‘Bedlam on the East River’

The NY Times published a book review of ‘Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad and Criminal in 19th Century New York’ by Stacy Horn.


The review is worth reading and has lots of SRV lessons that would be worth reading and discussing (e.g., as part of an SRV discussion group).

The island was called Blackwell’s in the 18th century, after a family living on the island, then later Welfare Island (in the 20th century), and today has been renamed Roosevelt Island.

According to the review, this two mile island in the East River was the site of the New York City Lunatic Asylum, a smallpox hospital, and a penitentiary. Eventually, two additional island (Randall’s, Wards) also become the sites of institutions.




The famous 19th century reporter Nellie Bly pretended insanity in order to be sent to the asylum on Blackwell’s, and then wrote an expose for a New York newspaper.


Note the segregation and congregation of unwanted peoples out of New York City, and onto islands away from the local populations of societally valued people.


The reviewer points out some of the language used to describe the buildings and programs, such as ‘lodge’ and ‘retreat;’ which may be examples of detoxifying language. The name changes from Blackwell’s to Welfare, and from Welfare to Roosevelt, are also instructive from an SRV perspective.

Much more to explore from an SRV perspective, such as poverty and impoverishment, rejection, and death making. Nellie Bly’s work might be seen in part as an example of trying to foster interpersonal identification. According to the review, it involved governmental efforts to make structural change, and so on.

Posted on July 2, 2018 at 10:28 am by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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homelessness in Delhi

The following 18 January 2016 NY Times article entitled “Desperate for slumber in Delhi, homeless encounter a ‘sleep mafia’ ” would be worth studying from an SRV perspective. It describes the social devaluation, wounding and heightened vulnerability of homeless people in Delhi, India.


Posted on June 27, 2018 at 4:31 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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According to a recent BBC news item, young men and women jailed in Senegal are taking classes in fencing once a week.

BBC news

CNN news

Many elements of this story illustrate aspects of Social Role Valorization and PASSING, such as valued roles in the domain of leisure, competency and image enhancement, positive expectations, relevant appearance and possessions, etc.

While elements of the program could be improved in terms of SRV principles (e.g., the funding source is a charity named Pour le sourire d’un enfant [for an infant’s smile], the activity is essentially segregated), it also demonstrates the power of valued roles to open the door to the good things of life, such as better health, learning, opportunities to develop one’s skills, to be treated with respect, etc.).

Posted on November 29, 2017 at 11:35 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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From study to implementation: SRV and PASSING (tip #1)

Both the PASSING tool (manual) and the PASSING workshop are high quality resources that can help to make SRV theory concrete, practical and ‘implementable.’ For example, the PASSING tool (manual) includes 42 distinct ratings, and PASSING workshop teams typically study, review and assess each of these ratings one by one. This repeated study and practice within a workshop can inculcate a habit of evaluating human service practices from multiple angles, in terms of both image enhancement (27 ratings) and competency enhancement (15 ratings). This skill is more realistic than, for example, assessing services practices as an amorphous whole, or confusing a part of a service for the whole.


Thinking concretely about each specific rating can also help servers to think in terms of making incremental changes on a range of fronts, rather than becoming overwhelmed about where to start. What can we do (as an agency, program, etc.) about the imagery of the external setting? What can we do about the competency enhancement potential of the interactions between servers and served? And so on.


Another example: each PASSING rating is evaluated along a continuum from negative to positive, from level 1 to level 5. This structure reflects a more realistic mindset of how to assess the relevance and the potency of a particular service practice. What could be a little better, a little more relevant, a little more potent, a little more image enhancing, a little more competency enhancing, a little better at opening the door to the ‘good things of life’ …


Rather than getting stuck because a socially devalued group or individual does not have an ideal situation, SRV and PASSING teach servers to think about taking steps, big and small, to improve a devalued group or individual’s access to the ‘good things of life’ which a particular society has to offer.

Posted on November 13, 2017 at 12:08 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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‘Small Town Reclaims Former Mental Hospital as Arts Haven’

An article in the 28 October 2017 Wall Street Journal entitled ‘Small town reclaims former mental hospital as arts haven’ might be interesting to study from an SRV and PASSING perspective in terms of setting as a communicator of imagery, and the importance of the history of a setting.


Fergus Falls State Hospital was built on the Kirkbride plan, named for Dr. Thomas Kirkbride who was involved in the moral treatment movement.

From the article:

“Every small community is trying to find ways to set themselves apart right now and have a unique story,” said Michele Anderson, rural program director with Springboard for the Arts, a community-development group that hosts an artists residency program and annual arts festival in Fergus Falls on the hospital grounds. “This is our story.”

This links to a 25 minute documentary about the history of Fergus Falls:


Posted on October 31, 2017 at 7:46 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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upcoming issue of The SRV Journal

While we work to get the latest issue of The SRV Journal ready to be printed, readers and subscribers might be interested in the titles of the major articles. Lots of good material here, relevant to SRV training and implementation:

Milt Tyree, Learning from Our History: Raising the Bar for Employment Possibilities

Susan Thomas, Some SRV Considerations About Work, Work Sites & Work Contexts, Especially in Light of the Contemporary Push to Abolish What Are Called “Sheltered Work Settings”

Martin Elks, Five Foundational Personal & Social Identities in Normalization & Social Role Valorization

Donna Vanderkloet, How Friendship Conquered the Play Structure

Matthew Nguyen, Memories: The Power of Transmuting Space into Time

Carol O’Donnell, From SRV Training to Implementation: An Account of One Person’s Journey

My thanks to all of our wonderful contributors, and to our subscribers.



