By Clif Wright – Why Alternatives Conferences are Obselete

Are Alternatives conferences obsolete?

Are Alternatives conferences obsolete?

Ever since the Facebook conversations about  the chance that funding for Alternatives conferences might have gotten cut, I wondered if folks were still thinking about, and discussing this. It kinda dead ended when the funds were assured. I think your raising it newly, and your call to action are right on time.


The upshot of the previous conversation for me was the possibility of seizing upon the uncertainty to propose new ways to produce the conference going forward. The specter of vanishing funds is still very much present.   The Alternatives conference today is totally codependent.

That’s not entirely negative.  I have gotten great personal value from it, but it is set up top be classically codependent. When the funding goes away, it will go away. This is unfortunate, given the value of  Alternatives conferences, and all it could accomplish in the future.

Alternatves conferences — and indeed the whole out of date, out of touch with reality big conference model — is a sadly ineffective,  inefficient relic.

Alternatives Conferences No Longer Work

Once, Alternatives conferences were among the best, most exciting ways to engage people with diverse interests, views, and initiatives. It is now just one of many ways — and certainly not the best by any rational measure. Continuing to rely on this as the sole means of conferencing, and not proactively cultivating new communications possibilities does far more to undermine Alternatives conferences (and the whole consumer/survivor movement), and the good events like these claim to advance.

The model that Alternatives conferences resemble most is right out of the co-dependant med/psych mish mash — 19th/20th century thinking at its best… then.  More important, it is the antithesis of the newly emerging, powerful strategies for cooperation, collaboration, mobilization and effective action. Alternatives is a dinosaur — attractive, not unpleasant, but dated, ineffective and wholly inefficient, totally not 21st century.  As is, it is a detriment.

In fact, as is, Alternatives conferences keep the thinking, engaging, gathering, and creative energy trapped in a place/event that no longer serves the community.  I offer this simple proof:  some of of the most important outcomes of these years of conferencing are 25 years’ shorter life expectancy, premature death, worst health outcomes in America, rampant poverty, exclusion, stigmatization, dramatically escalating criminalization, a suicide epidemic, and now, on the horizon, a national data base and profiling.  ,

Codependency sucks, big time.

I believe — in fact I know for sure — that in the time between now and the next Alternatives conference, a companion or “sister” event could be produced that 1)

  1. dramatically multiplied the number of participants say by 300 to 500 perce3nt
  2. at say half the pricew, or less
  3.  that potentially produces surplus funds
  4.  that produces a marked increase in tangible/viable/applicable/verifiable results in communities nationwidewhile achieving proofs of recovery, and more self-determination, independence, and interdependence, plus the possibility of freeing Alternatives from its perpetual “funding” death spiral.

That would be that equate to getting it right, I’d say, a giant step in the right direction.

Did Alternatives conferences cause — or fail to prevent — the loss of progress in recent years?

Cliff Wright

Wordworks Blog Author: Clif Wright

Clif Wright was one of the founding board members of a worldwide campaign to end Hunger. He and many other campaigners have helped to cut the number of deaths by starvation worldwide in half over the last 20 years, even as the global population has grown. Clif is a board member of Wellness Wordworks and a very passionate support of mental health entrepreneurship.

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