David Oaks Psychiatric Survivor Quad Plans to be a Public Speaker, Again
Oaks Hopes “Project Amplify Us” Will Help Others Facing Similar Disabilities
After nearly four decades of activism, mainly for human rights in mental health, David Oaks experienced a big fall and broken neck 33 months ago that put him in a powerchair with a label of “quad” and a number of new challenges, such as an impairment to one of his vocal folds.
Now, with the help of his brother Tony and others, he has launched a campaign to find the best experts to overcome his complex communications barriers. His goal is to once more become a professional public speaker.
Below, you can view the Project Amplify Us online 19-slide show with links to short videos, followed by Frequently Asked Questions:
If you live on Earth and breathe, then you must overthrow what is mistakenly called “normal” and the mental health industry. Why?
Today, our planet is faced with an unprecedented emergency, according to the vast majority of scientists, wise people and just about everybody else. Smart folks tell us that we have the technology, smarts, and economy to address these urgent crises, but do we have the will? It seems that the general public is paralyzed, and as our leaders continue to procrastinate, we are collectively entering into the beginning of chaos.
As my friend “the real” Patch Adams, MD has explained to me for 23 years, one of the most effective ways to reach people is their sense of humor. Yes, the feature movie in 1998 about Patch is a bit syrupy-sweet, but you have to admit the power of wearing a red nose! Seriously, laughter is of course powerful. And we may need a touch of comedy to even look at the absurd reality around us now. That is why some folks are sticking out their tongues (see the photo here of Jillian for example); jokingly, maybe our leaders are waiting for us all to show some signs of distress such as the Qsign!
Please feel free to post a selfie of you sticking out your tongue (known as a Qsign face) to Facebook, Twitter, or both. Please add the hashtag #qsigncrisis to whatever you post wherever. If you post to Facebook, please add your selfie to my Timeline! (If you are not yet a friend, please email me with your Facebook name at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
You are invited to take a selfie doing a “Qsign,” which I will explain in a moment. But first I need to beg for your help, especially if you are one of these young whippersnappers. You see, this week, September 16th, I will turn 60 years old, and I have never been able to start something online that goes viral.
A few weeks ago, I developed pneumonia. My wife and I had to wait in the emergency room for six hours to get an x-ray. To pass the time and show our frustration in a fun way, we stuck out our tongues to the side and took this photo. Later, a person who worked for many years as an ER nurse told us that we showed an actual face that they watch for in the ER as a sign of distress. The face is called the “Qsign” because the tongue sticks out at an angle, which kind of looks like a Q.
So I would like to ask you to take a selfie of you and maybe your loved ones, doing a Qsign. Why?
The planet is one big emergency room, but our leaders are ignoring things like the climate crisis. The least we can do is all show our Qsigns, and maybe that will get our leaders’ attention?
Hey, I am about to enter my 60’s, and I have spent decades working for human rights in disability, specifically mental health. Come on, show your appreciation, dammit!
You can post your photo on Twitter like we did using the new hashtag #qsigncrisis
I actually went viral by having pneumonia which I have recovered from. Now I am simply asking you to metaphorically go viral, which sounds a lot healthier. If you want to read about my pneumonia, go here.
Showing your Qsign just is not normal! Since what is mistakenly called normal has some of the worst behavior ever to visit Earth, then your Qsign is a blessing!
A group of us had a little contest to see who could make the best Qsign and my friend Dale won. Maybe this contest will go global and be the start of a game that will save the world. I have a name for this: Ultimate Wacko!
Today a documentary about 10 ½ minutes long, by my good friend David Zupan, airs on statewide TV and you can see it online for free, details below.
You can see:
Me tear up my psychiatric label “psychotic”
Martin Luther King call for us all to be “creatively maladjusted”
A re-creation of my big fall that broke my neck
What screwing up your vocal chords can sound like
Support from my amazing wife and community
Us protest for global revolution because of climate crisis
Yes, making revolution visible now all over Earth is a great way to be creatively maladjusted to global warming, and this documentary shows that if I can do it, then so can you!
