15. Trauma-Informed Care and Pedagogy

In this conversation, Matt Tibbles shares moving personal stories that actualize both his learning journey and the important peacebuilding ideas he studies, practices and teaches – drawing from experiences as a youth pastor and a juvenile detention officer, in education and prevention for a domestic violence and sexual assault shelter, and from among his students in classrooms at EMU.

A 2018 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Tibbles is an organizational development and conflict transformation professional with experience working in and with multi-ethnic for-profit businesses, higher education, nonprofit organizations, and indigenous tribes. He balances teaching at EMU with consultancy work among organizations and school districts, focusing on co-creating dignity and honoring trauma-informed and restorative organizational cultures. 

Tibbles brings these experiences into the courses he teaches to undergraduates in the peacebuilding and development program and the sociology program. He also teaches graduate courses at CJP. 

Tibbles begins by describing a pivotal experience of de-escalating conflict while working as a youth pastor in the Pacific Northwest. Witnessing the effect of trauma on the child involved pushed him to explore the concept more fully in the youth group he worked with at the church. Later in Alaska, he worked at a juvenile detention facility where he encountered trauma-informed care and practices. Night shifts there allowed for deeper exploration of restorative justice, especially through webinars offered by the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice and readings of The Little Book of Restorative Justice by Howard Zehr (Good Books, 2002).

There, Tibbles began to ask different and probing questions about the behavior of the teens he worked with: One guiding question was “In what reality does this behavior make sense?” Viewing those behaviors through a trauma lens, as responses to trauma, helped him and others he worked with see how daily protocols and practices could raise fear and anxiety. For example, walking directly behind a teen in transition between activities triggered a stress reaction, but shifting slightly into her peripheral vision was a much less threatening position. 

While our default approach might be “blaming and judging,” asking questions about why behavior might be happening “allowed us to see a much bigger, broader picture of what was going on,” Tibbles said.

After studies at CJP, he’s worked to integrate restorative justice and trauma-informed pedagogy within the larger university community with a ripple effect as students across the disciplines see the potential and benefits to bring those principles into various settings.

“When we’re able to create trauma-informed and resilient systems, my hope is, and I’m seeing it a little bit from students that have graduated, or even students that have transferred out of EMU into another university or college, is that they’re taking these experiences of being trauma-informed and resilient into their own communities into wherever they’re going,” he said. “And they’re beginning, in small ways, to shift systems that haven’t been trauma informed, or, or haven’t focused on resilience into systems that are beginning to explore just even a little bit of what that means and how it [can be] transformative.”


Guest

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Matthew Tibbles

Matt Tibbles is an organizational development and conflict transformation professional with experience working in multi-ethnic for-profit businesses, higher education, non-profit organizations, and indigenous tribes in developing and implementing organizational development strategies with a specialization in trauma-informed and resilient-based strategies/practices.  He currently serves as an instructor at Eastern Mennonite University in the Peacebuilding & Development Program, Sociology Program, and the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.  He also consults with organizations and school districts in co-creating dignity honoring trauma-informed and restorative organizational cultures. 
 
He lives in Harrisonburg, VA with his family.  He is a husband to Julie Tibbles and a father to Reese and Kellyn Tibbles.  He enjoys woodworking, soccer, basketball, and living a contemplative Christian faith.


Transcript

Matt:
You know, “grave-shifts” are great for relaxing and, and that kind of stuff, because most of the time the juveniles were sleeping, and so, a lot of our duties were to, you know, get the detention facility ready for the next day, make sure all the laundry was done and ready to go for when the, uh, when the juveniles woke up and then we would get them up. You know, we were the smiling face, uh, getting them up in the morning. And, and so, uh, you know, the hours of two, three, four or five o’clock in the morning, uh, it seemed to drag a little bit, but it was great because, uh, we had a resource shelf that we could, uh, get books from. And the little book on restorative justice was on there.

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patience:
Hi everybody happy Wednesday to you. Welcome back to peacebuilder, a conflict transformation podcast by The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. My name is patience kamau, and our guest this episode is…

Matt:
Matt Tibbles, instructor at Eastern Mennonite university.

patience:
Matt Tibbles is an organizational development and conflict transformation professional with experience working in multi-ethnic for-profit businesses, higher education, non-profit organizations, and indigenous tribes in developing and implementing organizational development strategies with a specialization in trauma-informed and resilient-based strategies/practices. He currently serves as an instructor here at Eastern Mennonite University in the Peacebuilding & Development Program, Sociology Program, and the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. He also consults with organizations and school districts in co-creating dignity honoring trauma-informed and restorative organizational cultures. He lives in Harrisonburg, Va. with his family. He is a husband to Julie Tibbles and a father to Reese and Kellyn Tibbles. He enjoys woodworking, soccer, basketball, and living a contemplative Christian faith.

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patience:
So Matt, we are here today to talk about trauma informed classrooms, but before we do that, do you mind just talking about the journey from being youth pastor, um, in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska to CJP, how did that all come together?

