HAPPY 2018!! In this issue of PETT eNews:

  1. The Visioning Stakeholders Day: November 24, 2017
  2. Nothing so practical as an Archive: Calling all teachers! (But quickly!)
  3. Dennie Briggs' new blog (denniebriggs.org.)
  4. Conference Centre: The long goodbye
  5. Notes from the Stakeholder Visioning Day (morning session)
  6. Ian Milne
  7. Notes from the Stakeholder Visioning Day (afternon session)
PETT eNewsletter 31. January 11, 2018


Photograph: The programme for the day

1. The Visioning Stakeholders Day: November 24, 2017

The big news for PETT at the end of 2017, of course, was the meeting at the Mulberry Bush School in Oxfordshire on November 24. This 'Stakeholder Visioning Day' was facilitated by Jennie McShannon of Tavistock Consulting, part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust [CLICK HERE].

Gathered into informal discussion groups around tables in the School's crowded gymnasium, and guided by the facilitator, Stakeholders of all kinds and ages shared stories and memories with one another - "When, how and why did you first come into the Archive and Study Centre story?", "What are your memories, and what have you valued about your experience of the Archive and Study Centre?", "What do you want it to be and to do in the future?" In the afternoon session Richard Rollinson talked about the vision of leaving Toddington and moving to Oxfordshire, under the umbrella of the Mulberry Bush Organisation, and responded to questions.

People came from Manchester and Wakefield; from the far side of London, crossing the Thames. They came from South Devon, Wales and Norfolk - from all around the clock-face of Britain south of Scotland. More than one had long and difficult journeys, with motorways and main roads blocked or chock-a-block: imagine a planned five hour travel day turning into an eight hour round-trip, complete with heavy rain as night began to fall! Thankyou for coming!

And then imagine the exciting range of stakeholders who were there: former children of communities whose archives we hold; former staff; therapists and oral history interviewees; psychiatrists and academics; past and current researchers; friends; Trustees; former and current members of the PETT team; members of the Mulberry Bush team. People who have known us for months, and people who have known us for years - indeed, from the earliest years of the Archive, and before!

The small group discussions rose and lifted from the tables to become a conversation carried on across the entire room - a wonderful bridging, characteristic of the therapeutic communities so many in the room had experienced themselves, and a fundamental characteristic of the Archive and Centre. Although the acoustics made it difficult for many to hear everything that was said in such a vast space, we have had some notes sent to us of the morning discussion (see below). If you made notes, or if you have thoughts and reflections from your experience of the day, we would be very eager to see them: Please share them.

And you can always join the pettconnect email discussion group, where Stakeholders and members of PETT have been getting together occassionally since 2011: [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

(Apologies, though. This is a Yahoogroup, which once upon a time was state of the art, but which many people - used to the facility of Facebook and Twitter - now find klutzy. Please persevere, or ask us for help!

2. Nothing so practical as an Archive: Calling all teachers - But be quick!

At the end of the Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children project, Trinity Catholic School's Assistant Principal Stephen Steinhaus wrote:
The lasting legacy for me from the OPC project with the PETT archive is two-fold (so that should be legacies then, yes?). The first is that it has been a true bridge for me from where/what my career was to where/what it is and, then, to where and what it will be in the future. The inspiration, if not the call to arms provided by the examples of how an educational institution can be truly therapeutic and life-changing has helped me make a leap from community and arts-based specialism and focus in my work and career to drive for inclusion and progress for all children/students in our/my care.
Stephen is now Principal-Designate of Solihull Academy, poised to open later this year. Designed specifically to meet the needs "of a number of students for whom mainstream education is simply not working (for a range of reasons)", the Academy is an all-new creation: And they are hiring! Stephen is looking for Teachers and Curriculum Leaders in English, Science, Mathematics and PE.

Wenningtonians, Red Hillians, Caldecottians...exciting schools and therapeutic communities everywhere which have helped to inspire Stephen and this new Academy - spread the word, albeit quickly.

If you, or someone you know, is excited by the prospect of helping to build this new community CLICK HERE.

