From Steffannie Roaché, MS LPC LLC, Consulting, Coaching, Counseling
Standing under the tall firs of Sunriver, peering up into the sky, everything felt ancient but not old, healing but not clinical, grounded but not stagnant. This was Trauma Informed Oregon’s (TIO) 2019 conference at Sunriver, and it accomplished something special.
Ancient but Not Old
Sister Anita Davis, Representative of The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, set the intention this year. She invited us to reverence the original people and Nations whose land we stood upon. She took us all to “church,” calling up the spirit, commanding authentic veneration for the bones of ancestors that rested beneath us. Essentially, she demanded we not look away from the reality of historical trauma. While the ancient was present with us, she also modeled the vibrant and evergreen spirit of her Nation, an unbowed people.
Healing but Not Clinical
Set near the center, between the conference buildings and meeting spaces was the Wellness Room. A created space for renewal, replenishing, and receiving support. Wafts of lavender and eucalyptus greeted us at the door. Noise canceling headphones and supplies for art and creative expression were available. TIO provided a space to practice what we preach—a trauma-informed space to care for self.
In fact, there was even intentional space and time created for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) participants to gather, empower, and support one another. This provided a place where we could speak our truths without the ever-present expectation to assuage other-folk’s guilt or fears.
Grounded but Not Stagnant
Significant and weighty topics were shared, grounded in real-world experiences of our youth, culturally relevant practices, information to shape policymaking, and hearty dialogue with political movers and shakers were present and evident throughout our time together. We were left with tools to take home and put into practice at all levels of our spheres of influence.
There is a momentum that happens when people gather to learn and share with others. This is especially true when the focus breaches history, trauma, and the need for social change. Momentum, like all forms of energy, can be a catalyst that brings transformation, or it can slowly roll to a halt if it is left like an untended fire.
I’m excited to see the potential that emanates from each individual or organization that participated. The reverence and understanding of the ancient, the potential healing from hands-on practices learned during our time together, and the future policies and legislative actions that can cause trauma-informed practices to become common and required throughout our institutions; the very spaces that are meant to serve people who have experienced historical and other forms of trauma.