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Colorado Medical Exemption Program Updates

There are now two programs in CO one for Xcel consumers which provides relief on summer pricing; and the Black Hills program which is year-round reduced rate.   

The Chronic Care Collaborative is the administrator that processes the applications and confirms usage with Xcel or Black Hills to qualify a residential customer.  Sabrina is the staff person who can assist your staff or constituents. She can be reached at 303-993-5056. Or sabrina.padilla@ccc-co.org

What follows is the updated links with the application and information for 2019.  Feel free to post this on your website or include in newsletters with your constituents, members or participants. 

Xcel customers

https://www.xcelenergy.com/billing_and_payment/understanding_your_bill/energy_assistance_options/colorado_medical_exemption_program

The direct link to the info sheet PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe-responsive/Billing%20&%20Payment/Energy%20Assistance/CO-medical-exemption-program-info-sheet.pdf

Direct link to the application PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe/Corporate/CO%20Medical%20Excemption%20Program%20App.pdf

Black Hills 

https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/products-services-programs/colorado-medical-exemption-program

Chronic Care Collaborative web page

https://www.chroniccarecollaborative.org/cmep/

Disability Community Loses one of our Rock Stars

The disability community lost one of it’s fiercest advocates on 2/24/19.  Carrie Ann Lucas, a disability rights attorney who pioneered representation for parents with disabilities, died after an arbitrary denial from an insurance company caused a plethora of health problems, exacerbating her disabilities and eventually leading to her premature death.  She was 47 years old.

Carrie Ann Lucas is known around the state and the country for her strong advocacy.   

Carrie Ann grew up in Windsor, Colorado and had several careers including being a teacher, ordained minister and legal assistant before becoming an attorney.  Carrie graduated from Whitworth College in 1994, traveled and taught in Saipan, and then returned to the states to attend the Iliff School of Theology. She received a Master’s of Divinity with Justice and Peace Concentration from Iliff in 1999, but during her time there, became increasingly involved in disability advocacy.  After she graduated, she started working as an advocate and later legal assistant for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, investigating, preparing, and monitoring disability rights cases and providing informal advocacy on a wide range of topics.  While there, she was granted a full scholarship as a Chancellor’s Scholar at the University of Denver School of Law.

Following her graduation from law school in 2005, she was awarded a prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowship to create a program to combat discrimination that impacts parenting for parents with disabilities.  This program, initially started within the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, spun off to be Disabled Parents Rights, one of the only organizations in the country devoted to this issue.  She also became a national expert and trainer on the rights of parents with disabilities and, through her legal advocacy, secured decisions upholding and promoting those rights here in Colorado.  Most recently she was recruited by the Colorado Office of Respondent Parents Counsel to help set up a program to train other lawyers around the state to replicate the sort of impact she was making.  

In addition to these professional activities, Ms. Lucas was an advocate with the disability rights groups ADAPT and Not Dead Yet, speaking, teaching, writing, testifying, and protesting on disability justice and the rights of people with disabilities to healthcare and respect.  She was also a talented photographer and cook. Carrie Ann was an activist at heart. She graduated from EMERGE, ran for Windsor City Council in 2017, and was planning on additional political activity.  She was chair of Colorado Democrats with Disabilities for the past several years. She was a member of the ADAPT group that protested in Cory Gardner’s office and got arrested to help save the Affordable Care Act in 2017, particularly Medicaid.    She served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.   She was active with Not Dead Yet and fought hard against physician assisted suicide and the notion that life with a disability is not worth living.  She demonstrated every day how amazing life with a disability can be. She was given the Intersectionality Award from The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center in 2016.  She was a leader in passing HB 18-1104 which changed Colorado law to make sure that disability was no longer a reason to remove a child from a parental home. There is much, much more.

Carrie became a lawyer to practice family law after lived experience of discrimination against parents with disabilities firsthand.   In 1998 fostered and later adopted her oldest daughter, Heather Lucas. Heather has significant developmental disabilities and was languishing in another state.   She fostered and was preparing to adopt a second child, but that was disrupted due to prejudice against parents with disabilities. Where most people might be upset and feel helpless, Carrie Ann was furious and went to law school to represent parents with disabilities.    

