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Everybody Get Together

by Deb Markland November 11, 2015

Everybody Get Together

The Story of Sister Organizations with Thistle Farms 

The saying, “it takes a village,” caught on because it's true. Recovery for women, families, and neighbors suffering from poverty, addiction, sexual abuse, trafficking, and prostitution can’t be done in isolation; love heals through community.

Since 1997, Thistle Farms has relied on the support of a huge village to evolve and grow. Over time, that village has become a movement.  

Five years ago, in response to the demand from new friends across the nation to learn from our model, we began hosting monthly Education Workshops. Since then, we have welcomed thousands of visitors to these immersion days, as well as two national sold-out conferences. People come from all over the country to learn and share best practices. Many have returned to Nashville multiple times and new friendships have been forged. Some groups invite us to visit, speak at their events, and share the movement of Thistle Farms. Over time, these groups have come to feel like family.

Like any proud sister, we want to tell you about our relationship with these organizations who have grown with us over the years, sharing a commitment to act as a witness to the truth that love heals. Today, we are working closely with 24 "Sister Organizations” across the country from San Diego to St. Louis, New Orleans to Northwest Arkansas. Thistle Farms is developing the basic language of understanding and a process to develop relationships over time with shared values. These models include offering long term rent-free housing, networking within our cities to provide addiction recovery, providing trauma-informed care that addresses childhood abuse, and creating innovative solutions such as a social enterprises to help achieve independence for the organizations. We don’t have formal contracts with each other. Rather, our understanding is that sister organizations will share a natural affinity to work together. From this evolving relationship, we will be able to offer one another real support in times of crisis and celebrate the milestones along the way. In addition to offering a widening array of workshops and online resources, we host quarterly conference calls with Sister Organizations. Plans are also underway to build a new education center at Thistle Farms. 

Our desire is to continue to grow and foster collegial relationships with an ever-widening circle of organizations around the country dedicated to sharing the truth of love's healing gift. We hope that our model will continue to evolve as we learn from one another. We hope that our common needs are met by being in relationship with more local groups. Together, we hope that we can all help change the national conversation around the myths and truths of how girls and women get to the streets, and how it is possible for a community to help them find their way home.

2016 workshop dates will be announced within the next week. For more information, please check our  Education & Outreach page or contact  education@thistlefarms.org.

Photo courtesy of Peggy Napier.

Deb Markland
Deb Markland



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