Free Your Mind! These Online Documentaries About Festivals Give Me Hope

In the Oregon Country Fair, you will find a number of us who work for social change in the Community Village. (Photo by mylerdude via Flickr.)

In the Oregon Country Fair, you will find a number of us who work for social change in the Community Village. (Photo by mylerdude via Flickr.)

For decades, I have been volunteering at the huge Oregon Country Fair. Started in 1969, OCF now brings together about 40,000 people over three days in July on about 300 acres that several thousand of us volunteer to run. We all own the land, and the Fair has about 50 food booths and 700 artisans, along with a bunch of stages and wandering ambient performers. Over the decades, many of these counter-culture leaders have utilized the Fair as a kind of reunion for an extended family and what is often called “hippy” culture. The land, which OCF found out has been used for thousands of years for indigenous people to gather each summer, is about 15 miles west of Eugene, near the small town of Veneta.

I have personally found a great deal of inspiration and support by attending and participating in the Oregon Country Fair. My work as an activist to change the mental health system has been very much helped by being in this community. When some of us dream about a society that values all of our human feelings, ideals, and emotions, very often we end up talking about celebration and festivals like this. For too long we have considered mental well-being to be about the five, ten, fifteen, or twenty percent of us that gets a psychiatric label each year. But really, if you look around at out world for a moment, you can easily see that to be alive, to be human, to exist, one must have support and healing. Festivals like this one give a glimpse of what the world can be like and I recommend this experience for envisioning a future mental health system or any futuristic vision of change.

But what about now?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I and many others in the Fair Family have often wondered why we cannot bring this creative energy to the wider world. After many fairs, I have asked, “Why can’t this be more than three days, why can’t we be outside of Veneta?” Well, quietly such psychospiritual rejuvenation has been growing internationally.

A few  years ago, a small documentary team visited a couple dozen of what they call “transformational festivals” in several countries and they have made a series of videos that you can watch online for free, though like me, you may be inspired to make a donation after you see the first three (I understand they are working on creating a fourth).

Check out a free preview / overview that in less than 10 minutes sums up this series, here: http://thebloomseries.com/

Once you see this preview video, you can view all three of the full documentaries that are available in this Bloom series here: http://thebloom.tv/public/

Read More

Update: My Open Letter to Linda Vigen Phillips, Author of the New Young Adult Novel “Crazy”

Update: The author has replied, and you can read this November 14, 2014 update at the bottom of this,

Here in Eugene, Oregon, I heard a radio interview with the author of a young adult novel called “Crazy,” and I hoped that the author would challenge some mental health oppression during her book tour here in Oregon. After all, her semi-autobiographical fiction novel is about growing up in Klamath Falls, Oregon with a mom who has severe mental and emotional problems. Unfortunately, the radio interview seemed to turn into a promotion of the conventional mental health system.

Below is my open public letter to this author to ask that she questions the mental health industry more in her book tour:

Cover of the book "Crazy"

The Young Adult Novel “Crazy” is by author Linda Vigen Phillips.

Dear Linda Vigen Phillips,

At first, when I heard the interview with you on my local radio station KLCC-FM today, I was enthused about the possibilities for your book tour. I had high expectations that you can challenge mental health oppression.

For the past 40 years I have been working to change the mental health system as a person who survived abuse by the psychiatric system as a teenager. So I’m optimistic that your book tour could give many teens struggling with these issues a great amount of hope.

However, during your interview, I felt very disheartened because the message seemed to support the current mental health industry, which I feel needs to be overthrown completely. You seem to be such a caring and smart author with the intent of supporting psychiatric survivors and our families. So below I ask some questions that I would love to hear a reply to, and most importantly, I urge you to open dialogue with your audiences about these issues throughout your book tour.

I have not yet read your young adult novel, “Crazy,” but I know you are reaching many of us who have psychiatric diagnoses and family members, such as during your book tour visit to one of my favorite bookstores, Tsunami Books. Several times over the past few years, Tsunami Books has hosted some great psychiatric survivor authors, poets, musicians and other creative folks. So please take my questions in the friendly manner they are offered to you:

Read More

Robin Williams or Patch Adams? Watch Brief Message from David Oaks to Mad In America International Event

Update: We have the winners of this film festival! For more info, click here.

 

You may watch a little eight-minute video message, below, I sent this past Sunday, October 12, 2014, especially created to be shown during the gala dinner for the Mad In America International Film Festival, which brought together many movies that challenge the mental health industry. I wish I could have been there physically because this certainly was one of the main Mad Culture events of the season and many activists, film makers, and other creative folks were in attendance.

My amazing wife Debra repeated my sentences so that everyone could hear my disabled voice and not miss a precious word. My good friend David Zupan, who is making a documentary about me, videoed us on our backyard deck. In the background, you may see our guest cottage, which used to be my writing studio. This is where I fell from a ladder while reaching up in our loft for our cat, Bongo, and broke my neck back in December 2012.

In the video, I mention that many of us love Robin Williams, but I choose to follow the path of joy, life, and love created by Patch Adams, who Robin portrayed in the movie by that name. My friend Patch is a psychiatric survivor who, as a young person, was suicidal and decided to make a life change to embrace the world, flawed as it may be.

