Saturday, September 23, 2023

‘Woke Media’ Cancel Local Non-Project Leaving Hundreds in Community Without Critical Program, Alleges Unconditional Freedom Spokesperson

‘Woke Media’ Cancel Local Non-Project Leaving Hundreds in Community Without Critical Program, Alleges Unconditional Freedom Spokesperson

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In response to an article about the connection between a non-profit, Unconditional Freedom, that was offering educational and ‘character-building’ services at the Mendocino County jail and a for-profit business that markets sex as spirituality that we posted on October 6, Caryn Roth, Director of Operations at Unconditional Freedom, sent us the following piece stating, “Our programs have been canceled at the Jail and Juvenile Hall thanks to [Sarah Reith’s] salacious reporting, leaving the most vulnerable without access to programming and support.”

We will post Sarah Reith’s rebuttal piece at noon. Below is Ms. Roth’s response to Sarah’s original article:

Over the roughly three years that Unconditional Freedom (UF) has proudly served the community of Ukiah, we have provided thousands of healthy, nutritious meals to the homeless, and worked alongside the staff at the Mendocino County Jail to provide educational enrichment programs for jail residents, staff, and guards. Over that time, we have operated with the highest of ethics and integrity, and formed close, trusted relationships with our partner organizations and the community, who have repeatedly praised UF for the quality and effectiveness of our programs.

That’s why we were devastated to hear Sarah Reith’s KZYX radio segment which aired on the morning of October 5, 2022, (and later posted to the Redheaded Blackbelt blog) repeating false and salacious media allegations against Unconditional Freedom. As a result, UF’s programs in Ukiah, including the programming at Mendocino County Jail and Juvenile Hall, have been canceled, leaving nearly five hundred local people who depend on UF’s services stranded and without these programs. The problem appears to be growing worse – as people and organizations with whom we had developed close and trusted relationships are beginning to dissociate from Unconditional Freedom for fear of reprisal. Just this week, one of our Free Food (formerly called Love to Table) partners declined our offer of fresh, organic meals, which have fed twenty-five people every week.

In short, Reith’s biased and inaccurate reporting against UF compromised stellar work which was making a positive difference in the lives of individuals in the community that we are honored to serve.

Let’s set the record straight. In the report, Reith conflates the work of Unconditional Freedom with that of the organization OneTaste. While Unconditional Freedom and OneTaste share similar philosophical outlooks based on rehumanizing marginalized populations and finding power in areas that society most often casts aside (prisons, homeless, and other marginalized communities), they are separate organizations which serve distinctly different audiences in distinctly different ways. The vast majority of UF’s three hundred volunteers and none of our thousands of program participants across the country have ever heard of OneTaste. This is a testament to UF’s independent mission.

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The non-profit that would ultimately become Unconditional Freedom was originally founded in 2002 under the name Fill Up America. In its first nine months of service, Fill Up America distributed over 48 thousand pounds of surplus food and 13 thousand pounds of clothing. Fill Up America operated for over a decade and, in 2013, was selected for the 2013 San Francisco Awards for Community Service & Non-Profit Organizations.

In fact, Fill Up America, which later became Unconditional Freedom, predates OneTaste by more than seven years. OneTaste is a wellness and lifestyle company founded by San Francisco native Nicole Daedone in 2009. Before it closed in 2018, OneTaste provided courses and mindfulness practices, particularly on the philosophy of Orgasmic Meditation, a private coupled meditation practice, which improves wellbeing, focus, emotional intelligence, connection, and fulfillment.

OneTaste closed its operations amidst a controversy stoked by a false, shoddy and inaccurate media reporting about the organization. Since then, the company has labored tirelessly to rebut these false allegations by directly appealing to the standards bodies of news organizations who have mischaracterized the nature of OneTaste’s business activities. There is also significant civil litigation both in the United States and in the UK seeking redress from the harm these false claims have caused. These are ongoing efforts that have not ceased since 2018. And now, KZYX and Sarah Reith are adding to the false narrative.

Although UF Executive Director Marcus Ratnathicam and ten of UF’s staff and volunteers have worked at OneTaste, Unconditional Freedom has nothing to do with the practice of orgasmic meditation and has never promoted it to the populations it serves. In addition, UF has never tried to hide its association with OneTaste from its partners in law enforcement, because of the sensitivities around security and exposure to vulnerable populations. Well before this latest media reporting, UF leadership disclosed both the nature of its relationship with OneTaste, and the potential for media scrutiny of UF due to previous negative reporting on OneTaste. We operate from the highest standards of ethics and prudence, and never wish for our partners to be blindsided or deceived in any way.

In November 2020, Unconditional Freedom launched its Art of Soulmaking course for women in prison at the Central California Women’s Facility. In early 2021, UF began a similar program for both men and women at the Mendocino County Jail. The response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive nationwide, including the roughly 450 program participants locally, jail administration and staff, and the hundreds of volunteer letter writers who serve as pen pals to program participants. Never, while operating in these secure facilities under strict protocols, has there ever been even one instance of reported unethical behavior on the part of UF staff or volunteers.

Quite the contrary, UF has made significant positive contributions to Ukiah and surrounding communities and creating measurable positive effects for the jail population that we serve.

