I tore the envelope open and ashes flew out. I was startled and stunned. Looking in the envelope for explanation I found amongst the ashes bits of paper that had not been consumed by flames, looking at it, I saw that it was from my book, "I Contact: Sexuality and People With Intellectual Disabilities." Gradually I realized that these were the ashes of my book, burnt.
I found taped to the outside, behind the address label a short letter telling me that I was a disgusting pervert, that I was sullying the innocence of the innocent and that I had no business working with people with disabilities, "God's Forever Children." I still remember that phrase.
Over the years similar things would happen to me. I have been called both the agent of Satan and a purveyor of pornography. And why? Because I believed that people with intellectual disabilities had the right to love and be loved, to fall head over heals for another person, to experience sexual intimacy. Things I still believe.
But, yesterday, I thought about the ashes and how they stained my fingers.
I was coming back from picking up lottery tickets, everyone in human services has to have a retirement plan, and zipping by a gathering spot under the escalators in a mall near my home. There are lots of places for people to sit, to talk, to eat, to have coffee. It's often full and I often see a man with Down Syndrome, of about 30, sitting there. Always alone. Sometimes having a sandwich. Sometimes a coffee. Sometimes just sitting, quietly, watching the world.
We met once before, when he was surrounded by bullies on the street. I intruded into their harassment of him and, as cowards do, they fled. We have a nodding acquaintance. Sometimes we speak, but not often. We are simply fellow disabled people that share a community together. I believe he would watch out for me, and I know he know I would for him.
He's always alone.
But yesterday, it was different. He wasn't alone. He was sitting with a woman, who also had Down Syndrome, and they were talking over coffee. I smiled. I was pleased to see that he had friends in the area, I've never seen him but alone.
And then. She kissed him.
His arms went around her shoulders, and they held on for a few seconds.
"He loves her," I thought to myself, followed immediately by, "and she loves him."
They love each other.
The enormity of that still overwhelms me. Here they are two people with intellectual disabilities out together in the community. Out together as a couple. In love. This shouldn't be surprising. This shouldn't take my breath away, but it does.
Because I can feel the ashes, still, as if it was yesterday. I can feel them soil my fingers, pages that expressed a believe in love, burnt, spilling on the floor, puddling like the blood of prejudice around my feet.
And it is yesterday.
In many places.
For many people with intellectual disabilities.
And it shouldn't be.
She kissed him. He loves her. What's to fear in that?
If you’re a newspaper reporter in post-frontier British Columbia, how do you get around the British-style libel laws of young Canada, so that you can write about what look like questionable dealings by government officials with the native Skwxwú7mesh Salish people of False Creek?
You report in Chinook Jargon.
[My clarifications are added in brackets.]
Now, understand this. It is the true, inside story of
the Kitsilano reserve deal. Characters — [William John] Bowser, as act-
ing premier; Hamilton Read, barrister, etc.; [Tommy] Cole a half-
breed with a good money sense, and a handful of Indi-
ans who owned a great and wealthy tract of land upon
which they lived and propagated. One of the natives
told your correspondent in strict confidence as follows;
Hyas Tyhee Bowser wahwah, “Closhe Siwash hyiu
[Premier Bowser was saying, “The Indians should have a lot]
Siwash wahwah, “Nanitch nika. Siwash halo iktas.”
[The Indians were saying, “Look at me. The Indians have nothing.”]
Cole chahko wahwah okook tenas cultus potlatch.
[Cole came, saying “This is a small gift.]
Nika Bowser nanitch.
[I’ve been to see Bowser.”]
(Cole klatawa, Read chahko.)
[(Cole went, Read came.)]
Siwash to Read: Klahowya tillicum? Mitlite hyiu
[Indian to Read: “Hello, friend. There are lots]
[of salmon (t)here.”]
Read: “Mamook illahie mah-kook. Hy-iu chicka-
[Read: “Make a sale of land. (It’ll fetch) lots of mon-]
Siwash: “Nawitka nika mamook.”
[Indian: “All right, I will.”]
(Six moons Siwash halo chickamin, halo illahie,
[(It’s been six months and (now) the Indians have no money, no land,]
halo iktas.) — Vancouver Sun.
— as reproduced in The Grand Forks (BC) Sun, March 17, 1916, page 4, column 2
Follow the links above (and read “Conversations with Khahtsahlahno“) and put it together for yourself.
It looks to me like someone got cheated and it took decades to get a little justice.
The other day I had occasion to stop by a large supermarket in Co. Derry, where I had not been in some time. In the soft fluorescent glow, I wandered its abundantly stocked aisles and grabbed a couple of things that I needed, then headed for the till. The cashier rang me up, placing the items I bought in a pile at the corner of the register.
“Could I please have a bag as well?” I said, handing her the money.
She gave me a look so nuanced in its shades of contempt, suspicion and disappointment, it would have given a Soviet-era Univermag cashier a run for their money.
“Is it a plastic bag you want?”
