On Friday, September 15th, Center for Council joined forces with Homeboy Industries to host “Strength and Wellness Day.”
This event was designed to empower historically marginalized communities, in particular those who have experienced incarceration, encouraging participants to embrace transformation, cultivate resilience, and celebrate the potential to develop strength within, as well as their untapped physical strength.
This collaboration was one in a series of workshops Center for Council has designed for the reentry and system-impacted community intended to expose participants to resources that support wellbeing and resilience in unique ways.
The main lobby at Homeboy HQ was abuzz with enthusiasm as community leaders and members gathered for thoughtfully crafted workshops and clinics. Some attendees arrived with apprehension, while others came with a sense of curiosity. However, all left with a deeper understanding of ways to appreciate and cultivate their own wellbeing and strength.
After opening comments from the staff, welcoming all to Homeboy Industries, Jared Seide, Executive Director of Center for Council, set the tone for the day by addressing the historical foundations of the concept of 'power.' He emphasized the importance of reimagining strength beyond prevailing themes of physical violence, aggression and domination and spoke about the qualities of courage and perseverance.
"Strength can sometimes be misunderstood as domination and aggression, as brute force and violence," explained Seide. "But in reality, strength encompasses so much more. Strength of heart, strength of character, strength of spirit. It takes strength to be resilient, to triumph over adversity, to stand up for things we believe in. All of these elements are what we are here to nurture today, so may this day empower you to discover that strength within."
The day’s events blended physical empowerment and strength training with holistic wellness sessions, including therapeutic sound baths, a tea ceremony and full-body massage. Offerings catered to all aspects of wellbeing; aligning physical and mental wellness in a holistic approach.
Reflecting on her journey, Murray shared, "Strength training provided me with a positive focus and something to anticipate in my life. I believe it's crucial for individuals to have such an anchor. Everyone faces challenging times, but discovering something in your life to anticipate and deeply care about is what transformed ‘strongwoman training’ into that for me." After her remarks, along with her coach and partner, Alec Pagan, Erin led a strength conditioning clinic that welcomed both men and women eager to explore what it takes to achieve the title of the World's Strongest Woman.
Joseph Herd, a participant in the strength clinic and a member of Homeboy Industries, expressed his gratitude at the opportunity to participate in the session, noting that the experience goes beyond improving physical strength. He shared, "It's about self-confidence, boosting your self-esteem, and feeling better about yourself. Peace, meditation and all about strengthening your inner – believing that you can do something." Herd also fearlessly took on the "circus dumbbelll 'on rep' challenge (a viral hit on Instagram), against America's Strongest Woman and was left truly impressed by the level of strength and technique required to execute a single repetition. He exclaimed, "She's amazing! I was surprised that she was able to outdo all the fellas here because we actually work out here pretty much every day. She is actually not only the strongest woman; she's also the strongest person at Homeboy now.”
“Strength and Wellness Day” offered a chance to rethink our understanding of strength through a holistic lens. It provided participants with a unique opportunity for profound self-discovery and fostered connection between diverse individuals who have traversed similar yet distinct life journeys.
Today is the Day Changemakers Podcast: Change, Human Connection, and Vulnerability: Jared Seide on the Today is the Day Changemakers Podcast with Jodi Grinwald
Jared Seide was invited to chat with Jodi Grinwald on her podcast, “Today is the Day Changemakers.” On this podcast, Grinwald shares real stories from real people around the world who are making a difference in their respective communities. Grinwald looks to highlight those who are disrupting the status quo and generating change. In this episode “Beyond Us and Them,” Grinwald and Seide discuss the difference between empathy and compassion, finding balance around empathy and altruism, and Seide’s path to council and how it relates to storytelling and listening.
Seide’s own experience as part of the entertainment industry heavily influenced his journey to council and how he perceives the world. He found the shared human stories are the most meaningful in that they make us feel “not alone” and “connected to something bigger.” This led him to council.
In their discussion, Seide also talks about the specific difference between council and counsel where counsel and counseling is most often the process of getting advice or guidance from another person. Meanwhile, council stems from the Latin word “concilium” which means a group of people or a meeting which is effectively what it means today. He noted how council can be (and is) applied in a wide variety of settings, such as with health care providers, law enforcement officers, educators, and even within corporations.
Seide and Grinwald discussed vulnerability and how many high performing groups actually encourage and protect vulnerability and create spaces where it is celebrated. Seide notes that “vulnerability leads to trust” and not the other way around which is how many often assume it works. In council, one does not need to share their “deepest darkest secrets;” it can be something as simple as “a thing that used to scare you or a time you lost something.” Sharing stories where you showcase your authentic self helps create a positive, creative, and productive culture and environment.
