Monday, August 25, 2008

Capabilities Mobile Unit: Day 1 at the DNC

7:30 a.m.
I arrive very early at our two parking spots on Stout St. I somehow did not believe that the bags on the meters would prevent others from snagging those two prime spots. Good thing! Any number of cars try to pull in while I was unpacking the van. Some argue, but as soon as I mention our “mobile wheelchair repair unit,” they smile nicely and move on. As I pull tables, scooters and products from the back of the van, I pause frequently to take in the idea that we are about to enter four amazingly historic days from a completely different vantage point than so many in Denver for the DNC. What would this be all about? Would we actually make a difference with our idea of providing such a service in the heart of town? This is going to be quite the experience, no matter what!

How strange to maneuver in two parking spaces aligned vertically! Of course, we conclude quickly that we had brought too much with us! Dave and I work for about an hour, unloading, setting up, arranging and re-arranging to create a warm and welcoming look and feel so typical of Capabilities. You can see from our photos that the only thing we did not bring was a rug to throw over the oil stains on the street!

11:30 a.m.
Lisa Cope, delegate from Texas, stops by. She had contacted us early to rent a scooter, having found us through the offices of David Kennedy, Disabilities Coordinator with the Denver Host Committee. So happy to have electric power to maneuver through the crowd, Lisa tells us about some of her experiences this early in the process. She has already told many others about our rental and repair service. Suddenly, an enormous roar comes around the corner from the 16th St. Mall. Protestors, lots of them, approach on our side of the street. Right along side them are SWAT teams of police with riot gear, on foot, on horseback, on bicycle. Cameras, reporters, shouting hoards swarm around us. Lisa exchanges words with a few of the protestors who are in no mood for pleasant conversation. Dave gets on the phone trying to call the store and let the others in on our excitement. We are quickly in the middle of one part of the action that will excite and worry Denver all week. This is surely one way to get some attention for the Capabilities mobile wheelchair repair unit very fast! Onlookers and passersby hang out a bit with us after the protestors and police moved up the street and around the corner.

1:00 p.m.
Another delegate, Patricia, calls, breathless and worried that her plans for an electric scooter obtained from a different source have fallen through. Can we help her? Our incredible team at the store hustled one into the van and Pam rushed to deliver it to her hotel on the other side of town in time for Patricia to make her meetings at the Convention Center.

3:00 p.m.
The streets bulge with traffic and people. We watch, mesmerized at the diversity. And we see, in a unique way, just how many of those folks are in wheelchairs, in power vehicles, on crutches and walkers, and using service dogs. There is a lot of curiosity about our makeshift street shop!

6:30 p.m.
Pam and I, along with daughter, Sarah, are participating in a reception featuring Hillary Clinton tonight. Count Me In, the organization behind the Make Mine a Million $ Business Award that we won last year, is hosting the reception in honor of the 88th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the right to vote as a full citizen. We will speak briefly about our journey as part of an introductory theater piece honoring the women who have gone before. We thrill to be in the middle of it all, and to be playing a small part ourselves! See us here at our "rehearsal" the night before with the real actors, Director, Billie McBride, and Hilary Blair, who conceived the piece.

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