Matt:
The story that I want to start out with was I got a phone call one night, uh, in the early two thousands. It was from a kid that was in my youth group, uh, and he’s frantic on the phone. Uh, he’s kind of scattered all over the place, telling me all kinds of things. And in the background I hear his mother, uh, screaming and yelling. I hear his father; they were divorced. Uh, I hear his father screaming and yelling, and then I hear this other voice in the background too, trying to calm everybody down. And, and he’s like, Matt, can you get over here right now? I’m like, sure, I’d be glad to come over here. So I get in my vehicle rush over to, uh, to where his dad’s apartment was. Uh, and I drive up and of course I see, uh, the police car, uh, with the lights going and, uh, I find a parking spot as best as I can and I sit, or I get out of my vehicle, uh, and all of a sudden just flooded with screaming and yelling, uh, all kinds of, uh, uh, cursing going on. Uh, and then I hear in the background, you know, here’s this police officer trying to calm everybody down. Uh, and so in my head, I’m thinking, “Oh no, what am I getting myself into?” And I walk up and immediately the kid sees me, and he comes over to me and gives me a, gives me a big hug and, and he starts to tell me about what’s going on, uh, why this scene is playing out the way it is. He goes, I, you know, “my mom and dad are screaming at each other, they just won’t stop and, uh, somebody called the police, so now the police are here and we’re all going to get in trouble.” And, and you see him, or I saw in his demeanor, uh, you know, this kid that’s probably in…a freshmen, sophomore year in high school, and he’s, he’s just bent over, like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. Uh, and he doesn’t know what to do with it. Uh, and so I walk up to, uh, to the scene, uh, and I never know what was gonna happen because, you know, the cop was on full alert; you could tell from his body that he was, he was paying attention to everything that was happening and who was around and, and just being ready to respond to whatever. Uh, and so I walk up, his dad says hi to me, uh, his mom knew me, so, so she said hi to me, and I introduced myself to the cop. I said, “hi, I’m Matt Tibbles, I’m the youth pastor….” and, um, and so I began to get an idea of what’s going on. Uh, as I listened to both the mother and the father, still continuing to yell at each other and, and, and scream obscenities to each other, and the cop, you know, trying to do his thing, and I immediately just kind of step-in and say, okay, uh, I name the father…I said, could you go inside just for a little bit and try to create, you know, really trying to create some physical distancing space between the mother and the father and the police officer and the kid. Uh, and so the father reluctantly agrees to go inside, so I walk into the door, he goes inside, I shut the door. And then I walk over to the mother and the son is right there with them, uh, with her, and so she begins to calm down a little bit. The son begins…probably since the first time I got there, um, begins to take a little deeper breaths. Uh, all of his breaths up to that point had been very short, uh, and so you kind of see him begin to, to take deeper breaths, kind of like that breath that you just took. [Both laugh] And, and the cop too, you know, the cop was taking, beginning to take some deeper breaths, and so, uh, the cop and I started kind of working, working together. You know, I asked him questions, trying to figure out what’s going on…and then the dad pops out again, and so all of us tense up immediately, like, “Oh, no, what’s gonna happen now? We just got some things to begin to calm down a little bit.” And I look at the cop and I was like, “I’m gonna go talk to the dad.” And he was like, “you go right ahead, I’ll stay here with the mother and the son.” And so I go inside and the father and the stepmother are in the room and so we, we go into the living room…go into the dining room, uh, it’s an apartment complex. And so we go in, we sit down and I just say, you know, first of all, let’s just take some deep breaths to relax and calm down a minute. Then after those deep breaths came, we began to…I began to question, you know, what’s going on. The father began to tell me what’s going on and what had happened. Uh, and so I’m like, “okay, thanks for that. You know, if you could just stay in here, that would be great right now, uh, you know, just continue to, uh, uh, take deep breaths, continue to try to relax so that we can try to work through this, somehow, tonight without somebody going to jail.” So I walk back outside, uh, and the cop still talking to the, to the son and to his mother and we uh, again, you know, just continue to try to deescalate the situation, uh, at this time, uh, the son is not, uh, crying or as upset as he was, uh, he’s beginning to relax a little bit. Uh, the mother was calmed down, she was beginning to really relax, uh, to a certain extent. Uh, and we work through that…we worked through that night. It just so happened that it was, uh, it worked out okay. Uh, that nobody did go to, uh, go to jail and get hauled off to jail that night. But, thinking about, you know, thinking about that night and thinking about how the kid, uh, the kid that was in my youth group, when I first arrived and got out of my vehicle, how he, uh, you know, came running to my vehicle, uh, and just kinda gave me a big hug, uh, for, for me to be there. And then seeing how things were playing out really began to, I should say, helped me along this, this trauma-informed and resilience journey, uh, that I’ve been on for the last, uh, 20 years, cause it really, showed me how much things affect kids or things affect the adults that are around them. And when they get to a point to where it overwhelms, uh, all of their coping mechanisms, you know, bad things happen after that because they began to…um, to really kind of lash out or shut down and that kind of stuff. And in the case of this kid, you know, just being able to take a deep breath that night was a major, major theme for, uh, for, him because everything was firing out of control. You know, what kid has the ability to tell his parents to calm down when they’re screaming and yelling and, and, and saying all the times of obscenities toward, uh, toward each other, you know, no kid really has adult kids, uh, struggled to do that maybe to their parents, but, you know, think about a 14, 15 year old kid trying to, trying to be the adult in that situation and say, “you know, calm down, let’s talk about this.” Uh, and so, you know, seeing how the weight of…that was on the, on my, the kid that was in my youth group, his life, uh, in his body, uh, really began to push me in a direction of, of looking at what, what are the effects of trauma, uh, on people’s lives? And as you said, I was a youth pastor. So in my journey as a youth pastor in my youth group, uh, the youth group from when I was first starting, to the youth group, when I God opened up, other journeys for me to go down, was completely different.

patience:
Mm, in what ways?

Matt:
…in what ways; some of it was just the kids that were attending, uh, early on, it was church kids. It was kids that had parents that went to church, and that, uh, were…maybe what you would consider like core families in the church. Uh, you know, every church kind of has those families that have some power, uh, to act….and so early on, it was, it was those types of kids that were in the youth group. They were born and bred in the the church, their parents had always gone to church, uh, and so church is what they knew. But as we transitioned, uh, I say “we,” as the youth ministry began to grow and transition by the end the majority of the kids in the youth group were these kids that were, that came from homes that weren’t as healthy. Uh, either the families were split up and, and there was some type of divorce or estrangement in, in the parents. Some of the kids were, were the ones that were bullied at school, uh, and were constantly being affected by those types of assaults.

Matt:
Um, the emotional, physical assaults, uh, on them at school day in and day out. Uh, some of the kids, uh, came from families that didn’t even go to church. And, and in some cases were adamantly against any type of religious faith. And some of the kids also were the ones that were in trouble with the law, that there were court appearances. There were, you know, some type of probation or, or, or detention, uh, that was in, uh, that they were required to fulfill. Uh, and so that became the youth group, uh, you know, this place where, uh, it was really wonderful to see, um, that it was a place where they could be themselves. Uh, and in some cases it was the only place that they could, they could be who they were and it allowed them to relax. It allowed them to breathe.

Matt:
Uh, there were some times that due to their schedules and due to just the, uh, the constantly having to be alert their body, always having to be alert, uh, that when they came to youth group, they actually just took a nap. And, you know, you think about that in, in youth ministry or some type of learning environment. And you’re like, no, no, we don’t want that. But in our case, we wanted that because it was a place that they could feel like, uh, they were safe enough, uh, to sleep and really just trying to allow it allowed their body to relax. Uh, and so it was really a wonderful journey that our youth ministry went on, that, that we, uh, we had this big transition, uh, throughout, uh, throughout my employment there in the Pacific Northwest that allowed us to, to invite teenagers, to be themselves. Yeah.

patience:
And then how was your time in Alaska, Alaska? Uh, Alaska.

Matt:
It was great. I never thought my family and I would move to Alaska, but, uh, but God called us to, uh, to journey up that direction. And we settled in this little community. That’s called the first it’s called Ketchikan, Alaska. Uh, and it’s the first city that you come in contact with as you move up from the lower 48, if you’re coming from the South. Uh, and so we settled in Ketchikan, Alaska, and, and I was looking for a job and eventually found a job at, uh, the Ketchikan regional youth facility. And that was associated with, uh, juvenile justice, uh, in Alaska. So it was a detention facility, and I never dreamed myself that I would be working in a detention facility, but as, as I was employed there and, and I ended up working almost two and a half years at the detention facility, we were able, or I should say I was able to really just re-engage with the kids that were in my youth group.

