Sunday, December 11, 2011

Scarlet Road: A Sex Workers Journey

So i was finally able to watch the full length version of this today. It's a look into sex workers working with clients with disabilities, and about the connections between our communities, the stigmas faced, and how we can connect and be in solidarity with one another.
Aside from some moments of ugh (in particular, there were several mentions of how "inspiring" and "rewarding" it is to work with disabled clients, which didn't get too into it, but just singed around the outside), i thought this was an interesting look.

(this one is not yet subtitled, but im gonna work on it!)

id love to see it paired with "Every Ho I Know Says So: Advice for lovers, partners, dates and sweethearts of sex workers"
"EVERY HO I KNOW SAYS SO is a response to the total lack of accessible online resources for people looking for advice on how to be a good date or lover or partner to a sex worker. We want to support our lovers to continue unlearning the internalized stigma against sex workers, especially in intimate relationships"
(i did english subtitles for this some time ago, enjoy!)

Have thoughts about either or both of these?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gimps Against Gentrification!

[photo description: night street scene at a construction site, approximately 12 people, ranging in age, size, ability, colour, stand or sit in the rain in walkers, with canes, and a scooter at the front left, blocking one of the entrances to the under construction Paris annex condo development in Vancouver's DownTown EastSide]

While 24 folks occupied the Paris annex condo development in DTES today, many more linked arms blocking the doors so more cops couldnt get in, including Elders and disabled folks who used our big beautiful bodies and mobility aids to increase our collective strength.

We chanted "NO CONDOS IN THE DTES!", "NO HOUSING, NO PEACE!", and "WHAT DO WE WANT? HOUSING! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!!" in solidarity with all those fighting the condo onslaught in this area and the unwillingness of the City to do anything about it which reflects & respects the needs of this community.

In the words of the folks fighting gentrification throughout the DTES: 
"Condos at this site would be a gentrification bomb in the heart of the DTES.
The 100-block of East Hastings is symbolically important because it includes single room occupancy housing for about 400 low-income people.
It also includes key gathering places where low-income DTES residents feel comfortable, including:
- Carnegie Community Centre which serves 5000 low-income people and is a hub for food and recreational activities.
- Insite which ensures access to critical health services for thousands of IV drug users..
- Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre which is a drop in and safe-space for thousands of low-income women.
- Aboriginal Front Door which is the only centre in the area run by and for Indigenous people.

Bringing condos to this block could change all of this. Condos cause higher property values, higher rents in SROs, and displacement of low income people from the SROs as we have seen with Woodwards. This contradicts the “without displacement” part of the city’s policy of “revitalization without displacement” in the DTES. The condo-social housing mixed development at Woodward’s caused rents in neighbouring hotels to increase and pushed out low-income residents. Expensive restaurants and boutique stores sprang up and more private security guards and police pushed low-income people out of public spaces. This is why we want 100% social housing, not 80% condos with 20% social housing."

Disabled folks and Elders are some of the hardest hit by the gentrification process in the DTES. Rising poverty rates, reduced disability benefits, health care supplements being slashed, Elder community spaces in uncertain futures, welfare rates at all time lows (and increased barriers), and condo developers encroaching further and further into the heart of the DTES, this pattern will only continue.

But disabled folks and Elders are also often the first on the line when fighting back. There are networks of folks working together to stop these developments, and you can be part of that! There are many victories to celebrate. Get in contact with the folks at the link below, or just come on down to an action. There are many people --including other disabled folks-- able and willing to stay alongside for support, to find ways of working together, to keep each other safe and connected. However you do it, join in the fight! See you out there!

Please, read more here, get informed, come out to an action, support in whatever way you can!

Monday, November 28, 2011

free traveller accessible transit information study

"Free Traveller is a Loughborough University project to study how different forms of information help disabled people plan their journey in confidence.

The aim is simple, to understand how different forms of information effect the usability of a mashup (thats the thing with the information balloons on a map). Does different information effect how users see the mashup, and if so how can we use these judgements to make better mashups, websites and products in the future? This is done by creating three custom maps to explore under what conditions information influences user information perceptions. Participants are then asked to view these maps, interact with them and then share their thoughts on how confident they would feel using that information when travelling in the future."

hey folks,
i did this, and it was actually pretty neat, a great project designed to figure out how folks who use accessibility information for transit traveling deal with the info (value? usefulness? clarity? accuracy? etc). They made a mistake with the time it takes to complete it, which has now been corrected, and they really need folks to try it out!

(doesnt hurt that you can win a chunk of change for participating!)

please note there are a couple glitches/issues right now:
As of right now, you can't increase the text size of the info boxes in the maps yet, but i alerted them to it. i ended up cut n pasting the info into a word doc and increasing the font size myself, but that's not a good solution and they're on it.

