Steven E. Brown and Lillian Gonzales Brown
©2018 institute on Disability Culture, All Rights Reserved
A welcome to, and hope for, a happy, loving, healing and light-filled 2018 for us all.
About a year ago, I published my last blog post, “Survive and Thrive,” (www.instituteondisabilityculture.org/manifesto/survive-and-thrive) based on an email request to respond to goings-on around the country and world. Then, I (and we, Lil and me) managed to survive 2017, still living in California, and assessing still whether it makes financial, and other sense to continue to do that.
I managed to survive 2017, without falling, the first time in at least 2 years, though my knees remind me daily how they feel about 66 years on the planet. I managed to survive 2017, without a new wheelchair, though I continue the process of working within a frustrating system to try and get one. In sum, I survived 2017. I now look forward to thriving in 2018. As I reflect on 2017 and look forward to 2018, I choose to focus on the positives of the past year, which include:
Family: Lil and I continue to love one another, while we seek the living space that will best work for us. She continues to heal from her dramatic, and traumatic, 2016 fall, and she also made it through 2017 with no falls. We have amazing grandchildren (and their spectacular parents!) who we get to Skype with on a regular (sort of) basis, and watch them grow--from too far away. We have loving siblings and extended families near and far. And, families of intention.
Friends: It is not an understatement to say friends (and family) sustained us through the traumas of 2016, and continued to be amazingly supportive in 2017. From rides, to meals, to advocacy, to sharing stories, we have been blessed to welcome friends (and family) on their way to and from Thailand, Peru, LA, Hawaii, and probably other places I’m forgetting. Seeing friends in person, via social media, and any other way that works has been one of the highlights of advancing technology.
Teaching: Technology also continues to be instrumental in the classes I’ve been teaching. In both spring and fall semesters, in 2017, I taught 2 online sections of the undergrad course I created in 2012, “Disability History and Culture: From Homer to Hip Hop.” Beginning in early January, I’ll teach a grad class, again online, called “Disability History Through the Ages.”
Work: In summer and fall of 2017, happily working again, this time as a Technical Assistance Consultant, with the Association of University Centers on Excellence in Disabilities (AUCD). While working on several projects, I was glad to get back to the “Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit,” (www.implementdiversity.tools/) created in 2015. I continue to promote it as an excellent resource.
I also managed one trip in 2017, to Houston in May, to continue training about Whole Community Inclusive Planning with the BCFS Health and Human Services Emergency Management Division (bcfsemd.org/). A highlight outside of the work of this trip, was getting together with a longtime friend. The training itself came before the Houston Flood and many other disasters, including the fires in the northern Bay Area, not too far from us. While none of the fires were too close to where we live, the smoke did find its way here. And I learned, once more, how much I don’t know about emergency planning and response. Fortunately, lots of people are now working on this from a disability perspective. [see some resources at: www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=544 and www.jik.com/disaster.html]
Writing: I didn’t publish a whole lot in 2017, but that doesn’t mean the activities of the year won’t show up in writing eventually. An example of this is that beyond teaching, my final commitment from my years employed at UH, came to fruition as a chapter, “Changing America’s Consciousness: A brief history of the Independent Living civil rights movement in the United States,” in The Routledge History of Disability edited by Hanes, Roy and Brown, Ivan, eds. Hanes, R., Brown, I. 2018: and Hansen, N. E. (Eds.). (2018), New York: Routledge, pp. 485-499. (smile.amazon.com/Routledge-History-Disability-Histories/dp/1138193577/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1515024270&sr=1-1&keywords=roy+hanes) For those of you who may remember this, this chapter is in large part based on the first section of my 1994 monograph “Investigating a Culture of Disability: Final Report”.
I continued sharing my love of reading in “’The Right to Live in the World’: More Books for Disability Advocates and Those Who Want to Learn about Disability Advocacy” - www.meriahnichols.com/more-books-for-disability-advocacy/
Presentation: One of my favorite aspects of social media and the expanding Disability Rights Movement is being able to work with and promote many diverse and younger advocates. I was thrilled to join with Alice Wong and Vilissa Thompson, in in a conversational workshop called “Unapologetically Disabled: A Conversation about Disability Culture,” at the Section on Chronic Disease and Disability, Western Social Science Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, April 2017.
Lil presented at an annual National Coalition of Latinx with Disabilities (www.latinxdisabilitycoalition.com/) conference in Berkeley, which I happily attended. Speaking of Lil, she writes:
< Hi everyone, if it wasn't for Steve you probably wouldn't get a letter from us until March or April. Time flies! Do you find yourself asking what day of the week it is? Please tell me it's all part of aging! Combine aging with the brain fog that's part of my disability, and it's amazing I know what month it is. Ok, enough complaining. I'm wracking my brain trying to think of things to share, but retirement has come with life moving more slowly and less eventfully. Actually, I kind of like that. things that I used to get done in 45 minutes are now my main activity of the day. For example the day I shower I don't plan to go grocery shopping. It's too much of an expenditure of energy in one day. So, I'm a lady of leisure.
We spent some time this summer going through our rock collection with shrinking it in mind. I don't think we did a great job of that! We are selling what we have decided we could part with, but as they sit out on the dining table we keep taking back specimens we can't bear to part with. I would like to get my dining table back though! If you'd like to have a beautiful mineral specimen gracing your home, let us know. I'm sure we can come up with a price that works for all of us.
Our search for a place to live continues. We've given ourselves until May to figure out where we are going. I would so like to be able to teleport so we could live in the southwest desert, but pop over here to be with friends. I keep telling myself that someone in this area is going to move, and we could move into their place. If you know of anything let us know!
So, this year has been a quiet year, which is mostly fine with me. I love spending time with my friends near and far, so if you think of giving me a call, do it! I'd love to hear from you. In the meantime, take care, and be well. Love LIL>
Steve again: Below see updates related to my practice of the energetic technique called
ReConnective Therapy and the Institute on Disability Culture.
ReConnective Therapy: I’m in the process of updating the website that discusses this work, perhaps finding a new email address to go specifically with this work, and in 2018 immersing myself in a year-long Practitioner Training program. More about this to come, especially for those of you who have been interested in or followed me on this journey. Check out: www.healinglightworkers.com/reconnective-therapy.html
Institute on Disability Culture: We plan to re-commit ourselves to the Institute in 2018 and have begun minor changes to the website, with more in the works. I still find the mission/vision/purpose statement of the Institute appropriate guidance: “Promoting pride in the history, activities, and cultural identity of individuals with disabilities throughout the world.” (Please note activities of the Institute can also be supported via Amazon Smile here: www.instituteondisabilityculture.org/
My books, (so far:) “Movie Stars and Sensuous Scars: Essays on the Journey from Disability Shame to Disability Pride,” “Surprised to be Standing: A Spiritual Journey,” and “Ed Roberts: Wheelchair Genius” can most easily be found here:
To conclude, a metaphorical toast to us all for a thriving 2018!