Sascha Altman DuBrul

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Sascha Altman DuBrul
Photograph of Sascha Altman DuBrul.jpg
Background information
Birth name Sascha Altman DuBrul
Also known as Sascha Scatter
Born 1974
Origin New York City
Occupation(s) Activist, writer, musician
Associated acts Choking Victim

Sascha Altman DuBrul, aka Sascha DuBrul or Sascha Scatter, (born 1974) is an American activist, writer, farmer and punk rock musician known as the bass player of the classic 90s ska-punk band Choking Victim.

He is the co-founder of The Icarus Project, an international radical community support network and media project, which is actively redefining the language and culture of mental health and illness.[1] He founded the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library (BASIL).[2] He divides his time between the Bay Area and New York City.

Early life[edit]

DuBrul was raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the son of Anita Altman, the founder and deputy director of the ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival.[3][4] His father, Paul DuBrul, was a journalist and speechwriter who died the night before DuBrul's Bar Mitzvah.[5] In an interview with the Village Voice, DuBrul described his childhood: "I was raised by democratic socialists who believed in electoral politics…but my political education happened amidst the Tompkins Square riots of the late '80s.”[6] In his teens, DuBrul found community among punks and anarchist squatters on the Lower East Side.[4]

After graduating from Hunter College High School, he attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon for a year but dropped out after having a psychotic break.[7] In a 2002 article for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, DuBrul wrote: "I was 18 years old the first time they locked me up in a psych ward. The police found me walking on the subway tracks in New York City, and I was convinced the world was about to end and I was being broadcast live on prime-time TV on all the channels.”[8] He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.[9]

Punk Days[edit]

After dropping out of Reed, DuBrul played in the classic ska-punk band Choking Victim.[10] In 1995, he co-organized a traveling punk circus, which he then wrote about in his first book Carnival of Chaos: On the Road With the Nomadic Festival, published by Autonomedia. For eight years, DuBrul wrote a quarterly column for the punk zine Slug and Lettuce.[11] DuBrul has written and lectured about the relationships between punk, activist culture, racial identity, oppression, and privilege.[12] In recent years, his writing has been drawing links between punk rock, Judaism, and the power and complexities of spiritual community.[7]

Traveling Activism[edit]

In his early twenties, DuBrul traveled to Mexico and Central America and worked with the Zapatista Uprising in Chiapas.[13] Awakened by his experiences in Mexico, he went on to participate in a diverse number of activist projects: from the Earth First! road blockades of the Pacific Northwest, to the fight to save the community gardens in New York City, to the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in November 1999.[14] Often DuBrul would travel between activist projects on freight trains. The details of his wanderings across the country and through Mexico often ended up in zines which, according to the Village Voice, "combine[d] adventure-travel tales with thoughtful observations about the global economy.”[6] DuBrul was the inspiration for singer Jolie Holland's song Sascha.[15]

Seed Libraries[edit]

While interning at a CSA farm in British Columbia, DuBrul became fascinated by permaculture and the genetic relationships that arose when domestic crops intermingled with their wild relatives. Having been raised in Manhattan, his urban sensibilities gave him a unique way of thinking about agriculture and the need to revitalize older methods of community seed production.[16] In 2000, he founded the first urban seed lending library: the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library, or BASIL.[17] In an interview with the New York Times, DuBrul said: “An urban seed library is about the relationship between biological and cultural diversity, and people having a direct connection to the seeds that are growing their foods.”[2] BASIL has become a model for other seed libraries across the country, including the Hudson Valley Seed Library.[18] The author Ruth Ozeki drew from DuBrul’s vision of seed activism for her New York Times Notable Book All Over Creation.[19]

The Icarus Project[edit]

In 2002, DuBrul wrote "Bipolar World", an article published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, relating to his personal experiences being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Among the dozens of e-mails and other correspondence that he received after this publication was a letter from Jacks Ashley McNamara, an artist and writer who identified strongly with his experiences.[20] DuBrul and McNamara corresponded for a few weeks before finally meeting in person and deciding to start a website where people who identified with bipolar and other 'mental illness' could find real community and contribute to it. The Icarus Project was born.[4]

