A developing news story at Artspace Co-op began May 7 when personal care workers went on strike. That meant replacement workers were brought in to work with 29 people with physical disabilities with bathing, dressing, meal preparation and other fundamental needs.
Last Sunday Artspace residents had a mock funeral, complete with a coffin and flowers, in hoping to attract empathy for their situation. The idea was their dreams of independent living were gone and buried.
That’s a real, jarring fear. Residents are worried if the issue isn’t settled; they might lose their independence and be forced into extended care facilities.
Was Sunday’s mock funeral effective?
This blog ran a poll asking that question Tuesday and Wednesday.
Seventy-seven per cent voters said the funeral did not tell the Artspace story and did not help further the resolution of the issues.
Sixteen per cent of voters said the event was an effective way to bring attention to the story and help settle things.
Six per cent of voters had other comments.
I am surprised at the overwhelming majority and think it makes a bold statement: such events do not engage people today’s society.
Maybe 40 years ago when people with disabilities had to create such events for basic acceptance.
Things, and attitudes, are different now.
More significantly, though, is social media. It provides several avenues to tell stories: Facebook, Twitter and bogs, to name a few.
We can now provide up-to-date information on what we’re doing, where we are going and how we’re feeling.
Compelling stories can create a following, which can create public pressure, which can create policy change.
Artspace has started a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-SAIL-INC/564867590300524?ref=profile) to tell their story. I hope they update it often with latest updates. I think it will engage people more.
We live in a much more sophisticated society that is more accepting of people with disabilities than, say, 20 years ago.
With acceptance comes respect. And when you respect someone you listen with concern when they have challenges.
You don’t need staged events. You just need conversation.
We’re listen and reading, Artspace.
And we deeply want to keep your dreams alive.
(Cam Tait has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.)