Sarah Bendix Intro
Holding space, sometimes at that point it is it's a holding space for healing to happen, but it's always it's also like you want to hold space for the mystery to you want to have room in the middle of all the things that you know, but you also want to have that space of like connection, intuition, and the space to sit in and not knowing.
Arielle: Sarah and I are lifelong friends and confidante and have spent many a long night chatting it up on the phone until my mother would come downstairs to demand I hang up. Sarah is now a trauma therapist with additional expertise in Somatic Experiencing. She works at a special clinic at Northwestern University in Chicago as well as in a private practice. Being old friends, it was likely a lot of shorthand, and it certainly felt a bit awkward to be having a public conversation when we are so used to the intimacy of our friendship, so I can kind of hear and sense the awkwardness in our voices at times, you might not pick up on it, but I certainly did. So, I just wanted to say something about that. We also share the experience of having been in the young people's company and pivot Theatre Workshop in Evanston is high schoolers and we refer to this event, and some of the magical experiences of belonging and transcendence we experienced under the guidance of founder’s stories and Bergevin during those formative years of our lives.
My whole series,” Belonging in the USA: Stories from Our Neighbors”, like I probably wouldn't have gotten over the hump of sort of leaping to make it if it wasn't for Sarah and her being my eyes and ears. But I want to know from you in this weird time in the world, like the weirdest time of our entire lives.
What is that phrase that I use all the time belong in the USA, what does that mean to you right now?
Sarah: One of the things that I've been thinking about, about this idea of belonging to the USA. I've been listening to a lot of political podcasts, over the last administration, and people kept talking about like this experiment of democracy. And this idea that it's very fragile. It's this. It's this thing that like it's this thing that almost like essentially could have ended or transformed into something very different. I think that, like the ongoing experiment is this idea that like we all participate in that experiment.
And this idea of like, what that means to participate and what it means to be included in the conversation, and that idea of like how you create space for like the multiplicity that is, for us, I guess that's what I think about these days right now is belonging is allowed invited to participate, to have your voice valued. Have your dignity as a person regardless of background or gender or identity or any of those thing’s wealth, all that, but to me that feels like the interesting question about a woman. Right now, what it's like an ideal that we keep striving towards. So, I guess it's also a responsibility to talk to one another.
Arielle: And it's interesting because I remember distinctly, I think it was the first screening we had on the story of Michael de McCarty at Columbia College, and I remember you coming up to me afterwards and after watching Michael's story you said belonging is an inside job. So that has nothing to do with anyone outside of you, because belong in the USA, maybe is all that sort of more bigger picture stuff, and then the belonging itself isn't maybe the Inside Job part I don't know. So, this is a more personal question, but as a kid yourself like where or when did you feel you belong?
Sarah: Like this is just like one little moment of, when I started going to Sunday school with you. We weren't friends at first, and I didn't feel like I belonged at Sunday school, but I remember that for, like, I was, and I think it's because being Jewish, like that was the one area that I sort of didn't fit in, but you know it was the work of a lot of Jewish kids in my school. And I just remember looking around when we got to Sunday school, and it being like, every single person here is Jewish, and that meant something to me at that moment because I hadn't experienced it, and it wasn't like I was facing lots of anti-Semitic or had issues with like not fitting in, but it was just that one thing that was always sort of hanging there a little bit for me.
So that was that's like one moment I wouldn't say that that's like some profound so belonging moment. But I guess the personality must feel kind of fraught in a lot of situations to some of it is also looking back and being able to recognize oh that was belonging. It's hard sometimes to feel it in the moment, but I think that probably like our experiences for them, for a moment like that for me, I think it was the first moment that I felt like I learned how to be in my full body, which I never figured out, I'm still working on it but that was like a pretty big one, and to be a part that idea of like being a part of ensemble like being both an individual and also something, a part of something bigger than yourself in a way that's really like tangible parts of a whole. So yeah, that phrase is always in my head and heart. So that was like, everyone is listening that was a call, basically a theatre game call, we basically all had to do sounds and movements and we were parts of this machine.
This machine that wasn't a real machine, it was a machine we were inventing every time newly, and you had to use full body sound in motion and then the call was parts of a hole, and the connection you could feel across the space, people you could not see, but you could hear the sense it was just this like really profound unity, which was a huge privilege to have that even language at that age.
