Around 50 people gathered Sunday evening for a potluck and communal healing event intended to support local students and members of the community affected by the violence in Gaza and the West Bank.
Alex Kimball Williams, Lawrence artist and community organizer, said she hopes “this event inspires other events, other neighborhoods to get together and to provide food and healing resources for their neighbors.”
The event was held at Sunrise Project, and organizers said it was “in support of those in our community who have been impacted by the violence throughout Palestine. This is open to all religious affiliations and ethnicities while being specifically in service of Palestinian students, families and others.”
Several local organizations contributed to the event, including Aladdin Cafe, Wild Alive Ferments, Mellowfields Farm, and Squared Away Acres. Mud & Lotus provided massage and acupuncture.
Watermelon pendants were given to attendees to show their support for the Palestinian people, and supplies were laid out on a table for attendees to write postcards to their legislators.
Jordan Graves runs a therapeutic art studio out of Kansas City but comes to Lawrence often. Graves said to those who are struggling, “Congratulations on being a person who cares … as soon as we stop caring, we have lost a piece of our humanity.”
She shared some resources for people impacted by the ongoing violence against the Palestinian people, including a free app that connects people with Muslim therapists.
Falestine “Fally” Afani, a Rally for Palestine Lawrence organizer, told the group they are getting a billboard put up in North Lawrence that will say “Free Palestine.” She added that “we’re lucky to get what we’re getting” because “a lot of billboard companies and owners are turning these types of billboards down.”
Mariel Ferreiro, a community organizer, stressed the importance of keeping “our community connection alive” and said healing requires us to remember that “we are not an individual, we are a collective.”
She said that people sometimes misunderstand the meaning of resiliency by assuming that marginalized people are “somehow stronger,” but to her, resiliency means “the connection to people, the connection to our community.”
Elizabeth Esch said she has worked “in the realm of Palestinian liberation” for more than 30 years, but she hadn’t found this community support in Lawrence until recently.
She said it’s “been a horrible set of circumstances, but such a blessing to be able to connect in this way.”
Shahida Spann-Ryan brought her travel acupuncturist kit and offered to provide the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association protocol for attendees to “ground the nervous system.” She said the practice emerged from Harlem in the ‘60s when “there was a need for community-driven health care.”
“We need more community care; we need to support each other,” she said.
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Molly Adams (she/her), photojournalist and news operations coordinator for The Lawrence Times, can be reached at molly (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Check out more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.
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