Currently, there are only 2 gender options (neither of which suit me. sigh). i mentioned this, and perhaps if more people do, there'll be movement on that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

not knowing / not bothering

i don't actually have the power personally/ systemically/ institutionally to "force" or "make" you post accessibilitIES information for your events -- & if it must be forced, have folks learned anything?). 
However, if you consider yourself IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER "allied" to me as a disabled person, you will do the right thing & post it. If you don't know what to post, ask me or someone else. There's nothing wrong with NOT KNOWING. You are not alone in not knowing, believe me! There are many things i don't know about accessibilitIES too. It's a learning process, but you have to be willing to not know to move forward. No shame, nothing wrong with not knowing!
There is, however, something wrong with NOT BOTHERING. When you have the opportunity but don't bother, you are sending a very clear message to me that: 
- you don't care about my/our inclusion and participation, 
- you don't care about the fact that i/we get shut out of things every single day, 
- you don't care that our friendship or other kind of relationship doesn't actually get to include all of me/us, and that you would rather not think about that. You have devalued me/us based on ableism, likely without even realizing it.
i know it maybe seems like a lot, but this is what is being transmitted in your "not bothering". i'd like to think you'd never say such things to my face, so why are you willing to say them in other ways? 
Ask yourself, honestly, why you don't/won't prioritize this, us, me. No brownie points, but you --yes you-- will be doing me, my disabled friends & non-disabled allies, our communities, & ultimately our friendship a major favour.
[And also, like i've said elsewhere, gimps can (and often do!) do this aaaaaall day long. We aint goin' anywhere (especially since folks seem to insist on using non-accessible spaces!). So, y'know, we're meeting up with each other, drawing up plans, making change happen. You can come along for the ride and help steer every now and then, or you can get sick in the backseat. Your choice. Either way, change is happening, friend!]

Monday, October 24, 2011

"What did you do to yourself to get stuck with those awful things?"

i really hope youll take a few moments to read this piece by Toby MacNutt about being asked questions about mobility aids by strangers. It is seriously fucking powerful and beautiful and says so many of the things i wish i could say more on the regular, instead of just shutting down. i've written angry screeds about it, cried about it, ranted to friends about it, written in my journal about it, put it in a zine, questioned folks about it, tried hard to answer respectfully despite the disrespect given me, any number of things. But i think this piece by gizometer really just sums it up. <3

"It has so many common elements to questions I've heard a million times now - even in the scant handful of years I've been 'out' or visible as dis/abled. I'm going to try to draw each one out and address where it comes from and why it doesn't work. Where I can, I'll suggest alternatives. Maybe you've wondered the same things, about me or about someone else, or maybe you've had these questions asked of you, to your frustration/confusion/sighs. I hope this helps. I don't get the chance to explain this all to everyone who asks - I have a life, too, and places to go, and other demands on my time/energy - but conceptually, I want to think about it, I want others to think about it, I want to tell it, I want people to know."

Monday, August 29, 2011


Hey folks :)
Here's a bit of news from the BC Coalition of People With Disabilities about a new service available to blind & low-vision folks:


A program of Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture, VocalEye Live Audio Description Service provides the visual details of live performance to blind and low vision audience members. Each patron is given a personal receiver with a single earpiece and volume control that allows him or her to hear both the show and the live audio description at the same time.

The broadcast begins 15 minutes before curtain with detailed descriptions of the set, characters and costumes. Once the show begins, the describer transmits pertinent physical action and visual detail between the lines of dialogue.

A new feature introduced at the end of last season is "Advance Audio Previews", pre-recorded descriptions of the set, costumes and characters, background info, reviews and plot synopsis available prior to the described performance. Please contact VocalEye for more details about the service: and contact the theatres directly to arrange your tickets. Remember to mention VocalEye Live Audio Description to reserve your equipment.

SEASON 2 of LIVE Audio Described performance 2011-12

Sunday Oct 2 at 2 PM      Next to Normal
Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Friday Oct 21 at 8 PM       Tosca Cafe, Vancouver Playhouse Theatre
Sunday Nov 13 at 2 PM    The Penelopiad Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Friday Dec 9 at 8 PM       La Cage aux Folles Vancouver Playhouse Theatre
Sunday Dec 11 at 2 PM    White Christmas Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Friday Jan 27 at 8 PM       Red
Vancouver Playhouse Theatre
January TBA                    Don Quixote, Surrey Arts Centre
Sunday Feb 19 at 2 PM     Calendar Girls Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Friday Mar 2 at 8 PM        Hunchback Vancouver Playhouse Theatre
Sunday Apr 8 at 2 PM      The Importance of Being Earnest Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Friday Apr 27 at 8PM       God of Carnage Vancouver Playhouse Theatre
Sunday Jun 3 at 2 PM        High Society Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Sunday Aug 5 at 2 PM       Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,  Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage  

For more information on Kickstart and the VocalEye Audio Description Service, including show descriptions, ticket information, and accessible directions to theatres
, email

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Future Tripping.

So i saw a film (fabulous by the way, highly recommend it: "Gen Silent") recently, and the discussion afterwards got me thinking. Well, it got me to leave quite frankly, but also thinking.

A panel was talking about the film and about aging LGBT folks more generally. And one of the things that kept getting said was different versions of: "We're all going to have to start planning (for aging and care we may need) soon!"

