Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is Social Justice Everything? Not Quite Yet...

The Social Justice Caucus had an inaugural meeting at the recent AATA conference in Washington, D.C.. I was not in attendance and send my thanks and appreciation to both Janis Timm-Bottos and Barbara Fish who chaired the SJC focus group as well as to all the conference attendees who showed up. In reading the summary of minutes taken by student Rachel Chainey from that gathering I could see there was a wide range of issues, passions and concerns raised that grow out of the work art therapists do that can be considered to have a social justice component. Reading a list like that makes me queasy. How do we focus? Especially when from the show of hands only about four people knew of the blog, our main organ of communication. We simply start where we are and keep moving along where there is energy and possibility, hoping to gain momentum along the way. The first order of business will be refining our relationship to the AATA Board of Directors and staff who have been eager to have our input. We have a liaison from the Board, Craig Siegel and to my mind that is a two way street. It was suggested that we have an SJC liaison to the BOD and I see that at the moment as my job as co-chair of the SJC. As we develop and grow that may be a separate job from the co-chair. We have a task at hand in relation to AATA that is critical: to set short and long term goals for the SJC so that the means to achieve those goals can be incorporated into the AATA strategic plan. I invite you to please send along your ideas for short and long term goals and I will incorporate them in the next post. In the meantime, please share the blog with other art therapists, students and colleagues. Post to your Facebook page. Read the comments on the existing posts, Nancy Hall wrote a wonderful summary of her efforts to work within the systems and how she has survived as well as how she has suffered in doing so. My goal will be to post weekly and see if we can build some momentum before next year's conference to add an articulate, inclusive and nuanced voice to the art therapy discourse that helps us bring a social justice lens to, yes, everything, with a bit of grace, joy and fun as well.
Pat B. Allen, Ph.D., ATR, HLM