Carrie adopted three more children over the years, Adrianne Lucas, Azisa Lucas and Anthony Lucas.   All of her accomplishments centered on her dedication to her children and her role as a mother. All of her children have significant disabilities and Carrie Ann always made sure that they were not only educated and included in their communities, but that they were loved, respected, and supported in their individual hopes and dreams.    

Carrie had a severe neuromuscular disease, a rare form of muscular dystrophy.  She relied on a power wheelchair, and had used a ventilator for years. However, her death was premature and caused by inappropriate and brutal cost containment procedures of an insurance company.  Because Carrie Ann worked for the state, she had use state insurance which was primary ahead of her Medicare and Medicaid. In January of 2018 she got a cold which turned into a trach and lung infection.  Her insurance company UnitedHealthcare, refused to pay for the one specific inhaled antibiotic that she really needed. She had to take a less effective drug and had a bad reaction to that drug. This created a cascade of problems, loss of function (including her speech).  United Healthcare’s attempt to save $2,000 cost over $1 million in health care costs over the past year. This includes numerous hospitalizations, always involving the Intensive Care Unit which is par for the course for ventilator users.

Carrie Ann had hoped to spend a lot of time in 2019 using her tragedy to work to fix our broken health care system.   Her blog www.disabilitypride.com provides more details.   For all intents and purposes a shero of our community was murdered in the name of cost containment.  This is why we MUST fight these measures with all we have. Insurance companies and government programs must not be allowed to deny people what they need.  Just last month she was having to ration her insulin for her type 1 diabetes because of the same insurance company and how impossible it is to work between private insurance and Medicare and Medicaid.  This is a great example of why people with disabilities should not be forced into insurance or health plans and why we need Medicaid as the primary health delivery system for this country.

In addition to her four children, Carrie Ann is survived by her sister Courtney Lucas, her parents Lee and Phil Lucas, her nephews Gavin and CJ Lucas, Gavin’s wife Kathleen and their daughter Emily.  She is also survived by her partner Dr. Kimberley Jackson, a CCDC Board member and activist in the disability community. She will be missed by a wide circle of friends and colleagues throughout the country.  

Why CCDC opposes the “Special Education Opportunity Scholarship”

HB19-1151

Special Education Opportunity Scholarship

The bill creates a Colorado Special Education Opportunity Scholarship Program to provide scholarships to parents of eligible students with multiple disabilities to use in purchasing services from an education provider or other educational services as selected by the parent.

Although this bill uses the word scholarship it is essentially a voucher program. Students cannot be enrolled in their public school and the student must be identified as having a multiple disability in order to be eligible for this money.  Students would be exempt from the compulsory attendance requirement by maintaining eligibility as a student enrolled in a private school or a nonpublic home based educational program. The scholarship or voucher would be used for an approved private school or an approved private online program. Parents could also use the money for materials and tutoring services, academic enrichment services and approved providers such as Speech and Language, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Behavioral Therapist, etc.  The amount the eligible student receives in scholarship is the amount of the statewide per pupil revenues plus the amount of per pupil special education funding. This scholarship would be administered by a scholarship facilitator and would be paid from the money deposited into the student’s account. The State Board would contract with a scholarship facilitator and they would be paid up to 10 percent of the amount of money the student receives in scholarship.

Students that opt out of public school education often will return to public schools with greater gaps in achievement. Finding qualified instructors or therapists for students with multiple disabilities can be challenging.  Parents and school districts need to work together in resolving their differences in order for students to receive appropriate instruction and services. Hopefully, districts will not see this scholarship program as a way for students with multiple disabilities to withdraw from public schools and be served at home or in private schools, when conflict arises.

The amount of money is estimated for a state average PPR of $8,450.45.

The Exceptional Children in Education Act (ECEA) funding is a part of that calculation. The preliminary/estimated Tier A ECEA funding is $1,250.oo per student and the average Tier B ECEA funding is $1,888.00 per student. The Scholarship Facilitator would take up to 10% of the total amount for administration and monitoring. If you look at the responsibilities of the Scholarship Facilitator and the amount they would get paid, I am not sure they would be fairly compensated by the 10% of the scholarship amount.  Parents would not have a lot of money to contract with approved providers, buy materials and supplies. Providing a private school education for a student with multiple disabilities would cost more than the scholarship will provide.

