The Coalition for Community Living Blog


The purpose of this blog is to spread the news of an incredible and under-utilized community mental health model known as the “Fairweather Lodge.”  (The “Lodge” model, sometimes known as the “Community Lodge,” is often referred to as the “Fairweather Lodge” in reference to the late George W. Bill Fairweather, who developed the model in the early 1960s.) 


Small Group Advantage

A Post by Bruce Ario

When I was growing up in Minneapolis, the big picture was my view. I took in the whole city. Later as I matured I tried to control the whole city. It was mental illness and a delusion because I wasn't in a position to do so. Not being mayor, my delusion caused a psychotic break from reality. Instead of being in control, I found myself on a psych ward.

            I spent ten years trying to rectify my view and my reality. I had jobs, went to law school, was homeless, court-committed to a group home before I found Tasks Unlimited, the Fairweather Lodge Program in the Twin Cities.

          My first stop was the Training Lodge where I was under the authority of a note system where other trainees gave notes to monitor behavior and teach the group process. It seemed remedial for this former law student, but I found I could handle it during my training period.

            The next stop was a real Lodge where I learned more about group process. I thrived for five years in the stability of two lodges, and soon found myself attending Fairweather Lodge conferences around the country, giving speeches about it. Notably I was able to earn an income sufficient to pay back my student loans.

             I experienced great instability at times in my life after being in a car accident in 1979. I increased my use of drugs to alleviate the pain and I had the psychotic break where I was basically insane. I snapped back to reality but my reality of trying to deal with the whole city at once was too much. When I faced the whole city, I felt like, in the words of my hero, Bob Dylan, that I was "blowin' in the wind."

            But the supportive environment and stability of the Fairweather Lodge allowed me to face Minneapolis, and reality, using Fairweather as a lens. The small group environment helped me learn to function interdependently. It just makes sense! I found the success that has eluded me. 


(Bruce Ario lived in a Fairweather Lodge for 5 years (1988- 1992). He credits it for teaching him the skills necessary to manage his mental illness, permanently changing his life for the better. He has worked full time and avoided serious relapse since leaving the Lodge.)

Total: 2 Comment(s)
W. Corey Trench
Bruce, You have succinct and elegant way of expressing what it is like to be a peer and how a lodge supported you. Thank you.
Thursday, June 17, 2021 · reply ·
Bruce D Ario
Thanks Corey
Saturday, June 19, 2021 · reply ·
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