They went on to talk about judgement and how the assumption that judgment is the norm perpetuates this idea of us and them. Judgment leads to us seeing a threat in many cases where we could instead take a breath and bring ourselves to a place of understanding and learning instead. As we look towards the future, Seide sees the ability to go beyond us and them by truly taking the time to understand and converse with those we disagree with as a key step in creating healthier and more connected communities.
They dove into the book, Where Compassion Begins. The latter half of the book consists of assignments that help you develop more mindfulness and provides guidance on how to set up opportunities for council on your own. Learning by doing is key! Sitting down and actually taking part in council is one of the main ways of learning how to effectively participate in council.
As a final question, Grinwald asked if Seide had any advice for young changemakers; Seide noted the value of “not knowing” and being able to arrive in a situation without biases so you can be “truly present” in any given situation. Change begins within yourself and setting aside our preconceived notions is an irreplaceable part of problem solving. Lastly, he noted that compassion begins with oneself.
For more information on council and how to effectively begin this practice, we offer opportunities to participate through our Social Connection Councils which happen every few weeks. For those interested, you can also find links and more information about Where Compassion Begins here on our website.
Listen to the podcast on
or wherever you tune in.
“Given the profound consequences of loneliness and isolation, we have an opportunity, and an obligation, to make the same investments in addressing social connection that we have made in addressing tobacco use, obesity, and the addiction crisis.” - Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States
June 12th-18th is Global Loneliness Awareness Week (GLAW), an annual campaign to bring international awareness to the crisis of social isolation and loneliness. Since the Marmalade Trust (a leading loneliness Charity in the United Kingdom) started GLAW in 2017, it has gained momentum both in the UK and internationally. Unsurprisingly, loneliness is something that most of us will experience at some point of our lives. Despite this, the consequences of prolonged or consistent feelings of loneliness or isolation are unfortunately often overlooked.
Loneliness takes many different forms and can be caused by a number of different factors or catalysts. For example, specific life events, workplace situations, and a sense of disconnect from people in your life can all contribute to a feeling of loneliness. Beyond this, more often than not, you won’t know if someone else is lonely unless they express that. In 2018, BBC’s Loneliness Experiment revealed that the stereotype of older individuals being the loneliest was simply false; instead, 16 to 24-year-olds reported the highest levels of loneliness. With that said, every age range exhibited a significant proportion of individuals who regularly experienced loneliness.
Today, loneliness in the United States has been classified a public health crisis both due to its widespread nature and the litany of adverse consequences stemming from it. Dr. Vivek Murthy, the current surgeon general, noted that recent studies reveal that one-in-two adults in America reported experiencing loneliness in his recent advisory. Beyond that, loneliness and social isolation can significantly affect your health as it can contribute to cognitive decline, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and many more health challenges. Fortunately, loneliness is very fixable and anyone can take immediate steps to feel better. Telling others how you feel, thinking about your own emotional and social needs, and making plans to start building those social connections are all great steps in combating loneliness. You can read the national advisory here.
In his advisory, Dr. Murthy listed several strategies including participating in social and community groups, minimizing distractions during conversations, and actively engaging with people of different backgrounds and experiences. Here at the Center for Council, we offer Social Connection Councils (SCCs) where you get the opportunity to learn the basics of council, listen to each other without judgment, and speak from the heart. Previous participants report feeling more connected, grounded, and calm; moreover, they note how authentic and mindful the discussions were. These are just one of many different opportunities for all of us to work on combating this now widespread epidemic of loneliness.
With loneliness becoming more and more relevant, it is now more important than others that we prioritize human connections. Be it through SCCs or other methods, there are many different ways that we can all prioritize our own and our community’s well being by committing to reconnecting with others. Fortunately, making connections with others is perhaps the most human skill.
You can read the national advisory here.
And register for a SCC here.
Our Executive Director, Jared Seide, recently attended the National Officer Safety & Wellness Working Group in Washington, D.C., hosted by the US Department of Justice and Bureau of Justice Administration. The conference brought together law enforcement officials, mental health experts, and other professionals to discuss the challenges facing police officers and the importance of promoting officer safety and wellness.
The working group focused on a range of issues related to officer safety and wellness, including stress management, mental health, and building community trust. Participants also discussed best practices for promoting officer safety and wellness, such as training programs, peer support networks, and policies to address mental health and substance abuse issues.
Seide was invited to participate in the convening to share his expertise bringing programming to police officers to support self-awareness, resilience and compassion.He emphasized the importance of providing police officers with the tools and training they need to better manage stress, build resilience, and develop compassionate connections with their colleagues and their communities.
Seide shared details on Center for Council's POWER Training Program, which provides police officers with the skills and resources they need to better manage the stresses of their job and build more meaningful relationships with the people they serve. Through the POWER program, police officers are taught how to communicate more effectively with each other and with the community, as well as how to manage their emotions and cope with the challenging situations they encounter on a daily basis.