Here is an actual movie-trailer about one minute long for this documentary:
Producer David Zupan said, “Creatively Maladjusted shows how human rights activist David Oaks and his wife, Debra Nunez, creatively respond to tough realities with the help of courage, community and humor.” The piece will be shown on the Oregon Lens series. (Please see the next page of this blog entry for the links to the 10 and a half minute documentary.)(more…)
A Free, Easy Poster You Can Download & Post in Your Home, Today
A radio personality distorted and verbally attacked the work of Associate Professor Kari Norgaard, a world-acclaimed expert on global warming denial, then kept a transcript of this falsehood-filled show on his website for the past three years, where it still lingers to this day.
His show called Kari a “Wacko.” Rather than dwell on his incivility, here’s something fun, free, and positive we did and you can do, too!
You may print out a simple poster so that your family’s support for a “Revolution,” as Pope Francis has encouraged, is undeniable. Sound crazy? Perhaps, but that is no coincidence! Prof. Norgaard points out that denial of climate crisis is a collective act by us all. One antidote is to make our resistance visible. Talk about this in your daily conversations!
You can also just click and print out this one-page, black-and-white, 8.5 x 11 inch poster:
You or a child may color it if you choose. Post this by your door or some other place people will see it. While a poster may not win a revolution, at least a reasonable person would agree your home is in a revolution, now!
Why Break the Silence?
I often hear some of these metaphors used about humanity today:
Our combined ability to think and act are paralyzed.
We the public seem suicidal.
We are addicted to oil and consumerism.
We are blind to alternatives.
We are deaf to the cries of the poor and planet.
We hallucinate, such as believing that money and technology are more important than our values.
Paralyzed suicidal addicted blind deaf hallucinating. Sure sounds like a disability to me. So maybe the social change movement led by people considered disabled have something to offer now? We, one of largest movements on Earth, are not all about curb cuts! (Please read the rest of this post on the next page.) (more…)
Update 28 July 2015: Tony is open to even doing a good volunteer job, such as a bike coordinator in Eugene. Plus, while I do not want to take up his busy time, even a one-time note of encouragement to him would be great. His email address is below.
Do you know anyone in Oregon? Maybe you live in Portland or Eugene or in between? My brother, Tony, who has an amazing range of talents, is looking for a job here and if he finds one, he will relocate from Texas!
I sure am glad the economy is stronger here than it has been in years, because that means that Tony may find the job of his dreams here soon, and I truly love my only sibling!
Quick story: I was in the emergency room back in December of 2012 and my neck was badly broken because of a fall. The first call I made was to Tony, and within hours he flew from Houston, and was by my side for much of the time since then. Tony is a great ally for those of us with a disability, learning my rehab needs, helping to build our accessibility with Habitat for Humanity, raising money for my trust account for my independent living and much more.
A few months ago, Tony came back to Eugene and helped our mom during her departure from our planet at the age of 97. Mom, Violet Oaks, had us two children and definitely treated us as loving as any parent on Earth. Our dad, also Tony Oaks, died back in 1988, but along with our mom, raised us with tender loving care on the south side of Chicago.
To quote his Linkedin page, Tony is “Looking for Project Management Opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.” Tony has many skills beyond his MBA, computer wizardry and Project Management certification. Bicyclist, wilderness first aid, improvisational theater humor, parent with the amazing Charlene of four wonderful adult children, great chef, lover of film and so much more! Nora, Tony’s youngest, makes her dad so proud as she excels at Oregon State University, developing champion solar cars, saying “yes” to Ethan’s proposal, planning their departure next year for the PeaceCorps, etc.
Those who would like more info, especially with any leads about northwest jobs that might lead to bringing this fantastic Texan to Oregon, please see his Linkedin profile here:
Tony has told me about some interesting ideas about his career, and is very open to changes beyond his IT work. A smart employer would ask him about that. In fact a good employer anywhere with a fast Internet would inquire about hiring him in Oregon wherever they are located.
Something that anyone can and should do for me would be to thank Tony for being such a wonderful brother for me. You may email Tony: email@example.com
You may also leave a public comment with your encouragement and/or glowing praise here on this blog entry. Lead on, Tony!
Your mental wellness requires a global revolution. In fact, your physical wellness requires one, too.
For many years, I have noticed that there are people doing good social change work for mild reform. That is nice, but during my work in what we affectionately call the “mad movement,” I have often called for revolution, because the change we need is so big! Please do not misunderstand me, we need to attempt a peaceful revolution, which I do not think has been adequately tried; however, I am not a pacifist.
How do you know that a revolution has started? How does it feel? Maybe one has started but we did not get the memo? Or maybe you will start one? What is the connection between peaceful, nonviolent revolution and violent revolution, if any?
