Date

5-11-2020

Description

I explore how trauma becomes interwoven into the daily operations and the institutional mission of Baker Industries, a workforce development nonprofit in southeastern Pennsylvania which employs hard-to-employ adults. In a society short on empathy and structural support for some of the most vulnerable populations, Baker is the only workforce development organization of its kind in the region which not only offers participants a real wage, but also employs not one but four segments of vulnerable populations in the same program. Baker Industries offers full-time employment as well as life-skills training and support for adults with physical and cognitive disabilities, mental illnesses, substance abuse issues, criminal records, and home insecurity. I ask how, at this nonprofit, trauma and care are understood to be intertwined with respect to diversity and labor. Assumed among every participant, trauma becomes a resource for recognition and economic security. I illustrate how trauma saturates the institutional and routine practices of staff and participants, a fact essential to the schematic foundation and reputation of the organization. Ultimately, I argue that the thematization of trauma itself is what allows for Baker to operate in a stable manner.

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May 11th, 12:00 AM

When Trauma No Longer Disqualifies: Examining the Institutional Thematization of Traumatic Experience at a Workforce Development Nonprofit

I explore how trauma becomes interwoven into the daily operations and the institutional mission of Baker Industries, a workforce development nonprofit in southeastern Pennsylvania which employs hard-to-employ adults. In a society short on empathy and structural support for some of the most vulnerable populations, Baker is the only workforce development organization of its kind in the region which not only offers participants a real wage, but also employs not one but four segments of vulnerable populations in the same program. Baker Industries offers full-time employment as well as life-skills training and support for adults with physical and cognitive disabilities, mental illnesses, substance abuse issues, criminal records, and home insecurity. I ask how, at this nonprofit, trauma and care are understood to be intertwined with respect to diversity and labor. Assumed among every participant, trauma becomes a resource for recognition and economic security. I illustrate how trauma saturates the institutional and routine practices of staff and participants, a fact essential to the schematic foundation and reputation of the organization. Ultimately, I argue that the thematization of trauma itself is what allows for Baker to operate in a stable manner.