Seide emphasized the importance of this type of training, stating that police officers are often exposed to traumatic events that can have a lasting impact on their mental health and well-being. By teaching police officers how to develop resilience and compassion, POWER is helping to address these issues and promote the overall well-being of police officers. The POWER program has been implemented in agencies across the country and the results have been promising. Officers who have completed the program report feeling more connected to their communities, more resilient, and better equipped to cope with the stresses and traumas they encounter on the job.
Seide's participation in the National Officer Safety & Wellness Working Group highlights the importance of promoting officer safety and wellness, and the critical role that programs like POWER can play in achieving this goal. By providing police officers with the tools and training they need to better manage stress, develop resilience, and build compassionate connections with their communities, we can help create a safer and more compassionate society for all.
Read more about POWER here: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/power-training.html
Eve Marko, a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order and head teacher at the Green River Zen Center in Massachusetts, recently highlighted our book, Leaving Prison Behind: A Council Before I Go. In her post, titled "Arctic Weather and Prison," Marko reflected on the experiences of people who have been incarcerated and the challenges they face upon reentering society.
“I couldn’t put the book down. I’d never served time in prison, but the book spoke to me very personally. It talked to how we grow up, who and what influences us, and what decisions we make in our life that have long ramifications not just for us but for everyone around us,” Marko wrote.
Marko praised Leaving Prison Behind as a powerful and insightful novella that sheds light on the struggles of those who have been through the criminal justice system. The book offers a unique perspective on the issue of mass incarceration, as it is created from the words and stories of system-impacted individuals, and those who support them. She wrote that,
“I find something in common with Ray. I wasn’t in prison per se, wasn’t hurt, called a number, dehumanized and humiliated, but I think I know about bars that have kept me in place. And I, too, wish to go home.”
As conversations around criminal justice reform continue to gain momentum, books like Leaving Prison Behind play a vital role in increasing understanding and empathy for those who have been impacted by the system. You can read the rest of the post here. And learn more about Leaving Prison Behind and order a copy for you, or for someone who is incarcerated here.
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive,"
― Dalai Lama XIV
Compassion has the capacity to transform the world. It enables us to develop great insight into other people's suffering and to take meaningful action in response. It is the ability to identify with and feel the emotions of others and connect with the motivation and resolve to take action to lessen their suffering, while remaining intact ourselves.
Compassion is not only an emotion, but also a practice. As Buddhist scholar Joan Halifax observed, “Compassion is made up of non-compassion elements that are trainable.” In other words, compassion can be nurtured and grown. In his book, Where Compassion Begins, Center for Council Executive Director Jared Seide makes the case that compassion is only possible if we begin by slowing down, taking a backward step and cultivating a practice of paying deep attention.
A consistent mindfulness practice like meditation increases our capacity to be present, aware of others, and to respond to their needs in a loving and understanding manner. Loving-kindness meditation is an example of a technique for increasing compassion. This sort of meditation focuses on our feelings of love and friendliness toward one another and toward ourselves. We can learn to develop compassion for ourselves and others, even under trying circumstances, by frequently practicing loving-kindness and other forms of meditation.
By using less formal mindfulness techniques, one can also grow compassion. Being more mindful might mean becoming more conscious of the thoughts, feelings and sensations arising in us that we often ignore. It can also open our eyes to new ideas and new understanding of the people we interact with, as well as the world around us. As a result, we may develop a deeper sense of empathy for ourselves and other people, and a better capacity to respond kindly and compassionately to those in need. We can also cultivate a more wholesome practice of self-care and more mindfulness of our capacity and wellbeing. We can learn to be kind to and understanding of ourselves, even in trying circumstances, if we exercise compassion towards ourselves. This can lessen stress and anxiety symptoms and increase emotions of wellbeing, as well as make us more effective.
Building compassion through meditation and reflection does not need to be done solo! Council is a practice of deepening compassion in a group setting. By sitting in circle with others, building self-awareness and experiencing empathy for the stories and experience of others, we understand others more deeply and start to feel profound connections through our shared narrative. We often experience someone speaking of an experience or feeling that resonates deeply with our own experience. Council can be a powerful and collaborative experience of growth, both as an individual and as a community.
While we can get mired in our own drama and concerns, as well as the over-stimulation of today's fast-paced society, taking time to cultivate compassion for ourselves and others can enhance our lives and make us more effective. Whether we consider compassion to be a virtue, an emotion, or a practice we can increase our capacity and focus on living a balanced and beneficial life and that has the power to transform society. And compassion is also a crucial self-care technique that reminds us to treat ourselves and others with kindness and understanding, even in trying circumstances, and to avoid common responses to stress like burnout, numbing and empathic distress.
