square bulletTrauma Informed Oregon Happenings Nov/Dec 2019

December 5, 2019

From Mandy Davis, LCSW, PhD, Director, Trauma Informed Oregon

It is now December as I write this and I am feeling the pull to hibernate. Though I cannot physically crawl into a hole (my family would probably be annoyed) I do find in this season an opportunity to slow down a bit—a time to go inward, to reflect, and to assess before setting new year’s goals. I am definitely in need of this reflection time because my mind has been full force since the Trauma Informed Care in Oregon Conference in October. I am so grateful for all who came, helped, presented, shared, laughed, and cried with us. For those of you who could not join us we will share as much as we can starting with this newsletter focused on reflections and experiences from the conference (as well as links to resource shared).

I am not skilled enough to capture in words the energy of the conference but here are a few of my reflections.

Listening and Feeling

Voices of those with lived experience are necessary and critical to guide this work. In one of my many “Oh my, have we . . .” moments planning the conference I wondered if we had allowed space for emotion to be present. We wanted to focus on organizations and system change but not void of the felt impact of trauma. Alas, as I experienced, and heard from others, emotion was invited in as we listened to the young people from I Am M.O.R.E., the mothers and children from the Family Preservation Project, and the presentation about the plight of Orcas, to name a few. Working or living in toxic stress can cause us to shut down our emotions to cope or survive and it was helpful to have stories, art, and movement to reconnect.

Applying Trauma-Informed Principles Works

We couldn’t have a conference about trauma informed care (TIC) without striving to apply the principles themselves (a resource I consulted Decentering Whiteness and Creating Inclusive and Equitable Conferences: A Tip Sheet). A few things we implemented included a video keynote from people around Oregon, stocked and staffed wellness room, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) only spaces and workshop, drawing and art throughout, announcing that it is ok to join even if you are late, monitoring time dedicated to listening with moving and connecting, and a request for foundations and donors to offer funds to support a diverse population to attend. We also offered learning markets as a way for attendees to guide conversations that were important to them and offered “Thoughts on Making the Most of Your Time.” There are so many more great ideas to incorporate but even with just these—people shared in their feedback they felt heard for the first time, felt engaged, and felt seen. Putting the principles of TIC into practice took intention but did not take significant resources.

Connections are Necessary

It was an exciting gathering because we truly had representation from across sectors including housing, corrections, early childhood, behavioral health, peer support, quality improvement, policy, higher education, natural resource managers, healthcare . . . oh my! We had folks from rural, frontier, tribal, and urban areas. There were directors, providers, lawyers, physicians, peer support, youth, families, advocates, and legislators. When asked how I would know if this gathering was successful my answer was if folks left feeling a bit more connected and less isolated in this work. Shifting a culture and changing minds, practices, and polices requires support. I loved hearing, throughout the conference, folks tell me they didn’t know about other schools, hospitals, communities doing this work.

In addition to connecting people it is necessary to connect approaches and strategies, especially across systems. The work may be called trauma informed care, trauma-informed approach, trauma-informed practice, restorative justice, social emotional learning, procedural fairness, resilient communities, etc. Recognizing the shared core principles in these approaches is what allows us to make large-scale change. The content shared validated for many that their work to end racism, provide housing, design policies for safety net services, and care for natural spaces is the practice of TIC.

Policy is Important

I am thankful for the Oregon legislators who participated in this gathering through a panel, letters, and a video. The panel participants were asked to identify (1) a support person in their life, (2) previous and upcoming legislation related to preventing trauma and increasing resilience, and (3) how the audience could help. This shared time and space invited a bit of relational aspect to what otherwise may feel so transactional – policy change. The laughter between them was at times contagious. Policy, practice, funding, and organizations are all connected. It is important for legislators, community members, and providers to connect to shape helpful policies.

Video Greeting from Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici

Download Senator Merkley’s LetterDownload Senator Wyden’s LetterDownload Rep DeFazio’s Statement

The Vision

A goal of this time was to have those attending create a vision for trauma informed care in Oregon. This was done with the help and energy of Patti Dobrowolski. She listened and read takeaway cards from every session to pull together your ideas, thoughts, and feedback. I have to tell you I had envisioned an outline of Oregon with a road map theme that represented each sectors work. But look at what you created! You centered people and what you want to be happening if this work is successful. We cannot do everything, but if we see ourselves as part of this vision I hope it gives us direction and connections.

I will spend this season of shorter days to reflect on TIO’s work over the last five years, your feedback, this vision, and share my thoughts in the new year.

Helpful Blog Posts:

These blogs share the experiences of some of the conference attendees and highlight their connections with people, practices, and/or communities around Oregon.

  • Accomplishing Something Special – Steffannie Roaché
  • Trauma-Informed Practices Can Save Lives – Vanessa Nordyke
  • Loving So Deeply Freedom Follows – Erin Fairchild
  • Creating Cultures of Care – Amy Yillik, Erin Taylor, and Amber McGill
  • Coming Together in Pain and Hope – Lacey Sheppard
  • Reflection: Trauma-Informed Conference – Shirley Rubio Blake
  • Trauma Informed Care in Oregon Conference Keynote – All of You! Edited by Outside the Frame
  • Youth Held Space to Heal the Pain of Adults – S. Renee Mitchell

What’s Going on at TIO

We have finally unpacked the conference boxes and hung the pictures from Patti around the office (come by if you would like to see them). Other things to note.

  • We are still collecting feedback and experiences from the conference. Let us know your thoughts, here’s a link to the survey.
  • We have two interns with us this year. Welcome to Olive Wood and Sky Lockhart from the School of Social Work at Portland State University.
  • Oregon Trauma Advocates Coalition, TIO’s youth advisory council, has finished the draft of a resource tip sheet on youth engagement in schools called “Creating Trauma Informed Spaces in Educational Settings” and are now in the vetting process.
  • We’re excited that in our new biennium contract, as a result of shared efforts with our funder and the Office of Equity and Inclusion at Oregon Health Authority, we will be including diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in our quarterly reports. What a better way to further inform our exploration of the intersection between equity and TIC!

Where We’ve Been

Places and spaces we have connected with over the past couple of months include the Mind Your Mind conference in Eugene, many trips to Salem, Sunriver ;-), Medford, and Yamhill and Lane Counties. We’ve also attended advisory councils, made connections at World Oregon, provided trainings in Vancouver, WA, and attended a conference in Boston, MA.

To Do List: