The Joint


of the Association of Therapeutic Communities, the

Charterhouse Group of Therapeutic Communities, and the

Planned Environment Therapy Trust

Number 2

July 2001


a life ends

The floodgates of my soul are

open, and the water of my life, flows

out, into the endless sea of light.

DEATH, by Mary Barnes

Mary Barnes, "a paradigm of an alternative vision of mental health" (Dr. Joseph Berke) died unexpectedly in Scotland on Friday, June 29, at the age of 78. She was born in 1923, "before I was ready", from a three day home labour in which it bred to work with people with learning disabilities who live at the farm", and reported Oaklands Park managers as saying "that would destroy a 25 year tradition of rearing animals that keeps tile community ill organically produced meat and vegetables." Tile farm, oil 150 acres between the Forest of Dean and die River Severn, also provides organic vegetables to 80 households in the locality, and has a weavery as well as a large woodwork shop which provides the community with furniture and makes toys which are sold around the world..

The crisis in April arose when sheep on neighbouring Bullo Farm were deemed infected by the foot and mouth virus and slaughtered, and Maff informed Oaklands that their animals were a "dangerous contact" and would have to be killed. But the 116 strong community, 48 of whom are adults with learning difficulties, set up a legal challenge, contacted the press, set up a web-site, and organised a peaceful but effective barricade of tile farm gates and lane oil April 19 when the Maff slaughtering crew arrived. In an event which clearly won tile sympathy of TV crews and journalists - who added to the 100 to 200 adults, children, cars, vans and prams blocking the entrance to the farm - the Maff officials were turned back. An anonymous Ministry spokesman helped keep the Ministry's options open, saying 9t is seen as a special case because of the special circumstances."

A month after the original destruction order, and having inspected the animals oil three separate occasions, on May 13 Ministry vets finally agreed to take and test blood samples. Ten days later, on May 23rd, Oaklands Park was told that its livestock had indeed tested negative for the was assumed she had died ? until the slap, the breath and the cry.

The story of Mary Barnes - which hinges on her years at Kingsley Hall (1965-1970) - has been told compellingly - in Mary Barnes: Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness with Joseph Berke, first published in 1971 and going into another (New York) edition next year; in David Edgar's 1979 play Mary Barnes, since performed around the world; in Something Sacred: conversations, writings, paintings with Ami Scott, 1989; in tier own lectures, given around the world; her participation in radio and television programmes; in tier paintings. Joseph Berke has been approached 'about the possibility of a film, and an opera: There will undoubtedly be a more extensive appreciation ill the ATC's journal Therapeutic Communities.

Why? Because she gave truth, reality and hope to tile myth of the descent into the underworld and the re-emergence from that crucifying death reborn, healed, and herself a heater: giving a granite foundation to that belief in love, self, and community which she then shared, supported and expressed - in Philadelphia Association houses, in support of the Arbours Association, in Devon, in St. Dympna's, in the creation of tile Shealin Trust in Glasgow in 1987, in her enduring friendship with a girl in a mental hospital in Sweden - enabling countless people around the world to realise that possibility for others and themselves.

UNTITLED, by Mary Barnes

Softly we touch, here, and there,

as the current of our life,

flows oil its way

How lightly we step on the sand.

How soon comes the Tide.