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Thursday, April 30, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 26)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
“You go to the shelter where you’re evacuated. 

Then they want to close the shelters because they’re in schools and places that need to get back to serving the purpose they were designed for. 

The quick solution is to institutionalize the person with no real plan to get back to the home they were in before the disaster.

We are making sure losing one’s home to a disaster is not a one-way ticket to
a person with a disability not being able to live in their community,” Deborah Dietz said.

https://www.justdigit.org/

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 25)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
Deborah Dietz is executive director of Disability Independence Group, Inc. (DIG), a nonprofit disability rights legal advocacy center that provides litigation services,
education, outreach and training in the community.

“With storms last year in Florida’s Panhandle, there were a lot of disaster issues with housing.

The old HUD housing was inhabitable for people with disabilities. 

My husband, Matthew Dietz, who is the litigation director of DIG, was calling HUD and saying `you have rules and procedures that all people have a right to have a place to live. 

You can’t abandon people with disabilities," she said.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 24)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

Ghenis said design must be simplified whenever possible, or people with disabilities will not be able to get back to their dwellings after a small emergency or large disaster.

He explained that elevators are extremely expensive to repair and it takes a long time to get parts.

Outdoor lifts rust easily, but a ramp usually simply needs to be cleared of debris to function again.

“Able-bodied folks do not always recognize the exact complexity of needs of people with disabilities,” he said.

“We must take advantage of the creativity and insights of people with disabilities. They can define what their specific needs are, do a run through to make sure barriers haven’t been created and take a look at the big picture when design flaws can be corrected quickly and with minimal expense.”

https://www.curtisrogers.com/coconut-grove

Monday, April 27, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 23)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous


Ghenis, co-author of the Environmental Health News best practices article, who uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility, said many government leaders don’t realize how
important something as simple as access to electricity is to people with disabilities.

Planned blackouts, a response to trying to reduce forest fires in California, “is frightening.”

“They are now saying in fire risk days, they are going to need to shut down high-voltage transmission lines.

That will lead to blackouts from between 12 hours to 2 days. 

For people with disabilities — that need to get up and down in an elevator, to plug in a wheelchair to charge, to refrigerate medication — this will be terrible.

These are the unanticipated consequences of climate change response.”

https://www.curtisrogers.com/coconut-grove





Sunday, April 26, 2020

REST IN PEACE JUNE WRIGHT

A HALF CENTURY CYCLE OF MENTAL ILLNESS/SUFFERING ENDED THIS WEEK



June Evelyn Wright, my mom, died this week in her 80s. She had a long, tortured life of extreme mental illness.

I guess at age 55, I realize no life lived is particularly easy. But my mom had a needed a lot from all of us -- my younger brother and late father -- to survive. I lost count of her suicide attempts...and that's just the ones before I was old enough to drive. My life, from about age 6 till I went to college, was one of daily terror when my mother told me she was going to die young and I would be flung into an grimy orphanage with 10 roommates in a tiny space where they "stuck a dirty sock down your throat" if you were not perfect every moment of every day.

My school life was one of rarely, if ever, going on a field trip because of my mom's obsessive-compulsive fear of germs. It made me the biggest nerd and outcast instantly. If she read an obit in the newspaper of a person in our town with the same surname as one of my classmates, I was kept home from school the rest of the week -- I failed quizzes, tests or assignment deadlines, because I was afraid to tell the teachers why mom kept me home.

We had a big back yard, but playing in it was never easy. I had to walk every inch of it (took more than an hour) and report any dead birds, dead mice, dog poop or even feathers -- all signs of death and disease in my mom's mind and cause to keep us from playing in the back yard for at least a week until my dad made it home from work to bury the offending poo, feathers, body. She would treat the ground with Lysol and throw away the shovel.

Coming inside from a rare day of play in the summer sun was a 90-minute ritual of bagging my clothes (for decontamination), stripping (terribly embarrassing in front of mom as I grew older) and scrubbing with a harsh brush (to knock the supposed germs off of me.) Then multiple showers, then a bath in something that burned my skin. Usually, I would miss a step which would result in a verbal outburst (I was a terrible son, she never would have brought me into the world if she knew how horrible I would be) then a brutal beating. If I put my hand up to deflect a slap or punch -- I was told I'd "taken a hand to a woman" and my dad would come home and beat me till I was bruised.

