It takes more than a village... it takes a city!

About City of Refuge, Inc.

City of Refuge, Inc. exists to collaborate with local creatives using this collective to strengthen families by the example of their artistic coping skills.

Our first objective is to build a city of creatives (local artists, musicians, and makers)  which support each other and use their creativity to cope with tough life situations.  We do this through interactive concerts, meetups, and workshops in the Knoxville, TN area.  

Our second objective is to use this city of creatives to provide support systems for families coping with traumatic life situations.  We do this through mentorships, songs/art/maker products telling the family's story, creative workshops, and respite opportuniteis to give the parents a chance to regroup and cope with their own stress, pressure, and other life situations they may be dealing with in healthy ways.
City of Creatives
Heart of the City
Our City of Creatives
Our city of collectives is a diverse and eclectic group.  This is a list of people, bands, companies, and organiztations we have worked with either in the past or currently.  If you would like to be added to this list and sign up to get added to our mailing list, you can also fill out the form to the right and we will get in contact with you.
History of City of Refuge Inc.
Imagine coming to a new state, a new job, with a new marriage, but feeling a calling to help those without a safe place to call home. This is exactly what happened for Kyle and Elizabeth Ford. Without the support of family, friends who understood the calling, or even exactly what they were getting themselves into, they made the plunge into the foster care world with only the agency as their support.  With multiple experiences working at group homes and facilities for at-risk and delinquent teens in the DCS system, Kyle found that for a lot of teens the same skills of coping he used as an awkward teen helped the teens he worked with cope with their trauma they have been going through.  Liz, with her love of children and own experience as a foster mom, grew a heart for those who can’t help themselves and the parents who don’t know how to ask for help (or even want to admit they need it). Not only this, but the parents who were at risk of having their children taken away from them needed this same support and encouragement. This is where City of Refuge Inc was born in July of 2016.
City of Refuge Inc started out building up what we call our “city of creatives” by building relationships with local artists, musicians, and makers.  Our objective was to find out what the needs of the creatives were and what they were willing to do to help support families coping with trauma.  We were surprised at the amount of creatives who were willing to help and wanting to get involved in some way.  Our first year, we gathered people together at meetups and interactive concerts to help support our musician creatives we were getting to know.  We loved getting to know everyone, but most of what we did was experimental and trial & error.  
After we gathered up enough creatives that we thought we knew the needs/availability of our city of creatives, we started to build programs to help support our families.  We started a relationship with Great Schools Partnership at South Knoxville Elementary and agreed to help two days a week with their after-school program they were starting.  On Mondays, we would teach a group of kids the visual arts and on Thursdays we would teach music.  We loved working with the children and showing them how the arts and music can help them express themselves, as well as to calm themselves and work out their stress/anger/sadness.
In January of 2018, we decided to do something similar to what we were doing at South Knoxville Elementary with foster/adoptive/at-risk teens.  We started offering an after-school program on Fridays at The Birdhouse Community Center.  We picked this location because it was somewhat central to the Knoxville area and being outside of the school system meant that we could continue to reach into the teens life, even if they moved schools and/or homes.  We met some great people through this program, but we quickly realized that our efforts might be better used focusing on the entire family and creating a support system that fit their exact needs.

This is what leads us to where we are today!
The Present State of City of Refuge Inc.
The programs that will help us grow
Place artistic coping skills and a support system for families together and Project: More than a Village is what you get! Project: More than a Village connects at least five creatives (artists, musicians, and makers) with a family coping with trauma (foster care, adoption, at-risk) to build a support system for them and teach artistic coping skills the family can use to stay strong and together. This support system would provide mentorship, workshops, songs/art/maker products to encourage the family, respites for the parent(s), and concerts to bring about community within the support system.
Our city of creatives, social workers, therapists, and families coping with trauma get together through events and gatherings to support each other and build a community which encourages healthy artistic  coping skills and creating their story. 
What does a musician, an artistic painter, and a metalworker have in common?  They each use creativity and art to express themselves and make sense of the world around them.  COR Collective is our city of creatives which gather together to build community, show each other their way of expressing themselves, and learn how they can use their creativity and art to help other people around them.  

​Heart of the City

 To give a better understanding of why we do what we do, this next section is dedicated to art, poetry, and articles which describe the heart which caused City of Refuge, Inc. to come about.
I’m a Dad... Sort of
I’m a Dad... kind of
I’m a Dad... sort of
 And I’ll hide behind these fathers
Pretending I am one of them

I have never felt as misunderstood as I do right now
Misunderstood even to myself
Am I a dad? I think so, but how?
I have a little one who lives with me
Sometimes I think she calls me daddy
But still I feel like a fraud, like a fake
The Truth is, her father I may not always be
She comes from a place that was once unsafe
She may go back, I’ll never see that face again
And the sad thing is... That’s what I’m praying for

I feel for her mother, trapped by addiction and a lack of support
I feel for her father, a product of the system
Another generation away from their father
But still

Still there is a hope in the back of my heart
A hope that says that she will be my forever daughter
A hope in a room, with a door, that’s locked
I can’t go there
I’m afraid either it will fly away and never come back again
Or I will focus so much on it that I forget she has parents who love her
And it is part of my responsibility to prepare her for home
But for now...

I’m a dad... sort of 
I’m a dad... kind of
And I’ll hide behind these fathers
Pretending I am one of them
A poem about being a Foster Dad by: Kyle Ford