Here is the video message, followed by some links to info that I mention:

My blog about global warming and mental health: http://138.68.254.83/eugene-area-chamber-global-warming

My blog where I, PsychoQuad, go to the movies, written because of the film festival: http://138.68.254.83/psychoquad-movies

You can read about the Mad In America International Film Festival and the many great movies: http://madinamericainternationalfilmfestival.com/

Some other videos by David Zupan, including the building of Debra’s dream, an accessible path for me to our back garden: http://vimeo.com/user1758711/videos

By the way, Patch proudly does not get on the Internet (his employees do though). The great news is that Patch responds to every written message that he gets by old-fashion postal mail. You may just get a postcard back, but this pretty famous celebrity personally answers every letter. Thank him for being honorary chair for International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment! If that concept, first announced by Martin Luther King, is new to you just google it. Anyway, write to Patch here:

Patch Adams MD & Gesundheit Institute
P.O. Box 307
Urbana, IL 61803 USA

Read More

Fundraiser for me in December 2013 in Austin, Texas

Below is an announcement from wonderful supporters who are planning a national fundraiser about the same time and place as Alternatives 2013 Conference (totally separate, of course). Please spread the word, and if possible attend:

Support David Oaks’ Independent Living
Sponsored by Friends of David Oaks

The Friends of David Oaks Committee invites participants from Alternatives 2013 in Austin, Texas to a fundraiser dinner to support David to obtain a wheelchair accessible van. David Oaks is the former Director of MindFreedom International. He has given 30 years of his life to activism and fighting for human rights in the mental health system. Let’s give back to him in his time of need!

(For more info:)

Read More

Cracking the nut of normality…

(scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the Feb. 17th video)
Read the latest updates about David in his current location: Craig Hospital in Englewood Colorado. Cards and letters are welcome! Send them to: David W. Oaks, c/o Craig Hospital / 3425 S. Clarkson St., Englewood, CO / 80113

 

A new message created by David W. Oaks from his hospital bed in Springfield, Oregon…
David W. Oaks Personal Message to the World; “Cracking the nut of normality” Christmas Day 2012 (davidwoaks.com)

Dear Friends, family, colleagues, and supporters,

After 4 decades as a psychiatric survivor human rights activist and 3 decades with spinal arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis), that fused my spine into peanut brittle, I knew I needed a break. The break that I got about 3 weeks ago was not the one I expected. I slipped off a wet ladder in my writer’s studio, and it resulted in a complete break of my neck.

The silver lining in this event has been witnessing the love between us all. I’m overwhelmed by the cards and offers of support for me, for my wife, my fabulous darling Debra, for my family, for MindFreedom, for USICD, OCSC, Opal network and for our movement for nonviolent global revolution.

I love you all so much from the core of my heart. I hope that every single one of you can feel that heat!

With my whole heart and soul, I give thanks for Earth’s free bounty shared w/ all my relations. The word origin for “thanks,” is simply “to think,” and a Native American sign language for thinking is to point to one’s own chest. Truly my heart is thinking of you all. Thank you!

I’m laying here in a special rotating hospital bed with my good friend, Rev. Phil Schulman, using a special trache tube to talk for a few minutes. To finish this letter we are using a word board based on cryptography designed for me by my computer genius brother Tony. Here at Sacred Heart Hospital River Bend I’ve been cared for by an amazing medical team of skilled and compassionate healers. They seem like they are from NASA and as friendly as a next door neighbor.

A few days after hearing that crack of my neck, I laid in a hospital bed here, and I knew that I must find a creative maladjustment. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. many times called for an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. I’m requesting your leadership in launching the first annual Creative Maladjustment Week, July 7-14, 2013 with Patch Adams MD. It may be a way to recover from a broken planetary ecosystem, as well as neck, heart and anything else. Let us finally hear the crack of the nut of normality.

During long nights in this hospital, I have been emboldened by the spirit of Justin Dart Jr., considered to be the father of the Americans with Disabilities Act. His heart radiates into mine. I hear the words he so often echoed: “I love you, Lead On!” He knew that absolutely each one of us who join in this movement for human rights and dignity is a leader.

I cherish being connected to him, and to all of you. It has been my great fortune to have 38 beautiful years in this movement so far without direct funding from the government or mental health industry. Many of us speak out freely and organize for human rights in mental health. Some of us work to change the system from within. Together inside and outside, we are an emergent force of nature, a creative maladjustment to oppression. We are leading humanity into a sustainable way to live on this planet that includes caring and listening to marginalized people.

Many of you have expressed concern for Debra and me, that we will continue to have the financial resources for quality of life and access to full medical care. Below you will find a short note from my brother Tony providing a means for contributions. Thank you, all of you for personal support as well as participation in this movement.

Gratefully in support,
David W. Oaks

 

Information from David’s brother Tony Oaks about how you can help David:

Through Debra’s job at the Eugene Public Library, Dave has access to health insurance. Given the catastrophic nature of his injury, we expect that eventually his coverage will be maxed out and Dave will switch to medicaid. In order to ensure Dave gets access to the things which may be necessary and yet not covered by insurance or medicaid, my mom, Violet, worked with a local attorney (Mark Williams) to establish a Irrevocable Special Needs Trust for David.

If you would like to contribute to that fund please make your checks payable to:
“David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust” and mail your checks to this address:

David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust
c/o Chase
1100 Williamette St.
Eugene OR 97401 USA

Note: your contribution to this fund, while a gift, is not tax deductible and, of course, it is not refundable.

Read More