This bill would put a burden on families of students with multiple disabilities especially in families where both parents are working. Researching needs of students and  appropriate approved providers would be time consuming. Students who were homeschooled would miss out on the social aspect of going to school and learning to live in the community.  

Another area of concern would be transitioning students, 18 to 21 years of age from school to the community.  Public Schools have transition services in place and have built relationships in the community to assist students with employment and training.

BREAKING NEWS: Colorado becomes the second state to secure its entire Congressional Delegation as DIA Cosponsors in the 116th Congress!

ADAPT and Disability Rights Community Praise Colorado for Becoming the Second State to Have Entire Delegation as Cosponsors of the Disability Integration Act (S117/HR555)

Colorado has become the second state to have their entire Congressional delegation cosponsor the Disability Integration Act only 21 days since introduction of the bill on January 15, 2019.

The Disability Integration Act is a bill that affirms the right of people with disabilities and seniors to live in freedom, rather than be forced into unwanted institutionalization. It would require states and insurance providers who pay for institutional placement to also offer long term services and supports in the community.

“We know that it will take members of Congress from both side of the aisle to make DIA the law of the land,” said Dawn Russell, an organizer with Atlantis ADAPT in Denver, Colorado. “We want to thank every member of Colorado’s delegation for supporting the rights of disabled people to live in freedom, especially Senator Gardner who was the first Republican on the Senate bill.”

DIA has widespread support from over 730 organizations from across the nation. At the DIA introduction event, AARP announced their support for the bill, illustrating support from the aging community and the importance of seniors being able to age in their own homes instead of being forced into nursing facilities as they grow older.

“Individuals with disabilities should have the right to live in the setting that best fits their needs and allows them to live as independently as possible in their community” said Senator Gardner, the Republican lead in the US Senate. “After hearing first-hand from the ADAPT community in Colorado, I was proud to be the first Senate Republican to champion this critical legislation that will help ensure individuals living with disabilities are provided the flexibility to live how they choose.”

Colorado joins Vermont on the growing list of states that have their entire delegation as cosponsors of DIA. “We were thrilled that all of our members of Congress from Vermont were original cosponsors of the Disability Integration Act this session, and we are excited to see more states join us!” said Sarah Launderville, the Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Independent Living. “I think this really demonstrates the importance of ensuring that disabled and elderly Americans can live in the community.”

ADAPT and the broader Disability Community have called upon the House of Representatives to pass DIA before July 26th of this year, which will also mark the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Short Link:
https://bit.ly/2SdlvRW

Full link:
https://adapt.org/press-release-adapt-and-disability-rights-community-praise-colorado-for-becoming-the-second-state-to-have-entire-delegation-as-cosponsors-of-the-disability-integration-act-s117-hr555/

RTD May 2019 Proposed Service Changes

The proposed changes are attached.  The proposals include a mix of service adjustments.  Notable proposals include:

  • Route 15 – East Colfax: relieve passenger overloads by adding selected trips between 9:00am and 1:00pm.
  • Route 33 – Platte Valley: discontinue service due to low ridership.
  • Free Metro Ride – 18th-19th Street: due to lower ridership reduce frequency from 15 trips per hour to 8 trips per hour.
  • W – Line Light Rail: reduce service between Federal Center Station and Jeffco Government Center/Golden Station on Saturdays to every 30 minutes.
  • Southeast Rail Extension: extend the Southeast Rail corridor (E-, F- and R-Lines) from Lincoln Station to RidgeGate Station in Lone Tree.

Download the Flyer, if you have any questions, please send an email to

Jaime Lewis

jlewis@ccdconline.net

A Pleasant Reflection on Martin Luther King Day. NOT A CHANCE! There is no time for that.

Intersectionality. Social Movements. The Media. Dr. King was recorded, filmed and/or broadcasted saying the following, “We have no moral choice but to continue the struggle, not just for Black Americans, but for all Americans.” “The time is always right to do right;” “We ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around;” “We are here to say, “We are not afraid;’” “You have to create a crisis so the power structures are forced to answer;” “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

By now, you all know that CCDC does not close down on Martin Luther King Day. We believe strongly that it would be the wrong way to pay tribute to this great leader for a civil rights organization to close its operations when civil rights is our cause, our work, and our passion! We also believe in the intersectionality of all social movements.