It struck me that this was all very clearly being couched in pretty able-bodied terms. 
Because of course, people aren't dealing with these kinds of questions already! Or so many would like to believe, because this culture does not centre or prioritize or even scratch the surface of the voices and experiences of folks with disabilities; and because both aging and disability (together or separately) are terrifying to most folks.
But for many of us, we're already planning. We're already having people wiping our asses, spoon feeding us, getting our groceries, manipulating our bodies, speaking on our behalf, blocking out our lovers, relying on strangers, and so forth. Many of us already live with this reality, so what felt like an unexamined refrain of "ZOMG it's going to happen someday!" was a little exhausting quite frankly, albeit predictable.

i'd love it if more people would challenge this constant centering of able-bodied stories/ realities. i wanted to stay for the end so i could say something, but just couldn't. And i needed to pee. And then i got lodged in the bathroom in my scooter. So y'know, no commentary from me. See? Plenty of us are already there. Having to be extricated from the bathroom by some strange (but very nice lol) dude. Awesomesauce. Reality. And there are so many folks in my life for whom this stuff and more is already a daily reality.

And yeah it does scare me to think of how things are gonna go down as i age. A queer, fat, trans, gimped and getting gimpier, with no connection to my family of birth, who will not be getting married, who will have limited rights (as will my lovers) to care for me and have my wishes respected, it scares me for sure.
i wonder if it's actually a gift to be going through some of these things now instead of having them crash into me later? Just please don't call it a privilege lol. It's just practice.

So i guess when i'm watching things like this --and wow, it really was incredibly touching, i felt for each of these folks and related in some ways as well-- i'm thinking about who's in the room with me, and who isn't. How do we find each other, and how to we lose each other?

Sometimes, we can be right there, sitting right next to you, and it seems we don't even exist. And isn't that the very problem we (and this whole movie we're there to see) are talking about? 

Forest? Meet trees.

Friday, August 19, 2011

grammar, people!

"When you post/reblog pithy little graphics or other things that bemoan others not using English words or grammar correctly, it makes me lose a lot more respect for you than anyone else. It makes me want to unfollow you.
On the best days, that kind of language policing and shaming is a little brother to the tone argument in which you don’t care if someone has said something true or important because you’re just there to tear it down any way you can by disapproving of the words, letters, and structure used and the failure of them to meet arbitrary standards. "

i think this is so important to remember. There are so many reasons why folks write the way we do, don't write the way you do, make the choices we make, or don't make the choices you make. Please keep this in mind the next time you want to tell me to capitalize my sentences more often, or use more accurate punctuation, or mix up they're/their/there [which is sort of also amusing to me to be called on that when SO many people have a hard time respecting my pronoun choice (they/ them/ their) because it's apparently not "proper" (which is also untrue) bahaha].

Anyways, ponder away!

to add:

Here's a longer thought for folks to chew on at yer leisure...

These conversations of late (and ongoing really) about "The English Language" and who's doing it "right" and "wrong" are so interesting to me. To see what folks are ok with & not.

i want to share something with you about me because while it may not help you move past your dislike of and peevishness with these things, it may open it up to a little more understanding:
When im reading, either in my head or out loud, i have to for example turn this "the cat played with *an* apple" into "the cat played with *a* apple", because if i dont, i will see/hear/interpret it as "unapple". This becomes a real problem for me depending on the context; it totally changes the meaning, and limits my understanding of a larger piece of writing. Sometimes i end up writing it out as "a apple".

i dont change it in my mind or on paper or on the screen because i dont understand or respect the rules (but who honestly gives a fuck if i do or dont?), but because that is how my brain works. i have a learning disability brought on by having been bathed in alcohol during my time in the womb & having endured 2 intense brain injuries (& a few smaller ones) in my life. And this is how i have adapted to it.

As to the dislike of acronyms (LOL, WTF, TL;DR and so forth), many of us use those because the act of writing, the physical act, can be painful, and we use acronyms to last longer, to say what we need to say without having to endure more pain than necessary, especially in the online format.

Who is anyone, especially people with the privilege of being seen and respected as writers, and people who have worked so damn hard to have their voice heard in this written form, to suggest that what i and others have to say is somehow less worthy of or likely to get your attention because of these adaptations we have made? i mean really? If people's adaptations of a language which may not even be their first (and as the article i linked to illustrates quite well, folks who may have entirely conflicted relationship with it for many reasons) is such an impediment to respecting or paying any attention to what they're saying, i suggest the impediment is yours -- and i mean "yours" in the general, not specific to any one person or incident; but this stuff is not always simple rule-breaking to piss people off, and is not all "laziness". It has real consequences for people, in ways critics may not be / so often are not taking into account.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Valuing My Work, and How You Can Help!

this come on the heels of a post i wrote about valuing my work i did a little while ago.

Here's something to ponder: if you have had me do an accessibility audit for you or used one of my existing accessibility audits & we never did any kind of trade/payment/exchange at the time, id like you to consider it now, retroactively, and for future audits.

