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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

MEET AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR

HEIDI JOHNSON-WRIGHT (part 7)


by David-Elijah Nahmod


She explains why she chose to share the story of Lexie, her college caregiver.

“It was a profound relationship that took place at a critical juncture in my life,” she said.

“We all enjoy reminiscing about our college days, and I simply can’t separate that experience from the relationship I had with Lexie. 

I also wanted to write about a rite of passage that was perhaps a little less obvious than something like first love or losing one’s virginity.”

And what advice does Johnson-Wright offer to other disabled people?

“Don’t hide, don’t try to pass for non-disabled,” she says. “If someone makes you feel inferior for having a disability, get the hell away from them. Hang out with kind, good hearted, nurturing people. Stay away from manipulators and abusers. Find out what you’re good at, discover your passion, and follow it. Find your disability identity and be proud.”

The anthology Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities is available now on Amazon and other retailers.

David-Elijah Nahmod is an award-winning film critic and celebrity interviewer. You can find him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

MEET AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR

HEIDI JOHNSON-WRIGHT (part 6)


by David-Elijah Nahmod


Ride service providers such as Uber and Lyft also do not accommodate people with disabilities, according to Johnson-Wright.

“Yet we don’t hear the outrage and disgust,” she said. “That is disability discrimination.”

Johnson-Wright’s disability did not play a role in her becoming an attorney. It’s what her father wanted her to do, and it’s what he was willing to pay for.

“I would love to have been an Egyptologist, or perhaps an art historian,” she said. “I also think it would be amazing to work with animals, perhaps for an animal conservation organization. 

But on a more practical level, I could see myself as a college literature professor.”

http://olebbooks.com/firsts-coming-of-age-stories-by-people-with-disabilities/

Monday, October 29, 2018

MEET AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR

HEIDI JOHNSON-WRIGHT (part 5)


by David-Elijah Nahmod


Johnson-Wright has also faced obstacles in her adult life, such as disability discrimination.

 “Every time a building, a transit station, or a streetscape is designed with an end user in mind that is the mythical 5-foot, 9-inches, 175-pound, white, non-disabled male, disability discrimination is there,” she pointed out.

She added that she recently saw a statistic which said that less than one percent of housing units in the United States are move-in ready for wheelchair users.

“The other 99 percent require renovations before someone like me could live there,” she said. 

“Imagine going apartment hunting and knowing that 99 percent of what’s out there will automatically be off limits to you, simply because you have a disability.”

http://olebbooks.com/firsts-coming-of-age-stories-by-people-with-disabilities/

Sunday, October 28, 2018

MEET AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR

HEIDI JOHNSON-WRIGHT (part 4)

by David-Elijah Nahmod


And because of the nature of their relationship, Johnson-Wright was never able to discuss these issues with her mother. 

“I don’t remember ever truly having a constructive conversation with my mother,” she recalls. 

“Not in the sense of two people communicating, truly listening to each other, and respecting each other’s feelings and opinions.

Part of that was due to her having what I believe to be borderline personality disorder, and never being able to get beyond being a narcissistic bully. 

But part of it was due to the generation my parents came from. 

Children were devalued and were expected to be seen but not heard.”

http://olebbooks.com/firsts-coming-of-age-stories-by-people-with-disabilities/

Saturday, October 27, 2018

MEET AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR

HEIDI JOHNSON-WRIGHT (part 3)


by David-Elijah Nahmod


Johnson-Wright noted that when she was a child — in the worst throes of her disease — kids were not treated as full-fledged humans.

 “The pain of kids was not taken as seriously as that of adult patients,” she said.

 “It seems incredible now when I think about it, but all the years that I received treatment at what was considered a cutting edge pediatric rheumatology clinic, no one ever asked me how I was managing the pain.”

http://olebbooks.com/firsts-coming-of-age-stories-by-people-with-disabilities/

Friday, October 26, 2018

MEET AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR

HEIDI JOHNSON-WRIGHT  (part 2)


by David-Elijah Nahmod


In “Life with Lexie,” her Firsts contribution, Johnson-Wright recalls her friendship with Lexie, her college caregiver. 

