An Encyclopedia of Radical Helping: Call for Writing and/or Images

Thick Press
13 min readSep 27, 2022

[THE BOOK IS ALMOST READY TO GO TO PRESS! SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN FOR UPDATES ABOUT THE PROJECT.]

[an introduction] Dear Friends and Friends of Friends,

Welcome to An Encyclopedia of Radical Helping. (Come on in, the water’s fine!)

Thick Press, the publishing practice that Julie Cho (a graphic designer) and I (a social worker) founded in 2017, has begun to gather entries for a playful new book intended to nourish and inspire practitioners and students of social work, family therapy, psychology, psychoanalysis, counseling, coaching, group facilitation, medicine, energy and body work, birth/abortion doula work, youth work, art and movement therapies, social practice in the arts, mutual aid, and other helping and healing modalities. Julie and I are thrilled to be co-editing this publication with Chris Hoff, family therapist and family therapy educator. (And Chris also hosts the podcast The Radical Therapist.) The three of us are also excited to announce that we have begun to convene an advisory board of brilliant practitioners from a variety of disciplines.[1]

[your contribution] We hope you’ll be able to add a beloved radical concept (an idea! a figure from history! an institution! an organization! a practice! an intervention! etc.!) to our Encyclopedia of Radical Helping. Your entry could be short, even just a couple of sentences. It could be longer, but probably no longer than about 1000 words. It could include an image or two. We also hope you’ll describe your personal connection to your radical concept; we love first-person writing.

[on the encyclopedia format] (You’ve probably gathered by now that there is something cheeky in calling this book an “encyclopedia.” Like many others who have compiled similar projects, we are interested in queering and democratizing a book form that is often didactic and othering.)

[on radicality] So what do we mean by a “radical concept”?

Most of all, we mean anything that falls outside the diagnose-treat logic of neoliberal mental health discourse. It’s not that we reject mental health diagnoses wholesale. It’s just that, as you all know, the world and its human and non-human inhabitants are so complex, so achingly beautiful, so riddled with intersecting oppressions (yet also so capable of resistance), that we do a disservice to everybody when we reduce human suffering to diagnosable, treatable symptoms.

We also think of radical in terms of allying with efforts to change the status quo. Angela Davis has said that radical simply means “grasping things at the root.” We take this definition to heart, but we insist on an expansive version of “grasping,” one in which radical is not always analogous to donning garden gloves and uprooting a pesky weed (there it is — the diagnose-treat model again!). Instead, we recognize that “grasping” often involves mucking around in the roots of human suffering, engaging in dialogue, and seeing what emerges. Of course, working to change the status quo can also involve providing care and opportunities for healing to those organizers and activists who grasp at the roots of oppression more directly than we do when we are playing helping and healing roles.

[on critique] You’ve probably begun to understand that this book is not about “waking” consciousness. There are many other resources that help us understand how helping practices and related policies uphold the heteropatriarchy, colonialism, racism, and extractive capitalism. Some of the entries in this book will draw on those resources — and we hope readers will find themselves going down many rabbit holes in pursuit of illuminating ideas. But we think it’s important to ensure that all entries in our “encyclopedia” exist in a realm beyond critique.

[on how to think about the types of entries included] To that end, some of the “radical concepts” in the book will be about what therapists and other helpers do (or did, in the case of historical entries) with the people they help or helped. Some will be radical in the way they conceptualize the role of the helper (Many of those concepts will relate to envisioning wider, more flexible systems of care.) Many will focus on arts-based interventions. We have avoided articulating a single ontological framework (by which we mean the way we conceive of existence), but we suspect that many entries in our encyclopedia will connect to relational, decolonizing, queer theory, women-of-color-poet-theory, post-modern, social constructionist, anti-racism, psychosocial, and related dialogues. We also anticipate that some entries will be experimental in form, employing imagery and creative ways of assembling text. Entries can be as short as a sentence (or an image/images with or without words) or as long as 1000 words.

