Special Achievement Award

Wow! BLOWN AWAY. I am overwhelmingly honored to learn that the American Creativity Association is awarding me a 2014 Special Achievement Award for my work advancing arts-based research and for the Social Fictions series. I am overjoyed that our series is being called “ground-breaking” and representative of “a watershed moment in the academy.” This recognition means so much to me and I hope serves as a beacon of hope for arts-based researchers around the world.

The American Creativity Association in a national, transdisciplinary organization that recognizes creativity and innovation in all fields including medicine, business, technology, education, journalism, and so forth. The ACA has honored pioneers in creativity including: Jack S. Kilby (inventor of the microchip), Earl Bakken (inventor of the first wearable heart pacemaker), John Glenn (astronaut, first American to orbit the earth), Morris I. Stein (one of the founders of creativity research), Ann Medlock (award-winning journalist and founder of the Giraffe Heroes Project), and many others. The ACA has also honored groundbreaking corporations including the LEGO Group and Pixar Animation Studios. Obviously to be amongst those honored by the ACA is indescribably humbling. It’s funny too because quite recently I was asked in an interview what I am most drawn to in others and my response was “creativity.” Little did I know I would be receiving such a generous and humbling award all about creativity. It’s lovely beyond words. Truly, I can’t imagine any honor that could mean more to me.

For the American Creativity Association to recognize arts-based research in this public manner, I believe, is an enormous victory for the ABR community. It isn’t always easy doing this work. It can be difficult competing for funding when some funding sources are set up to support work conducted only from other research paradigms and thus arts-based work is often too easily dismissed. It can be equally difficult to get the work published or otherwise disseminated, as new formats require new ways of marketing. And often our work is put under a microscope for intense scrutiny. So to the countless researchers and students I have met travelling all over and speaking about ABR, to those I have chatted with in corridors at conferences, and those who have emailed me, please take this national recognition for the work we do as validation. It takes time to forge new pathways, resistance is a part of the package, but this award is meaningful to me because it shows the incredible headway we are making. Let’s enjoy it and make use of it. Arts-based research is a legitimate approach to knowledge-building and a necessary means for making the products of social research accessible to diverse and public audiences. There is a practical and ethical mandate for doing so. This award is much bigger than my own work. I am honored to serve as a representative of the ABR community and in September I will accept this award on behalf of arts-based researchers everywhere.

There are so many people to thank with whom I share this award.

I extend a spirited thank you to the entire Sense Publishing team for supporting innovative and creative works, including the Social Fictions series. Thank you to Peter de Liefde for taking a chance on the series and for your unfailing support. Thank you to Paul Chambers, marketing and sales guru, and my go-to guy. You two have done so much to support this work and I love working with you so much. Special shout-outs to Bernice Kelly, Jolanda Karada and Derrek de Liefde for all of your help with these books. I also want to thank the Social Fictions editorial board: Carl Bagley, Anna Banks, Carolyn Ellis, Rita Irwin, J. Gary Knowles and Laurel Richardson. I admire you each enormously as pioneers in the field of arts-based research and I thank you for adding your name and expertise to the series from the start. My heartfelt thanks to all of the Social Fictions authors as well. You are each so talented and I am honored to work with you. Any attention the series receives is a result of your creativity, talent and hard work. I am touched that so many wonderful scholars wrote letters on my behalf. Thank you to Robin P. Clair, Anne Harris, Carl Leggo, Lauren Sardi and Anita Sinner. I am told others wrote letters as well and I apologize sincerely if your name has been left out. Please email me to let me know so I can thank you properly.

I also extend a huge thank you to all of the publishers who have supported my arts-based and qualitative work. Thank you to C. Deborah Laughton, Seymour Weingarten, Bob Matloff, Paul Gordon and the entire group at Guilford Press. Thank you to Mitch Allen, Jan Morse and the entire team at Left Coast Press. Thank you to the wonderful team at Oxford University Press including Abby Gross, Anne Dellinger, Elizabeth Gorney and Ryan Cury.

I also thank my former colleagues in the Sociology & Criminology Department at Stonehill College for ten glorious years. Thank you to the Sociology Department at Boston College– attending graduate school in that department was one of the best things I ever did. And as always, thank you to Mr. Shuman, my high school English teacher– everyone needs at least one great teacher, I am so lucky that I had the most exceptional teacher of all.

This award recognizes, in part, my effort to get arts-based research into the public domain and thus I extend my thanks to those columnists, radio show hosts, Facebook groups, and bloggers who have interviewed me, written about my work and circulated my work. Special thank yous to Michelle Arana at examiner.com, Milena Z. Fisher at The Creativity Post, and Robyn Hussa Farrell at Mental Fitness Inc./We Are The Real Deal. Thank you to Martin McGovern at Stonehill College for teaching me how to write op-eds and how to get media exposure.

To all those whose stories have been woven into my novels, thank you. I am blessed that so many have shared their stories with me, sometimes in interviews, and at other times, in heartfelt whispers in bookstore doorways or university hallways. I will continue to do my best to take in what you share, put it through my filter, and offer it up to others. And of course my novels are peopled by the ghosts of relationships past. Thank you to all those who haunt the pages– you have enriched my life.

I also thank all of my arts-based colleagues. To all those whose work I have cited, to those who have circulated my articles and op-eds, to those who have read or course adopted my books, to those who have sent me references, to those who have published their work in any of my book series, and to those with whom I have collaborated or shared a spirited exchange, I hope you know who you are, as my debt to you is great. A special thank you to my talented colleagues in creative arts therapies: Gioia Chilton, Nancy Gerber, Cathy Malchiodi and Victoria Scotti.

Finally, thank you to my daily support team. Shalen Lowell, thanks for being the best research assistant a gal could ask for. Monique Robitaille, thanks for helping me with the mind-body connection. Much gratitude to my local writing buddies and friends, especially Celine M. Boyle, for making me a better (and saner) writer. Tori Amos, thank you for the endless inspiration; not only does your music fuel my creative output, but you have taught me more than anyone about the “business” of it all. Last but never least, Mark and Madeline. You have both changed your lives and made enormous sacrifices to support my intellectual and creative pursuits. I couldn’t do it without you, and I wouldn’t want to. Much love and appreciation. Mark, you are the best partner anyone could have and none of this would be possible without you. I am more me with you, than I could ever be on my own. Madeline, a special note to you, my heart. Thank you for understanding that my work is a part of who I am, and for letting your mom live as a writer. In return, please know to your core that I will always support you as you carve your own path in this world, in any way you choose. Build the life you want to live– the possibilities are as grand as your imagination. I will always love and support you. xoxo

I am over the moon. So grateful and humbled. To my fellow ABR warriors, please know that I am also energized, inspired and fuelled. I look forward to continuing to forge new creative pathways with all of you. To it.

Love and Light,

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