Sunday, March 09, 2014


Starting in the early nineties, I spent a little over a dozen years in the Fort Lauderdale area of south Florida.  Except for a few times all my endeavors were local.  I did serve as Co-Chair of the Religious Outreach Network of NAMI along with Duane Glasscock before NAMI decided to disband it.  Under the leadership of Dr. Gunnar Christiansen, NAMI Faithnet brought spirituality and faith communities back on the national agenda of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Before leaving North Carolina to move to south Florida I participated in the process led by Connie Miller, Director of Community Support Programs for NH/DD/SAS, to make a recommendation for allocations of funds to an advocacy group to establish a statewide consumer group.  The Consumer’s Steering Committee recommended that the Division fund the proposal submitted by the North Carolina Alliance for the Mentally Ill (now NAMI-NC). [from a letter to John Baggett from Connie Miller dated March 2, 1989.]

While in south Florida I did help obtain funds for three drop-in centers among other programs, but I did not do any real organizing.  I also did not do anything to promote my “brand” in the state of Florida or nationally.

Recognizing how poorly I had done getting folks to respond to a despicable description and portrayal of people with a psychiatric label on CBS Channel 11 here in the Tri-Cities, I had to look in the mirror and ask why?  It may not be entirely my fault, but when I looked in the mirror I did not see an organizer.  My wife has roots in organizing, but I have more roots in antagonizing than organizing. So I got down one of her books by Si Kahn.  I started rereading it.  I remember what I had read before.  Quick flash folks, you need more than a book by Si Kahn.

There is no one who cares more deeply than I do how we are portrayed in the news media, but I am not the one who can organize the campaign to do anything about it.  For one thing, I am too damn mad to accomplish anything as rational as organizing anything.  I boil when they portray us as needing to be locked away.

I wish I had back the days and months they held me behind locked doors as if I were an animal to be caged in a science lab for study which they watched and wrote notes on.  I have read some of those notes and been asked questions about other things written in them and I do not have a clue who they are talking about.  So yes, when Channel 11, “News Channel in Your Corner” came out swinging at us, I wanted to swing back.  The truth is someone else will have to organize the swing.

© Ed Cooper, March 9, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

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