Wednesday, December 09, 2015

A Community Christmas Tree

Photo Description: A Christmas tree made up of wheelchair users. Text: Merry Christmas, Thank you for supporting

I was sent  a link to this picture yesterday and I've come back to it several times. I, of course, checked out the link and found that it was for spinal cord injury, peer support. I also liked their tag line "enabling independence through social interaction." It's a site that clearly gets the need for disabled people to have a place and a space where it's safe to just simply 'be' without the burden that comes, so often, from care taking the feelings of the non-disabled.

Whoever designed this did a brilliant job of creating a clever image of community. The need we have, in the disability community to support one another, to support our community is still not widely acknowledged. I remember being at a conference when a speaker said that two people with disabilities had no more in common that two people with blue eyes. The speaker was trying to explain why people with disabilities shouldn't be allowed to go out in groups, or go out with each other, or be in any places where others with disabilities are. I got where he was coming from, I work with people who have been congregated and segregated simply because of their difference. But his, the blue eye guy, was a radical stance that people with disabilities really needed to be in relationships only with those without disabilities as that was and is the way to true social inclusion.

I shook that talk off quickly, particularly as Joe and I went to a gay bar afterwards. Really, is the concept of 'communities rather than community' that difficult?

So this tree, designed as it is to show something beautiful created entirely out of the lives and the support of people with disabilities - very cool.

Very cool, indeed.


clairesmum said...

that's a great image! we are all parts of lots of communities, or need to be, anyway. but we each ideally can choose our own 'communities' based on who we are at a point in time. having someone else decide what 'communities' each person belongs to is a serious misuse of power and control, it seems to me.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

The either/or people are the bane of everything from existence to peace on Earth: why can't we have BOTH?

Groups where disability is the common thread allow disability to be noted, and then possibly ignored. Or at least treated as just one of those things.

I belong to a couple of FB groups for disabled writers.

But I also belong to the community of writers in general, and to self-published writers as a subgroup - I need different things from all my groups.

And from the group where I am disabled, but the writer part is seen as a curiosity and mostly unremarked.

"All roads lead to Rome" does NOT mean "there is only one true road to Rome and you'd better be on it."

Most humans can manage to belong to more than one group at a time.

Ettina said...

Maybe I'm being too literal, but that picture makes me wince at how painful it would be to hold up so many people and wheelchairs with only your hands!

Princeton Posse said...

Until I read the caption, I thought it was people doing semaphore!

Anonymous said...

Funny, when I saw the picture, I thought you would be a bit "down" on the image. There would be comments on why the disabled person is on the bottom? Why the disabled person is a different color? I expected you to say the icon depicted should be just mingled in with the others, in community, not singled out and different. That the person on the bottom has to hold the weight of all the opinions of the others. Just shows you that assumptions are not always right. I don't particularly like the depiction, but I like the idea of community!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anon above, everyone in the graphic is a wheelchair user, not just the one on the bottom. Take another look!

Anonymous said...

Well, roll me over. My apologies. To me (and I do have visual problems) it really looked like 'only one'. Thank you for correcting me. I certainly enjoy the graphic much more now!