COPY OF A LETTER THAT IS COMING TO YOU BY AIRMAIL
July 3rd 2000
Dear Dr Umanoff and colleagues,
This letter is to congratulate you the Institute for Social Inventions has
judged your scheme of a national association for addicts to be the Best
Social Innovation for the year 2000 in the Welfare Category. (The draft of
the book entry about you is given below.)
No money or ceremony attaches to the Award, only publicity, but you will be
sent the certificate shortly and your Award is described in detail in our
annual 350-page book The Book of Inspirations A Directory of Social
Inventions which will be posted to you at the end of July or early in
August. Please let us know whether all the contact details we have for you
are correct (see the very end of this e-mail). From September the book will
also feature in the Institute¹s Global Ideas Bank on the web (at
www.globalideasbank.org) which receives some 3 million accesses a year at
The media will be informed that the official date for the announcement of
these Awards is September 1st 2000, but you may, if you wish, publicise your
receipt of this Award before then and you are indeed encouraged to make
contact with your local media. The certificate and other material being sent
to you shortly may help with this.
The Institute is an educational charity founded in 1985 and based in London,
with as patrons, inter alia, Brain Eno, Anita Roddick, Sir Peter Parker and
Fay Weldon. Schemes around the world are drawn to the Institute¹s attention
by its international correspondents and are judged by the directors of the
We would be grateful for e-mail or other acknowledgement of safe receipt of
With best wishes and congratulations,
The Institute for Social Inventions | Tel +44 20 8208 2853
| Fax +44 20 8452 6434
20 Heber Road, London NW2 6AA, UK
Global Ideas Bank: http://www.globalideasbank.org
15 Awards for the Institute¹s 15th birthday
The UK-based Institute for Social Inventions, whose patrons and consultants
include Brian Eno, Anita Roddick, Professor Charles Handy and Fay Weldon,
was born in 1985 as an international suggestion box for social improvements.
For its 15th birthday on September 1st 2000, the Institute announces the
following 15 Awards for the best and most imaginative ideas and projects
from around the world.
Institute for Social Inventions, 20 Heber Road, London NW2 6AA, UK (tel 020
8208 2853; fax 020 8452 6434; e-mail: email@example.com; web:
Self-taught computer literacy for kids in Delhi slum.
The £1,000 Social Innovations Award for 2000 goes to Sugata Mitra of the
NIIT software company in Delhi for his hole-in-the-wall experiment where he
plugged a video-supervised, web-connected Pentium PC into a wall which
separates his company from waste land. Within days, slum children between
the ages of six and 12 had taught themselves to surf the web, to use
Microsoft Paint and to download MP3 Hindi film songs.
Having thus demonstrated that curious children, working together as a group,
can attain basic computer literacy without help, Mitra has now designed a
scheme with a budget of $2 billion whereby within five years 500 million
Indian children, using 100,000 computer kiosks, would make themselves
Meet the mayor on the park bench
The Local Authorities Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Kolbjørn
Kvaerum, Mayor of Ringerike, a municipality of 28,000 in Norway, for his
sitting on the same red bench in the centre of Hønefoss every Wednesday at
noon, whatever the weather. This was his idea for opening up dialogue with
his community. Sometimes people have to queue up to chat with him. Some want
to talk about council matters, others about their own concerns. See page XXX
for further details.
Could Ken Livingstone, London¹s new mayor, copy this, perhaps doing his
weekly sitting in one borough after another, in rotation?
Network of Hippocratic drop-in groups for doctors
The Medical Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Dr Rachel Remen for having
launched a network of drop-in groups for doctors in the States where they
can explore Hippocratic values and find deeper meaning in their work. To
start a group, a doctor simply invites several like-minded colleagues to
meet one evening a month for two to three hours. Topics in these groups have
included suffering, listening, mistakes and loneliness, and the price of
admission¹ is the willingness to share a story with the group.
Dr Remen believes that a sense of compassion and meaning, which are often
lacking in medical training and practice, can help doctors to recover from
the disease¹ of objectivity. ³More mistakes², she says, ³are made by
objectivity than were ever made by intimacy.²
Tribal Indian women in afforestation scheme.
The International Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Chami Murmu, a young
tribal woman in an impoverished district of Bihar, India, and her group,
Sahyogi Mahila for their planting of nearly two million trees. They
encourage each participating village to form a committee for the protection
of the new woods.
Money from fines for cutting trees is used to provide soft loans for
marriages, medical treatment, etc. Sahyogi Mahila now also run 24 schools, a
poultry farm and a dairy.
Subtitling TV songs for mass literacy
The Education Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to a scheme for Same
Language Subtitling of Gujurati film songs on Indian TV so that
semi-literate viewers are motivated to practise their reading on a regular
basis. The subtitling helps them to know the lyrics or to sing along with
The promoters calculate that Same Language Subtitling could be extended to
120 million neo-literates at a lowly cost of 0.0001 US$ per person per
A council¹s incentives for compost toilets.
