Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

The Importance of Connection, a Symposium with Dr. Bruce Perry


Dr. Bruce Perry, Santa Fe, NM Sept. 2019

“Connectedness allows people to heal,” said Dr. Perry. “The American Dream has resulted in relational poverty. The independence espoused by the American Dream has resulted in a relationally fragmented society. We’ve lost our connectedness to each other and our connectedness to the natural world.”

So began the two-day symposium by Dr. Bruce Perry, a specialist on neuroscience and childhood trauma, that I had the great good fortunate to attend here in Santa Fe in September, brought by Dr. Jennifer Duran-Sallee, Director of The Early Childhood Center of Excellence at Santa Fe Community College and the LANL Foundation.

“The American Dream, and the relational poverty we suffer as a result,” said Dr. Perry, “underlies our vulnerability to life’s stressors. The compartmentalization of our culture has resulted in material wealth, yet poverty in social and emotional relationships.

“For thousands of generations, we lived in small multi-generational ratios of 4 present adults for every 1 child. We now live in a society where children interact with fewer and fewer adults and have increasingly fewer opportunities for emotional and relational growth.”

Dr. Perry referred to his promiscuity when it comes to theoretical tools and we spent two days spanning the spectrum of the details of neuroscience and their impacts on children and society.

The importance of early childhood, highlighted Dr. Perry, cannot be overstated and the vital roles that “safety, predictability, nurturing, and play have in shaping who we become as people, and in turn what that means for the health and welfare of a culture.”

Dr. Jennifer Sallee

The essence of the detailed, cutting-edge neuroscience highlights the role of the brain in social and emotional health. Dr. Perry articulated how the relational landscape in children’s lives is changing. “Children have fewer emotional, social, and cognitive interactions with fewer people. Why does this matter?

“This matters for a number of reasons. This poverty of relationships is extremely important, because of the normal neurobiological networks that you have in your brain and body that help you regulate your physiology, your stress response networks. These networks regulate whether your pancreas works, how vulnerable you are for diabetes, and how your heart works. These networks regulate how every part of your brain works, the part of the brain involved in moving, the part of the brain involved in forming relationships, the part of the brain involved in empathy, in compassion, in creativity, in productivity.

“Every single part of the brain and all the rest of your body are influenced by relational interactions.”

“Your stress response systems and the neurobiological networks are co-organized with the neurobiological networks involved in forming and maintaining relationships. Relationships have a key role in global health, creativity, and productivity.

If a baby receives predictable love and attention for the first two months of their lives, this is a more powerful influence in emotional health than the impact of negative experiences in their lives for the next 10-12 years.

Blessing, Dr. Brooke Gondara

I am not an expert in neuroscience. The wealth of neuroscience research shared made me want to hold and love babies, read endlessly to and with children, weave generations together around conversation, presence and love, blow up electronic devices parents use to raise their children in isolation, hug, talk, hug some more, read, mentor, listen deeply, read with kids, engage with empathy and compassion, create intergenerational communities—and hold and love loads more babies and kids.

This piece reflects the tippy-tip of the top of the iceberg of Dr. Perry’s ideas. If they resonate with you, please read and listen to more of his work.

Incredible and what the world needs. 

Below some bits of beauty from my walk to and from the conference center and my car.

Flower-lined path

Clouds over Santa Fe

Speaking of the heart of relationships in our lives, our Santa Fe Community College family wishes our dearest Gerry Harris the best in the new chapter of her life back in the UK with her grandchildren. She is missed more than words and our hearts sing that she’s with her own beautiful babies, large and small.




Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of language, culture, and place.

12 thoughts on “The Importance of Connection, a Symposium with Dr. Bruce Perry

  1. Dawn, this is so true! It started with the invention of television, then video games, and now social media. Youth are talking less and less all in the name of advancement. Technology is replacing group conversation and interaction and it does indeed hurt and rewrite the brain. Super article! Kids need to play, read, interact, did I mention play? 🙂 Loved this as an advocate for youth.

  2. It’s what it all comes down to – love and hug our babies and big kids and always, always keep reading! ❤️

  3. Thank you Dawn. I cherish your “Dewdrops” for the important information and the great beauty you weave through them.
    I hope all is well with you and your family.

    We are living in Durango, Colorado now – close to my eldest son and his absolutely fantastic wife. My youngest son would have wanted that for us. I believe you know that we lost him in an avalanche a few years ago.

    I miss the Community College community and Santa Fe but am loving Durango as well.
    Big hugs,
    Connie Durand


  4. Dear professor Dawn:
    How are you? Hope you are doing well. I will never forget you as a wonderful professor at Santa Fe community college. I had the honor to be a student of yours at one time.
    The cultural system of the USA is breeding, most children, to grow disconnected of any community ties beginning with parents and colleagues. What is theoretically taught in books is totally different than reality of surroundings. Therefore, the outcome is a human of split personality disorder. The main feature of said person is being self centered and materialistic. The spirituality aspect of the culture is totally damaged thus misleading future generation by falsehood and bad role models. In addition, the image of God, in their minds, is totally wrong and the question about the purpose of life is not satisfactorily answered.

    There are two main factors affecting the behavior of mankind and it’s psychological well being: Fear and Sadness.
    The struggle and conflict of and among humans is always around the establishment of a life secured against fear and loaded of all forms of happiness. There are continuous attempts to achieve said goals, even if they are obtained by means against the basic code of ethics.
    The proper philosophy required to build a healthy human is totally lost. The good news is: there is a solution for the problem but it has to begin with the early childhood. Certainly, I would like to share it with you sometimes.

    Have a wonderful day.

    Get Outlook for Android


  5. Thank you, Dawn.

    I have missed your Dewdrops. Am working more on my memoir a little bit—now that there a few days where I HAVE to stay home because of weather and muddy roads. 😊

    I am attaching a poem I wrote (after much struggle) for our WY Poets’ Chapbook competition. The theme for this year’s chapbook is “Watershed” — path toward the future. Braided streams in the landscape or life. A turning point. A critical choice.”

    What happened before the poem however was really interesting. I was thinking about what a watershed on a landscape and then began processing “watershed moments” in my life—beginning back in my college days when I quit college for a semester and got a job at a local college dive called the Buckhorn. (the name says a lot, doesn’t it?) But from there I tried capturing the watershed events, but was fun/revealing was how the events were not necessarily big events but one thing led to another to another. As I wrote the phrases down, I layered them as in an outline, when there resulting events that affected the next, and then would start a new line when something else (unrelated ) happened. This went on for 4-5 pages (and I was not even started with the events here at the ranch). Some events that happened in 1981 and 82 were directly connected to something happening in 1990. Something in 1988 resulted in 2003. On and on. The fact is my pages reminded me of the ripples of the prairie when light changes and you can see the depths and dips in ways that are not clear when the light is straight.

    (Hence my love of Emily Dickenson’s poem “Tell the truth but tell it slant”)

    At any rate, thanks for a reason to ramble about writing. I so wish we had a couple of days to just hang out, drink wine and coffee, and walk the prairie and talk and talk and talk.

    How is the dissertation? Do I sense that it might be finished or almost so? I’m almost afraid to ask that question.

    Have a lovely fall. Margaret

  6. What a fabulous conference, Dawn! Sure wish I could have attended with you-it all makes so much sense! Love and hugs, my dear friend! ❌⭕️❤️💋

    Sent from my iPad


  7. Dawn: What a marvelous opportunity. Dr. Perry et al must be talented instructors to take on such sobering topics and send a hopeful and positive message.

  8. That was awesome. Great read!!!!!!

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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