[on compensation] We are sensitive to the critique that projects like this one extract labor with inadequate compensation. We do not, however, believe that a standardized honorarium is the right remedy to this problem. Our default will be to ship a free copy of the finished book to each contributor. In the spirit of solidarity economies, we are open to granting an honorarium to anybody who wants one — please just let us know what amount feels commensurate with your contribution. (It seems important to mention here that, for the three of us, this is a “passion project” where the compensation is not financial. Thick Press operates as a nonprofit, which allows us to seek grant funding to offset design fees, copy editing, honoraria, and printing.)

[on process] We realize that many of you probably have anxieties about writing (who doesn’t?). That’s why we are creating a free 4-session virtual writing group for contributors. There will be no critique involved; only support and accountability. We are planning to begin the group in mid to late October (day and time TBD). It will serve as a way to help you generate content. (And it will also be a wonderful opportunity to connect with other radical helpers.) All that said, please know that we are open to entries that consist of preexisting writing, as long as there are no copyright issues.

[moving forward and getting it done!] We suspect that our brainstorming together and with others will generate many important topics in need of writers. We (Erin and Chris) are willing to write very brief entries for some of those concepts. So please share any radical concepts that come to mind, even if you yourself don’t want to write about them. There will also be opportunities for brainstorming at our Project Space at the Printed Matter Art Book Fair in New York October 13–16; we’d love to see some of you there.

Also: we are hoping to connect this publication to an exhibition at an institution. If you have any ideas about partnerships, please let us know!

Please share this call widely; as long as entries fit the parameters outlined in this letter, we won’t reject any work. The deadline for contributions is January 15th, but we hope you will reach out before then to sign up for a weekly October/November writing group, schedule a time to discuss your ideas with one of us, or share ideas for entries that you would like for others to write. You can use [link no longer active] to reach out, or if you prefer, you can email erin@thickpress or chrishoffmft@gmail.com. Please send completed entries to Erin or Chris by January 15, and let us know how much of an honorarium you require, if applicable.

We’re so excited about this project, and we look forward to connecting with you.

In solidarity and with care,

Erin (and Chris and Julie)

******

In case you are seeking inspiration, here are some contributions already in process:

BLOOD MEMORY REGENERATION: Frida Larios, urban Indigenous community artist & educator

CLOUDS AS METAPHOR: Allan Irving, social work educator, author (with Adrienne Chambon) of Reading Foucault for Social Work.

FOOD JUSTICE: Amirio Freeman, food systems worker and artist, creator of The Down to Earth Deck (Loam, 2022).

HOLDING SPACE: Gracy Obuchowicz, self-care coach (words) & Maria Habib, artist and graphic designer (image). From selfcarefully (Thick Press, 2019), written by Gracy and illustrated by Maria.

MUTUAL AID ORGANIZING: Mark Anthony Hernandez Motaghy, artist, cultural worker, and author (with Crown Heights Mutual Aid and Mutual Aid Medford and Somerville) of Rehearsing Solidarity: Learning from Mutual Aid (Thick Press, 2022).

NARRATIVE THERAPY: Chris Hoff, family therapist, family therapy professor, and host of the Radical Therapist podcast.

QUEER THEORY: J D’Arrigo, family therapist and family therapy professor

RANK AND FILE MOVEMENT IN SOCIAL WORK: Erin Segal, social worker and publisher at Thick Press.

SOCIAL CHANGE ECOSYSTEM FRAMEWORK: Deepa Iyer, coach and facilitator, lawyer and writer, author of We Too Sing of America (New Press, 2015) and Social Change Now: A Guide for Reflection and Connection (Thick Press, 2022).

STREET NEWSPAPERS: María Inés Plaza Lazos, curator and co-founder/editor at Arts of the Working Class.