Possibly worse, was when my mom perceived I was somehow bringing in germs or communicating with the dead. She would pick something I cherished, then make me beg for hours to keep it. And she would always judge my argument insufficient and either tear my beloved thing apart bit by bit -- or burn it in the back yard while I cried. Books, baseball cards, trinkets my late grandfather had brought back from trips to Florida, stuffed toys when I was little -- all were ripped from me and ritually destroyed...and a bit of me melted out of my soul.

I do not share these (and this is about five percent of what I endured) as contempt, anger, venting or some way of embarrassing my late mother. I just share because it feels like the right thing to do. If you are hurting, seek help. If you know someone who is hurting, help them find help. I find zero shame in mental illness. I know life will be a bottomless pit of tragedy – if a family member does NOT get professional, expert treatment for mental illness.




Saturday, April 25, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 22)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

Membreno-Curtis  said “The challenge is to look at solutions for resiliency with a three-pronged approach:

1. Ecologically minded – we need to work with nature and understand nature.

2. Equity for all – otherwise we’re creating barriers for people with disabilities or we’re punishing one socio-economic group while protecting the property of another’s.

3. Economy – we must be careful about making unbalanced economic framework when we undertake billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure projects.”

Membreno-Curtis said even a small project benefits from looking at all angles and making sure the finished project is accessible to all.

Friday, April 24, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 21)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
Membreno-Curtis respects engineers, but cautioned that “solutions done from a singular point of view create other problems, including social equity problems.”

“What we have found is all these climate change solutions need to take a very multidisciplinary approach with a team of people from different angles: engineers, landscape architects, environmental scientists, accessibility experts and other consultants,” she said. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 20)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
Membreno-Curtis is concerned that coastal areas are spending tens of millions — 

raising roads, sidewalks, buildings and installing dozens of stormwater pumps
that can fail when a major storm knocks out power —

on solutions created only by public works departments and engineers. 

https://www.curtisrogers.com/

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 19)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
Aida Membreno-Curtis, a landscape architect and certified arborist, is the founding principal of Curtis+Rogers Design Studio in Miami.

In addition to the environmental benefits of increasing tree canopy to combat heat islands in Miami, she personally knows the positive impact of shade in the sun-scorched subtropics.

She has lupus and excess exposure to sunlight can cause flares in systemic lupus, triggering symptoms such as joint pain, weakness and fatigue.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 18)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
Holloway is astounded that FEMA standards encourage rebuilding to the prior standard that existed when the structure was built.

He said this ignores the golden opportunity to look at a disaster as a way to rebuild and
remodel to create more housing units and more buildings that are inclusive to all.

“We have best practices in front of us, but it’s not getting done. Government and private sector partners are not playing on the same page,” he lamented.

“Looking at resiliency and adaptation — what will save the country more money is building it green, building it accessible the first time.”

Monday, April 20, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 17)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

“My frustration is the things we’re pushing for are good for everybody,” Holloway said, explaining that Universal Design is not the same as trying to interpret complex and litigated ADA compliance.

“We need to work with nature, not against it. We’ve learned that working against it doesn’t work. There are so many distractions for engineers and builders, but a common-sense approach — designing with accessibility for all — makes sense economically, environmentally and in terms of sustainability/resiliency.”

Sunday, April 19, 2020

A GREAT MENTOR, A GREAT MAN

REST IN PEACE HUMBERTO ALONSO

It was the first month on the job with Commissioner Joe Sanchez.

I was 35, but so new to Miami, I felt about 16.

There was a meeting with the Miami Roads neighborhood group and I walked into a buzz saw over historic designation.

I did my best to listen, but was so flustered, I was questioning my competency and career choice as a walked to my car outside the Simpson Park meeting place.

A person I didn't know from any of the others walked up, smiled and told me what a good job I'd done representing my boss and dealing with angry people while listening and being fair.

Of course it was Humberto. I think he was the chair or second in charge.

I'd run into him at City Hall when He was Still the South Florida Water Management District leader.

He always remembered that night and told me I had "done good."

H (and I call him that because that's how he always signed his private emails: dash-H) would weave in and out of my life for nearly two decades.

