Ruby Rogers Center in Danger of Being Defunded by Massachusetts

Ruby Rogers Center in Danger of Being Defunded by Massachusetts

One of the very first community centers run by and for psychiatric survivors is at risk of losing its funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I know about the roots of this user-run space, because as a senior at Harvard College back in the 1970’s, I was placed at Mental Patients Liberation Front as an intern by Phillips Brooks House, Harvard’s social service group.
MPLF, with the leadership of the late Judi Chamberlin, author of a book on empowered mental health centers, created the community gathering locations that eventually became the Ruby Rogers Center in Somerville, Massachusetts. Here are some of the highlights as we created the center:

  • In the mid-1970’s a handful of us in MPLF came together for weekly mutual support. We were gratified to see that Judi’s book, On Our Own, was published. We often met at the storefront of an early activist space, Vocations for Social Change, near Central Square, Cambridge.
  • For a while we created a center at Stone Soup Art and Poetry storefront in Boston, thanks to the generosity of Jack Powers, proprietor. I recall briefly meeting poet Allen Ginsberg when he visited Jack. Activist Ted Chabasinski, survivor of forced electroshock, also visited.
  • Thanks to a grant from Haymarket Fund, we established an office and community center across the street from Boston Common.
  • As a group we met with state-employees at Department of Mental Health headquarters to explain our deep concerns about human rights violations and the need for humane alternatives.
  • About at that time, 1981, I left Boston, but the MPLF members won an agreement from Massachusetts to create a community center that was eventually named after Ruby Rogers, one of the early psychiatric survivor plaintiffs in a key lawsuit against forced psychiatric drugging. I saw Ruby, a charismatic African American psychiatric survivor, who I heard spoke up while locked up in a psychiatric ward, supported by MPLF organizing and a petition by other folks who were locked up.
  • During the three decades since then I have been very delighted to hear that the Ruby Rogers Center, keeping alive the name of MPLF, has continued to do great work. You can read about the details here.

Now the center is in danger of being eliminated by DMH, even though there is a need more than ever for independent living centers run by and for people diagnosed with mental health issues. Not only are such alternatives cost effective for taxpayers, anyone may someday need to have such a welcoming place for their own well being. If not you, then perhaps a loved one may benefit.

I remember a few years ago when I was chatting with a employee of the small, activist-friendly foundation, Resist. They were unfamiliar with our movement, but I knew they were located in Somerville. I asked them if they were familiar with the Ruby Rogers Center, and it turns out that was right across the street. Perfect to illustrate how our movement was widespread but little known! We got the small grant for MindFreedom International, and I recommend other grassroots groups in our movement apply for a Resist grant.

You can read about the Ruby Rogers Center on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/rubyrogercenter/

Thanks to a Facebook post from Harry Agritha, shared by Karen Langley, that alerted me about this. Charlie Carr commented and this brought my attention to the danger, here.

I encourage all those who support the disability and prison justice movements to speak up about the importance of the Ruby Rogers Center, now! I especially call out for support from disability activists in the hundreds of independent living centers, which form the backbone of the funded disability movement in the USA today.

You are invited to join me in emailing a civil but strong message to DMH of Massachusetts via this address: dmhinfo@massmail.state.ma.us

 

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Mental Health Revolution, or Why Humor is Necessary if You Are Really Serious About Overthrowing the Corrupt System: My Stand-up Comedy, Ghostbusters Satire, and Dead Family & Friends Such As Leonard Roy Frank

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

More than 42 Months After I Broke My Neck, I Do a Stand-Up Comedy Act this Saturday, 30 July 2016

Or perhaps I should say “sit-down comedy”? My intro for my act by the MC will be this:

“From right here in Eugene, our next sit-down comic is David Oaks, also known as PsychoQuad. That means he can slay any audience and then plead insanity!”

If you live in the Eugene-area, or know someone here, get there early to save your seat at Sam Bond’s Garbage, the bar Blair! I will bring my own seat. The monthly show, Bleepin’ Funny, is hosted by an indisputably leading comedic talent in our area, Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant. And it is a free event.

I have been going with my loving wife, Debra, for most months to Bleepin’ Funny, for years. I have been in the audience, in fact Sam Bond’s saves a table or two for my friends and me. But this Saturday, 30 July 2016, when the show starts at 5 pm, I am slated to take the stage about the fourth slot.

I have been practicing my stand-up. Before my fall I had the disadvantage of speaking “seriously” in about a dozen countries, for a fee. But humor is better and more fulfilling than boring non-stop seriousness. Or not?

Today, 27 July 2016, above we scoped out the stage at Sam Bond's, where I am to perform this Saturday. I have two plans for getting on the stage. They involve four strong, sober volunteers with strong backs. I will bring a hold harmless clause printout so they will not worry about lawyers. But should I wear a bike helmet?

