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Saturday, October 24, 2020

RIDESHARE MUST BE 100 PERCENT INCLUSIVE

PLEASE TAKE THIS SURVEY TO GIVE INPUT ON WHEELCHAIR USER EXPERIENCE WITH UBER AND LYFT 

I'm promoting very important research on accessibility with rideshare.

My brilliant colleague needs input on Uber and Lyft.

Wheelchair users, family members, caregivers, etc. can give valuable input.

The app-based gig economy MUST not be allowed to exclude the disability community.

Please click on the link below and take the survey.

Please share this with those who can give valuable input.

From my friend and colleague Mahtot Gebresselassie, at Virginia Tech:

I'm researching #accessibility of Uber/Lyft & looking for participants anywhere in the US. R u/do u know former/current #wheelchair user? Experience w Uber/Lyft not a must to participate. I want to know impressions too. #a11y #Transportation #Disability 

https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6rsUle54qKYYWqx?SC=TW


https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6rsUle54qKYYWqx?SC=TW

Thursday, October 22, 2020

PRODUCE AND MEAT MARKET SOUK (7)

  ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT

Give us our daily bread.

This is a whole grain pita-type bread.

It is baked in a fiery oven streetside.


MY SHAMELESS REQUEST FOR A BIRTHDAY GIFT

 DO SOMETHING TO MAKE LIFE MORE EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE

It’s my birthday and I’m going to be bold enough to ask for a gift.

You don’t have to click on Amazon, run to the mall or even make a donation via Facebook to a charity I support.

All I am asking in these upside-down times of division, anger, bullying and bigotry -- is that you do something that unites.

My particular focus is on making the world a more inclusive, equitable and accessible place for people with disabilities.

I try to do this by positively influencing urban design, town planning, architecture, transportation engineering, mobility, housing and public policy.

Perhaps your item is something that would make the world a safer place for the LGBTQ community.

Maybe it is something that addresses Black Lives Matter and ways of stamping out racism.

Or your thing is fighting for fair treatment for immigrants and improving their ability to enter the U.S. to pursue a better life.

Could be you are working towards gender equity, erasing the pay gap between men and women.

Affordable housing advocacy is certainly worth your energy.

Those who work to feed the hungry and support locally-sourced farm products earn my respect.

Or enacting laws that create better pay for a hard day’s work.

Please, instead of posting something negative on social media, share a poignant essay or thought piece on a social topic -- to your contacts.

Volunteer some time to make a difference, it feels better than writing a check or clicking to contribute online.

We all know the election is coming up November 3.

Support candidates that support health care, a safety net and infrastructure that embraces universal design/inclusive mobility/environmental justice.

Vote for people who place human beings above billionaires and bullying.

Thank you.




Wednesday, October 21, 2020

PRODUCE AND MEAT MARKET SOUK (6)

 ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT

We can attest to the deliciousness of the hot out of the oven bread in Alexandria.

Our trip to Egypt was for business.

But the side trip to Alexandria on the weekend was a gift from our loving wife of a third of a century.

Today is our birthday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

PRODUCE AND MEAT MARKET SOUK (5)

 ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT

Because Egypt is an Islamic-majority nation, many shoppers and vendors are in Muslim dress – though very few women wear veils.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

PRODUCE AND MEAT MARKET SOUK (3)

ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT


Located in the center of Alexandria, townspeople gather under ancient, often crumbling buildings of the souk to stock their shelves with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO (A HEALTHIER) ME

I’VE TAKEN OFF ABOUT 70 POUNDS THIS YEAR

I’m not a big birthday guy.

Mine is the 22nd, this Thursday.

We will probably do more for Halloween.

And we never go out on the date itself, unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

Call us pragmatic children of the Midwest.

The big thing to mark this year, more so than accomplishing 56 years on earth, is my weight loss.

On Thanksgiving 2019, we went to a seafood buffet.

I turned it into a see food buffet.

I ate about 20 plates of everything in site including breads, starches and desserts.

Easily blowing up the healthy, low calorie value of seafood.

In early December, my bride of a third of a century suggested some lifestyle changes.

We focused on weight loss.

