So the lecture I put together and the story I’m about to tell is really a story about the evolution of disability rights and norms (but not quite the rights yet) because as you saw in the first lecture those rights are relatively new. There really weren’t codified rights until those guys took over the federal building and decided to claim those rights. So, we’re gonna talk about the story, about how cities had positioned people with disabilities, how cities mostly through the US had conceptualized the role of the disabled citizens, right, over various eras in the field of Urban Planning . Specifically, I’ll get into four eras over the last hundred years and how those four eras embedded conceptions of disability that play out in the built environment. An idea that is made manifest in the physical form. So, key concept, people with disabilities as a concept is not really defined in the era that I’ll be talking about.
Understanding has really evolved and there really is an approach to treatment. So very quickly, and you guys can dive into this more, this image on the screen shows a Spartan warrior pushing his disabled colleague off the side of a cliff and saying, “I will kill you to stop you from suffering.” Tragically comical because in this historical very ancient model of disability, it’s really the willingness of god, its a test of god, there’s all these weird mystical ways that disability was conceived as a divine punishment, part of sin, it was believed that it’s easier to eliminate people whose lives would be difficult.
This is a caricature. I’m going to show you three quick caricatures, before I start the actual lecture. Just to sort of give you guys some tools to work with as we go into the examples from the city. Your going to be able to see this. You don’t have to write down whats on the power point, because you’ll get these power points, nor do you have to read what’s in the power point you should just listen to me as I talk about these things, ok. The charity model is a different model of disability and it’s really saying, oh pobre sito, my poor little child, poor person, that can’t do anything for themselves, your inferior, your useless dependent status really requires me to feel sorry for you, and to give you something because I’m in a position of ability and your in a position of disability, so let me bestow my charity upon you.
And you’ll see in the slides how this is is embedded in the way that we build our cities. So really families hide people with disabilities out of shame. Societies response is one of charity. The medical model, also called the biological model of disability, says that the problem belongs to the individual, it resides in the individual, and the individual must be fixed in order to fit in to society. So the medical model basically expresses the caricature on the screen, that shows a doctor, some nurses, and again a man in a wheelchair by some stairs and the doctor is patting the person on the back, and he says, “we will rehabilitate you so that you can overcome all barriers, we will fix you so that you fit in the environment.” The disability model, or the social exclusion model, which is really where the struggle that you saw play out it basically saying, “we need to get organized, we need to get stronger, we need to reshape the way that society things about us, and we need to be able to change the way society builds our cities.” So those are sort of the ways in three quick concepts and we will come back to these models of disability over time.
These concepts sort of then manifest the spaces that we build. These concepts are imbedded in the streets we design, the buildings we design, the schools we design, everything we design, these concepts are embedded. Does everybody understand that so far? Ok, the environmental design basically is about this process of understanding the environment. How you devise plans, programs, policies, how you think about the measurement of the space, the characteristics of the space. Urban planning is a technical political process and serves in the development of land, protection of the public use of the environment, and urban welfare. Again, both of these issues now that were going to talk about embed concepts of disability, either implicitly or explicitly. Now the lecture starts. Any questions about the three different models of disability? So the models, I’m going to come back to that over the course of the class but those are like sort of short ways of thinking about the way society positions disability.
Alright, so were going to go very quickly into a century of city planning, and try to locate the socio-cultural and economic perspective or positioning of disability. The first part of the lecture talks about the industrial nation state from 1860 to about 1918 to World War 1. Modernity Markets welfare state, you know up to about 1940, age of normalization in which the medical model became very engrained and defined. And then the independence and rights movement which you saw in the video. Again, every era carries with it unexplored implications and unexplored knowledge about the social perceptions of difference, the social perceptions of vulnerability, the social perceptions of human condition and those perceptions are embedded in the things we build. So we can apply the disability lens to the design work and history as well. And really try to map out how the concepts that we’ve had over time are still with us today. So, the model I talked about earlier, which is the medical model of disability, really had an essentialist definition.
Essentialist. You knew that that was your essence. Disability was your functional limitation and your functional limitation and your disease, or your impairment, or that thing that makes you broken was your situation So the defining characteristic of your entire life becomes your disability. You are not a man, you are not a teacher, you are not a father, you don’t have any other identity other than a disabled person. So I want you to think about what that means when society rips away all of your other identities to sort of take the short cut and say you are just disabled. So we’ll come back to that. So, we’re going to analyze how urban life looked for people with disabilities, how people interacted, and how different populations engaged with their city. So, in the beginning, in these eras people mostly lived on farms, people lived in a very rural kind of environment. And in this rural environment, there were collectivists, pre-industrial America that worked on a farm, there were extended families and everyone had a role.
One of the critiques is that urbanization, the growth of cities, actually meant that people that had intellectual disabilities that used to be able to work on the farm, or people with other kinds of disabilities that were able to do something, whether it was some chore, some task (had it taken away). There was always a role for a person with disabilities in this sort of extended network in this sort of agricultural kind of economy. As cities grew, the kind of life people had had started to change, meaning that, as cities grew and industries developed people needed to become functional to work in a factory. People sort of had different types of ways they could fit into that society and urban life separated home from work. Division of labor changed social organization and industrialization perpetuated disablement.
So as industries grew a lot of people started to engage in this production of these industries, and a lot of accidents happened and a lot of other kinds of disabilities developed through industrial accidents. So this transformation that’s occurring, that sort of changes the way disabilities are understood in this era. There’s also simultaneously to that a development in terms of culture and care. Charitable social programs start to develop in cities to protect people with disabilities.
Because for the most part, in these cities, in turn of the century America, people were banded to their destiny. These were really ruthless places with with massive public health issues. Cities were growing so fast so there really wasn’t such a thing as city planning. So scarcity and opulence perpetuated the notion of Human superiority and human inferiority. Now, planning starts to develop with sort of this turn of the century time with new ideas such as sewer and sanitary reforms also tenement reforms and immigration laws. Tenement reforms were these very very highly dense low income housing units where people live in squalor just to be able to live in a city, have a job, things like that . They needed to be reformed and there needed to be laws that could sort of impact ways people could organize. There is also ideas that start to develop about immigration. “The exclusion from this country of the morally mentally and physically deficient is the principle objective to be accomplished by the immigration laws of the United States.” So, a concept of defectiveness of morally and mental disability as being something highly highly unwanted started to perpetuate itself into laws and this idea of crippled boys homes or cottages for crippled girls developed.
A lot of children were being abandoned also into orphanages at the time by parents that were not able to care for their children in the cities. These cities were for the most part very dense, very dirty, very loud, and very poor and a lot of immigration in these cities is also happening in the east coast. Places like New York, etc. So, I’m going to present here an image of a famous photographer, Reece, that published a very powerful series of articles called, “How the Other Half Lives”. And here you have an example of these tenement homes where there’s open sewers on the street, and multiple generations of families living in one bedrooms and just very very challenging living in these tenements. So poverty prevailed. As people lived in poverty, there was a higher incidence of having and developing a disability, and as people became more disabled, the family members could not work and they slipped more and more into despair.