Today, 27 July 2016, above we scoped out the stage at Sam Bond’s, where I am to perform this Saturday. I have two plans for getting on the stage. They involve four strong, sober volunteers with strong backs. I will bring a hold harmless clause printout so they will not worry about lawyers. But should I wear a bike helmet?

Bleepin’ Funny always features some stand-up, plus Leigh Anne takes the stage with a crew and does some lively, fresh improv. The show ends about 7 pm. It is all-ages, so bring the kids and do not worry about blue material. Call me crazy, but, I say get there early. Heck, even if it is nearly empty you might volunteer for my chair-hoisting crew! See Ian if you want to help out.

The comic Isaac Paris drew me to this amazing possible career, if these weird people known as stand ups can tolerate a professional weirdo. Move over Josh Blue, you no longer are the king of cripple comedy.

Isaac helped arrange for me to do comedy and be on this show. He is up in his native Alaska this week, so he will miss this Bleepin’ Funny. My documentarian and good friend David Zupan plans to video my act, with permissions of course!

Last week, I rehearsed at the Lane Independent Living Alliance (LILA) Peer Support Club, and Zupan was out of town so I did not pursue the documentary. But a relative shot me with their laptop for my own edification. You would think we had somehow violated the law, because an unsmiling employee had her boss e-mail me a verbal unfriendly terse note, I guess government-funded places like that can never have documentaries? My friend Mark Roberts is the brother of the famous Ed Roberts! I guess if Ed were still alive, and tried to speak at a Center for Independent Living, he would not be able to be taped for broader distribution. Hey, protect those privacy rights, cash our taxpayer-money checks, and let us celebrate there are now several-hundred Center for Independent Living (CIL’s) in the nation today, the backbone of the USA disability movement. I love CIL’s, but it is time to start an ADAPT local chapter; I hear you ADAPT headquarters in Austin, Texas.

Humor is Necessary: Please Laugh Once Per Minute (Just Joking!)

Anyway, the good humor, at least we hope it is good humor, will be at Sam Bond’s Garage, a down-home community center with good beer, great little menu, and even great outdoor seating in the back during warm months when it is appropriate. See you there, I will get there very early to save a place or get drunk.

Some Actual Real Humorous News! Well, True Anyway, and I Think it is News-Worthy Mental Health Revolution News

During my rehab, over these more than 42 months, I have had one (1) paid gig doing my work. Incredibly, probably because of a recommendation by my good friend, psychiatric survivor New Yorker Celia Brown, of MindFreedom, my solitary paid gig during my rehab has been to be one of the many independent contractors in the mental health reform field to review and comment on drafts of several manuals, mainly about mental health peer support, by the World Health Organization (WHO), based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WHO, yes, the same global health agency that tackled some nasty viruses in recent years, has a small but active division working for global mental health. Five years ago, I had the good fortune to visit WHO headquarters in Switzerland, because a number of us psychiatric survivor activists met with and consulted for the head of WHO mental health at that time, the passionate and brilliant Italian psychiatrist, Dr. Bendetto Saraceno. The doctor now directs a psychiatric non-governmental organization in Europe, and has retired from WHO.

This year, the WHO mental health manuals have not yet been released to the public, and so the content is private. However, for my generous independent contractor fee, I tried to provide online input for all the draft manuals. I tried to provide written comments that were both practical and revolutionary.

Some of the non-normal written comments that I made about these drafts, as an actual official paid WHO consultant, were:

