2006-07 Recipient Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling


Project Directors: Juliet Bruce and Sharon Forrence

Since 2001, Arts for Life has helped people and communities respond creatively to crisis through the arts. The “Building Resilience Through Narrative” project brings story-making to an often forgotten group of people: humanitarian aid staff, crisis responders, and volunteers who respond to natural and man-made disasters and public health crises and who frequently experience the same traumas as the people they are there to help.

On September 11, 2001, the New York City Fire Department lost 343 of its firefighters in the attack on the World Trade Center. With support from the Brimstone Award, Sharon Forrence and Juliet Bruce presented a day-long pilot workshop for 28 volunteer peer counselors at the Counseling Services Unit of the New York City Fire Department. This group is made up of retired firefighters who returned to the department after 9/11 to do counseling outreach to every firehouse in the five boroughs, as a way of supporting recovery. The experiential, interactive workshop was designed to promote stress resilience and enhance personal as well as departmental recovery; it taught participants how to use narrative to structure their experience, then to write their story and tell it within the healing environment of peer group community.

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