Dr. King stood for and died for social justice for all. Yes, I mean ALL. Let us not honor his short life with pleasant niceties. Our country, our state, our local communities and each one of us are in crisis: The country’s time-clock  is being turned backward: Some want a wall to keep people seeking asylum out (sure, they tell it another way), but the yet-to-be explained wall will keep out people who, we are told on TV are “rapists, murderers and drug dealers,” not asylum-seekers.

BORING HISTORY: After I became a quadriplegic after I was already in college, I was trying to figure out a way to make a living so I could afford the things I needed as a person with a disability who needed home healthcare. The year was 1986. The ADA had not yet passed. I had never heard of a “disability rights movement.” I was 19. I lived in South Carolina at the time. I had gone back to college in South Carolina. I did so through self-advocacy, persistence, resistance and fighting all the way. I just didn’t know that I didn’t have to go it alone. I moved to Denver, Colorado in 1990. Something called the “Americans with Disabilities Act” passed in 1990. I came to the Denver area from South Carolina to do my rehab at Craig Hospital in 1986 after my injury. I returned to South Carolina the same year. I had Medicaid. Home healthcare was a joke. Accessibility did not exist. And on and on. I came to Craig again in 1989 to deal with surgery for a skin sore and surgery on my arm to try to improve my functional skills. As a result of that second surgery, my stay was extended. I lived in the outpatient apartments and used home healthcare provided by a Denver agency. I also got to tour Denver. I was astonished that home healthcare services were fantastic. I remember being so afraid of home healthcare when I was 1500 miles from my then home. I was also amazed by the accessibility of the city. This was a year before the passage of the ADA! Then and there I decided to move to Denver. A quadriplegic who did not know anybody and did not understand anything about home healthcare services or accessibility. Other than the fact that I wasn’t getting either in South Carolina. I also did not understand very much about the power and necessity of all social justice movements. Wake up, Kevin!

HISTORY MEETS REALITY: Why? Many of you know: Atlantis/ADAPT! Their work, their struggles, their battles with discrimination, their unnecessary pain and suffering, their protests, their arrests, their political and legislative work, their MEDIA COVERAGE and their lives! That was a big part of my answer. I just didn’t know it yet. To those who have fought and died who I never met, to my friends, to my colleagues, to my clients and to those who have always believed, I fell in love with you and my lower affair continues. And I know you now.

Little by little, by dribs and drabs and by the greatest human fortune, I did learn. I didn’t know. I actually was a part of the disability community. I could do something. I was not alone.

During my undergraduate years at CU Denver, I switched my degree to political science. Law School bound. Still thinking about almighty dollar! Gotta save myself from the worries of my very expensive life. Made more expensive by going to work. After all, without all of those Medicaid dollars, the law would not let me go to work. Dumb system. There I was. Like so many: Subsidized housing. On SSDI/SSI. Medicaid only comes with SSI, right? Go to work = No Medicaid = no health insurance! Must pay for it myself: Pre-existing condition. No private health insurance = approximately $50,000 for home healthcare alone. What about all of those medical supplies? Motorized Wheelchairs? Unbelievable number of doctors’ appointments? Hospitalizations? Must lop that off the top of my salary.

So, why didn’t I know about work incentive programs for people with disabilities? It was a well-kept secret.

Clearly, I still wasn’t woke! But I just might be the luckiest person alive.

WOKE KEVIN: I met members of the disability rights community. I learned their stories. Our stories. I still wanted more school though. I still had to pay for my life.

A voracious reader. Before I read documents all day long as I do now (especially stuff by lawyers working for those who oppose us), I read for pleasure and for understanding. I began reading everything I possibly could about the Civil Rights movements, but mostly about Black Civil Rights. Took every class I could possibly take on socially equality, social injustice, social movements, social legislative change. What it means to be a human in America. Parting the Waters remains a favorite book. The series is good as well.

MARTIN LUTHER KING: And others. Dr. King had the answer. Their work, their struggles, their battles with discrimination, their unnecessary pain and suffering, their economic suppression, their educational inferiority, their voter suppression their protests, their arrests, their political and legislative work, their MEDIA COVERAGE and their lives! But the struggle had to continue. (Sounds exactly like what people with disabilities experience, except we come from a different place undoubtedly. MEDIA COVERAGE of the King movement changed the country, the world and us all. It spawned other movements, including the disability rights movement. The “change” that was “gonna come” came, right? Of course not. The other side has always been there. They seem to be back with a vengeance. We know it. We live it. We oppose it. Is it enough? Of course not. What would King say if he had kept going? Was that dream realized?

