Poverty is not a lack of character: it’s a lack of cash.


Excellent piece by Rutger Bregman at http://www.thecorrespondent.com and illustrated with photos by Chow and Lin.
and, bonus..
Scroll to the end for Rutger Bregman’s TED Talk

  • Poverty isn’t a lack of character it’s a lack of cash
    How did “Toronto the Good”, become Toronto the Hostile?
    At least 10,000 people in Toronto [and that’s just those on the City’s database, many more fall off or stay well away] rely on emergency shelters, emergency emergency respites, mats ofn floor in drop ins and sleeping rough under bridges, in stairwells, coffee shops have become street corner shelters. Many many more live but one paycheck away from falling into “the system” that is bursting at the seams.
    Yet we blame those who suffer most for this, because worst of worst crimes in Canada, they inconvenience us.
  • Genes can’t be undone – poverty can
    -What, then, is the cause of mental health problems among poorer people? Nature or culture? Both [D’oh!]
  • You can’t take a break from poverty
    Workers get to take a break, as evidenced over any holiday period, services close so staff get a much needed break, those stuck in the system they work in get no break.What if the poor aren’t actually able to help themselves? What if all the incentives, all the information and education are like water off a duck’s back? And what if all those well-meant nudges only make the situation worse?

Rutger Bregman

Poverty isn’t a lack of character – it’s a lack of cash.

Our efforts to fight poverty are often based on the misconception that poor people must pull themselves up out of the mire. But the relentless struggle to make ends meet has serious effects on the brain. Poverty is not a lack of character – it’s a lack of cash.

The widespread interest was hardly surprising. After all, it wasn’t just some shifty, mafia-run gambling den opening its doors that day. Harrah’s Cherokee Resort was and still is a massive luxury casino owned and operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and its opening marked the end of a 10-year-long political tug-of-war. One tribal leader had even 

that “gambling would be the Cherokees’ damnation”, and North Carolina’s governor had tried to block the project at every turn.

Soon after the opening, it became apparent that the casino would bring the tribe not damnation but relief. The profits –

enabled the tribe to build a new school, hospital, and fire station. However, the lion’s share of the takings went directly into the pockets of the 8,000 men, women, and children of the Eastern Band Cherokee tribe. From $500 a year at the outset, members’ per capita earnings from the casino quickly mounted to making up a quarter to a third of the average family income.

As coincidence would have it, a Duke University professor by the name of Jane Costello had been researching the mental health of youngst

ers south of the Great Smoky Mountains since 1993. Every year, the 1,420 kids enrolled in her study took a psychiatric test. The cumulative results had already shown that those growing up in poverty were much more prone to behavioural problems than other children.

This wasn’t exactly news, though. Correlations between poverty and mental illness had been drawn before by another academic, Edward Jarvis, in his famous paper

But the question still remained: which was the cause, and which the effect?

Tokyo, Japan, February 2011. ¥1,679; ¥394 ($4.84, €3.51) for food. From the series The Poverty Line by Chow and Lin.

The chicken or the egg

At the time Costello was doing her research, it was becoming increasingly popular to attribute mental problems to individual genetic factors. If nature was the root cause, then handing over a sack of money every year would be treating the symptoms, but ignoring the disease. If, on the other hand, people’s psychiatric problems were not the cause but the consequence of poverty, then that $6,000 might genuinely work wonders. The arrival of the casino, Costello realised, presented a unique opportunity to shed new light on this ongoing question since a quarter of the children in her study belonged to the Cherokee tribe, more than half of them living below the poverty line.

Soon after the casino opened, Costello was already noting huge  for her subjects. Behavioural problems among children who had been lifted out of poverty went down 40%, putting them in the same range as their peers who had never known hardship. Juvenile crime rates among the Cherokee also declined, along with drug and alcohol use, while their school scores improved markedly. At school, the Cherokee kids were now on a par with the study’s non-tribal participants.

On seeing the data, Costello’s first reaction was disbelief. “The expectation is that social interventions have relatively small effects,” 

“This one had quite large effects.”

Costello 

that the extra $4,000 per annum resulted in an additional year of educational attainment by age 21 and reduced the chance of a criminal record at age 16 by 22%.

Ten years after the casino’s arrival, Costello’s findings showed that the younger the age at which children escaped poverty, the better their mental health when they were teenagers. Among her youngest age cohort, Costello observed a “dramatic decrease” in criminal conduct. In fact, the Cherokee children in her study were now better behaved than the control group.

What, then, is the cause of mental health problems among poorer people? Nature or culture? The conclusion was both

But the most significant improvement was in how the money helped parents, well, to parent. Before the casino opened its doors, parents worked hard through the summer but were often jobless and stressed in the winter. The new income enabled Cherokee families to put money aside and to pay bills in advance. Parents who were lifted out of poverty now reported having more time for their children.