She also recalls the abuse she withstood at the hands of her own mother, who was unable to deal with the harsh realities of Johnson-Wright’s disability. 

Johnson-Wright now speaks to us about how this abuse affected her rheumatoid arthritis.

“As is true of many other medical conditions, stress can exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis, making one prone to flairs,” she said. “The more the disease acts up, the faster permanent joint damage occurs. 

And if you have a condition with chronic pain, anxiety makes the physical sensations of the pain worse. I didn’t learn that until I was in my 30s. No one bothered to tell me that when I was a kid.”

http://olebbooks.com/firsts-coming-of-age-stories-by-people-with-disabilities/

Thursday, October 25, 2018

MEET AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR

HEIDI JOHNSON-WRIGHT


by David-Elijah Nahmod
Heidi Johnson-Wright, author of the leading story in the collection Firsts: coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities, has lived with the complicated effects of rheumatoid arthritis since around the age of 9.

The condition made it necessary for her to use a wheelchair and curtailed her ability to perform simple, everyday tasks. 

When she began college in the 1980s, she needed a caregiver to help her dress and get to class on time.

Johnson-Wright quietly accepted her situation, excelling in her studies. 





Wednesday, October 24, 2018

REST IN PEACE ARA GULER

MY LIFE WAS BETTER FOR HAVING MET YOU AND SWAPPED STORIES


I am proud to be the editor of the English language version of PHOTOJOURNALIST: The Life Story of Ara Guler, by the warm, wonderful and talented Nezih Tavlas.

So glad I got up the nerve to approach (the famously cantankerous but infinitely
talented) Ara Guler in Beyoglu during my second visit to Istanbul.

I understand why he thought of himself as a photojournalist.

But he was a great artist.

He was one of the greatest photographers.

I visited Ara Cafe a half dozen times, scouting famous Photo Journalist Guler.

Finally, he was sitting down to some food and tea.

I had bought a rare book of his, haggling at a book fair that was part of Ramazan.

I lugged the heavy book from Taksim to Galatasaray for him to sign.

He was, a most human of human beings.

Frank, honest, humorous.

You cannot capture life they way he does on film, without having a great amount of empathy and love of your fellow brethren on earth.

Less than a month ago, I was in Paris...exploring the stories of Ara Guler from @MagnumPhotos to Salvador Dali to @LeMeurice to the back streets and main
streets of the City of Light.

RIP Ara.

Read the Kindle version of Photojournalist at:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06VT8PN31?pf_rd_p=faa1d3e1-fadf-4279-ac2d-3096206e4690&pf_rd_r=NGRS1YJH5A9JQ2PGRRMQ

Watch the movie on Prime at:
https://www.amazon.com/Eye-Istanbul-Ara-G%C3%BCler/dp/B078HBN2W5/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1540067911&sr=8-5&keywords=ara+guler

Follow
a great Twitter feed at:



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

BIRTHDAY WISH, FINAL THOUGHTS

ARCHITECTS WHO CANNOT DESIGN INCLUSIVELY FOR ALL 
ARE INCOMPETENT
ARCHITECTS WHO CANNOT DESIGN
INCLUSIVELY FOR ALL ARE INCOMPETENT

I’m now officially 54.

I’ve walked the Earth for more than half a century.

My wife and I have a combined century-plus of life experience.

Speaking of my spouse of 30+ years: she uses a wheelchair for mobility.
It never made her less of a person to me. Yet, clearly, it makes her less of a person to a lot of architects and designers.

They bristle at even the simplest request to design bathrooms that are comfortable for her, or to design accessible front entrances (as opposed to the "deliveries only" back entrance) and that they don’t relegate her to third-class citizen status because she can’t negotiate their grand (or is that grandiose?) stair cases.