And I think to also be a young person and creating with an ensemble like being not working from a script but working in ways that you know I continue to work as an adult. That was a big deal for me.
Arielle: There's a lot of trust in that. I think part of it too. So where do you feel belonging these days, especially in this strange COVID isolation time?
Sarah: This is one of the things I probably will feel different every time I say it. So, I've been super isolated in a lot of ways, not totally isolated. I feel like I have had rich connections to my friends and family over the phone, primarily, even though text messaging like I think that my connections, other people have just felt a little more. No more sacred more important. I think that one of my experiences during this time was like all your everything that's important to you, kind of like rises to the surface and this dramatic way.
And so, for me it was, it was my relationships, and, you know, a lot of my relationships are old. I mean it's something I'm really and I have some new friendships as well. So, I love that. And I also, because, you know, my life had been so chaotic and busy before COVID And so I really like the solitude felt really good, like the stillness and the solitude via like sitting in my chair looking out the window, or going for walks in my neighborhood, and feeling a sense of connection to place going through lots of friends like, I guess I thought this most simple things well and I think you're right, like I think you're bringing something up to I think that there is maybe belonging and connection. Also go hand in hand, like when we feel connected, we feel embodied, we feel presence and that's sad. It's like a belonging yeah experience. Yes, there's something about just being that as part of that, belonging, that we, yeah that we do find in simple moments that we don't always notice so, so maybe I'm just trying to make people notice this moment.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I was listening to this. Somatic Experiencing teacher who was giving this lecture, you know, all these different like people were just offering their thoughts and what was going on. And I remember him. His first name is Raja. Raja Silva, and he talked about the because this crisis is such a large global crisis, it's like a large enough screen for us all to project all our personal existential fears and concerns against it. So, in my experience the beginning of COVID was like, oh my god this is the, like this is the content of my personal first fears like everything I could have feared is suddenly happening it's like my personal nightmare. And hearing him say that was helpful to be like, oh, just like the stream is big. It's not that my personal nightmare has come to pass and then as a therapist during this time I could start to hear. Oh, like this is what this person's personal existential concerns are. But then, kind of going back to this sense of like belonging piece, I think it's also provided a screen for us to recognize, whatever the opposite of that is like are the things that bring us into connection are the things that connect us to our heart or our values or whatever it is I'm not quite sure what the right word is.
Arielle: And it's interesting though because everything in this world right now feels so extreme right like so polarized so big black and white, send them, so that this party, that party. So, it's interesting to think of the opportunity here to both see the worst and the best-case scenarios, right, but I love that idea this huge screen that we're all, but I think it's like that idea of God being this thing in the middle and we're all looking from different windows right it's kind of a similar metaphor. I mean I love, and we talked about a little bit. My Grandmother’s Hands, which I keep bringing up on this podcast, because I've been reading it very slowly and I love it, but you know, he talks about clean pain, or dirty. Here's his definition to clean pain is the pain that men's and can build your capacity for growth, dirty pain is the pain of avoidance blame and denial, when people respond from their most wounded parts become cruel or violent or physically or emotionally runaway, they experienced dirty pain. They also create more of it for themselves and others.
Sarah: I mean, I can say from my own experience I think that, you know, I've certainly been very busy during COVID for which you know I certainly have a lot of gratitude for that. But I think like most people, there was like a spinning, or like a movement in our lives that just stopped. And so, I think that some of the ways in which I was probably continuing to like to reenact my own dirty pain stuff. I didn't have any of those things I could do, I just sit with it. Now that I don't still have some, obviously I do, but it was such a startling experience I think to like have everything just changed so quickly that it's, I don't think you cannot do some deep questioning and look at yourself in different ways and look at your life in different ways.
Arielle: That it's a reckoning. I'm in the wreck of the word reckoning just keeps coming up for me this year. Yeah.
So, what is freedom?
Sarah: I don't know the answer, but the things that came to my mind, were when I think about health, so like when I speak about health, in terms of working with, you know therapy clients like I think about health as flexibility. You know, I mean like literally when we're, our bodies are healthy you, you're more flexible but also, you know, there's gonna be pain in one slide but to be able to like move back and forth to not get like sucked into the sort of word Texas of despair, to have freedom, I guess seek to be able to experience and to experience other things as well. So that's like the first thing that came to my mind, and then I also had the thought of like the word came like unencumbered. But then I thought following that was. [inaudible].