Compassion has the potential to change the world by fostering more tolerant and helpful communities. Council offers a compassion-based practice that enables us to build more cohesive and beneficial groups that can have a great impact on creating a more harmonious and connected world.
“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer
For thousands of years, telling stories has been a fundamental part of human culture. We have always been enthralled by the power of stories, whether in prehistoric cave drawings or contemporary books and films. Whether it's a traditional tale passed down verbally through the centuries or a brand-new narrative created by a modern screenwriter for a movie, storytelling has the capacity to take us to other places and give us a profound understanding of what it means to be human.
Empathy is one of the key components of good storytelling. We are able to place ourselves in other characters' situations when we resonate with a narrative, feeling their emotions and going through their trials as if they were our own. This makes it possible for us to comprehend and relate to the human experience on a level that is challenging to accomplish without the empathic connection. Because of this, storytelling has been employed for ages as a method of healing and personal development.
The capacity for storytelling to inspire is another crucial benefit. Stories have the power to motivate us to be our best selves, whether they are true or made-up tales of people who overcame great obstacles. Stories inspire us to act and have a positive influence on the world. Amidst the information-overload of today’s fast-paced world, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd and have an impact. Stories enable us to more deeply engage and connect with others and often leave a lasting impression. Weaving compelling stories in settings like the council circle can foster powerful, relatable and memorable experiences of connection and commonality.
Storytelling amuses, motivates and unites people - and has done so for centuries. It is a useful tool to have in your toolbox and helps you share your perspective authentically, while reinforcing your ability to listen and understand others more deeply and carefully, both in personal as well as professional contexts. The proliferation of new technology has increased the number of ways there are to tell and share stories, expanding the opportunities for stories to impact our lives and the lives of others. Storytelling has an immense impact in today’s hyper-connected world, just as it has for thousands of years. Council offers an opportunity to engage in storytelling as both a listener and a teller - and it can be a laboratory for developing skills to more effectively tell and listen to stories.
Join our next Social Connection Circle here: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/social-connection-councils.html
Or attend a Council Training: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/in-person-council-workshops.html
“We have been given the gift of Indaba by the keepers of the stories. We are asked to hold the spaces for the retelling of these stories and to invite each person to share the story they carry within their soul. Indaba is a Zulu word and tradition that means “I have something important to tell you.” The circle is called to guide the children to the dreamtime and to honor the Elders and Ancestors by retelling how they lived and died. The circle is a way in which community is made and remade and through which investments of initiatory knowledge are shared for strengthening social agreements and engagements. Each person is considered the beginning and end of the circle and holds the task of asking for the highest truth for the wellbeing of the community. The Sacred Center is home, the place of belonging or Spirit. Indaba.”
Orland Bishop, Legacy Holder and Teacher of African Gnosis
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMWHA) grant is a valuable resource for law enforcement agencies nationwide that are looking to support the mental health and well-being of their officers. The grant can be used to fund a wide range of initiatives, including programs to promote resilience, training on stress management, and the provision of mental health services. The POWER Training Program is one example of a program designed to address all of these priorities. Here are some other good ways for law enforcement agencies to utilize LEMWHA grant funds:
Peer support programs
Peer support programs provide officers with access to emotional support and assistance from their colleagues. These programs can be particularly helpful for officers who may be hesitant to seek help from traditional mental health services. The LEMWHA grant can be used to fund the development and implementation of peer support programs, including training for peer support teams.
Mental health training
Mental health training is an essential component of supporting the well-being of law enforcement officers. The LEMWHA grant can be used to fund training programs on stress management, resilience, and mental health awareness. These programs can help officers better understand the impact of their work on their mental health and equip them with the tools to manage stress and build resilience.
Crisis intervention teams
Crisis intervention teams are designed to provide officers with immediate access to mental health services when they need it. These teams can help prevent the escalation of mental health crises and provide officers with the support they need to recover. The LEMWHA grant can be used to fund the development and implementation of crisis intervention teams.
Mental health services
The LEMWHA grant can also be used to fund mental health services for law enforcement officers. This can include counseling, therapy, and other forms of treatment. Providing officers with access to mental health services can help to address mental health issues before they become more severe and impact an officer’s ability to perform their job.
Research and data collection
Research on the mental health needs of law enforcement officers is essential for developing effective mental health and wellness programs. The LEMWHA grant can be used to fund research on the mental health needs of law enforcement officers and the effectiveness of different support programs. Data collection can also help agencies to identify trends and better understand the mental health needs of their officers.
Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience (POWER) Training Program
The POWER Training Program is a nationally certified training protocol that has a powerful positive impact on officer wellness, as well as morale and engagement. In addition to improving health outcomes, POWER is designed to enhance communication skills and relationality, which are fundamental elements of procedural justice and are critical to improving interactions with communities served. The POWER Program has been designed and constructed by Center for Council to incorporate the newest innovations in mindfulness science, communication skills and effective neurobiological interventions. It has been recognized and certified by C-POST in California, and by IADLEST, nationally. No other organization offers or has access to the POWER curriculum. Find out more about POWER at c4c.link/power-training.
The LEMWHA grant is a valuable resource for law enforcement agencies looking to support the mental health and well-being of their officers. By funding initiatives such as peer support programs, mental health training, crisis intervention teams, mental health services, research and data collection, and the POWER program, law enforcement agencies can better support their officers and promote resilience in the face of the challenges of their job. It is essential that law enforcement agencies take advantage of this important grant to promote the well-being of their officers.
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) Grant: Supporting Mental Health in Law Enforcement
Law enforcement is a challenging and stressful profession that requires individuals to make quick decisions in high-pressure situations. The nature of the job can take a toll on the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers, and it is important to provide officers with resources they need to function well amidst the challenges they face.
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) was enacted in 2018 to address the mental health needs of law enforcement officers. The LEMHWA grant is a key component of this legislation, providing funding to support the development and implementation of mental health and wellness programs for law enforcement agencies.
The LEMHWA grant is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The grant is available to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to support programs that promote mental health and wellness among their officers. The grant can be used to fund a range of activities, including:
The LEMHWA grant is an important step forward in addressing the mental health needs of law enforcement officers. A study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that in 2017, more police officers died by suicide than in the line of duty (Karp, 2019). This highlights the urgent need for initiatives to support the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers. By providing funding and support for mental health and wellness programs, the grant helps to ensure that law enforcement agencies are better equipped to support the well-being of their officers.
Law enforcement officers face unique challenges that can impact their mental health and well-being. The LEMHWA grant acknowledges this fact and provides much-needed support to help officers cope with the stresses of their job. By providing funding for mental health and wellness programs, the grant helps to ensure that officers have access to the resources and support they need to maintain their well-being. It is a critical step forward in promoting the health and resilience of law enforcement officers, and it is essential that we continue to support this important initiative.
The Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience (POWER) Training Program offers one possible application of LEMWHA funding. POWER is a nationally certified innovative wellness program that may be a good fit for agencies seeking to increase resources for officers in the area of physical, mental and emotional wellness, and to better manage stressors and work-life balance. For more information on POWER, visit c4c.link/POWER-training.
Council in prisons can transform incarcerated populations. Incarceration should prioritize opportunities for rehabilitation, so that individuals can re-enter society at the end of their sentence as individuals who contribute to the flow of life and lead a productive life. However, systemic issues in the world, and especially within the carceral system, have left the US prison system, one of the largest in the world, plagued by issues. Without proper opportunities for rehabilitation, recidivism is much more likely.
The US prison system has long been criticized for its lack of effective rehabilitation programs. Many prisoners are released back into society without the necessary skills, education, and support to successfully reintegrate into the community. This can lead to a high rate of recidivism, as well as increased crime and decreased public safety. While some states have made efforts to provide rehabilitation programs to incarcerated populations, many of these programs are underfunded and understaffed, making it difficult for inmates to receive the help they need. Council is an effective and self-sustaining rehabilitation program. Jared spoke about this on the Hero Maker Podcast:
“I think the transformation that some folks are able to engage in in the rehabilitative process is really striking. And I think we have seen, as a result of what we have brought into prisons, some extraordinary and inspiring transformation of individuals and their capacity to be of benefit as agents of change when they get out. And that's because they've done this work inside. And the work they've done on themselves is then translated to the work that they do in relationships, and in community.”
The US prison system is plagued by a high rate of recidivism. Recent studies determined that approximately two-thirds of released prisoners reoffend within three years. This can lead to a cycle of crime, incarceration, and reoffending, which is not only costly for the prison system but also detrimental to public safety. To reduce the rate of recidivism, it is important for the prison system to provide effective rehabilitation programs that address the underlying causes of criminal behavior and provide incarcerated men and women with the skills and support they need to successfully reintegrate into society. While Center for Council’s programs offer extensive opportunities to learn and practice council inside prison, the organization’s Council Reentry Program provides a continuum of care by engaging formerly incarcerated individuals when they are released. Jared spoke about the re-entry program on the podcast:
“When you're dealing with system-impaired folks who are in an environment in which they are taught to behave certain ways, and then they go into prison, many of them harden in those ways of communicating and behaving with one another. This extraordinary culture of toxic masculinity is about intimidation, being on guard, and not showing any kind of vulnerability. And then they are expected to move back into communities and cultivate successful reentry with families where there are children, and maybe there are spouses, or loved ones, and all you've known is how to kind of bully your way through something and protect yourself and not get killed inside there... Learning these new skills is so critical in all directions for cultivating a more compassionate community.”
