Self-Healing Communities Articles

shc modelRobert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned an article on  Washington State’s Self-Healing Communities: A transformational process model for improving intergenerational health.

The powerful article by Laura Porter, Kimberly Martin, and Rob Anda reflects the learning of the Family Policy Council and our states Community Public Health and Safety Networks.!AiqfWKZGqfBJgagKHpYZm31vbD5epQ  

Community is at the center of the efforts, community capacity building.  Also key is a complexity and adaptive learning approach to addressing the prevalent issue of the community.  The third essential element is an understanding of trauma and supporting systems and communities to adapt their strategies rooted in understanding of trauma and brain science.

The potential cost savings from taking such an approach are significant.  One of the many things I admire about the work of the Family Policy Council was their commitment to data and measuring their impact and their learning.

The sister article to the one above is a case story that details the level of cost savings secured with small investments. … Continue Reading...

Webinar: Trauma Informed Care – NEAR Informed Solutions

Watch the webinar I led for Public Health Institute of California at the link below. Sue Grinnell is running a learning and innovation lab for California’s Accountable Communities of Health and this was one of the monthly sessions offered.

The discussion questions posed to the ACH Leaders were: 

  1. How does Adverse Childhood Experiences and/or Toxic Stress impact your ACH’s Population Health challenge?  What data is available to support this?  You can include information from ACE’s study in your findings.
  2. Are you using a Trauma Informed Lens to look at the challenges the community faces?  How could the NEAR Sciences paradigm inform your approach/strategy?
  3. Given what we now know about NEAR – how to we design systems that help – rather than systems that add to the burden of ACE’s?  What does this look like across the lifespan?
  4. Do you know your ACE Score? Your Resilience Score?   What does NEAR have to offer YOU personally on the journey to hope/healing/health?
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Basics of N.E.A.R. Science – Handout

Teri Barila and Rick Griffin of the Community Resources Initiative, put together a two page handout to explain the basics of the N.E.A.R. Sciences as part of their teachings. One of my Dad’s important roles in life, was helping people understand the basics of the science. If we don’t understand the basics, then we end up creating incorrect and insufficient hypothesis and solutions. Understanding the basics of N.E.A.R. was key to my own healing and to the work we are doing across Washington. We are working to help people learn to work with stress and their emotions as it relates to the brain states, which is something many of us still need to master. Thank you to Teri and Rick for their amazing leadership!  And thank you to Walla Walla for being a resilience and trauma informed community!!AiqfWKZGqfBJgahiFvd1L-mdHN2bqA 

Community Resources Initiative link:


Teri and Teresa’s Favorite N.E.A.R. Resources

Teri Barila and I recently keynoted the Mission BC Pulling Together Conference. We both have been geeks about Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACE’s and Resilience (N.E.A.R.) for a long time.  Us two geeks got together and looked at our favorite resources. There are so many amazing things going on in relation to N.E.A.R. Science, it is phenomenal! It had to fit on one page as a handout.  We hope it inspires your geekiness too, or curiosity at least! Enjoy!!AiqfWKZGqfBJgahj36bmjRrnpexdvg 


What is Your ACE Score and How Does it Relate to Resilience?

resilience muscles

For many years,in trauma informed care work, we’ve been saying,  “Everyone needs to know about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s)!” You might be asking what qualifies as an ACE? An ACE is any kind of childhood trauma ranging from physical abuse to loosing someone of importance. The idea is that by answering a serious of 10 questions you are able to create an ACE score, the higher your score is the more likely you are at risk for certain behaviors or health problems in the future. This score is important, however, we also need to incorporate resilience into this equation.

Everyone needs to know about the impact of resilience. Trauma is buffered by the type of care giver response. A person with a high ACE score with support, can be less at risk than someone with a low ACE without support.The resilience score comes from a questionnaire, complementary to the ACE test, that is based on protective factors.… Continue Reading...

Neuroscience and Social Justice Leadership

The front lines of social justice leadership are often stressful places to stand. The causes, the people, the issues, ask a lot of us.  They ask the best of us when we’re standing in historic trauma fields – looking to find ways to transform the system, transform the situation, and heal ourselves.   We’re looking for the inspiration, the break through into new paradigms that serve our communities.

The NEAR Sciences offer a new paradigm that helps both at a personal level, at a community level and at a systems level.  The NEAR Sciences are:  Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experience), and Resilience.