So, for some examples:

  • If you run parties, how about a couple comp tickets to a future event?
  • If you do arts & crafts, how about a little something you made?
  • Photographer? How about a nice little snap?
  • Zinemaker? How about a free copy?
  • Into gardening? How about you help me lay these paving stones or offer advice on where to plant veggies?
  • Have the ability to offer an honourarium of any amount? Great! Even make it a gift certificate to a place of my choosing, i'd love it!
  • Love to cook? How about making me a meal you're especially excited about?
  • Maker of teas, chocolates, cheeses, jams, you name it? How about a sampling of your wares?
  • Have access to a vehicle? How about taking me to go shopping for something i couldn't carry otherwise? Or take me to a beach i can't access without a vehicle?

And so on.

Get it? i provide something you need, you provide something i need, and back and forth like that. Interdependency. Mutual aid. Community.

If you really, tangibly want to value the work i do, and you don't want to insist on using your value structure to determine how i  should interpret "value", lets talk about ways to do that for each other based in what we have access to, hm?

By which i mean, to clarify: If i do an audit for you/ your group/ organization/ collective/ band/ party/ etc, i would like you to ponder how you might compensate me for the several hours of work i put into it; to not wait until i ask; and to not just assume it's a giant freebie all the time. We don't all have a bunch of money to offer (but no-one's offering me that either lol, or even simply ASKing how much it would cost dollar-wise, so, y'know, there's that), but we do all have things and skills we enjoy/ create/ have access to and can share. i'm asking you to look into that and see what you can offer, without me necessarily having to come to you about it. Maybe a tall order, but there it is.

And for all the folks who have made the effort to reach out and compensate me somehow when you use my audits, thank you, it's seriously appreciated <3

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fierce Bodies

hey folks, please consider donating to this Fierce Bodies campaign to help them get their first line off the ground. This is pretty groundbreaking stuff in terms of fragrance and chemical free hair and skin products, and i think could lead to some really amazing change in how we deal with our impacts on other folks' health.
Below is the link to a video about Fierce Bodies, with english subtitles:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

super tangible interdependency

So this is what happened tonight: i was out scooting about the neighbourhood tonight wearing my battery down so i could get a nice full charge overnight, when the whole thing went kaput. Slammed (and i do mean slammed, there was nothing graceful about it at all) to a stop and no power. In the middle of the street. On a steep hill. 20 blocks from home. (i was hoping to all fuck that it was the battery and not the motor, and the former seems to be the case, fingers crossed, thank fuck). *UPDATE: its still not working, even after a full charge :( Dont know what im gonna do. *UPDATEUPDATE lol: its working! apparently i blew a charge (?) and just needed to press the reset button under the seat thing. Whoosh.

Now, at another time in my life, this wouldn't have freaked me out. i'd have just taken my time and crutches and walked home. But that reality is no more for me. i can't just get up and walk 20 blocks. i felt stuck. And scared. And worn out. And like i was gonna cry in the street. i just sat there and said to myself "well what the fuck am i supposed to do now??"

After a few moments i decided i at least needed to get out of the street because i had no lights. So i released the, well, release-y thing, and got it up on the sidewalk. And sat some more. Tried the key again. Nuthin'. i took it real slow and inched down half the hill to an intersection and figured i'd just have to wind my way home somehow, and hope to fuck i don't lose control on a downhill. Not cool. (Note: these fucking things should have hand brakes on them for times like this.)

So im sitting there in the dark, when these folks come by on bicycles and ask if im ok and do i need any help. i let them know what happened and where i was trying to get to, and one of them locked their bike up, and pushed me all the way home. This chair weighs about 140lbs + me at another 230lbs, so this dude pushes 370lbs for 20 blocks, down some steep hills which he has to completely control me so i dont go flying, then a couple inclines and a rocky alley. Didnt even hesitate. 

He and his partner just moved here 5 months ago, and are exploring the neighbourhood. When he asked me what i'd gotten up to today, before i knew what i was saying, i said id been at the Vancouver Queer Film Fest. Inside, i was like "why the fuck did you say that!!!! You dont know this dude!! What if he freaks out??" and so forth. But he didnt. He was totally chill, totally sweet, asked me some questions about it, told me what he'd been up to today.

Also, this all has me thinking again in a different way about privilege: skin privilege (if i wasn't white, would people even stop?), gender-passing privilege (if people perceived me as the trans person i am, would they stop to help?), presumed-male privilege (if i was perceived as a woman, how safe could i ever assume it to be to have a strange man push me home, physically vulnerable?), class-based passing privilege (if i "looked poor", how many people would stop to help me if i was in the street like that?), and so on, and how these things intersect with ones ability to do those things, to even receive assistance, to take chances, etc.

Yeah, that whole interdependency thing (which includes among other things suspending disbelief, putting yourself out there, trusting-while-also-trusting-your-gut ---which needs to be filtered through the last paragraph)? Totally need it in my life. Riding this chair, im learning that more every day.


