Freedom Center Is Transforming!

Submitted by admin on Wed, 01/01/2025 - 01:00

Freedom Center is transforming! After 10+ years of community support, education, and human rights activism, Freedom Center is in a new phase!

As our community has grown and the movement become more successful, Freedom Center has changed. Our activities are more informal and small scale these days. We encourage people who want to network with Freedom Center to find folks face to face in the Northampton area community. Visit our Contact page for leads. And if you are looking to connect with peer and recovery resources in general, we encourage you to check out the Recovery Learning Community.

Everyone involved with us over the years is excited about the transformations in Western Massachusetts since we began. We were the first organization to bring peer-run services to the area; first to offer holistic wellness programs in mental health; first to bring coming off medications into open discussion; the first to go on the radio; first free yoga class, first to invite Robert Whitaker and many others, one of the first to organize against psychiatric abuse -- Freedom Center truly led the way in the Pioneer Valley and made a big impact nationally and even internationally.

Today state funding for peer run services is a reality in Massachusetts because of many years' pressure from many activists -- including pressure from the Freedom Center. There's a new awareness of our issues like never before, and while there is still is a great need for activism unhindered by government funding, the regional advances in peer run services are huge. Many of our efforts are now underway through the resources and funding of new organizations, and Freedom Center organizers have become involved with the new Recovery Learning Communities, the Afiya peer-run hospital alternative respite, and national organizing. Freedom Center co-founders Oryx Cohen and Will Hall no longer live in the area - Oryx was Recovery Learning Community co-Director and now works with the National Empowerment Center, and Will works as a trainer, consultant, and therapist, as well as continuing his radio and community development work. Lee Entel is now an acupuncturist in Colorado, Caty Simon is a sex worker activist, and other organizers from the early days of Freedom Center continue work to transform the mental health system.

This website is a wealth of information and links to further Western Massachusetts resources for human rights and mental health alternatives, as well as about Freedom Center's rich history of activism and mutual support. We encourage you to use this as a jumping off place to getting involved with the broader movement.

-- Will Hall

The Freedom Center's Peer Support Group

Submitted by shana on Sun, 09/21/2014 - 16:32

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

Right now a small group of core organizers intends to offer more support groups in Northampton in the future. We don't have the resources at the moment to make this viable, and so we are focusing on resources and networking at the moment and hope to offer a monthly support group when all the preparations are in place . Please be in touch if you are interested in Freedom Center community events, volunteering, or otherwise helping.

Contact Us

Submitted by shana on Wed, 09/03/2014 - 19:31

Connect with The Freedom Center on social media!

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Madness Radio, Weekly Tuesdays at 4 pm on Valley Free Radio WXOJ-LP, 103.3 FM.

Submitted by admin on Sun, 08/11/2013 - 00:12

Icarus and Freedom Center co-sponsor a radio show hosted by Will Hall on all things madness-related, syndicated through the Pacifica community radio network and broadcast on WXOJ-LPFM in Northampton Massachusetts Weekly Tuesdays at 4 pm on Valley Free Radio WXOJ-LP, 103.3 FM. as well as on KBOO in Oregon and other stations around the country.

FInd out more at www.valleyfreeradio.org and www.madnessradio.net

Local protest against mental health profiling Monday 1/21/12 in Northampton, MA

Submitted by will on Fri, 10/19/2012 - 11:35
Local protest against mental health profiling Monday 1/21/12 in Northampton, MA

In the days since the Newtown school shooting, the media and politicians of all stripes have used those diagnosed with mental illness as a scapegoat. On the federal level, the White House has released a plan "to reduce gun violence" that includes $55 million in funding for teachers and schools, working with law enforcement, to "detect and respond to mental illness in children and young adults"--i.e. to diagnose them with stigmatizing, and potentially criminalizing, mental illness labels, despite the fact that statistical research shows there is no significant link between mental illness and violence.

HEALING VOICES KickStarter campaign- UPDATE - Successful!

Submitted by admin on Wed, 09/12/2012 - 05:51

The HEALING VOICES KickStarter campaign is LIVE. Our goal is to raise $15,000 by Friday October 19th. KickStarter campaigns are all or nothing, so please spread the word and support this important project. The page includes a new promo for the film. Check out our rewards and get involved today! UPDATE: Campaign Successful!UPDATE - Madness Radio also succeeded in its recent Kickstarter campaign!

