Columbine Mum, trauma researcher, oral historian, doting grandmother and PETT Fellow Dr. Carolyn Mears paid PETT a visit from the morning of April 25th to the evening of May 10th. Back home in Colorado, she emailed:

"I've been reflecting on the past few weeks and find a certain amazement at all that transpired...

...It was a busy, intensely rewarding experience to be able to meet so many like-minded people working for the benefit of others."


So, what transpired during the visit of this PETT Fellow?

  • On April 26th she took part in the Inaugural General Meeting of the Oral History Society's new Psycho-Social Therapies and Care Environments Special Interest Group, joining its new Committee.
  • On April 27th she took part in the launch conference for the new Group, sharing her experiences and reflections as a member of a community whose assumptive world was torn apart by the shootings in Columbine High School in 1999. (see the recording of her talk, below).
  • Over the bank holiday weekend on April 30-May 1st, she took part in a first Archive Weekend for members of New Barns School.
  • On May 3rd she gave an invited lecture at the University of Nottingham to launch its new Criminal Justice Network, and took part in a subsequent seminar with University staff and students.
  • Then rushed across the city to give a live interview to BBC Radio Nottingham's Alan Clifford (available online until June 2nd - click here. It is 3 hours 19 minutes in)
  • She spent May 4th in Redditch, with the excellent Stephen Steinhaus and students and staff of the Ipsley and Arrow Vale RSA (Royal Society of Arts) Academies, exploring the causes and nature of traumatic experience, and the ways that school and other communities can strengthen understanding and community processes to prepare for, obviate, and respond in healing and effective ways to human-made and natural tragedies.
  • On May 6th she travelled to Birmingham at the invitation of Matt Pettle, to Birmingham City University's Birmingham School of Acting, for a half-day seminar with Matt and fellow members of their applied performance company. What is applied performance? Think putting performance skills to use in care homes and special schools - or just anywhere where people can be engaged in relationships and in creating and telling stories, benefitting themselves and their communities.
  • On May 9th she joined Wenningtonians for the beginning of their annual Wennington Archive Week; and finally
  • On May 10th she joined Annebella Pollen of Brighton University and John Slowley, with his immense experience of residential and other social work, to share experiences and reflections at the third annual Common Roots Event co-hosted by Wenningtonians and PETT.

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Carolyn's talk at "Starting a conversation"







"In reflecting on the overall experience, I've realized that we are not only working with oral history but with cultural anthropology. We are investigating not only life events, causes and effects, and personal impacts, but also the culture and tools of experience and how societies (i.e., communities) function. Truly an exciting prospect, especially as I look at it aligned with community development initiatives in the Criminal Justice Network and RSA academies."


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"The records housed in the PETT archives combined with the meetings and sessions fostered among groups of associated residential schools contribute to the growth of a powerful understanding of the nature of communities and a chance to learn from and share with others."






"I especially appreciate the recordings that you are doing for the formative meetings of the Special Interest Group and others. Of value similar to Wennington's treasured record books, these are helping to document the inception, growth, and development of the individual projects as well as the gestalt of reclaiming the communities of experience."







"As time moves forward, it would be exciting to see this compiled and made available for dissemination..."


For more on the PETT Fellows programme, see here.