At Procovery Insitute, we are so happy to be hearing increased discussion, and see long overdue focus, on Community Reintegration. This is so important for individuals, our communities and society as a whole. However, it is also imperative to realize that Community Reintegration is not always possible. It is sometimes entirely impossible – you cannot reintegrate if you have never been integrated in the first place. Many individuals have no vision of living in the community and do not even consider this a possibility, as they’ve never known it.

Many years ago I was facilitating a Procovery Circle as part of a cultural efficacy test of Procovery, in partnership with LACDMH and USC. That winter my mother knit hats for everyone in the Procovery Circle – knit beanies made with soft, colorful yarn that were handmade especially for this Circle. Most of the participants selected a hat at the end of the Circle and put it on right away, but one participant quietly folded his up very neatly, and put it in his pocket without ever putting it on. One of the other participants asked him why he wasn’t wearing his hat, which I was also wondering, and he replied “This hat would be a really good hat for a homeless person, so I’m saving it for when I’m homeless again.”  I asked him why he assumed he would be homeless again, and he replied that he was 41 years old and had only been homeless or institutionalized since he turned 18 years old. It was the only pattern of life that he knew and he couldn’t envision a future for himself where he was not homeless upon discharge.


​Merely living outside of an institution is NOT Community Integration or Reintegration. In order to be integrated in to the community, a community has to be available or one has to be created. It is devastating to learn how many individuals never learned HOW to live in a community or never had a community available to them. ​
It is important to add that what constitutes community is highly individual, we feel that community is about connection, not proximity. Simply being in the midst of others does not constitute community. It is sometimes easier to feel lonely and isolated when surrounded by people, than it is to feel this way when home alone.​


This subject always reminds us of the beautiful Starhawk quote below. What a beautiful way to imagine a community.

“We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been – a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.” – Starhawk