[1] Richael Faithful (energy work); Deepa Iyer (coaching); Mark Menjivar (social practice in the arts); Sabrina Tom (birth and abortion doula work); and counting!

FEBRUARY 3, 2023 UPDATE

Dear friends and friends of friends,

Our open call has come to an end, and we are thrilled with all the contributions we received! We’ve now entered a more targeted phase of topic generation and contribution collection. Below is our in-flux list of radical helping concepts, some followed by contributor names. Please reach out to erin@thickpress.com or chrishoffmft@gmail.com if 1) you have an idea for a topic that’s missing from the list and/or 2) you would like to contribute text(s) or image(s) related either to a new topic or to any of the topics listed below.

The new deadline for contributions is April 15, 2023, but please let us know ASAP if you are planning to contribute so that we can account for your contribution as we begin to sketch out the book design. We will amend the list below as the contributions and promises of contributions trickle in. Contributions should be under 1000 words and/or a few images. As we explained in the original post, we are very open to all kinds of forms, particularly first-person writing. Very short entries (just a few sentences) are welcome. Contributions don’t need to define the concepts (although they can); they just need to speak to them.

What a joy to see all these words and names together on the page. And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Still in solidarity and still with care,

Erin, Chris, and Julie

TOPICS WHERE CONTRIBUTIONS HAVE BEEN FILED

abundance (Jennifer Brough)

access invocations (Margaret Price)

accessibility (Sins Invalid)

activating archives (Carol Stakenas)

Afrofuturism (Kassamira Carter-Howard)

agency (Rae Turpin)

aging positivity (Connie Sobczak)

altar work (Ashley Lagrange)

alternative identity projects (Shweta Srinivasan)

ancestral wisdom (Beth Sperber Richie)

ancestrality (Nicole Oxendine)

anti-ableism (Jen White-Johnson)

anti-adultism (Shipra Sparikh)

anti-racism (Alyssa Smaldino)

anti-racism court systems (Melaine Malcolm and Judge Julie Bernard)

art (Sara Cantrell)

art as/in/of life (Mel Gray and Leanne Schubert)

art journaling (Gioia Chilton)

art therapy (Miki Nishida Goerdt)

art workers (Arts of the Working Class)

arts-based group work (Sarah Eggers)

arts in medicine (Jennifer McSparron, MA, LPC, ATR; Ashley Jones, MS, ATR-BC, LPC; Jessica Villegas, MPS, ATR-BC)

arts-based research (Gioia Chilton)

authentic movement (elena rose light)

autonomous healing (marcela polanco)

Ayurveda (Dr. Jithin Namala, Gracy Obuchowicz, Maria Habib)

being with (Noriko Martinez)

Bertha Capen Reynolds (Michael Reisch)

bike and car collectives (Tim Devin)

Black Panthers Free Breakfast Program (Lea Joseph)

body as community (Fran Lassman, Nadia Somers, Hannah Stringer & Hannia)

body neutrality (Maya Druckmann)

body positivity (Connie Sobczak)

body trust (Hilary Kinavey)

boredom (Noriko Martinez)

brave space (Dr. Brian Arao)

breaking the rules (Julie Tilsen)

bridge as metaphor (Gioia Chilton)

care pods (HyoYoung Minna Kim)

care-based co-housing (Marisa Morán Jahn and Rafi Segal)

Catholic Worker Movement(Ariel Gore)

centering maintenance (Stephanie Marie Cedeño)

circular economy (Casey Mack)

climate cafes (Chelsea Call)

clouds as metaphor (Allan Irving)

coalition (Kimi Hanauer)

collaborative apprenticeship (Sruti Suryanarayanan)

collective care (Cassandra Thornton and Sarah Adelaide)

common pool resources (Andrea Macias-Yañez)

commons, the (Mia Stone-Molloy)

communing with animals (Sam Chavez)

community college (eds. w/ anonymous contribution from Printed Matter Art Book Fair)

