#TheWrite2Heal Kickoff Event on September 27, 2017 

On September 27, 2017, writers gathered at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library to write about the hate and violence that occurred during the Unite the Right Rallies on August 11th and 12th. This was a collaboration with the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. We are so grateful for their space and assistance. We would also like to thank Common Ground and The Women’s Initiative for providing literature regarding their community resources. Several participants graciously submitted excerpts of their work. Writers in other cities also shared their thoughts through email and Twitter.

Participant Excerpts

The Writer House and JMRL cosponsored # Write2Heal event was a masterfully facilitated exemplar of co-creating safe space, community and the opportunity to write,  process and share with intent for personal and collective well-being. Diverse voices gathered in transformative, positive, creative expression in the physical vicinity of where violence shocked the community and raise international awareness. The  # Write2Heal event demonstrated the power and benefit of collaboration and how focused, responsive community creative activity contributes to well-being and authentic, collective value. I needed to draw before I could write in response to the prompts and exercises leading to writing about community. The artwork was created during the event.–Polly Lazaron

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I hugged the free hugger and it was for me and not for him. I needed a hug and I took one from him. I approached his open arms slowly, wrapped my arms around him and he wrapped his around me. I closed my eyes and thought about his blindfold. I pressed my fingertips into the muscles in his back.

I thought about how it would end, this hug, when we would let go. I felt him reading me, reading my fingers in his back, reading my own back with his fingers, and thought about how he could probably feel my ribcage, just beneath my shoulder blades. How we’d read each other to know when the hug was done, when it was time. Like two cowboys, ten paces apart, eyeing each other to know when to draw.–djd

Except exactly the opposite, this hug. Eyes closed, fingertips soft and listening, so close we were wrapped in each other, guessing, waiting for the other to come back to life.

#TheWrite2Heal Experience

The #Write2Heal event was an important way for me to process my experiences, post the August 11th and 12th rallies. WriterHouse provided a safe and comfortable space for participants to share both their grief and hope for our community in a time when it felt most critical to be able to do this together.–Dana Mich

My hero 

Slumped forward in a wheelchair over a cast set just yesterday, tears drip from your chin. You hold hands with fellow mourners as flowers pile at your feet. You were so close—just inches—from death. Quick enough to save your fiancé, but wondering if that was enough.

It was. It has to be.

You are my hero, not because you were quick and strong, though you are, but because you cry openly, doing for some of us what we cannot yet do: mourn for all that is lost. –Anonymous

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I drove to Charlotesville specifically as a growing platform on which I can face head on the effects of my PTSD so that I may slay the demons associated with it, in poetic form. Thank you for allowing my efforts to collectively gather. May the waves of compassion sculpt a new shore. –Cari Still

In Solidarity from Across the Country 

Who was your hero on August 12th?

I’m not from the Charlottesville area, so I could only watch in helplessness and horror, cold chills creeping up my spine and into my heart, as I watched the torch-bearing crowd chanting their hate-filled slogans.

There were many heroes, though. NOT those who came to fight with clubs, shields, and even cars, but those who came to fight hatred with love, to overcome darkness with light, as MLK prescribed. They were the Helpers that Mr. Rogers spoke of, marching in peace, kneeling beside the wounded, saving lives. —Patty Kline-Capaldo, Creative Light Services

The Problem of Holding On

My wrist aches as I write these words, my hand clenches like I can’t let go. It only releases when I admit that I don’t know what to write. . . . that it feels like too much and I am not enough . . . Open hand. Open heart. Open Mind? Since August 12th, I’ve been closing my mind like it’s a fist. Set in my ideas. Wanting to do what’s right. But what does the loving option look like? How do I maintain an unclenched fist and an open heart?–Lisa Ellison

#Write2Heal Thoughts

We the people watch a lot of news. A lot of news has a lot of disaster and violence in it. We see the stories of other communities, of loss, of helping others move through grief toward recovery. Then dinner is ready, it’s time to go to bed and we turn off the TV and the disaster is over and the sadness and violence is gone.

There is a strange longing to help, to go “there,” wherever “there” is. Puerto Rico is now that place, having been leveled to ruins by Hurricane Maria. I watch the desperate pleas of the brave mayor, wading in chest-deep water to help her people. I go to bed wondering how these people will get water and food and enough gas to keep their generators going. Their stories about losing everything jostle around in my jangled brain. My life seems stupid compared to these needs. My car is making a strange noise and a small tribe of sugar ants has invaded my kitchen. Cat fur is collecting in the corners of my home. But I have a home, I have a car and a way to get around. And I have a cat. She did not float away in a biblical flood. –Sibley Johns

Interested in upcoming #TheWrite2Heal events? Send an email to programs@writerhouse.org