Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Talking Points and Suggested Legislative Text for Our Museum

Talking Points
for
A National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities


According to the 2010 census there were 54 million people with disabilities. That is one in five people who live in the U.S. Then you have all the people related to and who interact with that 54 million. That is a lot of people who have experience with disabilities. A museum on the American experience with disabilities makes sense. What happened to such people throughout our history? What are their stories today? What can they expect in the future? How can we use this chronology of experience to shape a more inclusive society and more accessible communities?

We have drafted such legislation based on that enacted to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Public Law No: 108-184 (12/16/2003)), the newest museum on the National Mall to join the family of museums operated by the Smithsonian Institution.

Here are the top ten reasons why such a museum related to the American experience with disabilities is needed now.

1.     We have a lot of partisan tribalism on display. We need something to bring us together – why not invest in common ground by creating a place where the American experience with disabilities through history can be shared?

2.     We have preconceived notions about how to treat people with disabilities. We need a place to test such notions and maybe develop more appropriate ones.

3.     We have varied perspectives on the value of people with disabilities. We need a place to capture and to celebrate their contributions.

4.     We have a built environment that is not always welcoming and accessible to people with disabilities. We need space to show what a difference an accessible place can make.

5.     We often assume people with disabilities do not have preferences and need to be cared for. We need a place where we can educate ourselves about what happens when such assumptions are flipped.

6.     We have policies based on good intentions that have unintended adverse consequences. We need to learn how they could be changed for the better.

7.     We have human service systems that work and those that don’t. We need a place to demonstrate what real person-centered planning and self-directed services allows to happen.

8.     We have environments, such as schools and workplaces, that promote and foster meaningful inclusion. We need a place to celebrate such environments and promote their replication.

9.     We need to understand that timing, time, and the use of time are the fundamental factors of difference between a person with a disability and a non-disabled person. We need a place to show what happens when time or timing is considered.

10.  We need to understand that people with disabilities are the world’s most innovative problem solvers. We need a place to showcase what happens when they are part of planning, decision making, implementation, and evaluation. Society, as a whole, benefits.

A National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities – bringing it about – would trigger new partnerships, divert everyone from political tribalism, and reaffirm our collective commitment to core American values.

DRAFT
April 18, 2018
National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities Act
National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities Act - (Sec. 1) Establishes within the Smithsonian Institution (SI) the National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities, to be operated as a center for scholarship and a location for museum training, public education, exhibits, and collection and study of items and materials relating to the life, art, history, and culture of persons with disabilities that encompass the period from the founding of the United States to the present day and also projects what the experience may be in the future.
(Sec. 2) Establishes the National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities Council to: (1) advise and assist the SI Board of Regents on Museum planning, design, construction, operation, and budgets; and (2) have responsibility and authority with respect to the Museum's collections and work, subject to the Board of Regents' general policies.
(Sec. 3) Requires the Secretary of SI to appoint a Director to manage the Museum. 
(Sec. 4) Authorizes the Director of the Museum to carry out educational and liaison programs in support of Museum goals. 
(5) Requires the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in consultation with the Council and the Director of the Museum, to establish specified grant, scholarship, internship, and fellowship programs relating to local and state museums devoted in part or entirely to the American experience with disabilities. Authorizes appropriations to the IMLS Director for such programs. 
(Sec. 6) Directs the Board of Regents, in consultation with specified Commissions and congressional committee officials, to select the Museum's site from one of four specified sites on, adjacent to, or near the national mall. Requires the Board of Regents to pay costs of planning, design, and construction of the Museum on the chosen site as follows: 50 percent from Federal funds and 50 percent from non-Federal sources. Authorizes appropriations. 
(Sec. 7) Provides for Congressional Budget Act compliance by declaring that authority under this Act to enter into contracts or to make payments shall be effective in any fiscal year only to the extent provided in advance in an appropriations Act, except that amounts made available under section 9 of this Act shall remain available until expended. 
(Sec. 8) Directs the Council and the Board of Regents, in carrying out their duties under this Act, to consider the reports and plans submitted by the National Museum of the American Plan for Action Presidential Commission under the National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-106). 
(Sec. 9) Authorizes appropriations to SI to carry out this Act (except as already provided) in a specified amount for FY 2019, and in necessary amounts for subsequent fiscal years.


 Let's make this happen, ok?

