The Power of Story and Creative Expression

Mixed Media Painting (Detail) by Choichun Leung / Dumbo Arts CenOne of the most popular program offerings here at Homewoods is our writers club that meets every Monday at 10:00 a.m. Those who participate in it say that they are having the time of their lives!  The group leader, Ann Staatz, taught journalism at Multnomah University for many years. She brings experience and encouragement to the group members.

In February three members of the writers’ club attended the Leading Age Writing Contest at Friendsview Retirement Center in Newberg. Homewoods resident Millie Sandwick was chosen to read a piece she wrote called The Streetcar. Millie is a long time resident of Milwaukie. Her story described the days when a streetcar provided transportation between Milwaukie and Portland, before the public bus system replaced it.

We are looking forward to a celebration of storytelling via the Homewoods Voices of Our Elders project to be held in June  in collaboration with WellArts and Rex Putnam High School. For the next two months students from Rex Putnam and Homewoods residents will be working on this oral history project. Elders are an undervalued resource in our community and we are eager to provide this opportunity for people to hear their stories.

Katy Liljeholm, the artistic director at Well Arts, describes the process of storytelling as  “stepping through circles of courage.” Art, she says, allows us to grow and learn rather than remain static. It provides new perspectives and new opportunities. Research has shown that the shift for the brain means movement from a “deficit model” to an “asset model” (Why Are Writing and Theater Part of Healthy Aging?, Well Arts 2013).