The Ecology Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to the municipal council of
Tanum (population 12,000) in Sweden which uses a range of incentives to
encourage the take-up of composting toilets. Permission to instal a
non-composting toilet in a new building is hard to obtain and hooking up to
the sewers is charged at over £3,000. As a result less than 8 per cent of
new houses being built each year now come with WCs. Annual service fees are
halved for existing houses that convert to composting toilets. See page XXX
for further details.
Eco-Lighthouse free eco-audits for firms that spread the word
The Business Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to the Eco-Lighthouse
project in Norway, started by the Kristiansand municipality. The city
authorities paid for an eco-audit for nine local businesses, ranging from a
hotel to an ice-cream factory, so as to help them draw up three-year plans
for reducing their resource consumption and environmental impact and for
improving their work environment.
In return for receiving these audits, which enabled them to cut costs, the
firms had to undertake to disseminate their experience of the process to
other firms in the same line of business as themselves so that the scheme
became virtually self-disseminating.
Proper energy behaviour a social skill learnt in kindergarten
The Education Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Per Hilmo for his belief
that ³proper energy behaviour is a social skill which has to be developed in
the early years of life². He involves children in Norwegian kindergartens
and schools as energy caretakers, reading meters each week at school and
keeping an Energy Diary on home energy consumption. Children confront their
parents about conservation measures at home and at school they learn how
meter readings can be reduced by closing doors and windows, heating the
school only when in use, running the dishwasher only when full and so on.
Extending the living room into the street
The Neighbourhood Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Trond Sigvaldsen and
his neighbours in Vikesdalsgata Street in Stavanger, Norway. It all started
one day when Sigvaldsen took his father¹s garden bench out in the street to
give it a polish, taking his newspaper and coffee flask with him. Soon
people were gathering round his bench for a chat. So, they thought, why not
make the whole street into an open air living room?
Since then, they have furnished it with benches, tables, a pergola, potted
plants, a notice-board, a flagpole and even wiring for those who want to be
outdoors as they surf the net.
Noise-pollution-free reserves for sea mammals
The Campaigning Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to the Natural Resources
Defence Council in Washington which has advocated the creation of marine
reserves where noise pollution would be forbidden. At close range, powerful
underwater sounds can cause a sea mammal¹s ears and lungs to rupture or can
lead to the desertion of habitats.
The Council has forced the US Navy to abandon its plans for ocean tests of
its disruptive new sonar system. See XXX for further details.
Free UN anti-virus web software
The Software Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Matti Nummelin in Finland
for his suggestion that an international body such as the UN Development
Programme co-ordinate the creation of anti-virus software that anybody in
the developing world could download for free from the web. Users in the
developing world cannot afford to buy such software and its updates, with
the result that many of their systems are crippled by rogue viruses, which
they in turn spread to the developed world.
A politician¹s suit covered with sponsors¹ logos
The Wild Card Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Patrick Therien in the
States for his suggestion that at least once a year politicians should be
obliged to wear a ceremonial suit covered with their sponsors¹ logos, with
the patches sized according to the percentage the sponsor contributed to the
The politicians would look like racing car drivers with their sporting
chevrons, and at a glance the voters could all see who really pays for
Web archives of scientists¹ transcendent experiences
The Science Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Professor Tart in
California for The Archives of Scientists¹ Transcendent Experiences (TASTE)
on the web (at www.issc-taste.org). Professor Tart believes that the
materialistic and reductionist psychosocial climate of contemporary science
has rejected and suppressed both the having and the sharing of transcendent,
transpersonal, spiritual or psychic states and experiences.
The website is a safe and anonymous, quality-controlled space that
scientists can contribute to and that the general public can have access to.
It will lead, he hopes, to ³a more receptive climate within the scientific
profession to the full range of our humanity².
Improving PR: Single Party Government Guarantee
The Politics Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Dr David Chapman of the
Democracy Design Forum for his design of a Single-Party-Government AV
electoral system. The Labour Government in the UK is looking for just such a
reform of the electoral system, one that lacks the drawbacks of coalition
politics associated with PR. This new system not only virtually guarantees
single-party government but also provides single-member constituencies and
gives seats to minor parties with no representation threshold. It would tend
to create a situation where two main parties alternate in office, each with
an incentive to adopt moderate and responsive policies.
A national association for addicts
The Welfare Social Innovations Award 2000 goes to Dr Dan Umanoff in the
States for his National Association for the Advancement and Advocacy of
Addicts, which he has formed to fight the discrimination of addicts. The
Association seeks to change the laws that criminalise being an addict and to
put discrimination against addicts on a par with sexual and racial
discrimination or discrimination against those with physical or mental
Dr Umanoff believes that some people are as liable to the disease of
addiction as others are to diabetes or leukaemia; and that the focus needs
to be not on removing the addictions but on recovering from the underlying
disease. The aim is also to provide free legal and other advocacy for those
addicts attempting to confront discrimination.
FULL ARTICLE FOLLOWS:
A national association for addicts
Dan F. Umanoff, MD
Adapted from the Association website (at www.hypoism.com).
