Considerations for Trauma-Informed Arts Organizations

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MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art and trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'm Molly and you're listening to Any Other Anything's?

Hello and welcome to episode 4 of Any Other Anythings, in this episode talking about considerations for trauma-informed arts organizations. So Grey Box Collective is a trauma-informed arts organization and I'll unpack a little bit more about what it means to be a trauma-informed arts organization, as well as really talk to those who are in a position of leadership, position of power within them. I think this is one of those episodes that it really highlights how transferable this is. This can also be something that is useful for teachers or educators, professors in a classroom or heads of departments, anyone in a position of power that's leading a group of humans. This is an important one for you. I will focus mostly on two things: one will be an internal dialogue and the other is perception of psychological safety.

Alright, but before we get into that, let's take a moment to check-in a little, little moment to see like where you're at in this moment. You can check-in with your breath, with your with your muscle tone tension, maybe you can feel your heartbeat, maybe you're checking in with your environment just something that starts to help you situ...situate yourself in time and space. And, for resourcing activity um I call this like raindrops or yeah we'll just call it raindrops for now. So, um wiggling your fingers and like doing what you can if you're you're active at this moment. Um taking your fingers wiggling them and letting them represent like little raindrops falling all over you. So you can start with like a little pitter patter on the top of your head with your fingertips tapping and then slowly work down the back of the neck and out your shoulders to your arms and continue to work down with little raindrops pitter patter. You can also do this in your mind's eye and just imagine it, if you're driving please imagine it don't take your hands off the wheel. Um, so a little pitter patter all the way down your body maybe a little extra pitter patter on your back. So doing this to start to really bring awareness to ourselves and these bodies that we are hanging out in and since this is a very much internal about us and our perceptions of external things, wanted to bring that in here. If you want, you can continue to pitter-patter as you listen. If you're finding that there's some brain fog or you're a little sleepy right now. You can maybe have a little extra pitter patter on your forehead or on your low back to start to wake the body up a little bit more so you can really focus in.

As always please put yourself first as we start to move forward into this episode. Feel free to pause and come back to it at any time. So being a trauma-informed arts organization as I kind of talked about a little bit in one of the earlier episodes, it's really about understanding how and where trauma might be showing up in a creative process, in a performance, in the organization and meeting it with compassion both in ourselves and of others, right. And, so I very much hold the belief that we're all just trying to feel good, we are all doing what we feel will help us feel good. Um, and going from there and it could be like someone could punch a hole in the wall in the middle of rehearsal and I believe that they're doing that because that is something that they believe will feel good to them.

Okay, so holding a really judgment free space and I think sometimes that can start to tip into this world of anything is okay or any behavior is okay and that's really one of the things I'll talk about a little bit in this episode and, then in the next one. Um, I saw a great t-shirt that basically sums up, what I'm trying to say the t-shirt said like, kindness without boundaries of self-sabotage and I think in a similar sense being trauma-informed to the point where it is detrimental to your own health and well-being it's no longer trauma-informed, as you are really sacrificing to the point of maybe chronic stress or burnout or chronic traumatic stress. And, so therefore like I think trauma-informed spaces, actually can have tighter containers or stronger boundaries than perhaps some think. Um, and it depends on the space that you're in and those that you're working with like how loose is that container or how tight or um anything like that. In my HOWLROUND article that came out in September 2021, I talk about vulnerability vases, I'm kind of proud of that one. Um, and I talk about how, I talk about this more in the perception of safety and I'll get there in a moment. Um, like if people are kind of seeing this trauma-informed space as a place to air their vulnerabilities; um like what's your capacity for catching those vulnerabilities, if every single person in your organization is constantly throwing vulnerability faces at you. How many can you catch? How many can you hold? What is your capacity?

And, so I think it's important to to be aware of that and our own tendencies and I'm so saying all of this from a very like personal having to unpack this and understand it in my own body place. Um, in that same HOWLROUND article, I talk about the tough conversation with trauma in an arts organization starts internally, an organization is only as healthy as the mind body and spirit of its leadership. And, so the there's a different level of importance around that um knowing that at the top the health and well-being at the top, that's going to trickle out to whoever else is involved in the organization. So, if leadership is easily activated, their nervous systems are easily out of whack, then everyone else's nervous system is going to start to really kind of hone in on that, right. And, when we're in a position as an individual where our health, safety, well-being is dependent upon someone else; now our center is outside of ourselves, that's what I talk about with resourcing, right. So with resourcing feeling grounded, centered in the present moment. Centered being that we are in our own bodies and like that's where our world exists and when we exist in our bodies and we know that we're in a safe space, like there's there's a certain element of control over that, right. So, then if our safety starts to be determined by perhaps the leadership in the room, our center no longer exists within ourselves. Our safety, our health, our well-being depends on the safety, health and well-being of someone else, so we are no longer thinking about ourselves and being centered in our body. We move our center over to that other person: someone in a position of power, someone in a position of leadership and now their safety determines our safety, because our center is not with us.