Given global warming, inequality, and so many other problems such as bee colony collapse, etc., etc., most people I talk with agree that there needs to be a revolution. My amazing wife, Debra, has helped name our revolution “Love Earth Revolution,” and maybe your name for this revolt is different?
It seems that whenever I hear about big problems in the world, the person concludes by saying that we know what needs to be done, we have the technology, a solution is affordable, but we need to act urgently and the main question is, “Do we have the collective will?”
There is a moral paralysis that blocks necessary revolution. Even Pope Francis is calling for a revolution because of global warming and poverty!
Hmmm, paralysis, seems like I might have some tips about that subject, in fact, maybe the disability movement might be able to help? Many other social change movements have also called for a nonviolent revolution.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his speeches and essays for about a decade that we all needed to be “creatively maladjusted” to oppression. In fact, he said that the future of the world lay in the hands of the “creatively maladjusted.” MLK said that we are in dire need of a new organization that he called, “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.” Because this was an obvious reference to NAACP, many in his audiences would laugh, but there is a very serious side here.
As many readers of this blog know, a few years ago, the mental health activist group MindFreedom launched Creative Maladjustment Week to help make MLK’s vision real. Tomorrow, July 7, is the start of this year’s CM week. Each day has been given a theme which you can read below:
7 July – Day of Creativity
8 July – Day of Action & Movement
9 July – Day of Laughter & Joyful Noise
10 July – Day of Kindness: This Friday, by the way, I will celebrate out at the Oregon Country Fair. The honorary chair of the IAACM has long been the real Patch Adams. Patch will speak at the Front Porch at 1:00 PM, however, we hear that he will be at the Community Village stage at 5:00 PM to kindly address creative maladjustment. Folk singer David Rogers will do a sign-along of the ancient freedom rebellion song, The Thoughts Are Free!
11 July – Day of Self Care
12 July – Day of Community Care
13 July – Legacy of Lunacy
14 July – Day of PRIDE: This is also Bastille Day and for decades, psychiatric survivors have used this day for international protest about changing the mental health system. When the revolution in France overthrew the Bastille, a psychiatric survivor was in there!
Your Leadership is Needed!
We know that leadership is best when it is near equal and everyone is a leader! This leaderful approach is known as a horizontal approach. That means you are in charge of creative maladjustment week, if you choose to! As long as your activity is in sync with the values of MLK, the sky is the limit.
Tomorrow, July 7, which this year happens to be a Tuesday, what will be your creative act of maladjustment to the seeming moral paralysis that is holding us back?
You may leave your answers on this blog’s comment area below. Or, if you are on Facebook, please search for our FB page https://www.facebook.com/IAACM , and you can leave your ideas there.
MindFreedom set up a webpage to promote Creative Maladjustment Week and you can read about that here: http://cmweek.org/
There is plenty of more info on the web, try these search terms: mad pride, MLK creative maladjustment, IAACM.
This year, for the first time, we will not have the activist present in this world, Leonard Roy Frank. This great psychiatric survivor worked in our movement for decades and died this year. My friend studied revolutionary social change by reading a lot about MLK, Gandhi, and many others who worked for social justice. Leonard was born July 15, 1932, and died January 15, 2015. So the next day after CM Week, Leonard would have turned 83. Personally, I think starting a global nonviolent revolution for justice on his birthday would be a great gift!
Here is a little-known aspect to CM Week that you might not know. There is actually a good reason to start this on July 7. From a Wiki article about Alleged Lunatics’ Friends Society:
“On July 7, 1845, Richard Paternoster, John Perceval, and a number of others formed the Alleged Lunatics’ Friend Society. A pamphlet published in March the following year set out the aims with which the Society was founded:
At a meeting of several Gentlemen feeling deeply interested in behalf of their fellow-creatures, subjected to confinement as lunatic patients.
It was unanimously resolved:… That this Society is formed for the protection of the British subject from unjust confinement, on the grounds of mental derangement, and for the redress of persons so confined; also for the protection of all persons confined as lunatic patients from cruel and improper treatment. That this Society will receive applications from persons complaining of being unjustly treated, or from their friends, aid them in obtaining legal advice, and otherwise assist and afford them all proper protection.
That the Society will endeavour to procure a reform in the laws and treatment affecting the arrest, detention, and release of persons treated as of unsound mind…“