I’ve been fat all my life.

Actually, up to second grade, I was skinny as a rail.

But my mom fell into terrible mental illness in the early 1970s.

She said “sorry” by heaping on fatty food.

I medicated with mass quantities.

Let’s just say by the time I started looking at portion control and introducing more fruits and veggies, I was getting up to NFL lineman weight.

And that was on a 5-10 frame, not a 6-4 frame of a big boned left tackle.

I started learning stuff. Like that a granola bar seemed like a better choice than a candy bar, but that many have more fat and calories than a few squares of dark chocolate.

And I used to think I was doing great eating a half cup of raisins. Or a gulping a big glass of orange juice.

Till I found out sugar in those.

I knew eating the better part of a whole pizza, even a small one, was wrong.

Little did I know that once slice of a cheese pizza was more calorie than a healthy eater should down for lunch.

So here we are, 70 pounds lighter.

A flight of stairs no longer is the enemy.

My knees don’t feel like their 90 years old.

Pants are sliding down without a smaller belt.

I’m swimming in some of my fat dude golf shirts.

The frightening thing, considering how much I’ve shed, is that I’m still fat by any measure.

I have more than a couple pounds to go to get under 200.

I'd like to reach my ideal body weight for a 5-10 man over 50.

It's won't be easy. I’ve plateaued for a few months.

They say it happens.

I need to walk more.

While I’ve done great with the calories and food choices, I’ve not exercised enough.

I know that does great things for metabolism and even mental well-being.

I guess the same combo of stuff that kept me putting off healthy eating for more than four decades has continued to block my desire to schedule some walks around the neighborhood park.

I know I don’t have to join a gym, buy equipment and do cardio till I pass out.

A healthy body is two simple things. Eat less (and better) and move around more.

Here’s to calling myself out in public in this blog.

Guess my birthday gift to myself is pretty obvious.

Time to start walking.




Friday, October 16, 2020

Thursday, October 15, 2020

PRODUCE AND MEAT MARKET SOUK (1)

 ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT

Market day means ancient carts, drawn by horse and mule, bringing goods to the belly of Alexandria.


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 10)

MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30


So, why not ask city leaders to sweep wheelchair access into capital improvements, help your small businesses apply for mom and pop grants to build ramps, and encourage landlords to install elevators? 

Push your city, your CRA, your county transit system, your state DOT, your self-taxing district to fund wider sidewalks, safe crosswalks, accessible train/bus stops and on street accessible parking.

It’s sound business practice. It’s an egalitarian use of tax dollars. It’s sustainable and resilient. It will produce a great return on investment – simply by being welcoming to all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 9)

MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30

Spending money to create inclusive spaces makes sense for businesses because it can helps capture a bigger market segment. 

The CDC says upwards of one in four people will experience some level of disability in their lifetime. I know small businesses that spend tens of thousands of dollars on marketing plans aimed at capturing less than five percent of a new market segment.

And it’s money well spent. 

Now, imagine capturing the many billions of dollars of disposable income within the disability community – which includes their spouses, children, parents, friends, caregivers, healthcare professionals and colleagues.

Monday, October 12, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 8)

MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30

Even during boom times, small businesses are not flush with corporate cash to throw at major building upgrades. 

But a lot of main streets feature old buildings that require 40-year recertification as well as major roof, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical upgrades.

Inclusive design can easily be incorporated into that work. It would cost dimes on the dollar when folded into other renovations.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 7)

 MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30

Street furniture is great, but make sure benches, wastebaskets and bike racks are not creating a barrier to pedestrians, especially those who use assistive mobility devices.

Dockless bikes and scooters can be a great boost to walkability and first/last mile mobility.

But be sure to heavily regulate how they are used and where they are parked.

Otherwise, bikes and scooters pose literal barriers when they block sidewalks and passageways -- denying basic civil rights under the ADA.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

DAR TAJINE

THE ONLY AUTHENTIC MOROCCAN FOOD IN SOUTH FLORIDA

Dar Tajine is the only place in the southern half of Florida serving true home cooked Moroccan food.

