Sunday, March 30, 2008

How Do We Build Community? Hope and Healing.

Colourful photo above shows a woman of colour waiting for a bus in Central Sq., Cambridge, MA. The photo below shows two white men waiting for a bus in Inman Sq. One appears to be middleclass, the other appears less well off, economically, and carries a cane.

All three are busy dealing with common problem: transportation.

Hope and healing.

Above is Bruce from Mass Office on Disability with his service dog. He has a level in his hand and is teaching us how to measure sidewalks for cross-slope. We are volunteers from the greater Boston area who will lead access survey walks in celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1990, Public Law 101-336, otherwise known as the Americans With Disabilities Act, the ADA. The ADA is enforced through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that made it unlawful to discriminate based on race. The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate based on disability.
Below is a photo of an African American male, and a white female.
Today we continue to struggle with our latent biases. I hope you will take time to view these photos, even enlarge and print them, and share them with family and friends. My intention, when I took these, was to illustrate the "DREAM."
Hope and healing.

Obama's speach on "race" provides us with real insight into what the barrier of attitude is, and how it handicaps us.

By speaking in plain english, without hesitation, baring painful truths on a subject that most of us would prefer be swept under the rug of "it doesn't affect me, personally," Obama has laid a foundation to rebuild a strong and United States of America. One of the most amazing outcomes of his speach is how much latent racism spilled over into the reaction to the speach itself.

It very may be that there are those who are invested, heavily, in that which tends to divide us. Those of us who want and seek inclusion, meet a bouncer at door after door. The bouncer is the barrier to inclusion. The "reason" given for exclusion varies from place to place. Inclusion, it seems, is illusion, even in 2008 in America today.

Fear and loathing are probably the main motivations for excluding individuals. The idea that we may have to consider the feelings of someone different from self is starteling to us. It immediately raises to our consciounsous our own bias. Something we don't want to acknowledge, or be associated with. Do we prefer "Out of sight, out of mind?"

But a group, City, State or Country is handicapped when not all of its individuals are considered members of the community, much less respected members of the community. The issue then, and which we have been skirting for a long time, is "Who should be members of the community, and how do we respect this commitment?"

How do we build community. How do we value community? How do we open ourselves to the views of others, whom we have learned to ignor, scorn, and speak with contempt about?

Yes, indeed, this is the guestion. How do we build community?

>>They said his speech, which called for an honest dialogue about race, offered an opportunity to be open to others' experiences without automatically triggering the shame, guilt and strife such conversations usually entail.

"Obama is such a gift right now: He talks about the truth in a way that everyone on all sides needs to hear, in a way that suggests there's hope for a new day," said Allan Collister, 64, who is white and is the pastor of New Church Berkeley, a nondenominational and heavily Asian church that's within the evangelical Protestant umbrella. "He treats with respect people he doesn't agree with. That's so huge."<< >>If it's segregated public schools, it's mostly black people who come to meetings. If it's about immigration, it's immigrants. If it's about sexuality, it's largely gays and lesbians. "St. Paul says that when any member of the family suffers, all suffer. Or when one rejoices, all rejoice. But we as a people live as if that weren't true."<<

Sunday, March 23, 2008


His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.
Bible: King James version; Matthew 28:3

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dangerous Intersection Needs Proper Controls

My heart goes out to the harvard Grad student who was killed in the crosswalk in Central Square in cambridge Monday morning. This was an accident that was forseeable and preventable. here are some photos that I took almost 3 years ago to documant the problems at this intersection, where go on green cars cross the Mass Ave crosswalk while pedestrians enter the crosswalk on a save to walk light.

This is a tragedy and a travesty. It needs to be changed...

Photo above shows a blind man using a white cane waiting for the walk light. In the photo below he is walking across Mass Ave in the Cross walk. He is at a bit of an angle, and confused, because he hears traffic in front of him, so he veres away from aproaching car.

The cars have the green light and are turning across the crosswalk at the same time the walk light is on. We have all complained about this, but it is the City of Cambridge's pollicy to "keep the traffic moving."

The photo below shows the blind man has run into the car that is blocking the crosswalk and the accessible route to the curb ramp. The blind man cannot see it, and cannot hear any sound signals.

A full compliment of sound signals is needed so folks who are blind can hear them in both directions. theis photo was taken June 30, 2005.