Arielle: But I think of that book and that word, that phrase all the time, when I think about freedom. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I do because it is like this. There's something about liberty and burden that are intertwined, and maybe it's not burden, maybe it's responsibility, or it's this, maybe it's the fact that I know ultimately that my deepest freedom is found again inside that there's nothing there's nothing, you know, that it's the internal freedom that is the most valuable ultimately like because you can't control the outside you can't control what's happening in the world or what's happening around you more than you can and your individual acts, right, you can make choices but you actually can't stop COVID Let's say you can single handedly do that, but you can, you know, choose to, to feel burdened by that or you can choose to find the pockets of liberation within that. Don't hold you back. I don't know, it's like that feeling of buoyancy, while you're sinking. [chuckle]
Sarah: Brings up the complexity of like that there's a certain sort of negotiation of like how much you want to hold like how much burden you want to carry because you're in connection with other people. And there just isn't inevitable heaviness to that. And then how much you want that individuality, it's like there's such a tradeoff. So, figuring out like what it means to be able to be in community and partnership in any of those things, while still having a sense of like, like flexibility and freedom and space, I think, in growth, I guess, right, like growth is a part of a freedom.
Arielle: Well, and then I mean I think you and I have had so many conversations over the past few years, especially I think about racism and just the concept of that that phrase, you know, none of us are free until we're all free. And we're that, like that's where I think this complexity comes in in this definition, too, because it can't just be about my individual freedom right It can't just be about my individual rights, and that's why we have been perpetuating unwittingly, right, pretending we didn't notice, white supremacy, because we've been just saying, I don't know what you're talking about, I'm fine. And it's like, but there's so much more to it than fine right and so it's, and I think that's part of this thing you started talking about earlier. The Myth of American like the US and the sort of way that we're creating it. It has been built on the lie that what matters most is your, your freedom, individual all that rugged individualism that has just gotten us tied into these terrible, terrible knots of oppression.
Sarah: Or as I said I was at a training for a conversation, a program yesterday about decolonizing mental health, and it was presented by some folks that had various identities, including Native America like the part. Connection to different native tribes in the in the Americas. So they're sort of comparing like a Western like the sort of Western building paradigms to indigenous paradigms, and so that even that idea of freedom like I think about sort of this like individual versus collective tension that exists, and I'd be so curious about what freedom means from other belief systems and other paradigms, because I feel like there's something that's happening that's probably what happened for a very long time but really dramatically on the surface this year of saying like there's something about this particular Western paradigm that needs to be dismantled and needs to be rethought and we figured out, reimagined reimagines Yeah, thank you.
And so that was something that kind of came to my mind as well is that I think as someone that is like very much a Western person. I feel like a lot of my thoughts feel unformed in this moment because there's, there.
Arielle: Was your programming it's your race, your brain, it's the way we're all brainwashed, depending on our life experience and culture and where we come from and how we are programmed. And you know what you're talking about with mental health too. We have so many fascinating conversations about that, but I was just with somebody who just spent a couple of weeks in Peru with Shamans, doing some, you know plant medicine and so many of the people I think that in this paradigm and like that word and this culture and this construct of reality that we consider mentally ill or crazy would-be shamans and other situations.
[Arielle] and that and that and that even Shamans are like trending in the West, like it's no it's this thing where it's like well it's not an option we need Shannon's. We need people who see differently we need to have us like our vision of reality and floated exploded completely expanded. It's the only thing that was saved. I really do feel that. So, I mean, talking about this idea of freedom, like where now do you feel that sense of freedom?
Sarah: I think that the, like the first answer that came my mind is the luxury of time and space. I feel like I have a lot more of that right now. And that has been profound, and I find like the more I get of it, the more I want and how we use time is, like I feel like if you want to rethink how you use your time introducing your whole life, you know. Yeah, that's what I've been feeling the most freedom.
Arielle: So, where you ever even know if I've ever asked you this like, were you a big Mr. Rogers watcher?
Sarah: I think so, like, he's a big part of my memory of childhood.
Arielle: One of the things about Mr. Rogers that just continues to impact me, is this idea of neighbors and being able to say Good Neighbor because it's not even good or bad, it's like being a neighbor. So how do you relate to this idea of neighbors?