community gardens (Amy Pekal)

community newspapers (Nicole Lavelle)

conjure (Richael Faithful)

constructionist-design framework, the (Celiane Camargo-Borges)

consulting your consultants (Lindsey Hampson)

contemplative tradition (Jennifer England)

corn knowledge (Andrea Macias-Yañez)

conscientization (Stephen Burghardt)

credit unions (Mia Stone-Molloy)

crip time (Olivia Spring)

critical fabulation (Carol Stakenas)

critical hope (Camille Nibungco)

critical pedagogy (Maya Rae Oppenheimer)

critical race theory (Jayshree Jani)

critical suicide studies (Jennifer White)

critical whiteness (elena rose light)

critique (Akin Taiwo)

Cuestionamos (Rachel Greenspan)

curiosity (Noriko Martinez)

death practices (Fiona Hallinan and Kate Strain)

decolonial/liberatory based-practices (Elizabeth Matticoli and Rhea Almeida)

deep organizing (Mia Stone-Molloy)

dérive, the (Rae Turpin)

drumming (Richael Faithful)

embodied expression (Anne Wolf and Lisa Levine)

embodied knowledge (René Benavides)

emergent strategy (Miki Nishida Goerdt)

empathy (Florence Freitag)

energy work (Richael Faithful)

erasure, avoiding thereof (Noriko Martinez)

esoteric wisdom traditions (Zach Whitworth)

ethnodrama (Dimitra Stavrou)

existentialism (Coatlicue Sierra Rose)

externalizing (Alycia Berg)

failure (Fid Thompson)

faith-based helping, Christian (Bob Shefner)

fat positivity (Naomi Finkelstein)

feminism (Shelja Sen)

feminist ethics of care (Monika Cvitanovic)

fermentation (Naveed Salek Nejad)

flâner (Sam Chavez)

food sovereignty (Amirio Freeman)

forest bathing (Karen Hsu)

fragments/fragmentation (Allan Irving)

freedom (Zach Whitworth)

generous systems (Athena Robles and Anna Stein)

gift economies (Deborah Tsogbe)

Grace Lee Boggs (Lily Luo)

grief as nonlinear (Denise Shanté Brown)

group work (Kirk Shepard)

groups

harm reduction (Carmen Ostrander)

healing circles (Rhea Almeida)

healing healers through the arts (Jamie Stokke MD, Cassandra Wang MD, and Rachel Gallant MD, MSc.)

healing rituals (Annie Finch)

Hearing Voices Network (Kelly Waterman)

herbalism (Social-Body Apothecary)

holding space (Gracy Obuchowicz and Maria Habib)

humanness (Harlene Anderson)

humor (Carmen Ostrander)

illders (Libbie Rifkin)

improvisation (Lisa Kays)

infinite blackness (Onyịnye Alheri)

intentional communities (Zach Whitworth)

interdisciplinary cataloging (Jessie McCarty)

intergenerational living (Norma Fabian Newton)

interspecies organising (Ruth Catlow and Charlotte Frost)

intuitive eating (Joni Cheung) (Snack Witch)

land trusts (Richael Faithful)

land, work, spirit, body (Richael Faithful)

language justice (Vero González, ¡Wepa! Translations)

leaving well (Naomi Hattaway)

liberatory education (K.C. and Owen Smith)

life cycle, honoring the (Megan Lyon Leimena and Bridget Sumser)

liminality (Chris Hoff)

limited-equity housing coops (Casey Mack)

love (Noriko Martinez)

lunar cycle (Stella Lawless)

Magic School (Lindsey Hampson)

mapping support (Heather Coyne)

marginality (as a site of resistance) (Tanya Paperny)

