Oct 29, 2018 | 8:00am–12:30pm EDT Past Event

The Road Home: New Perspectives on Addiction, Wholeness, and Healing with Swoon and Dr. Gabor Maté

Join us to participate in thoughtful conversations about compassion-centered and trauma-informed practices in art and healing. The culmination of Mural Arts Philadelphia’s work with artist Swoon (Caledonia Curry) in Kensington, this symposium features renowned speaker and author Dr. Gabor Maté, as well as a wide array of experts in the field of trauma and addiction.

In collaboration with therapist and artist Jessica Radovich and storytellers Heather Box and Julian Mocine-McQueen, Swoon offered near-daily open-door workshops at the Porch Light Kensington Storefront in April and May. Weekly harm-reduction workshops connected participants to further resources at the nearby Prevention Point facility, across the street from a shelter where a new mural and outdoor lighting and seating will renew this public space for all.



Through this conference, we aim to rework traditional power dynamics and systems by encouraging deep engagement from  participants. The values of the conference are connection, empowerment, deep understanding, and meaningful change on individual, community, and systemic levels.

After a keynote from globally recognized addiction specialist Dr. Gabor Maté, we will hear from a wide array of experts in the field, including those who have directly experienced addiction and trauma. We believe in compassion-centered healing, and aim to explore the artistic stretches of our humanity to support people in their own creativity and healing. We believe in the power of art and story and connection to transform trauma through truth. If you are are looking for a place to ignite hope, connect fully, and speak honestly around some of the most trying topics of our times—addiction, trauma, pain—you have come to the right place.


8 a.m. Registration
9 a.m. Introduction
9:20 a.m. Keynote with Dr. Gabor Maté
10:20 a.m. Q&A with Dr. Gabor Maté
10:40 a.m. Movement break with Roots2Rise
11 a.m. Workshops
12:15 p.m. Close of symposium


Experience the Storefront: Art on the Front Lines 
Join us in a real-time exploration of art on the front lines of healing trauma and battling addiction. Let us show you the radical power of meaningful art, and the humanity in the act of using one’s hands and heart in service of beauty. Art is not a band-aid—art is a part of positive change. Come experience for yourself the tactile artistic heartbeat of our storefront in the Kensington neighborhood.
Narratives for Change: Storytelling Workshop 
Story is the heart of our humanity—story is who we are, how we learn, what we remember. Story is the reason why. At the Million Person Project, we are part of the revolution, moving toward authentic humanity and true connection. At the heart of trauma and addiction, there is story. And healing? That can be part of the story too. We will practice the deeply powerful tool of Life-Mapping, and teach you how to use your own story and humanity to connect with the story and humanity of others. In diving into your own personal story, mining for values and meaning, you can harness the power of your deepest truths for the greatest good. We will teach you how to explore your own life experiences and the shape of your humanity, by way of storywork. All are welcome, and all stories are honored here.
DIY Trauma-Informed Skills for the Street 
Sometimes our desire to intervene and act in delicate situations is overshadowed by our fear of not knowing what to do. While not everyone will become a trained therapist, we can all learn ways to recognize and work with trauma on a daily basis.  This will be an unveiling of an approachable and usable collection of tools for anybody to use in supporting someone who is experiencing the impact of trauma. We will also look at how to know when your own pain is driving your response, and how to sort out the wisest course of action. Trauma and addiction often find people alone in their darkest hour, so these tools are meant to equip us to face those times with groundedness and love. This workshop is designed for those who wish to be better informed and equipped to make small acts with great love through direct relationships.
The Cutting Edge of Trauma: Healing and Solutions to Addiction
This workshop will serve as a dialogue around the creative solutions at the forefront of opioid addiction and treatment. The nationwide opioid epidemic calls on our creativity around the treatment and culture of healing. At the cutting edge of trauma and addiction, there are hard conversations to be had about what it means to truly serve communities in meaningful and effective ways; expect dialogue and brainstorming around radical approaches.
Gabor Maté: Why the Pain and How the Healing
Join world-renowned expert Dr. Gabor Maté for an in-depth exploration of his practical experience in responding to active addiction. Dr. Maté worked for 12 years as the staff physician at the Portland Hotel Society, and saw firsthand how the opioid crisis impacted Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. He will speak with participants about this experience, and explore the innovative and compassionate treatment methods he was inspired to develop.


This event is hosted by Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Porch Light program, a collaboration with the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services.

Callie Curry, a/k/a Swoon, works with people at the Mural Arts Kensington Storefront. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Symposium Bios 

DIY Trauma-Informed Skills for the Street

Jess Radovich is an integrative artist and growth counselor based in the Pacific Northwest. Drawing on experience in early childhood development, psychodynamic and somatic therapy, and the science of yoga and mindfulness, Jess creates interdisciplinary work in service of healing. She creates in varied settings, including HIV clinics, universities, nonprofit spaces, somatic programs and in artistic collaborations, including with Mural Arts Philadelphia, Swoon, and the Million Person Project.  She is the founder of The Heart School, a personal growth school for everyday people.

