Today is my first full day in Austin, and although I envisioned a day "off," well, who could resist? After dealing with errands, I visited ADAPT of Texas' headquarters to say hello and to check out the group meeting space for tomorrow. This first US Ambertracker-related community meeting on women with disabilities issues is tomorrow, Thursday October 9, from 6 to 8 pm at 1640A E. Second Street, here in Austin. Our agenda is as follows:
Amber presentation on feminist organizing project and info on FRIDA
Discuss options for taking action
The office's neighborhood feels relatively peaceful, but inside there's what I think of activism-chaos/inspiration. ADAPT of TX is definitely lucky to have the space it has now, with a meeting room and all (plus a terrifically funny photo of Stephanie Thomas clinging for dear life to the rails of an escalator!).
For those who may not know, the ADAPT of TX office is the home of the two full time National Organizers for ADAPT, Stephanie T and Bob Kafka. It is one of ADAPT's two national offices, the other being the Atlantis Community in Denver, Colorado. Bob and Stephanie have been around since the beginning of ADAPT back in 1984. They, and many others, have been key in building ADAPT into a direct action grassroots network that has lasted over 25 years now. ADAPT of TX is also its own ADAPT chapter, with Austin organizers Jenn McPhail and David Wittie being among chapter members you can contact at www.adaptoftexas.org.
While Bob is a terrific strategist and policy wonk (he asked, "So, did you meet any disability policy wonks in South Korea?"), Stephanie is a person that feminists should know. A committed feminist with a longtime interest in feminist issues, Stephanie is the one person I have seen directly address members of Congress to point out that community based supports is an issue of critical importance to women, because at least 75% of nursing home residents are women and at least 75% of caregivers are women too. Check out Stephanie's testimony here. Stephanie really is only one among many feminists with disabilities in ADAPT. If you think of Stephanie, you should also be thinking of Barb Toomer, Babs Johnson, Cassie James-Holdsworth, Rahnee Patrick and many, many others. Stephanie is the one person who was wearing her FRIDA shirt today when I showed up at the office though. ;)
After scrambling to finish making copies of No More Murders for ADAPT, I headed over to United Cerebral Palsy of Texas, where my friend Sarah works as an Americorps "volunteer" doing disability housing work. I met several people at the office and said hi to Sarah's co-Americorps team member Spencer Duran, who does not have a disability but has been to a couple of ADAPT actions and is a pretty kick-ass guy. I also met UCP's director, Jean Langendorf, very briefly. Jean is one of the people who is leading disability housing reform in the US, particularly regarding desegregating 811 housing. 811 is government subsidized housing for people on SSI, but usually if you get 811 and you have a disability, you get stuck in a crip ghetto with a bunch of people who also have a disability, which is just ghettoizing people. So creating affordable, accessible, integrated housing is a critical goal for the disability community.
Is there a feminist disability rights angle to housing? Well, as Stephanie pointed out, there's a feminist disability angle to pretty much anything. I think for housing, I am most concerned about women with disabilities with children or who are experiencing abuse, and who need to be able to find affordable, accessible, integrated housing as fast as possible in a safe place. However, the current trend is that women with disabilities have to endure abuse longer precisely because they do not have another place to go.
As far as Austin goes, I am enjoying the big sky and clear weather, which reminds me of how much I miss the Southwest.
Someone at UCP brought up the issue of the good ol' boys network in Texas. I'm curious to hear what women with disabilities think of this...
Oh, one last thing. Feedburner tracks visitors on this site and it was fun to check out what cities Ambertracker visitors are from. Ready for the list? *drumroll*
Adelaide (Australia), Alexandria, Austin, Barrie, Bloomington, Brooklyn, Burlington, Cainta, Cambridge (UK), Cary, Charlottesville, Chicago, Clarence Center, Denver, East Lansing, Evanston, Harvey, Jackson, Kalispell, Los Angeles, Matthews, Maywood, Melbourne (Australia), Miami, Moscow (Russia), Naeri (South Korea?), New York, Norman, Orangeville, Patterson, Pierre, Portland, Porto Alegre (Brazil), Poway, River Forest, Rochester, Roslindale, Rydalmere, Sacramento, Seoul (South Korea), Sochodong (South Korea), South Salem, Stamford, Sydney (Australia), Tehran (Iran), Topeka, Washington, Wheeling, Wichita, and Yuba City.
Amazing! Thank you to all these readers! I am happy to keep writing and pass the word about feminist disability rights.