Matt:
These are the kids that were, were either pushed to the margins on society, or didn’t have the best home life. And so day in and day out, I got to interact and, and care for the, uh, these kids that I somehow I’ve come in contact with, with a wall and we’re in our facility. And so with Chris, we were able to, um, that’s where I was officially introduced to trauma-informed care. Uh, it’s where I was officially introduced to restorative justice. And, and so began this like reading journey for me, uh, that, uh, I was able to go through, uh, go through some of the trainings by Dr. Randy Moss. Uh, he did all of our trauma-informed trainings for the division of juvenile justice. And so, uh, we got to talk about what is trauma-informed care, what does it mean? What is it, what are the physiological responses to trauma?

Matt:
And we got to explore all of that, and then try to the best we can bring that into our detention facility. Now our detention facility was pre adjudication. And so what that means is it was, it was before they went to court system or while they were going through the court system. So, uh, any the juveniles in our facility knew, uh, that even though we were building relationships with them and healthy relationships with them, uh, that they knew that we could testify against them. Uh, so it was, it was really kind of a really tough balance that we wanted to build relationships with them and, and really tried to, to model what it means to be healthy in relationships. But at the same time, they knew we could testify against them. So they, they couldn’t be completely transparent. There’s a power imbalance. Yeah. It was a huge imbalance. Uh, but, uh, we were able to walk that line, uh, and we were able to build relationships with them and have healthy relationships as, as best as we could, so that, uh, while their time in, in our detention facility, um, was, was as little trauma inducing, uh, as it could be,

patience:
You could make it. Yeah. And you said you were listening to, um, uh, Zehr Institute webinars. Can you tell us about that?

Matt:
No, grave shifts are great for relaxing and, and that kind of stuff, because most of the time the juveniles were sleeping. And so a lot of our duties were to, you know, get the day detention facility ready for the next day, make sure all the laundry was done and ready to go for when the, uh, when the juveniles woke up and then we would get them up. You know, we were with a smiling face, uh, getting them up in the morning. And, and so, uh, you know, the hours of two, three, four or five o’clock in the morning, uh, it seemed to drag a little bit, but it was great because, uh, we had a resource shelf that we could, uh, get books from. And the little book on restorative justice was on there. Uh, and so, uh, I was able to read Howard’s Zehr’s, um, little book, uh, and then that introduced me to the Zehr Institutes.

So, uh, we were always encouraged to find training and to do training. So, uh, some of those wee hours in the morning where we’re listening to the podcasts, uh, from the Zehr Institute and, and learning as much as I could through all of that. Uh, and so that was, that was a, that was a great experience and introduction to, uh, CJP to EMU, uh, to, to restorative justice, to the Zehr Institute. Um, you know, and one of the things that I, I think about, uh, about that time, uh, when I was a juvenile justice officer, was there were two, there’s a couple of stories that really stand out to me. Um, one was part of our procedures was whenever we were transitioning from one part of the detention facility to the other part or to another part of the detention facility with, with the juveniles, uh, they had to line up guys in, lined up first.

Uh, and the young ladies were in the back of the line. Uh, and then the juvenile justice officer was behind that. Uh, and so when we were, when we were transitioning, uh, there just happened to be a day that the, uh, we were going out to rec., uh, to the recreation courts. And, and so we were lined up, we were walking down the hallway, uh, and there was this young lady that was in the back of the line and, and she kind of stops, uh, and, and turns around and looks, looks at me. And she’s like, Mr. Tibbles, could you stand to the left of me? And I’m like, you know, it goes against that. Uh, going through my head was, is like, okay, this goes against our policy. We’re supposed to do, could get trouble for this, you know, all of that stuff going through my head. Uh, but you know, the simple request of me just walking behind her, but to the, and now to the left, I’ve heard so that she could kind of see me out of my peripherals or out of her peripheral vision was huge. Uh, and I didn’t ask her where why. I was like, yeah, I’d be glad to, to walk to the left. And the more I reflected on that situation, uh, it made sense, you know, given, given what had happened to her in her life, uh, having a guy walked behind her was unnerving. It created a trau.. Recreated, a trauma response in her life. And so just the simple movement from being behind her, just to the left of her a little bit so that she could see me, uh, relaxed that trauma response in her life. And, and so the anxiety and all of that kind of unnerving, uh, didn’t happen. Uh, and so, uh, in that particular case, I was able to, you know, I was thankful for my trauma informed training, uh, because I was just like, yeah, totally, totally be able to do that. So if you can just relax walking down the hallway and you see me out of, you know, the left side of your, your peripheral vision then great, uh, cause I would hate to cause even more stress in your life that you, that you don’t need. Um,

patience:
And you didn’t, did you get into trouble for having…?

Matt:
I did not, right. And the hallway wasn’t very big. So, you know, it wasn’t that big of a movement, but, but still there were, there were protocols and kind of stuff that we had, uh, that we needed to follow, uh, that was just accepted norms. Um, another thing that, that I was so thankful for, for our facility was in, uh, there was one time, uh, it was about a two and a half through oh, no, sorry, one and a half to two week period that we had, we had this mix of juveniles in, in the facility and they, there was a group that didn’t like, uh, another group. Uh, and so, uh, and particularly one person, uh, and so tensions were always high. Uh, it was always you walk in, you just kind of feel that, that things, things were tense, uh, and they could explode at any moment.

Um, I was working the evening shift that time and we were, we were able, uh, depending on what level the, the juveniles were at, according to their behavior, there was level one, two and three, uh, level ones went to bed, the earliest level twos in the middle and then level threes got to stay up a little later. Um, and so we were in the process of getting everybody to, to bed somehow. And, and, uh, for about a week and a half to two weeks, there’s this one young lady that it was, it was clockwork, uh, when it came time for her, probably I should probably say about five minutes before it was time for her to go to, to bed. Uh, she would began to amp up and began to act out, Oh, and that would rise the tension or raise the attention of everybody else. And, and, and some of the officers, uh, including myself on some days are like, Oh, no, here we go again. Uh, but I’m so thankful, uh, for our trauma informed care and for the emphasis that we had in, uh, in our facility, because, uh, in some of the other facilities, uh, it would be really easy for people just to, to, uh, to put her in handcuffs, uh, and put her in a room and force her to go to her room. And one of the big things about us is we tried to do, uh, all that we could, uh, before we had to get to that moment. Uh, and so part of that meant that if we, if we could spend two to three hours talking to them, uh, to where they willingly went into their rooms, uh, then we were going to spend two to three hours talking to them, instead of trying to, to, uh, uh, coerce them, force them, force them, uh, into, into their room.