Hailing from Nigeria, Adaku Utah is a healer, liberation educator and organizer, and performance ritual artist committed to healing and liberation within oppressed communities. For over 10 years, her work has centered in movements for radical social change, with a focus on gender, sexuality, race, youth, and healing justice. She is the founder and director of Harriet’s Apothecary, a healing village led by Black Cis Women, Queer and Trans folks committed to living out Harriet Tubman’s legacy of liberation in our tissues and our lineage. She is also the founder of BeatBox Botanicals, a local sliding-scale, love-centered, and community-inspired plant medicine and healing practice. Adaku has taught, organized, and created sacred healing spaces and performed both nationally and internationally as a Social Change Initiatives coordinator, rape crisis counselor, youth organizer, intuitive healer, gender-based violence advocate, dancer, liberation trainer, sex education teacher, herbalist, sexual violence organizing educator, and board member for several organizations.

Dr. Christopher Tjoa is a psychiatrist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania–Penn Presbyterian and Pennsylvania Hospital. He received his medical degree from University at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and has been in practice between 6–10 years. He is one of 105 doctors at Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania–Penn Presbyterian and one of 79 at Pennsylvania Hospital who specialize in Psychiatry.

The Cutting Edge of Trauma

Nicole Connell is Special Advisor to the Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS). She is involved in activities that support the Commissioner in ongoing system transformation initiatives designed to advance behavioral health and intellectual disAbility services through a population health framework. Connell has extensive experience in Philadelphia’s various social services systems, and nonprofit community based organizations. Connell has expertise in education, community organizing, partnership development, and federal grant management. She worked for several years in DBHIDS’ Strategic Planning and Innovation Division where she provided guidance and leadership for many of the department’s innovative population health initiatives. She also implemented procedures which significantly enhanced the efficiency of the Community Based Services Development Unit .

Caledonia Curry, who exhibits her artwork under the name Swoon, started her career as a street artist, but leapfrogged to museums and galleries. She is a classically trained visual artist and printmaker who has spent many years exploring the relationship between people and their environments. Now she has expanded her work to include installation and performance art, often with an activist bent. Her work can be seen outside of Prevention Point Philadelphia, in New York, Boston, and all over the world.

Sara Reed, M.S., is a Marriage and Family Therapist who practices in Farmington, Connecticut. She is currently a sub-investigator and study coordinator for the MAPS MDMA Clinical Study of PTSD at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Sara’s clinical interests include exploring relational processes and emotional patterns in Black-Americans and identifying sociocultural variables for ethnoracial minority participants in the MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD clinical trials. Sara also works to advance health equity and upward social mobility among boys and men of color through neutral strategies, such as art. As a socially-minded therapist, Sara continuously works to expand culturally sensitive practices within her work and within the literature of the mental health field.

Elise Gaul, LPC, CT is a certified EMDR Therapist and Certified Thanatologist (the scientific study of death, dying, and grief).  She has over 25 years’ experience in human services as a therapist, educator, and program manager in nonprofit, mental health, hospice, and higher education settings. As a clinician in private practice for over 15 years, Elise has worked with individuals and families addressing grief and loss, mood issues, PTSD and trauma, toxic stress, and coping with illness. In addition to EMDR, she utilizes Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction techniques having trained with founder Jon Kabat-Zinn. She also trained with Dr. Daniel Siegel in Interpersonal Neurobiology and utilizes this approach in her practice. Her private practice is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Deputy Commissioner Roland Lamb (Strategic Planning and Innovation Division, DBHIDS) has been working in the field of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Dependence Treatment for over 41 years as counselor, therapist, supervisor, coordinator of addictive services, program director, trainer, lecturer, consultant, and administrator. Because of the extent and nature of the various positions held within the behavioral health system—i.e., managed care, services to the uninsured, and coordinating the Single County Authority—he currently provides cross system management across several different work cultures.

Narratives for Change: Storytelling Workshop

Heather Box is a Northern Cali native currently living in San Francisco. Heather Box is a writer, activist, and trainer who works in partnership with change makers around the globe to support them to use their voice and tell their personal stories. Over the past 10 years she has worked in the social change movements in the United States and all over the world on issues of civic engagement, climate change, human rights, immigration and sustainable development. She is the co-founder and CEO of the Million Person Project, a global project about love, storytelling, and connecting change makers.