But hurry: The deadline for applications is January 15th

3. Dennie Briggs' new blog

And while you're out having adventures, check out therapeutic community pioneer Dennie Briggs' new blog site, at

early stages

4. Conference Centre: The long goodbye

Since opening in 2002 the Barns Conference Centre has played host to many groups. There have been start-up organisations which ultimately outgrew us, but which made good use of our flexibility and understanding in their very early days to find their feet and built up their programmes; there have been a wide range of one-off retreats and meetings, which sometimes blossomed into a series; and there have been those groups which have discovered us, settled in and made us their home, and returned year after year, sometimes booking several years in advance to be sure of their place.

As Barns Centre winds down as part of the PETT Transition, one after another of these long-standing groups is coming up for its last gathering in Toddington. These are immensely sad moments for us, but they are joyous celebrations of friendship and care as well; and the comments they are leaving behind are making us tremendously proud. The comments below came from a group which said goodbye to us in November.
"It is such a delight to spend time here again - I feel so relaxed & safe here, held by the space and the beauty and the care. Thankyou."

"I have enjoyed many a joyful time here with much love, connection & learning! Thankyou!"

"It has been such a gift for me to be able to bring my dog to events here - thankyou for everything"

"Dear Jo, thank you for your warmth and support over the years."

"Big thankyou for providing such a welcoming lovely centre"

"Hi Jo & Team. Thank you very much for the spacious place! It's so lovely to be here! All the best!"

"I appreciate the peaceful and practical venue, and the beautiful garden. Thankyou."

"Jo, Thank you so much for such a place of God's love and ministry."

"Thankyou so much, Jo and the Pett centre for the years of care & welcome & flexibility. We will miss you. xxx"

To the members of this group, and to you, and to every group and family who've come here, we say "Thankyou": Thankyou for your care and support over so many years, and for letting us share your lives and aspirations. You have been wonderful.

5. Notes from the Stakeholder Visioning Day (morning session)

(With thanks to the notetaker. Please note that these notes don't necessarily reflect the experience or views of PETT or the Mulberry Bush Organisation)

‘Every strand that has gone into PETT has been radical, experimental, and we need to honour that ethos.’

‘PETT is a facilitating environment in itself and encourages cross-boundary exchange of ideas.’

Being alive - the archive is not just concerned with the past. If Craig Fees is there, history is in the making.'

'Craig made it alive; made history alive.'

'For Caldecott PETT became like a second home (hear hear, from one of the Wenningtonians). People connect there, back to the community days. We have picked up so many people who were lost.'

'Neural network of PETT. Various overlaps with community, and of coming to know.'

'People who have shaped it and kept it alive. It was not all about the charismatic individuals at all. Everybody has made a significant impact through their involvement.'

'Reaching out - Craig in particular has been really good at outreach. Some archives can be or become quite inward looking.'

'?The purpose is to work and shape the future?'

'Steven Steinhaus: what about the people who don’t know they need this? The teachers, students; those who don’t know that this ‘sort of stuff’ can and does exist. Craig is a lightning rod of suggestions.'

'There is a tonne of technical stuff which goes into the building and running of an archive. PROVENANCE!'

'Many were unaware that there were other places of the same kind of community. Finding out how much we have in common.'

'How can what we know influence mainstream policy?'

'Anxieties - don’t let the host institution taint the neutral space of PETT, which is not just about children’s TCs.'

'Is it the building? The people?'

'PETT has not been able to secure the resources necessary for it to proceed. What are the practical ways in which one can?'


6. Ian Milne

Just before Christmas we learned of the death of Ian Milne.

Ian was the music-loving psychiatric nurse who happened to have a reel to reel tape recorder to hand in 1970 when Leonard Cohen visited the Henderson Hospital to play a concert for the residents. Ian wrote later:
I remember Stuart Whiteley coming into the Community Meeting at the Henderson saying "some guy called Leonard Cohen wanted to come and sing for the community". Stuart obviously did not realise the significance of this, and neither did I because I recorded it and stored it under the stairs for years.
Archivist Craig Fees writes:
"The tape came up casually in a telephone conversation about Dennie Briggs and the Henderson Hospital, and after Ian heard my jaw hit the floor he agreed to let the Archive have it professionally digitised. That was in 2005. By that time Ian was already an old friend, having written about Dennie and the Henderson for the old Joint Newsletter (of the Association of Therapeutic Communities, Charterhouse Group of Therapeutic Communities, and Planned Environment Therapy Trust), and - having been an active member of the even older ATC email discussion list created by Chris Evans in 1996 - took it on and expanded it into the Therapeutic Community Open Forum (TC-OF) email discussion list, when Chris decided to hang up his dedicated server in 2004.