They weren’t working any less though, Costello discovered. Mothers and fathers alike were putting in just as many hours as before the casino opened. More than anything,

the money helped ease the pressure on families, so the energy they’d spent worrying about money was now freed up for their children. And as Bradley put it, that “helps parents be better parents”.

What, then, is the cause of mental health problems among poorer people? Nature or culture? Costello’s conclusion was both: the stress of poverty puts people genetically predisposed to develop an illness or disorder at an elevated risk. But there’s a more important takeaway from this study.

Genes can’t be undone. Poverty can.

Getxo, Spain, October 2018. €23.35; €4.74 ($5.47) for food. From the series The Poverty Line by Chow and Lin.

Why poor people do foolish things

A world without poverty – it might be the oldest utopia around.

But anybody who takes this dream seriously must inevitably face a few tough questions. Why are poor people more likely to commit crimes? Why are they more prone to obesity? Why do they use more alcohol and drugs? In short, why do the poor make so many poor decisions?

Harsh? Perhaps, but take a look at the statistics: the poor borrow more, save less, smoke more, exercise less, drink more, and eat less healthfully. Offer money management training and poor people are the last to sign up. When responding to job ads, they often write the worst applications and show up at interviews in the least professional attire.

Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister, once called poverty a 

Though not many politicians would go quite so far, this view that the solution resides with the individual is not exceptional. From Australia to England and from Sweden to the United States, there is an entrenched notion that poverty is something people have to overcome on their own. Sure, the government can nudge them in the right direction with incentives – with policies promoting awareness, with penalties, and, above all, with education. In fact, if there’s a perceived silver bullet in the fight against poverty, it’s a high-school diploma (or even better, a college degree).

But is that all there is to it?

What if the poor aren’t actually able to help themselves? What if all the incentives, all the information and education are like water off a duck’s back? And what if all those well-meant nudges only make the situation worse?

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, April 2013. €32; €4.83 ($6.27) for food. From the series The Poverty Line by Chow and Lin.

The power of context

These are harsh questions, but then, it’s not just anybody asking them; it’s Eldar Shafir, a psychologist at Princeton University. He and Sendhil Mullainathan, an economist at Harvard,

The gist? It’s the context, stupid.

Shafir isn’t modest in his aspirations. He wants nothing less than to establish a whole new field of science: the science of scarcity. But don’t we have that already? Economics? “We get that a lot,” laughs Shafir when I meet with him at a hotel in Amsterdam. “But my interest is in the psychology of scarcity, on which surprisingly little research has been done.”

To economists, everything revolves around scarcity – after all, even the biggest spenders can’t buy everything. However, the perception of scarcity is not ubiquitous. An empty schedule feels different to a jam-packed workday. And that’s not some harmless little feeling. Scarcity impinges on your mind. People behave differently when they perceive a thing to be scarce.

What that thing is doesn’t much matter. Whether it’s too little time, money, friendship, food – it all contributes to a “scarcity mentality”. And this has benefits. People who experience a sense of scarcity are good at managing their short-term problems. Poor people have an incredible ability – in the short term – to make ends meet, the same way that overworked CEOs can power through to close a deal.

You can’t take a break from poverty

Despite all this, the drawbacks of a “scarcity mentality” are greater than the benefits. Scarcity narrows your focus to your immediate lack – to the meeting that’s starting in five minutes, or the bills that need to be paid tomorrow. The long-term perspective goes out the window. “Scarcity consumes you,” Shafir explains. “You’re less able to focus on other things that are also important to you.”

Compare it to a new computer that’s running 10 heavy programmes at once. It gets slower and slower, makes errors, and eventually freezes – not because it’s a bad computer but because it has to do too much at once. Poor people have an analogous problem. They’re making bad decisions not because they are stupid but because they’re living in a context in which anyone would make bad decisions.

Scarcity narrows your focus to your immediate lack – to the meeting that’s starting in five minutes, or the bills that need to be paid tomorrow

Questions such as “What’s for dinner?” and “How will I make it to the end of the week?” tax a crucial capacity.

“Mental bandwidth,” Shafir and Mullainathan call it. “If you want to understand the poor, imagine yourself with your mind elsewhere,” they write. “Self-control feels like a challenge. You are distracted and easily perturbed. And this happens every day.” This is how scarcity – whether of time or of money – leads to unwise decisions.

There’s a key distinction though between people with busy lives and those living in poverty: you can’t take a break from poverty.

Singapore, May 2013. S$18.33; S$2.22 ($1.79, €1.37) for food. From the series The Poverty Line by Chow and Lin.

Just how much does poverty affect intelligence?