He met me on Coral Way for breakfast when I needed to re-invent myself when my boss was termed out of office. He mentored, advised and reinforced.

H even took a chance on a small firm I was marketing and gave them a big boost to work as a sub with Atkins on the portfolio-building Smart Plan project.

It seems like he would always cross paths with me when I was challenged by a new project, pursuing a new opportunity or just being a fellow core of Miami (me next door in Shenandoah to his Roads) neighbor.

I could fill 10 screens and not be halfway into sharing all the times when H taught me something, introduced me to someone who could help me, served as a sounding board -- in person and over the phone -- for some big idea that I had.

Always the smile, always the laugh.

Always a story about the old times in Miami, always a gentle, father-figure friend -- who also was the consummate pro in every job he ever held.

All my love to your family and rest in peace, H.

One part of me is weeping, but the other one cannot stop smiling for all the happy memories of a bright and kind man who lived life well.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 16)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

All Miami-Dade County hurricane evacuation shelters exceed ADA standards for emergency shelters, and include accessible entryways, service and activity areas and
bathrooms. Service animals are permitted in all county hurricane evacuation shelters.

Todd Holloway is the Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee chair of the National Council on Independent Living, and Disability Integration Advisor at the Center
for Independence in the Seattle-Tacoma Washington area. 

He has Meniere’s Syndrome, which causes hearing loss and episodes of extreme vertigo — one of the “invisible disabilities” that impacts daily lives but is not readily
apparent to others.


Friday, April 17, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 15)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

Miami-Dade’s EEAP program provides evacuation support to residents who need specialized transportation assistance or whose medical needs prevent them from evacuating on their own.

Residents with disabilities or those who need skilled nursing care, assistance with daily living or have life-saving medical equipment dependent on electricity are urged to register with EEAP. 

The program — for individuals with functional and access needs, who live alone or with families — offers specialized transportation; safe shelter; medical monitoring; and wellness checks and is used for emergencies such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires,
chemical/radiation/hazardous materials releases and widespread power outages.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 14)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

Miami-Dade County, with a population of nearly three million all located just a few feet above sea level and at ground zero for devastating hurricane landfalls, is a leader in best practices for emergency evacuation for people with disabilities.

The County’s Emergency Management Office does aggressive outreach to the disability community, including prominent website and social media information about
its Emergency & Evacuation Assistance Program (EEAP).

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 13)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
Roth said as communities rebuild after a disaster — or new towns are created to relocate from places that will be underwater in the near future — cities must be
aggressive in requiring that dwellings, even single-family housing, accommodate a wide range of families and abilities.

Especially since 20 percent of the U.S. population is experiencing some form of temporary or permanent disability at any point in time.

“Visitability is such a basic feature that can enhance the value of your home,” she said of designing a home that has a level entrance, wide doorways and bathrooms/
kitchens/bedrooms designed in a way that allows fast/cost-effective adaptation. 

“After an injury, be it at play or in a disaster, most people would not be able to come
home to their own house. Because less than one percent of homes are designed to be inclusive, people end up in a nursing home for months while they try to figure out
if they can adapt their home, move to a new place, or afford either solution.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 12)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

Roth emphasizes that climate change adaptation is a great opportunity for communities to invest in housing, transportation, community resources, parks, pools, roads, sidewalks and major infrastructure that are fully accessible to people with disabilities.

“There is an obligation to make (facilities and infrastructure) accessible. It is hard to understand why people would balk at that,” she noted of public and private sector planners, architects and engineers that push back against universal design.

“First, they have a legal obligation.

Second, it’s the right thing to do. 

Third, it’s a smart business practice because you want all of your community
to access resources with as little (extra) accommodation as possible.”

Monday, April 13, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 11)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

Roth said city, county and state governments that fail to design for all are violating a long-established federal law.

“Every year, billions of federal dollars come to communities for recovery, rebuilding, hazard mitigation, programming and communications. For nearly a half
century, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has required that every federal dollar spent must be done in a way that accommodates all. 

There are no waivers. The Rehab Act, older than ADA, requires spending money to make communities accessible.”

