Friday, November 15, 2019

Endeavors and Media Coverage

There is a huge difference between how able-bodied people who start an organization or program for disabled people are covered in media, and how cripples are covered for starting something similar for our community.  Ableds are seen as our selfless saviors, bringing culture/comfort/access to the pitiful "other".  Our start-ups get significantly less coverage... unless it's inspoporn.

Since our community gets less media attention (and a more skewed focus) when our own projects come to light, it can impact our chances to secure funding.  Newspaper articles can be a great way draw the attention of potential donors, especially on a local level.  Plus, disabled people might not know about opportunities available to them because of the lack of reporting.

The amount of gimp-led organizations and projects scraping by on small, crowd-funded efforts versus able-bodied ones getting large grants and corporate donations is huge.  Announcements of funding and partnerships abound!  Of course,  ableists will say we're too ignorant or lazy to properly get funded, but people who aren't bigots see a different story.

How our financial needs or efforts are narrated varies, too.  Eight different articles for able-bodied ventures (since January) have entire paragraphs on funding assistance!  Every one but two I've seen for our community mentioned it in the last line of the piece (if at all).  Maybe different periodicals have different policies on money.  Maybe a lot of the projects started by us already have all the backing they need... doubtful.
I'm not saying programs and things started by able-bodied people for our community don't help us or deserve the money and promotion they need to thrive, but the difference in the amount of coverage, the slant of the articles, and the disparity in attention to our financial needs is all bullshit.  An endeavor isn't less worthy because it's run by a wheelchair-user.  Journalists need to stop acting like it.

Friday, November 8, 2019

D&ND Creatives List

The words "Disabled & Neurodivergent Creatives" are written in blue in the middle of a white background. There is one blue paint splotch above the words in the middle, and two on the bottom of the words on each side. In the top right-hand corner, there is a small brown paintbrush with a swipe of blue paint dotting the i in "creatives". 
The list is here!  It's finally happening!  Introducing The Disabled & Neurodivergent Creatives List (click here for link).

For the last year, I tried to figure out how to create a list for disabled and/or neurodivergent artists.  I didn't want to do a disservice to our community by shoehorning it in a small tab on this space.  The thought of having it totally disconnected from The Handy, Uncapped Pen wasn't something I relished.  So, I just let the idea sit.  But, nothing ever happens if it stays a mere idea, so I decided to go for it.
Each creator will have a post with their name, types of art/creativity worked in, links to their social media, links to their work, etc.  After the post is made, the artist will be added to the page at the top.  Artists will be added to the page in alphabetical order by last name.

Want more information (including how to submit)?  We have a FAQ (click here).  The first post on the blog also gives the submission procedure.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Cripple Rants: The Cripless Sims

Notes: Video game design is an art form. There is swearing.

The Sims is as a series started on computer in the year 2000. It's almost 20 years old. Millions of people around the world enjoy bringing characters of their own creation to life. But, it falls horrifyingly short for the world's largest minority. 

I am an avid Sims player. I've made people of all ages, colors, genders, etc. I've had white, cis characters climb the career ladder and I've had badass Asian, trans folx find love. There are vampires, witches, ghosts, and aliens in my neighborhoods. However, there are no disabled people. What the fuck?

Of course, they offered an extremely problematic take on mental illness at one point. You could have a Sim (character) that had an "insane trait" which had a straitjacket as an icon. After some pushback, the developers relabeled this "erratic". It's as close as we've ever gotten to representation of disabled, mentally ill, or neurodivergent Sims. 

Some people will say to me, "Everyone in The Sims is the same height, so short or tall people aren't represented. There are no nonbinary Sims." and this is true. To say gimps need representation in The Sims isn't saying other people don't deserve to be represented. It's just... shitty that so many of us can't create people like us in a game with the selling point of making who you want. Why is a purple alien more possible to them than my crippled ass?

Just like in real life, I notice a lot of the public buildings my Sims visit aren't wheelchair accessible. Will the developers have to alter too many buildings? Can they not figure out the physics of a rollator? Is it too hard to program a guide dog? My witch can clone herself, but God forbid she have crutches or need regular appointments with her psychiatrist. 

Not every game needs to exactly reflect our society. But, a simulation game proclaiming we can make the world we want to see leaving us out entirely is a huge oversight. The only other possibility I can think of is the developers are positive no one wants to see cripples in a "perfect world".

Friday, October 18, 2019

Grants and Fellowships (Some Charge Fees)

1.  Australian citizens who live in Australia:
"Arts Access Australia’s new National Leadership Award will recognise and support new and emerging leaders in the arts and disability sector."  One disabled artist (or arts-worker) will receive $10,000 to cover expenses for professional/leadership development.  Find out more by clicking here.  I can't find an application fee requirement.  The deadline is November 4th.

2.  "Launched in April 2017, Awesome Disability is an independent chapter of the Awesome Foundation, a global community that provides micro-grants with no strings attached."  Applications accepted between the first and fifteenth of every month.  Selected groups and individuals with awesome projects can receive $1,000.  No fee to apply.  Click here for the website.  The grant can't be used for utilities, home repairs, rent, etc.

3.  Fellowship for nonfiction writers writing about mental illness (requires a $35 application fee):
"The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is offering a fellowship to a writer working on a short or long work of non-fiction focusing on how they (the writer or another) have managed, and continue to manage, their mental illness."  The deadline for 2019 was September 30th, but they plan on bringing it back next year.  Meals and a two-week stay are covered, but it doesn't seem like travel is included (the colony is in Arkansas). Click here for more information.

