In a world where violence runs rampant and trauma remains a societal backbone, Indianapolis’ artists and activists look to inspire change and encourage solutions to the many violent social injustices that plague our communities. The Community Action of Greater Indianapolis (CAGI) and the Community Action Neighborhood Network of CAGI (WE-CANN) will join together this Nov. 8 at 5:30 pm at the Reset Center to form C.H.A.T. (Culture, Heart, Art & Talk) to spark change in individuals with hopes of creating a domino effect of awareness and well-being within our neighborhoods, our city, our world. 

“This is a healing centered approach to community building that includes culture, spirituality, civic action and collective healing,” said Val M. Tate, CAGI Community Engagement and Learning Development Director. 

Part of 2019’s Spirit in Place Festival, C.H.A.T.’s artists, trauma-informed facilitators and attendees will work together to create inspirational expressions of art with the intention to engage and transform the community.

Ace Williams is one of the artists slated to appear at C.H.A.T. Formerly incarcerated, Williams is a rap artist who owns a lawn care business with the purpose of engaging and employing Indianapolis’ youth to keep them out of trouble. Williams is also a prominent figure in CAGI’s WE-CANN Champion program, which supports the development of African American males ages 18-26 who hail from communities that experience severe trauma. 

Williams, as well as other featured artists and facilitators, will use the Civic Reflection Dialogue technique to allow recognition of shared experiences and encourage solutions of the multitude of social injustices, acts of violence and health disparities that impact Hoosiers and beyond. 

“To have a greater impact for those we serve, CAGI has broadened its reach to include place-based initiatives that engage residents through a trauma informed and asset-based lens,” says Terrence White, Executive Director of CAGI. “Our aim is to support people that have a lot of trauma to be more resilient.”

Inspiring CAGI’s community-empowering event is an article by Dr. Shawn Ginwright titled The Future of Healing: Shifting from Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement. Within his piece, Dr. Ginwright stresses the importance enhancing a person’s well-being after a traumatic experience rather than symptom-based diagnosis and subsequent perceived ineffective treatment. 

“A healing centered approach views trauma not simply as an individual isolated experience, but rather highlights the ways in which trauma and healing are experienced collectively,” Dr. Ginwright writes. 

Ginwright, and by extension CAGI’s C.H.A.T., centers this philosophy around a person’s potential for a positive outlook. “A healing centered approach to addressing trauma requires a different question that moves beyond ‘what happened to you’ to ‘what’s right with you’ and views those exposed to trauma as agents in the creation of their own well-being rather than victims of traumatic events,” writes Dr. Ginwright. 

CAGI is looking for volunteer facilitators. Contact Ms. Val Tate via email at if interested in learning more.