So there was a social response to that with the charities. There’s also an idea that these charities that are developing really are developing because there is no public policy that really supports social welfare. So there’s a set of concepts that develop within a cities social movement which is; the city actually can’t be so incredibly so incredibly cruel and inhumane. There has to be a social dimension to the way our cities grow and to which our cities are governed. So there was a 1906 a committee on the congestion of populations.
And that became the first national conference on city planning in 1909. So that is the event when city planning actually starts to become more codified. Interesting from a disability perspective is that the whole profession of city planning basically starts as a response to a public welfare challenge, a public health challenge. So disability and disease and the burden of disease becomes one of the main impetus for starting to regulate and starting to design more policies in cities. So the key is how to make cities and these dirty cities with all this congestion and pollution how to make them livable starts to coalesce in a concept of the garden city. Has anybody heard of the Garden City? The Garden City, Ebenezer Howard, a British guy that came to The United States some of the research I did showed he suffered from asthma.
So he left the UK, Manchester I think, because there was so much pollution you couldn’t even see the sun come out. That’s how much pollution there was. He came to Nebraska and he saw these open fields, turn of the century America, and he started to develop concepts of what a clean city would look like. I t is said his concept became the foundations of the profession. So he came up with this concept called the Garden City but what’s super interesting is that you can find with in his concept of what a city should look like a couple unique features. Can somebody tell me what kind of unique features they could be? Let me describe this for folks that can’t see. There are a set of concentric circles that are interconnected by radial and diagonal lines and these sort of start to create ways that the city can function with the central city in the middle with a population of 58,000 people in larger kind of nodes of peripheral cities around the central city.
So he calls this a group of slum-less, smokeless cities. A group that has a total area of 66,000 acres and a population of 250,000 people. This image is kind of a sketch of how Ebenezer Howard wanted to think about organizing and making a city more legible but it’s really interesting that he also included into the city an insane asylum. He included in the city a home for inbriants, he included a home for the waifs, he included an epileptic farm, he included a convalescent home, as well as reservoirs, as well as transportation structures, as well as cemeteries, as well as schools and industrial homes. So he embeds, clearly, bases with in his garden city for disability and he defines these spaces as humane, as clean, a place where people can have a good quality of life as opposed to the city where they would be subject to great hardships. Any comments on what I just said? “Is he like he saying in the sense segregating it or is it a part of it? I’m not really understanding like the drawing itself but just like the insane asylum out of the central city like not a part of it?” Correct.
He is conceptualizing this as separate spaces. The reason why he’s creating separate spaces is because everything was so mashed up and so chaotic and so filthy and dirty and crazy in these tournament homes that there was no real way to even deliver services in this sort of congested cities. Yes. “You mentioned that Howard Had asthma which probably effects how he made avoiding congestion and smoke a priority, but do you know if he self-identified as a person with a disability?” That concept of identity wasn’t developed yet so that’s a great question and I’ve seen with some of the research that I’m doing that no one’s written on that yet no one’s explored Howard’s perspective of disability.
I just ran across in some of the archives that he had written a letter to his uncle and his uncle was suggesting that he should go to the United States because he had asthma. Howard’s a huge figure in the field of urban planning. You can’t get a masters degree in urban planning without studying Howard but nobody from my profession has talked and pointed out to the disability dimension of his work. Any other questions on this? Gordon? “Interesting design I don’t know how effective it would be as populations begin to move about”.
So again this is an effort to create a legible city and this was tried to couple times in the UK and a couple places in the US but overall cities would not conform to something as neat as this, right? So again, you’re ‘spacializing’ disability within the concept of these Garden Cities, this clean city, but, there’s other questions. The 1893 World Fair in Chicago really gave birth to this idea called, “City Beautiful” and the City Beautiful movement really was about this resurgence of pride in an aesthetic that sought to eliminate any notion of deviance. Eliminate any notion of grotesque ugliness whether it was in buildings or human beings. This was a movement of architects and planners and civic leaders in this idea of City Beautiful. What is beauty is to eliminate any idea of corruption or any notion of decadence or any notion of deformity. And so the concept of the City Beautiful proponents was, “if we make our city beautiful people behave better.
If we make our city beautiful people will have higher morals. If we make our city beautiful there will be no disability. There will be no poverty.” it’s kind of like whitewashing the city and sweeping all of the undesirable aspects kind of under the rug and that’s actually what started to happen. And as you can see this is Daniel Berman’s plan for Chicago. So he was a really important urban planner early early urban planner and architect, again, trying to create movement in cities, large avenues. You can also see this play out in Paris with the Chanz de liset.
You can see this idea with the idea of large avenues. It was an opportunity to kind of get all that crazy congestion out of cities and open up the city so that it could be governed, because that was the challenge when the cities were so compact and were growing without any regulations. There was difficulty to govern those cities. Now where does disability fit within the City Beautiful? It’s basically viewed as social blight just like a building can decay and become ugly and dirty and fall apart. At the time people felt society could decay and become dirty, and you know fall apart. Now disability under this concept was seen as social decay. And it was actually a huge threat, because they felt as if you would see people with poverty or living in squalor conditions that the social order would continue to fall apart.
There was a huge confluence a conceptual conflunce of naming mental physical and moral defectiveness. So if you had a physical defect you were also assumed to have a mental and moral defect. If you had an intellectual defect you were a perceived to have a physical and a moral defect. What I’m trying to say is there was an increasing concept of disabilities being dangerous, and not only dangerous, but an embarrassing exposure of what the society is that you’re trying to build.
Planners actively helped place all deformities, including human differences out of sight. A great example of that is that Chicago ugly laws. Great reading on this topic if you’re interested in it. I think this is a really critical topic that you guys should look into. From the late 1860s until the 1970s several American cities had “ugly laws” that deemed it illegal for persons who were unsightly or unseeming to appear in public you could not show your face in public. Some of these laws also were called the Beggar ordinances. The idea there was that if somebody thought that you looked ugly you could be fined by the police for showing your face outside. The core idea there was that no less than $.50 and no more than $50, or something like that, some of the ordinances read . The idea was that if you, you know, seem disagreeable to people on the street or you were an offense to a business, if you were understood to look like you were maimed, mutilated, or otherwise deformed you really had no space in the city no reason to be outside, otherwise you’d be threatened with having to pay a penalty, a fine.
