Steven E. Brown
Co-Founder, Institute on Disability Culture
© All Rights Reserved, Institute on Disability Culture, March 2015
When this blog began at the beginning of 2015, I just called it the Institute on Disability Culture Blog. Of course, there are multitudes of blogs these days and that name didn’t distinguish it at all. After the most recent blog entry a friend made a comment that suggested a title I liked. But when I looked it up others were using it. Then it hit me (us I should say, since all discussions involved Lillian, Co-Founder and President of the Institute—just not a writer): we already had a great name-the Manifesto.
Some of you may recall the Manifesto began in the late 1990s. It began when I got angry about something and used the best outlet I had at the time to vent my frustration, emailing a bunch of friends and colleagues. I got a number of positive responses, including some who urged me to keep writing. I did. For a period of years, from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, I put out a Manifesto about once a month.
Those Manifestos included an editorial, comments received in relation to previous Manifestos, resources to share, and announcements. It was an early version, in some fashion I suppose, of many current online newsletters.
I still use one of those editorials, “Bathrooms on My Mind,” in my online class (see information on the Summer grad course at: http://www.cds.hawaii.edu/news/03232015/cds-offers-special-topics-course-disability-history-and-culture).
Much to my surprise it is still possible, though not easy, to search through these old Manifestos. The first one (found at: http://old.dimenet.com/disculture/archive.php?mode=A&id=9;&sort=D), was distributed electronically in March 1999. It included this definition of a manifesto: “a written statement publicly declaring issues, views or motives of its issuer--Webster.”
I also wrote the statement below as one of the reasons I began the Manifesto:
“I recently pitched a column idea to an editor of a national disability magazine. I was told that one reason not accepting the column was that it was too "political." This is the magazine's prerogative. But, if we have learned anything from previous movements, especially women's rights, it is that the personal is political and the political is personal.
In the early 2000s, with a lot of writing, and a bit of time on my hands, I put out a number of monographs. One was a collection of those editorials, called “Celebrating Passion, Relentless, & Vision: The Manifesto Editorials,” currently listing on Amazon for the ridiculous price of $349.01 (and yes, I’ve tried to change this—clearly unsuccessfully).
As I got busier with my life in Hawaii and at the Center on Disability Studies, the Manifestos tailed off and the last one came out in December 2006, with the theme of a word I thought I’d created called “internetworking” (http://old.dimenet.com/disculture/archive.php?mode=A&id=101;&sort=D).
My writing has continued in other ways since that last editorial, with a primary focus on academic publications and presentations. I also wrote a book, Surprised to be Standing: A Spiritual Journey (available for much less ridiculous prices on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Surprised-be-Standing-Spiritual-Journey/dp/1456521691/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427646228&sr=1-1&keywords=Steven+E.+Brown) and Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/108864).
In that book is another reason why we chose to continue to use Manifesto for this blog. Manifesting has been a conscious theme in my life, at least since meeting Lil. In Surprised I talk about one spectacular manifestation that occurred with finding a spectacular rock I still look at every day (for those who want to know: a combination of quartz, smoky quartz, and citrine), a wedding that led to a trip to Alaska for a month, and support from friends and colleagues that made that possible. In truth, the theme of the entire book is about manifesting, so the Manifesto not only fits my activist life, but my spiritual one as well—in other words, my life.
And that—not quite in a nutshell—is why this blog is now called the Manifesto.
Addendum: There are many incredible disability-themed blogs out in the world now, some of which are listed in the Institute Links & Resources page at: http://www.instituteondisabilityculture.org/links--resources.html
I want to point out one: Andrew Pulrang’s Disability Thinking: http://disabilitythinking.blogspot.com/
For anyone also writing disability-related blogs (as well as those who like reading them), Andrew periodically hosts a Disability Blogger Link-Up (http://disabilitythinking.blogspot.com/2015/03/disability-blogger-link-up_20.html) where blog writers can post recent entries. The next one begins April 3 2015.