Sarah: Well, my first thought is how I feel like I'm in sort of a perfect situation with my building where it's like I really like everyone my building. It's totally the kind of building where I feel like people look out for each other, if you needed something you could send a text of a building group tags up a block, but we're not like hanging out together, you know like this idea of people just stalking by feels like a really not appealing to me like I like I like the idea of feeling like comfortable and safe with my neighbors, and I asked yeah I like the idea of like really clear boundaries, which I don't think I learned that from Mr. Rogers. [Chuckle]
Arielle: What do you think about the broader sense of neighbors like neighbors as nations, and neighbors as know the word, because you know when I, you know, you know this about me in this whole series and titles, it's not about nationalism definitely and it's not about even thinking of these borders, but it's about expanding that concept of what a neighbor is to and me, your work, you're constantly, the holder of stories of people that aren't your actual neighbors, but like, you can see them in that context, many neighbors the wrong word I'm just using that word, as a container for something else.
Sarah: And this is not a form of fraud but like the words that come to mind are safe. Safety, and welcoming. So, I feel that in my, my filming. I feel that relatively in my neighborhood. And when I think about my work in a clinic that I think a lot of the folks that come to our clinic feel a great sense of belonging and thinking about also that idea of like dignity. Having a place where one's dignity is affirmed also where one's needs are met, you know, if you come to like a doctor's office like you have certain meeting a lot met, and you want them met in a way that supports your dignity, or I think about public performance which was something that was important to me especially before I got into social work, shared spaces where people feel that their dignity, is that firms where they feel safe, where they feel welcome.
Arielle: Yeah, and as I'm hearing you say all that heartbreak. As far as I was associated this other property, I did listen to this one podcast today I'm starting to listen to, which is called code switch, and NPR podcast, you know, just talking about literal neighborhoods and how they've been formed in this country and redlining and all these things. It's like the entire plan and design of our country has been created to make some people feel that sense of welcoming and dignity in certain spaces and not in others and all of that. And so, again, I think we need to redefine reimagine what neighbors are and who we consider neighbors.
Sarah: Say that I'm in the consultation group and we're reading a book called The Politics of Trauma by Stacy Haynes, and she talks and so I'm picking up a book right now about safety belonging and dignity.
Arielle: So, safety, belonging and dignity. Those are powerful. So, what are some of the practices that you either intend to do on a regular basis that keep you centered, motivated, inspired as an artist, and like, able to do the work you do?
Sarah: So, I think a big thing this year has been taking walks, which I had kind of put-on hold for the winter, walk yesterday though for the first time in a while and that's the long wandering walk, that's another kind of COVID rediscoveries I think before this last year. Everyone's like, go on some like epic long walk, or, you know, hop on the train and just you know like kind of have a meandering that always felt because I was.
I thought I was so busy or that was like so much a part of how I thought in my life that it was that felt like just luxurious. Yeah, decadent, but I think that this summer. The walks became much more like a part of like staying sane. And I think also trying to be connected to my body in different ways, and the need to be outside felt more intense like so walking was wonderful day and I listened to music, which I don't listen to as much at home and listen to a podcast or something. I think my connections with other people are a big part of all this, those are like the two big things.
Arielle: Yeah, like walking and music, I mean I don't know, music is such a major part of my life too, but if I didn't, if I go a couple of days without missing any music, I'm like, what’s going on with like something's up. Because some because there's some it's like, it's not just background for me music is influencing the whole, it’s like setting the stage it's like tone to my life.
Sarah: Yeah, and I don't say it's like I have a lot of musicians in my life, but I can go a long time without listening to music, it's I guess that was something about reconnecting to that this summer. That was important as a kid like reading was such a big part of my life, and like reading fiction. And as I get older I do farther and farther and farther from that and I think, you know, grad school put the nail in the coffin like I just like killed my love [Chuckle] like if I can afford a good book like such a parameter of my mental health and I think I think finding my way back to fiction which is so valuable. That's something I hope to be able to make space for again like I haven't had the bandwidth for it for a long time but recently I've come back into taking classes, you know like creative classes that have very little to do with my professional life.
That is important to me like having places where like you can be a novice, you can learn new things. The stakes are low, but you got to learn new skills, has felt important to me
Arielle: Yeah, lifelong learning is so important. And that's, you know, and it's a beautiful gift of this time, to be able to even just ask yourself what you do what are you interested in what do you want to learn what do you want to do. And it's funny, so this is totally shifting gears for a second. And it might circle back but I mean as I go on and on about the ways in which we were probably raised in a very wealthier privileged white world and all of that, that goes with it. At the same time, I recognize the individual stories that make that up. And I recognize, you know, I don't want to be us and “theming” that either. So, like, what are some solutions you feel for the “us and theming” that may or the polarization that's going on?