“Thats so weird didn’t everyone have a different perspective?” Everybody had that perspective at that time, which is why the cities passed these ordinances. I agree with you but this actually happened. The first city the passed this was in 1867, and guess what city it was? San Francisco. And the last city to actually arrest somebody and issue a penalty was I think in 1973 in Nebraska. Somebody was actually arrested in 1973 in Nebraska for being unsightly. And a disability rights leader in the 1970s went with his friend to a restaurant and the friend had cerebral palsy and often times would drool while he ate and the restaurant owner said, “excuse me sir we refuse to serve you in this restaurant” and he said, “what are you going to do arrest us?” And when the police officer came they charged them under this ugly law and they removed them from the restaurant.
“The disability movement went hand-in-hand with the civil rights movement so how did these laws persist?” They were repealed one by one though the last laws was appealed in the 70s. But again it shows you how disability was embedded codified by public attitudes, opinions, beliefs and norms into laws. That’s what this letter is about. You’ve got also this concept of modernity that starts to develop. So I talked about how congested and crazy the cities were. I talked a little bit about the Beautiful Movement, all these ways to make city is more legible, have more ways of controlling the city. What’s interesting here is that the US is relatively young and it’s going through these massive urban transformations, and federal and local actions are taken to cure social ills and so disability is conceived as a social ill, so there are laws and policies that are passed to help ease what basically was an individual problem by creating social services.
So who took AP history? Can somebody tell me about the New Deal? Roosevelt’s New Deal. “He created like social welfare”. So, what is social welfare? Social welfare is away for the state to redistribute wealth into poor people with basic social programs and social services. Education, healthcare, sanitation, garbage collecting, all these ideas were sort of part of how to get rid of these social ills. That basically was the birth of the modern welfare state. How was disability embedded within these public programs? Now we’re going to jump back because asylums really started in the 1850s but by the time we’re during the New Deal time you basically have the development of medicine, the development of the professionalization of medicine, but you also have these asylums that are there as public services. Asylums developed at the same time as universities did. So like UC Berkeley, which was a block grant for the state, it was sort of like the state decides to give this land to the public use so the state builds a University. It’s the same concept to build these asylums.
So it was seen as a progressive very modern cool thing to do was to build asylums, so that people that needed help could get that help. We can go back into asylums in more detail because it’s very problematic. The idea is that state’s are growing in the way they offer services and the asylum’s were one of the services they started to offer. But actually it’s a big American horror story and I’ll get back to this more later but they were pretty nasty after a while because you know they were part of this notion that a civilized nation needs to provide support and care. And asylums for the deaf, for people that weren’t able to speak, for people that were blind, they operated like local or regional state-run charities. They started like that and they ended up developing into state and federal institutions. They became institutionalized and a lot of those things weren’t really managed or run well, or they fell into decay as society sort of adapted and evolved.
So again, there’s a notion of charity and the concepts of charitable approaches that become responsibilities of the state. The state starts to really focus on how it can take on responsibility and how it can start re-distributing, you know, opportunity and wealth. And really all of this is about is about this transformation how he states evolve and develop. and I think I’m going to give you guys a five or 10 minute break and we’re gonna come back. We’ve got cities that are increasingly becoming controlled in structure and in a lot of ways becoming much more rigid. The person, basically, the person needed to fit within these structures and social programs needed to be developed to support people to fit in these structures. As World War II starts to develop this concept of modernity starts to develop, and really shapes in a lot of ways every aspect of government, every aspect of culture, of art, of architecture. This building for example, Wurster Hall, is kind of a brutal modernist building.
This building is about, you know, straight lines. It’s about having the bare minimum. There’s no embellishments there’s no fancy things on the outside. It’s just about function, function. People needed to fit with in what the cities were starting to develop, and they’re really developing a kind of a huge push (at least in the US) to support the war movement. It’s really this massive push to make things efficient, effective, right. So, people with disabilities that don’t conform to a standardized model (standardization is a big issue in modernity) we’re left out. Here we have two images of standardization and these are two prominent planners one is called, ‘Embodiment of Normality,” on the left side, which shows a human figure and sort of shows the measurements how far they can reach and on the right is Dreyfus’ “Standard Man.” These are examples of the dominance of normalization and standardization in planning, policy, and design. So very much, you know, your average male body type. It really was conceived probably white Anglo-Saxon protestant male body type. And that was your typical form that you were building your cities to, you’re building your car for, you were building a school for.
Your building for this type of person, and anybody that didn’t fit into the standardized body would have to adjust to those designs, those measures, those ways in functionalities of how things were designed. And the reason why they did this was to make things efficient. If we have one body we can build everything to that body type and the doors at this width. Then you have really easy instructions to give people, so that you just build, build, build. So it’s this mass production, no customization required, right, but you leave a lot of people out. As that’s developing in design world there’s also the development and professionalization of medicine and rehabilitation. And Howard Rusk lobbies the federal government for major funds from the federal government to create an arm of medicine called rehabilitation science or rehabilitation medicine, which was really a push linked to World War II with all these veterans that are coming back from the war, how to get them back in the workplace. That’s where you have a lot of the invention in the design of wheelchairs the design of prosthetics, design of equipment through rehabilitation science.
Howard rusk. In World War I there was the start of rehabilitation science but really it became much more mainstream or very structured after World War II, and the reason why I put in World War II, because that a lot of people that you saw protesting in the film that we saw during the first week, we’re literally rejecting this model that your doctor was the only one that can decide your life. The doctor was the one to decide what time you got up, what time you went to bed, you know all aspects of your life were sort of medicalized so that you could be fixed and then brought back into society. Does that make sense? So really disability is strictly a medical problem The challenge of rehabs goals are limited. The goals of rehabilitation are to fix the physical or biological limitations so that the individual can fit into a standardized fixed normalized environment.
A modernist framework. The environment is fixed and cannot be changed. If you want to fit in the environment, change your self. We’re not going to change the building. We’re changing you. So a lot of people with disabilities felt, well not felt, were explicitly left out. For example, Mary Lou Breslen, reading about her being carried was a way that she could fix her way of doing things to be able to fit into that classroom. They wouldn’t change the class to the first floor, they couldn’t build elevator so they would carry her up the flight of stairs to that class. In a lot of parts of the world it still very much operates in this way.
But the classic challenge is to think about how the environment could be changing, how the environment could be a variable that could be more responsive to people with disabilities, that’s coming up next. So really in the medical issue is that there’s a power dynamic, there’s a dependence, there’s a certain type of asymmetry between your power to choose, you basically don’t have any power to choose, because you have to fit in to a very subscribed normalized set of codes, a sort of normalized space. Do you guys understand when I say normalized space? Like a standard space. Doctors decide. We talked about this, patients are objectified. Prognosis is essentialized.