What the neurosciences are saying is trauma and patterns of toxic stress are deeply imprinted often across generations. Epigenetics shows our DNA is changing based on our environment in the first few years of life.  It also says our brains can heal and we can radically shift how we PERSONALLY respond, and how our COMMUNITIES and SYSTEMS respond to toxic stress or stress related “triggers.”

In Washington State there is a 15 year effort underway to reduce trauma in communities generation to generation informed by the NEAR Sciences. … Continue Reading...

2015 ACE’s and Neurosciences Resource List

We had a session at our Bowen Island Art of Hosting on the Neuroscience and ACE’s – I offered to share out a suite of resources from the work here in Washington State and also my ever geeky study of the neurosciences, resilience, and healing.   It is a deep passion of mine learning how patterns are in the physical, emotional, mental body and what are the tools and practices that support healing.   I’m profoundly grateful to Laura Porter, Rob Anda, all of my friends at the former Family Policy Council, and SOOOO many others offering the gift of their leadership to these efforts.

Video Resources on ACE’s AND Resilience

Rob Anda, MD, “Adverse Childhood Experiences in our Society.”

Rob Anda, MD “Adverse Childhood Experience, What Do Future Leaders Need to know”

Laura Porter Keynote Address on Flourishing – youtube

Breaking the Cycle of ACE’s in Washington – Laura Porter

Resilience in Education youtube series by Michael Unger

Ace Study DVD Movie Trailer

 Adverse Childhood Experience Study resources:

Adverse Childhood Experiences Fact Sheet Rob Anda, MD

Find out your ACE score:

More on the ACE’s Study  linking childhood trauma to long term health and social consequences. … Continue Reading...

Leadership and the NEAR Sciences

Last month I hosted the first ever NEAR Sciences Think Tank with over fifty thought leaders from across the country.  The NEAR sciences (neurobiology, epigenetics, adverse childhood experiences & resilience) are such an amazing combination. I’ve been following the neurosciences and work around trauma and toxic Stress for 11 years as part of my work here in Washington.  It’s been an amazing ride to see how these understandings have been brought into our community networks, legislator, early learning programs and into systems and communities across the state.   More formally adding in Epigenetics  is powerful – showing things like how our genetics are changed by our environment early in life.  We are wired to adapt to the circumstances we face… to survive.   Then add Resilience – learning how to thrive and how to “Build Resilience not ACE’s.”

The Think Tank participants came from many disciplines and perspectives.  We used our diversity of experience, training and practice to engage in cross-cutting dialogue.… Continue Reading...

Disruptive Conversations about Death in the Healthcare System

This week I am working with the Vitaltalk team to imagine how to scale their work Nurturing healthy connections between clinicians and patients facing serious illness.   They are such an amazing team to work with as they’ve been teaching & working with deep authenticity, presence, co-learning, emergence, honesty, courageous humanity and HUMOR.    How do you scale THAT! 

One of the most personally impactful retreats I’ve ever hosted was the one I co-lead with the VitalTalk team on Dying. The Invitation read: Let’s have a disruptive conversation about death. You can view the beautiful website and excellent videos from the event here.

One of my favorite lines spoken at the retreat, by Kemp, “It is not death we fear but our own unbearable grief, our unbearable love.”

Choosing an object to take to put in the circle on Monday, I’m packing up a picture of my Dad. I’ve met him three times as he flirted with that threshold, the first after a major bicycle accident. … Continue Reading...

Olympia Homelessness Leadership Summit

Five months ago I hosted the Olympia Homelessness Leadership Summit with Paul Horton. It’s fun to watch how the work continues to unfold.   The harvest from the original event can be found here.  The opening lines of the original invitation read: “It’s time to have a different conversation about homelessness in Olympia, one that acknowledges the complex nature of the issues and seeks to build an atmosphere of mutual understanding, learning and innovation. One that helps us work better together as we address these challenges in our community. One that shapes next steps in a powerful way”.

One piece that keeps travelling since the event are the AGREEMENTS  we created for how to work together (see below).   These have been brought into other meetings to set the tone and quality of conversations.   This week there is a public meeting on the issue – all who attended the summit were encouraged to attend and help shift how public meetings go: “We hope that we can all bring the spirit, intention and commitment to work together into this meeting.”

Theresa Slusher , a member of the core calling team has been publishing a series of articles as a citizen for Works In Progress a small local paper.   … Continue Reading...