Amy Thompson is a creative, a storyteller, story listener, and dream believer. She is also a physical therapist. With her Doctorate in Physical Therapy, Amy went on a tour of our healthcare system, practicing all over the country as a PT—and felt something was lacking. She believes our entire health care system and world would transform if we prioritized true listening to the stories of ourselves and others. Her passions have always been story, storytelling, and understanding the innate power we all have to heal. She recently completed a Masters in Community Health and Prevention Sciences from the University of Montana, and completed her thesis on the role of storytelling in healing chronic pain. Amy finds incredible hope in pain science and the nervous system, and considers it a great honor to collaborate with people in healing and story. Amy now works with the Million Person Project as a Narrative Specialist and story enthusiast, and she has yet to meet a person or story she doesn’t care about.

Experience the Storefront: Art on the Frontlines

Lisa Kelley is an artist who is interested in exploring the intersection of art and social change. Her ongoing project, Epidemic, is a series of weavings thematically connected by the struggles, the despair, and the stories of hope surrounding addiction. Each weaving is created with strips of fabric on which people affected by addiction write a wish, a prayer, a dream, a memory. The messages of love and loss are knotted and woven together, then threaded onto and suspended from sticks found in parks in Kensington, which is where she was born and raised. The project is a story about bearing witness, of gaining empathy and compassion, of taking action and reaching beyond the personal to affect change in her community. Lisa and her colleague, Kathryn Pannepacker, along with their team of friends, have created a sanctuary studio at the Kensington Storefront called Tuesday Tea & Textiles, where they create art with people who are homeless and/or in active addiction. They have built a community where everyone is welcome and become part of a loving, compassionate community.

Kathryn Pannepacker is a textile/visual/community artist living in Philadelphia, PA. She has done many projects with Mural Arts Philadelphia over the years including Wall of Rugs 1 & 2, Nana Blankets, and Finding Home. Kathryn exhibits locally, nationally, and internationally, and has work in private and public collections. At the Kensington Storefront in Philadelphia, along with her colleague Lisa Kelley and the help of many others, they’ve created an art/craft-making ‘sanctuary studio’ called Tuesday Tea & Textiles. Working with folks in active addiction, they believe that creating an environment of belonging, meaning and purpose is a critical piece in any ‘recovery model,’ as the nation scrambles for solutions during an epidemic of addiction/trauma. Kathryn has received numerous grants. Her work has been featured on the cover of AMERICAN CRAFT and in many other publications. She offers hands-on workshops/presentations about art and social change.

Michael Worthy is a Certified Recovery Specialist with many years in recovery from addiction. He has spent the last few years of his life building on his education and working with his own life experience. He volunteers at his local church and has been working closely with folks in active addiction. His work at the Kensington Storefront and throughout the Kensington neighborhood has shown folks who are struggling that there is hope and a way out.

Gabor Maté: Why the Pain & How the Healing

Dr. Gabor Maté is a retired physician, bestselling author and prolific international speaker and seminar leader. Gabor is the author of four best-selling books published in 25 languages on five continents, including When the Body Says No: Exploring The Stress-Disease Connection and the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction. In 2017 he was named among 150 Canadians as a Difference Maker in Mental Health by the Centre for Mental Health and Addictions. For his pioneering medical work and writings, in 2018 he was awarded his country’s highest civilian distinction, the Order of Canada. He frequently addresses professional and lay audiences in North America and internationally on issues related to childhood development and parenting, physical and mental health and wellness, and addiction. His next books, currently being written, are The Myth of Normal: Illness and Health in an Insane Culture and Hello Again: A Fresh Start for Adult Children and Their Parents. To learn more, join his e-news list at drgabormate.com.

Tim Wagner is the founder and executive director of Roots2Rise. Roots2Rise is a local nonprofit that offers classes which make yoga and meditation accessible to anyone—all ages, abilities, and income levels. Roots2Rises’ focus is on community access and community service in neighborhoods across Philadelphia. They have partnered with schools, shelters, community centers, hospitals, businesses, service organizations, libraries, and parks and recreational facilities across the Philadelphia region to offer yoga and mindfulness to anyone who wants to come to a class.

Miles Butler was raised in Mt. Airy, lived in Massachusetts for a few years, then moved back to Philly to pursue his passion as a musician and environmentalist. In 2014, served as the manager when Pure Sweets & Company, an organic bakery and shop, opened near Rittenhouse Square. He currently serves as the operations manager for the two Philadelphia locations of United By Blue, a sustainably-driven, outdoor lifestyle apparel company combined with a coffee shop. As a lifelong activist and a current leader in Philadelphia’s sustainability community, Miles Butler has dedicated most of his life toward spreading knowledge and awareness of environmental protection.

Ursula Rucker was born and raised in Philadelphia. She began documenting her observations of the world when she was just a girl. She is a graduate of Temple University’s journalism program, where she kept her creative writing as a prized, personal possession until she was prepared to share her gift with the world. Now Rucker is a world-renowned spoken word recording artist known for a diverse repertoire, unique poetry techniques, and a stage presence that catches her listeners’ attention, both of which have brought her critical acclaim and widespread praise from fans. She combines social awareness with womanhood, black culture, and love for something musically alluring.