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Letter to the Editor, Social Services, Uncategorized

Sewing proposed as means to help those in recovery

To the editor:

(Plain Press, June 2016) Joe Bialek’s earnest letter in the May issue on the ever-timely problem of drug abuse brings to mind a Ted Talk by Johann Hari, which is quite insightful, (if a bit proud in title.)

Hari looks beyond the family to the larger social pressures that families contend with – a valuable and oft-ignored perspective. And he emphasizes the importance of re-entry opportunities, in effect – and we might ask if their de facto scarcity is a weak link that leaves many people in recovery circling again and again through the revolving door.

On that note I still hope to hear an encouraging word on a project I recommended to our ADAMHS board and elsewhere a few years ago:

SEWING HOPE – in drug and alcohol recovery programs –

Dear Mr. Denihan,

Hoping your agency will help pilot this project in order to evaluate the merits of teaching people in recovery basic hand-sewing skills as a strategy for self-care and re-integration into the community.

Service is vital to recovery, but how many clients graduate their programs with suitable opportunities? This project affords them one that can last a lifetime.

Sewing, with just cloth, needle and thread, is well within most everyone’s ability; it denies the devil idle hands and instead exercises ‘wisdom of the hands,’ that well-grounded practice taught by America’s philosopher-carpenter, Doug Stowe.

A round table approach – participants sharing their stories, struggles and hopes, while learning to create something of value with their hands – can teach them to apply themselves to the 12 Steps with at least as much care and patience and eye for detail as their sewing requires.

Learning how to relate well with others is another key to lasting recovery — but see how quickly our NA and AA meetings disperse at their close – as if all were fleeing one another.

Perhaps this approach, marked by a memorable service activity, and conducted at the slower tempo of an old-fashioned sewing circle, is worth a try. One service project could be to present handmade pillows with colorful cases to resident council members of a nursing home. (Or, make them with council members.)

A sewing bee is a sure antidote to the isolation which mars our age and leaves people often with little but drink and dope to relieve the loneliness and desuetude. We believe these clients will have the opportunity to develop healthier, lasting friendships with one another and with sober members in the community.

Here’s perspective:  In Gee’s Bend, Alabama, members of the Freedom Quilting Bee found sewing projects to “organize identity and affirm human relationships.” That’s what we’re after.

We think of Gandhi at his spinning wheel, combining constructive engagement with the meditative, calming effects of repetitive motion.

Next:  Identifying a court-mandated recovery program best suited to pilot this; seeking a local quilters’ guild to help implement her; enlisting the university or community college to measure her success.

Such optimism.

Hayes Rowan

Ohio City, South of Lorain

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