“They cost extra, you know,” she said, in a tone that hinted she doubted I had the money.
“That’s all right.”
And as she tossed the flimsy receptacle in my direction, my heart swelled with joy.
“I’m sorry,” I said, beaming at her stupidly, as I scrambled to pack my purchase, “I usually bring my own bag.”
And that, dear readers, I do. But it is hardly the point.
The point is how astonishingly different the behaviour I encountered on this occasion was from the way things stood when I first arrived in Northern Ireland 3 years earlier. Near to where I lived at the time, this particular supermarker was one I used to visit regularly. By default, the cashiers would cheerfully place a heap of plastic bags onto the register. And any protests of “No thanks, I have a bag” would be met with genuine confusion - with pitying looks that said: (1) Well, that’s a bit weird to carry your own bag! and (2) Surely you still want these wee plastic bags as inner bags? you know, to keep your nice bag from getting dirty?
I have written about encountering the same attitude in the US some years earlier. But the bag-pushing cashiers in Northern Ireland were both friendlier and more insistent, making it a true challenge to emerge from the supermarket plastic bag-free.
When I pointed this out to some local friends at the time - as part of a general conversation about plastics - they said something to the effect of “Good luck trying to get people here to stop using plastic bags and drinking out of plastic bottles! It’s part of the culture."
Part of the culture, eh? Well, then it is all the more remarkable to now see the attitude reversing. The most interesting part, is that the cashier wasn’t just following the new store protocol. She was actually judging me on a personal level, having internalised the "asking for plastic bag = bad; bringing reusable bag = good" narrative.
But enough about bags. Because what I'm really trying to say is: Attitudes change. Cultural practices change. Societal norms are not eternally fixed, but in a constant state of flux.
Which is why it amazes me how often the faux logic of impossible-to-change local ways is used to argue that cycling culture can never take off here (insert your city/ town/ rural region of choice).
In theory, cycling can take off anywhere if circumstances align just right. Now what determines that alignment is another topic - a topic I think is exciting, and far from a lost cause, no matter how unlikely the region in question might seem.
By Pamela Toler (Regular Contributor)
In March, 1919, India’s Imperial Legislative Council passed the repressive legislation known as the Rowlatt Acts. The new laws continued the special wartime powers of the Defense of India Act, which had been intended to protect India against wartime agitators, and aimed them at India’s nationalist movement.
At the time the Rowlatt Acts were put in place, Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) was a prime example of the “brown Englishmen” that Thomas Babington Macauley had described as the goal of Western education in India. Educated at Harrow and Cambridge, he practised law with his father, the prominent barrister and nationalist leader Motilal Nehru, and enjoyed a lifestyle that was luxurious by both Indian and European standards. At his father’s urging, Nehru had joined the Indian National Congress on his return from England in 1918 but at first his involvement in the nationalist movement was at best perfunctory.
That changed when Mohandas Gandhi called on Indians to “refuse civilly to obey” the newly passed Rowlatt Acts. In the Sikh city of Amritsar, Gandhi’s call for a national day of work stoppage escalated into a spiral of arrest, protests and violence that ended in the massacre of thousands of Indians who had gather for a religious observance in a public park called Jallianwalah Bagh.
When Nehru overheard General R. H Dyer boasting about his role in the massacre,e he was outraged. He flung himself into the independence movement, touring rural India, organizing volunteers and making public speeches. It was then, he wrote in his autobiography, that “I experienced the thrill of mass feeling, the power of influencing the masses.”
The British imprisoned Nehru for his nationalist activities for the first time in 1921. Arrested nine times, he spent 18 of the next 25 years in jail for his participation in Gandhi’s non-violent non-cooperation (satyagraha) campaigns. He used his time in prison to study and write, transforming himself from a “brown Englishman” into an Indian scholar-politician. He practiced yoga, studied the Baghavat-Gita (and Marxist political theory) and replaced his suits and top hat with clothing made from khadi (homespun).
Gandhi handpicked Nehru as India’s first prime minister, despite substantial differences in their vision of India’s future. They agreed that poverty would be India’s greatest challenge after independence, but disagreed on the solution. Gandhi looked to India’s past for the answer, which he believed lay in self-sufficiency at the village level, with a spinning wheel in every hut. Nehru, whose exposure to what he described as “this vast multitude of semi-naked sons and daughters of India” had led him to the principles of Fabian socialism, looked for national self-sufficiency, based on “tractors and big machinery.” When Gandhi accused Nehru of being unfaithful to his vision of a “harmonious village India”, Nehru countered that he did “not understand why a village should necessarily embody truth and non-violence”.
When India achieved independence from Great Britain in 1947, Nehru became its the first prime minister and minister for external affairs, a dual position he held until his death in 1964. He developed a policy of “positive neutrality” in regard to the Cold War, and served as a key spokesperson for the unaligned countries of Asia and Africa. He committed India to a policy of industrialization, a reorganization of its states on a linguistic basis, and the development of a casteless, secular state.