Sarah: Well, I think that you know there's times when, you know, I think that if you know, people from like different, like, I don't know from the different groups that people are talking about I think that that, and hopefully listening to their perspectives with humility, I think that that's important. I mean I think that's something that I'm continuing to work on like I think about, but they have this thought. At one point, about like I was thinking about my first time that I had, like, think about all the people that wrote in that car, you know, like you think about like what the point of life is, what's the purpose of life or what's the goal, and I think about, like, getting to travel, but then the other very well-traveled person at all. But I feel like within the sort of small geography of places that I've spent time with it's mostly Chicago or Chicago area. To get to sort of like visit as much of that as possible. And I think that can be through like, you know, physically visiting by you can also be through, like your connections to people in these different parts of wherever it is that you live.
And that can be also certainly through conversation and relationship and maybe through reading or taking in stories, but that's like one way in which I feel rich is that I, I feel like I have gotten a chance to walk into a variety of experiences, I guess.
Arielle: Of worlds and so you might maybe you've already mentioned these things, but I just want to ask you this.
What really lifts your spirits, right now?
What gives you hope?
What inspires you?
Sarah: To give me hope, like the things that came to my mind were like the COVID bag. Like right now, like being outside in nature like the things I feel which I don't do enough but the things that feel sort of like, like they don't change, you know, or they don't change in quick ways. I think this thing, again, a feeling of connection has just felt tender. This last year and I've been grateful for that. I feel like in some ways I felt closer to people this year that certain way, and then I think about like, I think about my work, like I had this work that I did for a long time as an artist that I still do a little bit but mostly like as a therapist, and getting to witness the ways in which people are in transformation and grow, and it feels like really, really, really, really humbling and secrets, so there's sort of this like balance between, like here's all the things that we know, you know, and here's all the research and then, and I've done like a lot of training, a lot more to do and all this stuff. And then there's just like straight like, it feels like kind of holy like, I don't know what's going on and something's happening. And it's like, it comes back to the pivot a little bit of like when you're in the space with somebody, and there's like that moment of transformation like you lock eyes.
I remember okay here's a Joyce story, whose birthday I think is today. That's not the day that this will enter. And let's say that we're talking, and I was teaching a junior high summer class which was like really like, that's a hard class to teach because lots of reasons to your high in the summer, awkward and Joyce came in, and we were playing this game called “fingers” which is like this, impressing game that Arielle knows, and I remember like Joyce kept stuff and so basically the game is I won't go into all the details but essentially it's like you're doing this, like, you're, there's all this like movement that said, and then there's like when you fall into unison, from wherever your bodies are you burst into the scene. And so, what was happening was like people were finding that moment of unison, you could see them like going into their heads, and then like, you know, quickly like thinking about what they're going to do, which is what we do, and we're terrified right. We try to make order out of it, and joys kept stopping them. And I remember she was saying, you know, what's the hardest part, you know, basically the beginning and the ending, because that's where you must truly find it together, the middle is easy, but the beginning of the end is hard.
And then we had a teacher's class shortly after that and I still remember this moment of, we were doing like a polymorph which is this game where it's as you move from game to game to game to game. And so, you don't like the menu is large and you don't know what's happening. But we're all at this point so experienced it's easy to kind of fake your way through it or you know fake your way through it but like you can kind of phone it a little bit. And I remember like, Joyce that that teaching that I got into C was in my head and I remember I think I think Craig was the main teacher and I was just starting, like I remember this moment of a moment of transformation and locked eyes Craig in this teacher's class. And I remember this like visceral feeling of like fear of like the fear of not knowing, it's like, stupid game right like the stakes is really low, but that's fear right it's like he couldn't connect to like the largest part of this experience, and it was like our iPhone loss like our lives depended on it, and then like, whatever, emerged emerge between the two of us. And that I think is like a good metaphor for like I think sometimes what gets to happen in the therapy is like, you know like polymorph it's like okay here's like 10,000 different games and the rules of the games and why you do the games and this time versus that time or whatever. And then there's this this thing that is like beyond understandings or but beyond my understanding.
