December 19, 2011
Dear Friend of the ACO:
Look at this baby. Safe and secure in a pair of loving hands. Every year we come to you asking for support to continue our mission: to make the world a better place for the future of humanity by supporting the health in the children of the future. Everyone genuinely touched by functional knowledge becomes a stronger pair of hands to safely carry and support that health in our world.
Orgonomy itself is still a young science that has struggled to survive even in its infancy in an often hostile world. It too needs to be nurtured and protected.
The holidays are a time for hearth and home. A time to settle in front of the fire (literally or figuratively), to absorb the warmth of home and feel the warmth of family and friends. Every one of you is part of the ACO community of friends and family, and more broadly of orgonomy.
It is also important to have a place that is safe and secure to get out of the storm, to work and be productive whether that storm is meteorological or the storm of human problems and destructiveness.
We Need to Make Contact with New People
It bears repeating, because we must not lose sight of the fact that to survive and carry the invaluable knowledge of orgonomy and its practical applications into the future, we must attract new people to train and carry on the work. Over the years we have tried various ways to accomplish this goal.
In recent years it has become increasingly clear that we need to connect with those people who already have a sense that, “There has to be more to life.” Attempting to attract the general public or the “man in the street” is not likely to be successful. Our plans for outreach should be focused because those who might be seriously interested in orgonomy are a distinct minority of the population.
Historically, as individuals and as an organization, we do best by making contact with people when we are relaxed and “at home.” This is the optimum way to successfully deepen current interest or generate new interest in orgonomy and in the ACO.
A Home for Orgonomy
A central headquarters for the College as a home for ongoing work in orgonomy was the dream and vision of ACO founder, Dr. Elsworth Baker. This was a direct continuation of Wilhelm Reich’s dream that prompted him in 1942 to purchase and begin to develop the property in Rangeley, Maine that he called, “Orgonon.” Reich’s original thinking was for a property that housed administrative and publishing functions, a laboratory, orgone energy observatory, clinic and orgonomic hospital. Dr. Baker’s vision was also as broad reaching, long-term and grand as Reich’s. ￼
It seems clear that both Dr. Baker and Dr. Reich wanted their headquarters to be in a natural setting. Reich loved the beauty of the surroundings and the clarity of the atmosphere of rural Maine, but at the same time he was aware of a conflict of where orgonomy should be centered. The problem of the isolation of Orgonon from the mainstream of humanity was poignantly expressed in a letter Reich wrote to his good friend A.S. Neill.
I escaped a great danger, Neill. In November, I nearly fell prey to the mystical expectation that I should stay in Maine, on a high mountain, gazing at the stars, as the overall genius, far removed from petty human events. Maybe I should have. But as I pondered over the problem whether to stay in Maine or to return to New York, I felt that I would not be able to produce a single orgonometric thought if I were to discontinue my work on the human structure. And I returned to New York at the end of November...to establish an Orgonomic Infants’ Research Center...
Dr. Baker undoubtedly had in mind the problems of the inaccessibility of Orgonon when, during our search for a property, he adamantly held to the position that the ACO headquarters should be conveniently located in close proximity to major population centers and accessible to public transportation. As a result we focused on the Princeton area, roughly equidistant from both New York City and Philadelphia. He also hoped that at some point this location might facilitate an association with Princeton as an academic center.
The dilemma he faced was: should an orgonomic headquarters be somewhat removed from the irrationality of the world and isolated in nature to facilitate atmospheric research? Or should it be easily accessible to people to facilitate the availability of therapy and training and increase the likelihood of making contact with and attracting potential workers in the field?
Sadly, Dr. Baker died in June, 1985 before we found a property that fit the criteria he envisioned. Through that summer, after his death, the ACO met and developed organizational structures to continue the work without him. The College was determined to fulfill Dr. Baker’s dream and the building search committee continued to look during the bleak winter months. In the spring of 1986 we found our current headquarters and closed on the purchase by that summer.
We immediately moved our administrative, teaching and publishing functions into the new building. Our executive director organized volunteers to convert the garage into laboratory space, which was dedicated in October 1986 as the Elsworth F. Baker Oranur Research Laboratory, and where laboratory teaching and research began. Since its purchase in 1986, our organizational home and central location have been very effective in helping us to organize, support and maintain our ongoing activities in all essential functions - training, publication, public education and research. So much of its value is hard to put into words because the effects are powerful and profound: having a place owned by the ACO to hold meetings, seminars and conduct business. Compare this to how it was before, when each month we rotated meetings and seminars from one College member’s private home to another.
