We'd finished two of the three short pilots and were out in the neighbourhood taking a look see at what accessibility was and what it wasn't. I pointed out a couple of instances of 'steps in drag' as I call them. These are where a store puts an impossibly steep slope on a step so that they can claim accessibility without offering it. This is frustratingly common. We looked at the difference between a good curb cut and a bad curb cut. We filmed how street construction can leave a road fixed but a sidewalk completely impassible. Good stuff but a little uninspired.
Then on the way back we were stopped the camera was on me and I was talking. I noticed a man, a little younger than me, in a power chair, stopped, looking back at us to see what was going on. I said something, he nodded so I invited him over. We then had a nearly ten minute chat about accessibility and what it meant on a practical level. I think we both forgot the camera and spoke with each other, comparing stories, giving examples, swapping tales. We were, by appearance, as different as could be. He'd shaved his head and replaced his hair with a stylized tattoo. He had huge metal earrings which reflected the sun as we spoke.
Afterwards we all chatted about how wonderful that was and what good viewing it would make. I agreed. I thought the conversation was wonderfully sparkling. But something more. I had moments of deep connection. It was wonderful to talk to someone who lived in the same neighbourhood, who experienced the sidewalks and the curb cuts the same way that I do. The reason I forgot the camera was because I have a deep need for these community connections - connecting in my community - and when they happen, other things become secondary.
We did a couple other shots after that and we were done.
It was a fun day.
Everything that was planned went off well.
But it was what was unplanned that was brilliant. The disability community is an interesting thing isn't it. Two people can be wildly different from one another but still have a place of connection. His conversation made the issues that I had raised earlier real. He, just by being there chatting with me moved what I was saying from an idiosyncratic experience of the world to a shared set of experiences.
At a moment when I needed community, it was there. I think he knew what was going on and wanted to help out, wanted to ensure that our voices were heard.
Gad, I love this community some times.
I got home and realized from a comment by Andrea that I'd missed BADD - I decided I'd join in, a day late. BADD is about community and I'd just had the experience of community.
BADD I'm in.