a mission to provide educational services and products for children, youth and adults, to help prepare them for success in a rapidly changing world. She obtained her B.A. in World Arts & Cultures from the University of California in Los Angeles.
Thriving > Surviving: Cultivating Accountable and Restorative Relationships
Recovery and Renewal Practice: Talking Circles (Restorative-Practices)
The Community Circle or Council concept is often associated with restorative justice. In schools, it can be tricky to truly embody what it means to be “restorative,” defaulting to punitive or “un-restorative” techniques to address harm/conflict, especially under all the pressures educators navigate and carry even as we facilitate a Circle with our students. A Community Circle is a designated space and time that is distinguishable from “school-business as usual,” engaging students in an intentional process and ritual of building collective accountability and trust.
Tanya facilitated activities to engage participants in a dialogue about how we can begin the (restorative) practice of cultivating culture through Circle practice, communicating our needs and embodying the values necessary for collective accountability and wellness. Moving beyond survival means that we can share ways to remind ourselves to stay curious and deepen our relationships while holding and facilitating a mutual space for accountability, discovery, possibility, and transformation.
Tanya has been working in schools for over 21 years and currently provides support for educators, youth and schools as a Restorative (Justice) Practices educator/consultant, counselor, coach, and trainer/facilitator. She also works with private clients in her coaching practice. Her early experience as a budding clinician and school counselor deepened her scope of the imperative dynamics of relationship-building with youth, and the mutual/intergenerational development of resilience, hope, resourcefulness, and body wisdom.
Tanya’s praxis incorporates the practices of non-violent communication, conflict resolution, coaching techniques/tools, embodiment practices, and mindfulness with a distinct social justice framework, informed by her organizing work in the Los Angeles chapter of the People’s Education Movement. With this critical lens in her work with educators, Tanya is committed to moving beyond survival and re-imagining what it would look like to collectively cultivate a culture that embodies wellness, (restorative) justice, and wholeness in the face of institutional harms.
After our breakouts, we came back together to share our learnings, explored how we might apply our experience to our work, and resourced one another to cultivate school crisis recovery skills, knowledge, and approaches.