Common Grounder

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

It’s Time for a National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities

Two weeks ago, at the University of Hawaii I attended a lecture by Lonnie Bunch, III. He is a historian and the founding director of the newest museum on the Nation’s Mall – the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Dr. Bunch talked about how in 2005 he and his initial team of two, started with literally nothing and today offer visitors to Washington, D.C a museum that educates all about the American experience with slavery, segregation, heroes and heroines, and triumphs of the human spirit expressed in everyday events and culture over 400 years, as well as glimpses into tomorrow’s intersection between America and its African Americans. It has 6,000 visitors a day, 1/3 more than expected.

He told a fascinating story about how he started with nothing, secured prime real estate and treasured artifacts (using the Antiques Roadshow approach), raised money, around a billion dollars, and navigated Congress. Everyone thought he would never pull it off and should be happy with just a website! When he was initially hired, security would not let him into his office. He found a crowbar to let himself in. We could learn from this amazing man.

We need to build a museum about the American experience with disabilities. Anything that happens to a human being has happened to human beings who are individuals with disabilities, their families, and their social networks. It may have been more intense. It may have had either short term or long term effects. It could have been good or bad. Nonetheless, people who interact and engage around a disability-related experience are changed. I would argue changed for the better. Such an experience can develop or heightened understanding of another. The experience can make a person appreciate time and timing, recognize the difference between special treatment and practical accommodation, appreciate collaboration, celebrate problem solving and thinking out of the box, and value real inclusion and the opportunity to fully participate and contribute. These are powerful lessons about life, and of course there are more!

The 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is July 26, 2020. Let’s all work together to draft and introduce legislation that would authorize the Smithsonian to establish a National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities. Let me know what you think. It’s our turn, opportunity, and challenge. We can do it.

Thank you.

Common Grounder

Monday, January 1, 2018

An Approach for 2018

Happy 2018!

The possibility exists that 2018 could be a good year, a smart year, if those of us with disabilities and our allies get back to basics. It is good for us that God DOES NOT offer the disability experience to individuals or families OF ONE POLITICAL PERSUASION. The disability experience shows up everywhere, any where, and any time. People, who have a disability experience, have a common bond, a common mission -- ensure participation, promote independence, expand accessibility, and offer opportunities to contribute. Where we may differ is HOW we go about accomplishing these things. But guess what? That is OK. Strong, credible solutions come out of robust discussions.

Here are things we need to do early in 2018:

Find out who in Congress has had a disability experience and arrange some conversations with Chairs of the Task Forces of the Coalition for Disabilities. We need to build new relationships and reinforce old ones. These conversations could lead to shared agenda items.

Review all the statistics we can find and determine the trends in the statistics. How might the good trends be reinforced and the bad ones stopped or reversed? Write up what we find and think, and publicize it widely.

Develop profiles in success that show what individual with disabilities have accomplished, because of or in spite of public programs. Publicize these widely.

Look for innovations in approaches and technology that have or could change lives if widely known, accessible, and adopted. Publicize them widely.

Develop a 2-year agenda and strategies for carrying it out.

Here are things we need to do mid-way through the year:

Give EVERY POLITICIAN the three things we want to happen; the three things we don't want to happen; and the one thing we will help them with as the fall election approaches. Once a month check in with them.

Develop a platform for the fall political elections which reflects assumptions, operating principles, and goals for the next Congress.

In November 2018 remember:

We need allies who know us.

We must offer to do things for as well as expect things from our elected officials.

America is stronger if everyone is engaged, listens well, seeks consensus-driven solutions, and invests time and energy in implementation of such solutions.

Social media can help us become a strong voice in 2018, a smart voice, and clear voice. Let's use it together to make 2018 a great year for everyone.

What's a powerful hash tag to get us started? Let me know, please.

Thank you.
Common Grounder


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy Holiday, an Egg Nog Recipe for the Ages

I sent this yesterday to my family and friends. Then I thought it might be nice share the recipe with all of you. Who knows it might get a lot of hits with New Year's Eve just days away.

 I was trying to think of something I could send or say that would last beyond this day, and then it came to me — Share Jim Kelly’s egg nog recipe before I forget it. The version below is my version based on his. His would knock you off your feet after 3 sips and you wouldn’t remember anything. I know from personal experience. Mine, on the other hand, gives you a smooth high and the ability to remember the memories you make.

Ingredients
1 doz large eggs
4 1/2 pints of cream
4 1/2 of whipping cream
2 cups of sugar
12 oz of bourbon
6 oz of WHITE rum
6 oz of brandy

Instructions
1 very, very, large bowl
2 small bowls
Hand mixer

Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, put each in its own bowl
Pour the egg yolks into the very very big bowl
Pour sugar on top of yolks, stir with mixer until COMPLETELY blended.
Add one cup of cream very slowly, mixing THOROUGHLY
Repeat with other 3 cartons of cream
Do the same with each carton of whipping cream
Add bourbon SLOWLY to mixture, mixing the whole time
Add rum slowly to mixture, mixing the whole time
Add brandy slowly to mixture, mixing the whole time
Set aside
Mix the egg whites till fluffy in their own bowl
Spoon egg whites on top of the egg nog in the very very big bowl
Pour into cups and sprinkle on cinnamon

Egg nog never goes bad. Store in fridge. I know raw eggs are not good for us, but I think the alcohol neutralizes any potential harm. I have never has a problem in 52 years of drinking the stuff. In the spirit of full disclosure I estimate one 4 oz cup is 478 calories.

