Sunday Workshops

The following workshops are part of the NWNM Conference Sunday program. Participants indicate their workshop preferences upon registration. Some workshops have caps and are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A. Graphic Medicine
Craigan Usher, MD

 Using comics and graphics with medical themes, Usher will lead participants to discover the unique ways in which reading and creating comics renders the experience of illness itself and moves thoughts from the depths of the writer’s subjective experience into the mind of the reader. Examples will include works like Brian Fies’ Mom’s Cancer, Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow, and David B’s Epileptic. The second half of the workshop will give participants the opportunity to create their own simple comic centered on a shared clinical experience; a cartoonist will be on hand to help participants enhance their graphic stories.

B. Writing from the Body
Micaela Bombard, MS

 What is the relationship between body and language? How does one experience the world using a framework that moves away from the objectification of the body toward an integrated, subjective mind/body experience’? Together participants will consider “the problem” of putting experience into language by closely reading poetry and discussing it. How can we describe the nature of our experience in a way that feels accurate, and what does “accuracy” mean in this context? How does one’s embodied experience shape their text? A descriptive writing exercise and group discussion will guide participants to honor embodied experience.

C. Radical Self-Care for Social Justice and Health Equity Work
Josephine Ensign, FNP, MPH, DrPh

Radical can be a loaded word. The OED breaks it down as “of or relating to a root or roots…vital.” As healthcare providers, patient advocates, and informed caregivers, what feeds and waters your soul? What draws you to the work you do? This is the radical question. If we don’t attend to the work of answering, it become an Achilles’ heel, tripping us up, making us lame. The root of our passion for our work can become the biggest source of professional burnout. In this workshop, Ensign will use writing prompts, select reading and group discussion to help participants incorporate radical self-care into their healthcare work.

D. Story Corps
Jessi Broberg and T. Timbreza

This session will focus on the healing power of storytelling through the mission of StoryCorps legacy and their partnership with local and national healthcare organizations. Participants will engage in an audio listening exercise, and will identify ways to tell a story within a limited timeframe, while maintaining the integrity of the narrative. Participants will not record a StoryCorps story in the session, but will learn techniques and be given resources on how to record one after the conference.

E. Art & Narrative: An Interactive Clay and Writing Experience
April Brenneman and Sharon Agnor

Reflect on your own illness narratives using the mediums of writing and clay. Learn about how Brenneman’s organic creation of x-ray art developed as she was a caretaker for her ill son, and how Angor’s illness story inspired her glass and steel art. Participants will create their own pinch pot representing an illness journey, its meaning enhanced through writing prompts. Be prepared to explore, awaken creativity, hear one’s own voice and the other.
F. Page to Stage: A Theatrical Approach to Narrative Medicine
Heath Hyun Houghton of Well Arts Institute

This workshop will help participants to gain perspective on key moments in their lives through the use of playwriting and performance together. First, participants will work as writers, creating short monologues or 2 or 3 person scenes exploring a specific moment of conflict or a moment of discovery or turning points – when something changes and is never the same again. After creating short written pieces, the writers will then work with the pieces that are created as actors. Both phases allow the participants to hone the story so that it clearly and efficiently tells the listener, the audience, precisely what the writers want them to understand about their experiences. In closing, we will discuss ways participants can put techniques learned into practice.

G. Taking Care: How Literature and Visual Art Can Shape Our Understanding of Wellness and Illness
Lois Leveen, PhD

How and why should we create space for the humanities in medicine and medical care? What purpose can contemplating works of literature and art have in shaping the experiences of patients, their families, and healthcare practitioners? Join Leveen – novelist, poet, and medical humanities scholar – for a discussion of several pieces of art and short literary works, in which participants will deepen their shared understanding of wellness, illness, and care taking. No prior experience or training in the humanities, literature, art, or medicine is required. This workshop will be held offsite at the Portland Art Museum.

H. Windows and Mirrors: Mindfulness and Empathy through Art
Hana Layson, PhD and Portland Art Museum docents

Art museums can be places for solitude and contemplation. They are also spaces for encountering difference and dialogue. Educators, such as Susan Harris MacKay, employ the metaphor of windows and mirrors to suggest how some works of art provide insight into experiences that are different from our own, while others seem to reflect our own experiences back to us. Taking this metaphor as our starting point, Portland Art Museum staff and docents will facilitate an exploration of mindfulness and empathy through visual art. The workshop will include guided meditation as well as sketching, writing, and conversation in the galleries. This workshop will be held offsite at the Portland Art Museum.