Our Public Presentations
After our move to the Princeton area, for the first time we opened our private scientific meetings to the public. Subsequently, for many years we held an annual, public, all-day scientific conference, renting local hotel or conference center space. We also began to periodically hold other public events. In recent years we moved away from the expensive, all-day, large conference format and began the social orgonomy presentation series. A low-key, two-hour, Saturday afternoon event promoted only to our own mailing list and held in the seminar room at the ACO, they became our major means of personal/public outreach.
The series generated sufficient interest that it spurred the ACO to renovate the interior of the headquarters to make it more attractive and “public friendly.” These renovations included expansion of the entry and waiting room to accommodate a larger audience of about 50 people for subsequent presentations. Within months, growing interest in these presentations generated a regular following and inspired a large enough group to fill a new class in the social orgonomy training program for the Fall of 2007. Space considerations and other logistical problems made us consider holding future social orgonomy presentations off-site.
In October 2009, in an attempt to attract a broader audience, the tone and topic of presentations was made more topical. “Text, Phone, or Talk: Communication Confusion in the Electronic Age,” was moved to downtown Princeton to attract more of the general public and, as we were about to exceed the capacity of our presentation room at the ACO, to accommodate a bigger crowd. With an audience numbering 76, that presentation has, in fact, had the largest attendance of any of our public social orgonomy presentations.
Since that time all of the social orgonomy presentations have been off-site and offered free to the public, initially because of Princeton Library regulations but later in an experiment to attempt to bring in more new participants. From June 2010 to June 2011 the largest audience was 56, and for those five presentations the total attendance was 189 -- including 32 attendees new to the ACO. Of those 32, most declined to give contact information, and only two had any further contact with us.
Let’s Use our Home to Connect with the Public
I believe this experiment of trying to attract the general public by our presence in downtown Princeton was well worth undertaking but it is clear that it did not accomplish our primary goal of finding people who will become involved in what we do. In retrospect, we made good contact with people when our social orgonomy presentations were “at home.” The off-site venues gave more of a “corporate” feel to the presentations. It is now time for us to go back to using our home and really develop it to help attract people to our work. And we need to stay clear about who “our public” is. We want to attract people who believe that they can find more satisfaction in their lives.
To make better contact with those we need to connect with, we must present a public face that is commensurate with the depth and quality of the work that we do. The best way to do that is to improve our headquarters’ property to make it a place that anyone interested in our work is proud to come to, and is proud to bring friends and colleagues to. We will also be more effective by encouraging people who already have a connection with the ACO and our work to bring someone new to events where they can make personal contact with us and truly comprehend the depth and value of what we do.
Before I give you a preview of what we envision for our property, I want to give you a brief update about our successes in 2011.
Our Accomplishments in 2011
For years our most successful activity has been training, first our medical and now our social orgonomy training program. These programs not only fulfill our core function, because they bring people with a depth of knowledge and the ability to continue and develop the work, but they also support our work by providing revenue. This year, new trainees in both the medical and social orgonomy programs enrolled in our ongoing training seminars.
As has been said previously, the reality is that we could increase enrollment in both the medical and social orgonomy training programs by 50 to 100% without any significant increase in College members’ expenditure of time and energy. We are interviewing and have accepted four solid candidates for the social orgonomy training program who, along with one potential candidate for the medical orgonomy training, will fill a new introductory didactic course in Fall 2012.
Our public social orgonomy presentations were another great success in 2011. This year we held four events, double the number in 2010, which were limited due to scheduling and weather constraints. Our latest event on October 1, 2011, “Burned But Not Forgotten: U.S. Government Suppression of Wilhelm Reich’s Work,” during the American Library Association’s annual Banned Book Week, included emotionally moving remarks from a dozen different individuals about the impact of Reich’s books on their lives. We also used this as an opportune occasion to publish and release for sale Elsworth F. Baker’s, My Eleven Years with Wilhelm Reich. This book serves in part as an antidote to recent, widely publicized distortions about Reich and his work -- some of the worst since Reich’s death in 1957.
We also held a laboratory course this past year for the first time in four years. We had the largest group ever, combining an introductory two-day course with an advanced four-day course. The exciting and diverse group of students came from the tri-state area and from as far away as Montreal, Canada and Valparaíso, Chile.
In 2011 our laboratory technician, Steve Dunlap, made significant progress and exciting observations in his continued work on “Project Protozoa.” As his research results become more solidly confirmed, he will report them in the Journal of Orgonomy.
The Condition of Our Finances
Every year I give you a brief update about the state of our finances. 2011 continued to be a difficult year economically for many people, with the ACO being no exception. In the past I have reported that approximately one third of our annual income comes from donors like you, another third from fees for our training programs, and the final third from our activities such as Journal and book sales and events.