Take, for example, the need for the Black Lives Matter! Movement. Message to white people: Stop whining! “I worked very hard all my life from humble beginnings to get where I am at. Nobody gave me anything.” Really, white person (I am talking to myself because I happen to be one). Give me a break. Did a wall stop you and your ancestors from coming to this country? (In the case of Black Americans, the answer is clearly no. A slave ship did. One that was completely owned and operated, staffed, etc. by white people.) Did you devote your life to making the world understand the vestiges of slavery and the current state of denial in the face of civil rights laws protecting your rights? Did you not get a job because you were white (okay, a couple of you got lucky on this point in front of courts that were mostly white)? Were you ever hanging from a tree? How about your ancestors? How many of your friends, colleagues and family members are in prison? Do you know what the current proportion of Blacks versus whites is in our prison system? Did you ever get your head and your body cracked and beaten on your way to the police station? Did you ever have to spend many years meeting with innumerable legislators and many presidential administrations convincing the legislature that you needed civil rights protection? Did you ever “take a knee” to demonstrate against police killing people of your race?

Obviously, the list goes on. Dr. King understood. He was at the start, but he had great luck because visual media began burgeoning at the time of (perhaps because of? ) Dr. King’s movement.

This Martin Luther King Day and every day as fast as you can, get off your usual Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else. Get on all media focusing on what the day is about. Or just Google or YouTube to find videos posted below this paragraph. Better yet: follow Dr. King’s advice to do something right NOW! Why are some of us still dreaming? Why are so many of us still not caring? Why are so many of us still opposing? Why is Dr. King’s dream NOT a reality 50 years after his assassination? Why are Black people still being murdered in outrageous numbers and in outrageous circumstances? Why are all of us who are not wealthy (and mostly white) not paying attention? Review video and audio below. Find more. Learn. Share it widely!

The awakening can start right now; it as easy as turning your phone away from our usual timewasting activities and do as I just did, Google or YouTube it (actual footage contains violence and language as it happened; some might find reality offensive; original videos contain captioning—may require clicking CC at bottom right of video):

March 7, 1965, “Bloody Sunday.” Edmund Pettus Bridge. Dr. King and many (mostly Black) men, women and teenagers cross bridge into Montgomery, Alabama to ensure Black Americans can vote.

April 5, 1977. Protesters with Disabilities occupy Federal Office. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibiting discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities by programs, services or activities receiving federal funding, but no regulations defining enforcement of the Act had been promulgated.

July 6, 2016. Philando Castille and Diamond Reynolds. Pulled over for a burned out traffic light. Shot and killed by white police officer (captured on police cam) while his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds uses Facebook video livestream to provide instant coverage of what happened inside the car. Obviously there are more.

August 11, 2017. Charlottesville, Virginia. “White Nationalists” and Black protesters clash over request to remove statute of Robert E. Lee. President Trump finds fault with “both sides.”

June 28, 2017. Protestors with disabilities seeking to prevent loss of Medicaid Arrested at Colorado Senator Cory Gardner’s Denver office after days of protests trespassing because “office neighbor’s complained. Sen. Gardner later moved his office to a much less wheelchair accessible location.

MEDIA attention on protests leads to legislation, maintaining legislation and judicial enforcement of legislation. Or does it? Keeping the dream alive requires all of it. TODAY!

So what will you do in 2019? -Kevin W. Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director

Listening Tour Report

CCDC held a listening tour around the state in 2018. Please find the report here…if you want the exhibits and the presentation used during the tour please email me at jreiskin@ccdconline.org. We are not posting it because even though the information about “what is happening next” was accurate at the time, it has already changed. We are attaching the handout we gave about how to determine the validity of news sources.

We are still seeking feedback and would love your feedback on this report.

I Voted — It was Easy!

A picture of a ballot drop box.
Kevin’s local ballot drop box.

In past years, CCDC always had a policy that people with disabilities should show up at their polls and vote in person. That way, the general public could be made aware of our presence in the important electoral process. In those days we had all sorts of issues with accessibility of polling places. Just getting to the polling place was often difficult. There were issues around accessible parking. Certainly, there were issues regarding the accessibility of the polling machines themselves, making them inaccessible to a large number of people with disabilities. As we probably all recall, many lawsuits have been filed and are still filed related to these issues.

