A nine-week series of livestreamed conversations about trauma and healing will launch tonight as part of an effort to help Baltimoreans recover from racial injustice, the coronavirus pandemic and other traumatic events.
Councilman Zeke Cohen (District 1) has partnered with Dr. Melissa Buckley, a social worker and Coppin State University professor, and the organization Healing City Baltimore to create “Truth and Healing: A Conversation Series.”
Starting tonight, the conversations, hosted by Cohen and Buckley, will be livestreamed on Healing City Baltimore’s Facebook page at 7 p.m. every Wednesday for the next nine weeks.
Tonight’s discussion will feature Andrea Brown, executive director of the Black Mental Health Alliance, and Shawna Murray-Browne, founder and executive director of Kindred Community Healing, who will discuss “healing from the enduring legacy of racism,” Cohen said.
Cohen said he and the other organizers wanted to create the conversation series to help people deal with their trauma as Baltimore City, like communities across the United States, simultaneously grapples with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, police brutality, racial injustice and a slew of other issues.
“I think that as we are in this moment of pandemic and protest and understanding the impact and the legacy of racism and how trauma has been transmitted intergenerationally in our city, we need to begin these conversations,” he said.
With protests in Baltimore and around the country demanding accountability and changes to police funding, people are increasingly calling for change in their communities, Cohen said. He hopes this series will help them do just that.
“We know that now is truly the time to not just make this moment of resistance but to truly engage a movement around healing,” he said. “We want to expand the Healing City movement and bring it online and into people’s homes with experts who are in the work.”
In putting the series together, Buckley said it was important to invite a diverse range of people to be part of the project.
“We want our guests to look like Baltimore City,” she said.
The series will feature a range of speakers, including artists, authors, activists, and elected officials, each with different approaches to addressing trauma, Buckley said
She added that she and her fellow creators wanted viewers to see themselves in this series.
“If they don’t see themselves, it’s not as likely that they will be engaged beyond the end of the series,” she said. “We want people to feel engaged and to know that they are a valued part of the Healing City Baltimore movement.”
The Baltimore City Council in January unanimously passed the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act, creating a “Trauma-Informed Care Task Force” to help reduce the effects of various forms of trauma in Baltimore.
Cohen said the legislation puts Baltimore at the “forefront of trauma-informed care.”
“We have a real opportunity as a city to examine the ways through policy and practice we have enacted trauma onto our most vulnerable communities,” he said. “And we have an opportunity to get better, to do the collective healing work that is needed.”
In April, Cohen partnered with Councilman Kristerfer Burnett (District 8) and various community organizations to launch the Baltimore Neighbors Network, which organizes volunteers to reach out to seniors online or by phone and check if they are in need of mental health support.
Cohen said the network’s volunteers have made nearly 10,000 calls to Baltimoreans since the program began.
“We are a city not just of neighborhoods, but a city of neighbors,” he said. “When Baltimore is at its best, we show up for each other.”
Buckley hopes people come away from the series with greater confidence and knowledge on how to deal with trauma.
“I hope that people will believe that healing is possible… We all have the skills and the tools, but sometimes we can’t do it by ourselves. And so hopefully as a result of these conversations where we are approaching trauma and healing from various perspectives, people will feel ‘You know what, we can do this. We are doing this.'”
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