Businesses take a risk when they appear political. As the owner of Gray Horse Strategies and an independent business person for over 20 years, I’ve worked with a variety of groups in a variety of roles. Consultant, planner, trainer, convener, evaluator, facilitator, even unexpected mediator. Individuals in those groups have had a range of political backgrounds and leanings I’m sure. Being perceived as a neutral convener has been essential to success.
But there is no room for neutrality in some matters. Not when justice is at stake. Justice for people of color and justice for the poor and aged of all colors.
The callous indifference of some of our leaders and neighbors to death - from violence and the pandemic - reveals the real poverty. A poverty of spirit that has been oozing into our national soul.
But there is hope if we stand and act. As the Rev Dr. William Barber, President of Repairers of the Breach and Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, A National Call for Moral Revival, so powerfully stated in his sermon at the National Cathedral on June 3, 2020, “...when policies and actions are rooted in justice, they bring life. Justice is the antithesis of deadly policies – justice, and love woven together. That’s the answer. That’s the antibiotic for all of this death…”
So today, I’m alone here on my rural Wisconsin ranch. But I stand. And strike. Along with brothers and sisters of all colors and beliefs across the country and indeed the world, who are declaring, along with the Poor People’s Campaign, “Forward together, not one step back!”
My son and his wife are expecting their first child this year. They asked extended family members to share advice on “caring for baby and one another”. My mother, who will soon turn 99, steadied her increasingly shaky hand to write just two things on a pink and white note card.
“Keep on schedule”
Reading it brought tears of gratitude. How fortunate I was to have parents that acted on those simple, powerful beliefs.
For almost two decades, I’ve provided a variety of consulting services for public health, behavioral health and other organizations. In that time, the concept of trauma informed care has been evolving. Gray Horse Strategies recently hosted our first workshop on this topic. The content was so valuable. It gave me new insights into how the victims of childhood trauma might experience life, even decades later.
In the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study, two-thirds of participants reported having at least one adverse childhood experience: over one in five reported three or more ACEs. Although not all ACEs are equal, and not all individuals experience a particular event in the same way, ACEs can profoundly shape reactions, interactions, and lives. Understanding that and listening to one another’s stories without judgement can make a huge difference for the victim.
Our workshop leader, BJ Nichols, MSSW, LCSW, SUD, shared a key finding – a healthy relationship with at least one caring adult can greatly enhance protective factors and improve outcomes for those who have experienced trauma.
Today, as we watch the aftermath of the flooding in Texas and storms in Florida and islands to the south, we wonder how what has been learned from this relatively new science can inform recovery for the thousands whose lives have been shaken. How can we challenge ourselves to use a compassionate “trauma informed lens” to view one another? How might our communities be strengthened by better understanding of these dynamics?
There is hope for those who are carrying a heavy burden of trauma. And we all can be part of the answer by writing a simple note to ourselves, “Listen, really listen”.
To learn more:
1. Background on types and effects of trauma at https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence
2. The ACEs Study at www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html
3. Excellent reference work that is an accessible read - The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD
About the Author, Nancy Young - President, Gray Horse Strategies, LLC
Nancy Young has over 30 years of leadership experience in the public and private sectors. She founded Gray Horse Consulting in 2000, and in 2016 broadened service offerings through Gray Horse Strategies. She has a passion for working with organizations that are striving to do great work with limited resources, providing "Practical Solutions for the Public Good".
Measles has been allowed to make a comeback largely because many parents choose not to have their children vaccinated. Those unfortunate choices jeopardize not only the children of those parents, but very young children of other parents and vulnerable persons who are unable to be vaccinated. In Wisconsin, those choices are permitted by a law providing exemption from vaccination requirements simply based on “personal conviction”.
Despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, many of these parents subscribe to the notion that vaccines cause autism. Disturbingly, President Trump appears to agree, and he may be considering an anti-vaccine advocate to chair a task force to address the subject. Fortunately, countering that notion is a recently-released bipartisan Congressional letter of vaccine support.
We have a long and cherished history in this country of protecting the rights of individuals, including the freedom to make personal choices. But we also have a long and cherished history acknowledging the rare circumstances where the health of the community takes precedence over the rights of individuals. Over 100 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a vaccination case involving smallpox that there are “restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members.”
