Published June 13, 2020 by Nan Mykel

There’s Already an Alternative to Calling the Police – Mother Jones

This piece was originally published in High Country News and appears here as part of our Climate Desk Partnership.

As citizens across the country fill the streets to protest police killings of Black people, the violent response from law enforcement has added urgency to a national conversation about police brutality. Pressure is mounting to reform or abolish police departments. City officials in Western urban centers like Los Angeles are reducing police budgets—LA’s currently totals $1.8 billion—and reinvesting in underfunded social initiatives. The Minneapolis City Council voted in June to disband its police department entirely. As cities look for what’s next, there is already a proven system of de-escalation for the high volume of mental health calls that police respond to, which often end in violence.

Mobile, community-based crisis programs employ first responders that are not police to address disturbances where crimes are not being committed. One of the nation’s longest-running examples is CAHOOTS—Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets—in Eugene, Oregon. CAHOOTS has inspired similar programs in other cities in the region, including the Denver Alliance for Street Health ResponseMobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland and Portland Street Response in Oregon.

Such programs take police out of the equation when someone is going through a mental health crisis, struggling with substance abuse, or experiencing homelessness. When police show up, situations can escalate, and the use of force can be disproportionate, especially towards Black peoplea 2016 study estimated that 20 percent to 50 percent of fatal encounters with law enforcement involved someone with a mental illness. Advocates say the CAHOOTS model shows those encounters aren’t inevitable: Less than one percent of the calls that CAHOOTS responds to need police assistance. The CAHOOTS system relies on trauma-informed de-escalation and harm reduction, which reduces calls to police, averts harmful arrest-release-repeat cycles, and prevents violent police encounters.

The White Bird Clinic in Eugene started CAHOOTS 31 years ago as an alternative for people who felt alienated or disenfranchised from systems that had failed them, CAHOOTS Operations Coordinator Tim Black said in an interview. “We’re there to listen, we’re there to empathize, and we’re there to really reflect on what they’re going through,” and to discuss ways to access resources to help them. CAHOOTS—a free, 24/7 community service—is funded by the city at a cost of around $2 million, or a little over 1 percent of the Eugene Police Department’s annual budget, though it is currently fundraising to expand and make up for COVID-19-related budget cuts.

Under the model, instead of police, a medic and a mental health worker are dispatched for calls such as welfare checks or potential overdoses. In 2017, such teams answered 17 percent of the Eugene Police Department’s overall call volume. This has saved the city, on average, $8.5 million each year from 2014-2017, according to the White Bird Clinic.“The patient that we’re serving is the expert in their situation. They know that we’re a voluntary resource and that we’re not going to take their rights away just because we’ve shown up on scene.”

Though CAHOOTS uses the police department’s central dispatch, it is distinct from the department. Employees do not carry guns or wear uniforms; instead, they wear casual hoodies and drive vans with a dove painted on the side. CAHOOTS’ methods are designed to prevent escalation, Black said. “If an officer enters that situation with power, with authority, with that uniform and a command presence, that situation is really likely to escalate.”

It’s a false assumption that people experiencing a mental health crisis will respond violently, Black said, and a police response is often unnecessary. CAHOOTS fielded over 24,000 calls last year; less than 1 percent of them needed assistance from police, and no one has ever been seriously injured. “That type of mentality really contributes to the othering that has permitted oppression and marginalization to persist,” Black said. “By and large, folks who are unhoused, who are experiencing behavioral health issues, are much more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.”

CAHOOTS differs from other mental health partnerships with the police in important ways: Staff employ “unconditional positive regard,” a phrase from psychology that means complete support and acceptance for the people they encounter, and the organization is run as a “consensus collective,” rather than a hierarchy. Every employee’s voice carries equal weight.

Each crisis worker completes 500 hours of training in areas including medical care, conflict resolution and crisis counseling. Around 60 percent of CAHOOTS’ patients are homeless, and about 30 percent have severe or persistent mental illness. “The patient that we’re serving is the expert in their situation,” Black said. “They know that we’re a voluntary resource and that we’re not going to take their rights away just because we’ve shown up on scene.”

