Pongo and Social Justice
A message from Pongo's founder, Richard Gold:
"I have taken pride in the fact that Pongo has developed a trauma-informed therapeutic poetry program that can, in a single session, bring healing and joy to people, empowering their future. The program enables people to talk about difficult personal experiences, through poetry and often for the first time. Pongo’s model is also easily replicable and is already in place in many agencies and programs around the country.
"But there is also an insufficiency in seeing Pongo’s program only through its therapeutic outcomes. At our sites, such as juvenile detention, homeless shelters, and supportive housing, it appears that every person there has suffered childhood trauma. But more than that, the majority of people inside juvenile detention are youth of color, a significant percentage of youth in homeless shelters are LGBT, and a significant percentage of residents in supportive housing are Native American. These are examples of what we see. Pongo’s writers and their families often suffer terribly and historically from racism, poverty, homelessness, homophobia, mass incarceration, and untreated mental illness. In our society there is an insufficiency of social resources, and basic caring, to address these problems humanely. In our society we often have to open our eyes and hearts to even see these problems.
"As part of our essential identity, then, Pongo wants to acknowledge that, while we successfully address a range of traumas creatively, the personal traumas we address are very frequently cooked in the stew of social inequities. I feel that if we don’t acknowledge the social context of many traumas, we are living in the silence that makes social inequities not only possible but enduring."