The 5 Pillars of the OLAS Approach

Community Building is the top priority of OLAS. It is not one of the Five Pillars because it is accomplished using all of these methods below, as well as team building exercises that promote positive feelings between OLAS members. It is also fostered by convivencia (eating together, laughter, sleeping and waking in the same place at weekend retreats, and more).   

1. Pláticas (individual sharing)

Through this activity, participants have the opportunity to share their experiences and be seen and heard in a safe, non-evaluative space. We center mindful listening, nonjudgmental attention, and emotional support by encouraging participants to speak from the heart and their own lived experiences rather than commenting on what others have shared. 

2. Meditation

Our focus on meditation enables participants to connect with themselves and gain tools to assist them in the process of healing. We use the meditations of Thich Nhat Hanh because of his simple and effective method, his focus on healing from trauma, and his emphasis on making meditation accessible to people of all religions. Some OLAS participants are also using his guided meditations to practice on their own. (Note: OLAS is non-denominational and unaffiliated with any particular religion.)

3.  Nature

We incorporate nature into most of our events. Through walks and outdoor activities at nearby parks and hiking trails, we enable participants to focus on healing and connect with a broader community of support. 

4. Education

We host informational sessions that help participants build skills and connect to resources and support as they adjust to life in the U.S. Our educational programming has included Legal Q&As with representatives from East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, self-defense classes, and psychoeducational talks on topics like self-care and insomnia from our facilitators. 

5. Expressive Arts

Our arts-based workshops create safe spaces for participants to heal from trauma, feel a sense of belonging, and express themselves and their stories through film, dance, poetry, and visual arts.

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