Dorothy Siemens, an artist who grew up in Eugene and still lives there, said that she, her family and her friends all call CAHOOTS, rather than the police, when they see someone in distress. The option makes her feel like a more responsible community member. When Siemens managed a downtown cafe, she used the service often. “I really don’t have the tools, and I think the police in our community also don’t have the tools” for people in crisis, she said. “There really shouldn’t be one group of people who is expected to cover all of those bases, especially a group a people who are weaponized and militarized. … Their training shows them ‘that’s something I have to respond to with force.’ “

Increasingly, community organizers are reaching out to CAHOOTS, hoping to develop similar programs. Since 2013, the city of Portland, Oregon, just a couple hours north of Eugene, has seen a 60 percent increase of “unwanted person” calls to 911, according to a Willamette Week analysis of Portland Police Bureau data. In 2017, an Oregonian analysis found that 52 percent of arrests involved homeless individuals, even though they comprise less than 3 percent of Portland’s population. 

In 2019, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Street Roots, a homeless advocacy publication, introduced Portland Street Response, a police alternative based on the CAHOOTS model. The pilot program, which was officially approved and funded by the city last November, focused on a southeast Portland neighborhood where 911 calls were on the rise. The program is now on hold because of the coronavirus, but Hardesty hopes to get on the ground soon. As the city considers cutting its police budget, Hardesty is pushing for $4.8 million to go towards Portland Street Response instead. “We are long overdue for investments in police alternatives, including Portland Street Response,” Hardesty, the first Black woman elected to Portland’s city council, said in a statement to High Country News. “There’s no doubt we need to reimagine what it looks like to get the right responder to the right situation at the right time.”

Nationwide protests have spurred renewed urgency for programs like these, which show a stark contrast to the typical police response. This month, the Coalition for Police Accountability in Oakland presented a final report to the city council to begin its own pilot program, MACRO, this summer. In Denver, in May, Vinnie Cervantes worked as a medic with the Denver Alliance for Street Health Response, which he also directs. It’s part of a mutual aid nexus that emerged during protests in the city over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Cervantes and others treated protesters who were left bleeding and bruised after police fired off tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bangs and pummeled them with batons. To Cervantes and others, it was yet another example of how quickly police resort to excessive force. “Our community stepped up to collaborate and create a network of support to solve a larger public safety crisis,” Cervantes said. “That’s something we can take beyond protest.”“There’s no doubt we need to reimagine what it looks like to get the right responder to the right situation at the right time.”

Policing and jails account for 30 percent of Denver’s overall budget. The repurposing of those funds would be a huge opportunity for collective efforts like Denver Alliance, which resembles the CAHOOTS model. But no single model will work for every city, said Cervantes. Each program needs to be adaptive and reflect its community; Eugene, after all, is much smaller and has a whiter population than Denver, Oakland or Portland. “It’s really important that it is community-based, by people that look like us and that have our shared experience,” said Cervantes, who is Latino. Otherwise, the program will only replicate the same systemic problems.

In June, Cervantes’ organization helped start a pilot program in partnership with the city of Denver, called Support Team Assisted Response. Cervantes hopes to develop a full-fledged program by 2021. But, for now, on the streets, “we’re literally seeing our own proof of concept of how we can take ownership of crisis ourselves, and have solutions,” he said. “We don’t have to view everyone as a threat.”


Published June 12, 2020 by Nan Mykel

Andrew Kaczynski BuzzFeed News Reporter April 14, 2016,

n April 2016, Trump eventually revealed his favorite Bible verse. WHAM 1180 radio host Bob Lonsberry asked the president, “Is there a favorite Bible verse or Bible story that has informed your thinking or your character through life?” 

