Monday, October 6, 2014

Guest Blog: I CAN WE CAN from A Window Between Worlds

Our second-ever ITLT guest blogger is my friend Lindsay who is sharing a wonderful little project that falls right into place during October, domestic violence awareness month. We've actually now known each other for twenty years! When did we grow up? She'll explain how we met and how we've come to be where we are now, but first, we dug up our first picture together ever!


And now, from Lindsay:

Hello dear friends at #TeamITLT! I’m honored to be guest-blogging here today and share a special and impactful project with you. Joan and I grew up performing in community theater together – in fact, here’s a fun photo of us back in 2003 (I think) both cast as Tess in Crazy for You.


Do I think it’s a coincidence that we’ve both made a career in social change? Absolutely not.  A study by the National Endowment for the Arts showed “strong evidence that the arts enhance civil society; individuals who have both direct and indirect exposure to the arts are more engaged in civic activities within their communities… and have higher levels of social tolerance.”

In 2013, I joined the staff at A Window Between Worlds (AWBW), a national nonprofit using art as a healing tool to empower and transform individuals and communities impacted by trauma and violence. As Event & Volunteer Coordinator, I encourage volunteers and advocates to tap into their creative side as they support our healing art programs. I also coordinate AWBW’s fundraising and special events – helping to share the mission to new communities. In my personal life, I also serve on the Board of Trustees for the Hollywood Arts Council, and do anything I can to help keep art as a resource for all.


AWBW has used art to support survivors in healing from abuse and trauma since 1991. Over the years we've discovered that art is also a powerful way to engage and motivate the community to get involved in the movement to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Thus, AWBW created the I CAN WE CAN  project as a creative, appealing, interactive way for you to look at what you CAN do to end abuse.  


What Can You Do?
You have the opportunity to claim your I CAN in the comfort of your very own home. By claiming your I CAN and uploading a photo of your creation to the I CAN WE CAN online gallery, your creation will join more than 1,700 hands across the country that are rising up to end abuse. Here's how you can connect to the I CAN WE CAN movement.

Use our online toolkit to:
a) CREATE – Use our self-led workshop to create your own I CAN artwork or lead a peer group workshop. You can paint directly on your own hand, trace your hand on paper, or use a shrinky dink template!
b) CONNECT – Get inspired viewing others’ stories and artwork and show support by leaving a comment. 
c) CHANGE – Upload your I CAN hand to our community online gallery and share your artwork on social media! Now you're part of the I CAN WE CAN community!
I CAN WE CAN is about believing that we can end violence by noticing and embracing what each of us CAN do to end violence and making a commitment to ourselves for non-violence. Using hands as our canvas, we will create a personal pledge. As you create, please honor whatever comes to your mind. It may seem "too small" to be important or "too big" to be possible, but please know that it is just right. When you honor your heart, you can create a change that ripples out from you to those around you to the community at large as part of a global change. Your I CAN, no matter how small or big, is part of changing the world!

(Caption: During my first week at AWBW, I created this shrinky dink “I CAN Take the Next Step – 
which guides me on a personal level, and reminds me that I made the conscious decision
 to move deeper into the movement.)

I CAN WE CAN Day of Action
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Los Angeles City DV Task Force has chosen the I CAN WE CAN project as the theme for their annual DV Awareness Day event. We welcome you join AWBW, the LA City DV Task Force and numerous LA City Council members and (in person or electronically) on October 10, 2014 in saying I CAN WE CAN end domestic violence! For more information on getting involved in this special day, please email me at events@awbw.org.


Connect with Us!
Join the I CAN WE CAN conversation on Social Media. Share your I CAN use the hashtag #ICANWECAN. “Like” A Window Between Worlds on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Get Involved with AWBW
To learn more about the many ways to get involved with A Window Between Worlds, visit www.awbw.org. Join as an advocate, volunteer or supporter today!

Thank you for all you do!

With gratitude,
Lindsay Merfeld
Event & Volunteer Coordinator, A Window Between Worlds