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Veterans and Community Conference: Coming Home through Art and Dialogue

Warrior Writers hosted a powerful gathering of veterans, artists, supporters and healers focused on art-making and wellness Sept. 28-30 in Philadelphia. The inspiring conference featured writing and art-making workshops, seminars on building healthy relationships between veterans and allies, discussions exploring local support for veterans, wellness sessions, food, music, and performance.
Co-sponsored by University City Arts League.

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Schedule and Descriptions of the Weekend Workshops
DAY 1: Friday, Sept. 28
1-4PM: Photography excursion & visual arts/painting
7PM – Musical Jam Session

DAY 2: Saturday, Sept. 29, University City Arts League, 4226 Spruce St.
9:30AM: Registration
10AM-11:45 AM: Working w/ Vets 101, Vets only writing workshop
11:45AM-12:15PM: Welcome Circle
12:15-1:15PM: Lunch (provided)
1:30-3PM: Writing Workshop/Facilitator’s training, Visual Arts Show and Tell/collaboration
3:15-4:45PM: Discussion on Veteran Support/Resources, Sculpture/Pottery/Hands-on Arts
Wellness sessions, photography and video training
7PM - PERFORMANCE University City Arts League, 4226 Spruce St.

DAY 3: Sunday, Sept. 30, Veterans Comfort House, 4108 Baltimore Ave. and Clark Park (43/Baltimore)
10:30AM: Registration
11AM-1PM: Painting, cleaning, organizing, gardening, prepping, etc.
1-2PM: Lunch (provided)
2-5PM: Closing Circle and wellness sessions/outdoor activities at Clark Park (yoga, kickball, reiki, massage...)

Workshops:

Working with Veterans 101: an arts-based workshop for civilian allies
This workshop is centered around building beneficial veteran-civilian relationships. We will explore participant's perceptions about and relationships with veterans. We’ll utilize creative writing/art-making, dialogue, participatory learning and active listening processes, as well as, the artwork of Veteran artists to guide our discussions. Some areas of learning & investigation will include: veterans’ issues and experiences, PTSD, challenges/benefits of working with veterans, and specific information about healthy ways of engaging veterans.  This workshop will provide a foundation from which civilian allies can build healthy and sustainable relationships with veterans and move toward creative collaboration. We also require any volunteers interested in facilitation or arts collaboration through Warrior Writers to attend a training with us.  Art/reflections from this workshop will be collected as possible content for the Veterans’ Mural; however, there is no obligation to submit work for the mural. top

Veterans Writing Workshop:
Our workshops are designed to assist veterans to share stories, opinions, and ideas, using prompts to enable participants to do productive writing/reflecting/story-telling/art-making on the spot where they learn by doing. Prompts and discussions cover a variety of military issues and experiences such as joining the military, homecoming, deployment, relationships, healing, growth, anger, etc. A crucial aspect of the workshop is that the discussions and writings are guided by participation. Veterans’ support for each other is a key aspect of collaboration.  A highlight for many veterans is having a space to air pent-up thoughts with others who understand and a sense of empowerment in the ability to tell their own stories. The workshop is for any military veteran regardless of their experiences with writing, combat, art, deployment, etc. top

Writers Workshop/Facilitator’s Training:
Interested in possibly running a writing workshop in your area? Maybe looking to do closer work with veterans in the future? Warrior Writers founder Lovella Calica will lead a training for veterans and allies interested in facilitating workshops. Having attended our Working with Veterans 101 training is a must for civilians interested in attending this workshop. The format is the same as a regular WW workshop, but with added tips, conversations and a DIY guide; essentially, you see it in action. Attendance to this workshop does not authorize one to lead workshops using the WW name, but is a stepping stone in the process. top

Visual Arts Show and Tell/Collaboration:
This workshop will be split into 2 parts. The first part will give artists an opportunity to share their artwork. Visual artist participants will have 3-5 minutes to show examples of their work and talk about it, answer a few questions, etc. You should have a slideshow or a folder full of images (10-30) to share with the group which will be shown on laptop or projector. If you don’t have or want to show your work, you can just talk about what art you do and can work with folks on. After everyone has shown their work, folks will have a chance to collaborate with one another to come up with images and/or teach each other how to make visual art (graphic design, painting, drawing, etc.). Some ideas include images/logos for Warrior Writers designs, representations of veterans or PTSD, Our City, Our Vets images/logos, the possibilities are endless, do whatever you want!! top

Pottery/Hands onArt:
Dave Fowler will be offering pottery (throwing on the wheel) lessons in the basement.  We will also have various materials available for your exploration such as linocuts, collage making, clay, etc. top

Discussion on Veteran Support/Resources:
This discussion will be an open space to let folks know what veteran resources/organizations the group wants to share (notes will be taken so we can send out a complete list). In addition, we will discuss veterans issues that are not being addressed properly and ideas on how to deal with them as a community. We will also discuss ideas for events/activities that can be taken on in Philadelphia and/or around the country. We will discuss all aspects of veterans issues from mental health resources, VA resources, educational benefits, artistic opportunities, etc. top

Photography/Video Training:
Sign up for a 2 hour session at the registration table, ongoing all day/evening. This hands-on, learn-by-doing-training will allow us to have a small team (2-4) documenting the conference every step of the way. Bring your camera/equipment if you have it, we’ll have some to lend if needed. You will meet your guide/teacher at the registration table at specified time, they will give you a short lesson and then you will do some actual documenting. Then you’ll meet back up with the group and teacher and get some tips.

Download a copy of the poster.

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