Controversy erupted in 2014 when video of National Football League (NFL) player Ray Rice violently punched his fiancé (now wife) and dragged her unconscious body from an elevator. Most recently, Deadspin released graphic images of the injuries NFL player Greg Hardy inflicted on his ex-girlfriend. In both instances, NFL officials insisted that if they had seen the visual evidence of the crime, they would have implemented harsher consequences from the onset.
Why are violent images so much more compelling than other evidence of men’s violence against women? A partial answer is found by looking at whose story is privileged and whose is discounted. The power of celebrity and masculinity reinforces a collective desire to disbelieve the very real violence women experience at the hands of men. Thirteen Black women collectively shared their story of being raped and sexually assaulted by a White police officer, Daniel Holtzclaw, in Oklahoma. Without the combined bravery of the victims, it is unlikely any one woman would have been able to get justice. A similar unfolding happened with Bill Cosby. The first victims to speak out against Cosby were dismissed and treated with suspicion. The same biases that interfere with effectively responding to rape and sexual assault hold true for domestic violence interventions.
Another part of the puzzle language. Anti-sexist male activist Jackson Katz points out that labeling alleged victims “accusers” shifts public support to alleged perpetrators. The media’s common use of a passive voice when reporting on domestic violence (e.g., “violence against women”) inaccurately emphasizes a shared responsibility of the perpetrator and victim for the abuser’s violence and generally leaves readers with an inaccurate perception that domestic violence isn’t a gendered social problem. Visual evidence of women’s injuries at the hands of men is a powerful antidote to this misrepresentation.
In my own research, published in Sociological Spectrum, I found that the race of perpetrators also matters to who is seen as accountable for their violence. I analyzed 330 news articles about 66 male celebrities in the headlines for committing domestic violence. Articles about Black celebrities included criminal imagery – mentioning the perpetrator was arrested, listing the charges, citing law enforcement and so on – 3 times more often than articles about White celebrities. White celebrities’ violence was excused and justified 2½ times more often than Black celebrities’, and more often described as mutual escalation or explained away due to mitigating circumstances, such as inebriation.
Data from an analysis of 330 articles about 66 Black and White celebrities who made headlines for perpetrating domestic violence (2009-2012):
Accordingly, visual imagery of Ray and Hardy’s violence upholds common stereotypes of Black men as violent criminals. Similarly, White celebrity abusers, such as Charlie Sheen, remain unmarked as a source of a social problem. It’s telling that the public outcry to take domestic violence seriously has been centered around the NFL, a sport in which two-thirds of the players are African American. The spotlight on Black male professional athletes’ violence against women draws on racist imagery of Black men as criminals. Notably, although domestic violence arrests account for nearly half of NFL players’ arrests for violent crimes, players have lower arrest rates for domestic violence compared to national averages for men in a similar age range.
If the NFL is going to take meaningful action to reducing men’s violence against women, not just protect its own image, the league will have to do more than take action only in instances in which visual evidence of a crime is available. Moreover, race can’t be separated from gender in their efforts.
Joanna R. Pepin a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland. Her work explores the relationship between historical change in families and the gender revolution.
I had read about how diverse the casting was, and it was. They managed to actually hire Native American actors to play Native American roles. That's how diverse it was. It was actually fun to watch the interplay of the actors in their roles, with their ethnicities adding to the plot and the play. There wasn't an overtly gay character in the piece but there was certainly a couple of men whose relationship was overtly undefined and whose bonding was very deep, so one could at least speculate.
All that diversity up on the screen.
And then, for an instant.
Just for an instant.
A man in a wheelchair, sitting on a porch.
I was startled so much I almost fell out of my wheelchair. I don't expect to see disabled people in movies, in backgrounds, in crowds, let alone in leading roles. Now I have no idea if the actor playing this role had a disability, I somehow doubt it, I mean diverse casting doesn't actually mean us, does it?
But leaving that aside, let's look at what was happening in that second. He was having dinner and he was being helped to eat. I couldn't see him clearly enough but I think he was an elderly man in a wheelchair. But he was being helped to eat, sitting on the porch, in plain view.
This was set in a town with limited resources. With starving people. With people struggling just to get by and survive. The whole premise was that they, as a townspeople, were being oppressed into poverty by a robber baron from whom they needed rescuing. So in a place where starvation and deprivation ran rampant, a disabled man was having dinner on a porch.
Remember those kind of math questions that Nazi's used, some of which have made it to North American textbooks? The 'who would you throw out of the boat first' questions? The questions that asked who should be the first to die during times of shortage and desperate survival? Remember those?
This is the kind of math that's being done now, in subtle ways, about disabled lives. The idea of burden and cost are back with a vengeance. Disabled people fight just to be a part of the discussion about disabled lives. That's where we are now.
So in these times it was comforting to watch a scene that indicated in 'those' times, disabled people weren't hidden away, weren't confined to the captivity of indifference.