4.  Application fee (may be waived due to financial hardship):
MacDowell Colony Fellowships are open to artists in many disciplines.  They offer stipends and travel grants to fellows who have financial need.  It's one of the few colonies accessible for artists with physical disabilities.  The next application deadline is January 15th.  The link to their application page is here.

5.  Chicago artists:
3Arts Residency Fellowships "are accessible and open to artists in dance, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts."  Any out-of-town residencies for disabled artists will support housing and travel for personal assistants.  Their fellowship recipients were already announced, so check back next year.  They list fellowships for various places locally and abroad.  I'm not sure if there are fees.  Find out more here.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Moving Too Slow

I once read somewhere that a poet will have diminished success if their full-length collection debuts after they turn thirty-five.  I'm thirty-four with a February birthday and hear clocks ticking behind me every few weeks.  The illogical voice in my head whispers:  What if it's over before it's begun?

I know averages can't predict individual outcomes.  Everyone has unique circumstances that defy easy calculation.  Is the "disabled poet average" different than the abled one?  Is the specific age only important to poets with college degrees?

I might be an outlier but, if the majority of poets fall into a certain section, the odds are I will, too.  It's disheartening.  Numbers don't care if you're self-taught because no one could help you.  Judges don't care if you lost years of creativity to illnesses and brain fog.

In the article I read, no one mentioned just how hard of a hit poets take if they don't squeeze out a book before thirty-five.  Is it something that can be offset by another characteristic?  Can starting later actually be a boon no one bothers to leverage or consider?  Is our society's obsession with youth clouding our perceptions?

As a disabled person, I often feel like I'm arriving late to my own life.  There are moments I'll never have that leave an ache inside me.  No one receives everything they want in life, but I'd settle for half instead of a fifth.  I don't want to contemplate what my late entrance as a poet might mean to my career.  Perhaps, it will mean nothing.  All I can do is create... and hope.

Do you ever feel like you're moving too slow?

Friday, September 27, 2019

Facebook Group for Disabled/Neurodivergent Poets

Yes, I know there is already a Facebook group for disabled poets and writers, but I'm thinking of creating a private group specifically for poets to get feedback on pieces and talk shop.  It would be like a cross between an MFA-type workshop (sans crying and one-upmanship) and a conversation with knowledgeable friends.  I think it would be useful, but others might not agree.

Is it something poets might be interested in?  Let me know!
Twitter:  @HandUnPen
You can also comment below.
Questions you might have:

1.  Why not a public group?
If poets post their work on a public forum, it's considered published.  Most literary magazines won't touch previously published work.

2.  Why poetry (and only poetry)?
I often see poetry shoved to the margins in craft books/blogs, writing magazines, and other resources.  Free classes in creative writing exist in abundance, but few of them are classes on poetry composition.  Plus, I am a poet.

3.  Why not a poetry group for everyone?
Disabled and neurodivergent poets are often silenced.  Our subject matter is frequently deemed "uncomfortable" or something our peers can't connect with.  I want a group where we don't have to stifle ourselves for the ableists' comfort.

4.  Do shared poems only have to be about disability/neurodivergence?
No, but there might be some topics that are off-limits or require a trigger warning.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Detective Pikachu's Villain (Major Spoilers)

Ah, Ryme City:  A beautiful place where people partner with Pokémon to create a utopia for all beings.  The city is the idea of Howard Clifford, CEO of a huge corporation and creator of advanced hologram technology.  Mr. Clifford has a degenerative disease and uses a wheelchair because of it.

But, someone has nefarious plans for the people and Pokémon of our lovely haven.  Who would destroy something so amazing?  Howard Clifford, of course!  Why?  Because human minds taking over Pokémon bodies is the next step in evolution.  He has found a cure for human frailty.  He has found a cure for his disease.
Howard wants a cure with such intensity, he's willing to destroy everything (even his relationship with his son).  We don't know how long he's had his disease, how it impacts him (besides the wheelchair), how old he is, or what his prognosis is.  Without more information, all we get from the screenwriters is some variation of "disability bad, must fix".  I'm honestly tired of seeing a "cure" as one of the only outcomes a disabled character could desire.

Howard is rich.  He has a whole city designed by him, a team of scientists under his command, technology most folks only dream of, and people who adore him.  He spent so much money, his scientists discovered a way to merge humans into Pokémon (that couldn't be cheap).  Was it truly easier than them finding a pill to slow the disease or an injection to reverse it?  I have doubts.

If Howard wanted to heal, why drag everyone else into his scheme?  He didn't just try to transform the disabled, the elderly, or the dying into Pokémon... his plan included everyone.  The vague mention of "evolving" isn't an answer I accept.  Maybe he could control people if they were Pokémon because he transferred his mind into the greatest Pokémon ever (Mewtwo).  But, world domination is an entirely different motive.

Was he a good person before he wound up in a wheelchair?  The movie doesn't say.  Maybe Howard was a bastard his entire adult life (his son is a good person, so maybe the mom raised him).  The only thing we really know is that he's absolutely desperate for a cure, so I would think it's the disease driving him to unscrupulous acts.  Disability made him into someone else... an evil someone else.
The game the movie is based on has a different antagonist.  Howard Clifford could merely be a poor attempt to subvert the audience's expectations.  However, with Hollywood only giving out a few worn-out tropes to cripples, we can't say the bitter, desperate-not-to-be-a-gimp villain was a genuine surprise.  At least the Pokémon were cute.