Friday, August 5, 2011

touching me

So i briefly mentioned this in my last post, but this thing keeps happening more and more, and now especially since i started using the scooter: people touch me without my consent. 

It's been a common theme since i started being perceived as a dude more, and increases depending on what i'm using to get around. When i had just my crutches, people would touch me. On the bus, in a cafe, walking down the street, you name it. 

Now, in the scooter, people do it even more. i noticed today while i was out n about, that people non-consentually touched me at least 5 times that i counted and particularly noticed. Strangers touched me. Super casual acquaintances who'd never touched me before touched me. They touched me and they touched my scooter. One man stroked the arm of my scooter, and tried to lead me. 

No invitation, no connection = non-consentual.

Also, people used to ask me more if i wanted "help"; now, they just don't even bother asking, they just go ahead and do it, and don't look me in the eyes while they do it. Even if their "help" actually makes things worse/ harder for me, like it did on a couple occasions today. Or they don't even bother "helping" at all. Less perceived, more perceived, less perceived, who can say?
Seems to me this is about a declining kind of visibility on one hand (my perceived worth and ability as a person based in able-bodied notions has gone down another notch), and an increasing kind of visibility (as even more of a gimp, and as extra not meeting those able-bodied standards of worth, even more in apparent need of able-bodied "help", and also in need of less consent-giving than before).


i'll be keeping my feelers out on this one. Have you experienced a notable shift in how people treat you in terms of consent over what happens to your body? How have you handled it? i'd love to hear some tips!

Also, just an added note: if you didn't touch me before i used the scooter, don't start touching me now unless we have that kind of connection, ok? Ask me first! Consent and all that! Thanks :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Adventures in Scootin'

So i want to tell you a little about this scooter situation.
[photo: a tattooed white-skinned bearish person with glasses wearing a black cap, tshirt, overalls and boots, sitting with hands up to their face on a bright blue Ranger scooter with a black basket in front and forearm crutches on the back. Parked on the sidewalk, there are trees and other greenery in the background]

It’s amazing, and i am so fortunate that my good friend passed this along to me to get fixed up and use as i please. i'd have never been able to afford to buy one on my income, and this used one is a brand that's sturdy, simple design, and has quick n easy maintenance. That’s some gimp solidarity right there. 

i knew it would be a big deal for me, but it’s only been a few days, and it has already changed my life. Like, i’m trying to find words for it, but it’s hard.

i’ll be real honest with you: i’m scared. Scared about what’s happening to my body; scared of being more reliant on something other than my body; scared of relying on more technology; of relying on electricity; scared of how people look at me differently; and how they touch me differently; how they touch me at all, when that hasn’t been our connection. Of how they do and don’t see me. Scared of being down here when i used to be up there; of not having as much eye contact. Scared of how vulnerable i feel. Scared of how friends will feel about me, how my gimp friends will feel about me based in their own experiences. Scared of hurling myself off another curb (have already done it once, and it doesn't feel good at all), but without any help. Scared of my body slowing down, of not exercising my muscles as much. Scared of what that could mean in terms of body pain. i live with a degenerative disease, and i’m scared of how using a scooter could most likely exacerbate that over time.

And i’m also unsure about a lot of the above, have many mixed feelings about it all. There’s a lot to process here. Like there was when i first began using a cane, how when i briefly used a wheelchair people were so fucking rude and weird to me, how i then switched to a forearm crutch, then two, then back to one periodically, then two, and now this. All the reactions, the social changes, the body changes. It’s so much.

But for right now, mixed in with all these questions and uncertainties and scary shit, there is this: 

freedom. i feel right now a freedom i haven’t felt in i don’t even know how long. i’ve been able to explore my neighbourhood in ways i just haven’t been in so long. And that’s important to me, the taking slow (or rabbit speed!) meanders through the neighbourhood and not being completely worn out by the end of it; feeling the wind in my (forearm!) hair. Also, feeling more vulnerable in some ways and less vulnerable in others. i just can’t even accurately describe this feeling. Maybe i don’t need to. But there it is.

Going on a scooting adventure with a friend who’s also on wheels was like another dimension to an already fabulous friendship, a new experience, a new appreciation (for the sometimes really fucked up realities of wheeled life and for the beauty and groseness of this city).

i just....yeah. So many thoughts right now. i’m going to be processing this stuff for awhile, and it won’t all be excitement and a huge grin on my face as i swish down the street with a coffee. But i hope you can read about some of it, and gain some new understanding, or find some solidarity or commonality in what i write about it, while i gain some new perspectives on what you put out there too.

Interdependency, who knew?


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rhizome Cafe Access Audit

Rhizome Cafe Accessibilities Audit Overview
317 East Broadway, Vancouver, (604)872-3166
Google Map of Rhizome

The folks at Rhizome say it best in their own words:  

“Rhizome is a friendly, diverse neighbourhood café that serves healthy, fresh food; organic, fairly traded coffee; and offers a fully licensed bar. We support social justice struggles by hosting events in collaboration with community groups that are working toward a more just, sustainable world for all. We encourage dialogue and mutual learning by making our Community Meeting Room available for meetings and workshops. We build community by providing people with a space to socialize and share information and resources. We help marginalized voices be heard, and highlight visual and performing arts that help us achieve a better understanding of our communities and our world.”