Summer 2012 Update

Submitted by jiro on Thu, 06/21/2012 - 04:02

The Freedom Center is experiencing paradoxical effects of our success! As peer run services spread in Western Massachusetts, organizers, resources, and support are now flowing to state funded agencies and initiatives across the area, especially the Recovery Learning Community. Area mental health providers are now embracing principles of peer-run services, peer support, and wellness alternatives. As a result of things shifting, organizers still focused on Freedom Center are seeking to obtain enough funding and volunteer support to keep Freedom Center resources active within the community. We welcome the volunteer support of local community members, as well as the financial support and wisdom of those who live outside the Pioneer Valley.

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Freedom Center Update -- Nine Years and Going Strong

Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/12/2011 - 19:59

Freedom Center is going strong!


After more than 9 years of fast-paced activism focus, Freedom Center is going strong -- and evolving. We're  concentrating on our community support and wellness programs these days: support groups, yoga, writing, and acupuncture. We're also continuing to co-sponsor Madness Radio and we collaborate with the Recovery Learning Community and the Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition.You may not see our website always reflecting what's going on (our webmaster has moved to the west coast!), but come to one of our groups and be part of our thriving community!

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Healing Homes Film w/Daniel Mackler Premieres in March; Multiple Showings!

Submitted by admin on Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:31

Healing Homes Film Premiere:
The Alternative Perspectives Film Series will kick off its Spring season with the world premiere of Daniel Macklers Healing Homes.  The film chronicles the work of the Family Care Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden.  The organization, backed by over twenty years of experience, places people who have struggled within the traditional system with host families -- predominately farm families in the Swedish countryside -- as a start for a whole new life journey. 

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Alternatives to Suicide: Community Forums March 3+10

Submitted by admin on Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:27

Alternatives to Suicide: Community Forums March 3+10

In 2010, the RLC piloted the Alternatives to Suicide group beginning in Northampton.  Funded with the support of Tapestry Health, it is one of the first peer-lead support groups in the country to address the issue of suicide. 

Based on the success of this first group (which has also presented at a statewide Suicide Prevention conference), we have been expanding including a group in Holyoke and soon to also include Greenfield.

To help the groups grow with the community, our Holyoke facilitators, Gretchen and Gineen will be hosting two community forums. Co-sponsored by the RLC and Freedom Center.

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Spa Night Friday January 21st 2001

Submitted by admin on Sun, 01/09/2011 - 14:41

Join us for a tantalizing Spa Night! On Friday January 21st from 530-830pm
at the Quaker Friends Meeting House on 43 Center St. in Northampton is an
opportunity for you to come relax while also supporting social justice
work.

Spa night is an opportunity for YOU to get a relaxing and affordable
massage, acupuncture treatment, craniosacral treatment, shamanic reading,
and  more! Tickets start at just $5 and an unlimited pass to get as many
treatments as you want cost %50.

100% of the proceeds will be going to help the Freedom Center, a
peer-led, support and activism community run by and for people labeled

Oryx Cohen New National Empowerment Center TAC Director!

Submitted by admin on Wed, 01/05/2011 - 14:04

Congratulations Oryx!

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Remembering Dave Burns March 23, 1947-December 14, 2010

Submitted by admin on Tue, 12/21/2010 - 02:14

MEMORIAL-- Tuesday Dec 28 at 2 pm in Williamstown at the First Congregational Church, in the chapel downstairs

Watch the video Dave's sister Mecca made here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mB_I0WwsYG8

Freedom Center celebrates our memories of Dave Burns, one of the original Freedom Center organizers. Dave's activism led to important reforms in the Northampton area mental health system, by exposing and denouncing abuses and pressing for improved treatment. He was a key organizer in local group homes and among mental health consumers in Northampton, who he met on the streets and in low income residences. Dave was also an important link to movement history, because he lived in RD Laing's therapeutic communities in London. He was a great guy and his spirit is very much alive in the work of the Freedom Center.

 

Will Hall writes, "Dave was a deeply creative and spiritual person who turned his own emotional and psychological struggles into a unique positive stance and attitude towards life. He was one of the founding organizers of Freedom Center and led the shaping of Freedom Center's first successful activist campaign. Dave was a very dear and beloved friend, very bright, very funny, and lived a way of seeing the world that was all his own. He will be deeply missed."

Listen to a great interview with Dave here: http://www.freedom-center.org/radio/10-06DavidBurns.mp3

 

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Starting Hearing Voices Groups Training at RLC

Submitted by admin on Sat, 10/09/2010 - 21:20

Recovery Learning Community is sponsoring a "Starting Hearing Voices Groups" training with Oryx Cohen, Gail Hornstein, Ron Coleman (UK Hearing Voices Network) and Paul Baker (UK Hearing Voices Network). This is a great opportunity to learn about how to create a hearing voices group in your area and become a hearing voices group facilitator.