The US prison system is facing a number of pressing issues, including overcrowding, inadequate healthcare, lack of rehabilitation programs, and a high rate of recidivism. To address these problems, it is important for policymakers to invest in rehabilitation programs and re-entry programs. Only then can we hope to create a more just and effective prison system that promotes public safety, reduces crime, and supports the well-being of those in its care. We must not lose sight of how those incarcerated individuals continue to impact society while they are locked up and, particularly, as they come home and reenter society.
Learn more about our prison programs here: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/incarcerated-and-system-impacted-individuals.html
Listen to the rest of the podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Hero Makers Website
Our Executive Director, Jared Seide, was featured on a recent episode of The Hero Maker Podcast. The podcast focuses on distilling experiences from career professionals in law enforcement, public safety and criminal justice into nuggets of wisdom for the future. The podcast is hosted by Jennifer Morrison, Vermont’s Commissioner of Public Safety and Andrea Shreeman, a writer/director/executive producer based in Los Angeles. Morrison and Shreeman decided to collaborate on this podcast as a way to explore and understand more about circumstances surrounding the tragic murder of one of their mutual friends.
This episode of the podcast was a deep dive into the practice of council, the POWER Program for law enforcement officers, and Center for Council’s re-entry and prison programs. Morrison, who was unfamiliar with the practice of council prior to the episode, remarked at the end of the show that she was surprised by how impactful the conversation had been and how much she wishes POWER had been available to her and her colleagues in law enforcement 30 years ago.
Jared outlined the skills developed in Center for Council’s programs, including ways to increase self-awareness and develop tools for self-regulation, as well as improve capacity to interpret and understand social cues and situational awareness, which are things we all use to track and maintain our safety. Police officers are particularly concerned with this and are also faced with the challenge of cultivating relationships with the communities they serve. Jared noted that social intelligence, in particular, is:
"...an important area of skills to build that are often neglected in law enforcement training. How is it that we ask officers to step into communities where they feel overwhelmed and in a high stress state, knowing they are not resourced to be able to navigate this very complicated interaction of: ‘Who you are to me? A friend or foe? An ally or somebody that is going to give me a hard time?’”
Morrison agreed, remembering how law enforcement was never properly resourced 30 to 35 years ago, when she began her career.
Center for Council’s Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience (POWER) Training Program provides a robust curriculum of activities and lessons that develop self-awareness and self-regulation skills and utilize council, an age-old practice that involves bringing people together in a circle to bear witness and share authentically. Council huddles become a sustainable peer-to-peer resource for officer wellness. Find out more about POWER, and hear LAPD officers reflecting on their powerful recent experiences in the course at: c4c.link/POWER.
Listen to the rest of the podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Hero Makers Website
Council Training Level One: Introduction to the Way of Council is an intense 16-hour training course that offers participants the chance to learn about and engage with the council process. This course, taught by two certified council trainers, is intended to increase participants' understanding, competence and capacity to practice and offer council in their personal and professional lives, as well as in their communities and workplaces.
The course is made available by Center for Council to the general public all year long as well as to individual companies, organizations, and governmental bodies that wish to incorporate the practice of council into their everyday operations in order to enhance organizational wellbeing. The fact that CT1 offers 15 CE credits makes it a worthwhile opportunity for mental health professionals to earn the credits needed for licensure.
CT1 offers participants an opportunity to thoroughly examine the development, foundations, and intricacies of the forms and modalities of council. The course also provides participants with a foundation in the fundamental methodology and practice of council and examines more extensive applicability to a range of contexts, including schools, boardrooms, prisons, communities, as well as more private contexts like families and couples. The workshops draw a wide range of professionals, including social service providers, therapists, artists, and educators.
CT1 workshops are frequently offered in Southern California and are available to be provided throughout the country and globally, in collaboration with regional businesses, institutions of higher learning, and community groups. If you're curious about council practice and want to learn more about this evidence-based practice to support personal, organizational and community wellness, visit centerforcouncil.org.
Sign up for our next CT1 here: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/in-person-council-workshops.html
Since ancient times, people have used storytelling as a practice to connect, heal, and foster understanding. Sharing one's story can have a dramatic effect on both the speaker and the listener, as well as promote healing by increasing self-awareness and empathetic capacity.