Sunday, April 12, 2020

WITH NO IN-PERSON PRESENTATIONS FOR MONTHS--

DOT, MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL AUTHORITY RFPs/LOIs/RFQs
WILL BE WON BY STRONG STORYTELLING

Great storytelling is as timeless and successful as the Great Pyramids
I have had three careers – all shaping me as a great harmonizer of RFP/LOI/RFQ submissions. 

I have been a Pulitzer-nominated reporter, senior urban policy advisor for the chair of the Miami City Commission and expert professional services marketer for Urban Design, Planning, Transportation Engineering, Architecture, Sustainability and Landscape Architecture firms.

I know how to harmonize complex information into concise and compelling submissions that technical review committees love. 

I have also learned what makes them toss your wordy, jargon-filled submission package to the side while they read your competitor’s response cover-to-cover.

It’s all about a clear narrative filled with seamless storytelling that paints a vivid picture of your team, its experience and why you are by far the best match for the job.

Sharing the technical expertise of engineers, architects, planners, inspectors, economists, scientists and other experts is crucial.

But far too many firms submit proposals in the words of those experts. 

They are good people -- brilliant in the field and studio – but THEY ARE NOT WRITERS.

The days of getting shortlisted – based on great reputation and contacts but a mediocre submission – are done for months, maybe a year.

Your full-time marketers are working remotely, juggling kids at home, health concerns, grocery store lines and the chaos of not being about to produce graphics and contact as a team and physically present project managers and senior staff.

That is why your firm needs my expertise.  I catch things that are redundant, gaps in the narrative, paragraphs or sections that give conflicting numbers or methodologies.

Let’s talk about how I can, at very cost-effective rates, keep your capture rate for major projects high – even in these times when the world feels upside down.

Phone me at 305 776-3231.  Email stevewright64@yahoo.com

Spanning the globe, staying energized and creative to tell your story

Saturday, April 11, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 10)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

“The issues facing people with disability in disasters are not just (their) issues, they’re everybody’s issues. There are many opportunities to benefit the whole community
when you take some basic steps to make sure plans and facilities meet the needs of people with disabilities, older folks and other people with some mobility needs,” she
said during an interview as Dorian formed into a killer Category 4 hurricane.

Roth said shelters must be retrofitted to be entirely inclusive for people who need acute care.

Otherwise, families can be separated between those needing such care and
those that do not. She said people living alone who cannot make it to a special needs shelter “end up in an emergency room — the last place you want to be during a disaster.”





Friday, April 10, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 9)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous


“Those who should be leading us are in denial about designing for the disability community. We have to step on toes,” Saxton said.

“We need to get upset about this.” Marcie Roth, CEO of Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, began her focus on people with disabilities in disasters in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,

serving as an advisor to the White House on the rights and urgent needs of disaster survivors with disabilities living in the area around ground zero.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 8)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
“Ironically, climate change and the flooding and extreme weather events that it is causing to increase — make it imperative to think about disability as a major factor in
our communities.

[With climate change,] incidents of disability will increase — we will have to think of people who cannot run from the fire or jump in a boat,” she said.

Saxton noted that tens of millions of people — from infants to the elderly and many with disabilities — depend on electricity to keep vital medicines refrigerated, oxygen
machines working, dwellings cooled from 100-plus degree heat and other life-saving apparatus functioning.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 7)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
“Even people who recognize that climate crisis is occurring are in denial that we don’t have to take action now,” she said. 

“City planners, architects, people who work in real estate have to be much more activist-minded. Raising buildings on stilts is not going to be the solution.”

Saxton, who lectures in Disability Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, said raising streets, sidewalks and buildings must respect the needs of the disability
community and inclusively serve all people.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 6)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

Saxton said significant or whole populations of flood-prone cities will be forced to relocate to higher ground. 

She fears that most senior planners in the public and private sector are not taking the unique needs of the disability community into account.

For example, an able-bodied person can relocate from a ranch house to a third-floor walkup apartment with merely a little inconvenience posed by stairs. 

A person with a disability cannot be accommodated by multifamily housing without an elevator, by split-level, single-family housing, or a ground-floor unit of any kind of dwelling that has a narrow doorway, an inaccessible restroom, a kitchen with islands, or other barriers to mobility.