There have been maybe a half dozen Miami/South Beach places -- pretending to be Moroccan but really being nightclubs with lousy, overpriced food -- that have come and gone.

Dar Tajine is the real deal. Worth the nearly two hours it takes us to drive from Miami to a strip mall near Sunrise and University in Plantation.

Our meal today was under $50 including a tip north of 20%. It was an authentic Moroccan feast of:

Hot mint tea. A tiny bit sweet, but tasted just like what I've had on the road to Ouarzazate.

Lentil soup with tomatoes, garlic, onion -- perfect, less buttery than Indian dal makhani -- tasted like a stop at a Berber place in the High Atlas.

Olives, harissa and garlic sauce to go with think Moroccan bread plus salad -- good as anything I've had at La Mamounia.

Chicken Bastilla. Baked layers of thin pastry stuffed with chicken strips, roasted almonds, eggs and herbs -- covered in sugar and cinnamon. Like boneless bird dessert. First time I've had it with chicken instead of pigeon. Took me back to the poolside courtyard restaurants of the norther medina in Marrakech.

Chicken tagine -- a half bird with olives, preserved lemon, broth and a separate yellow rice. Reminded me of my first meal on a terrace watching the sun set over Jemaa el-Fnaa. Missing the French-influenced fries and carrots to soak up the heavenly broth -- but a spectacular and generous half bird for under $13.

A selection of authentic desserts featuring honey and nuts. Old school flavor like the hole in the wall I always visit when in the old souks of Essaouira.

Arabic coffee -- much more fragrant than Turkish coffee, with notes of cardamom and other spices. A generous portion, similar to what I've gotten at an oasis on the way to Aït Benhaddou.

Five stars all the way. Generous portions. Great ambiance.

Wheelchair accessible. Plenty of regular height tables. Tasteful gift shop with Moroccan products at the entrance.

Dar Tajine, 8281 W Sunrise Blvd, Plantation FL 33322  954-306-2447

https://dar-tajine.com




Friday, October 9, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 6)

MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30

Here’s another tip: restaurants should provide accessible tables. Providing only picnic tables or high-top tables is not adequate. 

Businesses need to provide plenty of regular height tables with leg room underneath. 

Also, please help educate your businesses that one lowered “special” table for “special needs” is not enough.

Here’s another path to accommodating all that doesn’t cost a cent. 

Make sure bus, train and circulator stops are free of clutter that would block wheelchair access. Work with transport engineers to ensure that electrical boxes for streetlights are not creating barriers on sidewalks.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 5)

MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30

Epic Fail -- no access to pandemic-era outdoor dining. Wheelchair users boycotted.

During the time of COVID, there are additional concerns as cities relax restrictions on streets and sidewalk use. 

It’s imperative to make sure to keep sidewalks accessible if your main street’s restaurants are expanding outdoor dining service due to a ban on indoor service.

Even if part of the street is marked off for pedestrians, how can a wheelchair user make it up the curb midblock?

Even with a temporary ramp, my wife cannot get to the pharmacy next to you or the grocery on the other side if tables are blocking the sidewalk. 

And no, it’s not okay to make diners jump away from their tables to make way for the wheeler.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 4)

 MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30

Inclusive design should not be done for pure ADA compliance, but rather done in a way everyone from 8 to 80 can be comfortable with. 

It is achieved using ramps and topography, building fresh sidewalks and curb cuts and incorporating accessible restrooms, thresholds and maneuverability into capital improvements.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 3)

 MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30

The ADA turned 30 this year (July 26 is the specific date), but sadly, people with disabilities are still experiencing ableism.

I’ve published quite a few essays that are calls to action for developers, landlords, tenants, architects, planners, engineers, remodelers, business improvement districts, development authorities and main streets organizations to remove barriers and join the world of universal design. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 2)

MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30

The sad thing is most of the charming urban corridors, the main streets, were built long before people thought about a built environment that included wheelchair users, people with other assistive mobility devices as well as folks with visual, hearing, or cognitive impairments.

I wrestle with issues each day. Do I patronize the used book shop, even though the piles of dusty design books block the path of my wife’s wheelchair? 

