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Lisch TEDs on Violence as a Disease

A long, difficult road led Eleuthera Lisch [TH ‘93] to her recent TED talk; she terms violence a disease and calls for its cure.

Eleuthera Lisch graduated in theater at Cornish and steadily found unusual yet vital ways to put her training to use. She now works walking back young gang members from a life of violence. She has deep and personal reasons for choosing the work she does. She shared some of them at her November 10 TEDxRainier talk: Develop Immunity to Violence.

TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design”; it’s a set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation that take place all over the world. As the foundation says, TEDs mission is to “disseminate ideas worth spreading.” They go on to say “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.” The TED phenomenon has exploded: it has given thinkers a stage for sharing ideas. Now local TEDs have grown up, such as TEDxRainer, the Seattle-based ideas conference that hosted Lisch.

In her talk, Develop Immunity to Violence (linked below), Lisch traces the painful process of coming to understand how violence had permeated her life, coloring her choices and putting her in danger. With each difficult step along the way her understanding of violence evolved. She describes how she came to believe that violence is a disease that is passed from person to person. Eleuthera suggests that it is a disease from which recovery is possible and to which we can become immune.

After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts from Cornish in 1993, Eleuthera was offered a theater residency at Intiman Theatre. While at Intiman, she began use her theater training in a wholly different way by spending several summers teaching and three seasons touring the Living History program to state high schools. This led to teaching theater to incarcerated youth. She came to recognize that her passion and calling was in program development. For the past 13 years, Eleuthera has focused on developing and implementing youth violence prevention and gang intervention programs and providing institutional in-reach and street outreach to Seattle’s highest risk youth.

Lisch is now the director of the Alive & Free Outreach Network, a program she started in 1999 at the YMCA of Greater Seattle, whose curriculum she has authored and on whose methodology she has become a national trainer. Eleuthera is much in demand as a speaker and trainer on issues related to youth violence and has consulted on gang prevention in Los Angeles, Baltimore, New Zealand and South Africa. She is a founding member of the Street Soldiers National Consortium.

Above is an embedded YouTube feed linked directly to the service.
YouTube and the speaker and TEDxRainier retain full rights to this content.


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