I posted a couple days ago that my simple birthday wish was that urban designers, town planners, architects, engineers, landscape architects and the entire lot of other designers and regulators – in both the public and private sectors – admit that if they’re worth a damn, they can design for all.

The blog item ended up drawing out the inflexibility and closed-mindedness of planner/urban designer types.

Being all about inclusion, I have dedicated this essay to shaming architects, engineers and others who design for the built environment yet push back against the concept of universal design.

If I had a dollar for every architect -- from no-name designers of chain sandwich shops to world-famous starchitects (whose influence rivals their out-sized egos) – who call “no fair" on the ADA, I’d have enough money to sue all of them for malpractice.

The civil engineer or town planner who cannot seem to design a community park without stairs that push wheelchair users off to some corner and the architect who balks at designing for all should be off flipping burgers at the mall or otherwise making an honorable living that doesn't create a segregated world off limits to tens of millions of people with disabilities.

“But the ADA puts us in a nanny state. I have someone looking over my shoulder, so I can’t think creatively before I sit down to design my building,” says the pigheaded architect.

So that must mean when the height district is capped at 30 stories, you walk away from the commission. Such a restriction on your "build to the moon" mentality makes it impossible for you to work.

Or if your town center must fit on 40 acres, you turn away the client because your dream design covers 50 acres and you just can’t be constrained.

Sound idiotic, on the border of French farce?  I’m just starting.
So if an accessibility standard destroys the design process, then do architects disregard fire, electrical, plumbing, HVAC requirements?
What about flood plain issues? These are major constraints to building design.

Why are these code requirements seen as a welcome challenge, a chance for creativity, an opportunity to show off skills and resilience?  Why do architects meet that new challenge with boundless enthusiasm, yet turn spiteful toward a wider entrance, a larger bathroom, a lowered sink, a zero-step entrance?

Perhaps the reason is prejudice: pure and simple. The AIA’s finest are harboring these toxic attitudes toward designing for anything but the mythical 5 foot 10, 180-pound, non-disabled male.

In South Florida, we have building requirements about roofs, shutters, impact class, construction materials, etc. to keep our residents from perishing inside a structure not built to withstand 100+ mile per hour hurricane winds.

How is it that architects accept hurricane building standards yet resist designing for inclusion?

If it is not bigotry -- specifically ableism -- I don’t know what it can be.

As a reporter, public servant and communications consultant, I have talked to world famous architects who have had the guts to point at their woeful retrofit, their shameful defiance of ADA, their new tower with built-in barriers to all but the most fit of occupants…and say “you know, I’ve never had wheelchair users complain about the usefulness of my buildings.”

Maybe they can’t even get in the place, because your entrance has stairs with a sad, little mechanical outdoor lift off to the side. A lift that will inevitably break down within a month leaving people with disabilities out in the cold.

When you put up barriers – physical, visual, symbolic – you effectively discriminate against one out of five Americans. People who have every right to enter without needing to be carried, lifted, or directed toward the locked back door adjacent to the garbage bins.

I will say this to the grave: if you are unwilling or unable to design for all, then you should surrender your professional license.

Go make floral arrangements, or the prettiest cupcakes for sale at the mall.
But please -- for the sake of social equality -- stop designing. The world is already filled with prejudice and hate. We don't need it in our buildings, too.

Monday, October 22, 2018

MY BIRTHDAY WISH(ES)

I TURN 54 TODAY
My birthday wishes are simple.

1.     I want the world designed for all -- so folks aged 8 to 80 can get around without obstructions, restrictions, threats of injury, or damage to their dignity.

2.     I want folks who use assistive mobility devices, who have hearing loss, who have vision impairments, who have cognitive issues -- to be known as people with disabilities. Because the person part matters more than disability.

3.     I want every writer and editor to stop saying “wheelchair bound” and “confined to a wheelchair.” First it is inaccurate. My wife sleeps, bathes and does tons of things without her mobility device. Second, it is pejorative. We hear the dog whistle. Nothing good comes out of being confined or bound to something, so we know these modifiers are code words for “devalued” or “less than human.”