We have enjoyed healthy lives, free from dreaded infectious diseases, because individuals and families historically took it upon themselves to be vaccinated. If they failed to do so, communities and states required vaccination in the interest of everyone’s health. We need to remember where we’ve been. It is bad public policy to permit parents to jeopardize the health of their children and other vulnerable persons in the community by permitting an exemption based on “personal conviction.” As individuals and communities, we need to acknowledge our collective responsibility for everyone’s health and insist that the state Legislature roll back the harmful “personal conviction” exemption law, joining the majority of states disallowing such an exemption.
Wisconsin Statutes Section 252.04: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/252/04
Anti-Vaccine Activist Says Trump Wants Him to Lead Panel on Immunization Safety, New York Times, January 10, 2017:
Congressional Group Gives Bipartisan Support to Vaccine Safety, WebMD Health Day News, February 21, 2017:
Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905):
State Law & Vaccine Requirements, National Vaccine Information Center: http://www.nvic.org/vaccine-laws/state-vaccine-requirements.aspx
At the final Tribal Accreditation and Quality Forum of 2016, Michelle Myers, from the Oneida Nation Comprehensive Health Division, introduced us to a wonderful tool used to teach basic quality improvement and team building skills called "Bus Crash." Some of you may have seen variations of this tool, but this version uses an assortment of Mr. Potato Head dolls to inject a healthy dose of laughter and fun into QI.
At the beginning of the exercise our group was divided into four teams and given the following scenario:
"Four buses are traveling to an event. Each bus has 14 Potato Head family members. An unfortunate accident occurs and all four buses crash. EMS arrives to the accident scene to find only potato parts scattered inside each bus. Fortunately the bus contains a record of each member-photos prior to the crash. The potato parts and photos are scooped into bags and each bag is sent to a different hospital. It is your job to save as many lives as possible."
After reading the scenario and setting out some basic ground rules, each team member was assigned an area of responsibility: 2 surgeons, who were only allowed to assemble, 3 assistants, who were only allowed to prep potato parts for assembly, and 2 inspectors, who verified that each Potato Head family member was assembled correctly. Then, each medical team was given 7 minutes to save as many Potato Head family members as possible. At the end of 7 minutes, each team reported their results and discussed what might be done differently during the next round. Then, each team repeated the process two additional times, incorporating changes based on their experiences during the previous round(s). When all was said and done, each team reported lessons learned on QI and team building.
This exercise forced each team to think strategically and work together to improve their processes, and many Potato Head family member lives were saved as a result. Not only did our group learn valuable quality improvement principles, but we had a bus load of fun doing so!
So, if you or your department is looking for a fun and valuable learning tool, please reach out and we can help you build your own "Bus Crash" kit!
Special Thanks to Michelle Myers, Community Health Nursing Supervisor, Oneida Comprehensive Health Division, and Judy Tupper, DHEd, CHES, CPPS, Muskie School of Public Service.
About the Author, Dustin Young - Vice President, Gray Horse Strategies, LLC.
Dustin Young is the Manager for Gray Horse Strategies. He provides consulting services, project management and support, multimedia project development and website administration. Prior to joining Gray Horse Strategies, Dustin served as Manger for the Institute for Wisconsin's Health, Inc., and as an AmericorpsVISTA for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Dustin graduated from Marquette University in 2008 with a degree in International Affairs and is an ASQ Certified Quality Improvement Associate. Dustin is on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Public Health Association and Drive Clear, a Madison, Wisconsin based non-profit organization dedicated to helping the victims of drunk and impaired driving accidents.
We hope that your holiday time was one of rest and renewal and that
your 2017 is off to a
Gray Horse Strategies LLC will be "opening the lid" on some new offerings in the coming months and we look forward to sharing those with you.
In the meantime, here's to a New Year full of joy and discovery!
Welcome! Our group will be adding features here in the spirit of providing Practical Solutions for the Public Good. Some posts will be serious, some fun. All, we hope, will inspire you to reflect on an idea or two that can be applied to the important work you do every day.
Those unfamiliar with us might wonder, "Why the horse imagery when your work has nothing to do with horses?" Well, prior to creating Gray Horse Consulting in 2000, inspiration for a firm name didn't come easily. No ideas seemed quite right. Then on an early spring morning, I looked out the office window where my three gray Arabians were grazing in the new grass, and asked. "Why not!?"
Now, 16 years later, the beauty, resiliency and honesty of those horses is more inspiring than ever. And the business has evolved into even more meaningful work with stronger and broader connections. So we are calling it Gray Horse Strategies and keeping "the horses."
I hope it is not too obvious to point out the lesson here. When you find something very good to care for and something meaningful to do with your time, stick with it. Why not?!