Rhizome is located in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, close to Main and Broadway, and is a queer-and-trans-friendly, kid friendly, creative and welcoming community space. Located next to shopping, pharmacies, cafes, restaurants and accessible transit, Rhizome is a convenient hub for gathering.

The main space of Rhizome is wheelchair accessible. There is an automatic door which is in need of repair as of this audit in June 2011. Upon entering, you’ll find a community room to your right, which can be closed off for meetings. Seating throughout the space includes benches along the wall, tables and chairs, a couch and some lounge seating. The kitchen, bar and counter are at the back.

Also at the back are the washrooms, both of which are on the same floor as the rest of the space. Neither can fit most people using a wheelchair or scooter, though the larger of the two may be accessible to some folks using smaller wheelchairs, or who can get up and leave their chair in the hall. There are ongoing discussions about how to increase the access to the washroom. Stay tuned for updates, and/or let Rhizome know your thoughts. In the meantime, the only solution for some folks is to go next door to the wheelchair accessible washroom at the Starbucks (audit of washroom to come), or another few doors down to the washroom at Our Town Coffee (audit to come). Please note that there are no tampon dispensers, sharps containers or scent free soaps provided at Rhizome (event organizers may provide scent free soaps, please check with them), so please come prepared!

All staff are able to assist in bringing food and beverage to tables, and are really open about making space for folks and keeping an aisle clear during packed events. If you’re hoping to get a seat at a well-attended event, you’ll definitely want to get there early, because Rhizome fills up really fast.

Please note that there is not currently a scent-reduced policy in place at Rhizome, though specific events will have their own policies. Refer to these resources if you’d like to learn more about how you can help create a safer environment for folks with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities:
A FAQ on MCS and being scent-free
On making your event scent-free or scent-reduced:
On products you can use to reduce your use of scents:

There is free parking on the surrounding streets, bike lockups outside (these used to be right outside, but are now located about 100 feet down the road), and accessible transit right out front.

If you have any questions, concerns, additions or kudos regarding this accessibility audit, please email me at:

Friday, July 1, 2011

An Invitation

Wow, this month has been a really busy one in accessibility audit land. 7 this month alone, and more to come. This is a good thing, because it means more folks are open to exploring some different ideas about accessibilities, and getting more clarity on where they and their spaces are at, and that translates into increased accessibilities. 

i'd like to extend an invitation to you. If you've had an audit done by me at any time, i'd love to hear feedback about the process. How was it for you? Are there things i can be doing differently? Ways to help it feel more collaborative? Less collaborative? Are there pieces of it you're not feeling so clear on? More followup? Do you need more information? Do you have thoughts about other items to bring to the table? Did the process feel good to you? How might i improve any part of it?

 i'd love to hear all kinds of feedback, and am totally open to talk more about it in an environment that feels good to you. i don't just want to come to a space, audit it, provide feedback and leave it at that if you have more you'd like from it.

So please, let me know your thoughts!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Service Dog Dreams Become a Nightmare

"I began what was supposed to be my three week “Service Dog Boot Camp” with Arizona Goldens, LLC. Unfortunately, less than six days into it, Arizona Goldens abruptly terminated my boot camp.  It’s all over.  This was entirely their decision and I do not agree with it. 
I do not get my service dog and Arizona Goldens will be keeping the entire $20,990 that all you wonderful people gave to them for the specific purpose of providing me with a suitable service dog."

This is an absolutely outrageous (though likely not a singular) travesty and i believe a blatant abuse of the trust and hard work and money that Amber and friends and family put into this. Please, watch the video, go to the website and learn more, and pass it along. This should never happen to anyone again!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

YouthCO HIV and Hep C Community Outreach & The All-Genders Wellness Centre

I conducted this audit on June 1st, 2011, to benefit the All-Genders Wellness Centre All-Genders Wellness Centre, YouthCO, and others who use the space.

The space is located in the heart of downtown "Vancouver", and is easily accessed by many wheelchair accessible buses, as well as skytrain.
Overall, YouthCo and the All Genders Wellness Centre will be accessible to many folks with varying accessibility needs.
There is elevator access, a wheelchair accessible, gender neutral washroom, a variety of sturdy seating, and options for moving things around a bit to accommodate particular needs as they arise. It is spacious, inviting, and staff are open to dialogue about making the space even more accessible.

A few things need tweaking, like lowering the sharps container and mirror in the WC access bathroom, letting folks know that different rooms can be used to  accommodate larger scooters, for example, creating more standard signage, and clarifying the sign language interpretation capabilities, for example. Creating a scent-reduced policy for certain events like the All Genders Wellness Centre would definitely be advisable. As well, increasing resources available for trans women will create an environment for the Wellness Centre which includes more of our communities.