“Our effects correspond to between 13 and 14 IQ points,” Shafir says. “That’s comparable to losing a night’s sleep or the effects of alcoholism.” What’s remarkable is that we could have figured all this out 30 years ago. Shafir and Mullainathan weren’t relying on anything so complicated as brain scans. “Economists have been studying poverty for years and psychologists have been studying cognitive limitations for years. We just put two and two together.”

It all started a few years ago with a series of experiments conducted at a typical US mall. Shoppers were stopped to ask what they would do if they had to pay to get their car fixed. Some were presented with a $150 repair job, others with one costing $1,500. Would they pay it all in one go, get a loan, work overtime, or put off the repairs?

While the mall-goers were mulling it over, they were subjected to a series of cognitive tests. In the case of the less expensive repairs, people with a low income scored about the same as those with a high income. But faced with a $1,500 repair job, poor people scored considerably lower. The mere thought of a major financial setback impaired their cognitive ability.

Shafir and his fellow researchers corrected for all possible variables in the mall survey, but there was one factor they couldn’t resolve: the rich folks and the poor folks questioned weren’t the same people. Ideally, they’d be able to repeat the survey with subjects who were poor at one moment and rich the next.

Shafir found what he was looking for some 8,000 miles away in the districts of Vilupuram and Tiruvannamalai in rural India. The conditions were perfect. As it happened, the area’s sugarcane farmers collect 60% of their annual income all at once right after the harvest. This means they are flush one part of the year and poor the other.

So how did they do in the experiment?

At the time when they were comparatively poor, they scored substantially worse on the cognitive tests. Not because they had become less intelligent people somehow – they were still the same Indian sugarcane farmers, after all – but purely and simply because their mental bandwidth was compromised.

Hamburg, Germany, November 2011. €30.90; €4.82 ($6.61) for food. From the series The Poverty Line by Chow and Lin.

How giving money away actually saves money

“Fighting poverty has huge benefits that we have been blind to until now,” Shafir points out. In fact, he suggests, in addition to measuring our gross domestic product, maybe it’s time we also started considering our gross domestic mental bandwidth. Greater mental bandwidth equates to better child-rearing, better health, more productive employees – you name it. “Fighting scarcity could even reduce costs,” he says.

And that’s precisely what happened south of the Great Smoky Mountains. Randall Akee, an economist at the University of Los Angeles, calculated that the casino cash distributed to Cherokee kids ultimately cut expenditures. According to his conservative estimates, eliminating poverty actually generated more money than the total of all casino payments through reductions in crime, use of care facilities, and repetition of school grades.

So what can be done?

Shafir and Mullainathan have a few possible solutions up their sleeves: giving needy students a hand with all that financial aid paperwork, for instance, or providing pill boxes that light up to remind people to take their meds. This type of solution is called a “nudge”. Nudges are hugely popular with politicians, mostly because they cost next to nothing.

The casino cash distributed to Cherokee kids ultimately cut expenditures … eliminating poverty actually generated more money than all casino payments

But, honestly, what difference can a nudge really make? The nudge epitomises an era in which politics is concerned chiefly with combatting symptoms. Nudges might serve to make poverty infinitesimally more bearable, but when you zoom out, you see that they solve exactly nothing. Going back to our computer analogy, I ask Shafir: why keep tinkering around with the software when you could easily solve the problem by installing some extra memory instead?

Shafir responds with a blank look. “Oh! You mean just hand out more money? Sure, that would be great,” he laughs and mentions the evident limitations of introducing such a policy in the United States.

Granted, it would take a big programme to eradicate poverty in the US. According to economist Matt Bruenig’s calculations, it would cost $175bn. But poverty is even more expensive.

estimated the cost of child poverty at as much as $500bn a year. Kids who grow up poor end up with two years’ less education, work 450 fewer hours per year, and run three times the risk of bad health than those raised in families that are well off.

Investments in education won’t really help these kids, the researchers say. They have to get above the poverty line first.

of 201 studies on the effectiveness of financial education came to a similar conclusion: such education makes almost no difference at all. This is not to say no one learns anything – poor people can come out wiser, for sure. But it’s not enough. “It’s like teaching a person to swim and then throwing them in a stormy sea,” laments Shafir.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

“Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult,” said the British essayist Samuel Johnson in 1782. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he understood that poverty is not a lack of character.

It’s a lack of cash.

Adapted from Rutger’s book, Utopia for Realists: and How We Can Get There.

Translated from the Dutch by Elizabeth Manton and Erica Moore.

About the images. The Poverty Line is an ongoing project by photographer-economist duo Stefen Chow and Huiyi Lin. Between 2010 and 2020, they travelled to 36 countries to create images illustrating the daily budgets of those living in poverty. 