Of course, the times, they are a-changin’. Now, it is far more common to vote by mail or drop your ballot off at a ballot box. The mail makes me nervous, so I went to my local ballot box. Of course, I took someone with me, a camera, a tape measure and other devices because I was certain that the ballot box would not comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (“Standards”). Courts have ruled that compliance with the Standards equals compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I don’t understand why I would have been so skeptical.

I was amazed and surprised when I approached my ballot box. First, there was a designated accessible parking space within close proximity to the box. It is clear that they marked this space off specifically for this purpose. The ballot box itself met all of the specifications for reach ranges and other accessibility requirements under the Standards.

This picture shows the accessible parking space located in front of the ballot box.
Kevin’s local ballot box and accessible parking space were in full compliance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  

I am not sure exactly how this system works for those who are blind or those who have limited hand function (although it does not break any secrecy or confidentiality violations if someone else drops it in the box for you), and I need to investigate that matter further, but the box itself was fantastic. It is a pleasure to be able to vote with such ease.

I apologize to those of you who have seen the ridiculous pictures of me voting that have circulated throughout many media, but here are some more.

This picture shows Kevin getting out of his van and going to the ballot box.  Kevin holding his ballot while he is next to the ballot box.

-Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director

Walker Stapleton’s Letter to CCDC 10-29-2018

Walker Stapleton's Campaign Logo, it reads: "Stapleton Sias for Colorado"
Walker Stapleton’s Campaign Logo, it reads: “Stapleton Sias for Colorado”

If I have the privilege of becoming Colorado’s next Governor, I am excited at the opportunity to work with great organizations such as the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition (CCDC). This group gives a voice to Colorado’s disabled community that far too often has been ignored or neglected in public policy discussions. My administration will look to bring a broad swathe of stakeholder groups to the table when determining our priorities and I look forward to working with CCDC to implement policies that will protect and promote the disabled community.

This means crafting policies that allows folks in the disabled community to work without losing their benefits and working on programs to ensure access to healthcare and housing. As a society, we must create an environment that allows all people to pursue their own American dream and I look forward to working with CCDC to make this a reality for all Coloradans with disabilities.

 

Original PDF:

Lisa Duran Speaks at the 2018 ADA Access Awards – The Highlights

Lisa Duran headshot
Lisa Duran

(Please do not reproduce without explicit permission of Lisa Duran. Copyright © 2018 Lisa Duran All rights reserved.)

Good afternoon everyone.

Thank you, Julie, for your introduction, and for the amazing work that you and everyone at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition does.

I am honored by the invitation to speak with you today. The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is such a bright light in the struggle for justice and I am glad to participate in this celebration of their work and to pitch in to lend my own support.

Congratulations to Allison, Peter, Tim and Joe for your awards. It was inspiring to be able to hear your stories.

I have been an organizer and activist since 1979, but recently, I worked for 28 years in the immigrant rights movement, as director of Colorado’s first immigrant-led immigrant rights organization and as a co-founder of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, CIRC. I now work with organizations to build effective practices that are centered in the lives and experiences of their participants, that can learn from their participants, that can have actual relationships with their participants.

Context

Ending 2nd year of a Presidential administration that has shaken me.

Divisions fanned – we have a President who cannot seem to find it within himself to condemn neo-Nazi violence on unarmed people, who launched his campaign with the most blatant racist attack on Mexican immigrants, and who appears to admire dictators and strongmen around the world.

Inequality is growing in the U.S. We are now in the 30th percentile for equality – that means 70% of the world’s nations have a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources than this nation.

Institutions have reached their limits in problem solving. In many cases, they have become part of the problem. Accepting models of professionalism that commodify people and rigidify hierarchy.

I speak to you today as a fellow midwife in the struggle for justice, as someone inspired by the vision and the power of CCDC’s approach.

I say midwife advisedly, because I don’t believe we are going to create justice by defeating our enemies, vanquishing our opponents — although I fought for that for many years. I believe we are going to create justice—not just victories, but justice—by creating deeper and stronger communities, where everyone is included, everyone thrives, everyone is honored for who they are and their unique gifts. We have to bring this kind of community into being and then nurture it, support it, commit to it, help it have a long life.

