As of right now I'm blogging from a Kinko's in Washington, DC, where I am staying with friends from Chicago who live up in Forest Glen. Yesterday was my first full day in DC...
So yesterday morning I headed up to the Institute for Educational Leadership, where Becca Cokley from IEL and Anne Sommers of AAPD had helped gather a crew of younger women disability and Deaf advocates together to discuss the picture of women's issues in the disability movement and the Deaf community. Many thanks to the women who came from organizations as varied as the EEOC and United Cerebral Palsy and the National Association of the Deaf! When I get the full write up of notes from the meeting, I will post them online. Of interest to readers may be exactly HOW women can get things done in DC.
Let's look at it this way. DC is like a giant multi-spider spiderweb. Folks work at different spider centers...the thing to do is to empower their centers to understand how to include women's issues in their work. Once DC organizations understand how those issues fit in with the overall goals, then they will have ownership of their piece of the movement and can ally on specific women's issues. At least, that is what we hope.
In addition, DC is also a great place to have women network to create policy papers, and also secure funds to hold a cross-disability women's conference. These were some of the ideas generated at the meeting. What I also found interesting was the possibility of these projects creating roles for younger women to advance their skills and knowledge. Disability movement leadership posts are pretty much locked in by veteran leaders---so to create opportunities for the younger women coming out of leadership programs, these ideas seem to have a lot of potential. Hmmmm...!
After the meeting was over, I ate lunch with Peggy Prosser, a Deaf student at Gallaudet and an intern at the National Association of the Deaf. Peggy just spent 20 years living in Asia, so we had a very interesting chat about cultural and women's issues. Thank you to Peggy for hanging with me for lunch!
At 2, I found myself over at Gallaudet meeting with Dr. Donna Ryan, who directs the Women's Studies minor at Gallaudet University. We discussed Deaf women's issues and community dynamics, and also some of the community issues that have impacted funding and support for the Women's Studies program. Dr. Ryan has been at the university for 25 years (and fyi for readers not in the know, Gallaudet University is the first and most famous college run by and for the Deaf in teh US---there are however other Deaf programs in the US). The program is relatively small, but Dr. Ryan hopes to see it continue to grow. One thing to note is that while there is a lot of leadership by Deaf women in the community, there tends to be an advocacy focus on communication for all, due to the vast communications oppression of those who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Sometimes, the wmoen's issues agenda is not as visible in the face of this larger agenda. And, Dr. Ryan pointed out that movements have a time and place...so in my estimation, right now the disability community is more ready for a women's movement than the Deaf community at this time, maybe.
After meeting with Dr. Ryan, I spent time running errands and a little down time. I came home to find that my hosts has ordered Chicago-style pizza for dinner!
Today, I met with Shannon Lynberg of the Young Women's Task Force, www.ywtf.org, whose fiscal sponsor is the National Council of Women's Organizations, www.ncwo-online.org. Shannon and I hashed out some of the dynamics within and around YWTF, which does happen to have a chapter in Chicago. There are some tangents with disability work, but not much, but we hope to develop stronger bonds in the future. A very nice first meeting. By the way, both the NCWO and YWTF policy agendas include little in the way of disability issues, though they certainly cover feminist issues. Hopefully we can all partner to change that!
Afterwards, I stopped over at AAPD to say hi to Anne and drop some stuff off, and then went over to the GWU area to meet up with Carrie Ann Lucas, who is a lawyer and a disabled mom of three disabled girls. Carrie is the director of the Center for Rights of Parents with Disabilities, part of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, www.ccdconline.org. Carrie and I chatted about the scene for parents with disabilities and just disability women's stuff in general. If you are a parent with a disability, I strongly urge you to contact her so she can continue building her network of parents with disabilities. Carrie is energetic and pretty fabulous, so get to getting.
Tomorrow, I am just hanging out, so a slow day, and then I will fly to New York City on Sunday to stay with the very lovely Julie Maury, an emerging leader in ADAPT. More to come soon!