people with disabilities
From: BERWIN (BERWINdelphi.com)
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 11:38:23 -0500
     It seems that cohousing is the perfect place for people with
disabilities.  And I want to say from the start here that I hate
using that general term "disabilities, " lumping everyone in the
same boat. I'll be more specific but at the same time I want to
keep the post short.
     It just seems that cohousing is the perfect place for people
with limited mobility, people in wheel chairs, people suffering
from chronic pain who face days when they can accomplish nothing.
     Yet I've become rather pessimistic about cohousing as it is
evolving at the moment being very friendly to the disabled. And
what I'm referring to here isn't the people but the community
activities.
  For example as one with limited mobility  everytime I read the
word "sweat equity" I kind of cringe. It  may save alot of money
but  rules out many with problems, myself included.
     The organic gardens, wonderful as they are, pose huge blocks
to someonw with limited mobility.
     Meal preparation participation can be another difficulity.
Due to spine problems, for me to be one of even four people
preparing a meal for thirty seems overwhelming. I can peel carrots
for four but beyond that I'm in too much pain. Peeling carrots
takes strength and pull on the neck and upper vertebrae even with
the best of peelers!
    You might say that there are other committees the disabled
could be on, perhaps computer related, more sedentary work, but is
that fair to others, more abled who also don't want to do lots of
physical work?  
  I think many of the above problems could be
avoided if there were disabled people in some of the core groups, by this I
mean
that several of the original developers, organizers, are disabled
themselves. 
   Also there would be initial input by people with limitations on
the meal preparation. For example how big of a deal must the meals
be? Instead of the dinners being made by a few for the large
number how about the entire group doing some big cooking and then
freezing it, then each person would have a 
minimum amount of work to handle. I could probably pull my share
if fifteen
people are making a huge stew to freeze. And what about sandwiches
and soup, or ordering out pizza.
   I've also a hunch that if people with disabilities are in the
core group then the direction of that cohousing itself might
change. Perhaps a computer center might develop, or a serious
craft center, the kitchen might be designed entirely differently. 
   Instead of community being developed by working together
cooking or gardening or building, closeness might develop through
developing a really neat web site--just one idea off the top of my
head.
   Of course this can all come about in a cohousing in which the
core are all pretty much abled, but the degree of concsiousness
raising about the nature of specific disabilities seems overwhelm-
ing. Someone else on this list wrote a really good message about
that.
   I'm still thinking about this, will probably write more later.
Leah
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