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Gathering in Topeka, Kansas for the Educators’ Art of Facilitation.


I know that I’m not alone in feeling that the work we do is both difficult and yet incredibly fulfilling. It is work that often requires us to navigate across ideological and political lines, across racial and religious lines, through broken systems and a great deal of suffering. It is work that can’t be done alone.

Recently a group of education leaders and nationally recognized trauma experts came together in Topeka Kansas exploring a common shared understanding, “that for educators to integrate TI practices, they have to integrate an understanding of their own life experiences, their own personal trauma, the ACEs in their own lives.”

As I organized the gathering I was driven by the intuitive belief that we can be so much more effective when we come together in community and share all aspects of ourselves with each other. That when we allow our light and shadow, our pain and sorrow, our joy and wonder to be seen, the protective walls that we have built around ourselves begin to crumble and the light of healing enters. Rumi said “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

This quote by Jim Sporleder, one of the participants at the Topeka gathering validates this belief : “My experience at the two day training.... I was able to quickly bond with others in the group due to the safe environment that was created by our Facilitators. I learned about how my own life experiences have impacted me as well as learning from my fellow participants and their life experiences. I believe I walked away with a greater understanding of the power in having positive relationships with those around me, and seeking positive relationships with those I come into contact. A powerful two-days of learning and healing.” -

There exist old adage “one should not lose sight of the forest for the trees.”

The world’s forests are full of beautiful trees but we have become so engrossed in looking at the individual tree and attached to it a single narrative that we have forgotten that each tree is merely one of thousands and each tree carries in it a different narrative and more importantly each tree is interconnected, as are we. Martin Luther King said, “we are tied together in a single garment of destiny . . . I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.” I’ve come to understand that I’ll never be what I ought to be alone, I will never be what I ought to be without you. We need to witness each other in order to come into being.

Sadly we have become so involved in focusing on the problem of being and the suffering that it brings by attempting to find ways to fix it. So much so that we often settled for temporary, ineffective, and superficial solutions. Immediate fixes and bandaid solutions that we eventually discard because they prove to actually be detrimental when and if the realization dawns on us that they are actually exacerbating the problem.

More often than not a great deal of damage occurs before we discover that we got lost in the weeds and thereby missed the tree altogether. Trees are damaged because we have become engrossed in one little detail, one little project, or one little policy and it has blinded us to the big picture, blinded us to the true“roots” of the problem.

I think that we are in a time that requires we step back, take a breath and try to remember what we are all here for.

Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz who was also with us in Topeka couldn’t make it any clearer, these are her words: “To truly heal so many of our struggles as humans we must shed light on the biggest lie humans have ever created. That there is an “Us” and there is a “Them”. She continues “often this takes a great deal of work around creating space where people who see themselves as part of one group enter into authentic relationships with people who are part of another group. I have centered my work around creating these spaces- to heal our communities and change our stories……..having recently attended The Art of Facilitation two-day encounter in Topeka I really was overwhelmed with connection and began to sense immediately my own biases melting away. The most profound way I can describe what I experienced is a rapid healing from the lie of us and them.”

The Topeka experience would not have occurred if I had not met and been befriended by Steve and Dorothy Halley.

Over the next few days I will be writing my thoughts and sharing some of the experiences and stories that the Topeka gathering brought into the light for me.


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