ABOUT THIS PROJECT

This site is an ongoing, intermittent unstructured personal research project that began in 2009 with the simple intent to draw a picture everyday for a year, and to ‘blog’ about my experience of trying to re-engage with self-directed creativity.

This space is not organized, and, beyond the descending chronological archives of posts stretching over a decade, is not especially linear. Although this record was created in 2009, content loops back many years, and – often – one period of time may overlay another. Such is life.

This project doesn’t have a clear structure, and functions primarily as a place to put unfinished work, a place to store ideas that I want to come back to, small art projects that I want to remember. The best way to interact with it is probably just to scroll, or search. See what you find. Some of this is beautiful, some of this is terrible.

At times, I’ve had some dumb ideas, and said some silly, illogical things in an almost insufferable tone of writing.

I’m okay with that.

This is a project about learning and un-learning, notes on the process. It never claims to be perfect, and part of the purpose here is to demonstrate how one’s thinking about a thing can change over time.

If there is a goal in this project, it is to engage in the practice of taking notes on experience and trying to feel out what is most alive to me at a particular point in time, to try to remember the things that strike me as beautiful or important, to use creative process as a means of better understanding my personal experience in relation to my experience of the world and what I see of it.

If one needs a methodological framework to make sense of what this is, call it an experimental autoethnographic record, an evolving data set collected through methods of spontaneous qualitative reporting utilizing text-based and visual media to respond to the questions:

“Who am I? What the fuck is happening in the world? What is important to me? Why?”

The limitations of this research are that it has no clear, directive parameters in method or reporting. Data is generated without specific prompt and in a variety of non-controlled research settings.

Researcher bias and subject subjectivity are inescapable.

However, these limitations also allow this project to be what it is – a bricolage of an imperfect person, assembled in what may seem to be a haphazard way, but that possibly suggests something of the author’s cognitive and emotional experience and is thus a means of reporting on simply that – the author’s experience as the person they conceptualize themselves as being, having the experiences they are having, noticing what they notice, and thinking about things, feeling things as they do.

Given that I am a person with significant learning and processing differences that affect my abilities, with great strength in some areas and profound challenges in others, and given that I am a person who survived being diagnosed with a severe persistent mental illness at a young age and who has ultimately recovered from a vulnerability to those experiences by learning about my unique wellness needs in being the person that I am and finding practices that helped me to understand and heal a lot of trauma, I figure that some of what I think about and share might be useful to someone out there, some kid in a basement hating their life.

Over the past several years, my posts here have mostly been long form assemblages of emails I’ve sent to myself – partial essays and segments of story, splinters of theory and poems, reflections on experience and notes to myself about things I want to remember, things I am learning.

There are a few outlines here and there.

I’ve written the vast majority of this on my phone.

I am continually trying to figure out what to do with all of this, and if anyone has any meaningful and sincere suggestions as to how to approach using this data, or how to use segments of it to make a book that might help some people maybe not want to die so much and might be useful to people trying to figure out their lives in the world that we live in, feel free to be in touch.

I am a citizen of the United States, who is culturally identified as being white and female. I had access to resources and privilege by virtue of the family I was born into.

If it weren’t for the ‘safety net’ provided by my family, I would probably be homeless or dead.

This represents a sampling of what one person chooses to show about herself.

There is only a fraction of experience shown.

Micro movements at the edge of a much bigger field of events.

Faith Rhyne is a person whose lived experience and education are rooted in:

– Growing up in the deep woods of the American South in the latter half of the 20th century in a house her father built from the parts of a different house. Growing up in a geodesic dome, just down the road from her great-grandmother, who was born in 1894, and who didn’t die until she was 16.

– Having a significant unidentified learning difference with an identified speech impediment that required special education classes from age 6-9.

– Severe childhood injury, almost dying twice

– Being friends with books and elders, woods and animals

– Adolescent psychiatry and experiential divergence

Watching the town she grew up in become a military town, learning about what it meant to have a nuclear submarine facility in her hometown.

– Dropping out of Camden County High School and driving a lot. Leaving home. Going back. Listening to songs on the radio and feeling my heart explode. Being homesick. Moving to Portland. Listening to records. Writing letters. Hanging out with houseless folks and experimental subcultures. Getting tattoos. Crying in my room. Learning Arabic and smoking cigarettes. Briefly stepping into boxing rings.