So, as someone in a position of leadership um I think of myself right now like, as a director, choreographer, arts leader, my history of being an educator; like it takes work to maintain that consistency and to really regulate ourselves in a way where we can show up and be really consistent and it is a lot of invisible emotional, labor that no one ever sees. And, it's worth it, it is worth it. Um, so what I recommend I'm not a huge fan of regulating. I will say that as well, so regulating our nervous system being that if we feel that we're going into that sympathetic-dominant space, maybe we take like a really long exhale as a way to counter that. That kind of thing that I think is quite popular, I'm not a huge fan of. All right, um I think it leads to just constantly trying to regulate ourselves like, police our own bodies, conform and if we are in a practice of doing that to ourselves when we are in a position of power. Are we also doing that to other bodies in this space? So not a huge fan of regulation and I see it as a tool. So, if we're in a rehearsal, a meeting, a class and we start to notice that we are quite activated. I do believe that tool in the moment can be really helpful. One that I often use is like, a tak...take a sip of water always through a straw, so I inhale as I drink the water in, I hold my breath as I swallow the water and, then I exhale through the nose after. And, so that's a pattern that can be regulating. It's one that I find helpful in regulating for my nervous system. But for me, I find if I was getting like worked up and I choose to counter something in a classroom or rehearsal I still need to discharge that energy later. So, I mean that can be as simple as you know the right playlist on the car ride home afterwards and singing at the top of my lungs, right. Just something to to let that energy get out still, so I'm a huge fan of discharging energy but finding an appropriate avenue to do so in an appropriate time, so that the next time I'm in that rehearsal, in that classroom space I can show up without that extra stored energy that's kind of baggage from the previous, previous time.

So there's a lot of that internal work that's happening when we're in a position of power within a classroom or within a creative space and I think it's really the most important thing is taking that time to allow ourselves to take care of ourselves, to be centered, grounded in the present moment and doing what we need to do to show up in a consistent way and appropriately regulate or discharge anything that activates us. And, I think that's what can create a sense of safety for others in a space. So safety's in the eye of the beholder and I am someone who like as soon as someone says like, 'Oh don't worry this is a safe space' like my nervous system does not respond well to that; like if this was a safe space I would not need to be told it was a safe space, you know.

And let's unpack it just a little bit more, okay? So when I'm talking about like the perception of safety. I'm talking about psychological safety, specifically. And, so psychological safety is how we perceive safety. I'm not talking as much about like physical safety like, yes there are people whose sole responsibility is to keep people like physically safe like a light's not going to fall on them um that kind of thing, right. I'm thinking more psychological safety as it relates to trauma. And ultimately, individuals can only create a safe space for themselves. So let's go back to that internal dialogue, so the spaces that you're working in: do you feel safe showing up in them? And, if we don't feel safe showing up in them, like what is that like nervous system response that we're carrying into the space uh sharing with others, right? Like, we all like the mirror neurons they're picking up on it, right. Um, if we show up to a space where we don't feel safe others are going to know whether that is conscious thought or otherwise. But, being aware of how we feel safe and how we perceive safety in a space. I think a lot of the um psychological safety or when people say that like they want to create a safe space, I really think it should be replaced with creating brave and supportive spaces. All right, and I know there was like definitely a movement around creating a brave space, instead of a safe space. Cool and let's add to that! Uh brave and supportive. So, I want that like internal brave vibe going on and let that internal brave be met with that external support, right. And, this is where the vulnerability vases come back in for that visual, if I choose to be brave and toss out my vulnerability to the group and that vase just shatters on the floor. I'm not going to be tossing out any other vulnerability vases anytime soon with that group, right. Where if I toss out a vulnerability vase and someone in the group or several in the group really catch that vase that's going to start to really build um an environment where people can be wholly vulnerable and there is that like reciprocal relationship with others and I think ultimately that does create that psychological safety. Um, but let's start with the brave and supportive, all right. Um that individuals are responsible for creating that space um both within themselves and also with others in the group. And I think that's where I want to leave it for now. Um, there's definitely more to say on this, but I think that's that's a nice place to end with the brave and supportive space.

Um, so dear listener take a moment for a check-out: how you doing? What are you thinking about? Notice any changes to your breath, to maybe even like where you're taking information in through your senses, have things been heightened, have things turned off at all. Um, what all are you taking in right now? And, thank you so much for listening, until next time!

Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Any Other Anything's where we're focusing on trauma and creativity.

If you are interested in learning more, please check out the show notes. You will be able to find our self-guided workshops that are available on our website: And, that is grey with an 'e'. There's also a coupon code in the show notes, that gives you 10% off all services, as a thank you. If you are enjoying this episode and would like more of it please consider donating through our website. Again,, so that we can continue to produce this episode and produce new work around trauma and creativity and trauma-informed creative practices.

Thank you all very much for listening. Take care of yourselves!

#GreyBoxCollective #AnyOtherAnythings #Podcast #Season2 #Creativity #TraumaInformed #Brave #SafeSupport #Space

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MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art in trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'm

MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art and trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'

MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art and trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'