Today was our first day of actual service. Though it was fun, it wasn’t quite what I expected. We woke up really early to get to this dee-lih-shush and super cute ‘n quaint restaurant called Crumb de la Crumb to meet a special advocate. With the wind biting at our cheeks, we stepped inside this adorable place with rustic tables and mismatched tables.
At a long country farm table in the back, we meet Leisa Hammett. Leisa is the mother of an artist with autism, the one who runs her daughter’s art business, and a volunteer advocate for issues dealing with artists with disabilities. As we ordered our food, she started to talk about the start of her realization that her daughter had a passion for creating art and about starting her daughter’s business and the obstacles that she has overcome. She talked about how difficult it is to be running a business and raising her daughter by herself. She also talked about how difficult it is on the national level to find support for artists with disabilities: she is thinking about how she will combat the laws against getting disability support if her daughter’s business starts making too much money. What was really neat was that she did talk about disabilities, but she was talking like any other art business manager would be about his/her origins and issues.
Also, before I forget, the food and drink at Crumb de la Crumb was awesome. I had a German pancake (this light, lemony, crepe-like pancake) and Happy tea (it had strawberries and jasmine green tea and green rooibos).
After breakfast, Leisa invited us back to her house to see her daughter’s artwork. Her work included colorful abstract watercolors and vivid strokes of tempera or acrylic. If you want to see her work, here’s her site (go to the gallery tab): http://www.gracegoad.com/
Then, we zipped down the road to the Legislative Plaza downtown. After an extensive checking of our purses, we made it through security and walked down the hallway filled with very professional people in suits rushing around doing important legislative things. Near the end of the long, 70s-style building, we met an intern who was tasked with bringing awareness in the Legislative Plaza to individuals with disabilities on Advocacy Day. She and another university intern had collaborated with a public middle school and a senior center to create a big art piece to hang on the hallway. (http://vsatn.org/americans-with-disabilities-act/) The middle schoolers created individual pieces while the senior center wrote down some text on top of their pieces, which the interns had sewn together with some yarn. On either side of the piece, the interns had information on the Americans with Disabilities Act in print and Braille.
Though both the interns and our group realized that we had way too many hands for the job, we showed enthusiasm and rotated helping to hang the piece and information panels. Even though I didn’t hear much of their conversation, some members of our group struck up a conversation with one of the guys that passed us in the hall and showed an interest in our gallery. Kurt had been a volunteer advocate for a while. When he got into an accident that created some physical and mental disabilities, he became even more passionate of an advocate. He said that he comes here everyday as a volunteer to advocate for individuals with disabilities.
The rest of the day was filled with a city scavenger hunt. Our group of three went to the symphony hall and the Johnny Cash museum to see if each building was easily accessible for those with physical disabilities. Each had either flat levels or ramps for the doors but no doors with buttons to make them automatically open for wheelchairs. We also noticed that some, though not all, intersections had different pitched beeps that told a visually disabled person when they could cross.
Along the way to our scavenger hunt sites though, we had to stop by the Goo Goo Cluster Factory shop and this awesome vintage clothing store called Tatyana’s, which I’m definitely going back to and buying something from.
After a lovely supper of homemade chili, we had our first post-service reflection. We all agreed that we were slightly disappointed by how today wasn’t as hands-on as we were expecting at the gallery hanging in the legislative plaza. But we know how important it is to just have a presence there to bring awareness to and to support issues concerning the arts and people with disabilities.