  • The world very much needs a revolution, especially because the climate crisis has been so ignored for too many years. Yes, as the Pope recommends, I also suggested revolution for our planet in my official written comments to WHO, as a contracted consultant. In fact, since another round of input is to be requested, I currently still am an WHO independent contractor. Of course, I am speaking for myself and my opinion alone here, not in any way for WHO.
  • Repeatedly, I made sure that my position was crystal clear, that one hundred percent of all people, all the time, every moment, from womb to tomb, are in a state of mind that is in extreme, life-threatening crisis. That is right, my 42 years of activism in psychiatric survivor revolution provided me with four words as my lesson: “We are all nuts!” Nothing wrong with being nuts, if that word has any meaning at all. We may always all of us be nuts, but we can choose what kind of nuts we will be. Will we be creative positive nuts? Or destructive divisive nuts? We must choose.
  • Everyone alive, everyone, has a crisis. Maybe your’s will be very short, but we all have at least one crisis. We are moral. We love. So, prepare for your crisis! Hey, all you need to do is get ready for the unexpected. May I humbly suggest building your community of friends and family?
  • We must act now! We cannot wait for perfect information, in fact science has a theme: Mystery! Whether it is quantum physics, black holes, fractals, chaos theory, string theory, dark matter, dark energy, etc.: As Socrates noted over and over, we do not know much, to this day. But we still need to act, we still need to ask questions. Just as the wing of a butterfly can later influence the course of a hurricane, we must flap our wings! Note we have enormous influence, but not control.
  • The other side of the Butterfly Effect is that as the climate crisis triggers dozens of positive feedback effects, we are entering unpredictable chaos. No way I am giving up hope! Hey, that was me lying on the floor with a broken neck 42 months ago! But my paralysis is mild next to our society’s paralysis. Everyone, all of us, get off the floor!
  • A first step is to realize that internal revolution in our hearts and minds, is not stoppable. Let us make this shared goal more visible now, to help our global morale. I am not saying we will win a quality revolution, but I am sure we can try right now! I believe in you, you all are Supreme Commanders this time! OK, not all of that went into my comments to WHO.
  • But, I made it very clear in my written comments to WHO as an official consultant, that the thing we the public have been calling “normal” does not actual exist. Yes, like some horrible nightmarish virus, “normality” has been eliminated, it does not exist. Since I know that several WHO people have a great sense of humor, it turns out they are human, then I hope they take some credit for finding their funny bone and realizing the seriousness of saying, “There is no normal!”
  • Yes, normal is not in fact, well, normal. Eliminating all traces of “normal” is not the same thing as going after a virus. Yes, some people choose to take drugs to address mental and emotional issues. That is their choice. But “normality” and mental wellness in general, is about something far deeper and more profound than any “normal” medication.
  • I encourage folks to use the easy online interface with WHO to provide resources, suggestions, feedback, important points about the mental health industry, and more important the revolution in mental well being, which uses choice/freedom as a kind of umbrella for recovery, and once shielded there are thousands and thousands of approaches! Just use your search engine to search for the following phrase and then type in your comments: World Health Organization Contact Form. Dr. Saraceno told me, that every comment made to WHO must be treated with respect, and logged. Yes, even so-called irrational comments. Please send your favorite empowering alternative, ask WHO to send this to their mental health division! At the bottom of this is a three-minute video to promote reaching out to WHO. The revolution does not apply only to us consultants, but to everyone, even non-human animals, plants and maybe every particle.
  • Hey wouldn’t it be cool if the whole universe, you included, are equals all working as one? Now that is a Revolution!

On the Birthday of My Friend Leonard Roy Frank (LRF) 15 July 2016

David W. Oaks and his wife Debra react to publicity about the debut of Ghostbusters 3 on July 15, 2016, which is also the birthday for the late and amazing Leonard Roy Frank, psychiatric survivor, editor, friend, revolutionary.

David W. Oaks and his wife Debra react to publicity about the debut of Ghostbusters 3 on July 15, 2016, which is also the birthday for the late and amazing Leonard Roy Frank, psychiatric survivor, editor, friend, revolutionary.

I first wrote this on the 8th day of Creative Maladjustment (CM) Week, which was 7 to 15 July 2016. Yes, Creative Maladjustment Week is now eight days long to end on the 7/15 birthday of this psychiatry-surviving, electroshock defying, mystic-being, beatnik-pioneering, quote-editing San Franciscan Leonard Roy Frank (who would have turned 84 this year of he were still alive).

During these three and a half years of my deep recovery I estimate that I have listened to more than 4,000 hours of National Public Radio news, tuning in every morning via our local KLCC-FM. For example, I feel as if I am personal friends with John Hockenberry, host of Takeaway, because he first got his start here in Eugene KLCC-FM, he is in a wheelchair, but he only exchanged one message before he moved to the East Coast and became a national radio star. He still seems to support revolution, and you do not have to use your imagination much to hear that.

So, for better or worse, I have had more time to think, with my brains, heart, great support folks. Leonard, you showed us that after incredible torture the human spirit can still come back and help humanity. Every time I spoke privately with Leonard, we laughed and laughed. What a keen and at times wicked sense of humor, informed of course that near-biblical personal moral code.

A bunch of my friends in our movement are now dead, or as some of us joked very, very disabled: Rae, Judi, Howie, so many more, and now Pat Risser. If we remember to reform the corrupt mental health group, NAMI, even half as much as Pat wanted, always keeping our sense of humor and outrage, think of all the loving parents who we can support, now being tricked by this drug company front group!

More info about Leonard can be found all over the web, or go to any major bookstore and ask for their huge book Quotationary. Leonard lovingly edited this book of thousands of quotes, and subversively inserted dozens of great quotes very critical of the mental health industry, psychology, psychiatry, electroshock, etc. While he did not hide his identity as a psychiatric survivor during his work as one of the world’s experts on quotes, the fact is that he ended up gathering quotes as part of his strategy to re-create his incredible mind after psychiatry tried to destroy his loving spirit, unsuccessfully.

