Since beginning work on our Personalized Medicine by Design (PMxD) project six months ago, I have been revisiting many of the projects we have completed over the last 14 years. We have seen the same themes emerge time and time again when we explore health and wellbeing for individuals and families. Distrust in the current healthcare system, lack of empathy from providers (ie. not truly being heard), lack of mental health resources, struggling with basic needs (eg. job security, education, access to healthcare, food, and housing), and on the flip side, the power of community to help one another.
In every project we undertake, co-designing with the community is a core principle, PMxD is no different. Our first community visit was in West Philadelphia with host Yolanda Wisher the Curator of Spoken Word at Philadelphia Contemporary. Yolanda created an incredible program called Story Cure, which took place at at the Community Education Center in West Philadelphia. Story Cure featured poetry by Trapeta B. Mayson, story circles for sharing experiences with health care and self-care, and a tea making workshop to nourish the soul.
Nothing prepared me for listening back to the audio of the stories shared. With headphones on (it’s true what they say, that audio is an intimate medium), I heard stories of frustration, pain, self actualization, and healing. The stories were haunting, so raw, and personal. As Trapeta B. Mayson later commented, “it was the work of courageous people”. But, one thing was abundantly clear, the system was not designed for the community it was serving.
Capturing the beauty of the experience, poet Trapeta B. Mayson, who listened as people shared, magically turned prose into poetry and performed “Stories Cure” at the end of the event. Listen in with us, hear for yourself, and honor those who choose to share their voices.