Your disease, your diagnosis, is everything there is to know about you. Patients’ internalize this dependent status. You start to believe that you’re not good enough unless you fix yourself and the wheelchair, instead of being seen as a liberation, a tool for your independence a wheelchair is seen as a failure. A wheelchair is seen as “you’re not able to walk, so you failed to fit into society. Let me give you this wheelchair so that you can do something, but you still can’t do everything that everybody else can do.” And a lot of people with disabilities reject that notion, later, later. But there is no consciousness of that during this time, or not as much. So the modernist bias of the built environment enforces the notion that everybody must be altered to fit the environment. So the environment is fixed, can the environment be changed? There is this idea that we want to shake off these shackles. “We don’t want to be standardized, we don’t want to be normal.” Alot of you guys grew up under the Obama presidency and a lot of you guys live in Berkeley where diversity is valued, where difference is good but that is new notion directly as a response to the other notion that everybody being the same is good.
Does that make sense? So, under a normative framework being able to conform and being able to fit is good. Not fitting is not good. Does that make sense? These guys start to challenge that. They challenge policy planning and design and they do this confrontational organizing which in some ways was militant. Disabled people really reject these social norms and start to ride the wave of civil rights. They really form this powerful resistance. Disability illustrates the struggle to define and assert access. Define and assert access, and access and choice. So you guys saw a lot of this idea right, you saw this, disability is a product of the interaction between the individual and their environment. So disability is not just the problem of the individual but now the new norm with the new ideas of the new paradigm which is becoming much more of a social conception is that the environment can be altered.
And so this new sociopolitical notion evolves. And so this is where designers come in. There was very little Role for designers and all the other models of disability. Why? Because there was no external concept of disability, there was no need to think about access because it doesn’t matter what is going on outside the individual. Under this notion of disability, this more of a social notion of social disability, the designers become really really important because now the designers can design ways that people can be included. People can be productive, people can realize their hopes their dreams, people can actually become citizens, which they actually weren’t full citizens, because they couldn’t contribute to society. So, you know, that’s a very quick very broad overview of a history of disability and environmental design. That’s a very, very, short way of saying that cities can create spaces that emulate and perpetuate social norms, and those spaces themselves can perpetuate social norms. So let me give you an example in some of the work that I do abroad.
When I speak with the Minister of Urban Planning, this happened in 2003, I went to Serbia, to Belgrade, and had a interview with the minister In charge of urban planning. I said, “sir I noticed that you don’t have any laws or any policies to ensure accessibility in the streets.” He said that, “we don’t need to make the streets accessible.” I said, “why not?” “Because there are no disabled people in the city”. I said maybe if you made the streets accessible you’d be able to go outside and you’d be able to see them using the streets. Do understand what I’m saying? The social and the spatial are related. If you can’t go outside because the space doesn’t allow you to move around outside and you’re invisible, it’s as if you don’t exist.
So, you would perpetuate the concept of ‘disabled people are few and far between’ and ‘we don’t need to cater to them’. But all the data just announced that one out of every seven people in the world lives with a kind of a disability. It doesn’t have to be as significant as mine. It could be an invisible disability, but that’s 1 billion people in the world that live with a disability. This is why this is important, it’s important because we’ve come to a point in time where the way we’ve conceptualized and understood disability involves each one of you. You guys are all involved.
Everybody has some kind of limitation or constraint everybody’s dependent on something else nobody lives in isolation as a perfect form and the way we move around and the way we do things changes. Right? As we think about diversity and inclusion, and we think about disability and about design there are several disciplines that are associated with the built environment that now, because of this whole evolution and because of the laws and the changing social position of disability, effects of each one of you here. I mentioned that urban planning started from this concept of sanitation science because the cities were so dirty. Sanitary science is was kind of an early profession that started to create laws and regulations to protect public health that developed and evolved into the urban planning profession that wanted to create policies and programs that promote everything from affordable housing to providing emergency services, administer public programs, manage infrastructure, provide transportation improvements, and stimulate public discourse.
This whole field of urban planning is about shaping and influencing the overall nature of neighborhoods, cities, and metropolitan area systems, as well as some national and international geographies. Disability plays a role in that because people with disabilities are using public transportation are part of their communities, are citizens that the national, sub-national, and multi-national laws policies and programs are increasingly responding to. Architecture; design of individual buildings, neighborhoods or cities, how to take into account 1 billion people is really about again how we build kind of spaces that reflect the values that we have. Landscape architecture and practice that range from design of open spaces to open public parks, it’s really how we can move around in the space and how we design that space that says who can take advantage of that space. Urban design what’s the overall physical appearance of these relationships between buildings, it’s about fabric that weaves together our cities. How does the aesthetic and design guidelines target and affect different kinds of people. This also is interesting because the urban design is everything from from even the colors and the materials, all kinds of things.
Laws; the legislative framework, how society is supposed to behave through incentives and disincentives. Laws are really linked to the type of uses of attitudes, behaviors, and really it’s about in the built environment, how to construct things. How to apply certain regulatory standards so laws can define what accessibility is, and what the lack of accessibility is. Laws can impose penalties when people conform and comply, or don’t conform and comply. Sociology and anthropology are interested in the rich texture of human interaction, and how individuals see themselves in relationship to others. So how do people with disabilities see themselves in relationship to others both without disabilities and with disabilities? And also how do these behaviors and attitudes play out? Economics; we have multiple sub fields.
Specifically relevant to the built environment is how cities grow, the economic transactions with the density, you know, impact the people that live there. If people with disabilities have an infrastructure that removes barriers to transportation, removes physical barriers, they can have jobs, they can keep jobs, they can contribute to the city. And a lot of the early studies in the ‘90s before the ADA was really being implemented, the biggest complaint was that physical access was a huge barrier to being able to hold a job and to be able get to a job or to even be able to get to school, right.
So, we pushed, in your lifetime, the United States made huge advances to improve physical access so that people could get jobs in the workplace. There’s still a huge disconnect in terms of how people with and without disabilities are actually being employed. It’s still twice as much. So it’s interesting to explore later why hasn’t the percentage changed that much, the employment figures, why haven’t they change that much, even though the built environment has changed. Again, there are multiple professions that have an impact on urban planning and design of the built environment and have an affect on disability. Medicine, this is pretty self-evident. Doctors diagnose on what your physical condition is, and this is interesting, a friend of mine who is an athlete got a residency in rehabilitation studies, rehabilitation science. She studied at Medical School at Harvard. She is a chair user.
Persons with disabilities becoming doctors is also kind of a new sort of era. We talked about public health next. So I think overall there’s a lot of different professions where you can see disability becomes another dimension by which you can contribute to that conversation. Here in this school in this building you’re engaged and sort of a new journey, a journey of discovery that has been invisible that people haven’t seen, that people haven’t explored, and to a great degree is still at the very beginning. Which is, how can you create a world where everybody, whether or not they have a disability, can have an equal shot at getting to school, getting to work, pursuing their hobbies, developing their potential and then contributing those skills and contributing those visions, contributing those talents to enriching society as a whole. With that, two guests I’m going to ask to join us today on the stage, so that we can have a conversation about what we just discussed.