If would like to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, or additional feedback on the space, please e-mail me at:

Please consider passing along this information, on YouthCO, The All-Genders Wellness Centre, and the accessibilities audit. The more folks who can access these essential resources, the better!

YouthCO was founded in 1994, and "is Canada's first youth-driven organization leading the HIV and HepC movement through peer education, support, and shared leadership. We provide peer-led prevention education programs in highschools, post secondary institutions, youth detention centres, drop-in facilities, Aboriginal communities, and at community events. In our engaging and participatory workshops, our facilitators lead discussions about HIV/AIDS, Hep C, safer sex, self-esteem, durg use, risk reduction, and healthy relationships. YouthCO is a community of young people supporting each other in our efforts to prevent HIV and Hep C.

Our peer-support services for youth impacted by HIV and Hep C include a non-judgemental and confidential drop-in space, meal programs, computer access, dinners & retreats, mentorship and skills building opportunities, clinic accompaniments, advocacy, and street outreach. We see positive and often transformative changes occur in the lives of many of the youth who access these services."

The All-Genders Wellness Centre "aims to provide low-barrier wellness services to transgender and gender non-conforming people in a way that is respectful and celebratory of clients’ identity and self-expression. Our centre is volunteer run,  and all of our practitioners are volunteering their time, so that we can offer free services to people who need them, regardless of factors like citizenship, health insurance, or residential address."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Disabled man files human rights claim against police post G20

"A quadriplegic panhandler arrested during the G20 summit last summer was “dragged” from his wheelchair, thrown into a police cruiser and left on the floor of the Eastern Ave. jail, where he defecated on himself because guards refused to help him, according to a human rights claim filed Friday.
Gabriel Jacobs, 47, was released without charge before dawn on Monday, June 28, after spending two nights in the temporary G20 detention centre. His motorized wheelchair was returned to him after his roughly 30-hour detention; no other mobility support was provided inside the jail, according to the claim." 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

sex while gimped.

i love getting sexed the fuck up.

There, i said it. It's true.

Now, you may not know or experience this, but being a gimp, i'm in many ways expected not to be so into sex or considered sexy because gimps are so often de-sexualized [unless we're being hypersexualized, which happens too. And a bunch of other things collide when it comes to sex, some of which i wrote about then erased because i can't quite figure out how to tie it all together... perhaps another post.]
i'm expected to be grateful when sex appears in my life (because who would want to have sex with a gimp?) i'm often expected to say "yes" (because gimps can't be choosy, you know!) im expected to respond to able-bodied assumptions about my body, to weather able-bodied judgement about the kinds of sex i have and what value it has (because able-bodied folks are the default for every fucking thing). People look at me and imagine (and yes, sometimes actually verbalize to me and/or others) that i couldn't possibly have great sex, because they're using able-bodied frameworks to judge it, frameworks which specifically devalue/ignore gimp sex.

And why wouldn't they? Almost every single representation of sex out there is between presumed able-bodied folks. Even most few and far between representations of [people who are perceived by sighted folks as] disabled folks having sex make sure to cut out assistive devices, downplay the importance or impact of the disabilities in the lives of the folks involved, certainly don't talk about the details, or focus only on "overcoming" the disabilities.

This is not the framework in which i want to experience sex.
This is not the framework in which i seek connection. And this is not my reality.

i love sex, i love play. i love everything about it. i love the dirt, sweat, complexity, movement, tears, familiarity, sounds, stains, simplicity, cramps, awkwardness, abrasions, injuries, newness, i even love the minefield. i do. i love how deeply it challenges me, how it exposes all my doors, flings open moments (sometimes lifetimes) of hurt and twirls them into fine silk for resting our weary heads and hearts. i love it.
i love how it reminds me that i am here, now, sharing this body with others, being vulnerable, open, hot and curious, together, knowing something incredibly deep about each other, even if only for that moment. i love knowing that the people i'm with now truly perceive me, really get me. i love opening myself up to someone/s, pouring myself out onto their hands, curling up with them and making out like it's going out of style, fucking anywhere, getting my kink on, getting shitkicked, and being totally present for every part of it. When i'm having sex, i have experiences i've never had before, i'm in an energy feedback loop, and can do things i couldn't otherwise do. When i'm fucking, the sweat, the cum, the cramps and rest stops all make up this swirl of emotion and lust and gorgeousness, and it feels so fricken incredibly mindblowing, connected, sweet, dirty as fuck, liberating, confusing, regenerative, so many things. And it breaks my heart sometimes.

Does that sound like someone who needs able-bodied permission or direction to fuck with abandon?

No? That's because it's not. While i do have to navigate a seemingly endless sea of ableism and ableist assumptions when it comes to sex, i have sex on my own terms. It's not all magical rainbow-farting ponies and butterflies, and i'm ok with that. It's complicated sometimes, y'know? And i'm ok with that too. Everything's complicated, yeah? But better to be complicated than erased.

thought i'd already linked to this, but nope! so here you go:

a table of non-ableist alternatives to "crazy"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Raving Gimps

So i want to share an experience with you. One that shows me a real contrast between a mostly heterosexual event and the experiences i've had at most queer events, and how interesting it is to me to come to realizations about that in the context of being a queer gimp. Bear with a bear!