Trump responded: “Well, I think many. I mean, when we get into the Bible, I think many, so many. And some people, look, an eye for an eye, you can almost say that. That’s not a particularly nice thing. But you know, if you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us, and how they scoff at us and laugh at us. And they laugh at our face, and they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking the health of our country. And we have to be firm and have to be very strong. And we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you.”

[Strange–one of his wives said his favorite reading, kept on the bedstand, was Mein Kampf.]

Harry Potter Re-blog

Published June 11, 2020 by Nan Mykel

Daniel Radcliffe Writes a Thoughtful Response to J.K. Rowling’s Statements about Trans Women
Posted: 10 Jun 2020 09:53 AM PDTImage by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia CommonsThere are many more important things happening in the world than the tweets of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, but the tweets of J.K. Rowling are nonetheless worthy of attention, for the sake of fans of the series, many of whom are young and do not understand why their parents might suddenly be angry with her, or who are very angry with her themselves. As you have probably heard, Rowling has doubled and tripled down on statements others have repeatedly told her are transphobic, ignorant, and offensive.Whatever you think of her tweets (and if you agree with her, you’re probably only reading this post to disagree with me), they signal a failure of empathy and humility on Rowling’s part. She could just say nothing and try to listen and learn more. Empathy does not require that we wholly understand another’s lived experience. Only that we can imagine feeling the feelings someone has about it—feelings of marginalization, disappointment, fear, desire for recognition and respect, whatever; and that we trust they know more about who they are than we do.Rowling is neither a trans woman, nor a doctor, nor an expert on gender identity, a fact that Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, points out in his response to her:Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.While the author has qualified her dogmatic statements by expressing support for the trans community and saying she has many trans friends, this doesn’t explain why she feels the need to offer uninformed opinions about people who face very real harm from such rhetoric: who are routinely victims of violent hate crimes and are far more likely to live in poverty and face employment discrimination.Radcliffe’s thoughtful, kind response will get more clicks if it’s sold as “Harry Potter Claps Back at J.K. Rowling” or “Harry Potter DESTROYS J.K. Rowling” or “Harry Potter Bites the Hand that Fed Him” or something, but he wants to make it clear “that is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now” and that he wouldn’t be where he is without her. He closes with a lovely message to the series’ fans, one that might apply to any of our troubled relationships with an artist and their work:To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you. If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred. And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much.The statement was posted at the Trevor Project, an organization providing “crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.” Learn more about resources for young people who might need mental health support at their site.Update: You can read Rowling’s response, posted today here.

Answers from Trump Supporters-reblog

Published June 7, 2020 by Nan Mykel

So good, re-blogged by the other Nan, via Facebook, flagged by Jill Dennison

Nan's Notebook

Copied from a Facebook post:

THIS WAS ON A FRIEND’S PAGE: An anguished question from a Trump supporter: ‘Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?’

THE SERIOUS ANSWER: Here’s what the majority of anti-Trump voters honestly feel about Trump supporters en masse:

That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought “Fine.” (
That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, “Okay.” (
That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, “No problem.” (
That when he made up stories about seeing Muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, “Not an issue.” (
That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn’t care, you…

View original post 580 more words


Published May 24, 2020 by Nan Mykel

So jolly! I’m reblogging

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown


She met him at the harvest dance.
An act of fate, they met by chance.
The very first grown man she kissed,
he was a traveling journalist,
and she had barely got love’s gist
when he vanished in the mist.
For reference, she had not any.
She had not made love with many
and those she’d had were only boys,
as unacquainted with the joys
of mature love as she had been,
for they were only kids, not men.

She found it tedious at best
to spoon with any of the rest,
and yet she tried, and kept a list
in which she rated and she dissed
those teenage lovers that were left
once journalism left her bereft
of seasoned lover who had pleased her
whereas all the rest just squeezed her
wrong, somehow. They smacked and cuddled,
yet, somehow, they all just muddled
what she’d had occasion once…

View original post 256 more words

What’s the Name for..,.

