Editor's Column - November 2013

It has been an unbelievably exciting month. I was lucky enough to take some time to travel to a family wedding in New Jersey. It was great to spend time with family members who I don’t get to see very often. It was almost as exciting to spend time researching my Connecticut ancestors of 100+ years ago and to learn more about them. I even got to drive around the county that my fifth- and sixth-great-grandfathers farmed before my great-great grandfather headed west to Minnesota. One of the best days of my week was in New York City, where I got around without a rental van, thanks to the all-accessible city bus system and wheelchair-accessible Yellow Cabs.

As soon as I got back, I was right in the swirl of three big Access Press events: the Charlie Smith award banquet and the premiere of The Real Story, a documentary that Jerry Smith and Access Press produced.

The banquet was a complete success; we had a huge turnout; probably the best-attended Access Press banquet ever. The Board of Directors will have to have a serious discussion about a bigger venue in years to come. The food was, as usual, very good. Unfortunately, I got too busy. The silent auction and raffle were a success, too—fun for the attendees, as they monitored their items so as not to be outbid, and a financial benefit for Access Press. We owe a great big thanks to everyone who donated items for the silent auction and raffle.

As we announced this fall, Cal Appleby was this year’s recipient of the Charlie Smith award. Appleby spent much of his teaching career working to make quality education available to people with limited opportunities: prisoners, people with limited income, and people with mental and physical disabilities. It was educational just to hear the details of his incredibly valuable work. Many people commented on Appleby’s speech and several people suggested that we get Appleby to start writing for the paper. Great idea!

The other big event was the premiere of The Real Story: Media Coverage of Disability Issues in Minnesota. This documentary film was funded by UCare Minnesota, and the first two screenings were sponsored by the Disability Services Cultural Center at the University of Minnesota and Handi Medical’s owners Shann and Mary Benhardus, along with Mike Bailey, Handi CEO. Seeing the film released and received so well made us very grateful to them and to IMed Mobility’s owners Bob Lundin and Ron Iversen, who sponsored the micro-website at testing.accesspress.org for the promotion of the film. It was a pleasure to see that our sponsors were impressed by the outcome of their generosity. It was also great to see Jerry Smith, a well-known and honored filmmaker in our community, beaming after the year-long effort of producing and directing the 30-minute film.

The premiere showing was on October 28 at the University of Minnesota’s elegant McNamara Alumni Center and was emceed by WCCO’s Reg Chapman. The second screening was on November 4 at the University’s Coffman Union, in the Great Hall, and it was emceed by David Hancox of MCIL. Both of our emcees were engaging hosts and all of us at Access Press thank them for their professional effort in facilitating the lively panel discussion. Attendees got to hear reactions to the film from panels of experts like Sue Abderholden, NAMI Minnesota; Tammy Berberi, U of M, Morris; Don Shelby, retired WCCO reporter; Abdirahman Hassan, U of M’s DSCC; Margot Imdieke Cross, MSCOD; John Marty, MN Senator; John Tschida, Allina Health; and Alex Lubet, U of M. We were all grateful for their insightful and often personally moving remarks.

Well, this has been a column about thanks, and that’s what November’s all about—thanks and cold weather. As winter arrives, stay warm and stay safe. Let me close with a big thanks to the many hundreds of you who sponsored, planned, volunteered at or attended one of these fabulous events. What a public demonstration of the high profile of Minnesota’s disability community. We can all be proud—activists, readers and donors—of this community and this paper’s role in it. You make it happen.