Let’s give them a round of applause. Gordon Fuller and my friend Owen are going to join me here for the panel discussion. We’ll have a little panel discussion on this very heavy lecture and I’m going to give you guys a chance to grill them, to thrill them, to do whatever you want to them, so that you can get a sense of both their individual journeys, some of the collective experience that we talked about, and some of the ways that design in the built environment meant so that you can get a sense of both their individual journeys some of the collective experience that we talked about. Also, some of the ways that design in the built environment and these kind of evolving concepts of disability have shaped their own lives. So, with that I want to welcome you guys. Thank you so much for coming. These guys, they’re both filmmakers and are working on ways of exploring disability culture, the culture war generally, understanding how to tell a story so that people can evolve their way of thinking.
I want to start off with you Owen. What do you think has been the biggest sort of factor in shaping your life, specifically when it comes to some of the topics we discussed in the lecture in terms of changing perceptions of disability, in terms of the changes in built environment? “Yeah, wow quite the question. So, like Victor said my name is Owen. I go to school here, I’ll be graduating this fall. I actually took this semester off to work on a feature film. I’ll be gone for a few months and so that’s what I’m working on right now. Growing up with the disability, I think what we’ve been kind of learning through this lecture is that really what that means is the world wasn’t designed with you in mind and that’s definitely an obstacle, but it doesn’t mean that there’s anything, you know, really preventing you from doing something if you put your mind to it.
It is something that has helped shape the way I think of things. You know, I view a lot of things as if there is another added step. If that makes sense. I guess that really has shaped what I do. What I’m trying to do with my media, with filmmaking, along with a few other projects I’m working on, is engaging people like we talked about. There’s three types of, you know, disability models, and I think that we’re moving into the fourth which could be called ‘societal’. So, there’s not so many physical barriers anymore in the disability movement. I think that we have more access than we ever had before.
It’s still not perfect by long shot, but how we need to really engage people from my perspective is socially, and kind of get people to view people that have disabilities as people with disabilities not disabled people. So that’s the focus of my work and I hope to accomplish that through media.” Do you want to respond to that Gordon? “Yes, first I’d like to just applaud Victor for what a wonderful summation of the entire experience and history of disability. He covers it all in his talk here and it’s wonderful for all of you.
I’m very honored to be here amongst all of you particularly delighted to catch you at this point in your career’s before you make bad buildings (laughter) or policy. I’m 63 years old. I started life as a child prodigy artist. I went to university when I was a little kid. I studied art and design in Europe. When I was about 11 my family learned that the polio vaccine we had received in 1959 had the Simeon Virus in it that would progressively leave it to the loss of eyesight. One of the interesting things about disability different than other minority people in society is that with people with disabilities we start out that even our own families discriminate against us, and that may not be in a wicked way, but maybe just overly protective in trying to keep us from the slings and arrows of life.
So that’s kind of the challenge of it all. I think as a designer I found myself waiting under my desk for nuclear annihilation and it kind of clued me in that society around me had this kind of monkey nuts thing going, you know, we weren’t really very rational or intelligent apparently. As I grew up to an adult, I thought I’d get to this point where one day I’d start hating people or something. I wondered is it when your 13, 15, 21? When you can start to drink? How was it you come to hate people and want to destroy the world? It bothered me quite a lot, and I had sort of forgotten about it eventually but at 28 I had to quit driving a car and I felt so ill-defined because this car which had defined me (as a male extension of myself if you know what I mean) was no longer in the picture, and I just had to be me and I realized I’d gone nuts.
“Why did you have to abandon the use of the car?” My vision had deteriorated to the point where I no longer could I drive a car safely and wisely and it was the beginning of a real education for me because I think if we take a poll and a survey of any room and say who here is disabled, what kind of group is that to join? You know, how about incapables? Undesirables? But what we’re really talking about is a natural life cycle of human beings, from childhood to age old. You know there’s a point in life where sometimes you have lessened abilities, or impairments, or incapacities of some kind, and that’s just a natural part of human life. How in our design process as we embrace policies and architecture, and design our world, how are we doing with that? In the United States we lead the world with policies aimed at removing barriers for people with disabilities.
The idea was to create a fully inclusive society. A bold step, never before in the world has anyone done that. The people in the United States did support that idea, given that it’s one and five of us here in the United States with an aging population, like a hockey stick to use a business term, it is absolutely the case that this is our future and something we need to do.
But check it out, we’ve spent probably trillions of dollars retrofitting the world to make the barriers go away and improve accessibility, and here’s how I can prove a cultural bias, have you ever heard anyone advertise that fact. Like, “come to Miami Florida, where accessibility is a feature built in.” Hawaii. I live in Hawaii, no, no. We go after people in Taiwan, and we get people in the community together to strategize how to bring in more Taiwanese tourists. That’s very nice but how about one and six people traveling.
We are the future. there’s a huge number of people. Every major country in the world has a huge aging population and then let’s not forget the children. So, all of us need better design. I can tell everything I touch reflects nothing but greed. Someone’s taken a shortcut, someone’s made the lowest common denominator or someone has gotten a monopoly on light switches or whatever it is, and it’s really hard to see good design evolve. It’s been a long time coming. We live now in this age of miracles from gene therapies which actually promise to reverse the damage of my eyes this year to enhancements of human beings to AI’s to new kinds of way finding navigational systems, the sort of thing I work in, and all of that promises to change our relationship to the environment around us, and so I’m kind of focused on the fact that it’s a human right.
We have a human right to information about the built environment. It’s the one thing missing. We’ve made accessibility a requirement and put it into law and requirements are enforced, but no one’s thought about, but where is it? So, as you approach this building if you’re a chair user you wonder where is the ramp? Where is the elevator? How to navigate? Where is the parking? No help for us there and yet again, how is that going to work as we move about in the world around us? And the truth is, with the kinds of technologies we now have, it’s a better interface. We need a better more humane face to the world around us.
One that is encompassing our desires and our needs, and that’s the kind of work I’m doing these days. We believe it should be built in from the ground up. You start with an accessible design, you don’t just paste it on top. That’s an interesting idea. With an iPhone it is accessible, but OMG sighted people put up with some serious BS. This is not a good design when I’m only 15 clicks away from whatever I’m trying to do, and I have to study it to understand and figure out all its quirks, you know. I’m working too hard. I’m just saying if it’s a relationship it’s a bad relationship. I’m doing all the work. It knows nothing about me, and so that’s all about to change. You guys will be the tip of the spear in this area because these will be the opportunities. Everybody’s already linked in with their technologies and here you come with a whole new way of looking at the world, a new set of tools, a new palette of colors, new energy can give us a lot of opportunities.
