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Event centers on Sanctuary vision

— Community leaders have a plan for making The Dalles a better place, and citizens can learn about it during a May 21 presentation by author and national speaker Dr. Sandra Bloom.

Bloom is a co-founder of the Sanctuary Institute, a nonprofit training program that takes proven methods for helping individuals recover from severe traumas in their past and applies the idea to businesses and organizations.

“We believe it is time for us to share a different vision of what our future could be if we decide to focus on what really matters,” Bloom said in an email. “We hope that the Sanctuary Model can help The Dalles — as a whole community — do just that.”

Local leaders have been participating in trainings on implementing the Sanctuary Model, and now the information is being made available to the rest of the public through Bloom’s presentation.

Bloom said she will lay the groundwork by presenting the scientific research behind trauma-informed care.

“New knowledge has been accumulating in the past few decades, based on scientific discoveries about child development, stress, and trauma that many Americans don’t know about yet so that is where we start,” she said. “What we know now about stress is so important to public health.”

Next, she will give an overview of the Sanctuary Model’s core commitments — things like social responsibility and nonviolence. That will lead the way to teach community members about “concrete tasks for helping groups of people to handle stress without taking it out on each other.”

Trudy Townsend, director of the Safe Schools Healthy Students grant, said the “core team” who met regularly under the grant decided to use some of the grant money to engage the Sanctuary Institute after agreeing that The Dalles needed to learn to heal from past ordeals.

“We all work toward community health, to create a place we want to live in,” said Trudy Townsend. “We talked about wanting to come together in the same concept of care, to get on same page, and trauma seemed to be great equalizer.”

The Wasco County Commission on Children and Families also contributed money to bring Bloom to The Dalles.

In past presentations about the Sanctuary model, Townsend has said examples of community traumas have included events like the aluminum plant closing, the school districts combining and various local controversies. She said clinging to those past traumas has hindered people from helping the town move forward and make things better.

A major theme of the Sanctuary Model is teaching people to change their question from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”

Townsend said as more and more people have been taught the concepts of the Sanctuary Model, the response has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

She said The Dalles is groundbreaking for bringing in trainers from the Sanctuary Institute because it is the first time that the model has been applied to an entire community instead of a single organization.

Bloom said the lessons of the Sanctuary Model can be applied to any community.

“We don‘t pretend that we are — or ever will be — experts about a community. You have to live there to really know a place and its people. But there are some things that are relevant to all humans and all human groups and it’s that knowledge that we have organized and that provides the structure for the Sanctuary Model,” she said.

Bloom’s presentation, titled “Creating Sanctuary in our Community,” will be May 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then 1:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Dalles Wahtonka High School. Townsend said people are welcome to show up for just part of the day if they can’t make it to the entire presentation, and they can show up even if they forgot to register at www.nwasco.k12.or.us in advance.

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