Our New Name & Ongoing Commitment to Serve



We are pleased to announce that we are now serving under the name Smith Center for Healing and the Arts—a change that comes at an exciting time of growth with the expansion of our U Street Center. As we continue to serve the cancer community with the programs upon which we have built our legacy over the past 15 years, our new space will allow us to introduce new and improved programs for the whole community.

Please take a moment to read about our beginnings, our evolution, and our mission in the following letter by Co-Founder and Executive Director Shanti Norris.


Shanti Norris, Smith Center Executive DirectorDear Friends,

Just over fifteen years ago, Barbara Smith Coleman, Michael Lerner and I brought Barbara’s vision of a creative healing center into being as Smith Farm Center for the Healing Arts. We began with weeklong retreats for people with cancer, weekend retreats for physicians to ‘recover the soul of medicine’ with Rachel Remen, and gatherings of Washington artists to envision creativity and healing projects.  

I believe that Barbara would be proud and happy to witness the growth of the organization as we enter a new era where we can better serve the community. In preparation for the Grand Opening of our newly expanded community healing center here in late September, we have been undergoing another kind of face lift.

In the process, we decided to change our name to Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. Over the years the farm has sometimes caused confusion on where and what we are – not to mention the still occasional calls requesting fresh produce! While continuing to honor Barbara’s vision and legacy, we believe the new name better reflects our urban location and services. I hope you agree.

Our programs and projects remain true to our original intent – to offer deep healing programs for adults with cancer and their caregivers.  We continue to hold our weeklong residential retreats in the countryside at Hallowood, the retreat site we have used for over 13 years. In addition, as you will see from our new website, we are expanding the programs at our newly renovated space on U Street to include a wide selection of supportive programs for people with cancer.  

What is new to our mission is an array of programs for the whole community. Many of the techniques we utilize in our programs for people with cancer are based on time tested wisdom traditions.  Over the years we have often been asked why we do not offer similar programs for everyone. With the opportunity of new and expanded space, we will now do just that. Diet and nutrition classes, yoga, stress reduction and meditation classes, creativity programs, and talks and workshops by gifted teachers will be offered to the community at large.

The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery will become the entrance to the new center. Whether its making art or viewing it, making music or listening to it, writing or reading, participating in the arts is an important step in the healing process. We want our program participants to ‘walk through beauty’ and images of deep purpose and meaning as they enter into our healing center and courtyard.

Healing is a life long process. We cannot and need not do it alone, and indeed we seem to do best with the company of others who are walking on the path, guided by those a few steps ahead. I invite you to come and participate in programs to help you live well with cancer or live well with whatever life is dishing out at the moment, in the company of compassionate listeners, inspiring teachers and fellow travelers.

I hope to see you soon,
Shanti Norris

Shanti Norris

Co-Founder and Executive Director

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