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Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 11 October 2012

Playwright Sunshine Dixon, Pastor Cliff Chappell, anti-trafficking advocate Jeri Williams and family therapist Pilar Hernandez-Wolfe are just a few well-known Portlanders who will join national speakers at the 7th Annual Liberation-Based Healing Conference.

The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19, and 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Oct. 20, at Friends of the Children, 65 NE Stanton St., Portland, OR.

Social justice, equity and questions of power and privilege are at the heart of liberation-based healing, said Andrae Brown Ph.D, an associate professor at Lewis and Clark's graduate school of counseling education, and one of the founders of the conference.

"The three cornerstones of liberation-based healing are: accountability, critical consciousness and empowerment," Brown said. "It's not just about getting people well or better. It's about transforming lives so people can live in a spirit of freedom."
The conference aims to bring together community activists, parents, youth, researchers, teachers, social workers, therapists, writers, spiritual leaders and social justice pioneers from all walks of life to build networks of understanding, resistance and healing. 

"We go into different communities and bring in master presenters, but we also highlight a cross-section of people working in the community," Brown says.  

"We started the conference to connect people who are doing work that is transformative, liberating and challenges the status quo, but they feel isolated" Brown said. "What we know is that most of these groups of people are not usually ever in the same room together."

Brown and Hernandez-Wolfe co-founded the conference along with author and family therapist Rhea Almeida and Affinity Counseling Group founder Lisa Dressner. Their goal? To apply social justice to the criminal justice system, domestic violence, community violence, education, immigration policy, mental health and wellness, religious and spiritual practices, poverty, and youth empowerment.

"Portland is known as a pretty liberal place, but how does that play out in reality, when it comes to supporting issues of equity?" Brown says.

"What does that mean for a mother or father trying to advocate for their child in the education system?  How much support do we really give to lesbian and gay youth?

"What we are trying to do is move beyond the lip service of Liberalism and empower our communities to move forward in creating social justice."

The first day will feature therapists, teachers, and community activists from across North America who will describe programs created in their communities that promote equity and access.  Sessions will focus on: colonization and its legacy; representations of marginalized groups; Roosevelt High School's anti-bullying work; therapy, healing and social change; and how to create social justice in health, education and spiritual practice.

Presenters include: Nocona Pewewardy, Michelle Maher, Allegra Richardson Warren, Michael Yellowbird, Judy Lewis and Cornel Pewewardy.

Everyone is welcome to attend free of charge on the second day, Saturday, Oct, 20. Day two will focus on the Portland community and will include sessions on youth empowerment, sex trafficking, community activism for the 21st Century, and how to dismantle white supremacy in immigration, the justice system, policing, health care and human rights.

Presenters and panelists include Gabby Santos, Se-ah-dom Edmo, Rev. Cliff Chappell, Multnomah Youth Commissioners and Angela Nusom.  Sunshine Dixon will stage her original play, "Hand of Time."

"We have a very diverse group of presenters," Brown said. "We wanted to make sure that everyone could come and see somebody on the panel and feel, "he or she looks like me or acts like me or shares some quality with me."

This year is the second time Portland has hosted the conference. And from now on, it will come to Portland every second year.

For more information go to http://www.liberationbasedhealing.org.







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