This book re-purposes pages from a collaborative project I worked on when I was actively involved (as visitor/volunteer) with a now defunct therapeutic community (Cenikor).
Therapeutic communities are drug-free environments in which people with addictive (and other) problems live together in an organized and structured way in order to promote change and make possible a drug-free life in the outside society. The therapeutic community forms a miniature society in which residents, and staff in the role of facilitators, fulfill distinctive roles and adhere to clear rules, all designed to promote the transitional process of the residents.
The original project was a game board made of sixteen 8 inch square paintings, each painting referencing an aspect of the TC system of privileges and disciplines. Dissatisfied with some of the paintings, I dissembled the game board years ago and this week am turning it into an accordion style book, using some of the phrases that used to be so familiar to me but now have lost their resonance.
The text was imaged via laser etching directly onto the canvas paintings, the pages hinged with acrylic tinted tyvek. The case cover is paste-cloth, the end pages paste paper.
The Colorado based Cenikor was closed in 2004; its demise due to internal abuses of residents and staff of the sort the program was designed to help clients recover from. With three facilities still operating, Cenikor’s 24-36 month program is one of the toughest TC’s to graduate from. A clear majority of the residents are there by court order, few are able to successfully transition into drug and crime free lives.
My awareness of this particular TC began when my older brother was given an opportunity to go through the Cenikor program as an alternative to prison. Cenikor hosted a weekly open house, when approved family members and friends were allowed to come visit for two hours every Saturday evening. I remember many a Saturday driving over, listening to the local jazz station’s Saturday night blues hour en route.
It was tough watching the slow, agonizing and too often unsuccessful process of addicts struggling against odds so clearly stacked against them; working to re-build their lives on crumbling foundations, so much already lost to them. It was tough watching the visiting families, my own included, holding on to shreds of hope that their loved one would be one of the few to ‘make it’.
My volunteerism was limited to helping some of the residents apply for, and happily be granted, amnesty from outstanding IRS debts, thus helping to eliminate one of the many anxieties living responsibly entails.
This is taken from the frontspiece of the book:
In 1967, a group of inmates in a Colorado state penitentiary, who were committed to breaking the cycle of substance abuse and the criminal behavior that supports their addictions, established Cenikor, a residential therapeutic community.
Therapeutic communities typically employ a system of phases, privileges and disciplines for their residents (clients) in order to promote change and make possible a drug-free life in the outside society. The therapeutic community forms a miniature society in which residents, and staff in the role of facilitators, fulfill distinctive roles and adhere to clear rules, all designed to promote the transitional process of the residents.
In 2004 the Colorado facility, the original Cenikor, shut down operations following the suspension of the nonprofit group’s license by the Colorado Department of Human Services because of alleged improprieties.
Complaints included the manufacture of methamphetamines on site, prostitution, intimate involvement of staffers with female clients and welfare fraud.
Three other Cenikor facilities, in Texas and Louisiana, still operate.