Gutterman Memorial Lecture to explore solutions to societal violence

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“Enhancing Practice for Healthy Communities in Response to Societal Violence” is the title of this year’s Julie Claire Gutterman Memorial Lecture. The full-day workshop for mental-health and human-services practitioners will be held on April 3.  

Educator and activist Loren G. Intolubbe-Chmil, Ph.D., will be the keynote speaker. Intolubbe-Chmil is a co-founder and partner in Core Collaborative International, a consulting firm that focuses on catalyzing transformative practice, cultivating intercultural consciousness, and enhancing the capacity for meaningful evidence-based decision-making.  

We talked with Jewish Collaborative Services’ Clinical Supervisor Jeremy Thayer, LICSW, to learn more about the upcoming Gutterman Memorial Lecture, the 21st such event honoring the memory of the late Julie Claire Gutterman, a gifted social worker and educator who served for six years as Jewish Family Service’s director of professional services. 

Is violence an issue of concern for JCS’ Counseling Center clients?

Yes, it is. It could be an acute issue for someone who’s been impacted by domestic violence or violence in the community. We also have schoolchildren going through lockdown drills at school, so there’s indirect anxiety around a real or potential threat. 

Lockdowns can feel empowering on one hand, but on the other hand, students wonder:  “Is this a drill or an active shooter situation?” We hear so much in the media about mass shootings, and we’re inundated with information. Those experiences definitely impact communities. That’s why I wanted Dr. Intolubbe-Chmil to explain how we can identify the ideology of violence and how to enhance our practice related to societal violence.  

What will be the focus of Dr. Intolubbe-Chmil’s presentation? 

[That] we have options; we have to talk about violence in an open, transparent and constructive fashion. Too often, people are in denial and, when their community is impacted by a mass shooting, they say:  “I didn’t see how it could happen here.”

Dr. Intolubbe-Chmil will lead us through exercises and discussions that are designed to develop a different set of tools, with the goal of contributing environments that are free from violence, rather than teaching people how to communicate about preparing for violence. We don’t want violence to be an everyday occurrence, so we should be identifying the kind of community we want, then live those values and create a generational structure for what those values are.

What do you hope comes out of this lecture? What do you hope attendees will learn?

We have real violence, with children and adults being sexually assaulted, shootings in Providence and beyond, and domestic violence. Violence happens in our supermarkets, synagogues, schools and movie theaters; we expect violence to happen as if it’s in the air we breathe. Dr. Intolubbe-Chmil tells us that it doesn’t have to be that way; we have choices. We want to take apart that social construct so that, as individuals and as neighbors, we can depend on one another and feel safe, nurtured and supported.

I’ve seen hyper-masculinity even in my home. I’m the father of three boys. When my sons, Riley, age 8, and Owen, age 6, and I were throwing baseballs back and forth, Riley inadvertently clocked Owen with the baseball, and Owen began crying. Riley stormed up to Owen and said, “How come you didn’t catch the baseball?”   

In talking with Riley, I reminded him that there were so many other feelings going on – such as fear and remorse – even while it’s easier to be angry. I took that moment with Riley to say, “Anger doesn’t fit in this situation; what else can we do?” 

Riley then ran to the kitchen and got an ice pack for Owen, and acknowledged that he felt bad and scared, even as he’d immediately jumped to expressing anger. That’s the kind of exchange that every parent can do to reduce hyper-masculine behaviors.  

Through this memorial lecture and throughout my career, I want to help create a community – even a community as small as one’s home or one’s workplace – where violence is not allowed. It’s intuitive that patriarchy and hyper-masculinity, endemic throughout society, create opportunities for violence. I talk about the irony of campaigns or slogans [saying] “Let’s fight bullying”; violence never heals violence. 

The annual Julie Claire Gutterman Memorial Lecture, which fulfills the late Julie Gutterman’s commitment to social workers’ continued professionalism and ongoing learning, is made possible thanks to the generous philanthropy of her husband, Rabbi Leslie Y. Gutterman. 

The Julie Claire Gutterman Memorial Lecture is open to mental-health clinicians, human-service professionals, and all other interested parties. Participants are eligible for two ethics CEUs and three cross-cultural practice CEUs. The cost for the full-day program, which includes a continental breakfast and a luncheon, is $110 until March 6  and $125 after that date. JCS is also offering a student rate of $85. The lecture will be held on Friday, April 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Ledgemont Country Club, 131 Brown Ave., Seekonk, Mass.  To register for the Memorial Lecture, visit the JCS website, JCSRI.org.

JESSICA MURPHY is Jewish Collaborative Services’ marketing and communications manager.