Beginning

If any of us sit quietly and really think about it, I suspect you will find, as I did, that all our lives have been significantly touched by war in one way or another.  The theme is a resonant and constant beat – the drums of war – cliché or not, they are there bleeding through in events and activities of popular culture, TV, movies, sporting events, they drum through our personal and collective histories -- a dark music that underlies all others and surfaces formally in national anthems all over the world which most of us accept and love without question.  This project asks us to stop and think about war.  And listen.

Women, War and What they fed the children

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 with an expanded definition of war we include many who are not normally cited in the United States we are collecting stories from Native American women whose lives are burdened by a legacy of trans-generational trauma as are other women from places like New Orleans which at one point had more killings that Iraq at its peak.

There are many places in the developed world that meet the criteria as war zones past or present that do not generate press to hold these beleaguered communities and people in the context of war.  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.   

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The Calming Breath

Psycho-neurobiology tells us that traumatic stress from an incident or living in a highly stressful environment or in highly stressful  conditions puts our bodies into survival – fight, flee, run like crazy or hide -- which is the sympathetic nervous system at work.  When Fight or Flee is the constant, the parasympathetic nervous system is weakened and it is this system that stimulates the production of  self soothing hormones. One of the first and best ways to strengthen the self soothing system is by consciously slowing the breath – used in disaster areas and war zones with great success. 

One of the most fun ways to get to the Calming Breath is by blowing bubbles -- children can be directly helped this way.  Keep Bubbles as part of your Emergency Art Kit.  

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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.

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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

Vet to Vet -- an arts driven approach to healing the trauma story

We are very excited to announce the launch of the Vet 2 Vet program with and for vets suffering symptoms of traumatic stress.  We are teaching vets to be Narrative Arts Specialists.  Our goal  is that they take what they have learned and experienced themselves to help other vets suffering symptoms of PTS. Our lead person is Jim Famalero, an artist and Afghan combat vet.

 

Trainings  involve our students going through the processes they will use. Though few in number, our rules are chiseled in stone.  The first: one: Always experience in-depth the processes you are going to use with others. 

Who We Are

                

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

Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is an arts driven non-profit educational organization that uses spoken word, writing, and arts processes for expression and healing.

We call it "serving the Personal Story".

Our goal is to build resilience in our story tellers.

And give these stories much needed public exposure across platforms.

We invite you to invite us.