The captions provide the amount of money that people in a given country have to spend on a daily basis, as well as the amount that is left for food after all the other expenses are deducted. 

The images show the amount of food that can be bought for the amount that’s left over. With local newspapers as backdrops, the images are a depiction of life on the breadline in different cultural contexts, inviting the viewer to imagine a life under such difficult circumstances.
See more work by Chow and Lin here

Sydney, Australia, August 2011. A$31.08; A$7.52 ($8.02, €5.61) for food. From the series The Poverty Line by Chow and Lin.

 

TED Talk

 

Posted in Homelessness

The path to success is a squiggle


Success- whatever that is, is not at the end of a predetermined linear path of must-do steps. It is much, much more to do with having made our own path to getting there- wherever that is we find ourselves in where we can say.
I’m okay with this,
I’m okay with me.

Fine article by Madeline Levine at TheAtlantic.com on how, as parents we get in our kids way by insisting success means but one thing, and that they must follow the path, stay on the path, or else.

The Atlantic:

Kids Don’t Need to Stay ‘On Track’ to Succeed

 

A 10-year-old boy sits quietly on the sofa in my office, his legs not quite touching the floor. I ask whether he’s ever thought about what he’d like to do when he grows up. With no hesitation, he perks up and exclaims, “I want to run a start-up.” He doesn’t even know what a start-up is, but he does know, in exacting detail, the trajectory he will need to take to become wildly successful in running one. Not yet finished with middle school, he has charted the next 15 years of his life: He plans on applying to the most competitive high school in town, hoping that this will increase his odds of going to Stanford. He knows he will have to serve time as an intern, preferably at Google. He is intent on being a “winner.”

My young patient’s parents, teachers, and community are all likely to encourage this way of thinking, but they are only making his future chances of being successful less likely. In the enclaves of privilege in this country, part of the culture is more and more centered on a narrow notion of what success looks like and how to attain it. Money is overvalued, and character undervalued. The 10-year-old sitting before me is the logical outcome of this culture. He wants to be a winner, but knows nothing about the kind of work he’s signing on for.

Even if parents ascended a relatively smooth track from school to career success, it’s misguided to assume that what worked for them will be right for their kids, too. (See: the parents who push their kids to apply to their alma mater, for instance.) Encouraging children to follow a linear path makes them cautious and competitive, when what they are most likely to need are curiosity, a willingness to take risks, and a talent for collaboration.I’ve talked with people from all walks of life whose stories seem to show that it is rare to go from point A to point B without multiple detours. One of these people is Steven Kryger, who has lived a life full of sudden reversals. The first in his family to attend college, he started out at the University of Pennsylvania as a computer-engineering major before transferring to the Wharton School of Business. “I don’t think I even knew what ‘business’ meant,” he told me. “I never had any firsthand experience, because I didn’t know people in the business world.” After graduation, Kryger moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he got a position in Macy’s executive-training program. He initially enjoyed the position, but soon started to find the job unfulfilling.

“I started thinking, What would I really love to do? I figured being a fireman or law-enforcement officer would be a lot of fun,” Kryger said. So in 1988, he became an officer on the Oakland police force.

On January 20, 1993, while searching a house with his team, Kryger was shot in the thigh by a suspect. The bullet severed his femoral artery, vein, and nerve. Surgery and months of rehabilitation saved his leg, but he needed to wear a brace for physical activity. “The police department wouldn’t let me go out on the streets in that condition. They offered me a whole bunch of other positions, but I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied if I had to stay inside a building all day.” At 32, he switched careers again.

Thinking of the “amazing high-school coaches” who inspired him, Kryger met with the assistant superintendent of his school district, who advised him about the courses he’d need to complete in order to coach and teach math in the public­-school system. It took three more years of college, plus another year when he was teaching high school during the day and completing his own studies at night. But he kept at it. Two decades later, Kryger is the athletic director at Menlo­-Atherton High School, where he also teaches four math classes and coaches the boys’ varsity lacrosse team.

Kryger’s story is similar to that of Nate McKinley, who overcame a set of internal challenges before settling on the job that would become his career. McKinley started out following the path that had been set for him by his father, an international busi­nessman. He majored in global studies, with a concentration in business, choosing his classes at his father’s suggestion. After graduation, he worked at a financial institution before switching to a securities-lending start-up. At first he found the job exciting, but his enthusiasm waned after a year or so, and the three­-hour round-­trip commute seemed longer and longer. Eventually, McKinley told me, he decided he wanted to try something more challenging: “A friend brought me an old apple press, and I made my first batch of hard cider. It was revolting! So during my commute on the train, I would read about yeast, fermentation, and the hundreds of varieties of apples. My next batch of cider wasn’t gross; it was actually drinkable.”