Monday, April 6, 2020

IT'S MUCH EASIER TO BE HAPPY AND SAFE AT HOME

WHEN YOU HAVE A SIAMESE CAT TO TALK TO
Happy National Siamese Cat Day.
From Casa Wright and our bright, funny, loving and very vocal daughter:
Princess Honey Bear of the Royal Court of Siam.
Our rescue Meezer sent me these pictures of her while I was far away in Egypt contending with food poisoning, flooding, late flights, missed flights, death-defying crosswalks, air pollution and having a great time with warm hosts.
Stay safe out there, social distance, love pets and help others while making it through the pandemic.

CRIP CAMP: A DISABILITY REVOLUTION | Official Trailer | Netflix | Docume...

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 5)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
“Very strongly, the slogan in the disability community is ‘nothing about us without us,’” Saxton said of the need to include people with disabilities, during a live interview
when Hurricane Dorian threatened Florida’s entire east coast and 48 hours before it brought destruction to the Bahamas. 

“Well-intentioned policymakers think they know what’s best for the disability community, but they make strident mistakes. All the planning and policy must use
leaders and stakeholders from the disability community.”

Saxton, who has congenital leg weakness and walks with leg braces and trekking poles, said sea-level rise is going to require mass migration in the not-too-distant future.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

ARE YOU DOING BY THE NUMBERS MARKETING?

WHEN YOU REALLY NEED A STORYTELLER/VISUAL ARTIST?



I am a Pulitzer-nominated, award-winning storyteller.

I have expertise in urban design, architecture, mobility, landscape architecture, town planning, universal design, real estate development, inclusive design, hospitality, main streets, complete streets and sustainable design.

I do marketing, business development and communications. But I don't do it by a set routine.

I work with your team and learn how to put people (not boring numbers, things and objects) at the heart of your studio's storytelling.

I have the soul of an artist. I post fine art photography 365 days per year on five social media platforms.

My standing as an artist has been validated by many gallery shows and recent inclusion in an international project that will evolve through 2020 and beyond.

I am Proud to be Part of the Saudades Poetry/ Photography/ Short Stories/ Painting/ Song Lyrics Anthology.

Let's talk about how I can supplement your staff while boosting your marketing with vivid storytelling.  Call me at 305 776-3231   email: stevewright64@yahoo.com

https://preview.tinyurl.com/teab8nf

Saturday, April 4, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 4)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

“The clear evidence from past and current natural disasters and refugee situations shows that people with disabilities have a lower survival rate than those without disabilities, and may even be neglected or left to die. 

Photo journalism showing the impact of Hurricane Katrina in the southeast
United States in 2005 documented this with tragic photos of deceased people in wheelchairs as crowds of other displaced people streamed by,” the co-authors said
in the 2018 article.

Friday, April 3, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 3)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

Images from Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy and countless earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, snow storms, floods, heatwaves and other extreme weather events on U.S. soil document heartbreaking images. 

They show people who use assistive mobility devices stranded from evacuation shelters and those dependent on oxygen, medicine, cooling and other treatments by electric-powered machines, which are rendered useless by long-term loss of power.

“With greater vulnerability during storms, floods and
extreme heat; susceptibility to invasive disease; and the
complex disability-related challenges of relocation and
forced migration (i.e. finding new housing or support
networks); climate disruptions are harder for these populations
at virtually all levels compared to those without
disabilities” wrote World Institute on Disability experts
Marsha Saxton, director of research and training, and
Alex Ghenis, a policy and research specialist, in an article
published by Environmental Health News.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 2)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous

The lack of universal design, joltingly still a major issue nearly three decades since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act federal civil rights legislation, hampers
quality of life in the disability community on a daily basis.

Adaptation and resiliency projects — and the billions of dollars spent on them across the nation — can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build and plan inclusively
for all abilities. 

But if the disability community is not included in planning and design, not only will they remain segregated by barriers, but an increase in extreme weather events could prove both disastrous and deadly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

People with Disabilities are Not Innately Vulnerable (Part 1)

But when they are left out of the adaptation planning process — the consequences can be disastrous
Considering that one in five people on Earth will experience some type of life impacting disability in their life (some researchers say one in four), being a person with a disability is mainstream.

But a century of modern building and planning in the United States has created a barrier-filled built environment where people with disabilities continue to be limited by:

poor mobility and transit, civic and private buildings, park and open space, and dozens of other elements of inaccessible infrastructure.