This year we saw a noticeable shift in these proportions. In the income column, training fees were the only segment to show an increase, albeit modest. This good news came as a result of the increased enrollment in our training seminars from those who completed the didactic seminar in 2010, as well as the tuition from a new social orgonomy seminar that began in October 2010.
Our donations are down significantly this year. Unfortunately, a major donor who had consistently helped us when funds were short passed away last year. Some other major donors who sent “windfalls” in recent years were not in a position to do so this year. On the other hand, many of our small to modest donors have fortunately continued to be generous.
The income from our ongoing sales of journals and books was about the same but the income from events dropped in large part because our public presentations are now free. However, they were not free to us. Costs have been defrayed by small donations from many attendees as well as generous donations from a number of our supporters that have so far covered our expenses, averaging around $2,000 per presentation. This support is much appreciated. At the same time, however, they have diverted general donations that these contributors would have made to our general operating fund, a category that has been down this year.
In book sales and income from events we saw a few financial bright spots. Although very time-intensive for the five volunteer faculty, we brought in over $10,000 in income from the laboratory course. Our silent auction at the annual dinner was also very successful, bringing in nearly $2,800 (up from $1,800 last year). Also, we have already sold 50 copies of Dr. Baker’s, My Eleven Years with Wilhelm Reich, bringing in $2,250 while expenses were $1,637 to typeset, print and ship 100 copies.
Our staff has continued to do everything in their power this year to reduce expenses so that despite reduced income in several categories, we were able to function well and make it to the end of the year with only a $16,000 draw from our investment account to cover our operating shortfall -- a significant improvement 5 over the $36,000 annual withdrawal we made just a few years ago. At our current level of activities and spending, however, we will run out of money within five years unless we have new sources of income to cover expenses and/or replenish our investment account. To keep this in perspective, it should be noted that the fees from just four new students in our ongoing medical orgonomy training program would cover this year’s $16,000 shortfall.
Who Works at the ACO’s Home?
The breadth and extent of how much we are able to accomplish is amazing considering the small budget that we have. The members of the ACO “family” who do the work include volunteer members of our board of regents, executive committee, training programs’ faculty, doctors and other volunteers on the Journal of Orgonomy staff and business advisory board, as well as our public speakers, writers, editors, website developers, our laboratory technician and others who put in hundreds of hours a month to accomplish these and many other functions. Many of these volunteers are our medical orgonomists and psychologists and others who, without pay or fanfare, see that things get done.
All of this activity along with our administrative work is accomplished with just two paid staff members: our full time executive director, Debra Sansanelli, and our part-time administrative assistant, Jill Schwartz.
The Best Investment That You Can Make
Most of you who have contributed to our work know about it from your experience in orgone therapy. How can you put a dollar value on how the knowledge of orgonomy has touched you and helped you experience greater pleasure and deeper satisfaction in your love relationships and in your work life? There is no way to measure the value of such an investment, but every dollar you donate goes to our two basic functions of keeping the science and knowledge of orgonomy alive and developing and bringing that knowledge to people to make a difference in their lives and in the world.
I am asking you to invest in this essential work. I am also asking you to trust that investing in our home during hard times is a sensible thing to do. I believe it can only increase the value of what we have as well as improve its functionality and usability. Using our home in a more concerted and public way as a means to make more contact with new people who may be interested in what we do is a subtle but important shift in our strategic thinking. I am also asking that you become more actively involved in this process. Over the years we have often heard people ask, “Why doesn’t the ACO do X, Y or Z?” Usually these are great ideas that would be good to do. As an organization we rarely lack good ideas. We lack the resources and people to carry them out.
We certainly need your financial support for our property improvement project but there may also be many of you who could help us by volunteering your expertise, time, energy and materials. More specifically, we can use help with engineering, land use planning and legal advice, excavating and drainage work, using quarry stone, landscaping, lighting design, lighting fixtures and electrical work. If you think you may have a profession, trade or skill or source of materials that could be useful in these or any related area please contact us.
I am asking you to support our ongoing work and help us establish the kind of headquarters where we can make better contact with people. A home where you can be excited to bring colleagues, friends or family who already have that sense we talk about, of believing life can be so much more fulfilling. If each of you who cares about orgonomy reaches out and takes steps to invite someone to make contact with us, we will find new people who will be interested in our work. Your part in this does not have to wait until we bring ACO public activities back home. Our next two presentations as described below are both ideal to introduce new people to what we offer.
Exciting Plans for 2012
I’ve explained how our headquarters has been home to our core functions of training, publications and research for many years, which will continue to be supported at their ongoing high level of excellence.