Telling stories is how us three gentleman come together. We know how it is to be on the outside of society. If you think about it, television, film, never do you see people with disabilities or very rarely. Today more so than ever, but other than Hantzel and Gretel and the old witch or the superheroes that have been twisted by there ability to become evil, it’s an age-old story, disability. We are trying to reverse, and we believe telling our own stories and sharing those with others gives us the power, and those of us who make films we know that our cameras lens can correct people’s vision and restore their understanding of our humanity.
“So basically there’s a story here and a thread between both of you guys which is about understanding a social position that provides unique insights. So the fact that there is an understanding, that there are these barriers, that there are these challenges, provides a different way of looking at the world, and both of you mentioned that. Can you give us some very concrete examples that your life or your experience looking at the world has been an advantage, a competitive advantage, instead of it being sort of a liability? Gordon, you first.” Well as a user interaction designer which is not a role that I’m cast in but as head of these companies I tend to apply, it’s such an edge because most people don’t know there’s a problem.
They think it’s perfectly OK to have a building directory in the mall over on the side, you know, with a white backlight and a map. The truth is, if you know people, most people don’t read maps very well people aren’t really slick at that. You know, green A, ah, where is that? It’s very hard to sort it out. I’m aware that gosh darn it, if you walk in the door of the mall wouldn’t it be great if I’ve already prefetched the path that I want to follow easily and seamlessly. Not so that a big company can spy on me and get in my pocket as I walk about, the very big idea of Apple and Google and IBM and a hundred other companies. In the smart cities of the future they want to be your provider. Hey by the way, you’re on the way to the Sunglass Hut, would you like a slice of pizza? Hey how about a movie discount ticket? I can’t live with that sort of thing. I want to be anonymous and I don’t want to tell them perhaps that I have cancer, or that I have limited mobility or energy.
I don’t necessarily want the cloud to be all in my business. I really want to be anonymous and I want to be able to move about smoothly without people fearing for me and wanting to run to my aid. I want to be able to move around. So given that awareness and I love people that I know are 88 years old, they hate answering machines, they don’t know how to run them. I told them I embrace your ignorance, you’re the people that I want to serve, because after all shouldn’t technology be our plastic pal that’s fun to be with as opposed to some sort of thing that you have to study a paper back manual for, something to get on top of.
I see that most of the 20-year-old testosterone filled designers are making things that are just really clever, wow, all you need on this messaging service is another three items on the list, yeah. Now let’s push that part where you actually used to do something down below and pull the tab down. No one would do this. I wish Steve was back. Honestly, having that kind of sensitivity awareness that there are people that speak Portuguese, or Chinese Mandarin that need the right kind of characters to cue them in to the environment. Just being aware of human beings working their side of the desk, as opposed to the industrial model of one size fits all and people will adapt. That’s it that’s the whole thing. Victor: so would you say from your side you look at the world in a way that’s a broader perspective? Owen how about you how have you kind of seen a comparative advantage. “So for me as a filmmaker depended on the fact that there aren’t many disability stories in media. In the world we live in there’s a big social justice portion and one of the communities that has been historically left out is the disability community but like Gordon was saying, we are the future.
You know there is so much potential for the disabled community and like they said there one and six people in the world with some sort of disability. Disabilities are all around us. I was at a venture capitalist meeting today pitching our movie idea and we were saying, you know, this is a story about a person with a disability not about the persons disability. They said, wow, you know, we’ve never heard this story before. This is a unique story. So, from the film world Hollywood wants to hear a story that hasn’t been done before, and you know how many stories there are there that haven’t been done before? I don’t know if any of you have written a story but it’s hard to think of something that you didn’t see already.
That’s just because there’s so many stories that have been done. There’s still alot of disabled stories, so I think that’s really something I’ve been thinking about lately is it’s an advantage to be from a smaller community, and to be an ally with a smaller community because there’s so many unsolved problems.” Excellent. Let’s open up to the class I think we’ve covered a lot of ground today, both in terms of the evolving notion of disability, understanding disability, and the way that it’s sort embedded socially, and how it’s impacted the lives of two talented individuals. Is there is something that sort of jumps out and you have any questions that you want to engage with our guests? “Yeah Gordan I really want to say that I really agree with you about technology bringing advances and helping people use that to their advantage it’s just really asking designers to really come out and be a lot more broad minded and embrace different perspectives.
Because you know when you try to design something and especially what Owen was talking about before to use the opportunity taking various perspectives from social norms and that’s something that’s what I believe in is the more challenges we take on as designers, to be able to really take on new designs and be more innovative.” When I get to be 80 I want all of you to be my designers, please. I can assure you your forefathers never thought about any of this only grudgingly 2014 in March they required every commercial swimming pool in the United States to have a chairlift and it was installed into Jacuzzis and pools and you know for a fact that most of the hotel industry was very dead set against it and they said, you know, we don’t ever have people with disabilities coming to our pools.
I heard that in Hawaii with the democratic party I’m there accessibility coordinator on their executive committee (a role I created for myself). They said, well if they tell us they’re coming then we can prepare for them coming. I go well, uh, would you feel very welcome if you called them up and said hey I have a democrat coming? Inclusive means inclusive. You make provision for people and then they know it’s there, and then I’ll use it, and that’s just it. It is an edge to have an insight, but I’d say this you know you don’t want people with disabilities behind you, people challenged with impairments you want them in front of you working with you, together, trying to find a good balance.
When I first found out I was going to go blind the little talk I had with myself was, you know well if you’re open to it there could be some wisdom that you gain from working with this. You might learn something if your open to it, and I have. It’s been a humbling experience for me to be sure which is really good for me actually I needed that, but it’s been when my compassion and empathy open to new ways of understanding the world and seeing the world.
And that’s all that any artist or designer ever hopes for, is having a different way to look at the world. Student, “so with events and at venues, there seems to be almost kind of a fad approach in terms of asking if anyone has any access or accommodations that they need and I just want to know if there’s anything we can do to prevent it from being a fad and kind of move that in a sustainable way so it can be implemented more permanently. Owen, “I really appreciate it when people ask me if there something I need I find that very welcoming.
Like Gordon was saying, I think there does need to be a baseline, like you don’t have to ask for everything, but with that said I find it very inclusive if an organizer even a fellow conference attendee, student, film patron, what have you comes up and is like, hey hey is there anything you need? I personally find that very welcoming. I don’t know what you think Gordon. Gordon, “oh definitely and you know as opposed to me showing up ready for a fight which is kind of the usual thing. It’s like what do you mean you don’t have narrative captioning how’s that possible on an airplane you know I’m flying first class where is the narrative description? I watch a movie how is that going to work? So, it was like that for me always. One thing I can say to you is those who didn’t come today with your chair, how would you feel if you came to a room and there was no chairs? We have an expectation that there’s chairs available to us.