– Graduating from college with a 3.84, and a couple of suicide attempts, a couple of hospitalizations. Dropping out of graduate school. Some bad drug use. Lousy choices. Close calls. Heavy medication. A bad time. Big moves.

— Surviving

– Wanting to change the world

– Marriage and Motherhood

— Divorce and Motherhood

— Losing her mind because she wanted to change the world so bad

— Going back to graduate school

– Self-taught arts and creative resilience

…and – through it all – watching the place she called home for many years get destroyed in slow and fast ways, learning to try to cope with not being able to do anything to stop it.

— Loving the world.

Faith has professional and voluntary experience in many different settings and has worked in mutual service with people with challenges ranging from being an abused adolescent girl to being elderly or having AIDS.

She also knows how to inventory a hardware store.

Faith’s first volunteer writing job was with the Burnside Cadillac newspaper [Portland, Oregon, c. 1997] where she hung out with houseless folks and worked with them to build content for the paper, which provided income to houseless vendors.

Every Saturday morning for two years, Faith drove around town picking up old bread and vegetables, and spent the day with Food Not Bombs, eating soup and stiff bagels in the park.

Years later, Faith spent several seasons as a contract educator of human reproductive health and safety (“Sex Ed.”) in city and county schools, as part of her employment at a health and science museum, where she also had to dress up like a voluptuous banana for a stage-show about the dangers of watching too much television, and occasionally as a dinosaur in a performance related to proper dental hygeine.

As a volunteer court-appointed advocate for minors in State custody, Faith was awarded the recognition of Guardian ad Litem (NC, District 28) of the Year in 2008.

For eight years, Faith facilitated classes as a Certified Peer Support Specialist at a semi-rural Recovery Education Center in the western region of a southern state.

Faith enjoys creating spaces for exploration of the ways our stories are formed and told, focusing on the dynamics of narrative and perspective, such as the ways a story may change when told in 3rd person, and how things might look differently if viewed very close up or from a distance.

She has a degree in Sociology and earned her Masters in Psychology from Saybrook University, with a specialization in Transformative Social Change.  Her research interests include the use of creative self-documentation as a tool in navigating one’s personal and social experiences, cognitive/emotive/meaning-making styles, and resilience education and healing justice activism as a pathway to individual and collective recovery.

Faith likes to try to understand how things work.

Faith has crossed the country multiple times and once tried to prove something about God, patterns in nature and human language with pictures of clouds.

Formal Education

1994 – GED, Camden County, Georgia

1999 – BA, with Honors, Portland State University, Sociology with a minor in Black Studies

2006 – Coursework in Middle Grades Education, University of North Carolina, Asheville

2007 –2009 Part-time graduate level coursework toward a Master of Art Teaching degree in Special Education, with a concentration in Behavioral/Emotional Disorders.

2015 – Saybrook University, MA in Psychology, with a specialization in Transformative Social Change

Professional Experience

January 2019 – Present: Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness, Organizational Development Specialist

In this role, I work to support a nonprofit peer-led organization’s mission ‘to empower individuals and the community to manage and overcome substance use and mental health challenges’ by contributing to organizational program development and operations processes through grant writing, communications, project coordination, and participation in collaborative public health and justice initiatives which seek to address social determinants of health such as poverty and vulnerability to trauma as public health crises.

I support the organization I work for and our community partners in expanding and refining the role of individuals with lived experience in supporting recovery and in helping systems of care better understand the needs of individuals and communities struggling with complex challenges stemming from poverty and trauma.

As a recovery and resilience educator, I am passionate about people having access to resources that support them in understanding the role of trauma in wellness challenges and in learning resilience strategies to support individuals and communities not only in coping, but in creating change within their lives and collectively working to heal harm by addressing the complex factors which perpetuate poverty and increase vulnerability to trauma.

In 2020, I will be working on a participatory action research project to organize and develop recovery community capacity in under-resourced areas through working with community members to create a recovery workshop event that reflect community needs and interests, as well through holding community listening sessions to gather feedback on community needs and experiences in the social ecological system as it relates to formal and natural systems of care to complement existing needs data and to develop reports to local and state service providers in the effort to develop innovative programs to better meet the needs of under-resourced communities.

July 2013 – December 2014: The Icarus Project, Local Groups Support Coordinator

Primary Duties: In this role, I developed strategies and implemented processes to support an expanded network of grassroots mutual aid groups organized by and for individuals who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illnesses. Additionally, as a member of the Icarus Project’s Organizing Collective, I offered support in areas of outreach, media creation, strategic planning, and communications.

