Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Starting Tonight! The Alternative to 'Alternatives'

Marching Our Voices Out of Memphis - eAltCon15- Oct 14th- 18th

We are excited to announce the Alternative to Alternatives:

eAltCon15: "Marching Our Voices Out of Memphis."

All Are Welcome:

This is a totally free Virtual Conference/ Conversation. It will be take place by telephone and web connections from Wednesday October 14th through Sunday October 18th. Our aspiration is to host a meaningful 'alternative' for those who cannot attend - or are actively boycotting - the SAMHSA funded event by that name.

Conference Theme:

The conference will address the violence of 'othering' - to us, in us and around us. We will explore the connection between the surge in violence directed at society at large with the experience of 'othering by vulnerable populations across demographics. Our premise is that institutionalized "othering" is itself a violence. Our conversations will seek to address the cultural violence - by social 'in groups' against social 'others' - that is the true 'mental illness' of our modern world.

The inspiration for this theme comes in part from the fact that Memphis was chosen as the site for this year's conference on "Alternatives" in mental health. As many know, Dr. King did not leave Memphis alive, resulting in far too many decades of "dreams deferred" for racial justice in the United States. Sadly, nearly half a century later, the dream is still deferred - for far too many of us and for far too many reasons. The hope of this conference is to pick up Dr. King's dream again and do our part to march the world of human relations in to a new age.

Participatory Conversation:

This will not be a conference of talking heads and passive learners. For sure, we will offer many great speakers. But their job is not so much to teach us, as it is to share ideas and experiences that can awaken awareness and generate a good conversation. Most of the time, speakers will talk for about 5-20 minutes on topics they have lived and care about deeply. Participant contributions will then be invited, so that we have the opportunity to listen to and learn from the wealth of wisdom from the voices in the room.

In doing this, we will seek to be the changes we want to see in the world. If we really believe that all lives matter, then we must begin to treat each other that way. That implies taking seriously the wisdom every voice has to contribute to the conversation. In doing this, we challenge the culture of experts - and also the deVoicing by expertise - that has become so ingrained in the dominant culture.

Ways to Connect:

If this interests you we hope you will join us. There are many ways to connect:

Dial toll-free: 855-661-1243 (no pin)

Alt Phone:331-205-7196


Google Hangouts: click the link for the day you want to attend & follow the instructions.


Please note: If you try to connect and one way doesn't work please try another.This is not "Rolls Royce" Technology. It comes with a bit of frustration and requires a bit of elbow grease. That is the price of funding something on our own. You can also try calling or texting the the conference organizers at 802-552-8494. We'll do our best to assist you as soon as we are able to break away from the conference without disturbing the other participants.

During the conference: Please also be a bit patient if we struggle with a technical snafu or two. This conference will have a lot of heart. It was pasted together with hours of love and elbow grease. But our entire budget was about $5, and our 'techspertise' is still in progress..

More Information:

About the Conference: 

To get a flavor of the conference:


To read the blog -- which welcomes the voices and experiences of participants in the eAltCon15 conversation:


To visit the Google+ community -- where eAltCon15 participants can message each other and also post ideas, writings, photos or other media related to the conversation:

Schedule of Events (ever-evolving)

For Highights, see below.

Wednesday October 14th - 6 PM - midnight EST

Calling Our Voices Together - Remembering Memphis, Recognizing It's Relevance - intro to the intersectional conversation that we'll be having over the next several days, and some principles for how to go about it.


Thursday October 15th - 11 AM - midnight EST

Step 1: Walking With Each Other - Bearing witness to intersectional othering and its violence - What we've endured, what's been done to us, what that's felt like, the effect that it's had. Speaking the truth of our lived experiences.


Friday October 16th - 11 AM - midnight EST

Step 2: Walking In Each Other's Shoes: Connecting the dots - Making sense of intersectional othering. Making sense of the violence it leads to - to us, in, around us. How we got here, why it happened, what we're up against, why we feel so stuck - as individuals families, communities, a nation and around the world.


Saturday October 17th - 11 AM - midnight EST

Step 3: Reaching for the Dream.: How do we transform violence and intersectional othering? - Discovering our options - what's being done, how it's happening, what we can do, how we can support each other to get it done.


Sunday October 18th - 9 AM - 1 PM EST

Next Steps: Marching the Dream Forward - Shared reflections, learning, commitments, celebration, and where we'll go from here.


To see a detailed schedule and the evolving agenda for eAltCon:

Thanks for your interest!

Sarah Knutson
Wellness Recovery Human Rights Campaign
802-279-3876 (cell)

"It's not just that human rights are important in mental health. They are mental health."

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