So’ Dine’é is the Navajo word used to describe constellations. We imagine each of us represents a bright star and we are all connected to each other by invisible lines that make up an elaborate constellation or web. These connections are between family, friends, and communities. It is only fitting therefore, that our national violence awareness project is named Sodina. This is a grass roots effort that will honor all victims of violent deaths; illustrate the scope, scale, and proximity of violent deaths; and will galvanize the efforts of many groups that cover the varied causes of violent death.

Sodina Animation 1Lend your voice. While certain acts of violence are highly sensationalized (e.g. Sandy Hook, Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Oak Creek), the vast majority of victims of all types of violence go unrecognized. This leaves many of the families of these victims feeling marginalized, as though some lives are valued more than others. This should certainly never be the case, and we hope to be a vehicle through which families can share their stories. This will allow the families to pay honor to their loved ones, keeping their spirits alive. Additionally, this will help to facilitate support for the family and, most importantly, begin the healing process.

Share your story. The statistics on violence are sobering. Particularly surprising and often under-recognized are the suicide numbers and the epidemic levels of urban violence that go virtually unreported. What is worrisome is that after a while, statistics begin to blur and lose their impact and meaning. Ultimately, the human connection is lost as we become desensitized; however, we can restore this connection by keeping these stories alive. Thus, the most impactful approach to maintain human connection is to put a face not only on the victims of violence, but on their surviving family and friends. These vetted stories will provide both a qualitative and quantitative snap-shot of violence in America. This data can then be used to study violence as the epidemic disease that it is.

Be the Change. Through the Sodina website, blog, and social media channels, we are asking for your help to engage and inspire people to collaborate, share, listen, and to intentionally connect more freely with each other. We’ll do this through stories, ideas, and challenging the status quo. This is meant to encourage people to get their family, friends, and even themselves to share their stories of a loved one lost to violence in the hopes of building empathy and compassion towards others. As these stories and ideas are shared, a constellation of healing and learning is cultivated within and between communities. People will realize the stories they are reading or hearing could be their own or those of someone close to them, and be moved to take action.

Tree Silhouette Against Starry Night Sky

As people become more aware of the scale, scope, and proximity of violence, and are moved by the impact of violent deaths in our country, they may ask, “what can I do?” Here we have an outlet for individuals and communities to engage and get involved. We will help people to advocate for brain health science and the study of the underpinnings of violence, to advocate for responsible gun ownership and safety, to understand self-injury and suicide prevention, to understand and to engage in the legislative process at a local or state level, or to build stronger communities by curbing bullying or promoting restorative justice.

This is an evolving project and therefore there are other things we hope to accomplish with this project as well, so please stay tuned for updates on our progress. It is support like yours that will help roll this out. Please take a look and follow us as we grow.

Lee Shull, Executive Director, SodinaLee Shull, Executive Director, Sodina

Please send any questions, comments, and correspondence to [email protected]