And so, um, so in this particular incident, like I said, you know, for a week and a half to two weeks, uh, it was, uh, and I forget exactly what time it was, but five minutes before, uh, she would amp up a little bit, uh, and then that would get other people angry. So we said, we’d have to send, uh, everybody to their rooms. Uh, and some of them, you know, 30, 30 minutes to an hour before, uh, they were supposed to go to the room, so they weren’t happy about that. Uh, and so we would send these sitting in the day room, or I would be sitting in the day room, uh, just talking to her, uh, for two to three hours to just try to get her to, uh, to relax and calm down on your own, and then willingly make that choice, uh, to go into her room. And, you know, and the beautiful thing was, is, is not once, not once, did we have to, uh, do a physical restraint during that time that, uh, she chose to chose to, uh, and it was like a light switch, uh, is like after, after we had spent, you know, a couple of hours talking and was like, okay, Mr. Tibbles, I’m ready to go to bed. I’m like, okay, let’s go to bed. And so again, I guess thinking about that is, is the reality that we, because of trauma-informed, it really, it caused us to ask different questions. It wasn’t, this behavior is here, here, this young lady is acting up again. Uh, and, uh, you know, she’s screaming at everybody or she’s doing some type of, of cursing at us. Uh, but it was really allowed us to step back and say, okay, in what reality does this behavior makes sense?

So instead of, uh, instead of doing some type of assumption or judgment of her, that she does this, she’s doing this on purpose and all that kind of stuff that, that we kind of get caught into sometimes of, of really just blaming other people, it allowed us to step back and say, you know, what, in what reality does this behavior makes sense? And so when we questioned that it allowed us to see a much bigger, broader picture of what was going on and in this young lady’s life and, and things that had happened to her, you know, given, given a situation and given some situations here, uh, there weren’t positive things that happened when the lights went out.

patience:
Oh, of course. And so it made perfect sense that she would resist…

Matt:
Yes. That moment to go to bed when the lights were turned down. And so it allowed us to really step back and see that and not taking any of that, but, uh, the acting out behavior personally, that it was against us, that it was, it was just her body signaling…

patience:
“…I don’t trust this…”

Matt:
Lights-off don’t mean good things. Uh, and so we were able to, uh, to really kind of work through that, um, and without having to force, uh, force her into her room and that kind of stuff. And so really thinking about, you know, juvenile justice in Alaska, you know, I’m going to give a big shout out to them because I really think, uh, that they’re, uh, they’re way ahead of places here in the lower 48.

patience:
Yeah. I mean, right there, you all were seeking her consent, which is probably something she was not used to having before. And so she would voluntarily just go to bed because you allowed her to make the choice.

Matt:
Yeah. And that would be cool. It is pretty cool. Uh, I will tell you, it was, it was tiring. It was exhausting, uh, cause when you’re supposed to get off at 11 or 12 and you don’t get off to two or three in the morning and then you have to turn around and come back, you know, uh, less than 16 hours later, um, uh, the patients, it was, it was at times it was, it tests our patients and our resolve to, to even practice trauma-informed care. Cause it was, you know, there were times where it was like, oh, here we go. Uh, but then again, you know, once we, once we were able to get into that and really just kind of check ourselves again, uh, it allowed us to, to treat people within it and they haven’t, they haven’t, and in some cases they haven’t experience. So, was really thankful for that really thankful for our, our, our facility. We were, we were one of, well, I should say in that two and a half years that I worked there, uh, we only had to do one restraint. Uh, whereas all, uh, the, the, all the other facilities, uh, were doing at least one with Shane once a week.

patience:
Oh, wow.

Matt:
So we were pretty proud of our, the way we worked and the way we treated, the way we treated, uh, the juveniles that were in our care at the time to, to really, uh, begin to, um, to see their humanity, to see their dignity and say, you know what, uh, we’re going to honor that we’re going to honor who you are. Uh, and we’re going to care for you as best as we can.

patience:
How have you brought all that, uh, experience from your background and of course you graduate…then you came to CJP and you earned your masters in conflict transformation. When was that?

Matt:
That was 2018.

patience:
Okay, yeah, 2018. Um, and now you’re a teacher here at EMU, uh, the department of applied social sciences, correct? And CJP as well?

Matt:
Yeah, CJP, uh, I do some teaching at CJP, uh, since EMU has gone to the three school model, uh, I guess we really don’t have a department of applied social sciences anymore. We, even though we do still address ourselves as DAS and that kind of stuff. Uh, but, but yeah, so in the peace building and development program, I teach in the sociology program. Uh CJP and then I also do, uh, I’ve co-taught, uh, in the masters, in nursing programs here.

patience:
Yeah. So how has all that experience influenced you as a teacher? In creating a trauma informed classroom, especially in this past year that has been so disruptive to all kinds of people, but especially students. Can you talk about that?

Matt:
Sure can. Yeah, it’s, it’s been a huge impact. Um, and knowing, knowing the kids, uh, that I was working with, you know, from youth ministry to detention facility, um, I think also I didn’t mention this, but also in Alaska, I worked for a domestic violence and sexual assault shelter. Uh, and so, uh, I was doing a lot in the community of trying to, uh, create a culture of prevention. Uh, so we were trying to get ahead of the game of, of, of violence, uh, and, and create communal practices in the community so that we would work together to end violence against not just women, but against kids, against men, and against indigenous communities, uh, against the land, uh, that kind of stuff. And so when I came down here and began teaching, um, it was real easy to see that those students in my classrooms versus similar to, to all the kids that I’ve been interacting with, the majority of them here in EMU, you haven’t been in trouble with the law, uh, or anything like that.

But, uh, we were able to, or I should say I was able to create, uh co-create with them an environment that said, Hey, you know what, your whole self is welcome here in the classroom. And, and in the education, uh, you know, a lot of times in traditional education, it’s, it’s, you know, come learn all that kind of stuff. And, and one of the first things that, that we, or that I should say that I, I do in my classrooms is we’re going to come and be first. Uh, so it’s not about the material or anything when you first come in, it’s about, um, what identities are you bringing in today? What experiences are you bringing in that you weren’t, that are new or that have come up since the last time we were together? And so we just, we just come in and be uh, and we, we do a check in, uh, whether it’s, whether it’s just a mental check in or, or something like, you know, Hey, what’s your capacity. We learned today. Uh, we do a thumbs up, thumbs sideways, thumbs down, um, or, uh, you know, are we able to concentrate, uh, and really try to began to, to not just situate ourselves and my students into the classroom, but, but that whole invitation of, of, you know, what, everything’s welcome in this classroom, we can handle this. Uh, and so if you’re having a terrible day, then, then you know what, uh, we can, we can do this together and we’ll support you as a classroom, uh, as, as best as possible. And, and again, it goes back to that question that, that came up when I was in juvenile justice. Uh, and just beginning to learn about trauma informed care, as you know, and what reality does this behavior make sense? So if one of my students is, is normally pretty talkative, but for a, you know, a couple of class periods in a row uh, become really reserved and withdrawn a little bit, you know, it’s like, “hey, hey, something may be going on…let’s talk about that.” And so, and not, not necessarily in front of the class, but pull them aside or, or, uh, just kind of talk to them and say, Hey, we can know what’s going on. Uh, and if they’re willing to open up, they they’re, uh, that’s great if they’re not, you know, that’s okay too, because maybe they’re not at a place yet to be able to talk about whatever it is going on in their lives. Uh, and so I just communicate, Hey, I’m here to support you. However, uh, just, you know, don’t be afraid to reach out and, and that’s really created an interesting classroom environment.

patience:
What do you mean?