Published May 24, 2020 by Nan Mykel

What do you call a reblog of a reblog?  There must be a name for it!  This post refers you to Diane Ravitch’s blog which reblogs (or reprints or refers you to) a highly interesting history of the “Spanish Flu” in The Smithsonian.

What I learned from this article, among other things, is that the “Spanish flu,” which caused 50 million deaths around the world in 1918, did not start in Spain. The author argues that it actually started in Kansas and was brought to Europe by American troops who had come to make the world “safe for democracy.” And one other thing: the author, John M. Barry of Tulane, believes that Woodrow Wilson did not die of a stroke while at the Paris Peace Conference, but of the influenza.

This was no ordinary flu. It was deadly and devastating. The first wave was bad. The second wave was even worse.

For a fascinating look at the 1918 pandemic, read this article. It was written in 1917.


Why No Demands for Resignation? Partial Reblog

Published May 24, 2020 by Nan Mykel

Words from Ralph Nader/Common Dreams via

“Why no demands for resignation? Have too many Americans lost their proper sense of honest public service and accountability? From 1974 to now, the American Bar Association (ABA) – supposedly a first responder against the destruction of rule of law and constitutional observance – has done nothing to challenge above-the-law presidential abuses. (In 2005-2006 the ABA displayed some courage and charged the Bush/Cheney administration with three sets of unconstitutional behavior.)

“Many Trump voters seem to expect more of virtually every public figure who isn’t Trump! Ask Trump voters if they would support their local fire chief if he or she lied daily about the fire department’s readiness to fight fires? Would they support a fire chief who appoints firefighters with no experience? Would they support a police chief who accepts no responsibility for a street crime wave while disabling the force?

“Would they support a CEO of a major hospital who promotes, against the advice of his/her medical scientists, chemicals and drugs that can take the lives of patients? Would they support a super predator bank CEO who gives sweet-heart deals to the rich at the direct expense of customers of modest means? Would they support a CEO of a big construction company, spouting anti-immigrant hate, while hiring hundreds of poorly paid undocumented foreign laborers taking jobs away from American workers? The answer is pretty clear.

“These people in positions of power would have lost their jobs if they engaged in such reckless and unjust behavior. Corrupt Donald, on the other hand, has done all of these continually and remains an escapee from justice. In addition to these previously acknowledged failings, Trump has wrecked the federal health, safety, and economic protections including many life-saving controls on deadly pollution, dangerous business practices, and business theft of your earnings as consumers, workers, and savers.

“In addition, here is a top betrayal: Trump promised his voters a big infrastructure repair and upgrade program in all communities – with good-paying jobs. He betrayed them, giving instead about 2 trillion dollars in tax cuts to the rich and big corporations, like the drug and banking industries and even his own family!

“Trump voters need to ask themselves – what else does Trump have to do to our livelihood, health, safety, and dignity before you say – “no more!” If you want more details about Mr. Trump’s lying betrayals, read Fake President by Mark Green and me and judge Trump by his own contemptuous words and misdeeds….”

Nan guesses:  1) the vice-president  2)fear of being on the presidential hit list

My Dreams of the Blogosphere

Published May 24, 2020 by Nan Mykel

Duh…Why did it take me so long to realize it?

I continue to have dreams about what I now see is my blog.

Every Wednesday, whether I’m home or not, and without being notified, people come in my house and make themselves at home in my livingroom.  If I’m not home they know they can rummage around in my kitchen and find some wine.  When I come in and greet them I see many of them are strangers.  I’m glad to see them all, especially returnees who I’ve met. Purpose of the Wednesday meetings (to which they come now, uninvited) is to participate in a kind of group therapy, with me as leader (although last night another psychologist attended and spoke up).  I am pleased so many of them return, without being reminded or invited.  I think my goal is often sort of getting them to explore and verbalize their feelings in somewhat querulous exchanges.

I welcome other dreamers’ dreams in my comments.

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