"When the history of the Archive and Study Centre comes to be written, Ian's DNA will be found everywhere from then on. When I was made redundant in 2005 and rehired on a rolling part-time contract which effectively precluded outreach, Ian became an active partner in initiatives to find ways of getting information from the collections into the world, and of continuing the work of an engaged archive in our spare times. He was first on board in 2007 when we began the project with the Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Birmingham to create an active Institute for the History and Work of Therapeutic Environments (IHWTE) based in the Archive, creating the possibility for an exciting flow of conferences and research. Even before that he had led on expanding the TC-OF email discussion list into a full-scale online Comprehensive Resource for therapeutic environments, which included RadioTC International, the online station "created by and for the therapeutic community world" [For an in-depth discussion of RadioTC International CLICK HERE}.

"He led us into the online virtual world of 'SecondLife', where he built the prototype for an online therapeutic community community incorporating a virtual extension of the Archive and Study Centre - a wonderful concept, seeing how far the emerging tools of the Internet could be used to augment the limitations of everyday reality. Back out in mainline Internet territory, he pushed the boundaries again with "The Dennie Briggs Living Digital Archive", a co-production, through more conventional website technology, to bring the documents and writings of therapeutic community pioneer Dennie Briggs into their widest possible accessibility. It was Ian who got us into Twitter, aeons before it caught on; when the bird logo still cried out "Woodstock Nation" and conveyed something of the innocence of Charles Schultz's Peanuts creation.

"Not satisfied with the limitations of The Living Digital Archive, Ian continued to experiment with new ways to bring a living conversation with Dennie into being, ultimately moving from Joomla to WordPress, by way of dedicated chat rooms and conversation tools, to create a living blog at denniebriggs.com which he and Dennie actively cultivated. We began to realise something was wrong when the site went down in late 2017, and the always-responsive Ian - the turn-to person when anything on the Web went wrong, PETT or otherwise - didn't respond. At the beginning of December Ian's son Ben let us know that Ian had died.

"We are immensely grateful to Ben and his brother Tom, and Mary their mother, who was such a huge support for Ian, for lending us this remarkable man for so long. They have lost their husband and father. PETT has lost an extraordinary friend; and the therapeutic community world, an exemplar."

7. Notes from the Stakeholder Visioning Day (afternon session)

(With thanks to the notetaker. Please note that these notes don't necessarily reflect the experience or views of PETT or the Mulberry Bush Organisation)

Charities with local authority backing live day to day on account of the possibility of funding withdrawal; this affects work.

MBS is regarded as a close partner of PETT. It has been looking to develop its own a research and education centre here [at MBS].

Should the archive relocate, it must cover the entire lifespan, children's and adults. Not denied is the significance of the loss of PETT. Will its spirit live on here at MBS?

Education? Resource? Archive. Hope is that it is within a 5 mile radius of MBS. Will there be accommodation? A former child asked.

The archive would be maintained and managed to a professional standard. Accessions will be accepted. Groups and individuals would be most welcome to visit and work and develop.

Governance of PETT-held records by the Mulberry Bush - a conflict of interest? PETT is an independent charity. Trustees at Glebe House raised the question.

There is currently a search for a suitable building. Temporary storage has been located, should this be needed in the meantime. Confidential storage, but accessible.

MBS Trustees (as distinct from the Charity Leadership team, which should develop a distinct responsibility.)

The future of the archive. Key is Sustainability in the archive sense - how will it be ensured that the archive expertise as regards these specific voluminous and complex collections will be maintained and embedded? Will there be an archivist on the Charity Leadership Team?

[Thankyous and Goodbyes!]