Sharing the Voices of FC Users 

Chris Pentzell of Los Angeles writes: 

Many of you know of my extraordinary brother, Nick Pentzell.  Nick, an FC user for more than a decade, lives in the Philadelphia area and is currently attending a local college (and doing quite well, I might add).  He is also an amazing poet. Two years ago, during the FC conference in Whittier, CA, I set up a poetry reading/art exhibit for Nickís work and the work of other local and non-local artists and writers.  I enlisted actors and friends to read the poems, which were accompanied by video footage of the artists using FC.  There were paintings displayed and even a slide show.  It succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Now I have a vision of sharing these voices and the voices of other FC users, out into the world by publishing a book of poetry, short stories and artwork created strictly by FC users.  Gwen Waltz, my stepmother as well as Nickís phenomenal primary facilitator, has informed me that there are other books of a similar nature in the works or completed.  Iíd like to share my particular vision with you in the hopes of inspiring you and subsequently gathering a nationwide team of people willing and excited to share in this endeavor.

First of all, I think itís important that all profits from the book should go to an organization that furthers FC use.

Secondly, I strongly believe that FC users should be involved in the entire process, not just in the creative aspect.  I see one FC user and one "speaking person" (whatever the politically correct term is) teaming up to be accountable for the whole project.  I want to make sure the FC users communicates what they wants to communicate rather than it being about what others think should be communicated. 

Thirdly, I want to make sure that this project enables FC users more opportunities to use FC.  Nick has told me that many FC users only communicate in small increments and that it is often difficult to find facilitators.  To this end, Nick and Gwen had an idea.  Their idea is that, in at least three communities, workshops are created where local writers work with FC users to develop their creative skills.

Fourthly, I see that publicity would be useful.  Iím aware that publicity is a touchy thing within the FC community and we certainly donít want this to have a negative and harmful effect on FC.  But I believe that the right publicity could not only have FC usersí voices heard, but also increase awareness of FC, thus leading to expanding resources nationwide.  I may sound naive and I donít know exactly how this will be done, but I believe it is possible.  I like the idea of a documentary.  This will put emphasis not only on the final product but on the process itself, which is really what itís all about.  And, if I dare to dream, this may be something that even Oprah herself would be interested in.

This project must sound extremely ambitious.  It is.  But I invite all of you to step into the possibility of what would be available to you and the FC community if and when this is alive in the world.  I, myself, donít know how to do it.  And even if I did, I still couldnít do it alone.  Thatís where you, the community come in.

I am requesting two people (one FC user and one non-FC user) to take on this project.  I am requesting a team for setting up workshops, for finding a publisher, for setting up where the profits go, for publicity, for content editing.  Iím certainly not married to it looking exactly the way I have described.  It will be an organic process, constantly changing.  And I will support the team in whatever way I can. 

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