This past Thursday, we got some very sad news, that my Mother died at the age of 97. Eleven years ago, I helped move my Mom from her Chicago home to here in Eugene, where she lived in an active retirement center. I helped take care of her, but after my bad fall, my brother and my wife have done so much to help take care of my wonderful Mom, who has always been so loving, ethical, upbeat, helpful.
Below is an obituary prepared by my family:
Violet Oaks Obituary:
Beloved sister, wife, mother, grandmother and aunt Violet Elizabeth Oaks (née Stonis) passed away on March 19, 2015, at 97 years of age.
Born in Rockford, Illinois on March 29, 1917, Violet is preceded in death by parents Anton and Mary (Armin) Stonis; and by brothers Vito, Algert, and Albert. She is survived by sister Nancy Corcoran of Des Plaines, Illinois.
Violet was a resident of Chicago, Illinois for nearly eight decades before relocating to Eugene, Oregon in 2009. It was there on Chicago’s South Side that she married her late husband, Anthony T. Oaks and raised her two surviving sons Anthony Oaks of Houston, Texas and David Oaks of Eugene, Oregon. Violet was also a cherished mother-in-law to Charlene Paulus Oaks and Debra Nuñez as well as grandmother to Sarah, Anthony, John, and Eleanor Oaks.
Violet will be remembered for her brilliance and meticulousness, as well as her lifelong appreciation of her Lithuanian heritage, angel and bluebird tchotchkes, crossword puzzles, pinochle, travel, good food and drink, and, true to her name, flowers.
A celebration of life will take place at the 2nd floor lounge of the Eugene Hotel (222 E. Broadway, Eugene, OR, 97401) at 2 p.m. on March 28, 2015. A memorial and burial will follow in Chicago at the Lithuanian National Cemetery with details to be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made towards the care of son, David. Checks can be sent directly to: David W. Oaks Irrevocable Trust, c/o Chase Bank, 1100 Willamette St., Eugene, OR, 97401.
Please come to the 22nd annual Shy Person’s Talent Show on Saturday, April 11th, 2015 at Sam Bond’s Garage from 5 to 8 pm. Sliding Scale $5 to $500 to raise money for two wonderful local causes, David Oaks and Occupy Medical. Come early to socialize, buy some yummy food, order a drink of your choice and get a good seat. We are both the audience and the show so let’s pack the joint and enjoy some good times together. To secure a place on stage over walk ins email firstname.lastname@example.org
David Oaks is a long time human rights and environmental activist who broke his neck and needs ongoing support. David worked tirelessly for decades to improve the status of folks labeled with mental health diagnoses. Though he experiences several disabilities, including quadriplegia and a hurt voice, he continues his activism, especially against the climate crisis. To learn more about him check out his blog at http://www.psychoquad.com
Occupy Medical is an integrated healthcare clinic that offers free multi-disciplinary care in the Park Blocks in down town Eugene every Sunday. The team is comprised completely of dedicated and trained volunteers. Their supplies are donated. The patient-driven care model is unique.
Occupy Medical believes that the only way to make a change in healthcare is by offering a model of the change we want to see. Occupy Medical has been running as a weekly clinic since February of 2012.The staff and services have evolved to match the needs of the community. Join them at 8th and Oak every Sunday from 12-4pm.
You may not have the answer to this puzzle, but you may be able to forward this accessibility question to someone who might network this with an expert who has the answer.
For about 40 years I have worked for human rights of people who are considered disabled, mainly mental health. About two years ago, I had a major fall and I am now a quad in a power chair. I have a few other disabilities as I will explain. My decades of activism and my current status as an extremely-disabled person teach me that I have to keep making a noise for my empowerment, or much of this society will ignore me.
My Accessibility Question
Two years ago, during my 10 weeks of rehab, one of the most difficult pieces was my communicating. The main expert in rehab meant well and was very skilled, but could not quite solve this.
Where can I find this particular type of equipment?
