Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!

From Slavery to Stardust

Posted August 3rd, 2011 by Tom

Part of what kept us centered throughout this beautiful, tumultuous, and sometimes painful journey was that we sometimes had to remind ourselves that our story did not begin in these hard and musty dungeons but that our journey started billions of years ago in the darkness of time and space. And that like the particles of ancient stardust that pulsates through our bodies we have paused but a moment in slavery’s path.    — Dedan Gills

I am as proud of the radio show “From Slavery to Stardust: What Would Healing Look Like?” as anything I’ve participated in since Traces of the Trade.

One of the blessings of my life is my friendship and working relationship with Belvie Rooks and Dedan Gills. They are the co-founders of Growing a Global Heart. Their mission is to plant one million trees along the routes of both the Transatlantic Slave Trade in West Africa and the Underground Railroad in the United States “to honor and remember the millions of unnamed, unheralded and unremembered souls who were lost during the slave trade” and “to help combat the ravaging effects of global warming and catastrophic climate change.”

One of the many times we have worked together was at the Bioneers Conference in California in October 2010. As a follow-up to the breakout session that Belvie, Dedan, and I presented, Bioneers produced a half-hour show for their Revolution from the Heart of Nature radio program that is heard on more than 370 stations worldwide in eleven nations.

I hope you’ll listen to the broadcast online here. I look forward to your reactions.

Healing Constellations: another tool in healing the legacy of slavery

Posted May 3rd, 2011 by Tom

When Belvie told me over the phone about her experience with “healing constellations” at a conference she recently attended in Boston I didn’t really get it.

“It’s hard to explain” she said. Then she told me she invited the man who led the process to join us in facilitating the all-day workshop we were scheduled to lead at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco on April 22. So I knew she must have been greatly impacted by her experience.

Belvie Rooks and I have worked together many times now. We’ve led workshops and done presentations on what healing from the legacy of slavery looks like in in several states; at conferences and colleges. We’ve developed a deep and trusting relationship so I had no concerns; just curiosity. I was unfamiliar with Dan Booth Cohen but ordered a copy of his book, I Carry Your Heart in My Heart, and read about the use of constellations as a healing tool with men in prison serving long sentences; many serving “life without the possibility of parole” for murder. It’s a powerful book. It helped me understand the constellation process better… sort of. Many questions remained, which isn’t surprising when I read in his book, “Even in the most ordinary case, a Family Constellation is difficult to explain or fully comprehend.”

At their core, constellations operate from the same basic foundation that the STAR program at Eastern Mennonite University does: that historic traumas, harms experienced by people many generations in the past, continue to impact us today. Science proves this. It turns out that traumatic events create physical changes in the genes of those impacted. Those genes are passed on to future generations. Trauma is inherited (check out this YouTube clip: the key part begins at 1:52 after the beginning).

The concept is that the constellation process reveals hidden dynamics from past trauma and allows participants to transform and heal. Having now experienced this process one time I am even more intrigued and look forward to learning more. I believe that many people who attended the workshop that day would agree that constellations may well be another valuable healing tool in dealing with the historic trauma of slavery and its lingering legacy today.

I’ll write more in the future about constellations as I learn more. What I experienced that day was a combination of things that I still have a hard time putting into words. So rather than try to explain what happened from the perspective of my limited base of knowledge, I strongly encourage you to read what Dan wrote about our constellation experience on his blog.

ConverZations That Matter in San Francisco

Posted April 20th, 2011 by Tom

I’ll be in San Francisco April 21 and 22 for two full, rich days of ConverZations That Matter. My friend and colleague Belvie Rooks hosts this ongoing series of converZations that invite us to reach more deeply into issues that matter, into our hearts, and into our connections with others in order to understand, acknowledge, and heal the wounds of intergenerational trauma.

Thursday evening, April 21, at 7:00pm, Dr. Joy DeGruy will discuss the theories in her powerful book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome at the First Unitarian Universalist Church (1187 Franklin Street).

On Friday, April 22, 10:00am – 3:00pm, I will join Belvie and Dr. Dan Booth Cohen in leading the workshop on the intergenerational trauma and models of healing in connection with the legacy of slavery. I look forward to learning more about Dan’s use of Constellations in this healing work.

I hope to see many of my Bay Area friends at one or both events. It looks to be an enlightening and powerful couple of days.


Growing a Global Heart

Posted May 2nd, 2010 by Tom

“We stood in El Mina slave dungeon, on the Cape Coast of Ghana on a recent trip to West Africa, overwhelmed by despair, grief and rage. Without needing to verbalize it, we were both imagining what reaching this spot must have felt like for some long-ago, un-remembered African ancestor as she stood trembling on the precipice of an unknown and terrifyingly uncertain future.

“It was hard to process the fact that for over three hundred years, millions of women, men and children, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, brothers, potters, weavers, had begun their long and brutal journey of being captured, kidnapped, sold and enslaved from the very spot where we now stood the portal now infamously known as the door of no return.”

These are the words of my friends Belvie Rooks and Dedan Gills from their website Growing a Global Heart.

Belvie and I have worked together several times over the past two years, bearing witness to the profoundly transformative impact our separate journeys to the slave dungeons of West Africa had on each of us.

Belvie and Dedan have “a powerful vision of helping to heal the planet from the ravages of catastrophic climate change while honoring and bearing silent testament to the “many thousands gone”–one tree at time!”

Their goal is to help plant one million trees along the route of the Trans-Atlantic slave route to honor and remember the millions of unnamed, unheralded, and unremembered souls who were lost. The planting of the trees will help combat the ravaging effects of global warming and catastrophic climate change and actively highlight and support African-inspired sustainable solutions.

Please visit their website today. Purchasing a “Growing a Global Heart” stainless steel water bottle will help plant 40 trees. Using the bottle will help reduce the use of plastic drinking bottles in your life.

Dedan and Belvie say that what they need most “…are your hopes, prayers and any ideas that you have that might help move this project forward. If you have any suggestions or feel that you can help in any way, we welcome your input.”

I ask you, my friends, to support this work and to please forward this message to your friends and colleagues via e-mail or re-posting on your blog.

Healing ourselves and our world takes many forms. Growing a Global Heart is what healing looks like.

Copyright 2012 by Thomas Norman DeWolf | Website: James DeW. Perry