McKinley persisted, and soon he had batches of five-gallon jugs of fermenting cider in his basement. A year or so later, he was ready to let others try his brew: “At our annual Halloween party, we had a tasting and encouraged the neighbors to bring apples to press and to have a taste. People liked it!”

McKinley was still working in Boston from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but he often stayed up past midnight making cider. Soon he was making his first sales, to a local farm stand and a brewery. A year after McKinley went retail, he was laid off from his day job. “Although it was scary, it was a blessing in disguise. I could finally dedicate myself to my passion.”In another year, McKinley’s cider was on the menu at seven local restaurants, and his retail sales had expanded beyond nearby liquor stores and specialty shops to stores on Cape Cod. He was producing 5,000 gallons of cider annually, with plans to double production the following year. His wife, Tessa, told me, “He’s happier than he’s ever been, and as our kids make their way through school, I can’t think of a better role model.”

What exactly constitutes success is, of course, open to a world of meaning. Financial independence is one way to measure success, a sense of doing meaningful and fulfilling work is another, and raising a healthy family and contributing to one’s community yet another. Sometimes these varying definitions converge; sometimes they don’t. One of the patterns that I see regularly among people who consider themselves successful is real passion about the work they do: the kind of passion that makes them work harder than others, welcome mistakes and even failures as learning opportunities, and feel that what they do has impact. While money may be inherited, real success always has to be earned.If a linear progression tightly tied to grades, SAT scores, admittance to selective colleges, and high-­powered internships for well-­known companies were in fact the path taken by most successful people, we still would have to weigh its value against healthy child development, but at least we would have some evidence that our kids would one day benefit from all of the aggressive preparation, coaching, and tutoring. However, reality—that is, real people following real trajectories—suggests that this particular template is only modestly accurate. More often, a meandering and unexpected path is what leads to success.

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/02/path-success-squiggly-line/606631/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Posted in Uncategorized

Mad Fer Movies – Film Series 2020


Mad fer Movies?
Three movies – one each month for three months.

Free screenings at UoT Robarts Library on St George.

That’s the giant concrete Turkey-wot-didn’t-vote-for-you-know-what looking building.
Media Commons, third floor.

All welcome.

Each screening will be followed by a conversation /dialogue, maybe a sojourn to a bar of coffee shop- your choice.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Dir Milos Foreman

FRI  21st Feb 2020
MATINEE
2:30pm to 5:30pm

Note:
New DATE / TIME

 

Birdman

Dir: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Thur  19th Mar 2020
6:30pm to 9:00pm

 

Patch Adams

Dir: TomShadyac

Thur  9th Apr 2020
6:30pm to 9:00pm

 

Poster

pdf Version: Mad Fer Movies

 

 

Posted in Event, movie | Tagged , , , , ,

Hearing Voices Workshop #1 Accepting Voices – Thu 30th April 2020



This introductory and foundational workshop will open doors of new understanding, in non-diagnostic non-categorising ways, a range of human experiences like difficult-to-hear voices that get called names like “psychosis”.

This workshop is designed especially for those who work in health and social services but open to all. Indeed it creates a richer experience when we can come together and learn with and from each other.

The world, society, and culture we have created for ourselves and each other is not fit for humans. Join us, be part of creating one that is.

Hearing Voices Workshop #1″
Accepting Voices

Thursday 30th APRIL, 2019
9:30am to 4:30pm

@ Inner City FHT
69 Queen St E
Toronto

These re designed as small group, interactive workshops.
Spaces are limited.
Register Online now at Eventbrite.

Full description below…

Limited Spaces Available.

Tilt your universe blow your mind and / or gain a whole new perspective on experiences that we’re taught to fear and to believe that we can’t possibly understand. This workshop will show you tat you can understand, and in  simple, human terms.

We’ll be joined by some cool folks working at the intersections of trauma, psychosis, homelessness and in a system that many can see is overwhelmed and creaking at the seams.

No amount of more of the same will ever be enough
It’s time we started doing things differently.

You can start here
at this Workshop.

“You gave me a whole new way of thinking about voices”

“I’m not quite sure what I learned nut I feel like my whole Universe has been tilted”

“Eye opening, Stunned”

Who needs to attend this workshop?

“Everyone working in mental health.  Scatch that:  EVERYONE!!!”

This workshop offers a beginning, an introduction to a non-diagnostic, non-medical,  human experience perspective understanding of the kinds of experiences – like difficult-to-hear voices- that are often categorised as “psychosis”.

A key part is making connections between pain, trauma psychosis powerlessness and disconnectedness we can experience when we find ourselves feared and discarded by society.

