The Community Intervention Program (a partnership with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies) will be hosting an exhibit featuring the Tranquility Gardens at the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center (411 Third Ave, Johnstown, PA 15906) November 12th through November 14th. Also featured will be a photography exhibit of the local youth members of the Goodwill GoodGuides Camera Club. To kick off the event there will be a special lecture and a workshop on November 11th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm also at the Bottle Works.

The Tranquility Gardens is a unique retreat in the woods located off Route 271 just outside of Johnstown. It was created to provide the visitors with an easily accessible place to visit for a few hours to reflect with nature, turn off the outside world and enter a space of peace and tranquility. It is a place to meditate, a place to contemplate and a place to grow.

The main objective of the Gardens is to use the “Lessons of Tranquility Gardens” highlighted in the exhibit and derived from the wisdom of the Ancient World, as a tool to connect with the students in the community, create a dialogue and stay connected in a meaningful way through various activities and to mentor the children by providing inspiration, guidance and hope.

Steve Purich, Tranquility Gardens Founder, states, “This is not a fundraiser. The purpose of the exhibit is to bring awareness to the public as to our mission and our activities and to garner community support and also to thank and showcase our community partners.

“Special thanks goes to Wes McMichael, Ph.D. candidate and Professor of World’s Religions and Philosophy at the Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, for his efforts in Garden messaging in regard to virtues and character building.  Also kudos go to Eric Schwerer, Ph.D. Creative Writing and Poetry Professor  at  UPJ,  as an advisor to  Goodwill  GoodGuides Mentoring Program  and their photography and creative writing clubs headed by  Jill Marsh, Heidy Niebauer and Cindy O’Connor. They are creating a lot of excitement with youth participants in the community.”

To kick off the event there will be a special lecture and a workshop (Writing and Healing: The Restorative Power of Writing for Young People) on November 11th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm also at the Bottle Works, conducted by Eli Hastings, child and family therapist and assistant director of the Pongo, a Seattle-based youth membership program. He will speak about the effectiveness of the Pongo approach by way of anecdotes, clinical analysis, and modeling intervention strategies.  He will also discuss his own journey of writing and healing.

Teachers, writers, mentors, and community leaders interested in the arts of healing, joy, and writing are encouraged to attend. After Hasting’s presentation, there will be time to discuss how Pongo’s successes in Seattle might translate to ongoing efforts in Johnstown, PA, with photography, character building, and creative writing.

Please share this information with those who you think might be interested. For more information about this event or to reserve your space, please contact Tresa McVicker (814)479-4921 (tla23@hotmail.com).

And for additional info on Eli Hastings and Pongo, please see:

Eli Hastings is a child and family therapist and assistant director of the Pongo, a Seattle-based youth membership program. Pongo’s Publishing Teen Writing Project is a volunteer, nonprofit effort in Seattle, WA, that works with teens who are in jail, on the streets, or in other ways leading difficult lives. Pongo has been enormously successful in helping young people build character and express themselves through poetry and other forms of writing. The Seattle Times recently named Eli Hastings as a person poised to shape the future of the arts in the Northwest for his commitment to the restorative power of writing. Hasting’s has written two acclaimed books of creative nonfiction, “Clearly Now, the Rain” and “Falling Room.” He holds an MFA in creative nonfiction and an MA in psychology.

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