Enjoy. Share recipe. Perhaps it will bring on a wave of bipartisan collaboration!

Common Grounder

Thursday, November 30, 2017

It's Time to Be Thankful

The holiday season has begun. It is a time when we eat too much; strengthen friendships, and ponder what we are going to do differently next year. Well, here's something you can do right now -- make a donation to the U.S. International Council on Disabilities.  Go to www.usicd.org and push the DONATE  button.

Each of us has a lot for which to be thankful. Because of our families and friends, where we live, and what we do, we have choices and opportunities to do many things. Not everyone is so lucky. In some places around the world going to school is not an option because of stigma or inaccessibility. In some places having access to health care or securing a job is rare because of inaccessible transportation. In some places deciding what you are going to do and when you are going to do it is controlled by someone else.

The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) works with disability organizations in other countries to strengthen understanding of the U.N. Convention on Persons with Disabilities, a disability rights treaty. It is a powerful catalyst for bringing about equal rights, opportunities, and inclusion across the globe. This U.N. treaty is like the ADA for the world. USICD suggests how to work with government agencies to develop policies that promote and result in inclusion. USICD works with foreign aid contractors to realize the importance of and applying accessibility guidelines when engaged in development projects in foreign countries.

USICD is interested in assisting organizations who work with refugees, with family members with disabilities in this country, to understand U.S. policies and secure supports for which the refugees are eligible. USICD offers internships in USICD and elsewhere in Washington, D.C. to young people with disabilities who want to learn about U.S. policies affecting international relations and their intersection with disability rights. USICD offers training programs, and most recently assisted the Afghan Embassy in Washington, D.C. on a training on disability rights.

USICD's fund raising gala is on Dec. 5th, 6-8 pm, at the French Embassy. Ticket sales have been good, but we have a few left - $125 each. You can buy tickets through the USICD website. Again, it is -- www.usicd.org.

These are uncertain times. In many ways we are in a holding pattern. But, there are proactive things we can do now. Giving a donation to USICD or buying gala ticket, means we still are willing and able to help others make the right decisions, use powerful facts, and collaborate. Be part of that message. Be part of the future. Show everyone that you want the future to be more inclusive, more invested in people with disabilities, and more respectful of the voices of people with disabilities. Such individuals and their voices need to be heard at local planning meetings in preparing for and responding to disasters. Such individuals and their voices need to be considered in development discussions around national policies in education, health care, employment, housing, transportation, physical accessibility,  and benefits planning. All of these things will be more likely if we contribute now to USICD.

Thank you.

Pat Morrissey




Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Please Come to the US International Council on Disabilities Gala!

Aloha!

I continue to love Hawaii, but I also am honored to be continuing as President of the Board of Directors of the US International Council on Disabilities (USICD). The USICD  fund raising gala is on December 5th at the French Embassy, 6-8 pm. I am flying back for it. I have attended an event at the French Embassy in the past. The food and wine were 5 Star, the staff were very friendly, and everything was accessible. USICD has a very important mission to assist people with disabilities around the world have a strong voice, guide their governments as they revamp policies to align with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and be mentors to others. The funds we raise at the gala are unrestricted, allowing USICD to respond to unanticipated requests, form new partnerships, and to remind people that the United States is still a resource and friend to people who care about and invest in human rights.  Please join us. Please visit www.usicd.org for details and to buy tickets. It would mean a lot to me if you come.

Thank you.
Pat



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Come to PacRim, It Will Change Your Life

Aloha,

Many of you know I moved to Hawaii last year and became the director of the Center on Disability Studies (CDS), College of Education, University of Hawaii, Manoa. It was one of the best decisions I ever made!

Every year for more than 30 years, CDS has hosted Pac Rim, a conference that celebrates disability and diversity in all its forms. This year it is October 9-11 at two hotels in Waikiki -- the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Modern. Take a look at a sample of what is offered, and a special discount for educators, at PacRim.

Please consider doing something that will change your life. And, I'll buy you a drink and we can watch the sunset together.

Thank you.
Common Grounder, a.ka. Pat Morrissey