Your accommodated. That’s the same for me. My accommodation for this environment would be, give me the blueprints and the designs in the models of this building and put labels on them please. Tell me where the accessibility resources are, and don’t monitor me when I use it please, and that would work for me as a basic human right. The information is somewhere in an office someplace in a print drawer or something, or the county filed away someplace. This information is available and isn’t it right that I would get it, because I’m a guy that has a hell of a hard time finding the restroom. That’s how I think about it.” Gordon, you bring up a very good point which I was hoping we would get to later this semester which is that people’s grandparents or just a few generations ago could not have conceptualized or conceived the disruption that information communication technologies would have on everybody, and sort of the unique way that information technology really open up choice and open up new capabilities for people with disabilities.
So perhaps you or Owen could just briefly speak a little bit to that. This class is about the built environment so we are thinking about the physical form, but you sort of seem to go back to quite a lot of information. Could you maybe expand a little bit about how we should be thinking about design from both of those perspectives. From the aspect of access to information, access to digital technologies, because I’ll be speaking about that much later in the course but how is that related to the built environment. Do they have anything to do with each other? are they two completely different concepts? Gordon, “I’ll just jump in because blind people are tough guys for the age of information. If you think about it, the age of information, what does that mean? Well, information is all about. All I have to do is find it and link to it, it’s very nice, but what I would prefer is the age of awareness.
When I walk up on this building wouldn’t it be nice if the blueprints got loaded into my portable AI Mobile device, and with that I’d be queued as to my destination. I would tap on my wrist or whisper into my glasses. This is something that I desperately need because honestly for now 25 years I pioneered some virtual reality technologies and I was at the forefront of that field as a research and development person. I always thought ahead you know I will be totally blind someday, how will I find the restroom, the exit, the fire escape, how does that work? The answer is no one has thought of that, and no one’s provisioned for it. Yet, now we’re in this time where Google and everybody’s talking about indoor navigation, remember the pizza slice flying at you, and it’s really quite predatory and salesforce is build a jillion dollar company mining everyone’s personal information.
So when you walk in that mall they’re going to guess what you’re doing there and they’re trying to help you with that. Now that model is highly exploitive and when it comes right down to it it’s not a customer relationship, is it? A relationship is where you and I have discussions and we share perspectives and we communicate. What they’re doing is more like a stalker. I get it but, wow, why don’t you enter in relationship and I’ll share anonymously what my intensions are, which is far more valuable in the end. If I show up at Costco, and buy no vegetables and leave, or if I volunteered that I was there to look for organic vegetables Costco might say wow that’s 40% of the people coming here. I think we ought to get more organic vegetables it’s more useful to them then saying what’s he doing what aisle is he going to? What do you really get out of that? They haven’t embraced us. Now when people are talking about smart cities, Victor do we hear them ever mention accessibility in terms of how we can empower the people who in a lot of ways society has forgotten and even on that note by the way, the pity model which is used quite extensively in our disability community to raise funds, which is very effective, “those poor folks,” is a disservice when it comes collectively to the point where everybody’s got this perception that people with disabilities or poor, they don’t have money.
I’ve heard it many times from venture-capital people working on consumer products for people disabilities ‘all those people have no money’ really? In England the Barclays Bank advertising agency did a research on it they assumed also that would we would be like the lower income people, but wait a minute, it turns out it was 53% of the market. How is that possible? Well, it’s not just us 57 million Americans for example, it’s our family and friends, because they’re all in on it too. They can’t buy a van that grandma can’t ride in with her walker, or can’t use the washing machine. Victor just shared with me one of the statistics, that people with disabilities in the course of their lifetime spend far more than anybody else because of course we have to have medical treatments and things, and we have to have aids or attendants. When we travel, we I have someone with us. So, here’s my biggest question to all of you. Why are we not a very big fat lucrative market? If you’re a market, and that’s my humble goal in the work that I do, with the films I make, if I’m a market you will cater to me, you will treat me nice and with respect.
You’ll know I’m there and want to help me. You won’t be just shoving me a side as those people, you know, in the back of the bus. Victor, “So the Barclay allows us to solve our problems. The logic will say, wow, there’s a way that we could give our investments to solve those problems, but the market wouldn’t have existed without certain laws or social norms or certain ways of evolving this way of thinking. When you ask us to sort of consider what types of intervention interventions that can be made you’re really looking at where we are today versus where we could be tomorrow and you’re looking at it in a very positive way.
What threads do you guys see either in politics or in anything in society where we might go backward, where we might lose sort of our position in society. The rebirth of eugenics for example. Owen, “that’s really what my film is about it’s about a cult of eugenics that are attacking the disabled community. Victor “can you explain what eugenics is and really tie it to World War II.? Yeah so if you don’t know eugenics it is the idea of like a societal hygiene or that, you know, there’s certain groups of people that are undesirable. So you know, a good example of what can happen when eugenics is implemented is the holocaust you know the Nazis, and that Jews, gay people and people with disabilities were a drain on society, so they just killed them all.
Pretty fucked up idea. Gordon, they were the first to go yeah. It’s true people with disabilities were some of the first ones in the camps. Yeah that’s a theme in the film I making it’s called, “The Angels of Mercy.” it’s about a group of nurses that are like granting their patients mercy, and killing them even though they don’t want to die. It’s a psychological thriller, and like I said a person with the disability actually like fights them. Well, you have to see the movie I guess. (laughter). In terms of threats I see, the big one is obviously funding. There’s a lot of social welfare programs that you know I use to buy my nurses. My wheelchair is like a 30,000 Machine that I was able to get for free from the federal government. We have amazing programs we have in the US specifically, so my biggest concern is really really funding and I think that the disability community is resilient by nature, and I think that if someone tried to call some shit there would be quite a backlash.
Gordon, “It’s not hard to imagine, especially after this election. Donald Trump has a nephew that has cerebral palsy. Anybody ever heard that before? Did he ever play to the people with disabilities, saying I’m very sympathetic, I have a nephew. The man is a little bit weird there. I’m very terrified at this time what that might mean for the country but then again I believe in the people of United States as being a dynamic resilient force and people taking away the things you’ve come to rely upon for the health and well-being of our family members would be a real shit storm unleashed so I’m kind of conveniently aware that people in our community, all of us are working hard to make sure the message gets through but when you think about it, in this last election, 57 million people their families and friends no one talking to us. There wasn’t anybody out there making it clear. I mean they made it seem like there are friendly to us at, at least one side did, but that’s about it.
