Between the spring of 2010 and the summer of 2013, Steve Phalen volunteered actively with The Gathering Place (The GP), a non-profit drop-in center for people living with mental illness in and around the area of Athens, Ohio. The Gathering Place provides persons living with the experience of mental illness a space where they may gather so they may be a part of and contribute to a supportive and empathic environment within communities that are unfamiliar with this state of being in the world.
Steve conducted his dissertation research with The GP exploring the possibilities music creates for expressions of self and community. During the course of his time volunteering with the organization, he made music with the members during both the loosely structured collaborative jam session referred to as GP Jams and the formally structured music therapy programs hosted by Ohio University’s School of Music in the College of Fine Arts. Through these experiences, he found that music is a meaningful way to both express oneself and hear otherness when words may pose barriers to understanding lived experiences distinct from ones own.
You can experience his work directly through this video created by Project C: Clicking Creates Change, a fundraising initiative for non-profit organizations in the area of Athens, Ohio, sponsored by Ohio University’s College of Fine Arts: http://www.clickingcreateschange.com/organizations/gathering-place