Dates for the training are November 12th & 19th and December 3rd & 10th. Download the training application here. For more info, contact

 

Oryx Cohen

Recovery Learning Community

187 High St., Suite 303

Holyoke, MA 01040

Fax: 413-536-5466 (attn: Oryx)

Email: oryx@westernmassrlc.org

Judi Chamberlin -- Always With Us

Submitted by admin on Mon, 01/18/2010 - 01:54

Thank you Judi Chamberlin for all your inspiration, your years of friendship and support for Freedom Center, and the inspiration you have given the survivor movement.

Judi passed away. She recently wrote:

FC Monday NIght Yoga Is Back! 7pm at 32 Masonic Street - Thanks Somatics Institute :)

Submitted by lee on Wed, 06/24/2009 - 15:30

The Freedom Center's Monday night yoga class has been going on for about 8 years. We recently had to suspend classes because of our financial crisis and because our long-time yoga instructor Chaya Grossberg has moved on to the west coast.

 

The Somatics' Institute, the yoga space that we were paying rent on, has generously offered to give us the space for free!  We have also recieved many donations that should allow us to keep up our programs at least through the summer (please donate more if you wuold like to see our programs go on longer than that!!)

 

We also found a new yoga instructor, Sally Morgan who is also a crainosacral therapist to take over the Monday night class. So join us mondays at 7pm. Hope to see you there!

FC and Caty Simon Profiled by Boston Globe Blogger

Submitted by admin on Wed, 06/17/2009 - 13:19

A blog article by former Boston Globe health journalist and _Side Effects_ author Alison Bass profiles the Freedom Center & Caty Simon. Fairly accurate, and yay coverage, and yay Alison Bass.
http://alison-bass.blogspot.com/2009/06/freedom-center-alternative-to.html
--

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Thanks for the Donations!! (And The Freedom Center Does Still Need Money)

Submitted by lee on Sun, 05/24/2009 - 16:39

You can donate tax-deductibly via cash or check by mailing a donation to:
Freedom Center/CHOICES and mail to Freedom Center, P.O. Box 623, Northampton, MA 01061.

Or you can donate tax-dedictibly via paypal by going to the DONATE NOW section of our  website www.freedom-center.org. Also we have a Facebook Cause here: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/288347

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Mad Pride in Newsweek Magazine

Submitted by admin on Wed, 05/06/2009 - 09:11

Newsweek magazine just did a big story on Mad Pride and The Icarus Project, profiling Freedom Center co-founder Will Hall.

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Freedom Center receives Northampton Community Block Development Grant!

Submitted by lee on Sun, 03/29/2009 - 13:51

Yet again, the city of Northampton has recognized the valuable services that Freedom Center has provided and has given the Freedom Center additional funding to keep our programs going. The city of Northampton awarded the Freedom Center $2,500 towards helping to maintain our weekly writing group, acupuncture clinic, yoga classes, and support group. All of these programs take place in Northampton and are free and open to the public and therefore provide lots of benefit to northampton residents.

 

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Contact the Recovery Learning Community for Info On Acupuncture Clinics -

Submitted by admin on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 03:38

Note - after many years of Freedom Center offering free acupuncture weekly, these services are now being organized by the Recovery Learning Community in Holyoke - contact them for more info!

Victory!!! Poverty Is Not A Crime Campaign Succeeds!

Submitted by admin on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 01:16

PINAC protest downtown NorthamptonThe solicitation ordinance, which if passed would have de facto criminalized panhandling in most of downtown Northampton, has been withdrawn by the mayor's office & the police department from the Northampton city council'sconsideration and is "tabled indefinitely".

They cited "polarization around the issue" (that is, increased opposition to it!) making the discussion "no

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Coming Off Drugs Guide Now In Spanish! Guia Reduccion de Drugs Psiquiatricas Disponible en Castellano!

Submitted by admin on Mon, 02/02/2009 - 15:04

 

guide cover CastellanoThe Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Center, is now available in spanish - thanks to the dedicated translation work of Agustina Vidal from Buenos Aires Argentina.

Remembering John Brodie, 1970-2006

Submitted by admin on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 12:01

John Brodie was a Vermont man who died in an encounter with Brattleboro police in 2006 after neighbors called 9-11. At 36, John was a Princeton PhD and already a world-reknowned physicist widely published in scientific journals. He was also a psychiatric abuse survivor, whose non-ordinary mental states were repeatedly met with force in hospitals. On the night of his death, he was not violent or suicidal, but was behaving in a strange way -- knocking on doors at 11pm. Confused neighbors called the police, which escalated a harmless situation into a tragedy. John ran away, terrified of the police, and went into the freezing river.