So, 4 years ago, at 35 years of age, i went to my first rave. They were never really on my radar, certainly not enough to go to one, but some friends who were very experienced with it invited me, so i felt safe going to my first one with them, and went for it. i went to another this weekend.
The rave was interesting. i certainly danced for many hours, which was just as shocking as it was the first time. The only thing that seems out of sorts is my left upper back that hurts like fuck, and that's i think because my crutches were at different lengths (gah!!! i really need to be more on top of that); but otherwise, excellent. i might talk more about the physical stuff in another post sometime, but for now i want to share something else.

One thing i find very interesting about the 2 raves i've been to, is that many people - about 80% of the time folks presenting as dudes - will come up to me and, in a totally non-condescending manner, tell me things like "i love that you're here", "i love what you're doing", "you're beautiful, man[sic]", "it's so good to see you here", and so on and so forth, shake my hand, pat on the back, "fist bump"(???), sometimes a lingering something else. Sometimes it felt kind of weird, like, where is this coming from? But anyways, interesting.

Now, don't get me wrong, i know clearly that there's the subtext of "you're disabled, and isn't it inspiring that you're here at this rave dancing!", otherwise, why would they come up and say such things when they're clearly(?) not doing that with others? But i gotta say, even for me, someone who is exceedingly sensitive to those kinds of vibes, it's never once felt like that, or felt like, yeah, i was totally just being condescended to, not fucked up at all. It's just interesting to me, and not something i'd ever experienced before. 

Those folks are totally just there for the music, the experience, and the people who've said anything to me seem to recognize me as someone who is also totally there for the music, the experience, and that i've (i suppose clearly due to having a disability that sighted folks can perceive?) "overcome" some kind of actually really intense societal pressure to stay at home instead of feeling it, but the music was that important to me that i just did it. 
And believe me, i have overcome that when i've gone to them. i was so worried the first time i went, like really worried. i thought people would gawk at me, make me feel like shit, thought *i* would make me feel like shit, thought i couldn't dance in ways that would be ok, thought i wouldn't be safe, physically or emotionally. Add to that being "too old", "too uncool", "too queer", with way "too big" tits, etc, and this was a perfect storm for me limping out of there like some no-one-will-dance-with-me-even-at-the-end-of-the-sock-hop tearjerker. Everything about it told me that i shouldn't go, but i was finally like "Fuck this shit. i'm going. And people can shut the fuck up, and i can leave if i need to".

But it was actually amazing. And i think it was amazing, in part, because (even though it felt really awkward at times, and even though some gimps would cut someone for saying those things) people were so fucking honest. Probably E has something to do with it lol. But i don't think that's all it is. i don't know how much was about some sort of "male[sic] bonding" or male[sic] privilege", i'm sure there are aspects of that. i think mostly they were expressing a sincere appreciation for someone coming out, despite whatever shit is going on, because of a deep love for the music, and that's something i can really understand on many levels. And not something i've ever experienced ANYWHERE.

People were also super respectful in their behaviour in terms of the space i needed to dance safely. People weren't slamming into me, elbowing me, pushing me, they could tell i was using the speakers as some support, they moved when i needed them to, there was a sort of dance that happened when folks needed by, that felt like it was about taking care, not being afraid to touch me, and i really super appreciated that.

Compare and contrast that with most times i've gone out to dance (or anywhere for that matter, but particularly dancing) in supposedly queer spaces? Not so cool. People do gawk, or they condescend flat out, or they run into me over and over and over again, even when i ask them not to, or they make like i don't. even. exist. Especially when i'm alone at an event or away from my friends (and i'm often away from folks because i usually need a wall to be against, need space for stability, need to take a breather and sit for awhile, etc). It's pretty overwhelming, and feels that much worse because i feel like as a queer i should be ok there, it should be better. But no. 
[And if anyone feels compelled in this moment to say something like "well, but if they knew you were queer (they did), or if they knew you were trans (they probably didnt), they'd be mean to you and that wouldnt happen in a queer space!" or "Well a least you wouldnt get queerbashed in a queer place" (not true) or "Well, being condescended to as a gimp is better than getting queerbashed" (also not true, and diminishes the very real experience of gimpbashing. Believe me. It hurts just as much.) please don't. It hurts me to go into queer spaces (when im actually able to access them that is) and be treated in ableist ways.]

It's just bizarre that it should feel so ok* in one space i wasn't expecting to, and not ok in another i really do expect to. But there it is. Stranger things have happened, and while i'm not going to make a regular habit of attending raves, i gotta say i was mightily impressed.

*And i also want to acknowledge that this is just one gimp's experience. If i was someone else, a different kind of gimp, i could have an entirely different experience, and all of this would be for naught. It's always contextual.