Friday, September 12, 2008

The Center of Recovery & the Arts

from Gerald Butler:

The same programs available to us here in Michigan are the same across the nation. What makes Michigan’s recovery efforts so successful is this: no matter the quality of a program, if consumers do not actively participate in our own recovery process, we do not do well. The will to participate in the process lies in a basic, deep-seated belief that our recovery is possible. We needed leaders who had the same belief as ours. Two things I know for a fact are 1) I will never understand Algebra 2) Unless a person has walked in our shoes, they will never know the high value we place on our recovery.
At the base of Michigan’s advances in this field are people who are totally committed to systematic recovery. They have laughed with us, cried with us, broke bread at our tables, they have pushed us and pulled us and did whatever was necessary to assure doors were open. I feel I have a duty to pass that hope and trust on to as many of my brothers and sisters in recovery as possible. Being a musician it was natural that I chose music as a method of communicating the message, so I started the ‘Recovery Band’. Telling our stories artistically has had a profound effect on my recovery and those who work with us. I realize there is a goldmine of healing in the relationship between the arts and a healthy recovery.
These days one does not have to look far to find a support group. In my work with the band I am finding people who are more than Bi-Polar, more than severely depressed, many of these people are artists, poets, musicians, and writers. Support groups are extremely necessary and help us cope with our disease. Part of our contribution to system transformation is to become as independent as possible. Self-esteem and pride are vital components of independence. After treatment and above support systems, many of us must find who we really are deep down. We must then focus on two things 1) concentrate on and improve our positive attributes, 2) continue to pass the message of hope on to others. Thanks to Southwest Counseling we will soon have a program dedicated to these ideals.
By employing Peer Support as it’s base, The Center of Recovery & the Arts shall provide a recovery enhanced environment where artists of all genre’ can feel safe and comfortable enough to communicate their recovery artistically. Wanting to help in anyway possible spread the message of recovery; the members of the ‘Recovery Band’ shall be actively involved in the daily concerns of the center. We have learned how to put Peer Support into practice and we want to share our experiences. The center is in consultation with Yale University’s Dr. Priscilla Ridgeway (Pathways to Recovery). An artist in her own right, Dr. Ridgeway has begun similar programs and is willing to show us what she has learned. Her only demand was that our intentions be solely for and about consumer recovery.
Our dream is to one day be a valid enough program that the Michigan Recovery Council would advise us and we would provide the council with reports. Thus assuring the consumers we work with get the absolute utmost care and attention. Also, since different cultures have diverse ways of expressing themselves artistically, we hope to be able to learn and share by exhibiting art and music from consumers of other cultures I feel all cultures have certain valuable tools to contribute to the treatment and recovery process and everyone benefits when ideas are exchanged.
We have found a place where we can hone our skills before a live audience. Mexicantown’s Cafe Con Leche is a coffee the sponsors Poetry & Music Night. This is a night of folks sharing music, stories, journals, and poetry in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The Center also been in contact with local professional musicians and artists willing to volunteer their time and do workshops on such varied topics as, playing the blues, financial management, promotion, mixing colors, telling your story effectively. Plus a whole lot more!
Change is inevitable and whenever it is economic consumers pay by losing vital programs. What is and has been needed are leaders who can adapt to change while maintaining a high- level of consumer care. Since consumer directed programs are a vital part of transforming the system of treatment and recovery, we thank ‘Southwest Counseling’ for providing us this opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities and talents. We will be announcing the opening of the center soon.

Norman DeLisle, MDRC
"With Liberty and Access for All!"
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