Posted on September 5, 2017 at 8:17 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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7th international SRV conference

Save the dates and start planning!

7th International Conference

“Opening Doors to Good things in Life: Implementing Social Role Valorization”

from June 6-8, 2018

plus pre-conference workshops on June 4 and 5, 2018

at the Fairmont Hotel, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Posted on May 29, 2017 at 8:58 am by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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radio interview ‘Exploring the shadow world of ICE prisons’

This radio interview contains much material that is instructive in terms of societal devaluation. One claim made in the interview is that these prisons, many of them for-profit, exploit the labor of the prisoners. If accurate, this may remind us of similar exploitative practices which were common at many institutions. See for example these reports:





Posted on March 13, 2017 at 5:49 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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How to Function Morally, Coherently & Adaptively In a World that is Disfunctional, Including its Human Services

The Implementation Project

The Syracuse University Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership and Change Agentry

The Moral Coherency Study Group

are pleased to announce a 7 day workshop:

“How to Function Morally, Coherently & Adaptively In a World that is Disfunctional, Including its Human Services”


DATE- Monday the 3rd through to Sunday the 9th of July, 2017
Each day begins promptly at 8:00am; the first 6 days include evening sessions. The workshop ends at 4.30pm on the seventh day.

VENUE- Macquarie University, Herring Road, North Ryde, NSW 2113, Australia


The Training Institute developed this workshop to equip people with a special combination of worldviews, preparation, support considerations & strategies needed to function with high moral ideals, with integrity intact, & even with effectiveness in the world generally & in human services that are full of imperfections & never-ending problems.

Some assumptions underlying the content of the workshop include:

  • there are powerful dynamics of disfunctionality in the world
  • these dynamics endlessly express themselves in derivative disfunctionalities in society, as well as inhuman service approaches, systems & structures
  • it is imperative that people who want to function with greater moral coherency become aware of these dynamics
  • once one is aware of these dynamics, one is in a position to respond & act much more adaptively in the world
  • there exists an array of adaptive strategies for living with these realitiesThe workshop explains the great depth and universality of problems in the world, in society, & in human services. Many of these problems are intractable, & therefore need to be confronted in order to cope with them. The workshop orients participants to craft their moral identity, & offers strategies & encouragement to live adaptively & with coherency amidst the disfunctionality.

This workshop is not intended to provide participants with specific solutions to specific problems. Instead, participants will learn an array of universally applicable strategies that can be applied to whatever situations confront them & participants will be pointed toward further study & progress in these various strategies. Many resources will be distributed.


The format of the workshop is physically & intellectually demanding. It is conducted in lecture-style, with a series of presentations given in a logical sequence of topics. Following each presentation there is opportunity for participant comment & general discussion. Some opportunities for private reflection on the material & for informal discussion are provided at the end of each of the first six days to assist participants to deal with the challenging nature of much of the material. Further information on the workshop format will be sent prior to the workshop.

What past workshop participants say

“This is a brilliant workshop: suffused with deep insight and incisive analysis. It addresses many issues that confront us, in our professional as well as personal lives”

“Without a doubt the most thought provoking workshop I have attended”

“A journey of self discovery that challenged the way I see the world. This workshop

raised my consciousness to the underlying ideas that cause dysfunction in human

services and how I can redirect my own interactions to forge a positive way forward”

COST: Options (All prices are Inclusive of GST and in Australian dollars)

$1595-Accommodation for seven nights for single room with ensuite, all meals, workshop tuition and

workshop material.

$1155-Workshop tuition, workshop material and all meals (participants are expected to be onsite and

ready for workshop by 7.45am each morning, & evenings sessions are also a part of this



Register at

To register go to the link Moral Coherency Workshop 2017 OR

visit website: moralcoherency.com


Refund and Cancellation Policy

Due to the nature of this international event we have had to develop a strict cancellation policy:

– Cancellation on or before 5 May 2017 – 100% refund

– Cancellation between 6 May 2017 and 19 May 2017 – 50% refund

– Cancellation from 20 May 2017 – No refund (substitute participants can attend)

Posted on February 10, 2017 at 11:03 am by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Valuing Lives: Wolf Wolfensberger and the Principle of Normalization

This article in the Winter 2017 issue of Making a Difference (published by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities) includes an article by Dr. Pat Nobbie entitled ‘The rhythms and patterns of life.’ The article begins on page 27. Dr. Nobbie poses the question “What makes a good portrayal of people with disabilities in the media, or a good portrayal of people of any diverse characteristics for that matter?” In examining this question, the author references the video Valuing Lives: Wolf Wolfensberger and the Principle of Normalization.

Note: on 23 February 2017, from 5 to 7 pm, the McGoogan Library of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (US) will host a viewing of the documentary, followed by a panel discussion. For those in the area, I highly recommend it.

Posted on February 6, 2017 at 11:57 am by MTumeinski · Permalink · Leave a comment
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