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  • Tara Pohlkotte

Out of the Shadows

Thanks to Graham Images for these beautiful portraits of some of our tellers.

Mental health awareness and understanding has always been close to my heart. In fact, I dedicated my schooling (undergrad in psychology, masters in Human Services: Marriage and Family Therapy) to doing just that. I believe very strongly that stories (particularly personal stories and narratives) are tied to our health. Science, it seems backs me up.

So when my friend Alison asked me to go check out the new asylum exhibit at The History Museum at the Castle for River + Bay, I jumped at the chance {You can read more of my reaction and overview of the exhibit HERE}.

When I walked through the exhibit with the curators Nicholas Hoffman and Emily Rock I applauded them for the way the exhibit didn't condemn or sensationalize unjustly the asylum's past and that they had the foresight to end the exhibit with resources of where to get help or support today. I was so excited with the innovative use of personal narrative as a way for us all to understand better what these experiences were like for different people and positions in the system.

I don't remember who said it,

"I wonder if these experiences have changed or stayed the same for people in our community."

But once it was said, we all looked at each other and knew it was a question and a larger conversation that needed to be had. So, we got the team together. The History Museum as the backdrop of the asylum's past and gracious hosts of the event, NAMI Fox Valley as support partners to ensure that we were asking and telling these stories in a way that was honoring to our mental health community, and Storycatchers as the vehicle in which to share these stories.

Then, we asked. We asked for stories to be shared and for the community to show up, listen and support.

Each story that came into my in-box confirmed that this conversation remains very important. Judging from the interest on the Facebook Event Page, the community feels it too.

I am so excited and honored to introduce (or re-introduce) these tellers to you on Saturday. Some have told their story time and again as strong mental health advocates. Some will tell their story for the very first time out loud on Saturday. All will make you feel all-the-feels: expanding to take in their life experiences to add to yours.

Want to hear more about this event? Josh Dukelow, host of the WHBY "Fresh Take" radio show graciously invited me to be his guest Friday Morning to talk about Storycatchers and this event you can listen along HERE.

And tune in to 91.1 The Avenue to a very special Storycatchers segment on "Soul of the Cities" at 11:00am to listen to an interview with two of the Storycatchers tellers, Jonathan and his mom, Heidi. You are not going to want to miss this.

A very special thanks to Graham Images for partnering with us to capture some of our tellers portraits.

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