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Walla Walla Valley PACEs Connection (WA)

ACEs Connection, our Cooperative of Communities, and....Pando!


Last month, we officially launched the ACEs Connection Cooperative of Communities. We are SO excited about this! And the communities that are part of the handful of ACEs initiatives that are piloting the Cooperative are, too!

Before describing the Cooperative, I want to reassure our 40,000+ members and 277 ACEs initiatives (plus another 100 in development) that have communities on ACEs Connection that nothing on changes! Membership is and remains freeAnd it will remain free for initiatives that want to start communities on

What remains free?

The ACEs Connection Cooperative of Communities is an additional layer of tools and guidelines, for ACEs initiatives that are more mature and join the Cooperative as affiliates.

  1. It has tools to measure progress of organizations in communities that are becoming ACEs-science and trauma-informed (you can check DEI — diversity, equity, inclusion — at a glance!) (your initiative can make course corrections!);
  2. It accelerates the adoption of ACEs science practices by more intense use of a network facilitating lightning-fast exchanges of best — and worst — practices;
  3. And, most important, it will be around for as long as it takes to make sure all organizations and communities integrate practices based on ACEs science, i.e., to a national tipping point.

An affiliate’s benefits include:

  • data-gathering tools and guidelines, including a Community Resilience Tracker (here’s a prototype of a tracker)
  • access to virtual think-tanks
  • eligibility for participation in cooperative committees and advisory committees
  • jobs bank
  • fiscal pass-through for qualifying funds/activities
  • webinars and coaching about diversity, equity and inclusion
  • mini-conferences

Affiliates pay $5,000 a year to participate, an amount that is low enough so that the cost can be shared among organizations and individuals; organizations can take turns paying; initiatives can even crowd-source the funding; and it may not even require a line-item in a budget. They receive access to tools and services that cost them a fraction of what it would cost for them to develop those tools and services themselves. 

There are other important reasons for doing this that you can read about in a blog I posted last month — and here’s a link to 15-minute video we just put together about it, and the video itself:

We’re completely committed to our work, because just a few of the mind-blowing, society-changing examples from pioneers that are integrating ACEs science shows that we can indeed solve our most intractable problems.

These pioneers include a health clinic in Pueblo, Colorado, that saw a 30 percent drop in visits to the emergency room; a juvenile detention facility in San Diego, CA, built from the ground up to be trauma-informed that had no violent incidents during its first year of operation; pediatricians who are able to identify developmental problems years earlier; Safe Babies Courts that see 99 percent of kids suffer no further abuse; a family physician in Tennessee who integrated ACEs science into his practice of treating people addicted to opioids, with the result that 99 percent of his 1200 patients are able to hold down a job; and a batterer intervention program in Bakersfield, CA, that saw recidivism rates fall from 60 percent to six percent. In a remarkable program in Plymouth County, MA, within 24 to 48 hours after a person recovers from an opioid overdose, a police officer visits and offers to take them to a rehab facility right then and there. And then says, “How about I treat you to dinner on the way?” Between 2017-2018, the county saw a 26 percent drop in opioid deaths, while counties around it have seen an 84 percent increase. 

California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris aims to cut toxic stress and adverse childhood experiencesin half within one generation. I believe her.

To integrate ACEs science in all organizations and communities across the U.S. will probably take a couple of generations. But we think it’s doable, and I’m sure you do, too. As I’ve said before, we want ACEs science to be like electricity: We only notice it when it’s not there. (And, btw, it took electricity a couple of generations to become so much a part of our lives in the U.S. that we indeed only notice it when it's not there.)

Over the next three years, we plan to grow ACEs Connection to at least 1,000 communities, with 240 of those to be affiliates of the Cooperative of Communities. As large as that number seems, we still have a long way to go. There are 34,000 counties, cities and towns in the U.S.

We think we finally have our basic parts and pieces in place to make this happen.

I often think about how to describe ACEs Connection. A poetic, visual way is to liken it to Pando.

In case you didn’t know, when you see a grove of, say, 40,000 aspen trees, you’re actually looking at a single ginormous organism. A grove of aspen trees shares one complex root system. Trees are actually (very large) shoots off that root system. Pando, a grove of 40,000 aspen trees in Utah, is the largest organism in the world. It covers more than 100 acres and is 80,000 years old.

I like to think of ACEs Connection as the ACEs movement’s Pando, with thousands of communities (trees) and hundreds of thousands members (branches? leaves?), all joined by a complex root system that connects everything and nourishes its growth for more lifetimes than we can imagine. 

If you’re interested in starting an ACEs initiative in your community, or in having an existing ACEs initiative join the Cooperative of Communities, please contact your regional ACEs community facilitator. Here's a link to a map of the areas they cover, and here's a map. 


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What a fantastic resource! And love the metaphor of the Pando. I recently had the honor of seeing Angela Davis speak in our local community. She said, "The collective self is our source of power and courage." So true.

The Cooperative provides tools and resources many initiatives/organizations need but cannot afford. 

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