Council is about telling our story and Hearing other people's story. Storytelling enables us to process experiences and emotions in a secure and encouraging setting. This can make the practice of council healing and restorative. When we share the story of our experience, we have the chance to drop in, explore and make sense of it in a way that may not have been feasible in the past. This often leads to a deeper understanding of oneself and one’s experiences, resulting in increased self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Storytelling can be a potent tool for establishing connections amongst people. We give others a deeper and more genuine understanding of who we are when we share our stories authentically. The act of offering regard and open-hearted listening to another’s story encourages this sharing and enables us to bear witness to the experience of others on a deeper level than analytical or judgmental listening, which is often our default outside of council. In these ways, the practice of council increases understanding and connection amongst people, as well as a sense of community and belonging.
Storytelling has the potential to be a strong force for change. By telling our stories and hearing others, we can bring attention to pressing problems, which can motivate others to take action. An example of this is the #MeToo campaign, which raised awareness of the pervasive issue of sexual assault and harassment, was initiated by a single person sharing her experience on social media and a lot of people listening in. This one action sparked a worldwide movement of people telling their own stories and attempting to make the world a safer and more just place.
Unlike debate or persuasion, sharing our narrative offers an opportunity to connect, heal, and instigate change. We may better understand ourselves, develop closer bonds with others, and contribute to the creation of a better world by telling our stories.
Our stories have the potential to be a potent means of healing and personal development.
Join our next Social Connection Circle here: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/social-connection-councils.html
Or come to a Council Training Workshop: https://www.centerforcouncil.org/in-person-council-workshops.html
On Saturday, December 10, 2022, Center for Council’s extended reentry family gathered at the Los Angeles River Center for a powerful day of warm celebration, beautiful music, delicious food and heartfelt connection, organized as part of our Council Reentry Program.
While resources and offerings were plentiful, the spirit of appreciation and celebration was most apparent in the experiences of the individual participants and was evident in the warm chatter, friendly smiles, excited children, emotional reconnections with old friends and the care and kindliness that was on display everywhere.
If you missed this year’s event, mark your calendar -- plans are already underway for December 2023!
We could not be more excited about the launch of Leaving Prison Behind: A Council Before I Go.
This illustrated novella tells a moving story of one man's last night of incarceration - and provides a robust, practical compendium of resources intended to support those who are embarking on the perilous journey home from incarceration.
Leaving Prison Behind has been created from the words and stories of system-impacted individuals, and those who support them. The book grew out of the Council Reentry Program with the intention of supporting and resourcing incarcerated individuals preparing themselves for the journey home. Some will recognize the practice of council that the characters enact in this story -- and others will encounter it for the first time. Along with the story of the last night of our protagonist's incarceration the book includes a robust resource section with ideas, references and practices intended to be of support in the preparation for the journey that lies ahead.
We're appealing to our supporters to help us expand the reach of this work and distribute copies of his book into prisons far and wide. For more information on the book, on our fundraising campaign -- and to see a sneak peek video teaser, visit our Leaving Prison Behind page by clicking here.
On October 15, Center for Council joined our friends at Peace Over Violence to host a workshop focused on Domestic Violence Prevention at the Midnight Mission, in the Skid Row District of Los Angeles.
This workshop was offered as part of Center for Council’s Council Reentry Program (CRP), which provides resources and support to formerly incarcerated individuals who are returning home and are committed to successful reentry. CRP offers warm hand-off support services initiated during incarceration, and continues throughout the release and reintegration process with case management, ongoing council sessions for participants and their families, and advanced training in council facilitation, as well as periodic workshops and sessions on important issues facing those on the journey of reentry, including the prevention of domestic violence.
This workshop was co-created with Center for Council’s longtime partner, Peace Over Violence. Partnership between the two organizations has been built over the last decade, as C4C gas helped integrate council practice into the organizational fabric of Peace Over Violence and as POV’s work has been embraced and supported by Center for Council. The workshop included an opportunity to drop into deep sharing in council, led by C4C’s Executive Director, Jared Seide, and an in-depth presentation and discussion of the nature, origins and prevention of domestic violence, led by POV’s Director of Counseling Services and Trauma Recovery, Wendy Blanco, LCSW.
The workshop was offered at Midnight Mission, a residential facility for unhoused individuals, many of whom are formerly incarcerated. Participants in the workshop were offered an opportunity to reflect on the forms domestic violence can take and explored how harm can be experienced physically, emotionally, even financially.
One participant observed that domestic violence can show up in intimate relationships, as well as other family dynamics and, if unexamined, can negatively impact the way our various relationships develop moving forward in our lives. Information, reflection and community can offer ways to work with these life challenging experiences and help avoid future harm. As another participant observed, past mistakes don’t have to just be “baggage,” but can be transformed into experiences that can be integrated as learning and growth.