Marxist social work (James P. Mulvale)

membership theory in social work (Karlyn BrintzenhofeSzoc)

mending (Nina and Sonya of The Far Woods)

metaphor (Gioia Chilton)

mobile libraries (Kate Weiner)

movement lawyering (Jules Rochielle)

mutual aid organizing (Mark Anthony Hernandez Motaghy)

mycelia as metaphor (Mustafa Saifuddin)

narradrama (Kamran Afary)

narrative medicine (Sabrina Tom)

narrative therapy (Chris Hoff)

nepantla/nepantleras (Coatlicue Sierra Rose)

nonviolent communication (Sunil Joseph)

ongoingness (Erin Segal and Julie Cho)

peer counseling (Katherine Marie)

peer-to-peer health networks (Cassandra Thornton)

person-situation perspective (Erna O’Connor)

pleasure (Mia Stone-Molloy)

poems/poetry (Gioia Chilton)

post-oppositionality (AnaLouise Keating)

post-work imaginaries (Mia Stone-Molloy)

poverty-aware social work paradigm, the (Michal Krumer-Nevo)

power threat meaning framework, the (Chris Hoff)

pre(care)ity (James Hazel)

prison abolition (Onyịnye Alheri)

professionalism without performance (Mia Stone-Molloy)

progressive education (Melinda Tsapatsaris)

public benefits (Erin Segal and Julie Cho)

public library, the (Anonymous)

qigong (Neil Horsky)

radical administration (Sruti Suryanarayanan)

radical care in the arts (Tian Zhang)

radical childcare in movement spaces (China Martens)

radical inclusion (Onyịnye Alheri)

radical papermaking (Gretchen M. Miller, Denise R. Wolf)

radical presence (Sheila McNamee)

radical social work (Michael Reisch)

Radical Therapist Journal, The (Sheila Koren)

Rank and File Movement in Social Work (Patrick Selmi)

re-authoring (Helena Rose and Rob Edwards)

reclaiming selfhood (Sly Sarkisova)

recognition (Noriko Martinez)

redistribution (Joel Blau)

reflecting on justice(Abbie Chow and Bhupie Dulay)

reflexivity (Abbie Chow)

Reiki (Dani Grossman)

relational interviewing (Larry Zucker)

relationality (Sadaf Vidha and Aryan Somaiya)

resistance (Michael Krumer-Nevo)

resisting the parental loss narrative (Julie Tilsen)

resonance (Ivan Txaparro)

respectful visiting (Nicole Lavelle)

respite rooms (Catherine Fairbanks)

rest as resistance (Dimple D. Dhabalia)

revenge (Max Haiven)

revolutionary mothering (Lindsay Reckson)

ritual (Sara Cantrell)

sanctuary (Tanya Paperny)

sandplay therapy (Martín La Roche and Mirthe Berentsen)

sauna (Anne Paré)

scale (Richael Faithful)

seed banking (Emma Cooper)

sex positivity (Maya Druckmann)

shadow integration (Michelle Jewett)

Sick Woman Theory (Deb Knicos)

slow textiles (Monika Cvitanovic)

slowness (Lian Fumerton-Liu)

social change ecosystem framework (Deepa Iyer)

social constructionism (Stanley Witkin)

social practice (Carol Stakenas and Mark Menjivar)

social therapeutics (Janet Wootten)

Social Welfare Action Alliance, the (Rosemary Barbera)

solidarity (Ji-Youn Kim)

solidarity economy (Jeffrey Yoo Warren and Caroline Woolard)

somatic healing (Richael Faithful)

songs (Tanya Paperny)

sound healing (Camille Nibungco)

spatial justice (Jules Rochielle)

speculative design (Elise Limon)

spells (Richael Faithful)

staying with the trouble (Heung Gong Yan)

storytelling (Dimple D. Dhabalia)

street newspaper (María Inés Plaza Lazo)

strengths perspective, the (Mel Gray and Leanne Schubert)

sufficiency (Andrea Macias-Yañez)

sustaining movement (Friends from occupied Dakhóta lands (also called Minneapolis); art by Eva Ngono)

symbol (Gioia Chilton)