Hearing Voices Workshop#1

Accepting Voice
Thursday  30thAPRIL   2019

9.30am to 430pm
4th Floor, 69 Queen St East
Toronto
[Queen n Church]

Spaces are limited
and registration is required.

Fee
Worker          $200
Community  $150

Register Now

Online at Eventbrite:

Click on the BIG RED BUTTON  or the link below to go to register now.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hearing-voices-workshop-1-accepting-voices-tickets-91351483747

 

Full description below. There’s also a [pdf] printer friendly version.
Poster Only:           HV Workshop#1-Accepting Voices-Poster-APR2020


Full Workshop Description

Do you…?

  • Work with people who hear voices and who struggle with their experience of that?
  • Have someone in your life who hears voices and struggles with difficult experiences that get called “psychosis
  • Feel limited in your ability to understand and support them?
  • Feel frustrated at how the story that voices must mean illness limits us – not only the lives of people who hear voices, but all of us?
  • Feel weary of the notion that we must fear ourselves and fear each other?
  • Want to understand connections between adverse events, trauma , injury woundedness, pain and diffcult-to-hear voices.
  • Want to minimise the trauma you deepen or generate in your work with those who face being rendered powerlessness and disconected from society?
  • Feel ready to learn more, ask yourself “what else can I do?”.
  • Want to know more about how you can be part of the future, join us in enacting a world that understands ?

Are Ready to “tilt your universe”?

If so, then this workshop might help you tilt your universe and emancipate yourself with very simple and very human ways to understand and begin to act to support a person who struggles with difficult experiences that get called names like “psychosis”.

Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who hear voices and struggle.

Note: If you’re looking for a workshop on how to diagnose and categorise your friends, family and colleagues and what dehumanizing names to call yourself and them, then know that this is not that workshop.

Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who live with experiences that get called names like “psychosis” and that can be difficult to live with and more difficult to talk about.

Join us in enacting a world that understands voice hearing, supports the needs of people who hear voices and regards them as full citizens.


Note

This Workshop is part of a structured and modular approach to learning, and is a  first step that is designed to offer a basic grounding but also foundation for further, deeper learning and practice in supporting people who struggle with experiences like difficult-to-hear voices that get called “psychosis”.
Participation in this workshop is prerequisite to other more advanced and learning opportunities, eg…

  • Working With Voices
  • Starting and Sustaining Hearing Voices Groups In Your Community
  • Carnival des Voix [running your own]
  • Working with Maastricht Interview
  • Facilitating Voice Dialogue

 

 

Full Workshop Description

Workshop #1 Accepting Voices

This unique and innovative workshop offers you a non-diagnostic understanding of the kinds of experience like hearing voices that are that are sometimes called “psychosis”.

We offer you simple,  everyday language to show you how you can understand such experiences not as “disconnected from” but intimately connected with reality and in ways that can be overwhelming, painful, frustrating, sometimes terrifying response to the reality we share,

It also offers a framework you can use to connect and draw from your own experiences to help you truly empathize and understand how better to support people who might be undergoing such difficult experiences.

You’ll leave feeling more at ease with both yourself and your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle.

Join us in enacting a society that understands voice hearing, supports individuals who hear voices and views them as full citizens…

What you can expect and connect yourself with a community of people doing just that.

This workshop will enable you better to …

  • Understand hearing voices [and other experiences] as a normal human experience, that can become problematic when a person is left to struggle without support.
  • Share simple data and stories about just how common it is to hear voices- how it is not in itself a problem and many people do – some cultures regard it as bringing great benefit.
  • Peer through and beyond diagnostic frameworks – resist the urge to catalogue and categorize everything you witness as “symptom”.and instead.
  • take an interest in the person struggling with their experience of voices and other experiences called “psychosis” as a human being having a hard time.
  • Begin to accept even the most difficult of human experiences as something that can be understood, explored and even valued.
  • Look within your own experience and relate with different experiences like hearing voices, visions, unshared beliefs.
  • Explore how you can be at ease in your role and be more real with people who have difficult experiences.
  • Offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle with experiences like hearing voices.

Who this workshop is designed for…

We believe the hearing voices approach is emancipatory for all.

Workers
If, in your work, you work with you come into contact with people who hear voices and who struggle with that; and you have experienced how that can leave you feeling uncomfortable or worse, then we think you’ll find this one day workshop useful.

So, if you’re a doctor, nurse, social worker, community worker, housing worker, peer support worker, psychologist, therapist, police officer, etc. then it may be for you.