I need a very good microphone, the kind that reaches near my mouth and sits on my ear that you might see on a musician or a speaker in a TED Talk. This mic needs to be very powerful because my vocal cords are half-paralyzed and my speech is disabled.
This good mic needs to do three things, and ideally I would be able to easily toggle the mic between these three functions:
1. Accessing my iPhone. This mic would be able to connect to my iPhone so that I could send or receive cell phone calls, like a bluetooth with very good reception. Since I am a quad, there are some challenges with my hand reaching my ear to turn on such a bluetooth. However, my left hand can now reach up higher to my ear if I need to turn on an easy button on my bluetooth, or I can use a button on my chest to turn on a modified bluetooth.
2. Amplification. When I need to talk to someone with noise in the background, like when I am in my van, this microphone would be connected to a good portable amplifier. Currently, I use a portable amp that is very basic and a bit hard to hear, called the ChatterVox. While I appreciate what it has done for me, there must be better amps, with clearer output.
3. Computer. My pretty new and strong computer has a voice recognition program that many disabled people use to operate their system and change their speech to typing, called Dragon. But because my voice is so weak, I need a very good mic, or else such programs cannot understand me. The same thing applies to using Siri, Google voice recognition, etc.
Background: My Various Disabilities
Since about 1982, I have had a type arthritis that impacted my spine making it very difficult for me to turn my head. Called ankylosing spondylitis, I ended up with a fused spine for years and my doctor warned me that this is dangerous. Sure enough, as I tried to get my cat off a high loft, when I fell from the ladder, that was enough to break my neck.
Because of my pre-existing A.S., surgery had to be delayed for my back for about one month after my fall. During this delay, my lungs got strong enough for surgery but my vocal cords and my fingers became disabled. As someone who typed 110 words per minute, played improvisational piano for more than 50 years, and who has spoken in 14 countries, these extra disabilities have been daunting.
During rehab, the only thing that seemed to work for me to operate the computer was eye-scan technology, but this was a bit slow and exhausting. Therefore, I have utilized a human being to be my “mouse” the last two years for everything that I write. So I would much rather be able to operate the computer myself!
Can You Help Solve This Puzzle?
There you have it. For some phone calls I have used a basic Bluetooth device but the mic is pretty weak and this was only for calls. Then for talking to someone in front of me I have used another mic, but this has had a lot of distortion. Finally, for voice recognition on my computer, I have used a third microphone, but the quality has been low.
Four speech therapists have tried to help my quest for the correct technology, but have not been able to find the best devices, though we all suspect they are “out there.”
So can you point me to a device that could do all three functions? Maybe through my iPhone? Maybe Google Glass? Keeping in mind that I cannot move my head for that kind of signal?
If you would like to share your ideas you can post a comment here on my blog, or you can email me at email@example.com or you can comment on my facebook page. As I said, even if you do not know the answer, maybe you can forward this question to someone who does know. Thanks for helping me make a noise!
All of my grandparents came from Lithuania so we wondered why my grandfather (on my mother’s side) wanted to name his first born with the Italian name Giordano. My 97-year-old mother told me this story a few years ago so I read up on my grandfather’s hero Giordano Bruno. By the way, my grandmother did not follow her husband’s wishes and my uncle was named after the famous Lithuanian Vytautas the Great. It turns out that Giordano Bruno is a very interesting historical figure, mainly making a name for himself by being the last heretic burnt at the stake by the Catholic church in 1600. Every year on this date 17th of February, this figure is remembered in Rome by his statue in a celebration of free thinking. I have read some of Bruno’s interesting writings about philosophy, nature, magic, and memory. Just using his intellect and logic he was able theorize that the stars up in the sky were just like our sun but of course were very far away. Not too shabby for a guy without a telescope. February 17th is also World Human Spirit Day. You may read more about Giordano and the annual celebration here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno
For four decades I have been an activist challenging the mental health industry. More and more I feel that the climate crisis should be one of the highest priorities for social change led by people who have personally experienced psychiatric abuse, and our allies. I affectionately call us The Mad Movement. It seems that almost every speaker against global warming ends their message the same way, that we can stop this catastrophe if society has the “will.” I believe that participants in The Mad Movement have an important insight into real sickness in society. As a psychiatric survivor, I have seen too much labeling of creative maladjustment as ill. We need to shake off our world’s complacency and numbness, also known as “normality.”
