Yowch! Sorry for not getting this posted sooner! Though I had an awesome time at the conference, 🙂 and I did, it was really, really tiring! And school’s not over yet! So it’s taken me a while to get rested and get my shit together.
Anyway, the rest of the conference started at 10:30 on Saturday morning. They provided breakfast, thank God! 😦 But the coffee-maker was broken, which didn’t start the day off auspiciously. Though, thank God, that ill omen didn’t pan out, as the day ended up being awesome! LOL And, thank God, I was able to get at least one large coffee so I wasn’t in withdrawal. Huge thanks to the person who dashed over to the coffee-shop for me! LOL You’re a life-saver!
Btw. You can find fuller descriptions of all the panels/presentations here, including the ones I didn’t attend.
So we started off with a really interesting panel on accessibility and/in urban planning. There were four speakers, all of whom were either practicing professionals in the field or were studying to be so. They spoke about their research, and/or their experiences in trying to bring accessibility into the planning process. And some of the projects were really interesting! In particular, one of the students was doing her doctoral research on how to plan spaces so that they are accessible to people with dementia. I should say, in fact, that the whole theme of the panel was to take accessibility in urban planning beyond simple “ramps and lifts” checklists to really think about how spaces do or do not serve those who use them.
After that, the sessions broke up into three separate streams – Places, Spaces and Histories, with different panels/presentations in each one. So then you had to start deciding!
I was originally going to go to a different session. But, on the spur of the moment, I ended up going to a session entitled “Putting Life Into Law”, whose focus was on getting the AODA (Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) actually implemented in a serious way. I hadn’t originally planned on going to it because, as some one who’s not really that into law and policy, I’d feared it would be boring, depressing, or both. But boy was it ever neither! First of all, both of the speakers were fabulous. And second of all, it turns out there’s a lot of really great and creative organizing going on around this issue!
In particular, I learned about two amazing campaigns. The first was a mapping project called Access Now, which allows users to rate different spaces for their accessibility or lack thereof, and also to search locations to see how they’re rated. It uses an interactive map, but, apparently, it does have a screen-reader friendly option. Thank God! I’d be pissed if it didn’t! Though I haven’t actually had a chance to check it out yet, so stay tuned. Then the second campaign was one called “Picture Our Barriers”, in which people can take photos or short videos whenever they face an access barrier, physical or attitudinal (like people with service dogs being refused entry by cabs or restaurants), and tweet them using the hash-tag #AODAfail (or, if you’re not comfortable taking photos or doing videos, you can just tweet a short word-description of the barrier – which should be done anyway for those of us who can’t see the pictures/vids). Then, those tweets can be tweeted or re-tweeted ad infinitum, including to all our provincial politicians! Can we say awesome? Because, it’ll both make the barriers we face more visible to the general public, and, hopefully, generate pressure on our legislators to implement the law they passed. Needless to say I’m really excited about both of those!
So after that was lunch. And I have to say that I liked the food much better than last year! LOL Mostly because they had non-Vegan options this time so I could actually eat meat. LOL Thanks hugely for that people! Much appreciated!
Then, after lunch, I went to a really interesting presentation and discussion on intergenerational trauma. The speaker used her own family history to analyze how recent trauma (her grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust) had lead to the adoption of dominant ideologies – of race, class, ableism, and what she called “sanism” – as a coping strategy to create a sense of security. She then explored how this coping strategy had lead to further violence within the family as members who deviated from this adoption of dominant ideologies and values were punished and repressed for “allowing” the effects of intergenerational trauma to manifest as madness/disability. And that presentation lead to a really interesting and fruitful discussion around how to heal from intergenerational trauma, both individually, but also collectively and culturally, and the importance of coming to understand how individual family histories fit into larger structures of oppression. Many of us are hoping to be able to keep those discussions going beyond the conference, as we all felt there was a lot more to say and to work on!
So then, the last session I went to was called “Self-Care for Skeptics”, and, again, it was as much discussion as presentation. Basically, the presenter had created a zine in order to explore, in a Feminist participatory research way, the issue of self-care. Because, although she recognized the necessity of taking care of oneself to avoid activist burn-out, she was also becoming significantly uncomfortable with the way self-care culture was becoming individualized and commercialized, and was playing into really problematic discourses that glorify the young, fit, able body/mind. So she showed us some of the pieces – essays, poems and artwork – that ended up in the zine, and we all had a really interesting discussion of the issues around self-care and collective care.
After that we had dinner (which I didn’t like nearly as much as the lunch because the chicken was way to spicy for my admittedly wimpy comfort-level), followed by a really interesting performance! It’s become customary in the past couple of years to have a guest-performance, either on the Friday night, the Saturday night or both, and this year’s was by an artist named Lana K. I’d love to hear her entire show! She performed excerpts of a monodrama she’s working on all about challenging ableism and industrialized education by rediscovering alternatives buried in ancestral memory. It was really cool! And it gave me some really interesting ideas for some of my own future performances.
Then, sadly, we closed out the conference on Sunday afternoon, though, we did so in a really delightful way. Just as on Friday when it opened, the conference closed off with a potluck and community fair so we could all connect and hang out one more time. It was really nice! And I got to hang out with a friend whom I haven’t seen in years except on Facebook! In fact, that was one of the best parts of the whole conference – reconnecting with current friends whom I haven’t seen in ages and meeting new people. I made a lot of really great contacts!
🙂 And, I’m happy to say, I did have more people come up to me and tell me they liked my performance on Friday night. So that was a delightful little ego-boost too!
Anyway, LOL I already can’t wait for next year. I had a fabulous time, and I know the next one will be just as awesome!