Arielle: Well, it's like mythical magical, it's, it's the, well it's the beautiful dance that happens in real connection with people, right, [Sarah ]yeah. [Arielle]And in the in the exploration of the unknown.
Sarah: When we talk about like in therapy talked about the holding space, you know, like, sometimes if that's what it is it's the holding space for healing to happen, but it's always it's also like you want to hold space for the mystery to you know like you want to have room in the middle of all the things that you know and I think it's important to keep learning and to keep trying to know more, But, you also want to have, yeah that space of like connection and intuition, and the space to sit in the not knowing.
Arielle: I think there's about humility to like not coming in with this attitude that you know what's better for someone in their own healing. I think that's what we as a nation like I think that's what we as a world need more, just people who are coming to the table saying this is the answer. This is solution I mean, energy you're talking about, even if it's fear that comes up, I mean, that moment of eye contacts that moment of possibility could break you into joyful laughter I could read to you and to cry, it could break you into anything it's the unknown mystery of human being this together.
Sarah: It's so big that we need to hold it together, you know, and I think that's been what's so hard about this year is that people were confronted with big. Oftentimes, a lot of painful things simultaneously. Simultaneously, and the ways that we know how to pull that together, became far less accessible, and I think like, you know I've been very privileged in a lot of ways but certainly one that, you know I'm not one of the 500,000 people lost, you know 500,000 People have died from COVID Last year you know and I can't imagine being in those hospital rooms, or having my family in those hospital rooms.
I've known people that have been the hospital rooms, but they all came out. And so, I think that there's also this like groundswell of grief that we're not, like, I know that I'm a little dissociated from it at this point and I don't know what's going to happen. I hope there's a space for us to be able to connect into it, collectively, I also think it's too big for us to not share and holding. And it's not just COVID I mean it's like a million things that even just this year, but if we just look at this last year.
Arielle: Alone, I think, but I think that we actually have I think it's you and I have talked about this but I think it's a beautiful opportunity to look around for the ways in which race is both denied, generally speaking, in the construct of the US and how we deal with just being human, but also how we collectively grieve and how we can learn how that shows up because I think I really do feel like if we're not great grieving fully we're not living fully because it like brings us into our alive list to acknowledge the fullness of human experience and that like to collective trauma individual trauma, I don't know your traumas, not but like, just the facts of human history, and how do we not all be carrying huge waves of that epigenetic transmission of trauma in our bones.
Sarah: Remember when I was teaching, Joyce was [audible] He was furious and Bruce pendants founded this theater that we're talking about, and she was on that sort of I think important kick right of, you know, realizing, and this was certainly my experience like kids would come home after class and the parents were like what did you do and they were like we played tag and our parents were like why? are we so she was really kind of pushing the teachers to articulate you know the principles of the game. Certainly when the parents were in the room but also with the kids like really to try to draw that connection so people understood like why are we doing this, what does this have to do with theater, and I recall one parent in particular who had a child that was very, very involved and the parent was like, I don't think my kid is talented at this actually like why do you think that we should continue.
And I remember they used to say this kind of in the classes is that this work is really excellent for, you know, there's certainly a lot of alumni that have gone on to become, you know, while respect actors or directors or whatever, but there's also a lot of alumni have gone on to become journalists and teachers and filmmakers and, but also that like the trading is for that too. You know the trading is one that I think deepens your sense of connection and humanity.
Arielle: Yes, because I think it brings not only belonging but it does playing those games in ensemble brings a sense of freedom because I remember going in Napa County Jail and seeing the women that they were working with, they're just how, I mean, it was an impressive I mean it's, it's the jail it's oppressive I felt, I felt awful being in there for them, you know, just walk into those halls and I wasn't in. I wasn't incarcerated there Right. And yet I saw also the joy of the women who got the chance to play these games and perform them for an audience and feel human and I think you're right, it's about bringing up more human. Sharing humanity sharing what it means to be a person.
Sarah: And what's interesting about that so I think that that project that Cook County was inspired by a talk that she has engaged with stores and burns daughter about work that was being done in the prison system in LA with the actress gang which is a community of the art teacher that was started by sleep Tim Robbins and probably some other folks as well.
They're all artists, they're like well we think art is important so they're doing this awesome comedian theater program. In, I don't know if it was a jail or prison. And then somehow, they discover that people who are involved in this has like lower rates of recidivism, recidivism, you know when they were released.