Families, carers, everyone. 
The workshop is also highly suitable for you if you love, live with, care for people in your life who hear voices and struggle with that – and you have come to realise the limitations of an approach that limits understanding to illness-brain chemicals and you are curious about how else you may understand, and what else you can do…

Workshop design…

This is an intensive workshop covering a lot of ground, together we will :

  • Gain insights from people who hear voices, and from others who work with people who hear voices.
  • Learn how we can think differently about voices and other experiences that are sometimes called “psychosis”.
  • Explore how, as workers, we can accept ourselves and each other, relax and enjoy our work: the better to offer support for people who hear voices.
  • Interact – with deep personal reflection,  shared sense-making and dialogue.
  • We will also share some simple, practical approaches that you can use in your practice on return to work.
  • Connect with resources and both local network and the global hearing voices community.

This workshop is designed to leave you feeling more competent and confident in your own ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space for people who hear voices.

You will not become an expert in one day but you’ll have a good basis for starting and feeling more comfortable – and more human – as you do.

Poster

Please feel free to help us let people know about this workshop by printing, posting, distributing, however you can with your networks…

Or, hand to your worker, colleague, or boss, and ask…

“Q. When are you going to do this training?”


Printer-friendly poster [pdf]

HV Workshop#1-Accepting Voices-Poster-APR2020

 

 

About the Presenters, Facilitators, Designers

Kkevin-healey-action figureevin Healey hears more voices than you can shake a stick at, so many that even his voices hear voices, and has done so for longer than either he – or they -care to remember.

Founder and coordinator of www.recoverynet.ca, Toronto Hearing Voices group, Anglophone Canada’s longest running, and of the Hearing Voices Café.

Creates and delivers innovative, taboo-busting talks, trainings and workshops that enable people to find new language, and simpler ways to understand surprisingly common human experiences that we’ve made fearful and taboo, so making life even harder both for those who struggle and also for the rest of us to understand.

Shows how we can make simple sense of trauma, pain, psychosis, taboo, and butt-hurt voices, and how they interweave and interconnect our inner-struggle with living in an outer-world that is fast becoming unfit for humans who built it and in which we keep creating results that nobody wants. 

After you’ve heard him talk you may join those who say they don’t hear voices but now wish they could.

Also Coordinator for the Toronto branch of ISPS-US International Society for Social Psychological Approaches to Psychosis.

Picture1Dave Umbongo
For many years Dave would only say only one word, now he authors articles at http://www.recoverynet.ca and moderates online support groups for voices to talk directly with each other round the world, and he coaches and co-presents in workshops for approaches like voice dialogue.

Enjoys creating memes: out of things voices say, about living in a universe that mostly comprises what he refers to as The Weird, and his own wry observations on the human obsession with calling each other horrible names, categorizing and crushing each other into boxes that don’t fit.

Voices have stories too: His favourite pastime is pretending to be a jelly bean, second is remarking upon how “voices” and “humans” behave in ways that are often very much the-one-is–like-the-other. Dave doesn’t really have a bio – like other superheroes he has an “Origins Story”, and like “The Truth…”, at least some of it, “is Out there…”


Mark Roininen
Mark has many years experience as “worker” with a major social services agency, and has worked with many who struggle with the kind of experiences that get called “psychosis”.
He shares his personal perspective of how being confronted with his own dark side enabled him to relate more simply and authentically with difficult experiences of the people he works with, in-process, freeing himself from merely following “the script” and playing “invisible worker” so that he can be both more professional and more human.
His ability to share stories of his own experience of learning how to do this work offers others hope that they can too.

About Hearing Voices

  • Hearing voices is intentional, ordinary language descriptive of a range of human experiences that in Western cultures has been mystified and made taboo, and that we have been taught to fear – and yet which are also remarkably common, likely much more common than you think.
  • Hearing Voices as Approach also refers to broadly emancipatory ideas and ways of working that accepts such experiences as very real and meaningful- if sometimes difficult to live with, and that seeks to share ways we can learn to live with such difficult experiences and support and connect with each other.
    This approach also includes many other similar experiences that can be hard to live with and harder to talk about and make sense of.

When we learn to put aside our fear of both ourselves and each other we generate possibilities, to create new roles, to connect with each other, and to find richer experiences of being human and co-create a world that’s easier to live in for all of us.

 

 

Posted in Event, hearing voices, Trauma, workshop | Tagged , , , ,

Backpacks – Trevor Boyd


Backpacks

Trevor Boyd

 

My life is like this backpack I carry with me,

The content inside it brings complexity.

My classmates all have them, but none are the same.

Each has its own items, each attached to a name.

These backpacks get heavy, they never are light,

These backpacks impacted by everyday life.

Today for example, while sitting in class,

a question came to me, that I was afraid to ask.

 

I wondered if this teacher, standing in front of me

has pre-conceived notions of who I should be.

And what about the kid, who lives down the street,

comes to school every day with nothing to eat.

Her backpack is empty of physical things,

but packed with the feeling embarrassment brings.