Here the police sit, but show no concern, nor do they come to the aid of pedestrians caught in the crosswalk with crossing vehicular traffic. They do not even come to the aid of the blind man.

We need a full complement of sound signals at all busy intersections in Cambridge, and we need to end the police of having a green light at the same time as a walk light here in Central Square.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Harvard Grad student run over in crosswalk at known dangerous intersection at Central Sq, Cambridge

The photo above shows a man trying to cross Mass Ave in Central Sq. He has the light, but got trapped by a big bus that was turning across his path because the bus had a green light and this intersection has a safe to walk light at the same time. That's green for you. A good way to save on gas, and avoid ideling, but puts the pedestrian at risk

The photo below shows the man weaving down the crosswalk, after getting around the rear of the bus, he has to negociate with the driver of a car. This is taking a long time, will he make it before the light turns? Well, come to think of it, it hardly matters, what with all the cars in the intersection having made a right turn on green into the crosswalk filled with pedestrians walking on a safe to walk light!

Please note the signal shows a red hand, it means don't start, the cars on Western ave still have the green light and are still making right turns on green. You can see that is true, because the bicycle in the crosswalk is waiting for his light to turn green so he can go.

Do you think the old man using the walker will make it across the street in time? Do you care? If you do care, send me an email, or write to City Councillor Craig Kelley.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Double the pleasure: Service dogs welcome in VA and NY schools

Service dogs can assist folks who are blind, or deaf, or need assistance walking, among other needs. These dogs are not pets, but working dogs, who need to be focused on their partners. When someone says no touch, they are not being rude, but it is important not to distract the service dog. Some studies show that there are 15,000 service dogs in the US, but that number is probabally low. In the photo above and below the service dog is a guide dog trained to assist a PWD who is blind. Working with their partner allows PWDs great independence, and affords them an opportunity to participate in all activities others enjoy. Boty the federal ADA and local state laws provide broad protections for PWDs who use service animals, most of which are dogs. Some states have stronger protections, giving police powers to prevent interferrence with a PWDs use of a service dog. Mass law does not privide such protection. Fed law superceeds state law when the state law is weaker.

Service dogs can be banned if their behavior presents a threat or interrupts the activity, but that has been rare. however, recently, around the country, and especially here in cambridge there has been an effort to ban ALL service dogs, including guide dogs, based on their very presence. some folks just think dogs don't belong here, and are not healthy. That attitude belies all the health studies that show how dogs improve the health of prople, and therapy dogs are often brought into hospitals, nursing homes, and even to the Sr Center here in Cambridge.
Last month, the state of VA passed unanimously, and with the support of the Gov, two service dog laws that would permit service dogs in publ;ic schools. The law makes a distinction between public entity and public accomodation. Today news stories report that Simba, a service dog for a hearing impaired student must be allowed into the school.
This is good news for Persons with Severe Disabilities, and who rely on a service dog for their freedom. One thing I still haven't been able to understand is how some folks can make such a fuss over this idea. When folks tell me they are afraid of dogs, they were once bitten by a dog, I ask, have you ever been in a car accident, or seen one. Yes, they have always answered so far. Then, I ask, so, are you afraid of that car coming at us over there?
Thst usually gets me a big smile. Even my sister is warming up to my Shannon, and buys her treats, and invites her into the house! It is great to feel welcome, and if anyone thinks my Shannon's feelings are not hurt when we are yelled at in a hostile mannor, they should think again. But, then, these folks aren't really thinking at all, they are just reacting with a negativity that I really cannot understand.
So, congratulations to VA and NY, and I hope that eventually MA will heel to the Federal Civil Rights Law, or superceed it.

Marjorie Decker, who claims she i9s allergic to my service dog, Shannon, participates in a City Council Candidates debate for 3 hours, just 5 feet from my service dog, with no ill effects whatsoever.

The photo above shows one candidate who is tired, but Marjorie not only is not suffering from an allergic reaction to Shannon, my service dog only 5 feet away, but she is perky and animated!

Here is another shot of Marjorie Decker, the City Councillor who wants to ban guide dogs from City Council meetings. As you can see she is clear eyed, and breathing quite well. Marjorie stayed for the full debate, with Shannon only 5 feet away.