Editor’s Column – December 2006

With all the holiday festivities taking place and the new year right around the corner, it’s natural to think about […]

With all the holiday festivities taking place and the new year right around the corner, it’s natural to think about endings and beginnings. Looking around the Minnesota disability community, there are some great things to recall about 2006, and many that hold promise for 2007.

In last month’s issue, we featured many of the notable accomplishments in the community, celebrating along with the Minnesota State Council on Disability, the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living, and Access Press’s Charlie Smith award recipient, John Smith. They all contributed to making this community stronger in 2006.

This month we feature Courage Center, and the fabulous job Jan Malcolm, Executive Director, has done since coming on board. With Ms. Malcolm’s experience in healthcare administration, she has picked up the Courage Center ball and run with it for a little over a year now, demonstrating leadership, confidence and true professionalism. She has been stabilizing and reinventing old programs. The pain clinic is a good example of one of the reinvented programs that Courage Center now offers. When Ms. Malcolm first took the job at Courage Center, I asked her if in one year I would be able to go through the facility and ask the staff if they had met her; she hesitated for a moment and said that she would “let the program directors and department directors handle the day-by-day contact with their staff,” but that she hoped she would have an opportunity to meet many of them. In the last three or four months, I have not run into an employee of Courage Center that hasn’t been introduced to her or at least been recognized with a nod, a smile and “you’re doing a good job” from her. Speaking for the paper, I can say that since our first meeting, Ms. Malcolm has always made herself available to Access Press and has been very gracious about offering help.

The Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts has also been doing a lot of reinventing recently, with a new version of the play, The Worldwide Church of the Handicapped. The production has turned out to be as wonderful—and as hard to get tickets for—as the first version. Beyond reinvention, in the last year, Interact has been in collaboration with the Australian theater company, Tutti Ensemble, which, like Interact, features original theater that involves artists with and without disabilities. The two groups are getting together in February to debut their newest work, Northern Lights, Southern Cross: Tales from the Other Side of the World. The new play takes a deep look at, and challenges society’s views about, people’s abilities and disabilities—through music, storytelling, puppetry and much more. I’m very excited about the debut of Northern Lights, Southern Cross here in Minnesota. The collaboration between the two theater groups had the support of the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts and the Australia Council for the Arts. If you’re an Interact fan and have a few extra dollars to donate, it would be a wonderful thing to say that you, too, have been involved in supporting this creative endeavor across two hemispheres.

Here at Access Press, we deeply appreciate everyone who has supported the paper this year. The monthly endeavor putting out a statewide newspaper has been an ongoing challenge since Charlie Smith first started out in 1990, and in recent years the challenges have become increasingly demanding. The paper began at a time before the Worldwide Web and global media conglomerations. Right now, newspapers all over the country—from the New York Times to community papers like ours—are finding it hard to survive. Our advertisers have increasingly sophisticated options for reaching their customers in print and online. I’m grateful to all of you who reach out to the disability community through Access Press, offering your products, services and information.

Since the beginning, and throughout 2006, Access Press has also received the support of hundreds of volunteer writers and other contributors who make it a fine source of information and debate in our community. The paper receives the unwavering dedication of its board of directors. Many friends and individual financial donors and philanthropic partners provide not only financial support but show their trust in me to use their financial support in a responsible way. For that I thank you all.

Have a great December!