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About Acceptance: A Transformational Place
We're setup to provide a place for those that don't fit into the traditional system. Whether it's the school system, traditional family dynamics, common therapy practices or the cultures in which we live, there is a profound disconnect in how the dominant culture treats people on the fringe. As the saying goes "The problem with trying to fit a square peg into a round hole isn't that it doesn't fit... it's that you damage the peg."
The "one size fits all" mentality of the traditional institutions of society, do not actually fit all. And those that it does not fit are often profoundly damaged and traumatized through the process of trying to force them to "fit in". We're here to offer & teach a different alternative: A way of living, existing and responding to the world that doesn't rely on force.
There's a profound need for a space to step back, decompress, re-assess, learn new tools and THEN go back into the world, ready & equipped to handle whatever life throws at you. At present moment, we've found that there aren't too many facilities aimed specifically at providing a safe, resilient space for individuals & families who are dealing with challenges like Asperger's, Autism, PTSD, and plain ol' overwhelm. So that's what we are here for: To provide a safe, accepting space, and then to let that space do its work.
So our purpose is providing a space where people can (often for the first time) truly relax, let go and decompress. A place where they can pause. A place where they can connect with others, make friends, finally feel like they are apart of a community, and finally feel accepted.
Our temporary home is a 20-acre former dairy farm located in Centralia, Washington (1.5 hrs from both Portland & Seattle). The land has a meadow, pond, 2 forests, campground and barn. While we are raising money & building our permanent facilities next door, we're hosting camping weekends & experiential retreats from May - September each year.
On a wider scale, we're focused on building Acceptance in the Pacific Northwest for two reasons: The culture & people of the Pacific Northwest deeply fit within our values and the seasons are mild but still have enough variation to them.
Both our temporary home, and the land we intend to purchase next door are only 15 minutes from Centralia, WA, which is right on the major I-5 freeway. There's a train station in downtown Centralia that goes to Seattle & Portland, and it's an easy access point to everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer, while still feeling secluded and remote.
Bringing decades of both personal and professional experience in a wide variety of modalities, the Acceptance staff is here to help guide & facilitate our participants, as well as implement the ultimate vision for this special space. Meet our core staff below.
Danny Raede is the CEO & Co-Founder of Asperger Experts, the world's largest community & training platform for parents & people on the autistic spectrum, with a global reach of over half a million people each day. Having been diagnosed with Asperger's himself at age 12, Danny inspires, educates and provides much needed guidance to those struggling to live in a world that is, quite literally, painful to them.
He serves as Director on the board of Acceptance, guiding the ultimate vision and helping create a place where people can finally feel truly accepted, connected and at peace. In his free time he enjoys walking in nature, researching the intersection of architecture & psychology, and eating tacos. Lots of tacos.
Seth "Grey Owl" MacNeely
While never diagnosed with Asperger's (there wasn't a word for it in those days), Seth was one of the first generation of kids to be treated pharmaceutically for "hyperactivity." With two of his own three children labeled as ADD and ADHD, he is keenly aware of the challenges that we all face.
Seth has spent the last 20 years working in leadership roles within corporate America and the last 10 doing large-scale project management for a company with revenues in excess of 10 billion annually. While successful, his greatest love has been for Nature and the healing connections it can bring to people.
In addition to graduate work in organizational dynamics and human resources, Seth is a classically-trained actor who spent 10 pre-corporate years working professionally in San Diego - feel free to ask for help with Shakespeare homework!
Seth enjoys camping with his family, horseback riding, scuba diving, long motorcycle trips - any excuse to be outside, really!
First and foremost Titus is a lover of life! An explorer at heart, he is fascinated by the human landscape. As a coach, trainer, speaker and co-founder of Heroics Training Systems, his work focuses on activating and empowering human potential through reintegrating the mindbody as a functional whole.
He works with innovators, leaders and organizations to optimize performance and enrich the living experience.
Titus says, “My passion is to create learning environments that foster the playful development of physical skill and somatic intelligence.We all have hidden skills and capacities that can be cultivated through practice. I love being witness to that moment when a person gains access to abilities they never knew they had."
James Lee Gibbs
James Lee Gibbs has been on a journey of self-discovery since learning he was autistic at the age of 32. Previously, life felt like a futile practice of survival. Always struggling to feel "good enough." After learning about the neurodiversity paradigm, James threw himself into the study of psychology, the practice of mindfulness, stoicism, and works of authors like Brené Brown, Alfie Kohn, and Manuel J Smith. Together this has transformed his quality of life, and been pivotal in creating a home oriented around love and acceptance with his wife and two children.
James studied Computer Science and Information Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology while continuing to work on animations that he started in high school. Unfortunately, without the self-awareness and practices acquired in more recent years he returned to his home town in upstate New York before completing his undergraduate degree. He has worked as a professional Software Engineer for 12 years. He also has participated in several Seattle-area Game Jam events. He spends time among communities like AE+ by Asperger Experts hoping to promote acceptance and advocate for neurodivergent individuals. He enjoys any combination of time with his family, nature, researching psychology, or playing & designing games.
We Need Your Help
During the summer of 2017, we held camping & volunteer weekends at a location provided free-of-charge to Acceptance. Over 100 individuals, primarily families, participated in those weekends, and the results that came to the participants were often profound.
We heard kids say things like "When I'm out here, I don't feel like I have Autism".
This year, we're continuing to offer camping activities at our temporary location in Centralia, WA, while we work to raise money to purchase a 20 acre parcel literally next to our current location so we can start building our permanent facilities.
One of the big things we think that is missing in the current conversation around people that don't fit into the world (such as those on the autistic spectrum) is how the physical environment and space can affect them. I'm sure you've heard how restaurants and other public places are designed to maximize certain objectives (McDonalds uses bright colors to encourage you not to linger, Jazz music in bars increases tips, etc).
We're using those same principles, but optimizing for healing, space & relaxation. For example, according to the book "Welcome To Your World: How The Built Environment Shapes Our Lives", "One recent study of the learning progress of 751 pupils in classrooms in thirty-four different British schools identified six design parameters - color, choice, complexity, flexibility, light and connectivity - that significantly affect learning, and demonstrated that on average, built environmental factors impact a students learning by an astonishing 25%. The difference in learning between a student in the best designed classroom and one in the worst designed classroom was equal to the progress that a typical student makes over an entire academic year."
We need your help to raise the $250,000 necessary to purchase the land and start to build our permanent facilities. Having permanent facilities will allow us to start conducting programs for children, teenagers & young adults, as well as weekend and week long programs for families. It will also allow for longer term stays, which means that we can start to offer internship programs to young adults & others that are looking to find their place in the world, as well as those that need a bit more time to relax, recharge and reconnect.
We'll also be able to offer employment, housing & a built-in sense of community to the people we serve. They'll work in the various parts of the retreat center, learning valuable skills, making friends, and contributing to the growth, relaxation and healing of our weekly participants.
Acceptance: A Transformational Place is a Washington State 501(c)(3) pending non-profit. Please consult with a tax professional if you have any questions about deducting your donation.