The Council Reentry Program is offered to individuals returning to the LA area and is designed to provide assistance navigating the trepidation, uncertainty and anxiety of reentry, tailoring linkages and referrals to key service providers to help make the transition from incarceration as smooth as possible. Council Circles specifically offered for formerly incarcerated individuals are held throughout the month and offer participants a nonjudgmental space to connect with a positive community. Additionally, participants in CRP are offered free council training workshops and professional development sessions, with the opportunity to engage in internship, mentoring and feedback—as well as certification as a council facilitator and trainer. For more information, click here.
Center for Council looks forward to continued partnership with Peace Over Violence, which is a sexual and domestic violence, intimate partner stalking, child abuse and youth violence prevention center headquartered in Los Angeles. POV is committed to social service, social change and social justice, offering innovative and comprehensive programs include Emergency, Intervention, Prevention, Education and Advocacy services offered in Los Angeles and the 22 cities within the West San Gabriel Valley. For more on POV's work, their website can be found here.
Center for Council’s Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy and Resilience (POWER) Training Program has received the National Certification Program Seal of Excellence from IADLEST, International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.
IADLEST is an association of standards and training managers and leaders. Its primary focus is criminal justice standards and training. IADLEST's mission is to support the innovative development of professional standards in public safety through research, development, collaboration and sharing of information, to assist states and international partners with establishing effective and defensible standards for the employment and training of public safety personnel.
The National Certification Program Seal of Excellence is conferred after a thorough and rigorous independent review process conducted by IADLEST’s professional assessment team, which concluded that Center for Council’s POWER curriculum and program design was of exceptional quality. IADLEST National Certification marks the latest step in Center for Council’s partnership with the US Department of Justice COPS (Community Oriented Policing Solutions) Office, which began in March of 2022. This partnership seeks to promote the POWER program and its innovative curriculum at “the intersection of wellness, compassion, procedural justice and community building."
The Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience (POWER) Training Program offers an intensive and interactive curriculum for police and correctional officers that utilizes mindfulness practices, compassion-based communication exercises, and training in wellness-related areas such as stress management and self-care. POWER encompasses a deep exploration of the science and experience of mindfulness and compassionate communication as it relates to stress, resiliency, performance and community building. With a focus on developing tools and resources that enhance self-awareness, attunement to others, compassion, wisdom and elite performance, participants learn skills that can be translated to their personal, as well as professional, life.
POWER offers an opportunity to enhance performance, improve situational awareness, increase physical and cognitive health, and develop new leadership capacity, balancing operational demands with life beyond the watch. For more information, visit centerforcouncil.org/le.
We are deeply grateful to receive new funding to expand our Council for Insight, Compassion and Resilience for incarcerated folks -- and our Council Reentry Program, now active in Los Angeles.
Our work with law enforcement officers is expanding, as well! We’ve entered an official partnership with the Department of Justice’s Community Office of Policing Services to promote programming at the intersection of officer wellness, compassionate communication, procedural justice and community building.
And check out this powerful evaluation of our recent program with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office!
More in the pipeline – stay tuned!
Center for Council's Executive Director was once again featured on multiple episodes of The Business Couch with Dr. Yishai podcast. Yishai and Jared discussed the ways in which council practice can help reduce burnout, enhance problem solving, and deepen leadership skills in high-stress environments. Their conversation contained so much depth it needed three full episodes to describe and unpack council’s powerful impact on individuals and organizations...
Center for Council's Jared Seide was featured on multiple episodes of The Business Couch with Dr. Yishai podcast. Check out this rich conversation about compassion and council and how the practice can enhance
business culture. This expansive and inspiring dialogue spans multiple episodes -- see the links, below.
Forceful article featuring our POWER Training for police officers by Camilla Patterson on MEDIUM.
The U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services featured Center for Council's POWER training program for law enforcement in a recent podcast and article.
Clerestory Magazine interviewed Center for Council Executive Director, Jared Seide, on the work of our organization. Read the in-depth and powerful piece on the importance of listening from the heart, recognizing our shared humanity, and moving toward compassion.
Read the full story here.
In addition to Center for Council’s weekly Social Connection Councils, we are now offering drop-in councils for healthcare workers. These public sessions, held on Zoom, are open to all healthcare providers including doctors, nurses, therapists and administrators.
Healthcare providers have been on the frontlines, keeping our communities healthy and safe. Long hours, double-shifts and understaffing take a heavy toll. Repeated encounters with acute suffering are leading to chronic effects of unmitigated stress for many. It's no longer possible to "wait until it's over," hoping to emerge unscathed.
Sessions are facilitated by Dr. Ann Seide, internist and Medical Director of Palliative Care at Los Robles Hospital and Certified Council Trainer. Watch this interview with Ann, speaking about the impacts of the pandemic on essential workers and the importance of council to help regulate the effects of stress on the mind and body. We hope this resource will support those who continue to care for the health and wellbeing of our communities throughout this pandemic.
Share this resource with someone you know who works in healthcare