February 2011 – October 2018: MBHS Behavioral Health Services, Recovery Education Center, Certified Peer Support Specialist and Qualified Mental Health Professional

Primary Duties: Within this position I facilitated recovery education classes with students receiving services in a semi-rural, state-funded community mental health and substance abuse recovery organization. I facilitated both evidence-based practices, such as WRAP, as well as elective courses that I developed, such as Creative Writing in Recovery and regularly offered wellness electives, e.g. meditation. In addition to facilitating classes, I provided one-on-one peer support to individuals with highly diverse and complex experiences, needs, and circumstances.

April 2009 – May 2010: The Health Adventure, Science Educator

Primary Duties: In this position, I taught a variety of health and science-oriented classes to a broad range of grade levels in an interactive museum setting.  Additionally, I served as an instructor for the county-mandated Life Patterns series, teaching adolescents about human reproductive health and safety in public school classrooms.  I was also responsible for assisting with planning and teaching special programs, such as Super Science Saturdays.

December 2007 – April 2009: The Health Adventure, Guest Services

Primary Duty:  Facilitation of a positive and engaging museum experience for both guests and visiting school groups.   Additionally, I frequently worked in the museum’s Explore Store and assisted the Director of Guest Services with maintenance of data files and mailing lists.

January 2006 – June 2008: Asheville-Buncombe Education Coalition/Delta House Life Development Center, Paid Tutor

Primary Duty:  Working with academically/socially ‘at-risk’ youth to develop positive skills in areas such as time management and task process.  I worked with families and school faculty to establish goal-oriented communication and accountability. Several times a year, youth were involved in community learning projects which were co-organized by youth and program mentors.

Recent Voluntary Work

2019 – Present: Buncombe County Safety and Justice Challenge Grant, Community Engagement Workgroup: Work as part of a collaborative team to organize and facilitate community “Let’s Talk Justice!” listening sessions. Specifically, I provide facilitation and documentation support, as well as participate in developing workgroup reports to community and presentations to justice system leadership as a part of a MacArthur Foundation funded initiative to strategically reduce the jail population by 15%.

2019 – Present: Buncombe County Detention Facility, Peer Support. I co-facilitate peer support groups on two different units at the BCDF. These groups utilize the framework of Wellness Recovery Action Plan in supporting those housed at the BCDF to develop personal strategies to cope with the stresses of incarceration, recovery planning for post-release, and also provides information on skills that may support coping with PTSD. Individuals in the BCDF are provided information on resources that may support them in recovery following release from the BCDF.

2019 – Present: Peer Voice NC, Strategic Planning Council, Recovery Alternatives you Forced Treatment Coalition. I participate in the strategy and action implementation activities of Peer Voice NC, a SAMHSA – funded statewide consumer network initiative.

2012 – 2018: BeLoved Community, Asheville, NC, peer support/mutual aid

Provided peer support and community support in a setting that exists to serve as a safe and supportive sanctuary and place of empowerment and connection for those experiencing houselessness, those who may be vulnerable to houselessness and those impacted by other economic and social injustices.

2011 – 2016: Asheville Radical Mental Health Collective, organizing member

Coordinated and facilitated weekly open community mutual aid space for people with diverse perspectives on mental health and healing, as a means of nurturing community engagement, visibility, and activism opportunities for those who identify as having lives which have been significantly impacted by mental health struggles and involvement in mental health treatment settings. I also helped to organize special events, such as multi-media art shows, movie showings, and workshops and actively built relationships with other community groups to collaborate on trainings, dialogues, and other events. Additionally, the network of people that were organized through this work had the opportunity to participate in an ethnographic research project utilizing participatory qualitative methodology with a doctoral student from the University of Texas’ Institute of Medical Humanities.

2007 – 2010: Guardian ad Litem, Buncombe County, volunteer court-appointed advocate

Worked effectively as a member of Child and Family Teams as an advocate for adolescent youths in DSS custody. This role required that I submit a formal report to the Courts on a regular basis for review purposes, and any additional reports as needed. This role required that I develop and maintain appropriate, proactive and compassionate relationships with young men and women who had experienced profound trauma within their lives, as well as effectively work with a variety of professionals within the system of care.

Contact:

faithrhyne@gmail.com