Matt:
Well, thinking about, you know, early on last year when the pandemic was just beginning in March, and it was two days before EMU sent out a message that said, Hey, we’re moving to virtual. Uh, we don’t know how long we’re going to be here. So everybody, uh, you know, transition to this, this hard shift, hard transition into, uh, meeting online meeting in zoom. The Wednesday before that Friday email came out, uh, it was, it was, we were on a break in a classroom. One of my classes, that’s, that’s two and a half hours long, uh, for the week. And, and so we were on a break, uh, and that was everybody was, everybody was talking about, was like, you know, Hey, what’s going to happen. We don’t know. It was really kind of unsettling, uh, in their behavior. And, and, and some of them who struggle with some anxiety anyway, we’re, we’re really beginning to, to exhibit signs of being overwhelmed. And so we, so I was just like, Hey, you know, what do we need to do? We need to stop class right now and just kind of talk about this, about how we’re doing, uh, what are we, what are we what’s creating anxiety in our lives? And, and they were like, Yes, totally. I was like, okay, all right, wait, we can do this. Uh, and so for the next, I don’t know how long, uh, it might’ve been for the rest of the class period, uh, that we just stopped, you know, the material that was, that was supposed to be covered that day. And, and we attended to ourselves, uh, and in that moment, we were able to see one, uh, that we were all experiencing very similar anxieties of not knowing what was next. Uh, and then also we were able to acknowledge how that anxiety and how that, that sense of overwhelm was beginning to influence our body, how our body was responding to that. So some people there, it was, it was beginning to interrupt their sleep rhythms. Uh, for some people it was, it was all they could think about, uh,

patience:
Because of the pandemic or what?

Matt:
Yeah, yeah. The looming pandemic, uh, and, and all of us too, really not knowing how, um, how deep it would go or how long it would go. Uh, and so we had this conversation, uh, that allowed us to invite, uh, our whole bodies into the conversation and saying, you know what, my body’s feeling anxiety here. Uh, and, and how that plays out. Some people were saying, you know, I have this neck pain that just doesn’t go away, or I have this headache that it doesn’t matter how much I could go from that. I take, uh, it’s still there. Uh, and so really we were able to, it was a restorative justice and trauma awareness class. So we were really able to say, okay, let’s talk about the trauma, that the trauma response that your body is beginning to communicate. And so we were able to, to again, attend to our bodies, but also attend to the bodies of everybody else in the room as a collective.

And, and so we were able to really work through all of that and have that conversation. Uh, and, and that actually set us up for, uh, probably one of the most powerful circle processes, uh, that I have ever been a part of. Uh, so we transitioned online in that class. We moved over to, uh, like I said, virtual, uh, and then about a month later, you know, you just saw that the students, uh, it registered with them, that we weren’t going to be back in person that semester, uh, they had already transitioned home. And so they were beginning to struggle with, with being at home. Some of them hadn’t been home, uh, uh, in a long time. Uh, and so trying to renegotiate those dynamics, uh, with parents and siblings and, and, and not knowing when things were going to change or if they were going to change. Uh, and so we, uh, so I, I asked him, I was like, you know, Hey, do we need to do like a restorative justice circle process, uh, to, uh, to talk about the harms that COVID, the pandemic is doing to us. They’re like, yeah, we’d love to do that. Uh, and so we, um, the following class period, we, we did a circle process, uh, and really just had three rounds. It was online. So I created this little, little power or PowerPoint slide. Uh, everybody put a photo of themselves around a circle, uh, and everybody had their own, you know, I gave them agency and said, Hey, you know, bring your own, bring your own talking piece. So they all picked, you know, some type of gift that represented themselves. And, and, uh, you know, there, I think there was a rubber ducky and, and sometimes a ball and, and all kinds of things were our talking pieces that day.

Uh, and so we positioned ourselves around the circle online, so that we’d know the order of who’s going next. And, um, and so the first round, was, you know, what are the harms that the COVID-19 pandemic have caused you? I was really grateful that our class was two and a half hours cause we never would have gotten through through it. Uh, but, you know, yeah. Uh, and so as we, as the students began to talk, you know, they really began to, um, be transparent and be vulnerable, uh, and, and share, you know, some deep harms that, that, that COVID-19 was creating in their lives, you know, not just being away from EMU for the semester, uh, or anything like that, but, but like, uh, relational harms of things ending abruptly and having to, to, uh, to move home or something like that, seniors not getting to, to, uh, spend their last semester the way they thought they would be spending their last semester and, and, and just having deep, deep hurt. Uh, and so they, they got to express that and, and, and it was a place where, where we have the relationships established that, that we can hold that, uh, you know, holding that on a one-on-one relationship is, is extremely tough, but, but holding that in a community that’s, uh, that, um, allows the person to be who they are, uh, was an amazing gift to, to them, uh, actually to all of us. Uh, the second round was, uh, what do you need, what do you need from your peers? Uh, I started trying to address some needs, uh, and then the third round was, was all about how do we, how do we support each other? Uh, and so how, how do we as community surround each other, uh, and try to support each other. And I have to tell you, uh, there were points in that, uh, in that circle process that I was actually panicking on the inside because of what everybody was sharing.

I was just like, I was like, I don’t know what to do. I was like, okay, Matt, trauma-informed, trauma-informed. How do, how do we navigate this? Uh, you know, cause people are crying and, uh, and that kind of stuff. But the beautiful thing about that was because we had really been very intentional about creating, uh, a space, a trauma informed space that said, um, you know, your whole self is welcome. And we, as a community can carry, carry that, uh, it allowed for like this huge transformational moment during the circle process that we all started sharing and caring everybody. And it was one of the things that, that even to this day, when I talked to, uh, I talked to some of the students that were in this class or, or get an email back from, uh, one of the students that had graduated, you know, they referenced, they referenced that class, uh, that specific class and that specific circle process that, that really allowed us to, to pay attention to the reality of, of everybody else while paying attention to our reality, uh, and to create, uh, this very empathetic space, uh, where we could be, uh, we could be ourselves. I, you know, and it’s one of the things too, as an instructor, you’ve got to be comfortable, you know, in my classes, we’re always talking about transparency and vulnerability and that kind of stuff. So as an instructor, you’ve gotta model and you gotta be comfortable with transparency and vulnerability all at the same time. And sometimes it’s scary, scary thing to do. Uh, but, uh, but it’s so rewarding because then they get to see us as the instructors saying, you know what? We were struggling with some of the same things, uh, read it and know, you know, who knew how deep the pandemic would go and how long as we continue. And, you know, over a year later now continue to try to navigate the, uh, uh, the loss, uh, the depth of, of, uh, destruction that it’s created in our communities and individuals, families in our communities lives in our nation.

