Marie Claire (USA)

Self-Determinat­ion SUPPORTERS THE FIREWEED COLLECTIVE

Nationwide mental-healtheduc­ation and mutualaid group

-

“We are the best people to decide what we need and want in any moment.”

THE FIREWEED COLLECTIVE is the phoenix that, in 2020, rose from the ashes of the Icarus Project, a long-running mental-health community that shuttered after “grievances about an organizati­onal culture that harmed” those who are marginaliz­ed. Fireweed repurposed the best of the former entity—a commitment to helping people with mental-health issues—and added a lens focusing on the very communitie­s that were deprioriti­zed previously. “We’re making spaces for people to come to a better relationsh­ip with their own mental health and the people around them,” says Antoinette Chen See, a member of Fireweed’s education team.

Fireweed’s programmin­g includes weekly support groups for low-income people, immigrants, and new parents, among others; monthly dance parties; and webinars. One of the latter, hosted by collective member Elliott Fukui, “illustrate­d how prison and psychiatri­c abolition are intrinsica­lly tied.” For Chen See, it was one of the most impactful and memorable thus far. Bolstering Fukui’s argument is research published in the journal BMC Public Health showing that mental illness is two to four times more common in jails and prisons than in the general population. In a time of calls for defunding police (who are often the first intervener­s during a mental-health crisis), the education and healing-justice philosophy used by Fireweed is essential for its community.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the ways people implement healing and disability justice into their daily lives,” Chen See says. “We’re looking forward to people realizing that we can rely on each other and that we are all intelligen­t and the best people to decide what we need and want in any moment.”

 ??  ?? Members of Fireweed Collective’s team, clockwise from top left:
Elliott Fukui, Agustina Vidal, Antoinette Chen See, and Lilac Vylette Maldonado.
Members of Fireweed Collective’s team, clockwise from top left: Elliott Fukui, Agustina Vidal, Antoinette Chen See, and Lilac Vylette Maldonado.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA