The Freedom Center's Peer Support Group

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


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.

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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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

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:

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:


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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 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.

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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 Also we have a Facebook Cause here:

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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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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.

Lee Hurter's Hampshire Thesis On Freedom Center

Submitted by admin on Tue, 12/16/2008 - 21:01

Longtime organizer Lee Hurter wrote her Hampshire College thesis on Freedom Center, including interviews with several Freedom Center organizers. Download and read the thesis at the link below.

Major UK Study Shows No Evidence For Forced Drugging

Submitted by admin on Sat, 12/06/2008 - 09:48

A major new study in latest Journal of Advanced Nursing says there is no clincal evidence in research that forced drugging helps people. Instead, the practice is "taken for granted." According to the BBC, "Very few rigorous investigations of the use of coerced medication have been done despite it being widespread, the Journal of Advanced Nursing reported.

The dearth of evidence is "unacceptable" and more should be done to find alternatives, the team said"


National Disability Council Recognizes Freedom Center!

Submitted by admin on Thu, 11/27/2008 - 19:19

The prestigious federal National Council on Disability report Inclusive Livable Communities for People with Psychiatric Disabilities March 17, 2008 included a section on Freedom Center that interviews Oryx!

Yoga Journal Article on FC w/ Teacher Chaya Grossberg

Submitted by admin on Mon, 11/10/2008 - 12:23

The widely read Yoga Journal magazine, available across the US, recently had an article about Freedom Center's weekly yoga class, quoting teacher Chaya Grossberg and FC co-founder Oryx Cohen. Download and read the article here.

Gazette Covers Panhandling Campaign

Submitted by admin on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 13:30

The Hampshire Daily Gazette just did a 10-17-08 story on the proposed panhandling law in Northampton that Freedom Center opposes, and quotes Caty Simon from Freedom Center speaking at a recent protest and City Council meeting:

"It's clear that this legislation does, de facto, criminalize panhandling, if not in the letter of the law, then in the spirit," said Catherine Simon, reading from a prepared statement at a recent council meeting....

Simon, meanwhile, said the homeless and the poor are already the victims of economic violence.

Poverty Is Not A Crime - Local Campaign

Submitted by admin on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 16:15

Caty Simon of Freedom Center is coordinating Freedom Center's involvement with the Poverty Is Not A Crime campaign, to stop the city from adopting anti-panhandling laws.

Get latest info at the Povery Is Not A Crime Blog here.

Listen to the recent WXOJ Madness Radio show on the campaign.

It's a GIRL!

Submitted by admin on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 12:47

In celebration of Freedom Center's seventh anniversary Oryx and Kristen had a baby girl! Katiya Elizabeth Cohen... Congratulatons to the happy couple and the adorable new Freedom Center member.

Contact Recovery Learning Community for Area Support Groups Information

Submitted by jiro on Thu, 02/16/2012 - 20:41

Note that offering free support groups for many years in Northampton, these services are now being offered by the peer run Recovery Learning Community in Holyoke. The Freedom Center community sometimes also organizes groups and meetings depending on local interest, so check the Freedom Center homepage for updates. THANKS!

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