The beginning of 2015 marks the fifth anniversary of a little-known campaign by the well-respected environmental group 350.org that asks the approximately 7,000 local chambers of commerce in the USA to oppose the way the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, based in Washington, D.C., blocks national progress in the fight to stop global warming. 350 says that, “The Chamber has long opposed environmental standards, but on climate change, they’ve gone pretty near berserk” (www.chamber.350.org).
350’s main request of local chambers seems pretty modest — to simply issue a statement saying that the US Chamber “doesn’t speak for us” in its denial of human-caused climate change. Unfortunately, despite five years of effort by activists, only 56 local chambers have distanced themselves from the U.S. Chamber about global warming. That is less than one percent! I have helped organize many actions over the past five years to ask our local Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce to say anything about climate change, but regrettably we have been met by a wall of silence.
We have tried everything from writing letters to the editor, personally corresponding with board members, performing public street theater, and protesting inside the chamber office itself. And still, no substantial moves have been made. The Eugene Area Chamber’s board members relentlessly refuse to speak up for values that they profess to have.
I am extremely concerned about the disaster of climate change because I think of it as a one-two punch. The first punch is highly predictable and linear. Almost all scientists agree on this “unequivocal” punch. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change spotlights the certainty of human-caused global warming hazards, such as sea-level rise. I am more interested in the second, surprise punch of runaway climate change, which is non-linear.
There has been a quiet revolution throughout the sciences that I like to call “the butterfly effect.” Others call this field the science of emergence, chaos, dynamic systems, or complexity. In short, when complex systems like Earth’s environment are disrupted, chaotic results can occur. Global warming may trigger amplifying, abrupt feedback effects, such as methane release as a result of warming permafrost. A little global warming may lead to an irreversible avalanche of extreme global warming. I call the worst case scenario of climate change “Normalgeddon.”
Right now, the Eugene chapter of 350.org is focusing on valuable state-wide campaigns such as blocking oil pipelines, divesting the University of Oregon Foundation from companies that profit from fossil fuels, and carbon-restrictive legislation. These campaigns are necessary, and we should rally for more support for these local efforts. We should also still support 350.org’s national campaign to get local chambers to speak out against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce president has always been responsive and civil to me personally, but he has also refused to speak out against the U.S. Chamber. He claims that the Eugene chamber is entirely independent. In a way, the Eugene community should see the Eugene Area Chamber’s refusal to speak up as a gift, because the climate crisis is no longer a faceless entity — it is embodied by our local chamber’s refusal to demand real change. Our chamber is also an actual place to peacefully protest. The chamber’s office is downtown at the corner of 14th and Willamette.
The planet’s issues are the people’s issues. Those of us who are the most marginalized and disenfranchised by existing inequality are the most vulnerable to impacts of the changing climate. All organizations fighting for people must fight for the planet, and vice versa. As a mental health and disability rights activist, connecting the issues of mental health and climate change are particularly important to me, but this work can and must be done in all realms. Please take up the leadership to nonviolently urge that the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, and its leaders, speak up about the U.S. Chamber and climate crisis.
After my wonderful wife Debra and I came home from last year’s climate march here in Eugene in solidarity with a huge New York City march, we turned to each other realizing that we had the exact same take-away message: Hope means acting from your own highest principles, without necessarily knowing what the outcome will be. I hope that the Eugene community and the board members of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce will think this through, and act on their own highest principles. After all, real mental well-being requires that we work now with a sense of urgency, unity, purpose and hope. Not only do we need a climate miracle, we need to construct our own miracle in our minds and in our communities.
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:
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: (more…)
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:
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