Sounds like LRF got the last laugh on the mental health industry torture machine. Since this apparatus apparently lacks a spirit of humor, getting the last laugh may be very winnable! I know that so many people have been cheering me on and sending support in so many ways, thanks! My Mom used to send out personal thanks with hand-written cards. As Mom got into her late 90’s she stopped sending cards. Her death last year really put a crimp in her card writing!

But do MindFreedom members really know that this shy Mom of mine worked for years as a volunteer in the main office, sometimes three days a week! Truly, Violet Oaks, my Mom, was MindFreedom’s top volunteer. So far.

For those of you who have read this long post, despite my many severe disabilities, or perhaps because of my creative maladjustment to these extreme challenges, I am talking with board members about coming back in some way, perhaps as a consultant. If I can crawl back to the work place, with extreme accommodations, so can anyone!

So a MindFreedom folks, do you want me back helping on our ship after these 42 months? If you can work together with other members, and ask me to come back, maybe I will, in some way. Before I fell, during my 25 years at MindFreedom’s helm, I raised about one million dollars for this grassroots human rights coalition.

We always prided ourselves about being independent of government money, and working for donations, often from very poor folks. Now, your feedback is appreciate, here, or via Facebook, or with your hearts. And the Oddsquad Advisory Team, and others, I need your advice right now. I must find the tight rope between recovery and revolution.

You may also refer to MindFreedom’s portal about Leonard.

Breaking your neck is never a good idea but if you must break your neck, I would recommend Eugene, Oregon, USA. I have so very many of you to thank! Surprisingly, the absolute winners in the “Support David W. Oaks During His Recovery,” is the Fair Family connected to Oregon Country Fair.

This message is to you all: The rest of my life could be weeping tears of joy thanking you all, every moment! How do I know? I can’t wait, I must act now and thank you! Thanks, thanks, thanks. The word for thanks in Lithuanian, origin for all my grandparents, sounds like a sneeze:

Ah-h-h-h-h Ch-o-o-o-o-o! That word is spelled “aciu,” with some pronunciation marks. Sorry, no time for that, just thanks thanks thanks!

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to homecare worker Sara and my admin for taking my raw notes and fashioning that into the blog, though I take full responsibility and finished my final edit today 27 July 2016. Because of the coincidence of Ghostbusters 3 debuting on 15 July 2016, I was eager to get something out that day. Thanks everyone, especially my darling wife Debra, when I fell, I know that we fell. I hope people give you, Debra, support that is even better than the amazing support so many have given me this past 42 plus months!

 

OK, Here is a Three-Minute Free Video Encouraging You to Contact the World Health Organization, Now!

It is easy, you can suggest your favorite humane alternative to the inherently flawed, corrupted-beyond-comment mental health industry to our World Health Organization, just direct your search engine to their Contact Form:  http://www.who.int/about/contact_form/en/

 

Above entry was a originally posted on my personal blog, which can be found here: 

www.davidwoaks.com

Protected by Creative Commons, only for non-commercial use with attribution. 

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My Friends Hold A Fun Benefit For Me, Here In Eugene!

This fundraising event for me went very well and we want to thank everybody who helped: The bands, poster-makers, donors, participants, and too many to mention here. Friendship gave me such a vision of joy that clearly this gift of community won that day!

Here is my original message:

Below, my friends have sent out this announcement about a benefit with two great bands, on Thursday, June 26, 2014. Please spread the word and if possible join me for the festivities! You may want to arrive early because the event is only two hours long.

By the way, there are musicians in both bands who have had decades at the Oregon Country Fair. Hopefully, both will play songs they have written with an OCF theme!

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Please HELP us promote this event by spreading the word, and by printing and posting the attached 8×11 flyer: oaks-201406-poster-8×11

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The Friends of David Oaks Fundraising Committee invite you to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment at Cozmic featuring STEEL WOOL and THE REFRESHMENTS on June 26, 2014 from 6 to 8 pm.

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My Event on February 21, 22, 23 in Eugene Oregon

If you have a contact who is within driving distance of Eugene Oregon…or if you are local…please support donate to and attend the below fundraising sale to help me.

Here is the announcement from Friends of David Oaks (FODO):

Her is a PDF color poster you may download or view of the event:

OAKS sale214 fnl1

If you are on Facebook, get out this Facebook event to your contacts and say you will attend: https://www.facebook.com/events/188931397984319/

The Friends of David Oaks fundraising committee invite you to a Living Estate Sale in North Eugene, starting Friday, Feb. 21 through Sunday, Feb. 23rd.

WHAT: Living Estate Sale to raise money for David Oaks’ medical/rehabilitative care needs

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