He was on the porch.
Being lovingly assisted.
He was home. In his community. Sharing what resources they had.
I wonder if some film maker will ever think to zoom the camera in and really see this man the way that I did. And I wonder if they realize that there is a story to tell there. An important story. Because he must have meant something to someone, he must have been loved by the town, he must have a story worth telling.
An advertisement in Chinook Jargon, in a post-frontier BC newspaper.
As we often see in this time period, settlers could be expected both to be literate and to comprehend the pidgin.
[My clarifications are added in brackets.]
Spose mika engine
[If your (boat) engine]
[isn’t working, Cochrane]
hyak mamook chahko
[will quickly order]
chee iktas kopa Van-
[new goods from Van-]
couver, tenas mah-
kook. Mika cumtux
[cheap. You know]
Cochrane halo kap-
Groceries Dry Goods
— The Queen Charlotte Islander, volume 2, number 12, Monday, November 18, 1912, page 1, column 4
Some of the fish are so tiny it fills me with rage. I say this as their creator. Nevertheless, I am told that many coloring people like teeny tiny fiddly tiny things. I hope that they will like these fish. Fortunately there are also mola mola and whale sharks and oarfish and entirely ridiculous made-up things and whatnot.
But, that's off topic. Yes, we can still do them. But as we travelled we began to talk about an upcoming trip of several days. This time we're going to be on the eastern seaboard so we typically rent a wheelchair van and take the power chair. As we discussed the upcoming trip and realized that on this particular trip, I didn't miss having the power chair. Not once really.
Typically having the powerchair is better for me, because I have more access and for Joe because he has less work to do, what with not having to push me around. However, this trip Joe pushed me only once or twice and only for a few feet each time. I've got much more strength in my push and I have increased my endurance significantly. Our conversation about the next trip really centred on how much the wheelchair van costs versus a car and if the expense was still worth the benefit that we got from the powerchair.
In the end we decided to give it a go without the powerchair, that I'd simply rely on my own strength for the trip. We noted that there are some things I will not be able to do and that we'd have to use the car a little more than we would otherwise, but that we'd try it and see how it went.
So we landed last night and we were tired. I got up this morning to discover our Internet was down and that I couldn't access the YouTube trainers that I use for weight training. It was the perfect excuse. Then I thought about the upcoming trip. I dug out an old exercise program, 'wheelchair aerobics' and put that in the DVD player and did that for about half an hour. It wasn't the same as the training but it was something.
The interesting thing about this whole journey of getting stronger, has been the questions I don't get and the question I get all the time. I am constantly asked if I've lost weight. I'm never asked about the distance I can push myself or about my ability to push uphill, or about my skill at getting through doors. I've been asked why I haven't written about my 'diet' and my 'weightloss' program. Well, here it is, my goal has been to get stronger. My goal has been to increase my independence when using the manual chair. That's what I'm doing.
That's what I'm happy about.
Well, except in the morning when the weights stare at me, the cheese danish call out to me, in lightly accented English, and lethargy pulls me to the big comfy chair in the front room, then, I'm not so incredibly eager.
Regular readers will understand that the Chinook Jargon word siwash migrated into Pacific Northwest regional English, with mostly distressing results.
Today I’m sharing an 1898 local-colour piece from the Boundary Country of British Columbia, where a fairly well-known Indigenous man is characterized by the above word.
It’s not flattering. That’s your trigger warning.
This “Tinas” Martin was otherwise known as Tenas Martin. A member of the Sinixt (Lakes) Salish tribe (which explains his border-straddling existence; read about these people’s plight), Martin died the following year, still young. This happened while he was crossing the Okanogan (Okanagan) River near Osoyoos Lake with Mary Smith — the estranged, and widowed, and strategically chosen Indigenous first wife of early white settler Hiram “Okanogan” Smith.
Tenas Martin is listed as an Indian policeman at the Colville agency on the American side about the time of his demise. He was remembered as “sickly”, perhaps a contributing factor to his eponymous small stature, bur he was also respected by his people as a chief.
Given these facts, I can imagine the following events had a different meaning to Native witnesses and that this article’s smattering of Chinook Jargon is more for white people’s amusement than for journalistic accuracy:
Tinas Martin, a siwash from the
reservation near Midway, visited the
city yesterday. Tinas in the classic
Chinook is a diminutive. Everything
went smoothly for Little Martin until
the baseball match was about over,
when Tinas got the idea that he was
the whole celebration and proceeded
to make a triumphal procession of him-
self and his cayuse on the ball grounds.
Just as the procession gave indications
of being a success, Officers Gardom
and Lawder scooped the siwash in.
— The Boundary Creek (BC) Times, July 2, 1898, page 11, column 3
I didn't like him.
