Thursday, May 6, 2010

Don't Make Me Write You A Letter

I have been feeling like quite the Citizen these past couple of days, exchanging e-mails with members of the town council and the mayor about some of the issues I've had lately in trying to get around. It felt good to be frustrated by something, and then know that I could write a letter, and feel like the burden is not placed solely on me. Now I have plans to meet with the Chair of Transportation Advisory Committee, and even if this all goes nowhere, I know that I didn't just sit back and let things happen to me. I actively tried to change things that I felt weren't right. So, go me, I guess.

I think I'll go ahead and post two of the letters I've written. I won't post the replies, just in the interest of space. Imagine a lot of concern and promises. You know, politiciany stuff. But what's cool, to me at least, is that I think these e-mails actually created awareness where there was none before, even though I totally overuse the words "Partcipate" "Community" and "Disability" (It's practically a drinking game):

Councilman B_,

I have been a resident of Q___ for just over a year, and was attracted to this town because of its commitment to developing a place where families not only live, but thrive. I am impressed by Q_'s history, and all that this town has accomplished in just a short amount of time, as well as its future potential.

I learned, shortly before moving to our town with my husband and two children, that I have a degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. I will lose sight completely in just a few years.

I wanted to make you, the current Chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee, aware of the difficulties I have experienced as a person with visual impairment, living in Q_. I understand that budget restraints mean that transportation, such as a bus line, is a future hope, but not an immediate possibility. However, there are so many other options for transportation available to those who may need to get around our town. For example, are you aware there is a cab voucher program that our surrounding cities participate in? This alone would, I believe, create such a huge opportunity for those in our town who are otherwise homebound, to participate in our economy.

I have many other ideas about how Q_ can become a town that welcomes all of its residents to participate in the community, regardless of ability. I know that, as a fellow resident, and member of the Town Council, you would agree that it should become a priority to include and welcome all members of the community, and it is vital, I think, to make you aware of the obstacles of living with a disability in our town.

Thank you for your service to our beautiful town, and all that you have done to help it grow. It is my hope that my experience thus far creates a change in our town's approach to those who may live now, or in the future, with visual impairment or other disabilities, and accommodates accordingly for our growing community.


Renee V
Q__ resident

Councilman B__,

Thank you for your quick reply, and the forwarding of my message to other concerned parties.

It would be a pleasure to meet with you about the transportation issues I have encountered in our town. I say this with a smile, but as you might have guessed, the only obstacle I have with meeting with you is that I wouldn't be sure how to get to you. However, my husband is available on weekends or evenings to help me get around. I am free almost any time, as one might expect from one who doesn't get out much.

One of the programs our neighbor cities participate in is D-A-R, which provides door-to-door, shared-ride public transportation to people 65 and over and persons with a disability, 7 days a week, from 7am-7pm. Fares are based on the number of zones traveled. This would, I believe, create so much more freedom to those who are homebound. Imagine all the businesses, restaurants, and community services and programs that are not being utilized by the people who are otherwise homebound. I truly believe opting into this transit system would awaken Q_ in ways we often overlook.

Coupons for Cabs is another transit program opted into by G_, C_, A_ J_, and M_, and made available to their residents. Senior citizens and individuals with disabilities can purchase coupon booklets for $2.50, valued at $10, and apply the coupons towards fares with participating cab companies.

I would invite you to explore the options available to all other E_ V_ residents here:
(In Which I Sent A Link To The County Transit Info That I'm Afraid of Sharing, Because I Don't Want Scary People To Find My House, Even Though It's Likely I Outright Mention My Town In This Letter Because I'm A Terrible Editor)

Many disabilities, and especially visual impairment, requires that one avoid driving, but it does not limit one's desire to participate in the community and economy. Help us get to our local restaurants, and we will eat there. Help us get to our parks, and we will use them. Help us get to volunteer locations, voting booths, our children's schools, and we will become active members in making Q_ flourish. I feel, otherwise, like an untapped resource, and I don't imagine that I am alone in that feeling.

Thank you again for your time and concern.

Renee V

Already I've received a reply, and already I feel like change may be a'coming.

I kind of love letter writing


Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you, Renee. You are making such a big impact already.

diane said...

Awesome. I especially love the part where you said you are able to meet pretty much anytime since there is no transportation program to get you anywhere. You are the best.

Becky said...

Good for you -- this is such a frustrating piece, isn't it. It does feel good to write letters and do what we can.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear! (Or is it, "Here here?" I've never known.)

Anyway. Heer heer!

amber and alma said...

You are a good woman Renee.