4.     I want assistive mobility devices -- wheelchairs (power and push), scooters, rolling walkers, crutches, etc. -- to be looked at simply as what they are: devices that enable mobility. Most people live five miles or more from work. They jump in a sedan to make it in on time, because it would take an hour to walk it. Why do I never hear them described as poor souls that are Toyota-bound, or confined to a Chevy?

5.     I would like the media to really cover strong, global, prevailing issues in the disability community. Far too often -- when I worked in a newsroom and right up through today when folks are as likely to get their news via tweet or website as TV, radio or printed paper -- the editor's idea of covering an issue on disability is to do the "super gimp" profile. A person in a wheelchair has been elected to the city council, or they are chair of the library board or the new VP for student affairs at the local university. The story could detail what knowledge and experience they will bring, as someone who likely had to struggle for accommodations in grade school, at college, in the work place, etc.

Instead, they all but say the "normal" people, the able bodied, should be shocked and amazed that a "pathetic cripple" can someone sob story their way into a position of respect and power. How many editors would say this of a person of color? That it is amazing they could "overcome" their blackness and be something more than a shoe shine guy or maid? If a modern story fell into the Jim Crow time machine and came out inaccurately labeling African Americans this way, it would be correctly judged as racist and the bigoted writer/editor/publisher would be justifiably fired. Yet negative stereotyping of people with disabilities in all modern media is the rule, not the exception.

Is it relevant to write about the first African American fire chief, or the first person who uses a wheelchair for mobility to be elected to the city commission? Yes. Should the story focus on the unique insights their minority status gave them and how they plan to use that to make the organization they serve more inclusive? You bet.  But I would hope in the year 2018 that a news story would not fawn over the fact that someone "overcame the impossibly long odds" of becoming a community leader despite the confines (and implied inferiority) of being black, female, Hispanic, etc.

Sadly, virtually every story of achievement about a person with a disability perpetuates medieval stereotypes by building a portrayal that implies we able bodied (who should thank every deity know that we're not a pathetic cripple) are still far superior to the person with a disability who lucked into the job, got the sympathy vote, and rose above half-human status. 

 



Sunday, October 21, 2018

Honored to have photographed the Eye of Istanbul. Ara Guler, the eye of Istanbul | Showcase Special

BIRTHDAY WISH

FOR MORE INCLUSIVE DESIGNERS


Tomorrow, I turn 54. 

I don't want a cake, candles or surprise well-wishers to mark my five-plus decades on earth.

I want designers to be more inclusive.

Designers includes, but is not limited to: architects, landscape architects, interior designers, engineers, planners, urban designers and all the government officials that oversee them.

I have been with my wife for a third of a century and for those 33.3 years, I have (as a journalist, policy advisor and marketer) heard designers whine like little children about the "constraints" of universal design, inclusive mobility and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mind you, when most of them know my wife has used a wheelchair for mobility for more than four decades, the designer I know makes some halfhearted mention of the time they built a ramp, or widened a door way or, at the last second just before occupancy permit and grand opening, added in some such thing meant to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

But in their day-to-day practice, they could give a rat's ass.

Some, and maybe they think they're being cool and revolutionary for "telling me like it is" have no problem saying they think buildings build before the ADA should not have to be made accessible, even if they are being gutted and rebuilt.

Many say it is impossible to design for accessibility. Or it is only on large scale projects.

Others, especially many of those who run in the New Urbanism circles love to rant about how the ADA is the end of town design and how it destroys their ability to create walkable, compact, sustainable communities.

The irony is that virtually everything that serves a person with limited mobility fits hand and glove with the New Urbanism. Just don't tell that to some of its narcissistic, self-centered founders who refuse to give an inch to universal design.

I say if you are not up to designing for all, turn in your license. Go put in sod, or plant trees, or be a bricklayer. Those are all honorable professions -- but they do not risk access for all because the lead designer is 100 percent bigoted toward people with disabilities.  If having a natural aversion to non-whites is racism, then this hatred of building for disabled people should be called ableism. Both are despicable and bordering on fascist, Nazi beliefs.

