Student Newsletter January 2022: Community Organization Highlights

January 12, 2022

Students and professors walking along Northrop Mall in autumn

Angelica Walton - How did you get involved with Face to Face, and what has been impactful to you working with them?

Face to Face is an organization in the twin cities providing shelter, a safe environment, clinic, telehealth, and home services to homeless youth between ages 11-24. Staff provide everything from sexual and reproductive health services, mental health care and counseling, to general medical care. In addition, the drop in centers have trained professionals who are available to help youth navigate school, the job market, preparing applications, finding housing, health and dental insurance, as well as transportation.

A large population of the youth that Face to Face serves are BIPOC and LGBTQ youth, which is how I came across them. During my clinical rotation, my clinical instructor helped me begin the search for federally qualified health centers serving LGBTQ youth in the area. We came across Face to Face, which is state and tribal funded, as we as largely donation based. There is a significant demand for volunteer efforts within the organization, and that is where I decided to begin building connections. I have been participating in meal drop offs for youth at the shelter and safe zone clinic, but am seeking to strengthen the relationship and offer up monthly self care days for youth where we can come together as a community and do yoga, learn some breathing practices, and other self autonomous tools that youth can take with them outside of the space to enhance their wellbeing and resilience. As a member of the LGBTQ community- and someone who can relate my own adolescent years to some of the struggles the youth in this population are facing-I feel a strong pull to find creative ways to reach this community in a meaningful way. I am excited for the possibilities as they continue to unfold.

Andree Aronson - How does your role at Liberty's Northside Healing Space coincide with your studies at the Bakken Center and the University of Minnesota?

My role at Liberty’s Northside Healing Space (NHS) fits beautifully with my studies at the Bakken Center and the University of Minnesota. I started with NHS over 13 years ago as a contract grant writer and now I’m the director of operations, which (as with most non-profits) involves many things including raising money, program development, community partnerships, and occasionally running the vacuum.  At NHS our mission is to co-create restorative and radical healing spaces – which is deeply connected with the spirituality and healing work of the Bakken Center.  My initial class (CSPH 5101 Introduction to Integrative Healing Practices) helped me learn more about the classes and partnerships that we literally offer (or hope to offer) at NHS, as well as learning how to find the research and data that supports the healing practices.  Much of my work involves talking about why we do what we do, so this deeper understanding of healing practices expands my ability to connect with our community and partners.  CSPH 5225 Meditation: Integrating Body and Mind helped me deepen my own practice(s) and expanded my understanding of spiritual interconnection between all things.  I am excited about my class this spring (CSPH 5118 Whole Person, Whole Community,) where I will learn explore “the symbiotic and reciprocal relationship between individual and community health and wellbeing) - more about what we literally do at NHS.  Blending my lived and work experience in community with the Bakken Center helps me better connect to myself, my community – and by extension the world we both are engaged in.

NHS was co-created through a partnership with Dr. Lauren Martin at the University of Minnesota (now at the School of Nursing) combining her research with individuals involved in survival sex and our lived experience in providing safe space, respite, and resources for these same women in our community.  At Liberty’s NHS we talk about being “healers in need of healing” which for us includes individual healing, community healing, and planetary healing (we can’t be healed if our community and/or planet is dying) – our planetary health emphasis was catalyzed and is supported by our partnership with the University of Minnesota and Teddie Potter (Director of Planetary Health and School of Nursing). 

I’m interested in learning from my classes, but also in reciprocal and participatory action regarding the Center and the community work it does.  It is one thing to intellectually study ‘historical trauma and healing” (or any of the description for my classes or the Center) but it is another to embody that understanding into wisdom and culturally relevant action based on community voice.  My understanding of Social Justice, Equity, Safety, and Trust as a white person who works in a Black led Black community is different than most – and being a bridge of understanding where relationships are prioritized, power is shared (power with rather than power over), and sustainable practices and support is embedded in action, is important for community healing.  I am excited to bring this understanding to the Bakken Center, as I bring my learning and new relationships back to NHS.

Liberty’s NHS is a trusted community hub, and we can facilitate programming, healing, and conversation  that support our mission of co-creating healing, and benefit our community as well. I am interested in increasing access to the Bakken Center programming, and want to bring classes and programs to the North Minneapolis Community.  I am excited about this opportunity to listen, learn, and co-create – furthering the Bakken Center’s mission and the Mission of NHS. 


Categories: Academics