The Icarus Project is an online, international radical community support network and media project with over 14,000 participants.[21] It has numerous local groups across North America and has released a number of publications. Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness; A Reader and Roadmap of Bipolar Worlds was published by the Icarus Project in March 2004 and is currently in its 6th printing.[22]

Tours and Teaching[edit]

Shortly after the Icarus launched, DuBrul embarked on a tour of North America, facilitating workshops and leading discussions on alternative conceptions of mental illness and wellness. After the tour, Dubrul worked with McNamara and other Icarus members to create a guide for creating community support around madness and mental health. This was published under the title "Friends Make the Best Medicine."[23]

In 2007, DuBrul and a group of fellow Icarus Project members organized the "Mad Gifts Tour."[24] As part of this tour, the group visited Virginia Tech soon after the April 16th massacre of 32 students, which stirred controversy about mental health on college campuses.[25]

DuBrul toured Europe in 2011, facilitating workshops and giving talks about radical mental health support.[26] During the summers of 2010 and 2012, he co-taught month long seminars at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur.[27]

In the Spring of 2013, in conjunction with the release of his book, Maps to the Other Side, DuBrul, along with Icarus Project co-founder Ashley Jacks McNamara, toured the United States giving readings, and conducting workshops and discussions on mental health.[28]


  • Carnival of Chaos: On the Road With the Nomadic Festival 1996. Autonomedia ISBN 978-1-57027-047-5
  • El Otro Lado (The Other Side). 1999. Self-published zine.
  • Walking the Edge of Insanity. 2002. Published by The Icarus Project
  • Blinking Red Lights and the Souls of Our Friends. 2003. Self-published zine.
  • Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness; A Reader and Roadmap of Bipolar Worlds. 2004. The Icarus Project. Currently in its 6th printing.
  • Mutant Superpowers & Lithium Pills. 2006. Self-published zine.
  • Maps to The Other Side: the Adventures of A Bipolar Cartographer 2013. Microcosm Publishing

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Happy New Year From The Icarus Project! - Mad In America
  2. ^ a b A Seed Library for Heirloom Plants Thrives in the Hudson Valley
  3. ^ Reelabilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival
  4. ^ a b c "To those who are bipolar, it isn't a disease ? it's a gift". Times Herald-Record (Middletown, New York date=June 5, 2005). Retrieved January 1, 2015. 
  5. ^ Paul DuBrul - Fireball of a Dad Died 20 Years Ago
  6. ^ a b Portrait of a Protest New York - Village Voice, 18 April, 2000
  7. ^ a b “THE OPPOSITE OF BEING DEPRESSED” an interview with Sascha Altman DuBrul | The Icarus Project
  8. ^ The Bipolar World | The Icarus Project
  9. ^ ‘Mad Pride’ Fights a Stigma
  10. ^ Crack Rock Steady - Choking Victim : Credits : AllMusic
  11. ^ Mad Farmer Sascha #87
  12. ^
  13. ^ El Otro Lado Zine | Microcosm Publishing
  14. ^ Sascha DuBrul of Icarus Project Next Guest on MF Radio — MFIPortal
  15. ^ "Crazy for Love: Jolie Holland learns that madness is a matter of perspective.By Chris Parker Published: October 11, 2006 "
  16. ^ Can't Hang with the Monocult - Lessons in the Forest | The Icarus Project
  17. ^ BASIL: Bay Area Seed Interchange Library « Ecology Center
  18. ^ Hudson Valley Seed Library : Heirloom Seeds and Contemporary Art
  19. ^ Ruth Ozeki - Description of "All Over Creation"
  20. ^ Off Their Meds | Feature | Oakland, Berkeley & Bay Area News & Arts Coverage
  21. ^ Icarus Project • Index page
  22. ^ Navigating The Space Between Brilliance And Madness: A Reader & Roadmap of ... - Icarus Project - Google Boeken
  23. ^ Friends Make the Best Medicine: Icarus Support Manual Draft | The Icarus Project
  24. ^ Gravel Angels and the Social Freak Brigade: The Icarus Project Comes to Virginia Tech | The Icarus Project
  25. ^ Weekend America: Mad Pride at Virginia Tech
  26. ^ International Allies- Report Backs 2011 | The Icarus Project
  27. ^ A Collective Human Potential Movement - Mad In America
  28. ^

External links[edit]