Community Transformation and Collective Healing

The 2016 Presidential Election recently elevated concerns of xenophobia, racism, sexism, transphobia, classism, and lack of education related to civic engagement. In the wake of this tumultuous and emotionally-charged campaign period, we as a nation have witnessed many individuals and groups responding via increased volunteerism and social action. Such response demonstrates a resistance to the -isms and phobias listed above; further, this resistance demonstrates values held by many in contemporary society. Whether social action manifest along the lines of Standing with Standing Rock, supporting women’s rights organizations, volunteering with refugee assistance programs, or other myriad form, these individual responses have collectively demonstrated a stance of solidarity with marginalized communities. Reflection on this zeitgeist inspires ISP International’s blog post this week.

How do we resist? How do we act as change agents in an effective and sustainable way? How do we hold awareness of our own world view in a manner that recognizes and galvanizes the strength and ways of knowing of the populations we are hoping to assist?

As cited in our article on community transformation and collective healing, Jones and colleagues state that transformative change in communities entails a “far-reaching social justice-oriented reconfiguration of traditional power hierarchies” and “will come from the historical margins, driven by traditional subjugated knowledges…” Central to our findings across efforts for community transformation in international contexts was the theme that community transformation and healing must necessarily consider macrosystemic interventions that shift the social landscape in which any community mental health would take place. This means that we acknowledge the relationship between oppression and social conditions. It is only in redressing the social conditions that gave birth to- and maintain marginalization that we truly engage in transformative healing.

As individuals, groups, and communities continue to process their feelings related to the election and discern how they may choose to respond in a manner in accordance with their values, we at ISP urge consideration of macro systemic themes that maintain our current socio-political landscape. To read more about pathways to community transformation and collective healing. See the peer-reviewed article by Deloach and Swaroop (2014) at http://www.gjcpp.org/pdfs/2014-SI05-20140528.pdf