The Women's Court Initiative

Over the course of the past few years there have been some very exciting developments for women in the Balkans and as such, for women everywhere. The Women in Black led the Women's Court Initiative to support women in redefining and achieving justice for their war experiences and creating testimony of some of the women. There was a great deal of effort in creating services leading up to the testimony as this is a very dangerous thing for the women to do and the women needed a great deal of preparation and protection. Without protection their lives were in danger. This was begun by providing leadership development trainings in 7 countries to prepare 45 women witnesses and prosecutors to testify about their experiences during and after the war. The women were also provided Self Care for the severe symptoms they still suffer from the rape and torture.  In 2011 alone about 200 women's groups organized over 100 events mobilizing 2,000 women participants in cities throughout the Balkans -- the goal being to raise awareness of the Women's Court. 

Read more ...

 How Colombians Wage Peace

Peace Building with stories, trees, and Christmas tree lights.  "Being generous makes us stronger."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Fi83BHQsMA&list=TLM_DHh3MYG7A[ 

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." (Rabindranath Tagore)

Women, War and What they fed the children.

"There is no greater burden that carrying an untold story."      Maya Angelou                            

Eighty percent of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people are women and children. 

In order to humanize these statistics, we are gathering stories of women and children from around the world who have experienced war or live in war impacted areas.   In this project, we are not looking at politics or perpetrators, we are simply sharing stories of experience. And, we help where we can to resolve symptoms of toxic stress as well as offering resources toward re-mediating other problems. our goals are publicizing stories and building resilience and sustainability of gains made by our story tellers by engaging in our program.     

Click here for the project website

 

The Calming Breath

Psycho-neurobiology tells us that traumatic stress from an incident or chronic high stress conditions puts our bodies into survival – fight, flee, run like crazy or hide. Most of us know this.   When Fight or Flee is the constant, the parasympathetic nervous system that stimulates self soothing hormones is weakened and we lose the ability to sooth and comfort ourselves.

The next go-to place for self-soothing becomes drugs, alcohol and high risk behavior.  High risk behavior stresses the body so severely that the exhausted self soothing hormones will give what it can to the cause.  Now that is the most simple way of understanding this dynamic and should explain why some of our PTSD combat veterans get hooked on the cycle of sever stress - relax. We can become addicted to our own bodies chemistry.  So how do we take care of one half of the problem:  One of the first and best ways to strengthen the self soothing system is by consciously slowing the breath  to about six breaths a minute– this easy method is used in disaster areas and war zones with great success. A great way to learn the Calming Breath is by blowing bubbles -- children can be directly helped this way.  Keep Bubbles in your Emergency Art Kit.   The Emergency Art Kit.                  

Read more ...

Spirit Houses

If you want to create a Spirit House or learn about the tradition, see Steve Kinne's article.  

Here's how one of us did this.  We will call her Barbara, who didn't want to build a spirit house from scratch (some people will) so she looked around for an appropriate structure.  Nothing there in her house but while walking in the pasture she found/remembered a birdhouse...perfect, that would do.  Only not that specific bird house. It was occupied and she didn't want to evict the birds that were already living there so she took the idea and went to yard sales and feed and garden stores and looked on line until she found a bird house that fit for her Spirit House.

Read more ...

An Offering of Beauty to Life

Giving gifts to life. 

Consider this -- Balinese make beautiful handmade offerings every single day to entice, appease and appeal to the Spirits -- to keep the world in balance.  To bring good fortune.  To show appreciation and gratitude. 

The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

Who We Are

                  

We make art in order not to die from the truth.

Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is a U.S. 501c3 non-profit arts organization designed to serve the personal story and address the trauma it may contain. Our work is educational and skills driven -- grounded in thirty years of community based experience.

We use photos, interviews, and teach guided writing (Writing Through the Body).  For those people for whom revealing identity is unsafe, we use multi-media memorial building to contain and share the story in an abstract or symbolic form. Our goal is Witnessing and facilitating the creation of a coherent narrative for our students toward well-being and resilience. 

Following from our initial work with Story, we collaborate with students to create a culturally relevant Self-Care program facilitated by them and supervised when necessary by skilled professionals.

We invite you to invite us to your community.