Make A Wish with the Longmore Institute

Silhouettes of many different body types with disabilities and text reads "The Dignity Fund"

We have exciting news!

We have received a contract from the city of San Francisco’s Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) to plan for a disability cultural center. To our knowledge, it’s going to be the first of its kind: city-run, community-based, and made by and for people with disabilities.

This is super important for San Francisco’s many disabled people. The planning process offers a great opportunity for all of us to take stock of what we have, what we need, and what we want. What kind of physical space will make it possible for us to gather for cutting-edge cultural programs, key community services, possibilities to converse, debate, reclaim, reinvent?

Here are seven things you need to know:

  1. Thanks to the creation of the Dignity Fund passed by San Francisco voters in November 2016, San Francisco has an established baseline fund of $38 million required to grow over the next decade by $33 million “to address currently unmet and emerging needs of San Francisco’s older adults and adults with disabilities.” Fortunately, the Department of Aging and Adult Services believes that this cultural center is a pressing need and wants to prioritize using Dignity Funds to get it up and running.
     
  2. Every aspect of the Center will be of, by, and for San Francisco’s people with disabilities. This means early and ongoing community participation will be critical. Over the next few months, we’ll be reaching out to ask that rarest of questions for people with disabilities: what do you want? What matters to you? And how do you think you’d benefit from such a place?
     
  3. We will be seeking community input from San Francisco residents through a survey and series of focus group conversations. We’re working hard to reach people who seldom have a voice, people who may not even imagine they need such a place but then will be excited to learn that it exists.
     
  4. We approach this as adding another jewel in the crown of the city’s many exciting and diverse cultural centers. We’ve been visiting them to learn about what it takes to establish and run a center in a vibrant, diverse place like San Francisco. Our goal is to build on what they’ve created to have a welcoming space for people of all ages, families, and body types where accessibility is baked in.
     
  5. Our leadership team, 100% people with disabilities, reflects a wide range of groups and organizations within San Francisco. We’re so excited about our people that we have a whole blog post about them!
     
  6. This will be a collaborative process. While the Longmore Institute is leading the research, guiding principles and priorities will be determined by the group. Christine Poremski Rodrigues of R&P Associates, who oversaw Longmore Institute’s own recent strategic planning, will keep us all on track.
     
  7. We intend to complete this planning process in the early spring and will submit our report to the city by the end of April. The planning phase is critical in order to define what the community wants and how we get there. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for news from Longmore Institute about the survey, focus groups, and other opportunities for getting involved. Let us know if you want to be included by completing this online form.

Just as with real life, dreams are dreams, which means we can’t make any guarantees about what ultimately comes to pass. But we can promise occasions for conversation, for exploring what people with disabilities from various communities and perspectives want, along with many opportunities to work toward this goal.

We like to think of this as a continuation of what the occupiers inside San Francisco’s federal building in 1977 enjoyed: an occasion to have multiple conversations that result in a collective dream for improving the lives of disabled people.

At a time when so much is being dismantled and under threat, it’s great to be able to share dreams and gather strength. With the doors of a disability cultural center open, we’ll have a place to recharge and charge forward.

If you’re a San Francisco resident who wants to make a wish with the Longmore Institute, be sure to fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/NuzPIkpGLQG5tyKr1. And watch this blog for ongoing updates!