But rather than just rant and call out foolishness for what it is (and I'm being kind calling these folks fools), I'll present examples.

To the town planner, the urban designer who says they cannot make something accessible to all, that the "rules" of ADA are too restrictive.

Let's see. They have a piece of land to design.  Right off the bat, it has zoning and land use restrictions.

More likely than not, there will be draconian rules on the height, unit density, massing and other aspects of the property.

There will be dozens of restrictions on whether it can have a house, a double, a small apartment, a store, a restaurant, a skyscraper, a hospital, a park, a factory, etc.

And whatever it is that's being built must stay within the measurements of the property -- i.e., they can't built out into the road or onto a neighbor's property. Beyond that, there are required setbacks and stepbacks.

So land me get this straight. You call yourself an urban designer, a land use planner, a town planner. And you know whether the piece of land you're studying is the size of grandma's bungalow or big enough to create a new town on -- there will easily be 100 zoning, height, footprint, form and other rules that you must work within before you can be creative.

But one little issue of making sure your mini park, park, mall, civic center, complete street, transit-oriented development, commercial corridor, historic district -- can be used by all, that stumps you and defeats you?

If that is the case, Sir or Madame, you are incompetent. Turn in your license, your AICP certification, your watercolors and SketchUp software and find something else to make rent doing.

If you are angered, put off, thrown for a loss or flat out opposed to creating a new built environment that allows all to enjoy it -- then you are not fit to design anything at all.



Saturday, October 20, 2018

ARA GULER: Photojournalist

STOP SWEETHEART DEALS TO BILLIONAIRES THAT GIVE AWAY PRECIOUS GREEN SPACE

VOTE NO ON ISSUE 379 IN MIAMI


https://www.saynomiami.com/

From our passionate protector of park land in Miami friend Steve Hagen:

Concerning the vote to lease Melreese Golf Course

October 11, 2018

Miami Voters, Golf and Soccer players and fans and to all the children and adults who live in neighborhoods which have no walking access to a park of any kind.

THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
PLEASE SHARE WITH MIAMI VOTERS!!

Before you vote yes or no on eliminating the 18 hole Melreese Golf Course for a soccer stadium and play fields, PLEASE CONSIDER ALL THE FACTS AND ALL THE POSSIBILITIES IN ADDITION TO SOCCER!

WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE LARGEST AND LAST PIECE OF RESIDENT OWNED GREEN LAND IN MIAMI !!

YOU, THE VOTER MUST GET THIS RIGHT!
DEMAND A GREAT SOCCER DEAL IN PLACE OF THE DEAL ON THE BALLOT.

If you vote yes, it means residents get ONLY a soccer stadium, a parking garage with 23 soccer fields on top of it, an undefined 58 acre “central park” with jets flying overhead nearly every minute and a group of commercial buildings on 37 acres but the rent and taxes payable to the City of Miami and the County are questionable.

If you care only about soccer, yes may be your vote, BUT IT IS NOT THE BEST VOTE because Mayor Suarez has not negotiated a GREAT DEAL for ALL Miami residents.

YOU SHOULD CONSIDER THAT 80% OF MIAMI ADULTS AND CHILDREN HAVE NO NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS TO WALK TO. VOTERS CAN SOLVE THIS NEED.

A NO vote will tell Mayor Suarez and Commissioners to work with voters and residents to get a GREAT DEAL for all residents, not just the quick profit making deal they have put together behind closed doors.

A GREAT DEAL could include all the facilities mentioned in the current deal and many more facilities and benefits on the same 131 acres! Below is a list of what is possible if the Mayor followed an open public process. And there are other possibilities!

