The Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death is an inspiring and nurturing professional organization dedicated to furthering the development and professional skill set of those called to hold space for mindful birthing, living, and dying.
Founded in 2015 by Amy Wright Glenn, the Institute was created to bring those drawn to the caring professions of birth and death work together with professionals dedicated to teaching mindfulness based living skills.
The Institute is a pioneering force offering monthly webinars on themes relating to compassionately holding space for birth, breath, and death as well as providing quality in-person and online trainings/workshops for the heartfelt engagement with these topics.
“Today, wise and creative cultural pioneers lead a burgeoning movement in applying key elements of the birth doula model to train people to companion each other in death. Given that our experience of death has become so institutionalized and medicalized, applying the doula model of care to death and dying represents a sane and needed grounding in the wisdom of compassion, companioning and proven comfort measures.”
The Breath of Creativity
An interview with artist and environmental activist Jim Downey
Thursday, November 14th
Jim Downey began working with glass in 1976 in South Jersey at Salem County Community College where he earned a degree in Glass Technology.
In 1978, he began his career as a scientific glassblower with Schlumberger in Princeton Jct., NJ and retired after 31 years. While he did artistic glass “on the side” where and when he could, Jim now is working in his own studio on the beautiful Azalea Coast.
All materials used in Jim’s creations are borosilicate glass, mostly purchased in North Carolina. The glass-blowing technique used is Lampworking also known as Flameworking. Some pieces are sandblasted to give them a “frosted” appearance. Each piece is signed, dated and most of them are numbered using a diamond-tipped scribe. All pieces are annealed at 1040 degrees Fahrenheit in an oven or kiln.
Every piece is completely unique!
Jim writes: I love glass. I remember my first day working it in the flame. It was at Salem County Community College in Penns Grove, NJ in September 1976. I loved the way the glass moved when it was hot; like liquid but untouchable. I loved the glints of light it give off when moving. I loved the heat it gave off; it warmed my soul. I knew at that moment that I would be a glassblower for the rest of my life.
I also love nature. Whether at the beach or in the forest, I look around and I am in awe. I enjoy bird watching because it calms my mind and connects me with the divine. The outdoors is my cathedral. The sound of the sea, the wind, and the birds are my hymns.
In my art, I try to blend my love of nature and of glass working into figurines that are whimsical and fun. I protect them by sealing them into balls. These “ornaments” are my signature pieces. However, I love to make anything out of glass and as we glassblowers will often say, “With glass, anything is possible.”
Learn more about Jim Downey’s glass work and efforts to save our earth’s sea turtles here.
This webinar is free for members of the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death. Learn more about membership here. Members who can’t join live will be given access the recording.
September 2019’s Institute Webinar is open to all.
Every year, Amy opens one Institute webinar to the public. Usually, monthly webinars are created for, and viewed by, Institute members. However, in September 2019, Amy interviewed Cara Belvin, the founder of empowerHER and Amy chose to lift up their conversation and open access to all.
Cara Belvin founded empowerHER in 2013, inspired by her own experience of grieving the loss of her mother who died of breast cancer when Cara was 9-years-old. Her work to empower young girls who have also lost their mothers has been featured on many media outlets including Parents magazine, PBS, and the Boston Globe.
How can we best support bereaved children? How does an organization like empowerHER help transform our the discourse around death and dying in our culture? How can one become involved with local chapters of empowerHER?