We have to grow into our work as community creators, because the vicious attacks on the humanity of immigrants, people with disabilities, LGBTQI folks, people of color, women, men, children, eco-systems and the planet require us to see beyond what is right in front of us to the future we want to build together. Everyone has a role to play in this, and everyone is needed to do this, but sometimes we don’t recognize that.

CCDC does the hard work of visioning the future and ways to get there, offering inclusion to everyone, creating amazing partnerships and then putting their feet on the path and bringing us along with them. They are deep in the policy and community care weeds and high up at 10,000 feet.

CCDC has much to teach us. It is because of work like theirs and others all across this country that I have more hope than I’ve had in a long time. My hope is based on many things, but today I’d like to explore with you three reasons that CCDC brings me hope and why their work is something everyone in the struggle for justice can learn from.

1) The first is that CCDC is creative and courageous in its work, engaging in transformative organizing that is guided by the people directly impacted .

2) The second is that CCDC is a microcosm of the social justice movement and they see the ways that issues and identities intersect. They pull us to think about our work in inclusive and diverse ways.
And

3) The last and most important is that if our democracy is to survive and our nation live up to its potential, it is precisely the value of NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US – EVER that needs to guide us.

TRANSFORMATIVE ORGANIZING

Clearly seeing what is and crafting new ways of challenging seemingly hopeless realities by refusing to accept skewed power dynamics and involving the people directly affected in effective and heartening ways. CCDC builds community as it engages in systems change. Too often we work to make change by adopting the ways of the system that have worked to destroy our community. For me to win, you have to lose in this binary party system.

Communities are transformed as as individuals are transformed. When individuals are transformed, policies are transformed.

We have to work not for what we can win, but what we need and want. If we limit ourselves to what we can win, we are doomed. Our work will be to achieve something that is not really what the community wants. It will wear us out, dishearten us. Working for meaningful transformation of our communities and ourselves gives us life, because we see the short term struggles, victories and losses as important steps on the way to something we really want and need.

We can win by losing well, so that even if we don’t get the policy we were fighting for, the articulation of our true, heartfelt values and the bold visions of justice to achieve them give us strength and hope and build our movement, make us stronger.

But if people have been shoved to the margins, then visioning together to help each other see the possibilities is critical. And this requires relationship.

I call this transformative organizing. And there is very good news in this kind of work. It requires that we be transformed as we do this work. In order for us to hold the space for change to happen, we have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This requires self-awareness, vulnerability, real relationship with each other. It requires that healing be a part of our vision for change. Because how many of us have been traumatized by the violence, the objectification, being told that we are not worthy of full participation in society. How many of us have believed that?

DEMOCRACY AND CHANGE NEEDS

NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US
The last and most important idea is that CCDC’s work embodies the statement “NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US – EVER.” If our democracy is to survive, it is precisely this kind of value that we need to live.

We need to follow CCDC’s example – they have always involved those directly affected in all aspects of decision-making
Governance
Staff
Public face
Policy decisions
CCDC just finished 11-stop Statewide Listening Tour

Late capitalism is very scary, but community is the antidote. We don’t need hope, we need courage to face together what is around us and to build solutions that leave no one behind.

People with lived experience are the experts in resolving issues and building the kinds of communities in which everyone thrives.

Centering people and their experiences is different from depending on programs and agencies for solutions. Programs and agencies usually tell the community what they need, based on careful studies and data. Centering people means we begin with their lived experience as guidance for offering services, developing policies, and creating the communities we want to live in.

Centering people literally upends the traditional way of providing services or even advocacy, because we work differently when we are accountable to those who are directly impacted. We work more slowly, we check back, we learn together what the community needs and how we can work together to achieve that.

Conclusion

Everyone has gifts.

Relationships build a community.

Leaders are those who bring others into active community.

People care and will act when it is important to them, but we have to listen to know what that is.

Our job in this time is to find the right questions to ask each other:

Who are you?
What is your story?
What do you love?
What do you care about enough to act?
What kind of a community would you love to raise your children in?

Asking these questions, we can build the answers together and create the kinds of communities we need and deserve. Thank you very much for allowing me to speak with you and thank you for all the work you do.


Important Notice
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Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.

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