Uh, and so, uh, so it was just a beautiful thing that, that as we, from my past experiences, as we, we are, as I try to create this trauma-informed environment inside the classroom, uh, it really allows the students to, to open up. Uh, I asked one of my students this semester I had in one of my classes I have, uh, probably about half students I’ve had before and half students I haven’t had before. And I asked one of my students before I was like, how would you describe my classes? Uh, and this particular student, uh, she goes, she goes, you know what, it’s just like a big hug…”you come in here, and you just walk away loved,” uh, you know, I’m very grateful for that. I’m glad that, that we’re able to, uh, to provide spaces like that. But, you know, the thing here too is, is the, the students have to choose to go down that way too. It’s not just me setting the expectations or anything like that. We really try to, co-create a learning environment where everybody feels safe. Uh, and, and that’s a huge responsibility, uh, for the students that, that their agency, uh, is, is extremely important in creating, uh, what we try to create. So, so, yeah, so there’s all of that. And it is really fun.

patience:
Can you talk about the work-group that you guys formed at EMU? Uh syndemics and trauma informed resilience pedagogy.

Matt:
Yeah. Yeah, totally. Uh, again, going back to, uh, going back to last spring, uh, when we were all trying to navigate that EMU, you did a, I thought did it really well, uh, did a good job, uh, on staying in touch with students, but also staying in touch with faculty and staff about, you know, what is our mental health and that kind of stuff. And so, uh, we would have these monthly meetings where, where on zoom, everybody would show up, uh, I’m sure you showed up sometimes patience, that we’d come and we’d get the latest update of what the university’s doing, uh, and what they were planning. Yeah. And what kind of input, uh, did we need to have, or did they want from us? And, uh, and so there was this, uh, there was part of the conversation that was going on was, was the idea of, of the trauma responses in all of our lives, not just our students’ lives, but our faculty lives, the instructors and the staff and how we were all showing, uh, signs of, of trauma in our lives.

patience:
At the very least being really overwhelmed.

Matt:
Yes, yes. And so, uh, part of the, so out of that conversation, uh, this trauma informed, uh, and resilient pedagogy, uh, work work group formed, uh, and said, you know, how do we as teachers, or how do we, as EMU began to create trauma-informed classrooms, uh, for, for our students, but also for us. Uh, and so, uh, it was open to anybody who wanted to come and be a part of this. And one of the great things about that invitation was, uh, we have, uh, really, almost, almost a year now, uh, we’ve had this, this interdisciplinary group of people, uh, from staff to, to, uh, to instructors and, and tenure track faculty, uh, that we all come from all different places on EMU. Uh, so there’s, there’s different centers represented there’s there’s faculty from, from, uh, the different schools that we have represented. Uh, we have education, uh, faculty, peace-building faculty. We have, uh, adult learning faculty. We have, we have counseling faculty. Um, and, and I’m sure there’s some more than I’m forgetting,

patience:
Folks from Lancaster [Campus]…?

Matt:
Uh, and so, uh, you have, uh, some from the Lancaster campus that came on after we’ve been meeting for a few months when Kinder got a, uh, got word, uh, from somebody that this group was meeting. And she’s like, she’s like, I want to be a part of it. Uh, and so, uh, so it’s, it’s been great to have wind from that, the Lancaster campus and, and what a joy and, and, and, and richness that she brings into, uh, to our conversations and, and, and really trying to just explore and say, there’s a lot of literature out there, a lot of it in K through 12, and that kind of stuff about being trauma-informed schools and that kind of stuff, but there’s not a lot in higher ed. Uh, and, and so we were like, you know, what does it look like here? What are our classrooms looks like? Uh, if we adopted a trauma-informed and resilient pedagogy, uh, it’s specifically in an EMU context. So really trying to, to dive deep into our context and see what is, what is useful, how can we support, uh, faculty across all disciplines, faculty and staff, uh, across all disciplines. So that, uh, when the, when our students walk into our classrooms, uh, one, they know it, uh, they’re not going to use the word trauma-informed, but they know that they’re going to be loved and cared for. Uh, and they know that that they as a person, the whole person of themselves is, is richly, um, I should say, is welcomed into, into that classroom so that, uh, so that they experience, you know, an optimal learning environment where they’re safe. Uh, they’re, they’re empowered where they have agency, uh, and lots of other things, too. So, so we’ve been, we’ve been working almost a year. There was a document we reproduced, uh, earlier this year that was sent out to all faculty and staff.

patience:
Yeah. What’s the title of that document, what’s it called?

Matt:
It’s just trauma-informed strategies and practices, trauma-informed resilience, strategies, and practices. Uh, and so again, it’s specific to the, EMU context. And so we take, uh, six, uh, commonly accepted best practice.

patience:
What are some of those…?

Matt:
Resilient themes. Uh, some of it’s, uh, empowerment, uh, some of it is safety. Uh, some of it is looking at the context and the environment of all of that. And so, uh, so there’s six themes there that, that we’ve, we’ve centered this document around and in the document, it breaks down into, you know, questions as a instructor is, is prepping for class, uh, whether it’s the beginning of the semester or in the middle of the semester, uh, or towards the end, we, we really try to ask some very strategic questions.

patience:
Mm it’s like a guiding document, almost.

Matt:
A little bit of just saying, you know, Hey, what, what are your classroom rituals that, that, uh, cause one of the things when, when a student, or when someone’s in, in, uh, in some type of trauma response, uh, ritual, uh, is important. And so if they know that when they’re coming to say one of my classes or someone else’s classes, uh, there’s this ritual that happens, uh, that is fully expected that they’re not going to be surprised because that’s the last thing that they need at that moment. Uh, when they’re in some type of trauma responses to be surprised, uh, that they can say, okay, I know what’s gonna happen in this class. That’s always going to begin with how are we doing today? Uh, and then move into the forecast of what’s going to happen in class and then move into the readings or small groups or something like that. And so, uh, so part of it, you know, really ask strategic questions about, you know, what are your beginning rituals? What are your closing rituals? Uh, and so we really try to provide those some just very strategic questions, uh, for faculty to, to think about as they’re planning their classroom and as they’re um thinking about their whole course, uh, throughout the semester. Uh, and then, uh, under, under each of those is another part is, is just resilience strategies. And so we try to give them very tangible, very strategic, um, resilience strategies, um, that, that they can do. And again, it could be something just as simple as, as a small group check-in, uh, allow the students to check in, in small groups.

patience:
That’s really important, especially for introverts who don’t like to engage in very large groups.

Matt:
Yeah, very much so.

patience:
Um, Matt, which CJP faculty have influenced how you approach the class…what are your learnings…which sort of teachers have influenced who you are and how you show up in class?

Matt:
Yeah, for sure. You know, thinking about my time at CJP, but also just thinking about, uh, all the, all the different professors that, that I had, but, but also the ones that, you know, we just still continue to have some type of relationships with, uh, collegial relationship with, um, you know, one of the first ones that comes to my mind is Jayne, um, Jayne and I connected….

patience:
Jayne Docherty?