Do I boycott the coffee house in an old building up a few steps from the sidewalk? 

Do I settle for delivery from the hip, eclectic restaurant because it’s in an old building with a restroom downstairs and no elevator to accommodate my wife? 

There are no quick and easy answers.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

THE POWER OF INCLUSION ON MAIN STREET (Part 1)

MAIN SPOTLIGHT: THE ADA AT 30

I adore main streets, historic districts, restaurant rows, quirky corridors and all the unique urban flavor they deliver with mom and pop shops, sidewalk cafes, scratch bakeries, used bookstores, restaurants, beautiful architecture and other unique experiences that are far from cookie cutter any town.

When I’m on Main Street, I also demand wheelchair access – on wide, unobstructed sidewalks, along safe crosswalks, through easily-accessible doorways, around the shelves at shops, at tables in different areas of restaurant and in the restroom.



Saturday, October 3, 2020

WE HAVE BEEN SATISFIED CUSTOMERS OF DE COLORES PAINT AND BODY SHOP FOR YEARS

 ALL BUSINESS OWNERS SHOULD BE AS ETHICAL, EXCELLENT                 AND COMMUNITY-MINDED AS HENRY GONZALEZ

Henry Gonzalez, the owner of De Colores, is amazing.

The paint and body shop, in the heart of Little Havana, rates 10 stars on a scale of one to five.

We have been going to him for years -- both for work under insurance coverage and for small jobs (aka, anything under the $1K deductible).

The work is the same: fast, reliable and high quality.

Henry is so kind and his people are first rate.

My wife drives a wheelchair lift van. It is a very expensive and delicate vehicle.

Dozens of repair shops, dealerships and oil change places have either messed it up or refused to serve us because of the modifications on this unique piece of equipment.

When we were in a fender bender, we took it directly to Henry.

His De Colores staff handled the van gently and expertly and had my wife on the road in no time.

Thank goodness De Colores is very close to my house.

But I would take my automobiles there if I lived as far away as Broward or the Upper Keys.

Henry is also great at understanding your needs.

One time, when my wife was out on unpaid leave for surgery and I was also on extended unpaid leave to care for her, I dinged up my bumper a little.

I went to Henry and explained that I didn't need the perfect repair with the perfect parts -- that I could only afford a "poor man's" fix of pushing bumper back in place, fixing a couple clips that hold it there and doing minor painting.

He understood our financial situation and even completed the work in 24 hours.

When I got my sedan back, it looked like the top flight job was done on my poor man's budget.

I cannot say enough good things about this operation.

Henry also is super involved in the community.

He seeks no publicity, but has supported dozens of your sports and other causes.

He also is developing a program to train you people in body work, estimating and related services.

I only wish Henry could create a De Colores home repair, plumbing, electrician and other services -- because everything he and his crew does is on time, on budget and guaranteed.

DeColores is at 280 SW 22nd Ave. Miami, FL 33135

Phone: (305) 649-0595

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/De-Colores-Paint-Body-Shop-217804301611981/?ref=page_internal



Friday, October 2, 2020

WHEN INCLUSIVE DESIGN...ISN'T (PART 11)

TOWN PLANNING MUST SERVE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES 

Could planners’ tweets, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog and professional/academic article posts address wheelchair users? 

Could they dedicate a few lines about how multimodal mobility, public transit, safe crosswalks, calmed traffic and wide/curbless sidewalks greatly increase access to jobs, education, recreation, aging-in-place, health care, civic space, the arts and shopping for people with disabilities?

Until they do so, their idealistic designs (pretending) to embrace and accommodate all are anything but inclusive.

 

 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

WHEN INCLUSIVE DESIGN...ISN'T (PART 10)

TOWN PLANNING MUST SERVE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES 

There is a wise and brutally frank saying in the disability community: Nothing about us without us. 

It clearly means that if there are no people with disabilities at the table, no planning with them in mind, nothing good will come out of the well-meaning, but insultingly-paternal plans and processes that exclude them.

Could the vast majority of town planners invest all of five minutes to drag and drop a few people with disabilities into documents marketing allegedly inclusive design?