A GREAT DEAL could include the same professional soccer stadium
A GREAT DEAL could include the same 23 soccer fields on top of a parking garage

A GREAT DEAL could include a “central park” of 15 acres which is nearly as large as Museum Park, ample space for events next to a stadium . The larger 58 acre park on the ballot would only encourage more commercial development in the future as many developers and even mayors look at green passive park land as a free place to build.

A GREAT DEAL could keep 50 acres for a 9 hole golf course and driving range instead of eliminating the entire course.
A GREAT DEAL could reduce commercial development and hard surfaces from 37 acres to 23 acres.

A GREAT DEAL would replace the current green park land which gets covered with concrete with desperately needed 25 NEW NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS of an acre each in four park starved districts of Miami as detailed in the Parks Master Plan.

Please understand, Mayor Suarez and the Commission are totally ignoring the Parks Master Plan which calls for new park land to be created when existing park land anywhere in Miami is covered for non-park use.

Be aware Miami taxpayers have paid over 1.3 million dollars to produce and update the citizen developed Parks Master Plan. This plan calls for 25 new neighborhood parks in order to have a park within a half mile walk of all residents.. A NO vote will tell Mayor Suarez to follow the plan.

If this green golf course, owned by Miami voters and residents, is to be sold or leased, then any deal should be a GREAT DEAL FOR ALL RESIDENTS, not just a quick deal with with limited public benefits.

VOTE NO and force Mayor Suarez and the Commission to follow their Parks Master Plan, resulting in a GREAT DEAL FOR ALL MIAMI RESIDENTS AND VOTERS!



Friday, October 19, 2018

TREATMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IS OFTEN AS IGNORANT, CRUEL AND IDIOTIC AS ATTITUDES IN MEDIEVAL TIMES


FROM THE WHITE HOUSE TO THE PLAYHOUSE, PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES STILL ARE EXCLUDED FROM DAILY LIFE


Compared to (deserved) gains in civil rights, respect and standing in society for people of color, women, LBGTQ community, etc….people with disabilities are a century behind.

Gains in acceptance & respect by those other groups warm my heart each day.

Society’s ignorance, intolerance and ugly treatment of people with disabilities breaks it.

My wife, wheelchair user, attended a concert with me Oct. 13 at the Fillmore Miami Beach.

Multiple times, the usher asked her if she could walk and (in an annoyed manner) told her he didn't know where to seat her if she couldn't.

City facility needs to re-train its people.

An usher saying a wheelchair user must walk to a seat down steps is just as inappropriate & offensive as asking a black person to turn white, an LBGTQ person to turn straight, a Jewish person to turn Gentile -- to be seated in the city facility.

Being inappropriate and offensive to a disabled person is every bit as wrong as being outwardly bigoted toward race, religion & orientation.




Thursday, October 18, 2018

BUCKLAND MUSEUM

OF WITCHCRAFT AND MAJICK





In 1976, Raymond Buckland moved to New Hampshire where he opened the museum from 1977 to 1980. 

Unfortunately, because of a rigorous writing and lecture schedule, he then had to place the museum collection into storage, where it remained for a number of years.

The museum collection was briefly reestablished in New Orleans in 1999 where it passed through multiple hands before being salvaged by Rev. Velvet Reith.  

A bit damaged and somewhat reduced collection, Velvet was instrumental in preventing the collection from degrading further and being lost.

Summer hours are Tuesday: 5pm – 7 pm, Thursday: 5pm – 7 pm, Friday: 5pm – 8pm, Saturday: 12pm – 8 pm. 

If you can’t make it during those hours please email bucklandmuseum@gmail.com for an appointment.

Admission is $5.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

BUCKLAND MUSEUM

OF WITCHCRAFT AND MAJICK



The museum was in existence for ten years in this New York location (1966-1976). 

During that time, it was featured in numerous magazine and newspaper articles and was the subject of a television documentary. 

The New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, Look Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Scholastic Voice, and many more, including foreign magazines, had featured articles about the museum. 

Raymond was also interviewed on a large number of radio stations and both national and international television. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art requested and featured some of the pieces in one of its special exhibits.

http://bucklandmuseum.org/