As we have said, a major focus for us in the coming year will be to develop our property. We need to clean it up, remove unsightly and potentially dangerous outbuildings, remove dead trees and stumps that interfere with parking, improve drainage and other basic infrastructure, and create sufficient parking to have the majority of our activities “at home.” Our current parking area is barely large enough to accommodate the number of new attendees among the enrolled students in our monthly training seminars. We need to provide for them as well as develop new parking for our public events.
We have many exciting ideas for potential activities once we are able to hold them at the headquarters. Some of them include a directed readings course to read and discuss basic texts by Reich; an ACO movie night to view a movie and have an open discussion of the orgonomic implications or principles illustrated by it; a “Meet the Orgonomist Series” to have in-depth discussions with various orgonomists on a variety of topics; informational open house events that include laboratory demonstrations as well as informal discussions with orgonomists; and fundraising and other social and public outreach events including picnics.
In 2012 we also plan to continue to hold the public social orgonomy presentations four times a year, which will be off-site until our headquarters are ready to bring them home. The next two presentations are scheduled to be at the Paul Robeson Center in downtown Princeton. The first on February 4, 2012 by Dale Rosin, D.O. will be on medical orgone therapy with children and adolescents with discussion by members of the social orgonomy training committee on the social implications of this therapy. Then on March 31, 2012 we have scheduled an exciting presentation on the problem of marijuana use among young people conducted by ACO member Dee Apple, Ph.D. accompanied by nationally known drug expert, Richard Ryan. This will be the first time we have brought in an outside speaker which we hope will attract a new audience. On June 6th during Father’s Day month we have tentatively planned a presentation on “Fathers, the Forgotten Factor.” We also have some exciting ideas for our October 6, 2012 presentation -- stay tuned because they are still in the planning stages. They will coincide with what has become the traditional time for our annual dinner.
In 2012 we also will continue to interview potential candidates to complete enrollment for a new session of the three-year didactic seminar. Slated to begin in October 2012, it is the entry point for both our medical and social orgonomy training programs.
To reiterate, we need to have more trainees to both carry out the work as well as bring in revenue from training fees. That is our best long-term strategy.
Significant Progress Made to Improve Our Home
1. Since the spring of this year, volunteer Bob Kadlec has been working steadily, assisted at times by his adult son, Chris, to clear the underbrush from our property giving it a much more open, welcoming feeling.
2. Two members of the Business Advisory Board, Jim Wittes and Jack Sargent, have taken on the responsibility for being “project heads” of the property improvement project. They are also developing a strategic approach to possible future uses of the property, so that what we do this year and next will not have to be undone to accomplish future development.
3. We have completed a wetlands survey to insure that what we do will not encroach on legally designated wetlands.
4. An architect and an engineer, both of whom volunteered their time for this meeting, gave us advice about the property uses and future planning process.
5. We have scheduled a contractor to remove trees and stumps in December, as well as another contractor to begin removing the outbuildings.
6. We are actively developing plans to do some grading and drainage work that will, as a side benefit, give us significantly larger, on-site parking.
We Need Funds for a Variety of Purposes
As always, we need money to continue our ongoing work. Some of our activities that have greater expenses than income include support for our website and our public presentations. Both of these are vital to educate the public and reach out to new people, as well as deepen the knowledge of those already familiar with orgonomy.
With our new strategic approach to use our property for outreach we will need funds to accomplish our goals. We already have $15,000 from a generous donor that will allow us to begin the early stages of the project. As plans develop further, I will also get back to you in the Spring of 2012 to report on a more detailed outline of the needed steps, their cost and progress to date.
We Need Your Support Now
There is so much that the American College of Orgonomy offers. I am asking you now to reconfirm your commitment to what we are doing. In this year where new attacks on Reich and orgonomy appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New Yorker, Economist, and many other, albeit less prominent but nonetheless significant, publications, it is especially important that we do what we can to see that this vital body of knowledge is kept alive. And I hope I’ve made it clear how we need your support to help us establish a more public and welcoming home for the on-going work in orgonomy. So I hope you will join with us by continuing your financial support to insure our success in this monumental task. With the enclosed card or on-line at www.orgonomy.org, please send your donation or sign up as a member donor so we can count on a steady income to sustain us in the coming months and years ahead.
And if you are not already on our e-mail list, please help us make contact with you more quickly going to Join Our Mailing List. From all of us at the ACO, I wish you and yours a happy Holiday Season and a healthy New Year, and I hope to see you in the near future at our “home.”
Peter A. Crist, M.D. President
Please support the ACO today.