Taos Institute, the (Sheila McNamee)

tarot (Anastasia Murney)

temporary autonomous zones (Andrea Macias-Yañez)

theories of change (Richael Faithful)

Theater of the Oppressed (Jessie McCarty and Danny Turek)

theosophy (Lejla Ćatović)

therapeutic writing (Gioia Chilton)

togetherness (Deborah Tsogbe)

trans practices (elena rose light)

transformative justice (Ji-Youn Kim)

traspation (Andrea Macias-Yañez)

12-step programs (Chris Hoff and Erin Segal)

undercover anti-bullying teams (Michelle Myers)

unlearning platforms for therapists (Abby Chow and Linda Lin)

vigil (Ricky Cummings and Mark Menjívar)

water (Fid Thompson)

wildness (Fid Thompson)

wintering as metaphor (Tobie Whitman)

wishes (Sibylle Peters)

witchery (Annie Finch)

yoga (Daniella Gould)

zine-making (Cynthia E. Hanifin and Jude R. Bettridge)

TOPICS THAT REMAIN — WE ARE HOPING TO INCLUDE THESE IN AN EXPANDED EDITION OR ADDENDUM

Afropessimism

allyship

anarchism

anti-capitalist time

appreciative inquiry

auricular acupuncture

barter

boundaries

Buddhist psychology

buen vivir

capabilities perspective

care banking

ceremony

child life

childcare collectives

chorus, the

class suicide

Clearness Committee, the

co-conspiratorship

community bail funds

community choirs

community farms

community fridges

community over everything

community printing presses

“consent not to be a single being”

consent-based touch practices

cooperation

cooperative grocery stores

critical case studies

dance/movement therapy

death positivity

decay

disidentification

domesticated animals

doulaship

dreamwork

eco-psychoanalysis

ecofeminism

ecotherapy

empathic knowing

empowerment tradition in social work

environmental justice

epistemic disobedience

epistemologies of the South

equity

erotic, uses of the

feet, tending to the

fluidity

food justice

fugitivity

games

generosity

Global Partnership for Transformative Social Work

Greek solidarity clinics

healing

honoring creativity

housing justice

human rights

irony

labor unions for care workers

land attribution

laughter

learning from elders

lending circles

liberation theology

Lincoln Hospital, occupation of

listening

mad studies

making kin

Maroon/Marronage

Marxisms

mask-making

memorials

menstrual justice

moneyless exchange

Museum of Care, the

neglect

“nothing about us without us”

other species

people’s detox

play

pluri-economies

poverty scholarship

praxis

prayer

public altars

public rituals

queer theory

radical acceptance

radical hospitality

reading rooms

repair cafes

reproductive justice

sober joy

spatial justice

spoken word

structural resilience

study

survival

surviving work abuse

Sylvia Rivera

Tao Te Ching

tenderness

time banking

Transcendentalism

transgression

universal basic income

utopia

Whole Earth Catalog, the

working for free (dugnat, bayanihan, volunteerism, etc.)

APRIL 23 UPDATE:

We will continue to update the list and bring in new contributions into midsummer. Please email Erin and Chris (erin@thickpress.com and chrishoffmft@gmail.com) to sign up for a concept and figure out a deadline!

JULY UPDATE:

LAST CALL for contributions! Please reach out if you can get us something by the end of August and you’re willing to work pretty quickly on edits so we can get everything to the proofreader in September!

JANUARY 2024 UPDATE:

We have reached the end of our entry-collecting period (249 entries filed!), and are now working on design and final details. We are so grateful to all our contributors! We hope the book will be available from our website in August, and more widely a few months later. If anything on the “unclaimed topics” list interest you and you would like to speak to it (in writing or image) in a future expanded edition or addendum, please reach out to erin@thickpress.

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Thick Press

Publishing unusual books about care work and the work of care. A collaboration between a social worker and a graphic designer.