And so, somebody was like, we should research this you know, and I don't know what the outcome is of them. I mean, I do know the outcome is because they, that's why they're researching it, but they put a lot of money into sort of collecting data about this because they were like, surprised at what they were seeing. And there's this economist who, I think he won like Nobel or Pulitzer Prize, which one would they want to know. You want an important prize.
He did this research on sort of this like high like basically through a lot of resources this early childhood education program, like a lot of resources. And what they discovered was that, you know, many years down the line of this children who have been part of that program, their life outcomes were so much better. According to these measures that they were looking at, you know like they were less likely to be on food stamps or perceive a welfare check or be incarcerated like all these things that costs the system and cost the taxpayers a lot of money so basically this program paid for itself. So, I think about these different things, right, like when we treat people well, when we uphold their dignities like good things happen, like it's not…
Arielle: Right and but I would argue that the reason that we're not doing it on a mass scale, there's lots of reasons but the main reason, again I'm going to be a broken record on here is like a post like in order to uphold and maintain white supremacy, we have to have an “us and them” we have to have other, we have to have this hierarchy that we have, and live with, and so we don't want. Ultimately, even though we might want everyone to be doing better and to be a better even playing field on some ways that's not how it is.
And so many of these efforts even can look like white savior ism. Right. You know these are sort of this may not be the intention of it right because it never is, but it can look like coming in and saying this is good for you do this to communities that aren't necessarily asking for something. Come, it's like Michael's story and that's what I was thinking about when you were talking to like, you know he's part of the arts and correction world, in California, and he gets to go in and teach the storytelling workshops to inmates, and I don't know yet if they're measuring that sort of thing like it's amazing that they even did a study about that because I don't even know if they're met like do they want to measure do they want, you know we have a huge prison industrial complex that wants to keep people. That's for profit right I think that may be hopefully shifting now but it's been a thing. So, when you have profitable prisons, and you want inmates for those prisons, then, then the ideal is, I feel like you and I have, like, wanting to give these tools to people that may not have access to them otherwise I really think you also have to we have to be real about like who are the populations and most prisons are people of color, at this point and so that's why I'm talking about the lightsabers and things because I do think it becomes about…
Sarah: An interest to say things I don't remember for sure. I think that the early childhood education might have been, you know, it might have been a white community I'm not sure. I don't want to assume that it wasn't, it just to be clear about that but I think it's also a class, as well, power…
Arielle: Well, that’s class and power and that's part of the whole I mean that's how you get into hell like whiteness was invented.
Sarah: Since you're probably trying to wrap things up. Can I just say one more thing, though, cuz I'm gonna bring it back to the therapy thing?
Sarah: I think it was Winnicott, and again I feel really ignorant that I don't have the right names for things I think it was when I got to talk about this idea. Somebody did that, you know, the seed of everyone's healing is within them so like that's part of that's really present to me whenever I'm talking to people, right, that I have whatever knowledge I have. And my knowledge is from like, institutions and trainings and you know these things that are kind of like a very like Western kind of OB, blah blah blah things, and also that everyone has that see that like you also have to be sort of like listening to and respecting and so just to kind of go back to what you're saying is that, that interplay between, You know, here's what I can bring to the table, and respect, with the people that you're engaged with are bringing to the table, working towards something that is more mutual and collaborative versus like power over which is like, always a complicated tricky thing and sort of a moving target, a little bit, I think, especially as I think that as a white female therapist, it's like you're always kind of like navigating these power systems, but kind of going back to what you were talking about with like white savior ism is how are we also respecting that any person that we encounter in any community that we're either part of, or in some ways engaged with has knowledge that is valuable, and, and that you know we all we all walking around with those seeds. When we're getting an opportunity to connect with people around and experience it's different than ours. Like, what does it mean to approach that with respect versus like tourism.? [Arielle] Totally. Yeah, yeah, [Sarah] Voyeurism
Arielle: I love that tourism. I mean, we just must keep our connections alive and keep telling stories. Well, thank you sir for spending your Sunday evening as we're recording this, I wish I could give you a big hug.
Sarah: Again, thank you for having me on my very first podcast.
Arielle: Podcast virgin no more! And on that note, probably talk again soon. And thank you for always being a huge supporter in many ways. I really don't think I could have done it without you.
Sarah: It's special, and certainly a pleasure.