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Theory of Change

Ending violence, coming into the present moment, creating the conditions to shift histories.

Our framework:

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The Healing Histories Project’s theory of change weaves together seven threads that emerged from Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective, Cara Page’s organizing and cultural memory work, and Susan Raffo’s work as a practitioner at the People’s Movement Center. It shares a comprehensive approach to transforming the Medical Industrial Complex.

We describe a theory of change as a framework and practice that outlines the actions believed to lead to change or transformation. As an abolitionist project, theories of change are very important because we are looking for something deeper than reform. One of the reasons that we use timelines is because they enable us to show how often change, when it is not comprehensive and cultural, gets easily reversed or watered down over succeeding years.

The first part of Healing Histories Project’s theory of change comes from the lineage of Healing Justice itself. Healing Justice is a political framework that emerged in 2006 out of the organizing, healing, and cultural memory work of the Kindred Southern Healing Collective. Healing Justice seeks to build a spiritual and political imperative that centers healing as integral to political liberation in our movements. HJ is deeply shaped and informed by five other organizing frameworks/movements: Disability Justice, Transformative Justice, Liberated Harm Reduction (a phrase coined by Shira Hassan in her book, Saving Our Own Lives: A Liberatory Practice of Harm Reduction), Environmental Justice, and Reproductive Justice. During the SONG organizing schools co-organized with the Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective, Healing Justice was envisioned as rooted in building interventions to heal from the generational trauma, harms, and abuses of these four sites:

  • Land
  • Work and Economies
  • Body
  • Spirit and Culture

To read and understand more, you can pick up the book Healing Justice Lineages: Dreaming at the Crossroads of Liberation, Collective Care and Safety (by Cara Page and Erica Woodland, North Atlantic Books, 2023). 

Stories of Care and Control: A Timeline of the Medical Industrial Complex is designed to show how generational these systems are, and how tightly they are woven together. 

Yet, what does action look like when addressing each of these four elements: body, land, spirit/culture, and work/economies? We believe that in order to transform the generational trauma held in each of these places, we need to respond in three different ways: 

  1. Ending violence: As long as active violence is taking place, our survival strategies are activated. Healing and change need a measure of space and support, even if only for three full breaths, to transform one moment into something entirely different.
  2. Engaging in practices that support coming into the present moment and remembering who we are. This is about becoming present and alive and oriented to what is happening, what we are feeling, and what surrounds us individually and communally, rather than operating from the histories held within our bodies and lodged between us.
  3. Creating the conditions that help to shift histories means that deep long-lasting change is complex and layered. In order to transform the past and build a future that we have not yet experienced, we need more than a linear strategy or set of goals and objectives. Healing Histories Project engages individuals who work inside systems of care and who wish to explore and understand their roles and to consider what it takes to transform the MIC. We support the clarification of commitments and the generation of relationships that build collective care strategies to intervene on generational trauma. We learn how individuals entered this work in order to understand their motivations,  values, and roles as healers who are building collective, communal, and structural change. We believe this is part of what it means to create the conditions that shift histories; in this case, the histories of healthcare and other aspects of the Medical Industrial Complex. We support multiple connections and encourage people inside these systems to build relationships and seed new abolitionist ideas. This is about remembering that relationships are at the center of change.

This approach to healing was developed by Raffo through her work at the People’s Movement Center in Minneapolis, and through her individual and group practices. It’s a layered approach to how we think about action or choices that support healing and change. You can read more about this in Raffo’s book, Liberated to the Bone, AK Press, 2022.

We see this theory of change as a braided approach — each strand interwoven and interdependent with one another.