Results reported by prison residents who have completed the Art of Soulmaking program indicate:

  •  Stress decreased by 26 percent
  • Anger decreased by 20 percent
  • Optimism increased by 14 percent
  • Depression decreased by 26 percent
  • Gratitude increased by 14 percent

In addition, UF has:

  • Established the first garden program in 10 years at MCJ for incarcerated women and expanded the garden program for incarcerated men.
  • Established the first garden program for the Juvenile Hall detention center residents.
  • Saved Mendocino County taxpayers roughly $20,000 dollars in the form of nutritious, organic garden produce yield since 2020.
  • Offered twice-weekly classes in meditation and yoga.
  • Created a program called Guards to Guardian providing mentorship and support for correctional officers.
  • Offered Monthly Free Food meals using organic ingredients professionally prepared for MCJ staff and COs
  • Provided a $20,000 chicken coop plus week-long construction project and training for jail residents.
  • Constructed beehives to kick-start the apiary training program taught by the Mendocino County sheriff a on weekly basis

There are countless videos and other documentary evidence of the positive and constructive works of UF in the community. In fact, the Mendocino County Jail and Ukiah community has served as the model sought out by other local jails and prisons across the country to start their own Art of Soulmaking programs.

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Despite all the positive and constructive contributions UF has made to the community, and the almost universal good will it enjoyed in Ukiah, KZYX radio reporter Sarah Reith decided instead to rehash salacious media allegations. She did this despite having no evidence at all that Unconditional Freedom had committed any wrongdoing.

We wish to reassure the community that we operated only out of a desire to contribute, have never intentionally harmed anyone, and have the best interests of the community at heart. We want to spark a dialogue here about how we can continue to support the Ukiah community and move past this unfortunate incidence of media-fabricated hysteria and division.

Caryn Roth
Director of Operations at Unconditional Freedom

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  1. They got in trouble for sexually exploiting women in jail and now they’re crying?

    “Woke media” would have supported your efforts.

  2. Onetaste, the Institute of Orgasmic Meditation, and Unconditional Freedom share the same employees,(Mark Ratnathicam, Austin Ayer, for example), the same PO Box in Santa Rosa, and the same EIN number for the IRS. They are indisputably interlinked! Why deny this, Caryn Roth?

  3. Wow. It seems if this is a true statement of facts, there should be some considerable thought given as to how best address this Sarah person, both legally, and ethically. Unfortunately, ignorance is not a crime in itself, and it seems though much damage will and is stemming from Sarah’s reporting, erroneous or otherwise, she should still be made to correct her previous comments, and be potentially disbarred from being a host on whatever radio show she’s on. False reporting in itself is a crime I thought? Ignorantly speaking, or not. Essentially, she should know the most basic of her responsibilities in the reporting she does and it seems in this case for whatever reason that was disregarded. Not right imo. Without seeing all facts It’s hard to take sides, but just in reading this I find the words of this author Caryn Roth to be quite compelling and very believable. I also work in a similar environment providing humanistic outreach to a very troubled and problematic demographic in the East Bay Area. There is never enough of us to go around when it comes to this and it blows my mind when there are others whom don’t do a single thing to offer assistance of any kind, granted, nobody says you have to, but I don’t expect others who choose not to participate in this effort to go about damaging it in any way or throwing a wrench in it because they may not agree with these folks obtaining assistance. Assistance. For the record. Rarely are the people seeking assistance and reaching out and asking for it, in most cases they are found and sought out by those who are able to offer. It’s really unfortunate that weird forms of envy and jealousy play into life-altering efforts for some. I’ve never been able to understand that, and often try to remind people that nobody wears their circumstances on their sleeve or their face. So unfortunately we don’t know everybody’s story, it isn’t our business to know it. And if people are reaching out for help in any way, one should not judge them. They should just be glad it isn’t them. Sure there’s going to be fraud in all of that, but even that goes as saying, if somebody is going to believe they need to reach out for services they may not truly need, somewhere in that underlies an issue that they possibly do need it. Maybe just not in the area they are seeking… Anyway, outreach of any kind should be a blessing and appreciated, I’m blown away that the services have been cut and canceled over one girl’s radio episode. And all honesty, that seems to be a disregard from the places that did the cancelling. If they’re going to be so shallow as to believe what they heard, shame on them and the fight should be more in that way than the waste of time going after this Sarah person. Person. She should lose her position as a radio host though. Doubt, she just became a liability. And any good business doesn’t want one of those… Just saying. Good luck to you miss Caryn, seems like your moving mountains until this boulder holder stopped the progress. How incredibly sad. Perhaps she should be required to participate in your program to get a first-hand perspective of what it is. She’s clearly missing? And then report on it. It seems in this case, it might do her darn bit of good, because it’s teaching what appears to be lacking in her character,;)

  4. Nothing more than human sex trafficking! Taking people who are at an all time low and manipulating and re-victimizing them. These so called “human services” agencies that have risen up into prominence in the last decade or so are making money off of other peoples’ misfortunes and indeed seek to keep them down. If the clients were truly to be supported and given the opportunity for success, they would have been on their own a long time ago. No prey… er clients means no agency $$$. Instead, you see the same retreads going through the same issues, over and over. Let this be a lesson in awareness to everyone- even so called legitimate human service agencies need to be looked at very hard if not investigated.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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