Two Things Can Be True: Celebrating the Together Well Project

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June 12, 2022

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Two Things Can Be True: Celebrating the Together Well Project

Two and a half years ago, Together Well started  with what Brian Park, one of the leaders, called “zero foresight and full curiosity to understand the world better.” Together Well was a culmination of empathy and connection and resulted in a co-created story that articulates the superhuman-ness in all of us. 

The project celebrated its finale on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 during an online Community of Practice event hosted by Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative and RELATE Lab

Although entirely online, a certain warmth permeated the space. One of my biggest takeaways from the event was that human connection can’t be stopped. Our need to engage and connect with others transcends all else. Joshua Edward Wright, a prison abolitionist/activist and one of the storytellers, said “We are not designed to be isolated from one another, and the pandemic has taken human connection from us.” Together Well gave us human connection back. 

The evening began with the group watching a video of selected audio, video, and written stories collected over the last two and half years. Elaine Uchison, Multimedia Storyteller and Together Well team member, compiled excerpts from 15 storytellers, an eclectic mix of physicians, students, ICU nurses, small business owners, activists, designers, and entrepreneurs Above all, the storytellers were humans.. Humans who experienced a global pandemic that usurped so much of our daily lives, caused hardships, and sometimes ruin. Something ignited the storytellers and led them to this virtual stage. 

After watching the video, the audience was stunned. One storyteller and audience member, Daren Todd, typed in the chat, “making me cry on a Tuesday.” He wasn’t the only one. So many on that zoom call had tears in their eyes, and knots in their throats. 

Elizabeth Lahti, another Together Well leader, invited audience members to spend a few minutes reflecting on the video, respond to a short writing prompt, create something , and share it with a smaller breakout group. This is what I wrote: 

“Although we are still in the thick of the pandemic I feel like it has allowed us to reclaim parts of our humanity as a global community. Watching live all of the hurt that is caused systematically to marginalized peoples forced us to look inwards and evaluate ourselves. We have been held captive and forced to keep our eyes on the screen as we watch those who are tasked with keeping us safe, fight for their lives as well as our own. And yet, they persevered, they kept fighting. And that led us as a community to keep fighting, to reframe these horrors as a place for opportunities as well. These projects highlighted that. Highlighted the drive, that we as people are the true phoenix. From the ashes, we rise, and we will rise.” Recently I had been angry about the pandemic. I felt cheated out of experiences I should have had, but watching this video in community recalibrated me. It turned my perspective of anger into one of optimism, something I did not think I could feel concerning Covid-19. 

During the event, I witnessed many people highlighting the duality of the pandemic. The loss of what was normal, and the gain of new horizons.The constant devastation and steadfast gratitude. The duality that we encountered for two and a half years now. There is a need for socialization that leaves us feeling upset, but also the love and compassion we hold for others. There is the sorrow for those who lost their lives and moments they will never get back, and the joy that came from unprecedented opportunities to change. All of these feelings were represented in the video we watched, which reminds me of an anecdote I had heard before this event, ‘Two things can be true. So often we look for either’s and or’s but in reality there are a lot of and’s too’. And so with all of these moments, these intentional acts of vulnerability, I was able to feel hope that we can do better, and so did so many of us. It is truly amazing what human connection can do.

We closed the evening by typing a word or phrase that would stick with us in the chat. Elizabeth then read those aloud to conclude an empathy-forward night in possibly the best way to leave the space, by voicing the connection that became the theme of the night.

The words that resonated deeply with the audience

To Celebrate Together Well with us, click on the links below!

Together Well Video

Together Well Storytelling Project

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