Matt:
Yes, Jayne Docherty.
Jayne Docherty and I connected really talking about worldviews and systems. Uh, and that’s one of the things that, you know, from her book, uh, learning lessons from Waco, uh, and then having her, I was, I was one of the last, I think I was the last class. My cohort was the last class that had her as, as a faculty member, uh, in Foundations too. And so, um, so we had, we, we, we connected, I, I went up to her office one day, uh, as a student, and I said, I said, Jane, I was like, I feel like there’s something that I need to learn from you.

Matt:
So I need to sit with you. Uh, and let’s just talk. Uh, and so every, I don’t know if it was like every Friday or every other Friday, uh, I would sit in her room, uh, in her office, uh, at CJP there at Martin store. And, and for an hour, we would just talk, uh, about anything and everything. Uh, and so really thinking about systems, uh, and for me, trying to apply that into, into my own work experience already, but also moving forward is, is, you know, what are these, what are these systems, uh, and worldviews that create, uh, strategically create trauma responses and people’s lives. Uh, and so really began to try to connect that, uh, Gloria, Gloria Rhodes and I, uh, connected, especially around analysis of really trying to, uh, look at a conflict or look at, um, these, these systems and say, what let’s, let’s analyze this.

Matt:
Uh, and let’s get a big picture of what’s actually going on here and who, who are the actors and, and, uh, you know, and, and in any good analysts, there’s an analysis, I should say. There’s, there’s also that part of, of that informs action. Uh, and so, uh, strategically again, thinking about, uh, how trauma, trauma responses, um, happen in people’s lives, you know, what, what are actions that we can do to help ground people and bring them into a present moment, uh, so that the response isn’t as, as hard or as deep as it, as it normally would have been, uh, uh, you know, very psychosocial trauma, uh, where it was, was profound, uh, loved sitting in Barry’s class. Uh, and he actually helped me create a…

patience:
Very hard?

Matt:
Yes, very hard. Sorry. Uh, Barry helped me create this, uh, dignity, uh, toolkit, uh, even though Donna Hicks would push back and say, “you know, dignity’s not a tool kit,” I would say, “yes, you’re exactly right.” Uh, but, uh, uh, but also I would say, you know, what, there needs to be tangible things that people can do inside the classroom or inside some type of mentoring, uh, relationship, uh, that helps people connect to, to, uh, to dignity. And so I was so thankful for, for Barry Hart, uh, and his final assignment in that class that allowed me to actually sit down, or I should say, force me to sit down, uh, and it created and create that toolkit. Um, Dave Brubaker, uh, and his organizational development and change classes, uh, were instrumental, uh, because he, uh, as, uh, as you know, I, I do some consulting on the side with organizations, uh, and, and so he really helped solidify, um, some of the processes, but also how to get into, uh, how to look at that and how trauma affects organizations, because organizations really are just human systems.

And so being able to, to look at when, when an organization is trauma organized, uh, is going to affect everybody. Uh, and so how do we, how do we help organizations or walk alongside organizations to help them realize that, you know, you’re on a trauma response right now as an organization and it’s not healthy. And so, so that was great. Uh, Carl, Carl Stauffer and Johanna, uh, Turner with restorative justice, obviously, uh, Tim Seidel, uh, and his resilience and political economy that he, uh, that is his specialty, uh, was always grateful, uh, for that. And Katie, Katie Mansfield, uh, in her work with star and trauma and resilience and, and reframing the body. I was able, you know, the beautiful thing about being in a community like EMU right now is, is we can connect our students to, to other people. Uh, and, and just today, I was able to connect one of my RJ and trauma students to her, uh, because my student was really interested in, in, in embodiment and how, how trauma separates us from, from experiencing our full body, uh, and that kind of stuff. And I was like, Oh, I know the perfect person for you to talk to you. Um, …

patience:
Katie Mansfield?

Matt:
That’s right! And you know, and then Carolyn Stauffer, uh, you know, all of her powerful work with, uh, around trauma and resilience and the transformation of sexual hormones, uh, is, is just crucial to, uh, to what’s happening, uh, and how we heal, uh, from that, uh, especially given that I’ve worked in domestic violence and sexual assault, uh, in that field. Uh, so it’s really nice to be around that. And then just, you know, my classmates, like Trina, Trina Trotter Nussbaum and Kajungu Mturi, and, and in many others that we just being able to share experiences, uh, but also dive deeper into, into some of these things.

patience:
Yeah, yeah. You’re, you’re obviously one of the…well, it’s not obvious, but I’m just going to name it, that you are one of the most recent graduates of the program who’s now teaching within CJP, who is the first guest of this Peacebuilder podcast. So, it’s great to hear this, you know, both sides of it having been a student and of course, transitioning to then be an instructor and bringing your background from that and what you learned from, you know, these teachers and applying all of that. So that’s really great!

Matt:
Yeah, it’s been, it’s been such a, a wonderful blessing, especially, you know, each of, each of the faculty in each of the instructors have, um, have their calling, uh, and bring such passion to their work, that, that it’s beautiful to see them doing what they love, but it’s also beautiful to explore and journey with them as we all try to journey together and whatever. And in this particular case, you know, it’s, it’s been such a blessing to see and to experience, um, all of us working together. Uh, but also, you know, for me specifically, especially when it comes to trauma and resilience, uh, in, in systems work, uh, to see, to bring together how all the little, all the pieces that, that we can fit from, uh, from all the other instructors into a very comprehensive and, and very informative way of, of looking at trauma, uh, looking at resilient systems, uh, and worldviews and trying to help people. I don’t, I don’t necessarily use trauma healing anymore because I think that’s very presumptive of us. Uh, but I am, but I do use the word trauma transformation. And so how we are, how we are transforming, um, our traumas and our trauma responses into, uh, is something that is, um, it’s just healthier for us, uh, whether that’s individual, uh, but also more, uh, looking at it from a collective and communal standpoint.

patience:
Yeah, yeah. Well, Matt, as we transition here toward the end, I would like to invite you to tell me how you create these beautiful cutting boards. Um, they are such a beautiful creation every time I look at a picture of what you’ve created and you very strategically…even when you photograph them, they’re very beautifully laid. It’s very intentional; tell me about that –it seems like it might be, it feels very different from what you do on a regular sort of basis. I just feel so different that it’s probably a resilience, um, type of thing that you engage in?

Matt:
Yeah, yeah, it is.
It’s, um, it’s a, it’s a COVID hobby.

patience:
It started during COVID…a COVID hobby?