On our flight back from San Francisco the plane was jammed full. In our row I had the aisle, Joe the middle and a fellow a few years younger than us had the window. We had preboarded so we got up and let him in. He sat down and immediately, as if the windows aren't shared by everyone in the row, pulled the window shades down. Now, I fly a lot and though I'm no longer a nervous flyer, I do find that being able to look out the window during take off and landing quite comforting. I leaned forward and asked the fellow, politely, if it would be OK with him to have the windows open during those times. I explained briefly that it settles my nerves. He smiled, grimly, and said that flying didn't bother him at all and that yes, he'd put the windows up.
Then, he did. He pushed them up. I thanked him and then went about waiting for the plane to take off. When he thought I wasn't looking he pulled the windows back down. The decision was made. 'What an asshat.' And that was that. Joe and I glanced at each other, then settled in for the plane to be loaded and then begin the journey home.
We got in position for take off, the engines revved and the flight attendants were asked to take their places for take off. Then, quickly, the window shades shot back up. I was able to look out the window, see us take off over the bay, watch as we banked over the city and head home. He'd done what I asked, the shades went back down.
I was in conflict. I had decided that he was an 'asshat', I was comfortable with that. I even, I hate admitting it, enjoyed it a bit, thinking how much different I would have been if the request had been made of me. I was NICER. I knew that. Then he did exactly what I asked him to do. I was really reluctant to upgrade my opinion of him.
Then, tired of thinking about it, I got my book and began to read. Lord John Grey and his complicated relationship with Jamie Frasier distracted me for much of the rest of the flight. That and getting something to eat and buying duty free also added to my distractions.
We were nearing Toronto, the plane's engines slowed down and the flight attendants were making their final pass through the plane. The windows, which had been closed for the flight, went back up. He'd actually remembered my request and complied with it.
But I had decided what I thought of him.
I had decided that he was a jerk.
Unmaking that decision would take a lot of work. It was easier just to go on thinking poorly of him. I mean it was easy to do. He closed the window shades without any consultation with us, He only opened them on request for very specific times. He acted as if he was giving up a gift by doing what was requested of him. See ... it's EASY to come up with reasons to justify thinking badly of someone you don't even know.
All I knew was that I was NICER that him and would have been NICER from the start.
Now getting out of the plane would take coordination. I'd have to get up, back up and let Joe out who could go forward and then our fellow passenger would get out passing by me, and then I could sit back down in my seat. I had to wait for my chair to come back up. I asked Joe to explain to him what was going to happen. He listened, nodded, and said that it wasn't a problem.
The exit strategy worked and as I sat down in my seat he wished me a pleasant evening. I wished him one too.
Seems he was a decent chap all along.
Thank heavens he had no idea the mental work that went on in my head to finally come to the conclusion that he wasn't so bad after all. You see that's what nice guys do!
★ Notes on Year 3, Comic 8 - LVA @ PVD - Part II ★
Jack L. Zimmermann: Thanks guys.
Jack L. Zimmermann: Intense game.
Larissa P. Duan: me and bits were watching at Founder’s. 🔥🔥🔥
Jack L. Zimmermann: haha
Me: Great game, Jack! Sorry it didn’t turn out the way any of us wanted, but y’all were so consistent all through out. Every last one of you should feel good about your performances. And wonderful goal! :)
Jack: All right go to bed everyone.
Justin Oluransi: wait but did Alexei Mashkov for real pick up Parse though
Justin Oluransi: who does that, incredible
Justin Oluransi: he’s so strong lol
Justin Oluransi: it’s like he dragged him out the scrum with one hand?? how much does parse weight 180? lololol
Adam J Birkholtz: dear god justin
Jack L. Zimmermann: Tater is a beast.
Jack L. Zimmermann: Go to bed.
✓ How often does Parse go flying into poor defenseless goalies on breakaways? Okay—NOT that often. Parse is usually one of the fastest skaters when he’s on the ice, and he’s also skilled—he knows how to stop. He just might have won a game or two for the Aces with perfectly legal goals that preceded graceful butt-first collisions into a few defensemen and goalposts. It’s not full on up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A action, but something that happens when you absolutely have to defeat your rival.
✓ Speaking of rivals…#Intense Stares. Jack Zimmermann and Kent Parson are obsessed with winning hockey games. So that’s one thing they still have in common.
✓ What’s up with them there jersey colors? Just gotta have Parse in that Aces black for this update. Just gotta, man.
✓ What does Alexei Mashkov *really* think about Parse? “…You know, very fast, great shot…but I play my game and…he playing his game. Very different game.” 9_9 Which in non-hockey speak translates to “wow FUCK that guy.” Pretty sure he was yelling at Parse like Parse cut him off in traffic.
✓ Lardo KNOWS. She definitely knows something is up. But then again, Bitty did call Nursey, Tango and a pie crust “honey” all in one day. We all take our friends’ losses hard, and Bitty is a naturally caring person…but…
☆ Up Next: Bitty calls Jack.
☆ ☆ ☆ LINKS ☆ ☆ ☆
☆ Next batch of updates. This week is a BUNCH of updates, but I will be up to my ears in Kickstarter duties throughout the rest of this year. I won’t be able to get another batch of comics out until December. I’ll be making a post about this on the main blog!
