In its infancy, the Red Tent Initiative hosted an event later to be dubbed the Red Tent Collaborative, where they invited local community leaders to speak and give their thoughts on issues such as abuse and gender inequality. Unbeknownst to Alison, these community leaders weren’t just leaders – they were survivors themselves, and they were going to tell their stories.
Flipping the narrative on its head about what it means to be a survivor, the Red Tent Initiative showed victims that they didn’t just have to be victims. They could be strong, independent go-getters who played prominent roles in their respective communities.
“Survivors are really out there doing great things, and are even often leaders in our community,” Alison said. “We just don’t know it because survivors don’t talk about being survivors.”
A Few Calendars Later
In 2018, the Red Tent Initiative is still going strong. Its “Wellness Wednesday” events are held on the third Wednesday of each month and feature activities such as yoga and interactive writing workshops. By building up the individual with a focus on the arts, the Red Tent Initiative strives to never let its members be torn down again. Community feedback has been great, to say the least.
“It amazes me over and over again how wonderfully supportive people have been, and how ready and willing to jump in and get involved [they are],” Alison shared. “They’ve taken my little idea and given so much of their time and energy to it that it’s become this big, beautiful thing that I hoped for, but I wasn’t sure was actually possible.”
That’s not to say Alison’s lost any focus on her practice, though. While the Red Tent Initiative and its projects have grown exponentially since they were launched just a few short years ago, Foley Immigration Law has been making strides of its own.
“We work on things like community education, and that’s not just about immigrant communities, it’s about the broader community,” Alison said. “Dispelling myths and lies out there about immigrants and what they mean to our communities.”
In Lakeland, our diversity is key to our growth as a city. That’s not just something to be measured in size, argued Alison, but in our town’s “capacity for generosity and compassion for our neighbors.”