Matt:
Uh, it’s one of those, how has that came up during COVID that, that time slowed down dramatically. And, uh, you know, my wife was like, okay, what are you going to do with yourself? And I was like, uh, I don’t know. Uh, so anyway, so started working and I was really thinking about from, from a standpoint of, of, of resilience, uh, because it was, for me, it was an opportunity to, to not just slow down, but to work, uh, in tandem with the earth, uh, trying not, I really try to bring, uh, bring a very, uh, sustainable, sustainable approach to it. Uh, and so it’s, it’s allowed me to, to slow down. Uh, I also use it as, as a spiritual practice. And so it’s, it’s, it’s a way for me to connect, uh, connect to the earth and stay connected to the earth, uh, in living ways, even though the wood is dead, uh, it allows it allows me to, uh, to be creative, uh, which if someone’s at a trauma, uh, some type of trauma response, creativity greatly decreases, uh, because of, uh, because of our physiology and the way the brain works. Uh, and so this has allowed me to continue to be creative, uh, but also see that from a, from a spiritual perspective of, of, you know, we’re bringing, we’re bringing things back to life, uh, and the stories, you know, the stories I’m just getting into this, but the stories that the, the grains tells are powerful, powerful stories, uh, because, you know, as, as, uh, I guess maybe most people know, but, you know, each, each ring represents a year’s life or a year’s growth of that particular tree. So, so to be able to see how those, those grains grow, uh, and those rings develop and how, how it occurs and turns and does all of that, uh, it’s, it’s a beautiful thing, too.

patience:
The gestures that your body…

Matt:
It’s a full body thing, right?

patience:
Yeah. Yeah.

Matt:
Being able to, uh, really dive into that has, has created this space, that it’s not a puzzle, uh, the grain, the grain tells you what it wants, uh, and, and, you know, you just get to be along for the ride. And so, uh, so a lot of these, a lot of these cutting boards, uh, they’re already there. It’s just, just putting, putting them together and, and, uh, and being able to, to feel the wood with the hands, with my hands as we work through it, or as I should say, uh, as I, as I work with it, uh, and then also, you know, being able to connect to, to, uh, to my customers, uh, and, and listen to their stories. Uh, most of them, most of my customers right now are people that I know. So, so being familiar with their stories and saying, yeah, this, this cutting board looks, this feels right for you.

And so trying to have that, that kind of connection to… people listening to this might be saying, Oh, no, that sounds wacky, but, but, but it’s true. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a connection that, that, uh, becomes part of, of whoever’s going to be using it in their household and that kind of stuff. And so, uh, so it’s been really, really awesome. It’s expensive. Um, uh, when you don’t have all the equipment and you have to first start out buying all that equipment and that kind of stuff, but yeah, they, uh, the serendipitous, one of the serendipitous things that has happened out of that is, is, you know, I don’t buy wood, uh, unless I absolutely have to, which is not very often, uh, from the big box stores. Uh, so I’ve connected to this, this, uh, local community of millers, uh, uh, of, of, of people who sell local wood and, and cut it and, and mill it and calendar it themselves, and there are, there are a lot of peace builders out there that are, that I had never even knew existed in the woodworking, uh, arena.

One of my, one of my favorite ones is in Timberville and it never fails. We, we always have a conversation. He did. Um, I think it was eight years of volunteering and some type of peacework. Uh, and so, you know, if it wasn’t for this hobby, I would never have connected with him. And so anytime I’m up buying stuff from him, buying wood from him, we, uh, we talk about peacebuilding, we talk about living in, uh, adjust relationship with the earth and what that means, uh, and then how to, uh, how does this, that we’re living in help us when we’re working with wood, how does it help us to be better peacebuilders or how does it help us to be better, uh, or to exhibit, I should say, live into healthier relationships with the earth. And so it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s been fascinating and I love it. I, uh, it’s kind of taken a, a, uh, uh, a life of its own. Uh, and, uh, yeah, I wish I had more time to work in it, but I take what I can get right now.

patience:
Of course!
All right. Do you have anything else you’d like to add as we close here that we may not have covered?

Matt:
I think the only thing that I can think of off the top of my head is, is this idea of, you know, when we, when we help create, uh, trauma-informed and resilient systems, uh, so view a classroom as a system, or view our institution here at EMU, as a system or a view, you know, our community systems and that kind of stuff, uh, when we’re able to create trauma-informed and resilient, uh, systems, uh, my hope is, and I’m seeing it a little bit from, from students that have graduated, or even students that have transferred out of EMU into, uh, into another university or college, is that they’re taking these experiences of being trauma-informed and resilient into their own communities, uh, into wherever they’re going. Uh, and, and they’re beginning to, in, in small ways, uh, beginning to shift, uh, systems that hadn’t, haven’t been trauma informed, or, or haven’t focused on, on resilience, uh, into systems that are beginning to, to explore just even a little bit of what that means and how it transforms their systems.

And so, so I’m really excited, uh, as, as I hear more stories, uh, from students and, and, and other people around us, we get connected, uh, to, uh, to other other places, other universities, other, uh, communities that are really trying to, to look at trauma, uh, trauma and resilience, uh, and, and learn to live in healthier ways, uh, that is beginning to transform places. Yeah. I just look forward to, uh, um, uh, what that looks like, because it, it, it comes out of that context. So it’s not exactly here what it looks like here, but it, it transforms into something in their own context. Uh, and it’s just beautiful to hear and see, and know that, that students see this as, as something that is very impactful and very valuable that they want to take it wherever they go. Uh, and so, so I love to hear those stories. I love to, uh, to hear that in, in, in their lives, but also I love to hear that other communities are beginning this journey, uh, and, uh, and are really trying to find better ways of being together. Uh, and so, yeah, so that’s, that would probably be the last thing that I would say is, as you know, I’m always left with hope. Uh, I’m always left with hope.

patience:
It’s, it’s a pretty key ingredient.

Matt:
For sure.

patience:
Well, thank you so much, Matt, yeah. I’ve enjoyed talking with you.

Matt:
And I’ve enjoyed it deeply.

patience:
Well, have a good evening and we’ll see you around.

Matt:
All right. Sounds good.
Thanks.

patience:
All right. You’re welcome.

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patience:
All the music you hear on this podcast has been composed by the one and only Luke Mullet. Our audio mixing engineer extraordinaire is Steven Angelo, and I’m the podcast executive producer, audio recording engineer, editor and host, Patience Kamau. As you are able, please remember to subscribe, rate and review this podcast so that other peacebuilders may find it. We’ll be back with a new episode in two weeks. Thanks so much for listening and join us again. Next time.

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5 comments on “15. Trauma-Informed Care and Pedagogy”

  1. Wayne Marriott says:

    Such a great podcast. Thank you.

  2. Elena Huegel says:

    In my experiences throughout Latin America, I have long felt that the university level education systems are the least reformed and/or transformed. Imagine what it would be like if every university graduate had a embodied experience and the intellectual knowledge of trauma informed care?! It could impact en entire country through trauma informed professionals!

  3. Brent Greene says:

    Thank you!

  4. David Garcia says:

    That’s awesome brother! It took me back because everything you described I truly remembered. Thank you for sharing!

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