What's New? Update – November 2, 2003

I just sent out the following mailing to my European email list. Clearly, I'm very excited about this new project. I hope that it will attract participants from non-European countries as well. If it looks like there is sufficient interest from England and the rest of Europe, I'll send out another mailing to people elsewhere. In the meantime you are welcome to help spread the word and contact Bob Balfour if you are interested:

Subject: A Dream, A Query, and An Invitation

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As some of you already know, as an outgrowth of my visit to England in
September of this year, Bob Balfour of Survivors West Yorkshire is
organising a weekend workshop for male survivors to be co-facilitated by
Thom Harrigan and me. It will be held July 2-4, 2004 at Scargill Retreat
Centre in the Yorkshire Dales. It will be similar in format to the male
survivor recovery weekend we have held every summer for the past 14 years in
the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

Never one to be satisfied with small dreams or half measures, Bob asked me
if there is anything else I'd like to do during my July visit to the UK.
Bob's question encouraged me to suggest an event that has been a dream of
mine. I'd like to present it to you and ask you for feedback. Also, if you
like the idea, I invite you to participate and to help spread the word about it.

I want to hold another residential event - this one for people who work with
survivors. It would be a time for men and women, professionals and those who
work in the voluntary sector, to spend time together in a relaxed and
beautiful environment. (Like the men's weekend, it would be held at
Scargill. (Take a look at Scargill at http://www.scargillhouse.co.uk/indexflash.html )

The workshop would take place midweek, probably from 7:00 PM on Monday, June
28th to mid-afternoon on Wednesday, June 29th (or possibly from Tuesday,
July 6th to Thursday, July 8th - depending upon availability of the venue. )
Please let us know if you prefer one of these dates.

Here is my thinking that led to this proposal:

1. The work we do, professionally and personally, is difficult and
2. This hard work takes a toll, physically and emotionally;
3. We rarely get the support, appreciation, and encouragement that we
need and deserve (and we never get paid enough);
4. Our work is often accomplished in relative isolation from potential
allies (if not in a hostile and oppositional environment);
5. It is important that we have time to meet with our peers, to develop
support networks, and have ample opportunity to rest, relax, play, and heal;
6. Dedicated people like us (yes, you!) are notoriously bad at taking
care of ourselves and, even if we are getting better at it, we can still use
some help.

When I first suggested it, Bob referred to this midweek "weekend" as an
"Activist Workshop", seeing it as an opportunity for organising and
understanding the dynamics of grass roots organisations. While this sounds
like a great idea - and some of that might indeed occur - I have a somewhat
different vision of this event. I see it as:

1. being open to anyone who works in the area of abuse and recovery.
(Although primarily for people in the UK, I would love to include
representatives from other parts of the world - there has been interest
expressed by folks from other countries);
2. largely experiential, with a wide choice of activities;
3. emphasising self-care, relaxation, and play;
4. helping to ovecome stress, burnout, vicarious traumatisation and
"compassion fatigue" on personal, organisational, and community levels;
5. affirming the importance and difficulty of the work we do - and the
need to nurture and protect those who contribute to human welfare;
6. creating new support networks and reinforcing existing ones;
7. forging links for the future;
8. rejuvenating and energising;
9. an opportunity to spend significant time with amazing people;

In many ways, this - healing the healers - is a revolutionary concept. (I
suspect that those of you who think you can't afford the time for such an
event are the ones who most need it .) As Bob suggested, there are ways of
presenting this event that will make it attractive to those who fund grant
proposals (e.g., the concept of Team Building) and the agencies where you
work (as continuing professional education).

It is a risk for Bob to take this on, so we would like to get a sense of
whether this is an idea whose time has come. If you work with survivors,
would you be interested? If you are a survivor, would you suggest it to your
counsellor/therapist, etc.? Would you help to spread the word? Do you have
suggestions for us? If sufficient interest is expressed, Bob will undertake
the organising.

So please let us know what you think. Does this intrigue you? Are you up to
the challenge to give yourself this gift? Send your reaction to Bob at:
survivorswy@mac.com And send me a cc.

If you are a male survivor, I hope to see you on July 2nd. If not, how about
June 28th?

All the best,

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