☆ Kickstarter. And while both of the books will be able for purchase soon after the kickstarter is fulfilled, why not take a gander at the project now?
Sociologists distinguish between the terms norm, normal, and normative.
- The norm refers to what is common or frequent. For example, celebrating Christmas is the norm in America.
- Normal is opposed to abnormal. Even though celebrating Christmas is the norm, it is not abnormal to celebrate Hanukkah. To celebrate Hanukkah is perfectly normal.
- In contrast to both of these, normative refers to a morally-endorsed ideal. Some Americans make a normative argument that Americans should celebrate Christmas because they believe (wrongly) that this is a Christian country.
A thing can be the norm but not be normative. For example, a nuclear family with a married man and woman and their biological children is normative in the U.S., but it is certainly not the norm. Likewise, something can be normal but not the norm. It’s perfectly normal, for example, to date people of the same sex (so say the scientists of our day), but it’s not the norm. And something can be both normal and the norm, but not be normative, like Americans’ low rates of physical activity.
These three terms do not always work in sync, which is why they’re interesting.
I thought of these distinctions when I looked at a submission by Andrew, who blogs at Ethnographer. Bike lanes in Philadelphia used to be designated with this figure:
Today, however, they’re designated by this one:
Do you see the difference? The new figures are wearing bike helmets. The addition is normative. It suggests that bikers should be wearing bike helmets. It may or may not be the norm, and it certainly isn’t normal or abnormal either way, but the city of Philadelphia is certainly attempting to make helmets normative.
Originally posted in 2010.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
When I found myself in Belfast some time ago with an hour to spare, I used that hour wisely: I met for a coffee with local cycling celebrity and trans youth advocate Ellen Murray.
As I locked up my bike in St. Anne's Square, her arrival was tremendous. The sleek, black, shark-like contraption she pedaled appeared not so much to roll, as to slice through the stately, rather Viennese, backdrop of white neoclassical buildings. Pedestrians stopped in their tracks. A passing flock of birds hovered overhead. And I, mouth ajar, nearly dropped my U-lock on my foot, as my own bicycle made a meek neighing sound in the presence of this formidable giant.
"Your new Urban Arrow!" I said, trying to play it cool and hide my awe, "How do you like it?"
Unsurprisingly, she liked it very much indeed. Ellen's transport cycling history began with a roadbike, then progressed rapidly to a contemporary Batavus step-through, and a Pashley Postie. With each bike, she enjoyed sitting ever more upright, and appreciated being able to haul ever more stuff. It began to dawn on her, that perhaps what she really needed was a full-on Dutch style cargo bike.
One problem, however, was that Ellen's disability (when off the bike, she moved with the help of a cane at this time; she now uses a wheelchair) was making it difficult to put in as much daily milage as she wanted. And switching to an even larger and heavier bike probably wouldn't help matters. So she did some research. And then she researched some more. And she discovered the Urban Arrow.
A comparative newcomer to the cargo bike scene, in many ways the Urban Arrow is a typical Dutch bakfiets (box bike). It's a step-through frame, with swept-back handlebars, dynamo lighting, chaincase, mudguards, internal gears, and an enormous front crate - which can be adapted to carry cargo or human passengers, including infants and children.
However there are several crucial features that make the Urban Arrow a bit different. First, it is made of relatively lightweight materials: the frame aluminium, the box a durable foam (expanded polypropylene). Second, it is designed to be zippy and maneuverable whilst retaining the tame, easy-to-master handling of a traditional bakfiets. Third, it is modular: The front end of the frame can separate from the rear, allowing to switch platforms (family, cargo, "shorty"). Finally, the bike is available - and, in fact, comes standard - with integrated e-assist.
Adding e-assist to cargo bikes is not exactly a new practice. But the key word here is "integrated." The Urban Arrow was designed as an electric bike to begin with. As a result, it incorporates the assist in a manner that is streamlined, native-looking, and economical weight-wise.
There is no awkwardly attached battery taking up valuable real estate and adding bulk. The Bosch 400 Wh Powerpack sits in a special nook behind the cargo box, so stealthy it is nearly invisible. The motor integrates with the cranks and bottom bracket in a way that looks wholly organic. Both are low to the ground and compact, making minimal impact on the bicycle's look and balance.
On the cockpit-end sits the e-assist control unit that monitors battery range and allows for different settings (turbo, sport, tour, eco), and the gear shifter for the NuVinci N360 hub.
For those unfamiliar with the NuVinci system, it in itself is really something, and a treat to experience on what is already interesting machine. An internally geared hub, the NuVinci is unique in that it offers a continuously variable transmission. There are no individual gears as such. Instead, there is a wide (360%) range of continuous, "unlimited" gear ratios. You twist the shifter, in increments as tiny or as large as you like, and the gearing grows proportionally lower or higher. The animated icon on the shifter reacts by continuously steepening and flattening the landscape, thereby indicating where you are within the range.