You know our influence isn’t taken into account and we’re not seen really as a community, and that’s kind of the truth. There’s not a community, there’s chair users there’s blind people deaf people people with developmental disabilities aspburgers the list goes on, and the list goes on. Each of them kind of vies for the same resources more or less, for a share of them, and becomes kind of contentious and not very helpful. Some of the gate keepers the people who’ve advancedin those fields don’t often support a lot of new stuff coming so it’s really hard to make it work. I think our motto was ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ after 50 years of being a disability advocate. Having said all that, the real truth is we are a people who are family members, we are related to people, we are loved ones, and friends, and for those who are wise and open, open to the understanding that people with disabilities are problem solver’s and our family members are as well. They’ll be huge opportunities for new products to be developed in the new age of personalization and customization.
There will be machines that see pattern recognition. How they can be serve perhaps for the good? I also am concerned that there have been these, like the eugenics movement, the right to die movement which is kind have talked how people who in their dying days need some mercy. It’s currently that way, and make no mistake about it, if you have a very very bad cancer they’ll take you out on the morphine highway and it’s OK.
In putting through legislation like this I guess whose behind the legislation? Insurance companies. Because it cost a lot of money to keep people alive when they have a profound disability a lot of money. The fact is, like I said, I have a friend Kelly Bucklin is national Council for Independent Living and he’s one of our leading policy advocates. When he was in an automobile accident up in Idaho, there in his bed and recovery his doctor said, “I don’t blame you for wanting to die, if I were you I’d want to die also,” that’s the doctor. The father said, “Son it would’ve been better if you died.” Well of course, you know, that’s how people feel, you know, but fortunately nobody chose to do that immediately.
It took me a couple of years to warm up to the idea of hanging around with the challenge I was facing. My own precious brother preferred actually to die then to live. Your brother had the same condition the same virus? Yeah he did, and you know, he didn’t want to live. He was a very accomplished astrophysicist, he invented video over the internet of all things, and was a great guy, but the social stigma of disability was too much for him, which is inspired a lot of my work honestly. Thank you for your leadership. I think each person that moves the ball forward is able to open that up for so many others. Student “Sorry I just had a question, something that was mentioned earlier about smart cities and you just reminded me by mentioning driving automobiles. So with the introduction of self driving cars, how do you think that’s going to help break the barriers between those who are disabled and not disabled in our community, if at all. What do you guys think of self driving cars? Owen, “Oh, I’m super excited for self driving cars. I mean, that’s like a real big barrier to get independence because every time I have to go somewhere.
I’m fortunate enough to have enough money to buy a car, but I need someone to drive. Uber and lift are not accessible. That’s something that isn’t available to go for people in condition, so self driving cars are going to be sweet option. Me and my blind friends were immediately all about self driving cars, but I’m kind of an internationalist. I think,’ how is it how is it owning a $70,000 car is good for people disabilities generally, and if you think about it what we really need is better transportation system and I’m hearing some of that. Ford was saying they’re aiming now at an age where will pass the personal ownership of vehicles and that makes sense there might be little things that transport you up to the grocery store and there might be something bigger that takes you and hooks you to a train.
We can envision lots of things. I like Minority Report was my favorite vision. The thing drives up the side of the building and pulls into his living room that’s pretty cool you watch TV in it. So maybe yes so to me, it’s an interesting concept. Transportation on demand is kind of the way it could be. My concern is always we are very wealthy, at least we have been, nation. Perhaps not in the future, but you know, as such, why do we always have to be the ones finding extracting solutions to rip from the earth the precious minerals and the resources and deny other people in the rest of the world simple basics, and I think we could do better, I heard somewhere statistics that people the United States or one third less healthy than people in the UK.
And why is that? Is the food better? The healthcare about the same what is it then? Well, they walk a lot, they walk, a lot. They don’t just strap a car on their ass to go wherever they’re going. They are people that walk to the store, and walk to the park, walk to the pub, and walk to their home, and walk to the train. That’s a really much healthier way to be, so you know, with respect to my friends that are mobility challenged, I do absolutely embrace the thought, of how that could be something about 1000% improved, but is also a concern we follow stupid models, and really that’s the bottom line.
There’s something a little wrong with our minds. They were developed for being perfect balance with this gorgeous Earth that we live on, but we now live in a synthetic world of our own making, and the way our pain avoiding and pleasure seeking brains work is it limits our perspective and gives us bad impulses if we’re badly aligned. That’s why we’re in our present crisis as a species with the destruction of our ecosystems. Honestly transportation is one of those things that I red flag as something we need to be a little more careful about. All of us wealthy folks are going to go get cars. I have three myself, I’m not sure about one of them, you know as it is I don’t drive. It’s just out of necessity and I think of it as an enormous expense on every person. If you had a king come along and say I’m taking a third of your income for transportation and half your money for your housing, no one would stand for it. So, how is it we put up with it? It’s just kind of that way. We are slowly being boiled, so you know, I question everything.
I’m still under my desk at 10 years old waiting to be vaporized. You know, I don’t trust you people. Victor: As you can see, these guys have all range of ideas opinions and vision for for the world, for their place in it, and also for the ways they want to contribute shaping the world. Let me ask you guys if you would like to share something with the class or some kind of call to action before you we move onto the last part of the class. Owen, “yeah so I have this film I’m working on and it’s called the angels of mercy and we’re gonna be going to New York to film it in March and April so if you guys would like to check out the project by going to our Facebook and website I would be really grateful to you. So they can look at Angels of Mercy on Facebook.
Yeah maybe maybe I could send you the link and you can send it out. So it’ll be on the course. And is it true that you have an Indigogo campaign too? Yes, we do have an Indigogo campaign that has about a week left in it. So that would be great if you share that in your networks. And check us on Thunderclap. Gordon: We can do this people. Call to action; be good designers, think out of the box, out of the box I mean literally don’t think in the box. Boxes are for old age thought. We’re in a New Age of things. Buildings should be dynamic, they should be more geared to our humanity, and to the environment in which we live. The information about place and potential as a human right and I’d really like to see more understanding of just what a future city might offer to people challenged by impairments by age or illness. I think it’s one of the areas where we could shine most brightly.
And indeed I think our country has led the world in many of these areas. I think that’s the greatest gift of the United States is that we’ve been a social experiment. We have been willing to take on things and look at things a little differently. For various reasons, not all of them good, but you know, in terms of the social evolution of humanity we have had some good positive roles and I hope we can still be able to do that and I think the Age I’m looking for is about to occur.
Sooner or later somebody is going to recognize, hey what about those 57 million people. Sooner or later somebody at salesforce is going to find new channel that they can explode. But the only thing, is who are we do they know us? Did they know our stories? There’s a lot of things from our side of the desk to understand. Do they know what an 88-year-old woman with three PhD’s and 28 books needs in her life? There aren’t enough people spending enough time in the right place they’re trying to always fit a standard model. The old world is still with us, I can’t wait for it to go away, and doing more with less is a challenge for all humanity and coming up with new and better ways to enhance our lives is a challenge for all humanity. That’s my call to action for you and I’d love to follow along and share my links of Victor. I want you guys to give these guys a huge thank you.