Barry in my class, he sits next to me,

his backpack says Mary haunted by ‘HIS’ story.

 

He sits in his class with his shoulders up straight

but walks by the restrooms wondering what door to take.

My best friend and I sit together on the bus.

She has two mothers which can cause a fuss.

Bullies poke fun at her from one stop to the next,

By the end of the bus ride, her backpack’s a wreck.

They call Johnny names, cause he can’t read or write.

Though they’re only words, they keep him up all night.

 

And what’s even worse, they push him around.

His backpack went flying, and fell to the ground.

What I saw come from Johnny’s backpack that day,

was anger, self-hatred, self-harm and dismay.

As I helped Johnny up I whispered in his ear,

I’ll lighten your load, pass the backpack here.

My school is full of backpacks, no one is alike.

So how can YOU help make these backpacks light?

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Acceptance – Alex Jadad


“I’be been reflecting a lot”

Alax Jadad physician, on how he learned from both his grandfather and father – both physicians…

What if…?

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Crisis: Every two hours someone in Canada dies of Opioid Overdose


Why do people hear voices?

Three in four of all humans will at some point in their lives- often around distressing and overwhelming  life events.
It might be more informative to ask why do some people NOT hear voices?

Hearing voices is not the issue-that some people really struggle IS.

Why do some people struggle with difficult-to-hear voices?

For many who do struggle the voices we expect them to hold inside speak to the pain they also must hold inside because they can find no one willing or able to share in the burden of that pain.

Why do people take opioids?

To relieve the unbearable pain of living in a world that has cast them aside, condemns them and wants them to go away.

Why do so many people die of opioid overdose?

Because the supply of opioids is unreliable contaminated and poisoning and killing people whose only relief is the opioids they can buy on the streets. Sometimes, often,  people are buying other drugs but which have been loaded with cheap to make synthetic opioids.

What is harm reduction ?

Harm reduction is a broad approach that asks – how can we do less harm? It can be applied to anything, especially in healthcare and social services.

Harm reduction is bout reducing the harm caused by judging people for needing to use drugs to relieve the pain, offering safe supplies that help reduce infection, and deaths, to give people a chance to stay alive long enough to maybe one day find other answers.

Harm Reduction saves lives.

Recent report outlining harm reduction efforts in BC showing that harm reduction halves the number of deaths in some of the most vulnerable populations in our society.

Maybe its time to give a shit.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-od-crisis-lives-saved-1.5163581

 

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The shape of stories- Kurt Vonnegut


I shared this with a friend the other day  we laughed a lot together.
Much wisdom and food for though t in here too.

Including:

When you share your story,
make sure its you who is holding the pen.

Kurt Vonnegut on the shape of stories.
Many, I suspect, will be fimiliar to you.

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Hearing Voices Cafe – Toronto 2020


Hearing Voices Cafe
Toronto

Coffee and That Jazz
72 Howard Park Ave

6pm to 8pm.
First Monday of each month
– except when its the second monday because of holidays.

For those willing to open themselves to listen, willing to be changed by what we might hear, and to learn from and with each other.

Please note:
If you re looking to be told what to
or for solutions or fixes…

We don’t “advocate” anything:
except maybe, that is:
listening to many different perspectives
and making your own choices about your own life
– and having the grace to allow others space to do likewise.

If you come to preach or judge or prosteltise or victimise, dehumanise, then…
please, save your breath.

We especially welcome those struggling to support loved ones who from time to time finds themselves overwhelmed by life,
you’ll be able to connect with others in a similar place.

Please help us share our Poster below
Printable pdf version: Hearing Voices Cafe Toronto – Jan 2020

Posted in Abuse, Event, group, Ideas

Memorial 1000 – Toronto – 12noon Tue Jan 14th 2020


At least 10, 000 people will spend tonight and every night without a home in Toronto.

Fundamentally there are simply too few homes – for all of us- in Toronto.
Toronto has not invested in any substantial way in social or affordable housing for 25 years now, during the same period the City’s population has doubled.
This affects everyone living in the city..

Many who do have housing are only a step or two away from losing their home too.

Units are being built – not for folks to live in but as investments and use as financial surety on world money markets. one third of all homes listed for resale in Toronto have never been lived it.

People who live home less or on the streets die younger, often alone, often not recognized, nor even identified. people without homes are rendered “invisible” by the label “the homeless”. Sadly most have already been labelled invisible by being part of some other group similarly rendered not part of society, not part of the future envisaged by politicians we elect- hence by us. Time we changed and time we insist our politicians change and make housing a priority.

Join with others in Toronto homeless memorial, second Tue each month to remember the lives of those lost. At the homeless Memorial, Holy Trinity Church, trinity Square, next to Eaton Centre.

 

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