Having dealt with fixed systems of gearing throughout my experience as a cyclist, NuVinci's smooth, continuous drivetrain felt exhilarating to try for the first time. And its integration with the Bosch e-assist felt seamless.
Also seamless is the integration of the dynamo lighting (which runs off the battery), and, of course, other standard bakfiets accessories, including mudguards, chain guard, heavy-duty kickstand, and giant loud bell.
The overall look of the Urban Arrow is really - to my eye, at least - incomparable to any other front loading cargo bike currently on the market, in terms of sleekness of presentation. And it's more than just the clean lines, the contemporary materials, and the almost architectural minimalism. There is an aggressive wooshness to it that communicates speed and excitement, reminding me, more than anything, of one of those raw-finish racing supercars.
It's an interesting choice of aesthetic for a cargo bike. And one that would almost have you forget that these things are designed for everyday family life. But perhaps the point Urban Arrow are making, is that family life, and sexy woosh-wooshness, need not be at odds with one another.
The open-box design of the Family model is ideal for the transport of passengers, cargo, or a mix of the two. With benches, seatbelts, and easy options for both child and infant seat attachments, as well as optional rain cover attachment, it is a versatile system for up to 4 passengers, dependent on age. It is also, Urban Arrow claims, superior safety-wise, placing passengers "lower than other cargo bikes, as its center of gravity is closer to the ground... And the robust and shockproof foam (EPP) box gives extra protection."
Having experienced the Urban Arrow as a passenger, I did find myself seated deeper in the box than I recall from having tried this in several other bakfietsen. I can also report that it was cozy and fun.
While Ellen does not use her bike as a family vehicle, she does have occasion to transport passengers now and again, usually adults, and describes this process as a relatively easy one - thanks to the bike's maneuverability and to the e-assist.
More frequently though, she uses the box to transport work supplies, and her wheelchair. The combination of the two machines - chair and bike - is in fact rather perfect for Ellen, helping her move about at speed throughout the day and get things done with the efficiency she likes.
For those who'd want to use the Urban Arrow as purely a non-passenger work bike, the Cargo version comes with a lockable hardshell box designed for 150kg (330lb) of weight. And for those looking for a considerably more compact option, the Shorty features a two-level container that hauls a combined 73kg (160lb).
All versions of the bike are designed around a 26" rear wheel and 20" front wheel with Schwalbe Big Apple tyres, integrated Bosch e-assist, and NuVinci drivetrain, with a choice of hub or hydraulic disc brakes. The Family model is also available in a non-electric version. Optional accessories include rear racks, child seat adaptors, rain cover, luggage net, and more.
Measuring 244cm in length, the Urban Arrow Family model is a large cargo bike - on par in size with other popular front-loaders, including the Bakfiets.nl (225cm), the Larry vs Harry Bullit (243cm), and the Workcycles KR8 (264cm).
However, weighing in at "only" 43kg (95lb) for the electric version, it is lighter than what most front-loaders of this size weigh without the e-assist. Which makes it easier not only to propel along the road, but to walk and lift over kerbs - something I noticed immediately when playing around with the bike in the city.
While I did briefly ride the Urban Arrow, it was for a very short time and in a limited context. My only impression worth reporting is that it rode "normally" from the start, rather than like the sort of front-loading cargo bike where the steering takes some practice to get used to. It's a bike that I would certainly love to get to know better.
With a current (European market) price tag of €2,150 for the unassisted, and €3,950 for the electric, machine, the cost of the Urban Arrow is on par with other cargo bikes in its class. Which is to say, quite high if you judge it by city bike standards. But more reasonable if you think of it as a family car replacement, which is how the manufacturers of this category of bike promote them.
In future I would love an opportunity to do a proper test ride of the sexy, fascinating machine that is the Urban Arrow. While the name suggests it is designed for cities, with the e-assist I do think it makes for a good candidate for hilly, windy rural areas as well, which is where I normally ride. Even more so, I am curious what the non-electric version would feel like, with that lovely NuVinci drive.
As far as Ellen's use case scenario, it is delightful that she and the electric Arrow have found one another. Thanks to the Urban Arrow, not only has there been improvement to Ellen's mobility, but, I daresay, to the streets of Belfast.
With thanks for allowing me to paw her bike, I invite you to check out Ellen's tumblr and ever-entertaining twitter feed, as I wish you a Happy Weekend! For a full picture-set: visit here.
–it also gets us closer to the origins of the later place name “Chahko Mika Mall” in Nelson, BC. The source is a yearly local celebration named Chahko Mika (literally, “come on, you”) that’s mentioned here. The earliest mentions of it that I’ve found in books are from the same year as this article, and the earliest newspaper mention is from March of that year explaining “the nature of the Chahko Mika carnival“, which all imply that the following letter expresses community members’ excitement about a new source of fun.