The National Association for the Advancement and Advocacy of Addicts is a
non-profit organisation formed to fight discrimination against addicts and
to promote the Hypoism paradigm of addictions and its principles.
Purposes of the Association
The purposes of the Association are:
* To provide a rational context, that of the Hypoism paradigm (see the note
on Hypoism at the end of this item), into which all addicts are perceived
and placed by themselves and society.
* To provide advocacy free of charge on all levels (social, legal,
political, medical, financial, occupational, licensure, criminal justice and
various local, state and federal administrative boards) in order to legally
confront discrimination of addicts in these areas.
* To educate the public, including addicts, on the true nature of
addictions, based on the Hypoism paradigm, to end stigmatisation and denial
and to improve recovery.
* To prevent and punish the discrimination and abuse of addicts.
* To oversee and peer review all scientific research (governmental, academic
and private) and research proposals in order to end the current
psychologically-biased pseudoscience of addiction.
* To remove addiction from the auspices of psychiatry and psychology and
place it into the correct realm of human biological diversity based on
* To distinguish being an addict from the doing of actual harm to other
people (assumptions and accusations of harm need to substantiated by proven
* To make suggestions to, but not interfere with, existing 12-Step
programmes so that they may be more inclusive and effective.
* To provide a prototype 12-Step programme, Hypoics Non-anonymous, which
utilises all Hypoism concepts.
* To change laws that criminalise being an addict, instead of focusing on
specific interpersonal behaviors.
* To end the discrimination against addicts, just as there is an ending of
discrimination against other diversity based groups racial, sexual,
religious, ethnic, ideological or concerned with physical and mental
The Association's beliefs:
The National Association for the Advancement and Advocacy of Addicts does
not advocate the use of addictions, but we are realistic about
non-recovering addicts using addictions. We make no judgements about the use
of addictions, but we do support addicts, using or not. We know that addicts
will always use their addictions until and unless they are in recovery.
As such, we support recovery and we support all means to allow addicts to
enter recovery, including destigmatisation, decriminalisation, and
preventing the abuse and de facto punishment of active addicts. We do not
support or condone hurtful interpersonal actions or crime by addicts, but we
do believe that the rational and realistic attitude we have about addictions
and addicts will lead to significant reduction of addiction-based crime.
An example of the catch 22 laws that all drug addicts face are those that
criminalise the purchase, possession, and use of illegal drugs. How is it
possible to be a drug addict and not to purchase, possess and use illegal
drugs? Thus merely being a drug addict is to be a felon, ipso facto.
The Association¹s realistic attitude about addiction is the only attitude
that promotes self-diagnosis and hence, quick and easy access to recovery;
the only means of preventing the damaging effects of addictions.
We do not justify the "but I have a disease" excuse concerning getting off
the hook or getting out of taking responsibility and being accountable for
proven, hurtful, interpersonal crimes. We do believe, though, that our
approach to the cause and etiology of addictions and our destigmatisation
campaign will drastically reduce interpersonal crimes by allowing addicts to
come out of the closet into the fresh air of honestly admitting their
Hypoism and addictions.
The social atmosphere must be enlightened, accepting and conducive for this
to occur. Judgmentalism, stigmatisation, and punishment for merely being an
addict perpetuates all the negative aspects of addiction inside the closet
of shame and personal denial. The present psychological and religious
paradigm of addictions ensures the perpetuation of the current social
attitudes which maintain and magnify these damaging aspects many times more
than do the addictions themselves.
We believe that unless the public is educated about the true nature of the
disease that causes inevitable addictions in certain people (just as
diabetes and leukaemia occur in certain people) then addiction bias and
discrimination will continue to flourish. We believe that the present
superstitious views on addictions are comparable to the views of most people
concerning epilepsy 150 years ago. If the facts are known and the stigma
removed then intelligent and effective intervention and recovery can be
implemented for all addicts and their families.
Our legal and political system has, in far too many ways, punished addicts
because of the presence of a disease. Criminal and civil legal
discrimination and bias are rampant and these issues must be addressed on a
case-by-case basis by committed Association legal professionals. The
Association provides advocacy for fair and impartial treatment of addicts
and for the changing of unrealistic and counterproductive legislation.
Our goal is to ensure that addicts get fair and equal treatment under the
law and that unconstitutional and prohibitionist-type statutes are repealed
and replaced with realistic laws which will benefit society and put an end
to the war on drugs and addicts. Addicts need to perceive themselves as a
discriminated-against minority, and to take responsibility for confronting
and resolving their own legal, political, medical, and social issues.
The present situation is an untenable one in which we basically agree with
non-addicts about our deferential status and beg them to please forgive us,
accept us and to let us be normal if we act according to their dictates and
whims. We need to realise that they are not going to take care of us the way
we need to be taken care of. Only we can do that. This can only happen if we
do the leg work and demand our rights and equal status under the law. This
does not mean we are not held responsible for interpersonal harm. It does,
however, mean that we are held to the same standards of the law as others
and not to special standards for addicts only. We only demand equal rights
and protection under the law. It also means that some biased laws that
specifically discriminate against addicts must be changed.