Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Capabilities In The Heart of Denver: Day 2 at the DNC

1:00 a.m.
We just returned from our incredible evening with the Make Mine a Million $ Business folks. What a night of encouragement! We soar with the memories of the thousand plus crowd cheering us on as we spoke about Capabilities and our mission of bringing relevant and appropriate solutions for comfort and mobility to millions. We also had the privilege of standing very nearby as Hillary Clinton delivered her supportive speech in praise of women business owners and entrepreneurs as part of the long legacy of women making a difference in our country. She quoted Harriet Tubman who played such a critical role in keeping the Underground Railroad alive. “If you want to taste freedom, keep going!” We take this message very personally. We are fueled for another long distance run.

8:00 a.m.
The set up is already a bit easier today. Dave and I have more of a rhythm as we pull our cargo out of the van, pop the open air canope, so generously loaned to us by DJ and Bob, family friends, and arrange our rental equipment in full view of the crowds streaming across the 16th St. Mall. We figured out a better way to hang our sign, for example, for more visibility. I am making notes about what kind of signage we ultimately need to create to take our store mobile more often.

Dave and I share our notes from all the people watching we are doing. He is also tinkering with scooters and wheelchairs as passersby stop more frequently to check us out. The pattern is clear: not much traffic on Stout St. in the morning. We learn from area businesses that many of their employees have taken the week off or are working from home. One of the local fast food places says business is actually less than normal at the moment because the regulars are not there. Even the RTD light rail train is infrequent these mornings.
3:00 p.m.
I just returned from a few hours at the Convention Center. The public can enter this center unlike the Pepsi Center which requires credentials and clearance. Security is still intense as we pass through metal detectors and long lines. While there I visit with so many people, including volunteers welcoming the delegates. Adrenaline runs thick in this city these days, as we locals try to put our best foot forward and offer as much help and hospitality as possible.

While there, I attended the Disabilities Caucus. The theme of freedom and independence, high on the agenda for both attendees and the Obama campaign, charged with running this meeting. For two hours voices from both local communities and those from around the country spoke, clarifying the needs and wants of those with disabilities, sometimes tearfully, sometimes angrily, most often with passion and convincing arguments. One of the most notable things was to arrive in an empty ballroom filled with chairs. Of course, it soon was clear that more than half the chairs would have to go since people in power wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs need plenty of room for their equipment. An obvious faux pas on the part of the organizers!

How much more we all have to do to hold in mind what kinds of changes are needed to make the world a friendlier and more easily navigable place for those with disabilities! I find myself thinking about times when I have forgotten simple things, like making enough space in our conference room for those with wheelchairs. And this happens, even with my daily immersion in a business that introduces me to people with temporary and permanent disabilities every day. Sitting in that meeting, I am proud and delighted that we offered this idea of providing a mobile unit to rent and repair mobility equipment at the DNC. I spread the word of our service to everyone in the room.

5:00 p.m.
As we pack up, a group of teens approach. “Hey,” one shouts, “let me test drive one for my grandma!” “Yeah, sure,” we smile. “Come on,” he urges. “Do you have any money?” we ask. “Nope,” as he and the pack move on, smiling, realizing they need a better line next time. Dave says that earlier in the day, though, a couple of young folks spent time asking real questions about the scooters and power chairs on behalf of their grandmother who is having a harder and harder time moving about. They wanted enough information to talk with her and the rest of the family about investing in grandma’s mobility. It turns out we are not only the curious ones as we live this amazing experience! We are a source of curiosity and real education for many who have never seen this stuff before, or only from afar.

7:00 p.m.
As I watch the political speeches on television, I read through the position paper given me at the Disabilities Caucus. Senator Obama has a number of provisions in his plans to bring equality to those with disabilities in employment, for example, and funding for those who cannot work because of their disabilities. I look for something on McCain’s website about disabilities, but am unsuccessful in finding it, at least tonight.

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