Question: How do you spend a happy Saturday evening (or morning, depending on your time zone!) preparing for an international conference in the comfort of one's own Archive, Study and Conference Centre at the confluence of the Cotswold Hills and the Vale of Evesham's Garden of England?
Answer: In the company of good people setting up a video link between the San Francisco Bay Area and rural England, so that two pioneers in therapeutic community and education can join the conference and share their life times of insights and experiences. Which conference? Common Roots 2017: "Progressive Education and the Future", May 20-21st, Planned Environment Therapy Trust Conference Centre.
Rod Odgers and Psychologist Dennie Briggs met at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Oakland, California, in 1955-56, in the remarkable therapeutic community reception and assessment ward set up by the late Harry Wilmer ("People Need People" (1961); "Social Psychiatry in Action: A therapeutic community" (1958)). Briggs then took Odgers and a small team to set up a new therapeutic community for United Nations' military personnel at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan (1956-1958). Dennie has written accounts of both therapeutic communities here. Rod went on to a long career as a teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area school system. Dennie worked as a therapist in the California prison system, with youth and students in peer-led education, and with "the father of therapeutic community", Maxwell Jones, in the United Kingdom. Both have deep insights to be shared into education and the future, and will share those in a dedicated session on Saturday, May 20th.
Dennie Briggs, Derek Douglas, and Chris Worthen making things work in the Bay Area; PETT archivist Craig Fees (inset) back in Toddington. Screen shot taken at the end of the training and exploration session, remarkably unbroken by breaks for tea or coffee.
Helping us to negotiate the hurdles of modern Internet technology and exploring the tools and facilities of meeting-platform Zoom were Derek Douglas and Chris Worthen, backed by a beautiful California morning and its transition into a beautiful afternoon. Friends everywhere. Many many thanks! Much excitement looking forward!
For a video interview of Dennie Briggs and Rod Odgers by Nathan Johnson for the "Veterans Voices" program on Contra Costa Television, See here.