In keeping with this month's query, i'd like to start a discussion on the assessibility of the meeting house for people with physical challenges and others concerned about safety issues. The outreach committee has made several recommendations including increasing the number of handicapped parking spaces, ensuring a safe passage from the parking lot to the meeting house ( options: putting in a sidewalk or in another way marking a walking path for pedestrians), installing an automatic door opener on the front door and one bathroom. Please add your observations and comments as we continue to make our meeting house safe, accessible and welcoming to all.
Query for Fourth Month
4. Care for the Meeting Community
- Care for one another: Are love and unity maintained among us? When conflicts exist, are they faced with patience, forbearance, and openness to healing? Are avenues for exploring differences kept open? To what extent does our Meeting ignore differences in order to avoid possible conflicts?
- Is the Meeting a safe, loving place? When we become aware of someone’s need, do we offer assistance? Are the meetinghouse and the Meeting property physically accessible to all?
- Do all adults and children in our Meeting receive our loving care and encouragement to share in the life of our Meeting, and to live as Friends? Do we truly welcome newcomers and include them in our Meeting community?
- When a member’s conduct or manner of living gives cause for concern, how does the Meeting respond?
- How does our Meeting keep in touch with all its members?
- Am I ready to offer assistance as part of my religious community serving its members? Am I equally willing to accept graciously the help of others?
- Do I recognize and face disagreements and other situations that put me in conflict with others? Do I manifest a spirit ready to give or receive forgiveness?
- Do I treat adults and children alike with respect and without condescension? Is my manner with visitors and attenders to my Meeting one of welcome?
- Care in my home: Is my home a place where all members of the family receive affection and understanding, and where visitors are welcome? Do I choose recreation and a manner of living that enriches the body, mind, and spirit; and shows a high regard for family, community, and creation?
- Is our family prepared to discuss such sensitive topics as death, faith, money, even sex and drugs, in a manner that allows openness and honesty, and also direction?
- How do I help to arrange life at home so that there is an opportunity for all to learn and absorb by example what it means to live a life of Spirit-led commitment?
This Sunday as I sat in meeting, I watched a man walk across the grass area in the back. I'm not sure who is was, but he eventually found his way into the meeting room and sat in the back. He left immediately after meeting. I quess he managed to negotiate the swales if he used the back path! I think it must be uncomfortable to be new, maybe late and not be sure of how to get into the meeting house. We need ways of directing people to the front entrance.
I came to meeting early because I am the greeter coordinator for the month. As I was walking up the driveway, I ran itno a mother and her two litlle children. her little girl was walking on the lawn and then started scrambling over the swales. Her mother called to her and the girl said "No mommey, I want to take the rock path" Both of us laughed, she was so dear and so energetic. Then in meeting, I began to think about access to the meeting house. Do we really want people to follow a "rock path"? Let's make access easy and well marked. Most of us need a smooth path, reserving the more difficult path for our agile 3 year olds!
Sorry about the font change. Not intentional!
I am following a thread of comments about the efforts to compost our leftover food. Storm was describing her effort to reach the compost bin.She was scrambing over hill and dale and with what seemed an almost superhuman effort reached the bin. Her conclusion was this was way too hard to do and there were too many barriers for anyone to do this on a regular basis. So true!
Sometimes, people in our meeting might face the same type of barrier in opening our front door.. And we really can't reliably tell who needs our help. Sure, if we see someone with a cane or a wheelchair or see someone elderly we might rush to help, but what about those who don't have a visible sign? A young person with lupus, a mother with ms or someone with chronic fatique? How do we know they need help? How do we disern this? We can't. And people get busy in the foyer, we might not notice someone struggling. I don't think kindness is the solution, it can be too erratic. Not intentionally,of course. Most people should be able to come into our building without any help, not having to rely on whether someone has noticed their struggle. That's not welcoming.
Is this largely a matter of education? I know that there are many aspects of accessibility that I just don't see, out of ignorance of the issues. It's very much like the way I am ignorant of many of the manifestations of racism that I participate in without realizing it. I think the most effective action that individuals can take is to share their perceptions of the ways that the Meeting fails to be inclusive -- along lines of accessibility, race, sexual identity, etc. -- so that those of us who are less aware of the issues begin to recognize them. Then we can begin to address the issues with positive resolutions.
Education: Yes! Phil speaks for me, and, I suspect, many other members of the meeting community. If our consciousness of this issue were raised, I think there might be more general support for taking action to address accessibility needs. I'm also looking forward to learning more about what kind of resources the meeting might have to begin to address them. How are decisions made about allocating those resources? Can those with concerns about accessibility get a seat at the table?
I agree about the education part. I taught a class on disabilities and thought I had designed well, and engaged my graduate students. There is a a young woman who lives near by and she is blind. She went to camp with my children, and she came to the college I worked at. She came to my office and told me she minded an activity I was doing with my students. She told me it couldn't possibly describe what it was like to have a disability.Oops! Even though I thought I was pretty savy, nope, I wasn't. I agree that we need to listen to those among us affected And to educate ourselves about this issue.
Phil's comment about racism is interesting. When I was teaching my class, I learned that the civil rights of people with disabilities is closely tied to the civil rights movement. Once the Supreme Court decided that seperate wasn't equal, the parents of children with disabilities came knocking on education's door. And building doors. Our meeting has levers instead of doorknobs on the doors because they are easier to use. One simple change means all people enter the same way. It doesn't matter if you are able-bodied or have arthritis in your hand, you can get in without asking for help.
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