Kopa Chahko Mika
Greenwood old-timers and chee-
chakos are planning to come to
Nelson in large numbers during
Chahko Mika week next July. In
the following letter in the Chinook
language W. C. Wilson, an old-
timer in the west, tells about the
“Hyiu siwash kopa Greenwood
kumtuks siwash kopa Nelson pot-
latch hyiu chickamin kopa Chahko
Mika kopa mamook-poh kalakula
pee mamook-poh calipeen. Spose
siwash kopa Nelson delate wau
wau kopa hyiu heehee kopa Chahko
Mika hyiu siwash pee hyiu klootch-
man klatawa kopa C.P.R. chick-
chick inati Colnmbia chuck kopa
Nelson iskum hyiu heehee. Kel-
apie kopa Greenwood pee wauwau
siwash kopa Nelson hyius kookum [SIC]
Literally interpreted the letter
“Many men in Greenwood
understand men in Nelson will
give much money at Chahko Mika
for shooting birds and shooting
rifle. If men in Nelson true talk
about big fun at Chahko Mika
many men and many women will
go by C.P.E. wagon across Colum-
bia water to Nelson to get big fun.
Then return to Greenwood and say
men in Nelson very big friends.
(Signed) Faraway Friend.”—Nelson News.
— The Nelson (BC) Ledge, March 26, 1914, page 4, column 2
This text is a further testament that many English-speaking white people considered siwash (literally “Indigenous person”) to be a word for “man”, and used it jocularly if insensitively.
The above letter is certainly white-to-white communication, a badge of old-timer identity as we’ve often seen from the later- and post-frontier times. One of Chinook Jargon’s important uses: the secret language of an old boys’ club…
Quite the document.
|Image description: The Red Ramp at the Ed Roberts Campus, which descends from the second to the first floor in a large spiral and seems to hang from the ceiling with white thread.|
It's affected me much more deeply than I thought it would. Indeed, I never really thought about the emotional aspects of being in any physical space before. Yesterday I had the honour to do a day long presentation in the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. I of course know who Ed Roberts was and of the work that he did and the fights that he fought. From the moment I knew that this was one of the venues, I looked forward to simply being there. I'd never been in a building that was named after a leader and advocate with a disability who fought for social justice issues regarding disability. So, cool. Very cool. I arrived with anticipation.
The first several minutes were simply about getting in, meeting our host (Hi, Marc) and getting set up. Only then did I get a chance to roll around and begin to experience being in the place. A place of fully intentional accessibility. A place where welcome was built into the building's DNA. It was astonishing. I went to the bathroom there and was able to operate the doors easily with a push of my foot pedal, I didn't have to negotiate to get in to the exact position necessary to push the button with my hand.
Throughout the place I found rollable floors, wide doors, easily accessed elevators, and one marvelous and absolutely beautiful ramp. The ramp, which comes down from the second floor to the first is a thing of beauty, a work of art. I waited until lunch time and headed out to go down it. Joe was coming with me but was called back to the book table. I should have waited but couldn't. I rode up the elevator, pushed over to the ramp and down I came. It was exhilarating!
I had to bring Joe with me so, I did it again. It wasn't as much fun for him walking down it as it was for me sailing down it and letting my chair pick up exactly the amount of speed where safety and 'shit this is dangerous' met. It was wonderful.
We left the building after the day was over and rode to our hotel.
Now, our hotel has an accessible room.
It meets our needs.
But my definition of accessibility has changed, been broadened.
This room I'm in, it's been adapted for me. Non disabled people are used to places that were built for them, not adapted for them. There is a difference. I didn't know that before, but I do now.
I'd been in a place that was built for me. And the marvelous thing is, it was built for you too. Disabled or not, it's a building that makes it easy to be in, to accomplish what you want to accomplish, that is thoughtful in it's design for everyone.
It's going to be difficult moving away from that day in time and in memory. It's going to be difficult being in places and seeing what could have been and knowing that it's simply not there.
There is intentional welcome and intentional accessibility. I've always known that.
But the flip side is, of course that there's another kind of intentionality, the kind that simply doesn't think that everyone matters in quite the same way.
Guess what? A good while back, Tumblr invited me to do an #AnswerTime! (I know!) And just in time for the ☆ Check, Please: Year Two kickstarter! ☆
I’ll be answering questions about sequential art, the webcomics craft, storytelling, sports, and (of course) Check, Please!
It’s happening tomorrow, Friday the 23rd at 1PM EST / 10AM PST.
Send me your questions HERE: ngoziu.tumblr.com/ask
Over at The Recompiler, I have a new essay out: “Toward A !!Con Aesthetic”. I talk about (what I consider to be) the countercultural tech conference !!Con, which focuses on “the joy, excitement, and surprise of programming”. If you’re interested in hospitality and inclusion in tech conferences — not just in event management but in talks, structure, and themes — check it out. (Christie Koehler also interviews me about this and about activist role models, my new consulting business, different learning approaches, and more in the latest Recompiler podcast.)